The One Point • Gravity •

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by fusedroot, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    I'm afraid you're on the wrong forum if you expect straight answers, Thelistmaker. Tai Chi people like to be En16m@†1c - clarity is beneath them. It's a lifestyle choice - an identity affectation - an off-the-shelf pose not unlike teen-angst or nihilistic horror frenzy. If left untreated it can grow into a full-blown personality disorder.

    The spot that is 3 finger widths below the navel is a point which is meant to be some kind of "gate" to an "energy centre" called the dantian ("elixir field"). What has this got to do with martial arts? Well for most Tai Chi people Tai Chi isn't about martial arts - boundaries blur making it a great pseudo-religious sexual lifestyle mishmash of nonsense. They find whimsical, elusive and even seedy connections where there aren't any and often back each other up in such nonsense despite everyone's nonsense being a bit different from everyone else's. The one thing they are clear on is that it is not clear or understandable to ordinary folk. Submission to a GR8 M4ST3R is the only way to be be led to a pitiful attempt at understanding.

    So back in the real world I guess a physical body has a centre of gravity, and you want to get it pretty low and keep it low. If someone raises your centre of gravity a.k.a. "raises your qi" they can topple you more easily.

    A separate issue is body mechanics. One of the Taiji classics talks about power being rooted in the feet, issued through the legs, directed by the waist / hips and and manifest in the hands. The legs push everything else into place from the ground up. Works for me.

    Some Taiji people prefer the idea of everything emanating outwards from their imaginary all-purpose "energy centre" (dantian) and returning to it again. A more mundane explanation is that your waist and hips is where you generate your power from (Zheng Manqing used the term "yao kua" - waist hips). As your hips open and close to allow you to turn your torso, there isn't really any conflict with the "from the ground" theory. I open my non-weighted leg from the hip (opening the hip fold), then shift all my weight onto that leg, turning the torso when the weight has passed the half-way mark and turning the other leg with it, pivoting on the heel - this closes the hip fold again. The power is generated by the legs and torso and the hip region could be said to be active throughout - inititating and finishing the movement.

    Some Tai Chi folk say their "energy" shoots out from their "dantian" and bounces up from the ground - which basically tallies with the above power from the feet thing, not that the "energy" people will admit it - they'll say it is all to do with "internal energies" akin to bioelectricity. Of course you could then argue that your nerves send signals out to your muscles from your spine which could tally with that idea, but of course that would be too mundane (Western) an explanation for a Tai Chi person to admit. There must be no common ground - the Ancient Chinese were completely ingenious unlike their foolish Western counterparts who achieved nothing whatsoever in the fields of science, medicine and anatomy ;)

    So they'll resist all attempts at reconciliation and tell you you don't understand because you've never trained with a R34L M4ST3R even when you have but they just had a much more mundane and less esoteric understanding of everything and knew not to blur so-called "internal alchemy" with body mechanics.

    Of course everything other than body mechanics and center of balance is complete nonsense. Anyway, that's my contribution to this discussion.

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  2. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Now why do I expect some to, rather than accept this pragmatic and common sense explanation, declare that 2 and 2 make 5 and that we are missing some esoteric principles.
    The poetic and mystical manner in which the OP presented his case immediately turned me off while, above, I found to be interesting and informative.

    Cut out the mysticysm.

    regards koyo
  3. onyomi

    onyomi 差不多先生

    Uh, it's not the center of gravity, it's the most important area for regulating qi flow in the body. The major points along the ren meridian (down the front of the body), also called dantians, are like little lakes in the river flows of the body's energy. The "true dantian," which is located below the navel and a little in (generally--like I said, it can move), is like the largest or most important of these. Additionally, unlike the others, sometimes called "false dantians," the lower dantian has a pump-like ability almost like a heart but for blood and energy. It works in tandem with the lungs to circulate the qi throughout the body. When in a deep meditation state it feels as if the dantian itself can breath and the lungs hardly have to move at all. This is why the Daoists say it is "the true centre of the breath."
  4. bealtine

    bealtine Valued Member

    Funnily enough this equates to how I think about chi and is a very good explanation of my understanding of it and how my teacher explained it to me.

