Last night, my son decided to try and follow along during my form practice. I started off with the ‘hotel taiji’ versions of the sets, that is the first 5 movements of the long form. First was Yang, then to mix it up I did some Chen. He was able to follow along well with the Yang but during the Chen, I noticed he was mainly just shifting back and forth in a horse stance.
It’s been quite a while since I did Chen, and after seeing my son try to mimic me, I noticed something about the Chen. While on the outside things appear to just be shifting horizontally side to side, there’s quite a bit more going on. More specifically, in my own practice I noticed more ‘twisting’ of the thigh muscles during the transitions.
For example, in Lazy Tie Coat, there is a right sideways shifting motion. Instead of just shifting directly to the side and sticking the arm out, I recalled the idea is to shift first, then turn. That is, shift the hips to the right, while maintaining the correct alignment between the outer edge of the foot and the right hip. Only after the shift has been completed, do I begin turning the body towards the right, thereby opening the right arm.
While this is all basic stuff, the thing that I noticed right away was a feeling of ‘dynamic tension’, I felt as if my body was wringing a towel dry, that sort of twisting nature. I was able to feel the ‘twist’ through my legs, up the torso and into my arms.. very nutty! It’s been a while since I felt this type of thing as I have mainly been focusing on Yang style. Perhaps this dynamic tension and twisting is also found in Yang too. If so, I haven’t quite found it in my Yang practice yet.