Movement Psychology

Movement Psychology is based on the concept and teachings of Rudolf Laban, that every movement is controlled and directed by sub-conscious states which are either direct or open, obscure or obfuscated or conflicted; and conversely, that movement itself can evoke a desired motion. This concept is extremely important for the dancer, actor or Tai Chi student.
WHAT IS PRESENTED HERE AS MOVEMENT PSYCHOLOGY IS FOR THE MOST PART, TAKEN DIRECTLY FROM THE TEACHINGS OF RODOLF LABAN AROUND 1950. LABAN'S TERMS, AND IN SOME CASE HIS WORDS, ARE OFTEN USED WITHOUT QUOTATIONS BECAUSE THEY WERE EITHER GIVEN VERBALLY AND IMPRECISELY RECORDED IN COPIOUS NOTES, OR THEY ARE FROM STUDENT'S NOTES WHICH ARE WITHOUT IDENTIFYING FEATURES AS TO WHETHER IT WAS LABAN, OR A COLLABORATOR GIVING THE LECTURE, OR WHETHER THE STUDENT MODIFIED THE NOTES OR ADDED TO THEM LATER. THE READER SHOULD, THEREFORE, CONSIDER ONLY THOSE PRECEPTS PRESENTED HERE AS TAI CHI, AS BEING THOSE OF THIS AUTHOR, AND THE REST AS EITHER ORIGINATING OR EMANATING FROM RUDOLF LABAN AND HIS COLLABORATORS, INCLUDING YAT MALMGREN. THIS AUTHOR TAKES NO CREDIT FOR THOSE PRECEPTS, AND FURTHER WOULD GLADLY GIVE PROPER CREDIT IF IT WERE POSSIBLE. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, UNLIKE LABAN'S NOTATIONS, THERE IS NO PUBLISHED WORK WHICH CONTAINS HIS TEACHING ON MOVEMENT PSYCHOLOGY. HOWEVER THE YAT TABLES DO EXPRESS MANY OF lABAN'S CONCEPTS AND TEACHINGS.
A dancer, while performing with precision, will be seen as stiff, insincere, or staged if the movement does not express the emotion. Likewise, emotion that is over expressed in dance will appear as just another dancer who fails to communicate any true expression. Rudolf Laban observed the phenomena of dance as expression, and founded a discipline of dance analysis which he called choreology. But of singular importance to modern dance, he created the system of dance notation known as Labanotaion or Kinetography Laban.
The actor on the other hand has a far more complex problem in expressing emotion for the moment because his movements must not only be consistent and expressive of his characters personality, but also fit the situation as well as his verbal and non verbal communication which, if inconsistent with the personality, will simply be unbelievable

