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Thread: Soft power

  1. #1

    Soft power

    This is the least understood power or Jing.

    There is a discussion on how to let the student to relax or soften in the other forum.

    Some mentioned focusing and relaxing the mind first and not tensing up the muscles.

    It was a Tai Chi related discussion. However, all styles have soft powers big or small.

    One main thing that was not discussed is the yielding aspect of being soft.

    One poster mentioned that Tai Chi is actually a steel rod inside and covered with cotton on the outside.

    I could not agree more.

    How do you yield to be soft?

    1. rotation of the waist.

    2. shifting the weight between the knees.

    3. switching with the steps.

    The main thing is to follow the opponent's Jing.

    If only focus on relaxing the muscles to be soft and forget about posture and steps. This is like missing the big picture big time.

    Anyway:

    What is your idea about being soft?

    What is the soft power in your style?

    Comments?

    Last edited by SPJ; 11-28-2005 at 08:14 AM.

  2. #2
    There are drills to soften the body.

    There are Qi Gong and stretching exercise to soften all the joints and tendons/ligaments. or Ruo Gong or Fo Gong.

  3. #3
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    My idea about being soft really isn't my idea at all.

    While reading your post I was thinking about how we practice push hands at my school. Not so much soft but loose and fluid. It's full body movement. Sometimes that movement is small while other times it's much larger.

    It's almost like a chess match with movement and counter movement until finally someone makes a mistake by moving the wrong way at which point they are hit with that steel rod covered in cotton.
    Check out my wooden dummy website: http://www.woodendummyco.com/

  4. #4

    Soft

    Soft power or slow movement is the path/route to hard power.

    Slow movement is to train body movement so that one can feel/grasp the idea of fa jing and generate energy/power. my sofar understanding.

  5. #5
    I find that if you separate soft and hard power from internal and external power then its easier to explain to people who usually ask me.

    The way i see it external power is like bodybuilding muscles etc
    Internal power is using chi (debatable existance for some but anyhow)

    Now you can have hard internal, like sanchin kata or some hsing yi
    or
    soft internal like tai chi.

    Or you can have hard external like mcdojo karate
    or
    soft external like mcdojo wing chun.

    reason i say mcdojo is to eliminate any concept of using chi or ki etc.

    If you were to say power usually it means the formula which is = applying some sort of force or strength over time.

    Power = work / time
    Work = Force x Distance
    force = mass x acceleration

    So i guess power would be ( (mass x acceleration) x distance ) / time taken

    So the reason being soft has power behind it is because the more relaxed you are the faster you move and the faster you move , the more the acceleration is and the less the time taken is , so you are powerful !

    To me being soft is not tensing and relaxing, wether a yielding movement or not.

  6. #6
    I tottaly agree with that last statement .... In karate

    Sen Sen No Sen -

    In this situation both you and your opponent are ready and willing to attack. Your attack must be made first in a spilt second between the time your opponent mentally commits to the attack and the moment he begins his actual movement. His commitment to attack will prevent him responding with a defence.

    Sen no sen -

    In Sen you and your opponent begin to move simultaneously. Your awareness of his intention to attack allows you to attack just slightly faster, making your strike just before his.

    Go No Sen -

    You must remain calm and watch your opponent very carefully. Your block should be an automatic response to his attack and you should attack him before he is able to recover from his initial movement.

    To purely yield is a low form of defense

  7. #7
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    I agree with YouKnowWho,
    Taiji's approach is too conservative and usually mis-understood. However, meeting hard with hard is when things break. No wonder a drunk usually survives car crashes with little injury.

    I wouldn't reply on the "other forum" because a discussion like that will only lead to arguments about what sung means. BTDT. But the correct concept of how to loosen up is to stretch out and just let go. Not drop like a limp noodle. One part at a time. It's not about meeting 10000 pounds with only 4 ounces either. It's about using the right amount of force to get the job done.
    Count

    Live it or live with it.

    KABOOOM

  8. #8
    i think soft is when you can generate and take force from/into your legs/stance.

  9. #9
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    Greetings..

    Sticking/adhering.. If you are stuck to your opponent you are there when he initializes a technique, when he thinks it.. if you expand/inflate "Peng" as the opponent begins the technique they will usually push themselves backward, lose balance and leave an opening.. this is soft.. no force generated to get there, you're already there.. a good Taiji player never loses contact once it is made, if the opponent retreats Taiji stays attached and adds a little more energy.. the retreat accelerates faster than the opponent can react and, again, loss of balance and openings.. this requires little if any "force", "Peng" is not force, it is like the air inside a basketball, we simply adjust the pressure.. it doesn't reach beyond the basketball (its limits of efficiency) it is simply there when force is applied, the more force applied the greater the return "bounce".. the soft and yielding skin of the basketball allows pressure to build-up as force is applied until the pressure inside is greater than the force outside.. the "bounce".. Peng reaching beyond its limits is weak and vulnerable, we must know when enough is enough..

