taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

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taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby brer_momonga » Tue May 15, 2012 6:46 am

just wondering about the i-ching hexagrams and their associations with the postures of taijiquan. From what I understand, the horizontal lines yin/yang that are stacked to create the hexagram are said to come from or at least lend themselves well conceptually to taiji. Another concept to remind me that the possibilities for meditation while practicing taijiquan are endless...

In terms of the 64 hexagrams as they appear in I Ching - I was wondering if there is a widely accepted system of direct (or fixed) associations with the postures or if direct associations are considered theory and heavily debated.

Does anyone bring one of the hexagrams with them to direct their practice or do they try to recall the essence of one of the hexagrams during certain postures?

This might be a little too esoteric, but I've been pondering and arm-chair researching this lately.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby Brian » Tue May 15, 2012 8:59 am

Although I don't use any such devices in my taiji training (personally I do not believe that any of this is necessary) you might be interested in the following link....

http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/trigram.htm

Scroll down to see the many attributes associated with the Hexagrams.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby brer_momonga » Tue May 15, 2012 10:55 am

thanks for the link Brian. this is exactly the kind of chart I was looking for.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Tue May 15, 2012 11:55 am

That stuff is fine, but is it really what you wanted?

What style of taiji do you work with? I have used the Yang style to play around with these things, although, it was only for play (and only a few weeks of "armchair" work).

If you look at the Yang style that most put forth today, the associations will be superficial, at best. Peng is so much more than Ward off slantingly upward, and Lu is so much more (and infintely less) than what 99% of people put forth, so looking at the trigrams and then the posture won't teach much.

Also, understanding postures like "ji" and "an" as press and push (repectively), will not be very helpful either.

What I did was I connected the movement with other expressions of the trigrams to some startling (yet not terribly surprising) results. What I found from this had nothing to do with how the energy flows, but in how the postures are actually meant to be used. Of course, it is all just my fooling around and, as far as I can tell, not part of an official teaching. And again, they are just interesting similarities more than anything else.

come to think of it, it has everything to do with energy! be aware though, Josh is all about initiation, so he will probably try to indoctrinate you into the fold! :) Just kidding mate. This is too rudimentary for him to comment on.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby brer_momonga » Tue May 15, 2012 1:20 pm

wpgtaiji, I practice a yang style. I'm not quite sure what I want with this trigrams/hexagrams business, but it's an interesting chart and since I'm researching, I'll need to compare it with other similar charts. I don't have an end result in mind it's just somewhere to start. something for the Curio cabinet at least.

plus, I'm interested in what you guys think about it. so far, Brian doesn't believe it is necessary but he knows enough about it to direct someone to a link and you dabbled in it but you didn't find it to be exceptionally beneficial to your practice.

this is just a side project - I don't think it will revolutionize the way I practice the form - but who knows. I certainly won't get all 90's new age with it, but we all have our own ways of bringing the dao into our practice.

I like trying to memorize verses from books like lao tzu and i ching - little things to help me remember to stay on the way. so, I thought it might be interesting to find an existing system of associations or develop a little exercise of my own incorporating i ching verses somehow into my forms practice.

Plus, I'm a sucker for medieval systems that attempt to chart and symbiotically compare the categories of different, yet related, disciplines...
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Tue May 15, 2012 1:35 pm

That's fair!

I started by looking at the different ways of movement that different sources link to the trigrams. I started to notice certain trends. I use Erle's Old Yang form, so we have different ideas of the postures.

For example, if you look at An from Chen fu form (and all its variants), we get most often a "push". Erle and Yang jun (and that line) call it Press (in english). In chenfu's form, Erle taught it as 2 separate strikes. In the old yang form, that same name movement has between 6 to 8 (depending on where you start counting) in the posture. I took a look at the Hawk/Falcon from bagua (which is also Li trigram), and I noticed some very cool things.

Of course, I went deeper than that. I asked Erle about it (one of the last things I asked him before he passed) and he said that the trigrams arent important, just for curiosity.

