Thursday, September 19, 2013

Notes for Toronto Workshop Sep 19-22, 2013

The following are my raw notes from the workshop:
  1. Create the arch in different segments of the body from hand to foot
  2. Don't move the hand, stretch the elbow from the hand.
  3. Always aim at the largest part of the body since we shoot all over the place, and it's useless. For now, the torso, later the spine, even later something smaller.
  4. Stretch to the extreme, so that when it rotates it can't be stretched anymore.
  5. First half of positive circle, elbow in, rotate the shoulder, rotate the waist (3 parts). 3 parts to every move.
  6. Keep the outside (hand, back of head, outside of rear foot) fixed, and push and pull from inside.
  7. When you rotate and can't rotate anymore, you have to switch, so that you are not restricted anymore. There is no looseness in that switch.
  8. Vertical switching is sink the qi to the dantien (气沉丹田).
  9. During yilu, move each your body part to its designated spot, then move the next body part.
  10. There is something at the back that touches the front.
  11. Mirror your opponent to be full, so that you can match your opponent.
  12. You need the range of motion to become the mold of the your opponent, so you fit your opponent perfectly with no gap in between.
  13. Hand, elbow and shoulder form a triangle. You can't change the shape of the triangle, you can only turn it any way you want.
  14. To add weight after you run out of size. To add weight is like to squeeze toothpaste through the mouth (bottleneck).
  15. We need to physically go down to create a differential in height between the hand and the shoulder at this time.
  16. Six sealings four closings separation - elbow in, bring the torso down (without the hands/shoulders going down)
  17. Coffee table elbow exercise - split the elbow around half forward towards the hand, half backward towards the shoulder, cave in
  18. Direct push from your opponent, react with another part that is not the contact point, e.g. someone pushes your chest, bring back my rear foot, and then step forward with the front foot.  The key is no direct reaction. The chest is forward only because of another part of the body. It is a result of an action that takes place somewhere else.
  19. Contact point - location device, aim at the opponent's spine, find the counterpart and split them apart/stretch those two points in opposite direction.
  20. All movements are used to move in, use torque to fight. Torque is to use indirect power to fight against direct power.
  21. When two dots align, there is no distance between them.
  22. Stickiness is created with pressure and vector. My understanding: the pressure and vector need to be created with two different body parts. The problem often is the pressure is changed when we try to add the vector.
  23. Power naturally goes up, we need to learn to control it and always make the energy go down. My problem: I may go down, as soon as I move, the energy goes up.
  24. Double Heavy means no yin-yang separation.
  25. I realize how I want to learn now is to simply follow straight forward instructions, and no explanations. I fully believe in following the method. I hope to get real taiji someday.
  26. Stick with the principle, and hope that your opponent doesn't do what he is supposed to do. Always measure yourself against the principle, and not against someone.
  27. There is no counter move. We are training a move to make it work every time against anyone.
  28. A lot of the principles don't make sense, but you have to follow them. There are too many who just refuse to keep trying, thinking that was impossible. Real learning comes when you are able to do something that seems impossible.
  29. Cai is about creating differential in speeds of two points, e.g. pull a rope back at a speed faster than the speed used to throw it out.
  30. Master Chen can tell you what it should be like in an externally measurable way, but to do it I will need to figure out a method myself. To figure out a method, I have to try and try/train and train.
  31. Find a method to have a breakthrough every year.
  32. People often identify the first three years' progress as learning.
  33. Hardwork is a must, but it really doesn't guarantee any meaningful results. Continuous examination of your body against the principle must be done.
  34. Never satisfy with what you can do today.
  35. Do not believe that you have got anything.
  36. Separation of yin and yang is never what you think it is.
  37. Constantly watch Master Chen's videos and sort out what you need to work on next. This also applies to how yilu should be practiced.  I need to pick a focus on my daily yilu practice. Once I am able to do the particular action with ease, I will need to pick another focus. Don't just go through the motions, or else the yilu practice doesn't yield the desirable effect.
  38. Exercise 1: Space - Look for and occupy your opponent's empty space without pushing him, e.g. just put your hand in that empty space.
  39. Exercise 2: Two Pieces - Find a way to separate your opponent into two independent pieces, e.g. holding the opponent's leg not moving, and pulling his hand away from the leg.
  40. I found that it helped me focused by keeping telling myself a keyword during the exercise, e.g. "space" and "two pieces". Otherwise, the exercise may just turn into free push hands, and loses the point of the exercise.
Photos of the workshop can be found on Facebook.

These notes are also posted on

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Adding "one"

Today, I practiced with some of the people from the Toronto workshop group. After 10 yilus, we did a push hand drill.  The first drill we worked on was to create a stretch with the hands and arms, and use another part to add "one" (a separate action that is not related to the stretch with the upper body).  The problem I observed was that as soon as they attempted to add "one", the stretch was lost (the first "one" was lost) because of either of the following:
  1. they pushed with the hand or the shoulder blade, which was already involved to form the stretch,
  2. as they pushed from the foot, they forgot about the stretch with the upper body, and they loosened up.
I suggested to use waist, kua or the foot as the 2nd part. At this point, it needed to be some part that was far away enough from the hands and shoulders, as it would be easier to separate those two parts.  However, with a lot of practice, one should be able to separate the action of the parts that are closer together. When two parts are acting the same way (this is called merged together in terms of action), they are considered to be just like one part.  Remember, one body part can only do one thing (action).

As they had a hard time keeping the first "one", I kept the stretch for them, so they could focus on adding the second "one" from the lower body. I then came to realize that the opponent could initiate the first "one", and I just needed to add the second "one" myself. Of course in fact, I had to take part in maintaining the first "one" too. My second realization came when we had the first "one", my opponent started the second "one", I followed that action while maintaining the first "one" and continued with it to complete his second "one" to make it mine to return that energy to him. When this drill was on me, I felt that the stretch created by the first one became longer.

The second drill was to have the opponent held my forearm, I needed to adjust and align my hand/fist towards the centre of the opponent. While maintaining the alignment and structure (which was equivalent of having the first "one"), I pushed with the rear foot to add "one".  The aim here was important to make it work even if your own body alignment was there from rear foot to the front hand/fist. The problem I observed was when the aim was not precisely at the centre, e.g. one could easily be pushing towards the opponent's shoulder and the energy would get stuck there, and the action would not work.  I could see that having the precise laser-beam like aim was very important, and how quickly one could establish the proper alignment and aim would highly affect the effectiveness of the action.  If I could establish the proper alignment and aim quickly enough, when the opponent came pushing at me, his energy would be directed to the ground and bounced right back at himself.

Everything I described above was all taught or shown by Master Chen at some point in various workshops and videos available at Thank you, shifu.

These ah-ha moments were wonderful, and what a great way to start the day.