New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Audi » Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:41 am

Greetings all,

TWC, I like your additions to the Chinese. My only questions are how we translate the connectedness of the clauses and the precise interpretation of 戓 (huo4) and 即 (ji2).

Louis, I think you have definitely improved on my translation and found the jist of what Chen is trying to convey. As I now better understand the grammar of the sentence, I would make a few additional changes:

Original:

然聽或不準確。卽不能全懂。故懂勁一門。亦甚困難。


Louis said:

So, perhaps [one's] listening is inaccurate. Then, if you're unable to understand [jin] comprehensively, understanding [even] one aspect of jin will therefore be extremely difficult.


I would now say:

If, however, your "listening" is not accurate and so you cannot completely "understand," then any aspect of understanding energy will also be extremely problematic.


As for the need to "understand," rather than just "identify" in my practice, I can describe one of my recent teaching sessions. I was teaching "standard" counters to our "standard" ward off. That ward off throws the opponent stumbling to your rear. I explained that depending on one's listening skill and how the opponent performed the ward off, different counters were possible. As an example, I gave about four parameters to consider.

If the opponent has weight forward, one counter is applicable (A palm to the small of her back or a tug on her elbow). If her weight is to her rear, another is more appropriate (A push with your forearm to her side or simply yielding your weight forward to crowd her). If the opponent fills your shoulder to her rear, another can work well (Swinging your arm between you and the opponent and then applying ward off or pluck yourself). If the opponent fills your shoulder to your left, yet another is easier (shoulder stroke).

All these variations are easier to show than describe, but my point is that knowing that someone is doing ward off to you is not enough information to know how to counter. You still need to understand the persons full and empty and how exactly the ward off is being applied.

Take care,
Audi
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:05 am

Hi Audi,

Yes, TWC helped to putonghua the wenyenwen! A helpful way of understanding the usage of 或 in classical Chinese is to think of it as "some." but it often takes the meaning of "some cases," more explicitly so when combined with 者 -- 或者. It's closest in meaning here to the English "perhaps" (a very idiomatic word!), with the sense of probability or possibility -- "some hypothetical cases."

Take care,
Louis
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby twc » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:30 pm

Hi all,

I know it's out of my depth, but I am going to do it anyway!

"能聽。然後能懂。此固為一定之理。然聽或不準確。卽不能全懂。故懂勁一門。亦甚困難。"

You must be able to listen (or be able to pick up), only then you can understand. This (fact) has its certain truth. However the listening may not be accurate, which means the inability to totally understand. That is why the understanding of energy/jin is also quite difficult. (the last sentence probably makes reference to an earlier statement)

Somehow it is the subtlety of the classical Chinese language that allows different people (of different backgrounds) to understand it differently (and yet relevant to each different interpretation)........

cheers,
twc
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Louis Swaim » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:36 pm

Greetings all,

Update: I see that Brennan has revised the lingkongjin section in his Chen Yanlin translation. The English now reflects the bei passive, and the referents are clarified.

I've said it before, but I admire Brennan's work, and am impressed by his productive output. I don't always agree with his word choices or approach, but his body of online translations is really a terrific resource for study and analysis of these materials.

I'm a big fan.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:06 pm

Greetings,

I wanted to bring up for discussion another passage in Chen Yanlin's book, presented in Brennan's translation as:

單練式基本採腿法
SINGLE POSTURE TRAINING OF THE BASIC STAMPING KICK METHOD

What Brennan translates here as "stamping kick" is 採腿 (cai tui), which Chen contrasts with "snapping kicks" 翅腿 (chi tui). Brennan's English captures well what is described, but what I'm curious about is Chen's odd terminology here. To my knowledge, I haven't seen these terms used for kicking methods in taijiquan or other martial arts.

The term 翅腿 for a snapping kick is understandable, as this kind of kick could be seen as analogous to the action of lifting a wing or a fin. I find the term 採腿 mystifying, however. The taiji usage of 採 is for one of the eight root dispositions of the form usually translated as "pluck" or "pull down," and usually associated with hand/arm applications rather than kicks. This seems like a very odd use of the term.

