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.
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.
Movement Psychology and Tai 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.)
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.
Each Working Action is a composite of the Motion Factors and is motivated by psychological concepts or Mental Factors which are expressed in movements.
While the Inner Quests are not applicable to Tai Chi, they are important to movement psychology, and will be given.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.
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.
MENTAL FACTORSSENSING 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
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.
This Inner Participations are expressed in the Working Actions as follows:PUNCHING Strong Intending / Direct Attending
The INNER ATTITUDESThe six sub-conscious states are:
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
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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