    Deflect and control.. so many times i see students and even good fighters reach beyond what is required to do the task.. it is only necessary to deflect by an inch, a miss is a miss.. the closer your appendages are to your center the more control and options are available.. fighters that utilize "big" movements leave "big" openings.. keep compact and relaxed (soft), this allows you draw the opponent into your strength.. once inside your strength, your options are limitless.. like falling into water, it recieves you softly then surrounds you completely.. the water does nothing, it is you that has to struggle.. the water forces you to fight on its terms.. staying attached, like the water, each movement by the opponent is sensed as it begins.. gentle "Peng" applied at the beginning of a movement will control its direction and confuse the opponent.. this is control.

    Strong and powerful fighters are usually tense and somewhat rigid.. this provides a link to their "center", like a handle.. they will often resist Qinna, which is exactly what makes Qinna work.. as you Cai (pluck) an extended hand/arm and the opponent pulls back, apply Peng at the torso and release the Cai.. their instinctive "pull/retreat" is maginfied by the releace of the Cai and the addition of Peng.. a well placed advancing leg (just behind their Yang leg) will often lead to a gravity induced meeting with the floor..

    As an example, stand tall and fall forward into the ground.. do you reach out and "strike" the ground with locked joints to protect your body from impact? Or, do you position your hands to receive the ground? The hands, arms, body combo knows exactly how to adust to receive the contact (soft).. to try to strike the ground as a preventative to impact (hard) invites injury and is inefficeint.. in positioning the hands to receive the ground we utilize Peng, that soft, springy, bouncy resilience (basketball analogy).. Peng transfers leg, waist and full-body energy (just like it absorbs the energy of the falling body) to an opponent.. it is a non-threatening transfer, no sudden movements.. just an overwhelming return of energy, like a wave that keeps building.. soft, but irresistable..

    Anyway, just some thoughts.. Be well..
    TaiChiBob.. "the teacher that is not also a student is neither"

  10. #10
    taiChiBob,
    Well said! great post... my seniments exactly I would comment but I feel you have covered what I would have said but with a sweeter roll of the tongue.
    KUNG FU USA
    www.eightstepkungfu.com
    Teaching traditional Ba Bu Tang Lang (Eight Step Praying Mantis)
    Jin Gon Tzu Li Gung (Medical) Qigong
    Wu style Taiji Chuan



    Teacher always told his students, "You need to have Wude, patient, tolerance, humble, ..." When he died, his last words to his students was, "Remember that the true meaning of TCMA is fierce, poison, and kill."

  11. #11
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    I agree, nice post Bob,

    Would you care to expound on listening, borrowing and other "light body skills"? These are truly the benefit of soft power.

    Say, is that you sporting a beard in the Tai Chi Meet-up group?
    Count

    Live it or live with it.

    KABOOOM

  12. #12
    Tai Chi Bob, just a comment on what you said

    Deflect and control.. so many times i see students and even good fighters reach beyond what is required to do the task.. it is only necessary to deflect by an inch, a miss is a miss.. the closer your appendages are to your center the more control and options are available.. fighters that utilize "big" movements leave "big" openings..

    I crossed hands with my old Go Ju Ryu Sensei (my first mistake LOL) but I was amazed at his defense. He used 1 hand and positioned it outward in the center of his body and only used minimal up, down, left, right movements. Kinda like a joy stick on a video game. I had difficulty geting past this defense. mind you we were only using hands no legs but never the less, this minimal movment prevented me from getting "inside" as you may or may not know Go Ju Ryu means hard soft method. This is the highest soft defense in the system. it deflects the attack like a bird wing defeltcing air. and just as soft.

    While I am 14 years into my Wu Style I was very impressed that a japanese style used the same "soft" defense and extremly efficiently...
    KUNG FU USA
    www.eightstepkungfu.com
    Teaching traditional Ba Bu Tang Lang (Eight Step Praying Mantis)
    Jin Gon Tzu Li Gung (Medical) Qigong
    Wu style Taiji Chuan



    Teacher always told his students, "You need to have Wude, patient, tolerance, humble, ..." When he died, his last words to his students was, "Remember that the true meaning of TCMA is fierce, poison, and kill."

  13. #13
    Depends on the position or facing, you may cover your vital area with a single hand, moving the hand to the left, right, up and down etc. this is the hand method.

    It may look like a square, but actually it is drawing a circle.

    To stick or adhere needs to follow to the left, right, up and down, front and rear, you are also drawing circles. Tai Chi call it Chan Si.

    You Chan or follow the opponent's moves with circular arm, waist and step movement.

    If you use right hand to push at mid level, the opponent pushes down your right forearm and then push you at mid or high. So your right arm was down, you have to move it upward to neutralize. Both of you are drawing a vertical circle.

    So every thing is linked.

  14. #14
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    Smile

    Greetings..

    Count: yeah.. the wierd old guy as they say..

    Listening skills, hmmmm.. that seems to be the most difficult, for me, but also the most beneficial.. it may be the calibre of people that i play with, but dang, they are great at not revealing their intentions.. one of my mentors used to tell me not to focus on the opponent, but reach for a benign target beyond the opponent, as though the opponent was incidental to getting to the target (like reaching for an apple just behind him).. simply move them aside on your way to something else.. this disguises your intentions.. and approaches the opponent in a non-threatening manner, sometimes they simply let you by, stepping out of the way without understanding why..

