squares and circles

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by cheesypeas, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. cheesypeas

    cheesypeas Moved on

    The square form is physical

    The round form is energetic.......

    Wondering if any of you out there more elequent than me can share your thoughts on this?
  2. steve Rowe

    steve Rowe Valued Member

    Hi Carys

    An interesting analogy I was taught in Iaido is that you start with a square (basic technique) and then cut the corners, then progress is that you cut them again and again gradually smoothing the edges, in theory you would never make a circle, only more and more corners, but you have to make that leap to the circle for the most effective technique with continuous momentum.

    Maybe that helps?
  3. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    Ah - look for the square within the circle (or the straight within the curved) and look for the curved within the straight.

    I see this as conceptually breaking circles down into linear and composite linear intentions (e.g. up, sideways, forwards or upwards-forwards etc.). We seek to go directly from where we are to where we need to be in our movements, but acknowledging that within the hopefully unbroken flow of physical momentum of a fight, the pathways will be worn smooth as you transition from one linear intention to another.

    And a dome is built on a scaffolding of triangles...

    That's with my Taiji head on. My Bagua head says that there are no straight lines - everything is curved. Even if you walk in a straight line, your steps are following the subtle curvature of the earth, which sounds mystical but may not be of much practical use beyond going "oh yeah." :D

    EDIT -

    Thinking about the OP a little more I just wanted to add that I'm not sure about whether or not square forms are useful. I think they cause overly simplified and incorrect expression of movement that has to later be corrected, thereby wasting the student's time.

    Also, again regarding the OP, I might say that as linear intentions merge together to make an unbroken flow of movement, so squares / straightness would be more of a conceptual thing and then curved movement would be the actuality - the momentum - so I'd see that as the more physical thing. Physical energy or momentum is my understanding of the term "energy" anyway.

    So maybe square form is more intellectual / intentional and round form is more physical / actual because the energetic is physical... ?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  4. lieqi fan

    lieqi fan Valued Member

    And what about the spiral? I was taught that this was the progression from circular.
  5. steel fingers

    steel fingers Valued Member

    or circles and spirals move in straight lines
  6. Dillon

    Dillon Valued Member

    A spiral is just a circle that is moving (i.e. a circular movement with a third axis, if you will).

    This might not be quite what we're discussing here, but the human body is largely incapable of linear movement. Apparent linear movement is just a combination of circles at the joint. For example, if your fist travels from your guard at shoulder height straight forward, it's actually the result of a circle at your shoulder and another at your elbow. True linear movement would require that we be built with pistons.
  7. lieqi fan

    lieqi fan Valued Member

    OK, what about figures of eight? (which is kinda what I meant by spirals)
  8. fatb0y

    fatb0y Valued Member

    So is the square form not energetic and the round form not physical?
  9. Puzzled Dragon

    Puzzled Dragon Valued Member

    I apologize for my ignorance, but what is meant by 'square form'? :confused:
  10. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    You can have spirals too, but figure eight shapes are something else again. Add a linear direction to a circle and you get a spiral. Well, actually you get a helix (or a conic helix if it is shrinking or expanding as it moves). Spirals are two dimensional, apparently. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix
  11. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    As I understand it, movements are expressed with simpler directions so that your arm might (for example) simply raise, move sideways and then strike out forwards, as opposed to reaching forwards in a smooth arcing movement that raises and curves into a sideways movement which carries on to strike with drilling power - the whole thing being expressed as a smooth conic helix.

    If Carys means something else, maybe she could describe it for you.

    Oh incidentally, I'm not saying that it isn't useful at all (for beginners especially) to practice moving in linear directions (with twisting / rolling limbs), but I see the main purpose of linked form sequences as teaching the body to flow movements seamlessly together.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  12. nready

    nready Verifying DMI pool....

    Hello, Dillon
    I agree! Nicely put to Dillon!

