What means Split

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : What means Split
   By Peter_003 (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:31 am: Edit Post


can someone please explain what "Split" exactly means?

Thanks in advance,

   By Bruce Leroy (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 01:50 pm: Edit Post

Split: 1. To divide from end to end or along the grain by os as if by a sharp blow. 2. To break, burst, or rip apart with force. To effect with force in a way that suggest tearing apart.

Split: A city of SW Croatia on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic Sea; founded as a Roman Colony. Pop 193,600

   By Tim on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 06:04 pm: Edit Post

Good answer Bruce, but I think he was referring to "split" as it is used in Taijiquan.

If so, "split" is the energy of opening the front of the body and moving the arms in opposite directions. It is used very often in joint-locking and throwing techniques.

   By internalenthusiast on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 02:15 am: Edit Post

hi tim,

you mention split as particularly opening. i'm wondering if it can be closing, too? i'm thinking of some yang/dong derived teaching in which opposing closing motions were also called split. if i understood correctly.

i'm wondering: do you have a different name for closing motions which move force in opposite directions? also used in joint locking? i.e., exactly as you describe, but closing instead of opening?


   By Tim on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 01:23 pm: Edit Post

As I learned Taijiquan, Split usually refers to opening movements in opposite directions. The effect is "coupling," movements in opposite directions that causes a rotation around a central point (like turning a steering wheel).

Closing movements in opposite directions causes a "squeezing" type of force and is akin to "Ji," or pressing.

   By internalenthusiast on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 07:38 pm: Edit Post

thanks, tim. much appreciated.

   By Dragonprawn on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 09:30 pm: Edit Post

So "diagonal flying" is open & would be used to split. Fine, as this is how I've used it.

But then would "play the guitar" count as a splitting energy move? I guess it is more closing & squeezing. I have heard it refered to as splitting because if you joint lock you make the opponent's upper arm & forearm go in different directions.

In other words, I have also heard "split" used to indicate that you are making parts of the opponents body (like his upper & lower arm or upper & lower body) go in two directions. Would that be incorrect then?

   By internalenthusiast on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 09:49 pm: Edit Post

hi, dp. fwiw, your reasoning is the same as that which was under my question, though you phrased it better/more completely.

   By organic (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 11:55 am: Edit Post

Just to cast my vote, I think play the guitar would be more of a Ji type energy.

   By Tim on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 06:57 pm: Edit Post

Good point. But since in "Hands Strum the Lute" the hands shouldn't cross, I'd say it is more of a squeezing energy as well.

   By John Shane Crilly on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 05:02 pm: Edit Post

The classic poem on lieh also talks about being sucked into a whirlpool, and I think this describes part of the energy in play guitar. which also includes both up and down or forward and backward energy depending on tc style or situation. Moreover in the two man set there is regular use of a form called cai lieh or pluck and split which looks something the clotheline of wrestling. here the energy is definately that of being caught in a whirlpool.
I think that both ji and lieh have dual natures and one can miss facets of the energies by thinking their is only one side to their definitions. ultimately ji seems to be about reaction (that is adding force to the other's reaction - he pulls you amplify) lieh seems to be about misdirection or leverage
This is not a common view I will admit. Comments?

   By Michael Andre Babin on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 12:49 pm: Edit Post

I would think that the whirlpool energy is a good one from the way that I understand both Strum the Lute and Lieh/Rend/Split.

The first is a little more restrained in terms of footwork and is either applied as a release from a grab or to deflect while striking to the neck and or face.

The second is epitomized in its usage in da-lu and uses more footwork to move out of the way of a shoulder or elbow strike while controlling the attacker's lead arm and slapping the ear or neck.

When done properly (the way I learned it anyway), there is a twisting energy to either application that would suit the analogy of running into a clothesline at neck-height in some ways.

In the modern versions that I have seen, there is usually only one major direction used -- and usually that is an energy that moves horizontally from out to in (as if slapping your hands when they aren't in line).

Better versions use more dimensions so that there is forward and back as well as out and in.

Hard to visualize good examples of these applications/postures unless you have seen someone competent do it or better still, learned to do it for yourself.

   By Hans-Peter Geiss on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 08:13 am: Edit Post

Hi Michael and others,

at the beginning of my Taijiquan training I've also been taught, that "lie" means applying force in 2 directions, resulting in letting the oppopnent move in a spiral way. But over the years and particularly with the help of my chinese friends and teachers, I've come to the conclusion, that this "spiral" isn't the correct principle of lie. Presumed I've understood everything correct - what sometimes was really difficult due to language problems - I understood, that the principle of lie is "two cars both moving towards each other making a heavier crash than 1 car moving into a standing car". In practical fighting this would mean e.g., pulling the opponent towards left with your left hand and hitting him with the right hand towards right. His falling energy and your hitting energy would add to an energy twice as much as if you'Äd hit the stillstanding opponent. Since you don't need a weight shift for this actions it's said , that "lie is in the two arms". "Splitting" in this case means, that you split your energy into a left and a right action equally at the same moment, therefore you are balanced in central equilibrium. At the moment of impact, the opponent may also be somehow in central equilibrium, but since he has already received the blow, that's too late for him. I've also read often in chinese books about "liecai" movements, but I cannot understand what's ment by this, since "cai" follows a completely different principle than "lie". Since I'd like to learn more about lie, more of your ideas are very welcome.

