Within written literature in the West about Taijiquan can be found numerous and differing translations for the word lie. The most prominent translations are “split”, “spiraling” or “twist”. A detailed explanation of lie can be found in the Secret Song of the eight methods (Bafa mijue):
How does one explain
the meaning of lie?
Circling as a flywheel.
When you throw something on it,
it is easily thrown 10 feet away.
Don't you see the whirlpool?
The whirling of waves is similar to a spiral.
A leaf that falls on it,
will sink immediately.
(Wu, S. 102)
Thus lie has two qualities:
It behaves like a turning wheel, from which something is being thrown away and it behaves like a whirlpool which sucks things inwards to a spiral.
It is precisely this double quality, which makes lie so effective. Lie allows one to draw and twist an opponent in as a whirlpool does. Thus his centre of gravity will be broken. Here lie has the quality of spiraling. Turning around one’s own body axis brings the opponent to a circular path on the outside. Due to the resulting momentum, it is then easily possible to sling the opponent away. Ma Jiangbao explains:
“If the opponent loses his centre of gravity due to lie, he can not resist the centrifugal force and will fly away like a piece of clay that is thrown on to the edge of a spinning wheel.”
Lie can be done with one hand or with two. In the case of using two hands, the force of the opponent is separated in two different directions, thus the association of splitting arises. As you can see the various translations for lie only partially reflect aspects of lie. Therefore it is best to leave lie untranslated. Also the Taijiquan masters developed lie as a technical term on its own.
· Wu Gongzhao, Wujia Taijiquan,
Xianggang Jianquan Taijiquanshi Chubanxiaozu, Hong Kong 1981