Good luck with the journey mate. It is mostly just a curiosity thing. Though, one day, I may write a book on it! :P LOL ok, just kidding.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby Brian » Tue May 15, 2012 1:44 pm

Now you have me looking....anyway check this book available on Amazon...

http://www.amazon.com/Qi-Gong-Kuji-In-P ... 0978110501

Hope the link works...if not then google the title.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Tue May 15, 2012 5:58 pm

brian, it shouldn't be esoteric. That sort of thing is bs! it should be grounded and able for anyone to understand. the only reason I haven't gone deeper is because I am contemplating a seminar tour and you 2 are my first targets! :P Just kidding... or am i?
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Wed May 16, 2012 12:10 am

brer_momonga wrote:w... you dabbled in it but you didn't find it to be exceptionally beneficial to your practice.

Sorry, I guess i wasnt paying as close attention the first time i read this. Sorry mate, it wasnt that it wasnt beneficial. In fact, it was mighty beneficial to what i was looking at at the time. It tied together and answered a ton of questions I had been working on. It also helped me get a much deeper appreciation for how right FOR ME, Erle's approach was to internal martial arts, and actually simplified my entire approach.

Also, when i say i spent time with it, it wasn't dabbling! I tend to look fairly deeply into questions i have (and never just from one source).

What is concerning to me with these charts are, they are nice to look at, but dont give much. So what if An is Li, what does that really tell you? If you dont have a deep appreciation for An, and if you have never seen other expressions of Li, that connection is useless. Mate, I know from what I am speaking! I first saw these connections in Jou's book, Tao of Taiji quan, in 1995, but i didnt piece things together until 2010/2011. So just a brief time. Why so long? Because, unlike yourself, in 1995, i couldnt have cared less about the associations. in 2010, i had experience with other trigram methods, so i was ready. It really isnt a big deal, just more of an interest for table top martial artists (yeah, i said it). That said, it is still valuable, just dont obsess over it. lIke i said before, if you only use Yang Chenfu's form (of which YMAA is a variant or relative) it wont make much sense at first. be easy on yourself.

peace
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby Brian » Wed May 16, 2012 12:54 am

wpgtaiji wrote:brian, it shouldn't be esoteric. That sort of thing is bs! it should be grounded and able for anyone to understand. the only reason I haven't gone deeper is because I am contemplating a seminar tour and you 2 are my first targets! :P Just kidding... or am i?


Ah..but all of these concepts (I Ching included) are by their very nature 'esoteric'. Understanding can only come with long and detailed study and with the help of a competent teacher. I have used the Kuji-In in relation to my Japanese sword work in the past as a means of focusing the Mind and maintaining 'Zanshin' (a state of relaxed awareness). The hand positions (Mudra) are merely physical manifestations of a set of mantras, and just as mantras are used in some meditative forms, they do perform a similar job.

:0) Bring on the seminar tour!!!......:0) hehehe!!
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Wed May 16, 2012 8:30 am

Brian wrote:Ah..but all of these concepts (I Ching included) are by their very nature 'esoteric'.


LOL I really hate this format some times. Yes, the idea of the trigrams is esoteric, granted. The application should be simple.

LOL You are going to get it out of me, arent you??

Li, the Fire trigram! If we look at the chart, it says Push. When we see most of the Yang postures, we see Push. What does that tell you? Li is a push! WOW!

Erle teaches that posture, translated as Press. It isnt a push, but a series of strikes, for example, in Chenfu, we get a right then left palm strike. The posture doesnt go down or away, it attacks from both sides, first the right, then the left. Even at this stage, which is a step up on understanding level, we still don't have much.

If we take a look at the way it is done in the Old Yang form, we see that there are 6 strikes in the forward motion, always right then left or left then right. SO now, we can start to get an idea that Chenfu teaches us that LI is continuous attack, but on a grander scale.

I then took a look at bagua styles. Li is the Hawk or Falcon form, in a few styles. To keep it very simple, Erle taught a Falcon form of bagua. The applications in each of the 8 changes, again, show multiple attacks. There is one sequence where we get 8 strikes (defending are strikes too) continuously.