Movement Psychology and Tai Chi

Little of dance or acting expression is important in Tai Chi. However, movement psychology, whether called by that or any other name, is extremely important in developing and sustaining "Intention" in Yang Cheng-fu Style Tai Chi Chuan; and it is probably the best and easiest way to develop and control the movement of Chi.
(NOTE: Although Yang Cheng-fu spoke Mandarin, his Taijiquan style found its greatest acceptance in Southern China as Tai Chi, and until recently, the west only knew the art by the Cantonese, "Tai Chi". Until there is a master of the style equal to Yang Cheng-fu, I will use the Cantonese terms taught by my instructors, who trained either along side Yang Cheng-fu or directly under that great master.)
Tai Chi, like dance, is comprised of movements, called Postures which are combined in the three Sets of the Tai Chi Form. But that is essentially the only similarity to dance, as emotion in Tai Chi is more subtle and constrained. This is also true when compared to the stage, where the actor uses movement psychology to create or enhance an emotion. Tai Chi, conversely, uses emotion to create the movement. But movement is not to be confused with the Tai Chi move which is dictated by the form, as each Tai Chi movement must be created anew from a mental perception we call Intention, and Intention is motivated and directed by the six movement psychology Inner Attitudes, Stable, Mobile, Near, Remote, Awake and Adream.
There is, however, a seventh Inner Attitude in Tai Chi, which is Wu Chi (Wu Ji) or the state of Zen Emptiness or nothingness that is, or can be, realized through the mastery of application of the Six Inner Attitudes. Although Tai Chi is classified as a martial art, it is only marginally so, as the martial aspect has been sublimated, and most Tai Chi practitioners have no idea as to what the martial applications of the moves are. Most other martial arts use only one or two Inner Attitudes, usually Stable and Mobile. Original Kenpo is an exception, as all six Inner Attitudes have application to one degree or another in that style. This does not apply to the watered down version of Kenpo, called American Kenpo, which like other styles uses only one or two Inner Attitudes without any knowledge of their principles or that they even exist.
In movement psychology, application of the six sub-conscious states, Stable, Mobile, Near, Remote, Awake and Adream, are said to be sub-consciously motivated and activated by body movements, each of which has two elements. The Chinese on the other hand use the concept of Yin and Yang to explain and achieve the Tai Chi state.
This has led most Tai Chi Chuan instructors to adopt Taoism along with its Five Elements and alchemy to explain the inner motivation that leads to the creation and movement of Chi throughout the body. Following the concept of Yin and Yang, which predates Taoism by a millennium or more, the Tai Chi player seeks to achieve an inner strength, or force, called Chi. However, considering the hundreds of millions of Tai Chi students who have never come close to attaining anything similar to Chi, one is led to believe the Taoist philosophy is woefully inadequate. Those who have followed the Buddhist path to Tai Chi have an equally dismal record of success. What has been achieved in Zen is the Wu Chi state Miamoto Musashi called the Void, but it is not Chi.
The Yang Style of Tai Chi that became popular in the west was created in the late 1920s by Yang Cheng-fu, who adapted the Tai Chi style of his father, Yang Jain Hao, to created a style for the masses. The sequence of moves is essentially the same, but the application is quite different.
My grandfather began training in Yang Jain Hao Style in 1906, when he was 34 years old. His style was far more robust and expressive, with shorter, more compact moves and vocal expressions unheard in Yang Cheng-fu Style. The style more closely resembled the Kenpo style I would master years later, and the Hung Gar style taught me by Sifu John SS Leong. My grandfather's teacher, however, insisted that my brother and I learn Yang Cheng-fu's style, because he believed it to be a superior style, one that hid strength within softness. I accepted this without question because he had, as a child, been taught by Yang Lu-Chan, the founder of Yang Style, and then by his son Yang Jain Hao, and was in his twenties when Yang Cheng-fu began learning Tai Chi. He told me that he had seen the change in Yang Cheng-fu's style from when he left China in 1906, and when he returned fifteen years later, and he knew Yang Cheng-fu's style was far superior when he again returned to China ten years later. He was so impressed in fact that he brought several of Yang Cheng-fu's students to the United States after the Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931.
Yang Cheng-fu style Tai Chi is far more comprehensive than the 108 posture form most of his students have taught, and there is little relationship to that great Master's style and the so-called simplified forms that remove, modify and/or replace postures and are claimed by their instructors to be Yang style Tai Chi. The Yang Cheng-fu form consists of three sets. However, there are three forms, each of which is quite different, although they are virtually indistinguishable to the casual observer. These are the Body From, Mind From and Spirit Form, and it is the Spirit Form that is practiced as Tai Chi. Many instructors contend that the form should be done three times, once for the body, once for the mind and once for the spirit. However, the Yang Style Tai Chi form is not repeated three times; rather, it is performed three different ways.
Yang Cheng-fu also taught the form as High, Medium and Low, depending on the ability of the student, and each of these forms has some unique moves within the postures. This means that Yang style Tai Chi has a total of nine (9) hand forms, and not just the one generally practiced in the west.

The concept of movement changing emotion and attitude, or attitude and emotion changing movement is not new; but movement psychology reaches the core of the concept. While movement psychology is quite complex, it is far easier to understand and apply than are Taoist concepts to Tai Chi, which for the most part are held as secret. Tai Chi does not, however, require the full application of movement psychology. There is, generally, no emotional range of verbal expression, nor is there the corresponding physical attitude found on the stage, nor the range of expressive movement of dance. What Tai Chi requires is the understanding and application of the Inner Attitudes within the confines of the Tai Chi postures, and their applicable moves. It would take an extensive volume to explain which Inner Attitude, Mental Factors, Externalized Drives and Effort is employed in each posture, or even to explain how each posture differs within the nine Yang style hand from, and that is beyond the scope of this work. What is intended here is to give an insight into the psychology of movement so the reader can, possibly, make a self analysis and apply this knowledge. Nor should this work be considered anything more than a primer or syllabus of movement psychology.