    Oh well, each to their own banana patch...
  5. piratebrido

    piratebrido internet tough guy

    Just last week I kicked a guy in the dantiens. As expected all his energy left his body.
  6. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    So this is how little is understood about Dantiens??? :confused:
    It depends on how you look at the 3 Dantiens first there is physically
    1) Lower Dantien is usually about the umbilicus to below (usually the top of the pelvic bone)
    2) Middle Dantien is usually umbilicus above to the sternum (more specifically xiphoid process)
    3) With Upper Dantien rounding it up from the sternum (xiphoid process) to the head (some say neck)

    For this part I think we can all agree these are fair and physical parts of the body. In chinese medicine these can also be referred to as the Jiaos.

    Energetically speaking:
    1) Lower Dantien as others have pointed out is your "Qi store house" if you will. This is where you build energy or Qi for later use. (This is the 3 fingers down from the umbilicus and 2 fingers in or Ren 6 mostly in TCM.
    2) Middle Dantien from what I have been taught is most closely associated with Steam and is a spreading mechanism for Qi and the energy of the body. Usually associated with Ren 15 in TCM or a point right as the base of the Xiphoid process.
    3) Your upper Dantien then is purified form of Qi allowing mental clarity etc. This can be assoicated with Ren 17 or the middle of the sternum.

    I have honestly not heard anything taught much about the Dantiens in much of my Tai Chi training. Other than using solely the Lower Dantien for "Storing Qi" Most of the time use of the Dantiens is in Qigong training as it is kind of a stepping ladder for later Shengong training.

    First you must build and store Qi (Using lower dantien)
    Second you must learn to refine and circulate Qi (middle Dantien)
    Lastly, You can use Qi for spiritual cultivation (extended meditations etc. Upper dantien)

    These are usually not utilized within Tai Chi training (unless they are seeking to use it for spiritual development)

    I will give the best answer I can, I agree with JK, that there are many people that prefer to use poems, or flowery images etc. to get their point across about Dantiens and Taoist Qigong practice. Ultimately, I find these are the people that have little working knowledge of the practice. They should be able to provide true answers and not use "smoke and mirrors" for training. This ultimately shows they have little understanding of the process.

    For the most part this WAS done in the past as Taoists were secretive of their arts and many used poetry/imagery to hide true training. This is why most training was and sometimes still is only done on an oral basis. This is one of the training methods behind the Tao Te Ching, as it is truly a meditation manual and not a philosophical or religious text (as thought by Wudang priests/priestesses).

    Though you do need a master to teach you these things b/c as JK pointed out it can lead to psychosis or even other physical ailments. Anyone can truly practice this, it is just like anything else you have to be willing to put in the time and the effort. I learned all this by the way by studying Tai Chi as a MA, Qigong for a healing art. I think only in the west are these two often combined to be the SAME thing, but in reality the goals of each are different.
  7. fusedroot

    fusedroot New Member

    You have given this thread great insight.

  8. onyomi

    onyomi 差不多先生

    In our school, the point just above the center of the eyebrows is the "upper dantian," the point directly between the nipples, called shanzong is "middle dantian" and between the navel and pubic bone are "lower dantian" and "true dantian/neidan." The upper and middle are also called "false dantians" because they are different from the "true dantian." Our school is "Buddhist School" (Fojia) Qigong, so the terminology may differ from that of the more common Daoist schools.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007
  9. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Yes I have heard of these Onyomi,
    Thanks for clarifying that, b/c I thought that it maybe some buddhist thought as well. I know some Taoist thought that is the same as you described, but meh, Qigong is just like MA many different thoughts and many different paths. :D

    Edit: After thinking about it onyomi you are right, what I described above was more of the 3 jiaos within TCM. For Qigong purposes, what you described is correct I apologize for my confusion. I guess I should not reply during my finals :D
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007
  10. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    I know where my "dantians" are meant to be TQ, (I also know that opinions can vary about their location, which tells you what?). I also know about the feng shui compass and its associations (again variable depending on the specific "system" of belief). I also know that I was born in the year of the fire sheep.