Therefore, we see that, like fire, which continuously clings to an opponent, we see that Li and An also have that similar characteristic.

mate, I looked at other relations like this. Some are easier to see than others (elbow or shoulder are not simple, nor is split lol). So you can see, I didnt just use taiji, but a variety of things to conclude. In the end, it is all just head stuff because what do they really tell you?

peace
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby Dvivid » Wed May 16, 2012 8:52 am

It translates as both, Press and Push. And can be used as both. This is commonly known and taught in most styles.

You can use the pattern to push someone from their root, or you can use the same pattern and leverage to press someone between two hands, one hand behind them, and one hand striking them from the front.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby brer_momonga » Wed May 16, 2012 9:49 am

Dvivid wrote:It translates as both, Press and Push. And can be used as both. This is commonly known and taught in most styles.

You can use the pattern to push someone from their root, or you can use the same pattern and leverage to press someone between two hands, one hand behind them, and one hand striking them from the front.


wpgtaiji wrote: So what if An is Li, what does that really tell you? If you dont have a deep appreciation for An, and if you have never seen other expressions of Li, that connection is useless. ...

Li, the Fire trigram! If we look at the chart, it says Push. When we see most of the Yang postures, we see Push. What does that tell you? Li is a push! WOW! ...

Therefore, we see that, like fire, which continuously clings to an opponent, we see that Li and An also have that similar characteristic.


good, clinging associated with fire. The chart is meant to be a type of lexicon or concordance leading us to consult attributes from the "fire" category within the context of i-ching. for starters, Li - I ching hexagram 30 - using a few commentaries from this translation and commentary - http://www.akirarabelais.com/i/i.html#30

"hexagram 30 - The Clinging Fire...double sign...to cling to something, and also brightness...fire has no definite form but clings to the burning object and thus is bright... A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something that perserveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may shine... grain, grass, and trees cling to the earth...Fire clings to wood, but also consumes it...asceticism that is too strict, like setences of undue severity, fails in its purpose..."

so, thinking of clinging and releasing in a balanced physical movement - in addition to the meditative circulation of chi during this movement, we may also incorporate these philosophical concepts of balance?

I'm not saying it's end-all, be-all association or anything, it's just a metaphonr and it may add another intellectual and spiritual layer to taijiquan practice for some people.

then again, just about every concept from any taoist text may be applied to any posture movement in taijiquan - overdoing singular associations is a bit like both leaning down to impose a compass on taijiquan and placing i ching on too high a pedestal.

I'm glad you're sharing your experiences studying trigram connections with taijiquan and also that you shared Erle's comments on the matter with us.

wpgtaiji wrote:In the end, it is all just head stuff because what do they really tell you?


it tells me that there are many opportunities in taijiquan to remind myself to keep trying to be a better person

Brian wrote:The hand positions (Mudra) are merely physical manifestations of a set of mantras, and just as mantras are used in some meditative forms, they do perform a similar job.


eureka! j'ai trouvé
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby Josh Young » Wed May 16, 2012 10:44 am

One of the first people to introduce taijiquan to the west did so under the name Da Liu, in 1972 he wrote in english that the form was based upon the hexagrams. I have always found that interesting, though that is not the formal teaching I received.

His book has good content.

http://www.amazon.com/TAi-Chi-ChUan-Chi ... 0060913096

Clearly the Bagua (trigrams) play a huge role in the 13 postures.

It is interesting that he would write that the form is not based upon qi flow, meridian pathways or applications, but the I Ching, he does show some applications in his book. It is an interesting resource, not as scholarly or thorough as Dr. Yangs books, but a good read nonetheless.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Wed May 16, 2012 12:07 pm

Dvivid wrote:It translates as both, Press and Push. And can be used as both. This is commonly known and taught in most styles.

You can use the pattern to push someone from their root, or you can use the same pattern and leverage to press someone between two hands, one hand behind them, and one hand striking them from the front.

