Roundness

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Re: Roundness

Postby vagabond on Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:28 am

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Re: Roundness

Postby windwalker on Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:04 pm

everything wrote:all toddlers use sinking. all american football and rugby players use roundness.


Do you feel they do it to the same degree as what is called for in what are called internal arts.

The problem is that with the examples given one can see it in use, and feel it's the same.

If one has not felt it it's more difficult because there are no examples of it in use, which tends to morph into any example can be used.
Last edited by windwalker on Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Roundness

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:58 pm

windwalker wrote:one thing I didn't see mentioned , was the fact that English is a second language for the teacher. Often things can be explained in a first language with fewer words and more succinctly, then in the second language.

I did mention that in my last post. He's learning and getting better though. Much better than my Chinese.

windwalker wrote:For example the words that many use here, peng, qi, ect.
For many in the culture from which the words come from there is no need for much explanation if any.

“Peng is qi flowing everywhere.”


this is very short in the first language as it's expressed it might well contain all that is needed for one to know what is happening with the teacher giving a physical Hands-On demo of how it feels and corrections to make it happen.


I think that post was an attempt at reducto ad absurdum, but it misses the point. "You should be able to explain it to your grandma" is not the same thing as "you should be able to explain it in one sentence."

Particularly with IMA we rely on jargon for shorthand communication. The conversation becomes almost fractal, you can dive deeper into each concept and then the concepts that underlie that concept almost ad infinitum, if you really want to get lost in the weeds. If you know the jargon then the statement makes sense. If you don't, then it's nonsense. That doesn't mean that you couldn't pass on a rough working foundation knowledge that could be built upon in a few minutes clear instruction. A good instructor who does care about passing knowledge on meets the student where they are and gives them what they can handle at the time.

The best instructors in my opinion consider these topics in layers and angles. Using form as an example, you could perform the same movement many different times and focus on different aspects each time, which may make it even look different. Today's understanding of peng and roundness is just a pointer to tomorrow's understanding, which just shows the way to yet another deeper and apparently contradictory meaning, etc. Likewise, approaching other concepts from a multitude of perspectives and focus helps deepen understanding.

Clarity in one's understanding leads to clarity in communication of that understanding. Releasing old ideas when they no longer serve, but realizing they were and are useful for the cultivation is part of the process.
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Re: Roundness

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:16 pm

Bao wrote:
If I were to summarize his point myself, I'd simply say that he's saying roundness is everywhere in taijiquan, externally and internally, physical and mental, shape and movement, visible and invisible. The point to study is to find that roundness, or more likely find the squareness in your practice and work on rounding it off.
...
The straight within the curved, the meaning of the circle and square. Much meat to chew, imho.


So how in a practical sense do you create this roundness? How to practice, what to think about and what to focus on?


Which in particular?

I think the most esoteric and difficult to grasp might be the feeling of roundness of... self?... space that I control?

Keep in mind I'm just musing here trying to figure out what he's getting at and what use it might be, but consider the animal based kungfu styles. They claim to contain or express the spirit of a particular animal. Maybe the best way to think of this roundness is that it's the animal for taijiquan. Striving to contain and express the spirit of roundness. Round, smooth thoughts that turn obstacles aside with ease or lets them slip off past. Round, smooth force trajectories. Round, smooth sense of self and the space I control.

Know roundness, be like roundness, perhaps.

When it comes to discussions on teaching capacity I don't think that there's very much ego going on. At least not compared to the level of frustration shared by many. A lot of people are frustrated by the level of unwillingness to teach in a direct and practical manner in the Tai Chi world. IMO it's a bit unfair to dismiss this kind of criticism as ego trips. Most people criticizing teachers are serious players who just want to learn more and understand more. I understand why people are tired of Tai Chi teachers as I myself have shared their frustration.


Teachers are people, students are people, both are fallible. If a teacher is making an honest effort to communicate an idea despite the challenges of native tongues and a lack of hands-on contact, then I try to listen. It's important enough for them to try to express, so I may find something in it important enough to listen to. If all I see is the where the instruction falls short and all I can think of is how I would have done better, that is ego failing me and blocking my own learning and growth. I shared this in order to think more about it and perhaps get some more thoughts and insights to add to or calibrate my own, not to criticize, defend, or promote any particular teacher. Mainly because, yeah, it is hard to get what he's getting at, but I recognize him as someone who has the skills I'm training, so there must be something there.
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Re: Roundness

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:45 pm

charles wrote:
oragami_itto wrote: no doubt, but "look at my hours of YouTube" is a cop out.


My point was that one needs to do physical practice rather than focus on abstract academic understanding.


I wholeheartedly agree that physical practice is indispensable. However, the sign on the door here doesn't say "INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS GYM" it says "INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS FORUM"
fo·rum
/ˈfôrəm/
noun
1. a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.

If I'm in the wrong place, let me know, but I usually work out in a park, not on the computer.

oragami_itto wrote:
If I were to summarize his point myself, I'd simply say that he's saying roundness is everywhere in taijiquan, externally and internally, physical and mental, shape and movement, visible and invisible. The point to study is to find that roundness, or more likely find the squareness in your practice and work on rounding it off
.

