Saturday, October 14, 2017

There is no reset for the turn of the waist

Master Chen has long been saying that during positive circle (elbow in, turn the waist, hand out), there is no reset for the turn of the waist.  Today while I was telling the students the same during the morning practice, I realized how to achieve this actually. With a central vertical rod, your stretch the front of the waist from right to left for a right side positive circle, hold that stretch, and then stretch the back of the waist from left to right. The students verified that the turn of the waist was done in a single direction only.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pleasantly surprised by my student's notes

Master Chen has always emphasized the importance in writing notes. We should write two sets of notes: one for recording exactly what the teacher said, and one for our understanding at the time. When I read Suz' notes, I was impressed by her ability to remember the points. For the last point:

  • There are always 3 points, if you gave one point to your opponent, then lock/control the other two points

It was definitely something that Master Chen had said before, but I couldn't quite remember what I did and when I said it during the class, and yet she wrote it down. Transmission happened without knowing.

Reading my students' notes helped me understand what they got out of the lesson, and allowed me to make teaching improvements.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Using a stick to understand lever

I saw one of Master Chen Zhonghua's videos how he used to points to hold up an opponent at first, and later added his waist to the middle of the two points to get the opponent to fall. Since I didn't have any one to work with at the time. I took a long stick to pretend it to be the opponent. I put my right hand at one end, my right thigh behind the middle, and the left foot at the other end. This allowed the stick to stay slanted. I tested the amount of power applied on the stick by releasing the hold from the left foot. When I put my waist at a point between the high end and the middle of the stick, there was more power on the stick than otherwise. A point to note is that when putting the waist on the stick, I do not collapse the right (front) kua.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Brennan Toh's review on pushing hands with Kelvin Ho

Kelvin has gotten a lot stronger. Recently (past year?) he's gotten stronger than me, more clearly able to define a set line and consistently move along that line. Structure is more self contained, much less reliant on the opponent. Starting to feel a lot more like Chen Xu with a defined pole as centre. Good understanding of when the other person has over extended or is light on their front foot (quick switching move). Improvement at taking up space on the bottom by putting pressure on with the knees, also preventing opponent from moving their feet. Still lots of downward application of force, but rather than hanging off the other person as he used to it is now more relevant to keeping them locked and allowing him freedom of movement. Lacks mobility in feet (still primarily uses open stance), might be unable to move feet. Vulnerable to feints as he reacts very quickly to each movement (able to differentiate between empty and dangerous moves?). Better at sustaining single lines, but dependent on that line overpowering to prevent the opponent from holding that line while finding others.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Morning practice - Don't skip it

It is important for me to have a morning taiji practice session. I practice a certain number of yilus, they count towards a goal that I set.  The latest goal is 50,000 yilus.  Getting a few yilus done in the morning (currently 5) though is only 0.5% towards the goal, it is quantifiable and real. It gives me a sense of accomplishment right at the beginning of each day, and equips me to face the challenges for the rest of the day.  This is a reminder for me not to skip the morning practice.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

S-curve is really the circle

In taijiquan, we often hear people refer to a circle, drawing a circle, or being rounded. The essence of a circle is rotation. It is by rotation that a dot on the surface of any object can draw a circle. A sphere or ball is the 3D extension of a circle. A circle also has the characteristic of a loop, where there is no beginning or end, in the other words, anywhere can be the beginning which can then be the end. To complete a rotation, there is a one-way path from beginning to end, and there is no going backwards on the same path, otherwise, it is equivalent to nothing happens at all.

Due to the way a human is built, we cannot perform a true rotation. What can be achieved is an approximation of it, and we can perform a portion of a rotation at a time. In order to perform a full rotation, switching is required. Switching can refer to switching of pivots (non-moving parts) or switching of moving parts.

In Figure 1, line AB rotates around point B to become line CB. Line CB moves laterally to become line YC. Y becomes the new fixed point. Line CY rotates around Y to become ZY. This represents a full rotation by having two action halves.  This is the S-curve often referred by Master Chen Zhonghua. It marks the way in which the human body performs a circle. Note that this is also the taiji symbol.

Figure 2 is similar to Figure 1 except no lateral move, and there is a direct switching from point B to point Y as the non-moving point.

Figure 3 also represents a full rotation, although it may not look like one at first glance.  There are two halves.  In this case, the circle is smaller, and in fact, it is more like an ellipse.

Figure 4 represents a full rotation that is further broken down. Switching of pivots is depicted here (points B,C,D,E,V,W,X,Y). For simplicity of the drawing, 8 equal pieces are used, however in reality, they do not need to be equal in size. The overall shape is also asymmetric. This is a 2D representation. Imagine how crooked it will look if the pivots are not located on the same plane.

In order for each portion of a rotation to continue from the last one, what is gained in each portion must be maintained/kept, so that position becomes the starting point of the next one. Let’s take the right-side positive circle in Practical Method as an example.  In the most basic version, we do a 3-count circle:
  1. In with elbow
  2. Turn with waist
  3. Out with hand
After the first count, the elbow must touch the side-ribs. In the 2nd count, while the elbow is touching the ribs, pushing the right foot to the ground and rotating the right kua with the left kua being the pivot cause the waist to turn to the left. This is the first half of the circle. For the 3rd count, using the right kua as the pivot, pushing the left foot to the ground and rotating the left kua causes the right hand to go out as part of the geared action. This completes the 2nd half of the circle. Note that the waist turn is only going to the left in one direction throughout the entire circle. There is no reset.

Let’s look at only the relationship between the elbow and the hand. The in-with-elbow-no-hand is the first half of a circle, and the out-with-hand-no-elbow is the 2nd half of a circle. This is an example of switching of moving parts.  After the in-with-elbow-no-hand, the elbow continues to go inwards (no loss of compression towards the dantien) while the out-with-hand-no-elbow takes place maintaining the tension between hand and elbow.

The four figures above show different representations of the S-curve that involve physical actions. Master Chen has also shown before that having a particular physical shape in the body with various stretches can allow energy to travel in a rotating fashion without any obvious external movements. That is another topic for the future. At the mean time, keep practicing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What's the difference between Practical Method and other taijiquan or martial art? 实用拳法和其它拳的差别


  1. Master Chen when answering the question focused on Practical Method itself, and left it to the audience to do the comparison, as he couldn't represent the other art.
  2. Practical Method's core is rotation. Spiral and silk reeling is rotation plus distance.
  3. We can never do true rotation. It's impossible for us to do 360 degree rotation. We can perform a lever action. A lever action is a part of a rotation.
  4. Form training is to create levers in our bodies.
  5. Grandmaster Hong Junsheng has the 10-word saying "Out with hand no elbow, in with elbow no hand". Lin Ketong calls it 10-word mantra.
  6. This mantra actually describes the lever action.

  1. 陈中华老师解释了实用拳法的特点,跟其它拳种的比较留待观众自己作出。陈中华老师不能代表其它拳种说话。
  2. 实用拳法的核心东西是旋转。螺旋缠丝是旋转加距离。
  3. 我们不可能做真正的旋转,360度是不可能的。能做的是杠杆。杠杆是旋转的一部分。
  4. 套路练的是杠杆。
  5. 洪均生老师的十字诀是出手不出肘,收肘不收手。林克彤叫它十字真言。
  6. 十字诀就是形容杠杆的。