I agree. Pushing doesnt give much though, in this example. When you move someone away from you, the clinging nature of fire is lost. Looking at the posture as Press, where you have a continuous pressure coming at the attacker makes the trigram more alive, in my opinion.

Like i said, it is not set in stone. It would be an interesting discussion on the part of a teacher though, who claims that Push is LI trigram, and have a student ask "HOW is it clinging if a push is a push?"

If you take its opposite, Kan, which is Water, it is related to the posture Press or we call it Squeeze. Some bagua schools call it Snake. How most people (from what i can tell), illustrate the taiji posture as press, but it isnt the same sort of press as i described earlier. We call it squeeze because of the rounding of the back to propel the attacking surface forward (very simplely). You are basically squeezing your elbows together.

If you look at Yin style bagua, from what i can piece together (snake style is apparently a rarity), it is a nasty form. You touch and you kill seems to be the general motto of the snake. Ji has this quality as well, though it isnt as plain as An is to see.

I didnt want to have a debate as to what the name means (erle and yang jun's dvds have the same names for these 2 postures, so its not just one source). I just was meaning that it is sometimes easier to understand things outside of what you are comfortable with (i am NOT comfortable with Yin snake style! I have only seen one demo of it on youtube (well a few vids but one dude) and he is in Italy! )

hope that helps.. or makes things worse! LOL told you not to go here :(

*edit: I was just rereading the posts to get a clearer idea and it struck me: I am not looking at this from the iching, nor from words. I am looking at this strictly from a comparison of movement and application. Maybe i have to retract my statements above about it not being practical! LOL I am thinking that Erle would have loved this approach :(

**edit 2: I really got to read things completely! Dvivid, i was not referring to the idea of pressing from front and back. We have applications like that, but not necessarily for that posture. I was literally describing continuous attacking (like fire). Again, i dont see how pressing front and back has any representation of LI, or fire. that is why, if one is looking at trigrams for guidance, you may have to step out of your style. btw, i know dr Yang describes that application, i just dont agree with it as a valid understanding for the topic we are discussing (trigrams and the taiji postures) because it doesnt illustrate clinging very well.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby Josh Young » Thu May 17, 2012 9:21 pm

In the case of the energies it is hard to have a decent discussion.

The eight energies are actually two sets of four reciprocal energies, which are themselves made of two aspects, substantial and insubstantial.

The ideas of fire and water have very little to do with the teaching in most formal schools, it is better to see it in terms of the substantial inside the insubstantial and the reciprocal of the reverse, the insubstantial inside the substantial. The trigrams show this well, but the interpretations of the trigrams do not, ergo fire and water are essentially irrelevant, which is why the formal teaching uses the names of the trigrams but does not employ the concepts of fire and water. In the formal teaching fire is mentioned for one of the five directions, or movement aspect that form an essential aspect of the 13 postures, however this is given in the five element form to teach a functional and dynamic relationship, the directions do not have inherent properties of metal, wood, fire etc, which is why it is said that it is all the same up or down, front or back etc.

It is not that forward is metal, it is that in relationship to another direction forward is a dynamic answer, the essential functions of this scheme describe vectors of force for neutralization, again shared to be the same on any plane, be it vertical, horizontal or diagonal. The force vectors are at perpendicular angles and this relates to the formal teaching that force is never met directly, in this way the five element scheme is illustrative not of elemental properties but of how force is neutralized.

An is an energy, not an application, when it is said to be push it is not meant as an application as anyone taught formal applications already knows. In terms of the Bagua trigrams, and the resultant combinations which correspond to the i-Ching, what is described and taught is essentially physics, not application in the formal sense, the energy of an can be put into many motions, as is the case with all energies, there are different teachings directly relating to application. In this an is indeed an attack, and Gord is right that it is not a formal push, however the energy can be described as pushing, much like Ji can be thought of as a press, such as a lever squeezing down on a plane from a fulcrum or axis, for this reason both press and squeeze are correct in terms of the realization of the energy, and both are incorrect as formal applications.