    It doesn't mean any of it is real any more than "chakras" are real or that being a Capricorn with Sagittarius rising means anything. It is all nonsense.
  11. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    It seems you feel my post was directed towards you, it was not. Everyone can speak theory, but few can put it into practice. This is where different theories, systems etc. can come into place. There are many times where people or practitioners of a system get "lazy" or cannot apply certain tech., or don't understand said tech. so they omit them. Can you imagine (i have seen this as well) people doing this with Tai Chi or any other MA?

    Thus you have the spread of "systems", going off your theory of saying b/c it "does not all match up" just with some of the differing opinions in Tai Chi Chuan that means that Tai Chi Chuan could be thought of as "nonsense" or what of the different family styles? Just b/c they are different from Chen, does this mean they are nonsense? Or are they good b/c they work?

    Same goes for Qigong/taoist theory, I will not lie, there is nonsense out there (just as with almost anything else) but there is also stuff out there that works and is effective. I mentioned in my next post that I had gotten confused and actually related the 3 jiaos in TCM (while actually describing the functions of the Dantiens) this is my own fault. See how easy it can be to mix things up??? Some "systems" have done the same. Almost every Qigong "system" I have studied coincides with Onyomi's description of the location of the Dantiens, however, the effects and how they are utilized may differ.

    Bottom line, this is no different from anything else we study MA or otherwise. There is no "true way".
  12. onyomi

    onyomi 差不多先生

    I should mention that I don't believe in the idea that if you want to just do martial arts you can just focus on the lower dantian and only need to work on the upper if you're into spirituality. In my opinion, if you want your qigong to go past a beginner level, you must do it all. Your dantian will never recover to a high degree (I say "recover" since we all had strong dantians as infants) without having a strong flow in the ren-du and 12 meridians. In the process of opening the ren-du, you will already be setting in motion the psychological effects of qigong, as you will be increasing blood flow to your head. Your brain will not feel or function the same getting a lot more blood than it is used to.

    Similarly, in order to sink to the dantian and create the "neidan" (internal or "true" dantian), you must be able to sink the qi past the upper and middle dantians, which opens them up and again has psychological effects. Later, the flow can be reversed so that you go from lower to middle to upper dantians, but that is only possible and safe after the natural flow has been somewhat established. Further, your meditation will not be able to reach a high level without reviving the lower dantian, as it is like the power source or flame under the kettle. But without your meditation reaching a higher level, your 12 arm and leg meridians will not achieve the level of openness they can, so your qigong will not get past a beginner-intermediate level (and it has to be at least intermediatish before it starts being applicable to martial arts, imo). Therefore, if you want your qigong to be all it can be and provide not only basic relaxation but also serious martial and healh benefits, it's my opinion that you just have to do it all.

    Certainly some people may choose to focus a little more on the meditation side and others more on the martially-oriented, but qigong trains the whole mind and body as a unit and cannot be trained preferentially. You can't say, "I want my martial qigong to reach a high level but am not interested in that psychological stuff," nor can you say "I want that spiritual/psychological stuff but am not interested in all that stretching and strenuous-looking martial stuff." Your Qigong will not get very far with either of these mindsets. (Not that I'm saying Taoquan or anyone here has these specific mindsets, but am more hoping to dispel what I perceive as a general misconception).
  13. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Good post Onyomi,
    I agree, I think balance must be maintained and to not incorporate both paths can be detrimental. Though, there are ways you can "use your qigong" that works differently such as applying it either to spiritual or martial training. The point being that you should not really incorporate one over the other, but rather utilize it all to achieve a complete state. Personally in my practice I do tend to focus on the spiritual development, but our MA will also incorporate the same and vice versa. Some of the meditations and Qigong I learn are the same we use in our MA. Just different applications.
  14. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    No, I didn't. It is just a standard response that qigong people use - implying that if people reject qi or dantians it must be because they don't understand. Some of us have heard the theories and rejected them, that's all.

    Test the different approaches to see what works best in combat. Test qigong against no qigong in combat too in mixed martial arts contests - see which styles win.
  15. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Qigong in itself is not a fighting art as you know and I don't feel it makes a superior MA. The main thing that makes a superior MA is hard work and dedication to one's art. Also MMA is not the answer to all fights, how can MMA decide which style wins when the first word in it is Mixed MA? MMA is not style, but a conglomeration of styles how can you use a MMA fight, with MMA rules to determine whether or not any TMA would work? Also there are very few arts that are "tested" in an MMA bout, so how can we use that as a basis for testing?