To apply Movement Psychology you first need to understand Laban's eight Working Actions.

WORKING ACTIONS

PUNCHING
PRESSING
SLASHING
WRINGING
DABBING
GLIDING
FLICKING
FLOATING

Laban held these as the eight basic actions from which all conscientious movement is formed; and, the degree to which they are executed or expressed depends on the degree to which they are combined with Inner Attitudes and our Mental Factors, Motion Factors and Inner Participations.

Each Working Action is a composite of the Motion Factors and is motivated by psychological concepts or Mental Factors which are expressed in movements.

MOTION FACTORS

WEIGHT
SPACE
TIME
FLOW

Motion is said to be comprised of the above four Factors which can be scrutinize or "analyzed" as expressions of the four Mental Factors SENSING, THINKING, INTUITING and FEELING. Each Motion Factor is comprised of two elements which either conform with or contend against other factors.
While the Inner Quests are not applicable to Tai Chi, they are important to movement psychology, and will be given.

Also it should be noted that Wu Chi or the Void transcends the Motion Factors, which leads to the Zen concept of "Don't think, just do it," and one's Intention is to have no Intention.
Weight
is the impact of receiving or transmitting sensory stimuli. It has the Inner Participation, Intending, and consists of the Yielding Element, Light; the, Contending Element, Strong; and the Negative, Heavy. Weight is the forceful Motion Factor that expresses the MENTAL FACTOR,
SENSING and of the
INNER PARTICIPATION, INTENDING.
The Inner Quest for Sensing is, "What?"
LIGHT INTENDING is a light sensory physical exertion which does not involve tightening fundamental body muscles.
STRONG INTENDING is a sensory physical firmness in any part of the body that emanates from tightening fundamental body muscles.

Space
is a reflective thoughtful movement in one or more planes or spheres "spaces". It is the kinetic Motion Factor that expresses the MENTAL FACTOR,
THINKING and the
INNER PARTICIPATION, ATTENDING.
It has the Yielding Element, Flexible, the Contending Element, Direct, and the Negative, Adrift.
The Inner Quest for Sensing is, Where?
FLEXIBLE ATTENDING is a reflective indirect movement that is both concave and convex in two or more planes of SPACE.
DIRECT ATTENDING is an intuitive movement, that traverses either a straight line or a flat curve in a single plane of SPACE

Time
is the intuitive sensitivity of the relation between the past and future. It is the rhythmic MOTION FACTOR that expresses the MENTAL FACTOR,
INTUITING and the
INNER PARTICIPATION, DECIDING.
It has the Yielding Element, Sustained, the Contending Element, Quick, and the Negative, Indecisive.
The Inner Quest for Sensing is, When?
SUSTAINED DECIDING is an intuitive clinging to the past
QUICK DECIDING is an intuitive urge into the future.

Flow
is the feeling of the resistance to flow of movement. It is the recurring MOTION FACTOR that expresses the MENTAL FACTOR, FEELING and the
INNER PARTICIPATION, ADAPTING.
It has the Yielding Element, Free, the Contending Element, Bound, and the Negative, "Irrelating".

FREE ADAPTIVE is a feeling of freely emitting smoothness of movement.
BOUND ADAPTING is a feeling of stiffness and lacking ease or grace of movement.

NEGATIVES

HEAVY
ADRIFT
INDECISIVE
IRRELATING

"HEAVY (INTENDING)
The negatively neutral and impotent quality of WEIGHT is heavy in which the interplay of LIGHT and STRONG (INTENDING) is canceled by an inertia which negates the receiving and transmitting intentions of SENSING.

"ADRIFT (ATTENDING)
The negatively neutral quality of SPACE, in which the interplay of FLEXIBLE and DIRBCT (ATTENDING) is cancelled by a disorientation which negates the reflective and attending aspects of THINKING.

