Donnerstag, 5. November 2009

Article: A Closer Look at the Classics



By Freya and Martin Boedicker

The Classics of Tai Chi Chuan offer deep knowledge. But as a westerner it is often hard to get the full picture by reading a translation. It is always worth the time to explore a more detailed explanation. We want to show this at one example:

Here is a sentence from the Song of Striking Hands (Dashouge):

yinjin luokong hejichu

Here a popular translation: "Lead into the emptiness and then discharge."

It is a short sentence and for those who practice Pushhands, quite clear. But we still think one can get more out of the original text.
First we want to look at the Chinese word yin.

Yin has the meaning of ‘to lead‘, or ‘to guide‘. Thus the general rule to answer an attack in Tai Chi Chuan is the following:

First, lead the incoming strength into emptiness, and then strike back.

But how can one attain this on a high level?

Maybe the second meaning of the character yin can help us.

The second meaning of yin is ‘to temp’ or ‘to lure’ and is a jin-power on its own. In Chen Gong’s book The Theory of the Jin-Power it is stated: “If the other one moves, I tempt him to move on a course which I select for him”.

This means for me, that the guidance of an opponent can be done in a way that I tempt him to do movements he does not want to do. E.g. I provoke him to attack at a certain point, thus I know where he attacks and I can let his strength fall into the emptiness. By tempting the opponent I can get very early control of the situation. Acting early makes actions effortless and natural. This is in the end the great ideal of Chinese philosophy, especially found in Laozi.

Lead into the emptiness: In Chinese one finds one more word: yinjin (we had before: leading/guiding) - luokong (which has in addition the word luo).

Luo means ‘falling’ and kong means ‘space’ or ‘emptiness’.

Luo means ‘falling’, but often the feeling of the word luo is very passive like in luoye - the leaves are falling. They are not dropped, but they fall on their own.

So yinjin luokong is not just ‘Lead into the emptiness’, but:

I am leading/tempting the opponent in such a way, that he falls on his own or by his own action/aggression into the emptiness.

So the full translation could be:

I am leading/tempting the opponent in such a way, that he falls on his own/or by his own action/aggression into the emptiness, then I strike back.

Isn't this great - no wonder they called the art Tai Chi Chuan, the martial art of the supreme ultimate.

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