    Developing listening skills is a product of experience, first you need enough experience to become comfortable in the conflict.. then, you can work on clearing the mind to be receptive to the signals (physical and energetic) the opponent sends regarding intentions.. A great exercise is the "string thing", where you take a piece of string and hold it so there is about a foot of string between partners.. then do a slow set of silk-reeling exercises while your partner tries to keep the string (thread is better) straight.. too much resistance and the thread breaks.. too little and the thread droops.. i saw some guys practicing like this with a porcupine quill between the palms, between forearms, and between shoulders.. they were very careful (and quite good).. the object was to keep the quill suspended without puncturing themselves.. i'm going to try that one..

    We frequently stand in a standard push position (Yang style) and place palms over each other's solar plexus.. the intention is to push the other person off balance without evasive manuevers.. the one that can best borrow the other's energy usually prevails.. in Cai, while the opponent is advancing a pushing hand, there is a delicacy of skill that permits the pluck to go unnoticed until it is too late.. it is very gentle and borrows the opponent's yang advance to lead them off-balance.. sometimes, the most gentle of forces seems so benign that it is the most useful..

    It is counter-intuitive to be "soft" in the face of aggression.. but, it is that counter-intuitiveness that confuses the opponent.. they do not get the expected response .. learning the softness as a viable response is challenging task.. and, i believe, cannot be accomplished without "investing in loss".. repetitive pushings where we yield until we can "feel" the weaknesses of the aggression, until the opposing structure becomes so easily understood that it is countered before it matures.. back to experience.. it takes a willing partner, one that is similarly interested in truly finding the "Holy Grail" of Taiji.. a partner that can appreciate a good technique and reward you with a pat on the back, rather than struggling to emerge dominant.. likewise, when practicing the nuances, we have to be willing to say, "woohoo!!, great push/pluck/strike/etc.... the first step is to control the ego.. ego is the enemy of deep Taiji understanding..

    Be well..
    TaiChiBob.. "the teacher that is not also a student is neither"

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by TaiChiBob
    Greetings..

    Sticking/adhering.. If you are stuck to your opponent you are there when he initializes a technique, when he thinks it.. if you expand/inflate "Peng" as the opponent begins the technique they will usually push themselves backward, lose balance and leave an opening.. this is soft.. no force generated to get there, you're already there.. a good Taiji player never loses contact once it is made, if the opponent retreats Taiji stays attached and adds a little more energy.. the retreat accelerates faster than the opponent can react and, again, loss of balance and openings.. this requires little if any "force", "Peng" is not force, it is like the air inside a basketball, we simply adjust the pressure.. it doesn't reach beyond the basketball (its limits of efficiency) it is simply there when force is applied, the more force applied the greater the return "bounce".. the soft and yielding skin of the basketball allows pressure to build-up as force is applied until the pressure inside is greater than the force outside.. the "bounce".. Peng reaching beyond its limits is weak and vulnerable, we must know when enough is enough..

    Deflect and control.. so many times i see students and even good fighters reach beyond what is required to do the task.. it is only necessary to deflect by an inch, a miss is a miss.. the closer your appendages are to your center the more control and options are available.. fighters that utilize "big" movements leave "big" openings.. keep compact and relaxed (soft), this allows you draw the opponent into your strength.. once inside your strength, your options are limitless.. like falling into water, it recieves you softly then surrounds you completely.. the water does nothing, it is you that has to struggle.. the water forces you to fight on its terms.. staying attached, like the water, each movement by the opponent is sensed as it begins.. gentle "Peng" applied at the beginning of a movement will control its direction and confuse the opponent.. this is control.

    Strong and powerful fighters are usually tense and somewhat rigid.. this provides a link to their "center", like a handle.. they will often resist Qinna, which is exactly what makes Qinna work.. as you Cai (pluck) an extended hand/arm and the opponent pulls back, apply Peng at the torso and release the Cai.. their instinctive "pull/retreat" is maginfied by the releace of the Cai and the addition of Peng.. a well placed advancing leg (just behind their Yang leg) will often lead to a gravity induced meeting with the floor..

    As an example, stand tall and fall forward into the ground.. do you reach out and "strike" the ground with locked joints to protect your body from impact? Or, do you position your hands to receive the ground? The hands, arms, body combo knows exactly how to adust to receive the contact (soft).. to try to strike the ground as a preventative to impact (hard) invites injury and is inefficeint.. in positioning the hands to receive the ground we utilize Peng, that soft, springy, bouncy resilience (basketball analogy).. Peng transfers leg, waist and full-body energy (just like it absorbs the energy of the falling body) to an opponent.. it is a non-threatening transfer, no sudden movements.. just an overwhelming return of energy, like a wave that keeps building.. soft, but irresistable..

    Anyway, just some thoughts.. Be well..
    Great thoughts! I've always wondered how you could incorporate some of this into MMA sport fighting. Maybe some already do...

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