I’ve spent the last couple training sessions focusing on material from the Hong Jun Sheng Practical Chen Taijiquan Method. First of all, I must admit doing “the circles” is quite an enlightening exercise.
As a brief comparison, when I do Hong’s Circles, I can definitely feel a much better connection between my rear leg and my forward hand. It often feels as if the foot is “pushing” the hand, proving support for the hand. Why??? Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the stance and structure of the form. The circles are pretty much done in a forward bow stance which allows for an easier connection to the ground from the forward hand. Not necessarily maintaining a strict forward bow stance, but the action is generally done “in front” as opposed to “on the side” as with traditional chen sets.
Anyhoo.. back to the one that really hit me, this is with the 6 Sealings 4 Closings posture. In traditional sets, it’s done after the lazy tie coat posture in conjunction with a “roll back”. The conjunction with the roll back often results in a complete weight transfer back before moving forward, however I’ve often considered the scenario of being overpowered during the rollback. Hong’s method directly addresses this concern by slightly changing the execution of roll back to 6 Sealings 4 Closings.
In the Hong Method, after the lazy tie coat is completed, the weight is on forward leg. In the execution of the rollback, is achieved via a conjunction of 2 splitting energies and seems very martially sound. For example, check out this excerpt of Chen Zhonghua explaining the 6 Sealings 4 Closings posture on his Yilu Detailed Instructions DVD.
As an aside, I just found out you can contact fellow taiji blogger, InternalArtsIA, for purchasing information.
The first split is a horizontal split between the left and right hands. As the right hand moves forward, the left hand moves backward, resulting in a split. By using the torso and the movements of the kua this split feels very solid and structurally sound. It’s almost like the energy found in wringing a wet towel. The twisting in conjunction with the split/stretching results in a power effect with very little movement.
The second split is a vertical split between the right hand and right hip. As the right hand moves up, the right hips goes down. Note, both of these splits are executed AT THE SAME TIME and not sequentially. If this is not the harmony between yin-yang, forward-back, up-down, I don’t know what is! It’s like the body is keeping itself balanced and in check. It’s also feels like an expansion of the body, only to be following by a contraction of the body (The push component of the 6 Sealings 4 Closings posture).
I’m pretty sure my explanations are kinda confusing as I’m just getting exposed to the Hong Material for the first time. Luckily, InternalArtsIA just wrote a post to some of my questions that delves deeper into principles behind the Hong Method.
Why the opposing energies? Chen Zhonghua speaks of an issue where “Body parts will always like to follow”. Often times in traditional chen sets, when the rollback is done via the xinjia method (not the loajia method in which the rollback is a downward deflection), the body tends to move up with the hands. This is one of those key points of concern for me. If I were to really try this move and my opponent were stronger than me, I’d be easily overtaken. Taiji is not about power (IMO), but about skill. The skill to use the body in the most efficient manner that results in the maximum gain.