The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby UniTaichi » Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:46 am

extrajoseph wrote:Hi Dan,

I am certain that traditional Yang Taijiquan desires a posture similar to image “A” because that is the natural state of being and the only way to generate power in a “wuwei” way.

The problem is many of the so-called masters misinterpreted the classic and tell their students to tuck in their tailbone when in fact 尾閭中正 says, “let the tailbone be centrally correct”, that is in their natural state without distortion.

Also they tell their students to tuck in their chin and lift their head up when in fact 虛靈頂勁 says, “Without and undue efforts, hold the head as though being suspended from above”, again that is to allow the spine to be in good working order without being taxing on any of the joints and/or pressure points.

Instead the students with the wrong instructions ended up in something like the image “C”, which is a most unnatural way to be.

The image I showed is something like image “D”, which again is unnatural, and a result of misinterpretation of the classics and an unsuitable use of geometry.

Image “B” is not something often talked about of using in Taijiquan, because it is too obvious to be incorrect.

Thank you again for your pinctures, they are very useful for us to understand the role of the spine in Taijiquan.

XJ


Hi XJ,

Actually I wanted to reply on this first but the system have a habit of cutting me off once I finished writing. Here you again relates science proper aligment to taichi structure. Science is good to know but no need to know as far as martial art is concern for me. Anyway to each his own. Someone commented and I agreed that IMA masters are not scienctist and scienctist even thought they know how it is done, cannot do it physically, and are not martial artist. My way of learning is empirical and via intuition and then try to connect it to theories.

When masters tell their students to ''straighten their spine'' they mean just that. '' let the tailbone be centrally correct'' is not entirely right because the tailbone is always centred. Their instruction could be one must be body, mind, spirit must be centred. As for tuck chin and suspend head, they are the same only some students cannot fathom how to use a string. 8) And yes, it should be done with undue effort.

We are only talking and discussing one part of the equation here. For higher level fajin, more movements have to be incorporated and most can be found in the classics but need to put together as one.

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:58 pm

Greetings Unitaichi,

There is not much in your most recent post that I can agree with. The experimental approach and findings of science should be welcomed by any serious taijiquan practitioner. I also take issue with the notion that one should straighten one's spine in taijiquan practice, and am not familiar with any known masters telling their students to do so. Having upright and aligned posture is not the same as having a "straightened" spine. Among other things, the natural curvature of the spine is essential for absorption of shock in moving the upright body in gravity. As for 尾閭中正, it really doesn't refer to some fixed orientation of the tailbone; rather it has the sense that the tailbone falls into correct alignment. What is proper alignment changes, of course, with the shape of a given posture, the degree of bend in the knees, the width and type of stance, etc.

Take care,
Louis
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby UniTaichi » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:40 am

Hi Louis,

//There is not much in your most recent post that I can agree with//

Yes. I have expected some disagreement, especially the other thread. 8) But I think there is some misunderstanding too. It happens when one is not so hot with someone else pov. In the East, we call it ''fire cover the eye'' . That means one cannot see clearly when one is angry/furious in the mind/heart. Like I have said, my English is not that good and cannot find ''correcct'' words to really describe taiji principals/philosophy. Honestly, I am only concerned with the result of the movements to get the ''required'' structure whatever that is and not how the spine should look. I did not said one should straighten their spine. The OP, if I am not wrong, is trying to get some view on how the spine should be when we suspend head, tuck in tailbone, etc. And I join in to just give my own view and do not impose anything.

//As for 尾閭中正, it really doesn't refer to some fixed orientation of the tailbone; rather it has the sense that the tailbone falls into correct alignment.// -- Yes, I agreed with you. But I was replying to XJ quote below. What I read from his quote ( I may be wrong ) it sound like he is referring to the fixed orientation of the tailbone. And I did wrote that it should be referring to body, mind & spirit. And of course the proper alignment (knee bend, width etc.)

