Misunderstanding Double Heavy?

In the Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method book, HJS writes the following in regards to Double Heavy:

When the left hand is solid the left foot must be empty. When the right hand is solid, the right foot must be empty.

… These examples show that if the hand is solid then the foot must be empty [or the other way around]. If the front hand and foot are both solid, then the front foot cannot move freely.

— Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method by Hong Junsheng, page 24.

I basically understand this to mean that both the right hand an right foot cannot be solid, as opposed to the conventional understanding of double-weighted in that both feet cannot have equal weighting on them. However, how does this apply to moves like lazy tie coat in chen style? In this move, I believe both the right leg and right hand are solid, but if the above quote is correct, this would have to mean that perhaps while the right leg is solid, then the right hand is empty? This would make the left hand, the one at either the dantien position or waist position be solid?

What then about single whip? In this movement, generally both the left leg and the left arm are solid, unless this idea attributes to the right hook hand being solid instead?

This idea reminds me of something my first taiji taught me. He said that when doing brush knee twist step in yang style, even though the right hand is striking, we should focus on the left hand, the brushing hand. Likewise, in repulse monkey, don’t focus on the pushing hand, but focus on the retreating hand. I believe his reasoning for saying so was so that we could stay centered and not follow the “yang” aspect hand. However, in both of those examples, it seems to contradict the notion of double heavy???

I don’t know.. I think I’m missing something here. Any thoughts?

[edited on 8/5/06 to include some extra information in the blockquote to improve clarity]


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19 Responses to Misunderstanding Double Heavy?

  1. silkreeling says:

    Do you have the book “lost taichi classics from the late ching dynasty”?

    Chapter 22 – An explanation of lightness and heaviness, floating and sinking, in taiji – of the yang family classics explains this topic better i think. but still there are lots to digest.

    from my very limited experience of basic pushing hands, double weightedness will result in a stiff block for your opponent to push, whether left or right, up or down. however, if you have an empty side while the other is solid, whether up or down, left or right, then there is room for change when your opponent push the solid side.

    could it be HJS is referring to push hands?

  2. wujimon says:

    Hi Silkreeling.
    I don’t have the book you referenced, but I will definitely add it to my reading list.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m more familiar with the yang explanations of full/empty being in regards to weight shifting on legs and this concept makes sense to me.

    Just the HJS concept is a bit harder to digest since I believe most of of stances in the Practical method have a weight distribution of 45/55 versus the common 70/30 or even 100/0. I’m trying to understand it within the HJS context.

    To me, I think any given principle should be universally applied in either form or push hands if it’s to be a true principle.

  3. wujimon says:

    FYI, I added an extra sentence to the beginning to hopefully clarify some of the details.

  4. zenmindsword says:

    figure out how not to be double-weighted when in 50:50 (and also not double-substantial) and you have the solution

  5. silkreeling says:

    good one knowingfish, as explained in Chapter 22 – An explanation of lightness and heaviness, floating and sinking, in taiji – of the yang family classics.

  6. wujimon says:

    Hey Silkreeling:

    You’re referring to the book by Douglas Wile, Lost Tai-Chi Classics from the Late Ching Dynasty (Chinese Philosophy and Culture), right?

  7. eduardo says:

    That doesn’t apply to “tying coat”, not as you are thinking about it. Oh, if it were that simple. It changes if you are practicing alone or against someone, it refers to the inside and outside, and to top versus bottom of the body.

  8. wujimon says:

    Hi Eduardo.

    I believe in the HJS system, the form is done as the application would be done, so in that regard, it would be the same practicing along or against someone. That’s one of the key trademarks of the Hong system.

    I believe in chen style via the Chen Xiao Wang line, the qi goes along the following route: dantien, back, shoulder, elbow, hand. However in appication or a push hands scenario, you’re always supposed to be “one step ahead” on the qi path, so when the hand is out, the qi/intention would be at the waist area so you are not “double heavy” in the intention or “yi” sense.

    I’m just trying to approach this from a HJS point of view, as it’s different from the chen village variant.

    thanks for your comment.

  9. Pingback: wujimon » Experience with 6 Sealings 4 Closings Application

  10. Joanna Zorya says:

    Hi – the way I understand this from various lineages plus some Silat cross-training is that the body has a natural tendency towards cross lateral balanced movement. So the cross punch is our most solid strike. However, this only works for forehand movements – for backhand movements the rule is reversed, hence actions like warding off or Lazily tying clothes. This is why I've largely replaced references to double heavy and light in my teaching and instead talk of something I call “one circle”. Essentially, if the body is shifting weight to the right it should also turn right. If shifting left, it should also turn left. Anything else is double heavy or light. If I turn left whilst shifting right, the shoulder is pushed further forwards twice – hence double heavy – instead of being pulled back in relation to the left shoulder being pushed forwards – natural cross lateral movement. The uphot is that a double heavy person can very easily be pulled off balance as he has nowhere left to go – pulled onto his front leg, he is turning his back on his opponent. If he instead turns towards the weight shift (also practiced in Bagua and referred to in Yang Banhou lineage as the 3 forwards – both hands, feet and eyes all gravitate to point towards the attacker) He may step with his rear leg when it becomes empty and continue facing the opponent. Hope this helps.Regards,Joanna

  11. wujimon says:

    Hi Joanna. I like your notion of the “one circle” in regards to double heavy aka double weightedness. Lately, my own understanding of double heavy is being in a position where one is unable to move and lose balance. Your own definition seems to follow the same logic, ie, if I shift weight to the left, then my body turns to the left. This way, if need be, I can move my right foot to rebalance myself.Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am a fan of your writings, especially the ones about bringing the martial back to “martial arts” 🙂