Best regards

   By Michael Andre Babin on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:12 am: Edit Post

Your description of the usage of this posture sounds right to me and perhaps "spiral" isn't the best word to use in English.

The difficulty in making it sound right in English should point out how translation issues are often more important than they would first seem to those of us who work only in English or another language other than Chinese.

   By John Shane Crilly on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit Post

take a small stick like a pencil and twirl it around. You will do this by generating opposing forces in thumb and fingers or finger and finger. Do it slowly and the opposing forces will be obvious. treat you opponent like that stick and as the classis say:
" lieh is like the flywheel
Round and round it spins
but far it will send you
if you venture too close

Lieh is like the whirlpool
with waves that roll
beware the spiralling current
will sink you without hesitation"

From an application standpoint if you are attacked from a north south direction by a left, get a hold of his wrist and apply brush knee twist in an east west direction, your man will fly like an object thrown on a flywheel and cast off. At the end of your movement you will be pulling with your left hand and pushing with your right. This kind of energy is used often in aikido
if you use play guitar instead and sieze his arm in a chin na move his arm will be like an object fallen into a whirlpool with your left hand at the bottom drawing him down and your left applying the leverage.

   By Michael Andre Babin on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 01:47 pm: Edit Post

Well said, Mr. Crilly, my only caveat to your applications advice is that it is almost impossible to catch the wrist of an attacker if he or she has any fighting skill.

While such applications are useful for training purposes to a certain extent they can also be counter-productive if you think that getting and controlling the wrist of an non-complian attacker is possible much less easy.

   By John Shane Crilly on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 11:55 pm: Edit Post

didn't mean to suggest that chin na was all that easy.
if I'd actually try that technique the emphasis would be on getting a hold on his upper arm probably from underneath. in actual combat (and I'm not really a fighter) I never try to think of applications so much as take what is given to me. Also on skilled or strong opponents i believe in pain and distraction before applying chin na.
I imagine your pretty much right, though aikido and other styles use this kind of movement from time to time with success. See Empty Flower member Tom's avatar for similar energy. You're point is well taken.

   By Hans-Peter Geiss on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 03:34 am: Edit Post

Hi Mr. Crilly,

your szenario with the brush knee action is a very clear and concrete example of a "flywheel action". But I'm not sure that this is a "lie" action, although actually one hand pulls and the other pushes. Yang Zhenhe e.g. teaches that "lie" is a kind of splitting, cleaving,disrupting action and "cai" is ripping, tearing. He further says, that cai without a former lie is impossible. Following this idea, the lie should be an initial action, not an ending action, as I understood it in your example. What also makes me wonder is, that in your szenario the lie is used in a long distance situation (the opponent punches). Li Yi Yu e.g. writes: "Near distance forward lie hands (chu lie shou)". That would mean imho, that lie is thought as a very close range technique. Your translation also shows this at the end of the first verse: "...if you venture too close", which for me also says, that the real effects of lie only happens in a very close range.
BTW - to show how tricky things can be I'd like to say some words about Hands strum lute. Since most people say that this position is an example of lie or ji, it was pointed out to me, that if the left hand presses the elbow down, while the right hand pulls the hand up, this has to be viewed as a "kao". Kao not only means shoulder, but also leaning with the body. If you press the left hand down on the elbow, you do this mostly with the body, therefore "kao". Difficult to imagine that if the left hand acts as a lever for the downward pressing right hand this then would be a "lie".
BTW 2 - thanks very much for the fine poem.
Best regards

   By John Shane Crilly on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 04:37 am: Edit Post

It is my understanding that the principle of using energy in taiji is governed by an acutely alert mind, what is call ting jin or listening energy. This results in a constant change in energies to pile problems onto the opponent. thus, if the fighter withdraws his hand as you try one tactic then you use an and ji to turn his withdrawal into a fall with the awareness that he may turn that position into his advantage. I believe that's the theory and I'm sure I've met some who could prove it (on me at least).

   By Michael Andre Babin on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 11:20 am: Edit Post

The use of Split (or any martial energy) in a co-operative training situation is different when done against someone who struggles skillfuly. The truth of that is only obvious when you bother to train with someone outside of your own school.

Those practitioners who never experience anything other than cooperative training tend to get a very false sense of what happens in even the crudest scenarios. I would include most of the martial demonstrations that I have seen over the years in which an expert demonstrates fighting skills on stage or in front of a workshop audience.

Almost anyone with a little skill can look pretty good when demonstrating on a stop-and-go attacker or a co-opertive partner. It tends to give the general students a false impression of what is important in self-defence terms.

