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Shark
09-15-2004, 09:08 AM
recently J posted a very good thread concerning what the hands do or don't do in t'ai chi.i thought mabe some would like to expand on this topic a bit,get down to it.
do you think the hands have an important role to play in t'ai chi chuan?
if so what would that be?
should one be aware of ones hands?
wasn't it Yang Cheng Fu that claimed that the chi flows out though the fingertips?
what's your hand position during practice with hands open? fingers apart? thumbs in/out? do you make a partial or full fist?
why?

stanton
09-15-2004, 09:27 AM
shark,

Hands are secondary, and even terciary in taijiquan practice.
If hands becomes the focus (other than relaxation, holding tiger's mouth's-hou kou?), relaxed fingers with intent and not collapsed-neither together nor closed positioning), then much is lost.

For me, as I understand taijiquan concepts, waist and lower body positioning is more important. If hands are priority, then chansujin quality diminishes regarding the most effect one can gain from practice. It is level of benefit that I am addressing as all taijiquan is beneficial in one way or another.

Yes, one needs hands in martial practice but if you are using hands only with improper lower body positioning, then there is no or limited result in applying shuai, na, etc.
It is hard to explain but I think the individual teacher's face to face interaction is the best way to show the 'best' way.
I would not say something is wrong but try to show a chanssujin effect of what the person wanted to accomplish.

JLevine
09-15-2004, 10:29 AM
I think the hands deserve as much focus as the rest of the body, but nothing special should draw the intent there. There should be no more potential in the hands than in the rest of the body.

There should be more potential in the tan tien than in any subsequent portion of the body.

--------------------------------------------

I think that joints are joined in threes:

Fingertips-Root Knuckle-Wrist
Root Knuckle-Wrist-Elbow
Wrist-Elbow-Shoulder
Elbow-Shoulder-Hip (opposite side)
Shoulder-Hip (opposite)-Knee
Hip-Knee-Ankle
Knee-Ankle-Root Knuckle
Ankle-Root Knuckle-Toe Tip

The above examples are only one tiny step towards complicated. The breakdown of bows can be compounded again and again. This is where the power lies.

If the joints are collected in threes, and the bow is drawn through each set of three, there will be no gap and no defficiency. The hands should perform their integral role in the arm bow, but attention to the hands should never distract from every other bow just the same as attention to the feet should not distract from the rest of the body. The mind must be able to hold the whole body at once or there will be confusion in the realm of ignorance.

A visualization I use on occasion is to make the top of the arm (from finger tips to elbow) like the top of an airplane wing, while a straight line (the bow string) is "imagined" from the fingertips to the lowest point on the elbow. This fits with CMC's "beautiful lady's hand" concept. If pressure comes in from the finger tips, each join expands along the curve to receive it. This expansion can be absorbed throughout the three point bows until it reaches the root. Once at the root, the ground will act.

The hands do not drive movement, and the hands do not move first. The waist turn (release of already gathered potential), through the connection established by attention to the bows created by uniting the "threes" in agreement with gravity (always downward centripital force through the tailbone using any insubstantial flesh as a pendulum) causes the movement of the hands.

I wish these concepts were this clear in my practice, but still, there is tension from life which turns me stiff on weekdays.

Confound the capitalist call to usefulness!

Josh

carolinew
09-15-2004, 10:40 AM
Hands are a part of the whole. I was taught to have my hands in the right places as well as my feet and it helps to put everything else in the right place.

Evryone is different, every teacher is different, so wherver you go and whoever you talk to will put the focus in different places! Every part is importent!

stanton
09-15-2004, 12:06 PM
another try:

1. rooting is feet, lower body
2. chanssujin is waist kua/hip 'mobilization' mechanics with open close of kua, raising and lowering and twisting. Hands do not initiate this process.
3. hands follow all as they do not initiate movement.

WARNING:
no one was hurt in the subjective expression of the writer's pronouncements. his view only. it is OK ot have differing views.
no animals were used in this process. I hope so..!!

yintaichi
09-15-2004, 01:40 PM
Some thoughts re: the hands. The hands can
be thought of as the tips of whips. The legs
would be the handle, the torso corresponds to
the thick, beginning taper of the whip, and the
arms to the last part of the taper.
How do the hands move in Tai Chi? Stand
straight with arms relaxed at your sides.Now,
without bending the knees, make a vigorous
quarter-turn with the waist; first to the left and
then to the right. Notice how the arms and
hands "flop" along? Increase the vigor of the
quarter turn and you can make the hands flip
up quite high! This happens in slow motion during Tai Chi practice.
A fun visualization- We've all seen two
butterflies or moths fluttering about each other.
It's amazing how they interact w/o touching as
they both fly along the same path. Each hand
is a butterfly.

Shark
09-16-2004, 08:36 PM
nice analogy;beautiful in fact; here's my two cents about why i think the hands are important:
1) as a natural conduit for the chi
2) for the grace and aid to mobility they provide and to their contribution to the t'ai chi form's overall look which i think is important.
3) as an essential balancing aid to many of the moves.
4) we all know that t'ai chi movement is controlled by the waist but the hands are an essential part of that movement's outermost expression.
5) with an upper body oriented martial art like t'ai chi chuan that doesn't rely so much on kicks,the hands are often your first line of defence

soraya
09-17-2004, 03:42 AM
Kudos for Shark. The hands(fist) plays the most important role as kicks will cause disbalance, no matter how good you are. Kicks are very often applied when the opponent has a weapon, pistol or if you are not close enough to the op. to use your hands. Kicking is a bridging method for stepping in at the same time attacking. Therefore high kicks are good in competition or fitness training but uneconomical in martial application

However......the others are also right when stating that the waist is the commander( and the dantian area) with the shoulders, elbow, wrist and finally hands. One need to relax the fingers and all other joints for the qi to permeate to the endpoint ie hands.