"INDECISIVE (DECIDING)
The negatively neutral dream quality of TIME, in which the interplay of SUSTAINED and QUICK (DECIDING) is cancelled by a timelessness which negates the relating of past, present and future in the decision of INTUITING.

"IRRELATING (ADAPTING)
The negatively neutral and frozen quality of FLOW, in which the interplay of FREE and BOUND (ADAPTING) is cancelled by an emotional fixative which negates the extroverted and introverted aspects of the ADAPTING and RELATING of FEELING."

(The above were in quotes from unpublished notes, believed to be (or attributed to) Rudolf Laban)

MENTAL FACTORS

SENSING
THINKING
INTUITING
FEELING

The Mental Factors are in turn expressed by the degree to which the four Motion Factors are utilized.
Sensing is the perception by five senses, sight, hearing, smell, taste and touching. These are in turn expressed in movement as SPACE - LIGHT or STRONG.

Thinking is the process of idea creation through intellectual insightful reasoning, and is expressed in movements as SPACE - FLEXIBLE or DIRECT

Intuiting is the mental apprehension of the inner nature of things without reasoning, and is expressed in movement as TIME - SUSTAINED or QUICK

Feeling is the emotion of attraction or pleasure; or of aversion or disapproval, and is expressed in movement as FLOW - FREE or BOUND

INNER PARTICIPATIONS

  INTENDING
ATTENDING
DECIDING
ADAPTING
Sensing
Thinking
Intuiting
Feeling
Weight
Space
Time
Flow

Intending is a purposeful mental stimulation to motivate an INNER ATTITUDE or EXTERNALIZED DRIVE, or to set an action in motion. It is expressed in the MOTION FACTOR of WEIGHT and in the MENTAL FACTOR of SENSING.

Attending is setting the mind tentatively to motivate and INNER ATTITUDE or EXTERNALIZED DRIVE, or to set an action in motion. It is expressed in the MOTION FACTOR of SPACE and in the MENTAL FACTOR of THINKING.

Deciding is the intuitive connecting the past and future with the present, and is expressed in the MOTION FACTOR of TIME and in the MENTAL FACTOR of INTUITING.

Adapting is the extroverted adjustment of self with the outer world and the introverted relating of ones conscious self with the sub-conscious. It is expressed in the MOTION FACTOR of FLOW and in the MENTAL FACTOR of FEELING.

Each movement in Tai Chi is done with Intention, which in Movement Psychology is expressed as Intending. This is the purposeful stimulation of the mind to motivate an Inner Attitude or Externalized Drive, or to set an action in motion.
Intending is expressed in the Motion Factor of Weight, and in the Mental Factor of Sensing. Intention is the least understood, and probably the most misunderstood Tai Chi Essential, with the obtuse admonition, "use mind, not force".
Weight, is the Tai Chi expression of Sinking, which, like Intention, is grossly misunderstood. Both Intention and Sinking (Weight) require the "receiving or transmitting sensory stimuli", and because Weight has the elements of Light and Strong (intending), the two cannot be separated except by degree. Further, both require the Mental Factor, Sensing, which in Tai Chi requires an acute sensitivity to the physical sensations created by Intention and Sinking.
Ironically, Intention is the easiest Tai Chi Mental Factor to observe and analyze as the Tai Chi MIND can with little training be attuned to minuscule nerve and muscle movement which is unperceivable to the naked eye. Yet Tai Chi instructors either do not understand this principle, or are unaware of how Yang Cheng-fu and his father Yang Jain Hao taught it to every advanced student; and this teaching method, or demonstration, was guarded with such secrecy that it became a secret only because it was lost to the inept, or not passed on by most advanced students.
Movement psychology on the other hand allows the Tai Chi player to understand the process by which this is accomplished and train to use it throughout the form, even without the physical demonstration given by Yang Cheng-fu. However, when combined with Cheng-fu's demonstration, it is far easier to comprehend.
Each Working Action expresses, or is controlled by the degree to which the Inner Participations are utilized; and this is where Movement Psychology and Tai Chi conflict. Both recognize Intending as being a vertical concept with Light Intending weighting down to Strong Intending, while Adapting is horizontal, and moves from Free Adapting to Bound Adapting. Movement Psychology holds that the center point where these four factors intersect does not exist, whereas Tai Chi seeks to function in that realm of emptiness. This is the Tai Chi, Wu Chi, and Miamoto Musahsi's, Void. The same applies to the vertical state of Flexible Attending and the horizontal state of Direct Attending, where in Movement Psychology, the center pennant does not exist. Sustained Deciding and Quick Deciding on the other are horizontal and parallel Free and Bound Adapting.
This Inner Participations are expressed in the Working Actions as follows:
PUNCHING      Strong Intending / Direct Attending
PRESSING      Strong Intending / Direct Attending / Sustained Deciding
SLASHING      Strong Intending / Flexible Attending
WRINGING      Strong Intending / Flexible Attending / Sustained Deciding
DABBING        Light Intending / Direct Attending / Quick Deciding
GLIDING          Light Intending / Direct Attending / Sustained Deciding
FLICKING        Light Intending / Flexible Attending / Quick Deciding
FLOATING       Light Intending / Flexible Attending / Sustained Deciding