    They are referring to ideas on certain forms related in Taijiquan. Do you do Taijiquan Dillon?, that is not meant as a put down Dillon. It is just a question. :)

    Lets see there are these sets of forms called four corner and four direction, in Taijiquan there are a bunch of different ways to explain the idea of energy to students. Those forms are used to teach these ideas of energy linear and the circle and the spiral.
  13. Krabong

    Krabong Banned Banned

    Ask and ye shall receive

    <hotlinked image removed>
    Squares are Yang

    Circles Are Yin
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2008
  14. Dillon

    Dillon Valued Member

    I practice Yang taijiquan with Bob Boyd, the second disciple of Ip Tai Tak (himself the first disciple of Yang Sau Chung). I have never practiced a form that was explained to me as "square" or "circle." That said, I understand what we're talking about. I particularly like Steve Rowe's description of cutting the edges off of the square. I realized that my point was somewhat tangental to the conversation at hand, but I thought it was interesting :)

    Also, good point about spirals being 2D and helices being 3D Joanna.
  15. nready

    nready Verifying DMI pool....

    Ok, Dillon I should have put Yang Taijiquan on that about the four direction and the four corners not taught as much in Chen Taijiquan. At least as far as I can remember.

    Nice pic there Krabong, excellent representation.

    Yes, CarysB square would be more energetic in that it would require more energy to create from each stop going into the next move.
  16. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    I'd quite like to read explanations for two statements on this thread.

    Carys, could you tell us what you were referring to in your OP:
    And Krabong - nice picture - but could you tell us what the statement

    means. I know that sometimes people say things like that, but what is its significance to a martial artist? How does the concept of yin and yang actually help us here? What does it help us to DO?

    I've heard it expressed the other way too - that circles are yang because a circle is the strongest shape and corresponds to peng expansive roundness, whereas a square is broken and is therefore yin. These conceptual inconsistencies can be a little infuriating because you can get drawn into discussions and debates about such things and it can all get very abstract, paradoxical and confusing. if you're not careful, such debates can be very distracting, but the statements cannot simply be left alone because there are many conflicting statements of this sort that appear to be deep and significant but really only suck the intellect into "metaphysical mystification." How will it help me hit harder?
  17. Dillon

    Dillon Valued Member

    This is really what it all comes down to, isn't it? What do these ideas help us do? Sometimes these sorts of analogies or descriptions fall into the category of puzzles rather than problems. They can be an interesting mental diversion, but they're not really accomplishing much. I'm not saying that that's necessarily the case with this particular discussion, but making note of a general trend.
  18. lieqi fan

    lieqi fan Valued Member

    Care to expand on that JKZ? I would be most interested in your (and anyone else's) views.
  19. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    Oh - I was just pointing out that a figure eight pattern is not the same thing as a spiral or indeed a helix.

    A figure eight pattern is a sort of double sine wave shape that intersects itself, whereas a spiral is an expanding or shrinking continuous arc on a flat plane. A helix is a three dimensional kind of continuous circle - like a spring or the thread of a screw. A conic helix is a three dimensional spiral (as it contains the expansive or contracting element as well) and looks something like a tornado or a whirlpool.

    I guess a typical figure eight pattern, such as one might make with a sword is often a three dimensional shape too as the sword might often swing backwards and forwards as well as tracing a figure eight pattern, a bit like tracing the rims of a pair of wraparound sunglasses or goggles, but that's just getting complicated... (p.s. you might see that sort of shape in Chen style Da Lu push hands too...)

    EDIT: Just to keep our minds on the practical, all I'm discussing here is the path that a body (such as a fist or a sword) might make through space during combat.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2008
  20. lieqi fan

    lieqi fan Valued Member

    Yeah, that more what I had in mind to hear about. Funny, I would have bet money on you mentioning Ba Gua. When I showed one of the spiral/fig 8 warm up/silk reeling exercises I was taught to Leeming Yue (Chen Master) he said it looked like BG.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2008

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