Moreover, in Chen Yanlin's section about the two-person sanshou set (http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com ... ou-dui-da/), these odd terms for kicking methods do not appear at all. Instead the more familiar terms found in the received form's posture names are used: 分脚 (fen jiao) and 蹬脚 (deng jiao). I've tended to translate these as a verbal "separate feet" and "treading kick," but I think Brennan's rendering of these as "kicking to the side" and "pressing kick" are fine. But I'm very curious about Chen's odd use of 翅腿 (chi tui) and 採腿 (cai tui).

Chen's book has a useful discussion of the use of kicks in taijiquan in ch. 10, "The Waist and Legs in Taiji Boxing), and again he uses some unusual or unfamiliar terms for kicking methods:

太極拳中之踢腿。分有翅、蹬、踢、起、擺、接、套、襯、採、等腿。(均為鬆彈勁。而以腰發之。)可以隨機應用。但須注意腰腿必須一致。切不可腰動而腿不動。腿動而腰不動。在初學及未精通時。每宜犯腰動腿不動。或腿動腰不動之弊病。

"Taiji Boxing’s kicks divide into snapping [kicking to the side], pressing, kicking [kicking forward], lifting, swinging, catching, sheathing, trimming, and stamping (all of which have a loose and elastic energy issued from the waist). They can be applied according to the situation, but attention must be given to the necessity of the waist and legs working in unison. Be sure not to move your waist without moving your legs, nor move your legs without moving your waist. For beginners and advanced students alike, you should always avoid the errors of moving your waist without moving your legs or moving your legs without moving your waist."
--http://brennantranslation.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/taiji-boxing-according-to-chen-yanlin/

Has anyone encountered these unusual terms for kicking methods?

Take care,
Louis
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby UniTaichi » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:47 am

Hi Louis,

採腿 (cai tui) would be seen in 'Zhang shen bai lian' . Stamping kick to me does not sound right as you have mentioned is associate with 'pluck' and 'pull down' .

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby dragon x » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:15 pm

:P I know this is an old post but i'm going to give my 2 cents any how. I LOVE THE TRANSLATION AS IS. Even tho' i do not read a lick of chinese. and i hope to ine day get the book. so i can read the entire book. i find Brennan very undersandable and an enjoyable read. Also i find the comments on the bookin this post both entertaining and insightful. Iwould love to be in the same room with all ov you and just listen in to the discussion. Thanx for all that you have said. i have learnt that knowledge is timeless among other things. Heping :idea: :P
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Audi » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:17 am

Greetings all,

I know it's out of my depth, but I am going to do it anyway!

"能聽。然後能懂。此固為一定之理。然聽或不準確。卽不能全懂。故懂勁一門。亦甚困難。"

You must be able to listen (or be able to pick up), only then you can understand. This (fact) has its certain truth. However the listening may not be accurate, which means the inability to totally understand. That is why the understanding of energy/jin is also quite difficult. (the last sentence probably makes reference to an earlier statement)

TWC, I like it!

Just out of curiosity, why do you suggest "pick up" as an equivalent of 聽 (ting1 "listen")?

I've said it before, but I admire Brennan's work, and am impressed by his productive output. I don't always agree with his word choices or approach, but his body of online translations is really a terrific resource for study and analysis of these materials.

I'm a big fan.

I am a fan as well. Brennan rocks!

What Brennan translates here as "stamping kick" is 採腿 (cai tui), which Chen contrasts with "snapping kicks" 翅腿 (chi tui). Brennan's English captures well what is described, but what I'm curious about is Chen's odd terminology here. To my knowledge, I haven't seen these terms used for kicking methods in taijiquan or other martial arts.

I have received some instruction in a type of kick that mostly fits Chen's description. The instruction was in English, and I do not remember the terminology used. I think I thought of it as a "stomp kick." Several of the kicks involved techniques we do not show in our form, and so I would not expect them to have the same terminology as the kicks named in the form.

When I saw Chen's reference to 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down"), I subconsciously read it as 踩 (cai3 "step on"/"trample") and so did not think it odd. I assumed he was describing the same kick I had been taught. The characters differ, of course, only in using different radicals on the left and have the same pronunciation. I wonder if 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down") is just an inadvertent misspelling (别字) for 踩 (cai3 "step on"/"trample")?