The INNER ATTITUDES

The six sub-conscious states are:
STABLE
MOBILE
NEAR
REMOTE
AWAKE
ADREAM
sensing / thinking
intuiting / feeling
sensing / feeling
thinking / feeling
thinking / intuiting
sensing / feeling

Each Attitude is expressed in movements as a compound of two elements.

STABLE intending / attending
strong / direct
light / flexible
strong / flexible
light / direct
The action created by STABLE being TIME-stressed or FLOW-stressed.

NEAR intending/deciding
strong/quick
light/sustained
strong/sustained
light/quick
The action created by NEAR being SPACE-stressed or FLOW-stressed.

AWAKE attending/deciding
direct/quick
flexible/sustained
direct/sustained
flexible/quick
The action created by AWAKE being WEIGHT-stressed or FLOW-stressed.

MOBILE deciding/adapting
quick/bound
sustained/free
quick/free
sustained/bound
The action created by MOBILE being WEIGHT-stressed or SPACE stressed.

attending/adapting
direct/bound
flexible/free
direct/free
flexible/bound
The action created by REMOTE being WEIGHT stressed or TIME-stressed.

ADREAM intending/adapting
strong/bound
light/free
strong/free
light/bound
The action created by ADREAM being SPACE-stressed or TIME stressed

EXTERNALIZED DRIVES

DOING
is exerting or reacting. It is FLOWLESS, and therefore has all the Motion Factors, except Flow. Doing has all the Mental Factors, except Feeling; all the Inner Participations, except Adapting; all the Inner Quests, except, Why; all the Elements, except Free or Bound; and, may be present in the Inner Attitudes Mobile, Near and Awake.

PASSION
is constructing or destroying. It is SPACELESS, and therefore has all the Motion Factors, except Space. Passion has all the Mental Factors, except Thinking; all the Inner Participations, except Attending; all the Inner Quests, except, Where; all the Elements, except Flexible or Direct; and, may be present in the Inner Attitudes Mobile, Near and Adream.

SPELL is dominating or surrendering. It is TIMELESS and therefore has all the Motion Factors, except Time. Passion has all the Mental Factors, except Intuiting; all the Inner Participations, except Deciding; all the Inner Quests, except, When; all the Elements, except Sustained or Quick; and, may be present in the Inner Attitudes Remote, Stable, and Adream.

VISION
is ideas or problems. It is WEIGHTLESS, and therefore has all the Motion Factors, except Weight. Vision has all the Mental Factors, except Sensing; all the Inner Participations, except Intending; all the Inner Quests, except, What; all the Elements, except Light or Strong; and, may be present in the Inner Attitudes Mobile, Remote, and Awake.

These are the four mental states which are sub-consciously motivated in the Inner Attitude and either attenuate or intensify conscious active. Each Drive is expressed as a combination of three ELEMENTS 1of movement LIGHT / STRONG, FLEXIBLE / DIRECT, SUSTAINED / QUICK and FREE / BOUND.

EFFORT is the progression of Inner Attitudes and Externalized Drives to stimulate movement or tranquility.


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