The Intent of the Knees

Man.. this could not have come at a better time as I am still experiencing some knee pains.  Anyhoo, while perusing taiji literature, I ran across the following passage:

7. The knees

Avoid downward pressing of the knees. Imagine the knee is always directed upwards when squatting down, pushing forward or forming a horse stance.

— Source: – The Quintessence of Wu (Yuxiang) Style Taijiquan

In my own training, I have been intently focusing on sinking down into the soles of my feet. I imagine the tension in my body going down into the ground. As such, when I do feel some strain in my knees, I imagine that tension going down. I guess, in a way, I am willing the pain to go down into the ground. However, after reading the above passage, my mental intent is most likely resulting in a downward pressing of the knees!

So, in doing some zhan zhuang, I imagined my knees directing up. Whadda ya know.. less strain. I tried some side to side chen style shifting, less strain. I formed a bow stance and imagine the knee pushing forward, less strain. The strain is lessening to the degree that I barely feel any strain or tension in the knees.

Amazing what a little bit of intention can do.. ๐Ÿ™‚


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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8 Responses to The Intent of the Knees

  1. Laird says:


    the knees knows ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. G. Michael Reynolds says:

    Interesting that you used the Wu’s knee-raise energy trick and got relief out of it. I learned it as a difficulty-raising (and results increasing) energy movement that you do when you’re done with zhan zhuang or at the end of san ti shi practice, or other appropriate moments. It always gives me the thigh burns and quakes twice as bad as I had them prior.

  3. chencenter says:

    intention can go a long way. however, it is physically impossible (and it might be hard for the average reader to understand) but when bending at the knee [into a squat] the knees cannot move upwards. You may lessen the strain due to the separation you feel but you may not be well-grounded at the same time. The knees (in my practice) go downward and to side. As the dantian moves…and the kua rotates… the knees press left and right (respectively) with the intention downwards into the earth. try adjusting the amount of strain by keeping a narrower stance. Good post. Lots of martial artists neglect the knees and unfortunately they [their knees] are usually the first to fail.

  4. G. Michael Reynolds says:

    You know, I never hear about Yang practitioners with knee problems after several years of practice…what the hell are you Chen guys doing over there anyway? Parkour? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. wujimon says:

    I do understand the knees cannot physically move up while one is going down, however by using this little trick with intention, I felt the strain lessening, almost to the point of not being there. Not sure why, but it works. Perhaps another example of mind over body .. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Personally, I don’t really like the idea of the knee pressing any direction laterally. For more on this, check out my post ( ). I have modified my own stance. I used to go quite low, but have since raised the stance but to no avail when I do any type of side to side lateral move.

    I believe there are some Yang practitioners who do have knee problems, however most of them may be doing wushu taiji but calling it Yang ๐Ÿ˜‰ For some reason, IMO, with Chen, there is always a feeling that one has to go lower. Very rare do I see a Chen master not push for this kind of training.

  6. taijiquestion says:

    FWIW, I think you may be on to a good thing with the “upwards intention”, WM. Not only does it feel better for you, but you got it from a reliable source.

    I have a Yang Style book in Chinese that I can’t read but I’ve tried to interpret the lines of force (or vectors) that they show. One of the first diagrams shows downward force through the centerline (or equivalent)… but upward arrows from both bubbling wells, straight up through the knees!

    In fact based on this and on your post, I tried a little horse-stance work in front of a mirror and simply visualized two arrow-lines going up from the feet and out the top of my knees. (As if I was the illustration in the book.) Don’t know that I’ll make this a regular practice but it seemed to have a good result at the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m like you… I can understand why certain schools teach pressing the knees outward or inward but I’m with Chen Zhonghua on this one: “the knees go up and down”. Lateral injuries can really suck.

    Who’s to say that with intention, we can’t go two ways at once? ๐Ÿ™‚ Every line extends in two directions.

  7. wujimon says:

    I agree that the knees should only move up/down or vertically and avoid lateral movement. Great point about a line extending 2 directions! In my own training, I only intentionally extended my line going down…

  8. Taijiquan in Tampa says:

    I just try to focus on feeling the weight in the center of my feet. If I feel weight in my knees, I know there is blockage there.

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