//The problem is many of the so-called masters misinterpreted the classic and tell their students to tuck in their tailbone when in fact 尾閭中正 says, “let the tailbone be centrally correct”, that is in their natural state without distortion.//

For the science part, my view is again, GOOD to know, not, NEED to know. For me learning IMA like taiji have nothing to do with science. The senario today is that everything have to be explained by science. If not, it can't be done. It mystical, myth, superstitious. Once science can explained, then is SCIENCE. :roll: So you are correct to said that any serious practitioners would welcomed science approach and findings. If not , nobody learning. :wink:

More food for thoughts ; Relation between Wuji and Taiji. -- Using the theory of Yin/Yang, we practice Taiji, to return to Wuji.


Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby DPasek » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:15 pm

I do not have great knowledge of anatomy and physiology, so I asked a physical therapist who is also a martial artist (ILiqChuan) about the postures in the illustration. The following is my current understanding (please correct me if something is wrong).

Image A: While this is a normal healthy posture, and seems to align well with what we want in TJQ practice, as Louis pointed out, we do not practice while standing fully erect, but instead have more bend in the knees which will affect the curvature of the spine in the lower back. For example, lay flat on the floor with your legs stretched out (backs of the legs touching the floor) and there will likely be a gap between the floor and your lower back. Next, bend your legs to approximately the angle at the hips that you would have when practicing your version of TJQ (feet on the floor) and you will probably notice a reduction in the gap between the floor and your lower back, possibly eliminating the gap entirely (though there likely would still be less pressure between the lower back and floor than there is higher on the back at the shoulder blades). This may be what UniTaiChi considers to be correct.

Image B: So far it seems like we can all agree that this is not a desirable posture, so I will not comment further on it.

Image C: As I understand it, this posture can be seen sometimes in individuals who routinely perform heavy lifting and other intense physical labor. While it may be an adaptation for power, in the long term it can lead to a weakening of the muscles normally used in maintaining ‘proper’ posture, and can thus lead to physical problems later in life (as pointed out by XJ).

Image D: This posture ‘rests’ in the bands of muscles that form a Y from the lower back to the pelvis and can feel comfortable to individuals, and it even seems like some modern Wing Chun practitioners purposely adopt this posture (I also see it in some TJQ practitioners). Like C, this eventually results in a weakening of muscles that would normally be used to support the body and can result in problems later in life.

In many martial arts practices, there are sometimes compromises made with the training, e.g., some ‘toughening’ practices exasperate arthritis later in life while others that strengthen the bones can lead to the bones becoming brittle and can also cause problems over time. Some practices allow you to gain an advantage when young, but can be detrimental long term. I personally do not wish to make those types of tradeoffs.

The problem is that C & D can feel stable and powerful, but I believe that they are detrimental (especially in the long term) and are not what we want in TJQ. In TJQ we want to maintain our mobility around a stable center, and it is my opinion that the posture shown in A, adjusted by the consequences of having a greater bend in the knees, is what maintains our frame (especially the vertical axis alignment of the hip and shoulder joints as well as the crown of the head) - centered, stable and mobile. It seems to me that C & D may offer a type of stability (primarily in one direction – the direction being faced), but that A may produce greater changeability in all directions; but this is merely speculations on my part and I do not have hard evidence (e.g. scientific studies) to back them up.

Dan
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby extrajoseph » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:45 pm

Hi UniTaiChi,

The video you showed actually contradicted what you said (the Shaolin one only has frontal views):

http://youtu.be/Zu6-zBznDZc


The presenter Jake Mace said to tack in his hips when doing the leg strengthening exercise against a doorway, but at 2:45 when he straightens his body after squatting down, his hips is not tacked in and his back (spine) has a definite curve. Check it out, it is very clear from the side views.

Have you trained in other martial art?

I have been doing both the internal and external CMA for nearly 50 years now and believe me, you cannot tuck your hips (i.e. tailbone) in and keep your spine straight, if you want to stand in a low stance for a long period of time (in our system all beginners have to hold their low “mabu” for the time it takes to burn one incense stick) and you cannot deliver internal power if the external physical form of your body is not naturally correct, relaxed and follow the gravitational force.