採腿 (cai tui) would be seen in 'Zhang shen bai lian' .

I assume you are talking about what we call "Turn Body and Swing Over Lotus" (抟身摆莲). We would probably call that a swing kick or crescent kick in English, using a different technique than the "stomp kick" I describe above. I agree that neither should have anything much to do with 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down".

P.S.

Having written the above, I now wonder if I have missed the point. It occurs to me that the "stomp kick" I was taught actually did accompany a simultaneous 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down" much like the "standard" 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down") application we train in Push Hands. Perhaps the kick is named after the hand technique?

Take care,
Audi
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Audi » Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:26 am

Hi everyone,

In this chapter, the waist and legs are discussed as two distinct parts which need to be working in unison. In the rest of the book, the dual entity of “waist and legs” is often used more as a single section of the body, the two parts already working as one composite piece, and so in this translation they are sometimes rendered simply and less distractingly as the compromise between the two things – the “hips”.

I know we have discussed hips vs. waist before on this form, and that some noted practitioners stress hip movement. Nevertheless, I find Brennan's "compromise" in this case to be quite unfortunate for the training regimen that I have been taught and that I teach.

We definitely distinguish between waist (lumbar region), hips, and legs. I personally also try to clearly distinguish between pelvis and hip socket. These different parts do coordinate their movement, but do different things in our training. Their are many sayings we use that explicitly reference the waist (lumbar region), but few that mention the hips. In fact the only one that comes to mind is when we say to "loosen/relax the waist and loosen/relax the hips."

I do not mean to say that hip movement is unimportant, but rather that it is import to understand that the hips do not take over from the waist (lumbar region). The saying is: 主宰于腰 ("controlled by the waist"). The first two characters 主宰 (zhu3 zai4) mean to "dominate," "dictate," "be in charge," not just "lead," "direct," or "point the way." Later the classics say: 由脚而腿而腰 ("From feet, to legs, to waist (lumbar region)"). There is a clear progression that does not conflate the waist and legs. Later still, the classics say: 周身節節貫串 ("The whole body being threaded through joint by joint"). If the joints, including those of the lumbar region and the legs, are not treated separately, there is nothing to thread through.

Let me try to give some unambiguous examples. In talking about Fajin and teaching postures that have little twisting, like the "Push" of "Grasp Sparrow's Tail" and "Twin Fists Strike Opponents Ears," I find I must talk about the movement of the waist (lumbar region), but have little to say about hip movement. Similarly, in demonstrating the type of shoulder strike that sends energy from the outside pad of the upper arm, I show a lot of lateral waist movement and weight shifting, but no twisting of the waist or deformation of the hips.

I find one of the biggest problems in trying to teach people a sense of internal energy is that they cannot separate "waist" movement from other parts of the body. If you cannot make this separation, how can you use the waist to "dictate" or "take charge" of the energy? For instance, ask someone to do Grasp Sparrow's Tail while sitting in a chair. See if they can do it with lots of torso movement, but with no movement of the legs or butt against the ground or against the chair. In doing the actual form, we do, of course, move the legs and the hips/pelvis, but it is important to understand what is controlling what and to have flexibility in the spine.

Take care,
Audi

One exercise
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby dragon x » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:57 pm

Thanx 4 this thread and for the link to the translation of Chen Yanlin's book. Is their a way to by the actual translated book. Or is it only available online 8)
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby twc » Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:19 pm

Hi Audi,

I just thought that to literally translate 聽 into listening may not be so easily understood by non Taiji practitioners. 聽, in this context, could be translated into detecting jing, or picking up where the opponent's jing is.

I was perhaps a bit careless in that, as this is a forum where there are many many serious Taiji practitioners. I hope to find a better word(s) for it, but shot off the post before I have done so.

cheers,
twc
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:08 am

Hi Audi,

Re: When I saw Chen's reference to 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down"), I subconsciously read it as 踩 (cai3 "step on"/"trample") and so did not think it odd. I assumed he was describing the same kick I had been taught. The characters differ, of course, only in using different radicals on the left and have the same pronunciation. I wonder if 採 (cai3 "pluck"/"pull down") is just an inadvertent misspelling (别字) for 踩 (cai3 "step on"/"trample")?