    Besides that is all a bit :topic: :topic: :topic:
    The point I wanted to make is that anyone that hides behind the esoteric fluff is (imo) someone whom does not know what they are talking about anyways. The true practice should be available to all, should work for all and should be available if people were to choose to practice such. As I mentioned before there is no "true path", only your own path

    Because of this I will offer what I can for knowledge and if I cannot explain it, it does not mean it does not work or exist, it simply means I don't know. I will do my best to educate people w/o all the "fluff", this is why I have respect for Onyomi, b/c he/she does not speak in esoteric language. At times, this is the way I was taught so I may try to explain it that way at first, but there are other ways to explain it. When it comes down to it you have to consider that most of this comes from an entirely different culture.

    So to explain it at times can be difficult b/c either you have to understand the culture and teachings, or you have to be able to know just enough about it, to be able to translate it into terms that work for you (or others of a different culture). Just b/c some of the terms used are "flowery" etc, does not make it nonsense, it was just what was used by a culture to explain something that may not of been fully understood.

    There is also great difficulty in translating chinese language, let alone ancient chinese language. Many times, these terms that come across as "vague" were not meant that way by the chinese, but were translated that way, there is a big difference.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007
  16. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    Ironically, and somewhat paradoxically, that attitude is in itself a dogma (a bit like the statement "NOTHING is black and white - EVERYTHING is relative") The relativist or liberal world view is actually a rigid and unyielding doctrine that does not allow for the possibility that there may be a True way or Best way to be. As an absolutist, I think that there is such a thing as Truth and that some matters are absolute and others relative, to varying degrees. As we were off topic anyway. :D

    Anyway, as I've said before, if qigong doesn't make you a superior martial artist, why bother?

    Here's a little story:

    When I was first learning Bagua, there was this "qigong" called "eight mother palms" which consisted of holding postures with your upper body while walking the circle. My teacher didn't call it qigong, I hasten to add - he never mentioned qi or qigong. So why do I say it was qigong? Because I read in a magazine (Pa Kua Chang Journal) that it was. Allegedly, the first 3 postures held by practitioners of the Cheng Ting Hua lineage were thought to accumulate qi in the 3 dantians in turn. The hands then went to other postions - one high and one low; one forwards and one back; both forwards in a contracted posture; both forwards in an expanded posture etc. My own teacher didn't emphasise this training as he thought it was fairly unimportant. His Kung Fu brother from the same lineage thought the same. When I pressed him I discovered that their teacher didn't do the postures much either and one of the postures was different for our lineage (there was no forwards and back). Their teacher had also thrown one posture out because he couldn't breathe very well when doing it - it constrained the chest too much. My belief in the importance of this kind of training waned a little - my magazine said it was important but none of these teachers thought so. The same magazine pointed out how every sub-lineage did them a little differently. Wider research revealed that almost no two schools used the same postures or the same order.

    What postures should I do, I wondered, and what order should I do them in? Does the total number matter? As they have "energetic" significance, surely it must matter?

    "No, not really - the postures just strengthen your arms and torso in a variety of different positions. You can hold any form posture. The order doesn't matter. You might want to go from high to low or vice versa to give your arms a break."

    Can you use hand-held weights?

    "Yes, you can, but not too soon."

    Oh - OK. So it is stamina and strength training then. Well that makes life a lot simpler.
  17. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Agreed back on topic :D

    Qigong is entirely different from MA. From MY own personal training, when we do Qigong we ONLY do Qigong, when it is time for Tai Chi we ONLY do Tai Chi. Now within my training some theories, training methods etc from qigong and Tai Chi are similar, so in later stages they begin to partially blend together. However, you still never completely mix the two.

    In traditional Taoist thought, Qigong is to cultivate Qi and build vital energy, achieved a variety of ways, for mostly health reasons. This in turn allows the practitioner to begin their path (if they so choose) up to "higher" levels of Qigong training or Shengong (spiritual training). The martial training comes in working with the physical body. Thus when incorporating all three you are working the physical, energetic and spiritual bodies. It is in some Taoist thought, that eventually if train in one you will be able to achieve this anyway, so in training in Tai Chi if this is the focus you can achieve spiritual development.