When practising push hands or qi flow it is a teaching methodology to act as though your hands are cut off. The reason is not to think and act from the point of contact i.d. hands and brute force but "think" from the waist(dantian) nest to the shoulders, elbow etc..etc... like a hub of the wheel(waist) and the other smaller joints shoulders, elbow, wrist as the rest of the spokes. When i started to learn push hands i had no force against another because i used brute force and acted from the point of contact(hands). In order to unlearn this native brute force it helps to imagine as if you have no hands

soraya
09-17-2004, 03:51 AM
YCF stated that the qi travelled from the foot, up the back, down the shoulders, elbow, wrist and finally expressed through the hands and energized by the eyes. The eyes are also considered to be the window of the mind and spirit(yi and shen for lack better term)

JLevine
09-17-2004, 07:36 AM
I think its extremely important not to be consumed by the answer which will get the most nods. Be consumed by your perception of yourself. Investigate every relationship inside your body, and inside your mind. Be only what you are. There is nothing recognizable here for us, we are all children in the great wind.

I believe saying that the hands add "this" benefit, or provide "that" aspect of self defense is a waste of good "yes" for an aspiring practitioner. "Yes" is precious. If you dont truly recognize a benefit inside yourself, do not nod. The true benefit connects from the feet to the hands (following the path Yang Cheng-Fu mentioned through Soraya). If you cannot really understand it, please dont pretend. Instead, accept yourself as you are, and from there ask your mind and your body for understanding. I dont fully understand it, but in the times I thought I had something, I was stagnant and not progressing. Now, each time my mind lets go of its wish to be good at tai chi, it recognizes how little I understand, and I am suddenly open to understand so much more.

One great reason we relax is so that we can hear more of whats going on inside our body. The mechanics of tai chi are obvious if we recognize them past our own internal screaming. Each time you contract a muscle, no matter how slightly, you drown out massive amounts of perception that could trigger the revalation that you are currently cultivating.

If you had no hands, lost in an accident say, you are not excluded from practicing tai chi. So what is it IN the hands that is important? Nothing! The most important task involving the hands is leaving them alone. Let the wrists be floppy. Only then will the connection from the waist be able to affect the hands directly. Once the connection is made, you can explore the subtleties and start to really express the beauty that is seen watching a master. The master is not putting on a show.

If you cannot move your hands by using only your waist, relax, relax, relax, and recognize the path. If you resign all strife to seek this, you are on the path of exploration, and the path of wisdom.

Faith and perseverence until you part the shrowd of tension, entering through the gateway to the miraculous.

Relax right now.

There is your skill.

soraya
09-17-2004, 07:59 AM
Originally posted by JLevine
I think its extremely important not to be consumed by the answer which will get the most nods. Be consumed by your perception of yourself. Investigate every relationship inside your body, and inside your mind. Be only what you are. There is nothing recognizable here for us, we are all children in the great wind.

As I started with GM Chen this was what he taught me. I was disappointed in the beginning because i expected all those "cool" punches and kicks



I believe saying that the hands add "this" benefit, or provide "that" aspect of self defense is a waste of good "yes" for an aspiring practitioner.

Don't particularly agree but there are so many aspects in tC


"Yes" is precious. If you dont truly recognize a benefit inside yourself, do not nod. The true benefit connects from the feet to the hands (following the path Yang Cheng-Fu mentioned through Soraya). If you cannot really understand it, please dont pretend. Instead, accept yourself as you are, and from there ask your mind and your body for understanding. I dont fully understand it, but in the times I thought I had something, I was stagnant and not progressing. Now, each time my mind lets go of its wish to be good at tai chi, it recognizes how little I understand, and I am suddenly open to understand so much more.

One great reason we relax is so that we can hear more of whats going on inside our body. The mechanics of tai chi are obvious if we recognize them past our own internal screaming. Each time you contract a muscle, no matter how slightly, you drown out massive amounts of perception that could trigger the revalation that you are currently cultivating.

Beautiful metaphor but I am a nuts and bolts person and focus on enjoying my practice. By chance i won a medal..lol

If you had no hands, lost in an accident say, you are not excluded from practicing tai chi. So what is it IN the hands that is important? Nothing! The most important task involving the hands is leaving them alone.

I still have my hands but know a few martial artists who had one hand




Let the wrists be floppy.

No, this is not particularly correct but difficult to explain online

If you cannot move your hands by using only your waist, relax, relax, relax, and recognize the path. If you resign all strife to seek this, you are on the path of exploration, and the path of wisdom.

I have no wisdom but my push hands partner felt something(what?)

Faith and perseverence until you part the shrowd of tension, entering through the gateway to the miraculous.

I am dumb

Relax right now.

Sorry i was not serious a little bit ironical. Enjoy your day, i had a hectic working day, 10 appointments, fast-paced. stressed but still content with what i reached

Time for practice now will enjoy and do
There is your skill.

Shark
09-17-2004, 10:26 AM
t'ai chi is a profound art that has a tendency to reveal itself in layers to the individual;yet it's concepts are simple enough to be understood by the common man as well as by the educated man;that's part of it's design.
once the connection of energy between the feet and hands is felt it is easily understandable,no need for pretense;it is understood by your whole being not just your mind;to me the hands contribute to t'ai chi's beauty and function,that's my only point;nod or shake your head at will.
from martial standpoint the hands need do nothing more than feign a strike to have proved their usefulness.
my reference to kicks had to do only with taiji's origins as regards the influence of terrain on it's development.some martial arts feature more kicks depending on whether their regions of origin were flatter or more mountainous