That’s basically my point. I find “mental roundness” or “internal roundness” to be academic platitudes. What is a “round “ thought? How does one make their physical insides “round”? In my opinion, searching for some all-encompassing “roundness” in one’s Taiji is irrelevant. It is a distraction. “Roundness” is not the keystone of Taijiquan.


Finally we get to some meat! Conversation branch #1 exploring the truth of the claim.

I may be misrepresenting him by saying it is "only" roundness. The classics state taijiquan is round AND square and transitions between the two. I believe YCF wrote that the circle is for the hands and the square is for the feet. The hands being the 8 gates and feet being five steps?

I don't think he's necessarily talking about roundness in the same sense there. He's talking about the qualities of roundness. Like I mentioned in my response to Bao. Taijiquan expressing the quality of roundness the way tiger style kung fu expresses the quality of tigerness.

So mentally and spiritually round. Internals is more the "shape of the jin" which is what you're getting to with the circular/spiral energy. Perhaps a triad breakdown of the shape, spirit, and jin is appropriate.

charles wrote:Making the outsides round is basic physical/postural stuff.
...
There are a few basic physical aspects of “roundness” that can be worked on and found in nearly any Taijiquan movement, forms or partner work. At more advanced levels one can discuss “energy” being circular and/or spiral.

I agree, the external shapes are very easy.
I think the idea here, though is to make the round shapes work like round shapes. This is the hard part because our bodies aren't round in any meaningful sense, and we tend to think in straight lines. Like a pool ball can slide, but it wants to roll.

charles wrote:
But this is RSF, it isn't about the arts, is it? Is about egos, right? Trying to prove who knows more or does better, right? Does that shit work in the octagon?

I’ve never had an interest in those things.

Well maybe I've had you pegged wrong and if so I apologize. Maybe what I interpret as condescension and pedantry is just my own insecurity and paranoia impeding communication. We're on the cusp of a new year and that's as good an excuse as any to wipe away my resentments and view the denizens of RSF with fresh eyes.
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Re: Roundness

Postby Bao on Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:57 pm

oragami_itto wrote:Which in particular?


-argh- Oh my... How YOU would define roundness or how YOU interpret what is shown in the vid. I don't care. How do you believe it should be taught PRACTICALLY.

I think the most esoteric and difficult to grasp might be the feeling of roundness of... self?... space that I control?


So how should this knowledge be turned into transmittable knowledge? So a student gets it and can turn it into a practical asset?

oragami_itto wrote:but consider the animal based kungfu styles. They claim to contain or express the spirit of a particular animal.


Here there is a misconception. There is traditionally speaking no mimicking or any attempts trying to act like an animal in CMA. Animal names are just names and the animals are just symbols or totems. People take the animals way too seriously. My own imagination is way too limited to understand how roundness could contain a spirit or be an animal. That doesn't make sense.

oragami_itto wrote:Teachers are people, students are people, both are fallible. If a teacher is making an honest effort to communicate an idea...


...and here is the crux. ...is the effort or intention a real honest effort? Or is there something else that is more important? Marketing? Putting on a show to look good, Ego? Honesty is IMO the key in any teaching IMO. Many teach without teaching because they don't want their students to learn. I am only speaking in a general manner without addressing any single teacher. If you want to know the real intention of a teacher you often need a long time to get to know him (or her) first.
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Re: Roundness

Postby windwalker on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:01 pm

.I think that post was an attempt at reducto ad absurdum, but it misses the point. "You should be able to explain it to your grandma" is not the same thing as "you should be able to explain it in one sentence."


I think we might be talking from different angles.
My last teacher would say one word, for example you're not “round" in my case I would go away for one year and work on what he meant by this. When I came to visit the next year he might mention something else as in you're not "straight"

it was more or less left up to the student to figure it out, the teacher provided solid examples and allow the student to feel it in use.

The idea of the teacher catering to the student is a little different then the student haveing the ability and understanding enough to grasp the material.

Most of the old style teachers I've met in my time tended not to talk too much.
Last edited by windwalker on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Roundness

Postby vagabond on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:03 pm

it's really more egg shaped then round. it lives roughly in front of my torso and hugs me back when i squeeze it. i can wrap my arms around it and you can't

if you want spirit read hegel. in the original german please, before i'm willing to entertain your definition
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Re: Roundness

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:35 pm

Bao wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:Which in particular?


-argh- Oh my... How YOU would define roundness or how YOU interpret what is shown in the vid. I don't care. How do you believe it should be taught PRACTICALLY.

As I mentioned previously, we're talking about roundness across different aspects of movement and mind. So depending on which you're discussing you'd be discussing different ways of cultivating it, right? There's no ONE ANSWER.

Bao wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:I think the most esoteric and difficult to grasp might be the feeling of roundness of... self?... space that I control?


So how should this knowledge be turned into transmittable knowledge? So a student gets it and can turn it into a practical asset?

Good question, do you have any thoughts?

Bao wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:but consider the animal based kungfu styles. They claim to contain or express the spirit of a particular animal.