Not only good CMA (including Taijiquan and Qigong) needs good science, it also needs to have good natural postures to function effectively.

May the (gravitational) Force be with you!

XJ
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby UniTaichi » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:41 am

extrajoseph wrote:Hi UniTaiChi,

The video you showed actually contradicted what you said (the Shaolin one only has frontal views):

http://youtu.be/Zu6-zBznDZc


The presenter Jake Mace said to tack in his hips when doing the leg strengthening exercise against a doorway, but at 2:45 when he straightens his body after squatting down, his hips is not tacked in and his back (spine) has a definite curve. Check it out, it is very clear from the side views.

Have you trained in other martial art?

I have been doing both the internal and external CMA for nearly 50 years now and believe me, you cannot tuck your hips (i.e. tailbone) in and keep your spine straight, if you want to stand in a low stance for a long period of time (in our system all beginners have to hold their low “mabu” for the time it takes to burn one incense stick) and you cannot deliver internal power if the external physical form of your body is not naturally correct, relaxed and follow the gravitational force.

Not only good CMA (including Taijiquan and Qigong) needs good science, it also needs to have good natural postures to function effectively.

May the (gravitational) Force be with you!

XJ


Hi XJ,

We are too pre-occupied with the words like straight/flat/vertical/curved and it give one a pre-determine(?) picture what it is or should be. As I have posted earlier, I am not too concern with the ''look'' more with the result of the movements and to feel if the structure is there. So instead we should used ''aligned'' like Louis have pointed out, is best. One have to ''feel'' aligned in ones own body, then it is correct. I am trying to post some pictures and the instructions of how the stances look in the Shaolin Yizhichen (one finger zen) qigong, which is slightly different from the videos posted.

Doing 50 years of martial is really awesome. Yes, most mabu is done similar to Jack Mace, without tucking in the tailbone. (forget about the straight spine) Every art different but the 3 Internal art of taiji, bagau, xingyi required tailbone to be tuck in (not neccessary all the time). So I am not sure what you meant by ''cannot tuck in and (straight - forget that) if in a low stance for long period'' Anyway it does not matter as long as each individual gets what they want from what they learn.

Like I have said, science is good to know. In fact very good. Eg. if someone can get a picture of how the spine look like in the taiji stance, I can show it to them. With that settled, we all go back to training. Makes a teachers' job that much simpler. :D

May the Science of Martial Art be with us !

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby extrajoseph » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:29 am

Hi UniTaiChi,

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthrea ... 113&page=1

Image

Here is a picture that you are asking for (fig 1), the spine should be neutral and the tailbone centrally-correct (highlighted by a green square) so the weight of you body can be transferred effectively (highlighted by the red line) to the ground to get the re-action from the ground to give you the jin (dynamic force) in Taijiquan.

Fig 2 shows the tailbone is tucked in too much, the knee is pushed too far forward and the body lean too much as a result to be effective.

I hope this settles it and you are not going to say this is for weight-lifting, we do it differently in Taijiquan, as though Taijiquan has a different science to other bodily movements.

XJ
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Re: The role of the spinal column in Taijiquan

Postby UniTaichi » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:10 pm

extrajoseph wrote:Hi UniTaiChi,

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthrea ... 113&page=1

Image

Here is a picture that you are asking for (fig 1), the spine should be neutral and the tailbone centrally-correct (highlighted by a green square) so the weight of you body can be transferred effectively (highlighted by the red line) to the ground to get the re-action from the ground to give you the jin (dynamic force) in Taijiquan.

Fig 2 shows the tailbone is tucked in too much, the knee is pushed too far forward and the body lean too much as a result to be effective.

I hope this settles it and you are not going to say this is for weight-lifting, we do it differently in Taijiquan, as though Taijiquan has a different science to other bodily movements.

XJ


Hi XJ,

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. It settled then. 8)

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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