    Remember in taoist thought anything in excess is not really wanted, so they don't choose to solely focuse on Qi cultivation for MA, or even spiritual development, as eventually it becomes different stages of development. This is why I don't try to mix Qigong and MA. I believe I stated before that I am not what I would consider to be a MA, but I love what I do and train in what I do and I seek to learn.

    As for your story (thank you for sharing btw), I would say that all you were doing was indeed Bagua, just as explained above. You were training Bagua, you were practicing it's principles you were doing Bagua, NOT Qigong. This is a western dominated idea, that Qigong and Tai Chi (or any other IMA) are the same thing....NO. As I mentioned before the goals of both are different and while they can be used to complement each other, they are ultimately separate.

    When we do Tai Chi we have specific meditations and Qi cultivation methods FOR Tai Chi, our Qigong and meditations are different from what we perform for Martial applications.

    As for breathing being constricted that comes as no surprise, actually there is A LOT of bad Qigong out there for this reason and what I stated earlier. Vital pieces have been omited from very specific Qigong regimens, more specifically certain types of breathing. We all know of abdominal breathing, I would assume most would know of reverse breathing, but what of cyclical breathing? Holding the breath for certain pauses for certain amounts of time? Tortoise breath? Crane breathing? There are even Taoist breathing tech. that have been adopted by 'Free Divers' to greatly increase lung capacity. Nevermind all the tech, but there are few that know what kind of effect these can truly have on the body.

    Point is, these breathing techniques can be extremely vital to certain body postures where "normal" breathing could be difficult. Can you imagine eliminating a roll back in certain parts of the Tai Chi form, just b/c "it felt off" when performing it? Or shoulder strikes, or snake creeps down etc? That is what is happening to much of Tai Chi (as you well know) and it is/has happened to much of Qigong.

    So please remember that (at least for me) Qigong and Tai Chi are separate entities.
  18. onyomi

    onyomi 差不多先生

    Excellent points. People have to remember: Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, Zhan-zhuang, circle-walking, silk-reeling and so on are all NOT qigong. Their practice complements qigong and, once your qigong has a certain level, will be heavily influenced by qigong, but they are not qigong in and of themselves. They are types of movement and structure training. Also, as TQ says, Taiji is still first and foremost a martial art. Therefore, the postures and movements, though performed slowly, are still primarily martially-oriented and are not qigong.

    Qigong is a huge seperate area of study that most people only scratch the surface of, so it's now wonder they're confused about what is and isn't qigong, whether they have to hold poses in a certain order or risk blowing up, etc. This is because they've never really spent enough time on actual qigong to reach the level where you have a certain intuitive understanding of how qigong can and should be practiced. It eventually becomes very much a type of habit, interwoven with daily life. It's not like cranking out the reps at your Pilates class.

    Also, as TQ points out, most "systems" of qigong out there today are woefully incomplete or just plain wrong. For example, in addition to the reverse and natural breath everyone knows, our school has "back breathing," "cultivation" breathing, "internal" breathing," a different type of breathing for neidan as opposed to waidan, breathing techniques for "releasing poisons" and harmonizing the organs, "foetal breathing," and so on. Without these kinds of techniques, "back breathing" in particular being vital, your qigong will not really get off the ground, imo.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  19. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    To elaborate on a great post by Onyomi, in our school it is also greatly emphasized by misusing these breathing tech. (such as making them your daily breathing habits) can hurt you and cause SEVERE health issues. By misusing and changing breathing techniques and physical techniques you can hurt yourself or others greatly. This is usually why masters are needed to tell you when to use them etc.
  20. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    Well as I say, in most schools the "eight mother palms" are certainly considered to be qigong. There is a belief that a full Bagua regimen should contain waigong, neigong and qigong components (which I obviously refute). Adam Hsu does his eight mother palms specifically as a "qigong" set with emphasis on specific internal organ massage / squeezing for each different posture. My teachers didn't see the postures as fulfilling that sort of purpose.

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