Saturday, January 26, 2019

Fetch Water Challenge Jan 12, 2019 to July 24, 2019

John Upshaw created a challenge for himself to do 600 fetch water (300 on each side) from Jan 12, 2019 to July 24, 2019 to focus on opening the kua before the North American Training Camp 2019. A few of Master Chen Zhonghua's disciples, including myself, and students supported him and joined the challenge. My students from the weekday morning practice also joined in the fun.

Jan 13, 2019: I am also using the rubber cord to do fetch water on some days.
Jan 26, 2019: Two weeks into the challenge, I noticed that my chest and abdomen muscles became more developed. They felt tighter.

Monday, January 7, 2019


太极拳是通过内家拳的手段达到快、准、强的。具体的练法,是从时间、角度、距离上去练。在拳法上我们把这三个东西叫做:空、粘和连。空是虚实的总和,粘是角度不变的结果,连是因为距离调节的恰当。 再深一步我们说动、走、弧、旋和定。动就是学会拳上的动作。会练了。把学的动作能连起来练出来,就是走了。练拳时开始出现圆形的迹象,拳套上就有了弧线了。等到练了十年以后,功力提高了,但动作似乎减少了,这是因为身上有了螺旋力了。等这种螺旋力取代了通常的那种动作和力量的时候,劲力独在运行,身体反而看上去不动了。这就是我们讲的定。 身体不动但力在运行、在改变方向、在开合、在吞吐这就意味着另外 一种体能在起作用:转关。这些东西,没有什么高深,但有特别的练习方法。不得法,就不可能得功。

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Changing the location of a rod inside me

I wake up this morning, and I have an idea in my head that I have this rod in my body and I can flip it in different ways. It is pretty much like playing keyboard. I press in two places with a non-moving dot in the middle, it instantly changes the rod's location. That was just an idea, not tested out yet. Yesterday in practice, I lock myself (not moving anything), except I try to stretch my flesh around a rod. I was able to do that in two different places. I understand that non-moving rod can be anywhere, but my entire body has to be coordinated to make that.happen.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Create a lever in the leg

Recently, I had a dream where I used my thigh to push down the opponent at his thigh. Shifu came over and mentioned something that I didn't quite understand. I then practiced that move with another student named Benz, and I got that move in the dream. When I woke up, I realized that I learned something.

What I learned was about making two contact points with the opponent's leg with my leg. In order to have power on one contact point, I must make sure that the other point does not move. The two contact points must be made on the opposite sides of the opponent's leg. This is how to create a lever in my leg.

Another important note is that I must set up the two contact points without the opponent's notice, this translates to not pushing the opponent during the setup, and wrapping my leg around the opponent's leg like a snake.

Either point A or B in the diagram can be used as the fixed point based on the situation. Examples of options in application:
  1. Use point A as the fixed point, stretch point B respective to point A.
  2. Use point B as the fixed point, stretch point A respective to point B.
  3. Use point C (a point on the line between point A and B) as the fixed point, move A and B in equal size but opposite directions.
  4. Use point A as the fixed point, stretch my hand on the opponent's front with respective to point A.
  5. Use point B as the fixed point, stretch my other hand on the opponent's back with respective to point B.
4) and 5) can cause opponent to fall backward or forward respectively by creating scissors' action. These options can be used alternately through switching making the opponent unable to adapt as the contact points are already set up, and without movement, the moving and non-moving points can be switched.

In fact, Shifu has demonstrated this move many times. I just realized the importance, and how it can be used to collapse the opponent's structure.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

What is fajin?

Master Chen has stated before fajin is doing an action fast. How do we do an action fast?

Physical examples:
  1. Shooting with bow and arrow. Release the arrow to reach the target. Most of the effort is in pulling the bow, and maintain the integrity of the pull, and aiming at the right place.
  2. Exploding like a bomb. We build a very strong shell for the bomb, and keep expanding the inside until the shell can’t hold it anymore.
  3. Snapping the finger. The strong the initial holdback of the finger, the louder the sound. 
Note that in all the above examples, it involves two opposing forces going against each other the best that they case, and then there is the release, which is something that happens on top of the setup.

Recently, I had a couple of experiences:
  1. I locked the outside (hands and feet), twisted up my inside by opening my joints. Neighbouring joints opened in opposite directions. I then locked the inside, and let go of the outside. The potential energy that was built up inside was therefore allowed to be released out. This approach was an expression of separation of yin and yang (Lock the outside, move the inside; Lock the inside, move the outside).
  2. My opponent caught me between his right arm and right thigh. He swung his right arm around trying to knock me over. He put quite a bit of power on me. I tried to lock my centre by stretching vertically and redirect his power back to him. He was like bouncing off a wall, fell backwards and took a couple of steps, and ended up sitting on the ground.
For the first experience, I did work to build up some energy and release it, whereas for the second one, the energy originally came from the opponent, and was sent back to him.