In terms of applying trigrams in combination as hexagrams one can understand the teaching as sequence, employing two energies in sequence and in a reciprocal or functionally dynamic manner generates a potential hexagram, in this way the system of application is inexhaustible. This does not mean that the essence of the I-Ching hexagrams is implied, as the essence of the Bagua trigrams is also not employed, indeed Peng is not heaven, Lu is not earth, however heaven an earth are reciprocal things, much as the energies are, and Peng is substantial or full while Lu is insubstantial or void. It does not mean that heaven figures into the application of Peng energy or that earth figures into the application of Lu energy, or that to use them in sequence generates a hexagram essence. It is a common misconception that Ji is water or an is fire, but Ji is not wet, nor is An hot, that has nothing at all to do with it. As those with formal teaching know long and short energies also play a role in this and with different energies the result of An is different, it can be used to push an opponent, but an opponent pushed does not have to be disconnected from and a push can displace an opponent and open them up to further attack. Moreover An can do serious damage and drop a person where they stand in other ways, though the energy is the same, the way it is manifested varies.


One way to understand this better is in regard to weapons applications, the energies are the same, but with a sword there is no push, no press etc, the energies do not change when one uses weapons, but the applications do. What is described in terms of the trigrams is thus not a philosophical or metaphysical system relating to the natures of the trigrams, but instead describes a complete system of movement and inherent methodology which accompanies it. One will also note that in terms of translation of the trigrams and hexagrams that there is some degree of variation that while problematic to philosophers and diviners has no impact upon the formal teaching of the 13 postures.

It may seem complex, but it is profoundly simple. One can more readily understand it that in a vital way, yang and yin do not exist as independent properties, but exist only in relation to one another. This is why the art is the martial system of taiji, it is not meant to be thought of in a grandiose and bragging sense of it being supreme or ultimate, it is meant to be understood in terms of how it is a complete and coherent system of functional and dynamic aspects based upon reciprocal energies. If one focuses too much upon the idea of the trigrams and hexagrams themselves they are very likely to miss the subtle and profound truth that is described in the use of the trigrams in regards to the 13 postures, it is all about energies, which can be felt, and not at all about the philosophy and interpretation of the trigrams as elemental forces. Actually, understanding this, as well as not understanding this is a sign of knowing and not knowing, of truth and not truth, in terms of taijiquan, it can show who knows the real art and who has an interpretative version. You don't find the truth much outside the formal transmissions, the 13 postures is a very specific martial method that has no room for loose interpretation or translation, and it can be taught without words at all, they are merely a tool to help teach the true martial art and in and of themselves are of no use whatsoever, knowing them is irrelevant to knowing the art and too much emphasis upon them often comes at the cost of preventing true understanding. It is better to have one true lesson in the physical art than to have ten thousand lessons in the words used in the art.
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Re: taijiquan and the i-ching hexagrams

Postby wpgtaiji » Fri May 18, 2012 1:33 pm

Thanks Josh

I used the terms fire and water because they are part of the tradition (in english).

With fire, it isnt about being hot or anything. It is about the CLINGING nature of fire. In the "form" applications of Falcon/hawk (bagua - wtba) and An (old yang style), the attacker feels overwhelmed by the constant and PRESSing nature of continuous attacks coming from both sides (and at different distances). With water, it is more of the nature of a tsunami.. which is really how water manifests destruction (though there are other ways). What I mean is, if you look at the posture, we have the two hands in posture almost from the start of the movement. At the "finish" (which there is no such thing in taiji), there comes the explosion from the body. I watched a documentary of a tsunami and that is exactly what it was like. People noticed the water, but weren't terribly worried about it. Then, when it is upon you, it is too late.

The use of images is rappant in the internal arts to give the learner something to work with later on. I love the Dragon being lightning or Thunder (in bagua) for example. Watching lightning, it doesnt come from the sky, it starts from the ground, but it appears to come from above. It is a confusion, which is what that type of bagua is like, or supposed to be like.

I knew you had ideas Josh! Thanks for sharing.
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