I think you must be right! That makes a great deal of sense. My copy of Chen Yanlin's book is in simplified characters, and it reads 采腿 for this passage, which would be 採腿 in traditional characters. It's possible either Chen himself used the wrong character, or the typesetter did in the original book, and that just continued to be used later on.

I checked my taiji dictionary, 精选太极拳辞典. It in fact has an entry for a "stamping kick" as follows:

踩腿: 太极拳基本腿法. 力点在脚底板, 横向用力. (A basic leg method of taijiquan. The point of force is in the sole of the foot, applied laterally with strength.)

So, I think it's plausible that Chen had in mind 踩腿, but somehow in the book it became 採腿.

Thanks, Audi!

Louis
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:33 pm

Hmmm. . . On the other hand, I came across this Eagle Claw site listing kicking methods: http://www.laufatmangeagleclaw.com/eagl ... kicks.html

One of them is: Choi Teui - 採 腿 Low Chop Kick.

Who knew?

--Louis
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu May 01, 2014 7:02 pm

Audi,
I agree with Chen Yanlin's statement, as translated by Brennan: "as a compromise between the two things – the “hips”."
As you know I am a proponent of using the word "hips" to teach the process of transferring the energy created by the "legs" to the "waist" where it can then be controlled, so much so that I read Chen Yanlin's pronouncement on using "hips" as a compromise to explain the process with a great deal of satisfaction.
Using this single word ties together, for me, the idea of using "center driven movement" into one happy, easily teachable bundle.

As you say the waist "controls, leads, dominates, is in charge" of the energies we use for TCC.
I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree.
I am also in full agreement with the statement from the Classics that "energy is rooted in the feet, generated by the legs".
These things are clear and I see no reason to debate them here.
What is not made clear in this translated treatise of energy creation/control, that we all seem to be able to agree is accurate, is what it is exactly that occurs in between these two things, "legs" and "waist".

So...
Let's take a minute to ponder, maybe even muse a little, then perhaps we'll extrapolate just a touch and we'll see where we end up.

Let's look at the passage from the Classics that's causing us all this trouble dispassionately:
"Energy is rooted in the feet, generated by the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the fingers."
I like it on the whole.
Perhaps there are more clear translations of this passage out there but this seems to be the currently accepted version so I'm going to stick with it for the purpose of this discussion.
In here we find clear references to certain body parts: Feet, legs, waist, fingers.
That's all we get in this hallowed description of energy creation/control/expression.
Four body parts, and ONLY four, are used here to describe this entire whole body process.
How many "parts" are there in the human body that would be included in this energy path if we listed them all? I'm not asking for a total number of "joints", that would be a bit much to go into here and not particularly germane at this time, so I'm just going to list the body "parts" that would be included in this progression as a layman would say it (that would be me) all the way from the feet to the fingers:
Feet, ankles, shins, knees, thighs, hips, pelvis, waist (lumbar region), stomach, chest, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, hands, fingers.
Well now, I think I got at least most of them, maybe not in their direct order but I think I'm good.
I'm not listing the neck and head because they're not "parts" in between the creation point and the expression point in this formula so I think we can leave those out of it.
Hmmmm....
There appears to be a few body parts missing in the energy creation/control/expression model we're using.
Since we're missing a few "parts" in this listing then we might need to start asking a few questions in order to complete our pursuit of enlightenment on this subject. First off I would ask:
What body parts exist in between the "legs' and the "waist" and in between the "waist" and "fingers", in the human body?
What do we call those things again?
Oh. Yeah. I listed them already, no need to do so again.
Just for the sake of keeping this discussion down to something that won't lead to an entire lexicon of debates let's just go with the single question that bears on our current topic and we'll leave the upper body for debate by those who feel a need to do so:
"What body parts exist in between the "legs" and the "waist"?
That answer is: The "hips" and the "pelvis".
Let's now explore these body parts. How can we know what to do with them if we don't know what they do? We can't, so onward.
Let's start with the "pelvis". Other than being the body part made famous by Elvis Presley, what does it do?
Well...
Hmmmm....
Basically the "pelvis" does... nothing.
It's not a moving body part, not really. Not that it can't be moved, it just doesn't do so of its own volition.
This body part can only be moved by using other body parts, by itself it is entirely passive.
What is the most common thing that most TCC teachers tell their students to do with their "pelvis"?
It's fairly common, at least it has been for me, to hear, "level the pelvis". That's about all I've heard anyone say about it.
We do so by tilting the pelvic girdle until it is "level", usually by relaxing the tushy (trying to be polite here) downward.
The mechanism that allows this relaxation method of leveling to occur in the "pelvis" is... wait for it... the "hips".
So here we are. We've arrived at our destination, the "hips".
What do the "hips" do?
Hmmm....
Well, I have made a pretty in depth study of the "hips". My time learning TCC began in a hip happy world, which lead me to be one of the "hip centric" crowd that beat the drum and blew the trumpets that the "hips" were the alpha and the omega when it came to movement.
I then segued into a "waist centric" group and that lead to a very confusing decade for me.
So I did some research and experimentation. I laughed, I cried, I learned. It was fun...
In a weird way.
But back to business...
What do the hips do?
Once again we have a nearly passive body part. Not entirely, not like the pelvis. You can move the hips in a limited fashion using the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia around them but mostly they are moved by using the legs to push against the pelvis.
That's the "Readers Digest Condensed" version of that particular bit of movement but it's close enough for our current discussion.
The hips are a "ball and socket" joint, meaning they are circular and therefor can rotate endlessly (Like the Yangtze River, endlessly flowing).
Rather than continue to belabor the issue of how the "hips" are moved I'll just let folks do the research on them for themselves if they're interested. I've covered the basics enough for the purposes of this discussion.
If anyone is even remotely interested I do have a paper I've written on the subject of the "hips" and their usage. This is a link to my website where I've posted the first chapter on my treatise for all and sundry to read if they so desire. The rest of the chapters are complete, or close enough, but I'm only going to hand those out to my students for now: http://everydaytaiji.com/Theory.html
Read at your own risk. I make no claims to being a good author.
Onward...