Here there is a misconception. There is traditionally speaking no mimicking or any attempts trying to act like an animal in CMA. Animal names are just names and the animals are just symbols or totems. People take the animals way too seriously. My own imagination is way too limited to understand how roundness could contain a spirit or be an animal. That doesn't make sense.

Granted, I don't study animal based styles, but I did learn the Xingyi 12 animals. The way we learned them each of them has their own spirit that informs the quality of the movement, based loosely on an understanding of the animal. Tiger, for example, has the spirit of pouncing to seize prey. Spirit in the sense of attitude and intention. Not channeling angels or ghosts or anything silly like that.
The "spirit of roundness" is to behave as a round thing behaves. A ball in water. A spinning iron sphere. Not a brick wall or a crane or a sledgehammer, but a sphere.

Bao wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:Teachers are people, students are people, both are fallible. If a teacher is making an honest effort to communicate an idea...


...and here is the crux. ...is the effort or intention a real honest effort? Or is there something else that is more important? Marketing? Putting on a show to look good, Ego? Honesty is IMO the key in any teaching IMO. Many teach without teaching because they don't want their students to learn. I am only speaking in a general manner without addressing any single teacher. If you want to know the real intention of a teacher you often need a long time to get to know him (or her) first.


Sure, it takes time to know people. Why does anyone put videos online? To me Liang seems like an earnest and sincere practitioner of the art with very good skills who is trying to spread knowledge of taijiquan, and I see no reason yet to think otherwise. I've found his little clips very helpful.
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Re: Roundness

Postby robert on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:37 pm

I think it goes back to what Charles said - it's experiential. If you've been shown how to train it and you have trained it, it makes sense and you can discuss it with others.

This is from Taiji Boxing According Chen Yanlin, Discussing the Energies.

Before learning boxing arts, there is no differentiating between power {jin} and force {li}, but once you are learning, you have to clearly distinguish between them. I have seen martial artists who have gone through many years of training and yet still do not understand the difference, which is something to be regretted. You need to understand that force comes from your bones, gets clogged up in your upper back {/shoulder}, and cannot be issued, whereas power comes from your sinews, extends all the way through your limbs, and can be issued. Force is noticeable, whereas power is invisible. Force is square, whereas power {jin} is round. Force is rough, whereas power is smooth. Force is slow, whereas power is quick. Force is scattered, whereas power is concentrated. Force is floating, whereas power is sinking. Force is blunt, whereas power is sharp. This shows how different force and power are.

I've added the braces.
I think this is saying the same thing as in the video in the OP, but it won't mean much to a beginner.
Try not to let the words confuse you — they serve no other purpose than to guide you into the inner structures of Taiji. Chen Xin
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Re: Roundness

Postby oragami_itto on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:42 pm

windwalker wrote:
.I think that post was an attempt at reducto ad absurdum, but it misses the point. "You should be able to explain it to your grandma" is not the same thing as "you should be able to explain it in one sentence."


I think we might be talking from different angles.
My last teacher would say one word, for example you're not “round" in my case I would go away for one year and work on what he meant by this. When I came to visit the next year he might mention something else as in you're not "straight"

it was more or less left up to the student to figure it out, the teacher provided solid examples and allow the student to feel it in use.

The idea of the teacher catering to the student is a little different then the student haveing the ability and understanding enough to grasp the material.

Most of the old style teachers I've met in my time tended not to talk too much.


That gets into yet another discussion, doesn't it? What is the "right way" to teach? Some here might call those old methods frustrating while simultaneously lamenting the modern decline of their arts.
Others might think that those methods ensured only those with an earnest desire to learn were able to get anything, that maybe the struggle to grasp for meaning is itself a kind of learning to learn.
Maybe others think we need to be more instructive and hands on to ensure a clear transmission, and maybe even, *GASP* encourage students in their studies. For their own good as well as the teacher's rice bowl.

In any case, yeah I think maybe we're talking at cross purposes in that exchange?
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Re: Roundness

Postby Trick on Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:54 pm

charles wrote:
GrahamB wrote:“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

― Albert Einstein


“Peng is qi flowing everywhere.”

- Chen Xiaowang

Now both you and my grandmother understand. Now that you both understand, both of you now have master-level physical skills and can teach them to others. Isn’t that simple?


“Things should be made as simple as possible but no simpler.”

- Albert Einstein

If someone just could put an Albert mathematical formula on this Peng, then everyone could agree?
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Re: Roundness

Postby charles on Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:09 am

Trick wrote:If someone just could put an Albert mathematical formula on this Peng, then everyone could agree?


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Re: Roundness

Postby C.J.W. on Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:19 am

I've seen other clips by this teacher and, for the most part, liked what he's doing. It's obvious that he has good Yang Taiji skills.

However, I must say I'm not too fond of the the explanation and demo he provides in this video on the subject of roundness.

It's that very familiar sort of language teachers use when they don't want to give away their secrets. ;)
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Re: Roundness

Postby oragami_itto on Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:24 am

Trick wrote:If someone just could put an Albert mathematical formula on this Peng, then everyone could agree?


It's more of Newtons area of expertise.
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