Friday, November 30, 2018


When I first heard Master Chen Zhonghua talk about clarity, he was referring to our movements which needed to be clear, meaning that if we wanted a body part to move in a particular way, no other body part should compete or be dragged into that movement. For hand-out, the hand must clearly be the leader, whereas for elbow-in, the elbow must clearly be the leader. When we practice yilu, we must learn to do it in a segmented way, like writing block letters rather than cursive. We must first establish a train track in our bodies, so our actions will cause our body parts to move along the track (in other words, according to specific principles). The opponent may be fooled by our actions, but we certainly must be very clear on what we tried to do. In practice, we must have a clear goal, so our practice is focused and can take us there.

In Toronto Workshop Oct 2018, Master Chen mentioned the 3 levels of clarity in Daoism: Upper Clear (上清), Jade Clear (玉清), and Heavenly Clear (太清), with Heavenly Clear being the highest and what Laozi has achieved. I have been searching for a way/term to describe Master Chen. I believe that he is special, but in what way is he special? Good memory: he can recall incidents from the past with great detail and time frame. Observant: he would often look at things in different ways with a curious mind, and is able to spot things others don’t notice at all. Wise: he has accumulated a lot of experiences meeting different people and dealing with different issues, and would share at the appropriate times. Clarity: the most appropriate description I believe now is that he has a clear mind. He is also able to see through all the distractions, noise, and not important matter and get to the crux of it all. When I listen to his stories, or ask for his advise, he always presents a unique perspective that I won’t get myself, and can help me see things differently.

After 9 years of attending workshops and learning Practical Method, I can say that Master Chen is always clear on his instructions. His instructions are always based on the same principles. I have always been amazed by his explanation on what he does during push hands when his opponents seemingly do different moves on him, he consistently explains things in the same way: which part is not moving, which part is moving (stretching). I would also say at the beginning I didn’t feel that he was clear at all. Sometimes, things might seem even contradicting. I might feel that in one occasion he said one thing, and at a different time, he said something totally opposite. I realize now what was not clear was my own mind. I was not able to see the very thing that links them all together. After consistent practice, things do start to clear up. Taijiquan was not as confusing as before. I begin to see separation of yin and yang being present in every move, but at the same time also how distant I am from achieving it.

In learning taijiquan, we will often be distracted by what seems very important to us at the moment, and such matter in fact often takes us off track. The simplest and most direct way to learn is to listen to Master Chen’s instructions.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Learning moments during teaching 1

Yesterday, I tried to tell the student not move the shoulder but focus on opening the front kua when doing fetch water. I then asked one student to press two hands down on my shoulders, and then another student to wrap his arms around me at my upper arms, so I could not move up or sideways. I opened my left kua and the student wrapping around me was rotated to my right (like just spined around me). I did not intend to rotate, I was only trying to demonstrate fetch water, so the result surprised me. Recently, I have been feeling more strongly of using the kua as the middle point of the triangle and pressing it against the line formed by two fixed ends. I can also control the pressing angle depending on which two points I pick as the fixed ends. The thing that I focus on recently is to lock the outside and move the inside, like making the outside a jar with full of marbles, and trying to push that one extra into the rest of the marbles. Locking my structure to make that solid jar is difficult because I have to fight against my old tendency. I am trying to make my maximum resistance go against my maximum movement. That should be an instance of yin and yang. Doing these demos continuously makes me understand more as I verbalize the instructions/procedure to let the student do the same. My students are also getting better as they are starting to analyze my actions using PM concepts and terms. Constantly demonstrating what it is supposed to be along with words regardless of whether I can do it totally or not at the time has helped me improve my actions over time. In another instance, my student was pressing on me to get my upper body to go backwards, I was trying to show not to fight. My mind was on not moving a dot, and stretching into empty space. After I did it, it turned out to look like ground dragon. It gave me the experience of 动必成式. I remember, maybe in 2011 or 2012, Master Chen Zhonghua and I were at Monte Carlo Inn at breakfast time. He grabbed and locked my right forearm, then told me to separate my energy from my body movement. Of course, I could not do it at the time. He said something about the energy had to come out of the middle finger. I believe now what needs to done is to stretch, the longer the better, stretch it all the way to the rear foot. A stretch gives me the ability to handle opponent's incoming power. Another stretch gives me the ability to go around the opponent. Stretch gives me the ability to take up space without giving up what I have. A stretch by definition must have a non-moving dot. Stretching produces that magic. Swallowing is to lock the front and then stretch backwards. Spitting is to lock the back and stretch forward.