  12. Joanna Zorya says:

    You're welcome – take care 🙂

  13. Joanna Zorya says:

    Hi again – I've posted a Youtube clip on the subject, to better illustrate how the mechanics work. Hope it is in some way useful.Regards,Joannahttp://www.youtube.com/user/martialtaichi#p/a/u

  14. Xsantiago says:

    Hi Wujimon,I see that this post is from Aug/2006. Way before you went to Shifu´s workshop and before seeing the Energy Alignment Video. Anyways, for the benefit of readers who run into this post I have decided to put my two cents worth from my perspective at my current level of understanding.Here is my view from the perspective of being a disciple in the Chen style Taijiquan Practical Method under my Shifu, Chen Zhonghua. One of the basic rules of our system is the concept of Yin/Yang separation. Whatever the left side of the body does, the right side must do the opposite. Same holds for the upper and lower body. What this does is create a lever effect on the whole body. If you want to push a boulder using a lever, which will make the job so much easier, you have a fixed fulcrum point and contact point. As you push the lever arm down and create torque, the opposite end of the stick is pushed up and moves the boulder. If you try to push the opposite end and the contact end of the lever in the same direction it will no longer work as a lever and it will be impossible to push the heavy boulder in this fashion. In Block Touching the Coat (AKA Lazy to Tie Down the Coat) the last move is a right positive circle powered by the left leg. When stepping to the right, the dantien is over the left leg in order to step with the right. Right hand does the first half of the positive circle while the left hand does the first half of the negative circle. As soon as you step and land, as in all stances in the practical method where you are stationary, the dantien goes back and remains in the center. It does not move side to side or forward or backward. However, with this center equilibrium you can power up with either leg. In the last move of Block Touching the Coat the right foot pushes the right hand out in a positive circle. The left hand just is released and comes to the waist (without moving the hand, as Shifu always says). So the final posture is right positive circle powered by the left leg and the right leg is an anchor. Center of gravity remains in the center. Take care and hope to meet you in a future workshop.

  15. Joanna Zorya says:

    Hi – that's really interesting – thanks for posting that explanation. I could see the Practical Method was different from what I'd been taught, but I hadn't fully understood how. Do you know how common this understanding is within the Chen style at all? Is it specific to the Chen Fake branch or to the Hong lineage?

  16. xsantiago says:

    Hi Joanna,I will do my best to answer your questions from my limited understanding at my current level. Shigong Hong’s teachings are exactly those of Chen Fa Ke. He followed Chen Fake for 15 years uninterrupted until he moved to Jinan during WWII. When he received his last 4 months of instructions and corrections from Chen Fa Ke in 1956, the only thing Hong asked permission to do different is to be able to perform the routines just in the same way the martial applications are done. Chen Fa Ke gave his permission to Hong to teach the routines in that manner. All of Chen Fa Ke´s teachings, though, remained intact. In terms of Chen style in general, many practitioners have different interpretations of what Shitaigong Chen Fa Ke´s teachings were. I don’t want to get into the who is better or worse discussion since that always leads to the wrong conclusions. In my limited experience and having studied from other Chen style lineages, I have not heard those types of explanations before outside of the Hong lineage. Hong was very pragmatic and avoided empty talks on subjects that just could not be proven right or wrong (ex: qi). He only worked on what could be reproduced and measured. From the recent workshop we had with Shifu Chen Zhonghua in Puerto Rico, he went deep into the explanations of the movements and proper body alignments in order to use the laws of physics to our advantage. Concepts of lever and torque were emphasized. In Shifu´s website he has some new DVDs out called “Energy Alignment” (nothing to do with qi at all) in which he goes deep into those explanations in order to use the rotational movements of the positive and negative circle in the Yi Lu form to efficiently use force instead of raw muscle power. I would highly recommend those DVDs if you are interested in going deeper into this subject. http://www.chenzhonghua.netI hope I answered your question correctly. I must say that I like your writings about putting the Quan back into Taijiquan. Take care,Xavier

  17. wujimon says:

    FYI, I did an overview of Master Chen Zhonghua's Energy Alignment DVD at: http://wujimon.com/chen-zhonghua-energy-alignme

  18. Xsantiago says:

    Hi Wujimon,Yes, I know you did an overview on the Energy Alignment DVD. It was an excellent overview and I wish to congratulate you for it. I enjoy very much reading your posts on this, your blog. I also know that this thread is old (from the year 2006). That is why at the beggining of my first comment I wrote:”I see that this post is from Aug/2006. Way before you went to Shifu´s workshop and before seeing the Energy Alignment Video. Anyways, for the benefit of readers who run into this post I have decided to put my two cents worth from my perspective at my current level of understanding.”Anyways, thanks for posting the link to your overview on the Energy Alignment DVD. This will also benefit greatly the readers who run into this thread. To anybody who is reading this thread, I highly recommend checking out Wujimon's overview on the Energy Alignment DVD. Wujimon also included an excerpt video clip of the Block Touching the Coat Posture (AKA Lazy to Tie Down the Coat), and an exceprt clip of the 6 Sealings 4 Closures posture from the DVD. Peace and hope to meet you in a future workshop,Xavier

  19. Joanna Zorya says:

    Xavier – thanks ever so much for the information. I think I do owe it to myself to get those DVDs at some point. I greatly respect the practical and combat-literal approach of your lineage and thank you for your positive comment about my writing. Best regards,Joanna

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