So the "hips" and the "pelvis" are mostly passive, meaning that by themselves they can do very little.
Which may have been the reason for leaving them out of the original model from the Classics.
That doesn't mean a lot of things don't happen there, clearly there's something to them.
However, they're not the mechanisms causing their own movement (for the most part) or creating or controlling energy.
Energy is generated by the legs, not the hips or the pelvis.
It is then transferred through the hips and pelvis then controlled by the waist, it's not the hips or the pelvis that does the controlling.
So putting specifics about them into a general model for generating/controlling/expressing energy isn't really necessary.

All that said...
That does not mean that the hips aren't an important part of energy usage, they clearly are.
However the method to transmit the energy through the hips is, by their very nature, passive.
Meaning the best way to do so is to keep the hips relaxed, allow them to rotate through their cycle in their own way and not think about it too much.
Once you've learned the method of hip rotation, then just let it go and let it happen.
So all you need to know about the pelvis and hips can be summed up with these pithy phrases:
With the pelvis you "set it and forget it".
With the hips you "set them free, then let them be".
Feel free to groan now, I always do.

I have no idea where I was going with this, really. I know I'm not going to change anyone's mind on the subject by typing all this out on here.
Mostly I just wanted to clarify in my own head why I like this translation of Chen Yanlin and his "hips" compromise so much.
If anyone else agrees then that is awesome.
If not, that's awesome too.
Everyone has to follow their own path through this art, mine is only going to be good for me.

Bob
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Re: New Brennan translation: More Chen Yanlin material

Postby UniTaichi » Fri May 02, 2014 4:34 am

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the post. It just got me thinking as to what are the role of 'waist' and 'hips' . It just dawn on me that they are two very different things altogether.

"Energy is rooted in the feet, generated by the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the fingers."


What the above says or is indicating the energy path from legs to waist and out thru fingers. The waist meridian or Daimai is the meridian that connects all other meridian between our upper and lower body, hence the expression in the Classics.

Whilst the hips are the physical external 'movement' in practise. In fact, we don't actually move the hips(as a part by itself). I was taught not to move the hips (unnecessarily) .

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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