Spontaneous interactive training (light to full contact) is essential to martial training with any pretence to reality. While it doesn't have to have the intensity that Tim and others prefer and are richly capable of; it does have to be present in some way, in some of the class training time if you want to pretend that your art is still combative from a self-defense perspective.

In my limited experience, even seasoned recreational martial artists can fall apart as soon as you move into them at close range and without telegraphing your intentions.

Some of the experiences that I have had over the years would be hilarious if they didn't also highlight how hard it is to translate modern taiji and martial skills to a combative situation.

   By Tim on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 01:09 pm: Edit Post

Michael makes a very good point.

I believe one's ability to successfully apply their martial arts for "real" (in a fight) is directly proportional to the amount of time spent in non-cooperative, contact sparring.

If you want to be able to actually fight, non-cooperative, contact sparring and various specific sparring drills are by far the most important aspects of training. All other methods of training, (forms, stance holding, conditioning, pad work...) while important, are secondary to sparring in developing fighting skills.

   By John Shane Crilly on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 01:27 pm: Edit Post


I repeat my point, all the energies of taiji must be controlled by an acute alertness and adaptability. when you apply lieh and it doesn't work you must immediately switch. In that case, non cooperation is often helpful to the skilled taiji player. If the opponent is equally soft and flexible then he is very dangerous however few taiji players whose style is based on ting jin have that flexibility and most other styles don't even try.

Most real life violent confrontations are not tests of skill however, they are the actions of those who are out of control often with the aid of drugs and/or alcohol. Their timing sucks as well as their thinking. Very few people on the street are trained and maintain training. They often have size and youth on their side and sometimes despite the movies that beats a lot of skills, though taiji was designed to neutralize those advantages.

"Even seasoned recreationsl martial artists can fall apart as you move into them at close range and without telegraphing your intentions" describes an attack by a fighter with some skill and/or a sneak attack (if we are talking about real life versus competitive situations) Even Roberto Duran fell apart when faced with Sugar Ray Leonard.
That is psychology Maybe the biggest factor in a fight but far indeed from the use of splitting energy or any other technique in taiji.
In my experience, (quite possibly less than yours), with the taiji martial artist what is most often lacking is ability to put out explosive energy and to maintain structure (peng) None of the techniques of taiji work without skill and practice. But I've found myself that they do work in grappling situations.
In the situations where they worked the other person had little skill and all I had to do was get out of the way and get on top of them til they became more reasonable. The usual end position was them face down me sitting on his shoulder. However, I avoid biker bars and don't look for fights. I'm sure almost any biker could take me.
Most violent situations in Canada fall into the realm of ideocy or crime. If crime is involved, chances are your assailant has a weapon and one would be wise to either accept defeat or fight for your life with any means at your disposal. In that kind of situation, if the attacker does not telagraph intentions, most any kind of martial artist is probably nursing a knife wound or something equally uncomfortable.

Again this is all very far from the discussion on the use of taiji jins. I believe they work, I never said it was easy to learn how to apply them, though it does often seem ridiculously easy when they click into place.

   By Michael Andre Babin on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 03:08 pm: Edit Post

Mr. Crilly:

I have enjoyed your posts on this subject so far and agree with you for the most part.

However, I still think that it is best to train with the worse opponent in mind and not the easiest. Those who like to fight "for fun" and do so routinely are very dangerous opponents -- much more so than most recreational martial artists that I have met.

Those who enjoy fighting and do so regularly don't tend to be ridiculously stiff opponents as they enjoy rather than fear the experience of contact and competition. It is unlikely that anyone would be able to depend on their superior relaxation or jing skills -- if that's all they have -- to do anything useful against such a person.

You can't always avoid trouble by avoiding bars, drunken young people and "bad" areas; many muggings and acts of random violence occur when and where you least expect it.

Anyway, there are lots of reasons to do taiji and understanding the principles are important; as is practising in a safe and controlled manner. But, it's also easy to close your eyes to how effective what you are doing might be if your life depended on it,

   By John Shane Crilly on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit Post

thanks I was afreid I'm too long winded. I agree with both you and Tim on the value of non-cooperative sparring.

My point is essentially that the principles remain the same and your skill in using them is distinct from their efficacy.

also that they must be used dynamically. most likely if you are using lieh, you have already used peng and lu and cai or an.
If you are not constantly changing when using taiji then you are probably resisting and that in taiji is a cardinal sin.
even within a single technigue there is often more than one energy coming into play.

To agree with you and Tim even more, I believe the ability change with your opponent is best learned by paying the price enacted by a crafty oponent who changes quickly in sparring against you. Nothing teaches caution better than walking into a decent oponent's punch or in taiji his waiting shoulder.

   By Kenneth Sohl on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 06:32 pm: Edit Post

Tim, I thought you had previously stated that conditioning was the most important aspect of training, or was that basically if two fighters of comparable skill clashed, conditioning would probably be the decision maker there?

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