Trying to resolve no weight shifting

The Chen Zhonghua workshop is roughly 1 month away.  In preparation, I have mainly been doing positive circle training.  The Chen Taijiquan Practical Method positive circle is quite a bit different than the chen village silk reeling circles.  First off, there is no weight shifting in the Hong method, only turning. This is a really strange concept and one that I am still trying to resolve as the notion of weight shifting has been grinded into me since day 1 of my taiji exposure.

One of the first exercises in general taiji training is to practice ‘taiji walking’. This is basically walking up and down the room in bow stances. At a high level, this consists of shifting the weight from leg to leg while turning the body and stepping.  The emphasis on this exercise is placed on the weight shifting.

In the chen village silk reeling, the weight is shifted from leg to leg generally in 70-30 weight distributions in a side horse stance. However, in the Hong method, the weight is pretty much kept 50-50 or maybe 55-45, but there should be no evident weight shifting during the movement.  At first, this feels like the movement is just about moving the upper body, but in time and with practice, the coordination can be felt with the movements of the kua. That is, one kua moves up while the other kua moves down.  For a right handed positive circle, as the elbow moves in, the left kua goes up. As the hand goes out, the right kua goes up. During this whole motion, the weight does not shift forward nor backward. 

Mentally, this idea of no weight shifting, only turning, is going to be a huge hurdle for me to comprehend. I understand the goal is to be balanced and the most balanced position is weight equally distributed in both legs.  This is fine and dandy in a static posture, but what about when I want to move? Does my weight not shift to one leg or the other so I can take a step?  Hopefully all will be made clear with more practice.

For those interested, the workshop is near Milwaukee, Wisconsin and will take place March 13-15. For more details, check out the calendar entry.

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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7 Responses to Trying to resolve no weight shifting

  1. S.Smith says:

    I like resolute concepts like seek stillness. They serve us in the internal arts as impossible tasks that, while we search for the result, we learn about two things: we can achieve, externally, a kind of profound stillness, and, internally, so much movement happens that we can go deeper and deeper into something profoundly moving, never achieving what we set out for.

    I like your work and I put you on the Real Taijiquan Blogroll.

  2. taijiquestion says:

    Think about riding a bicycle and you have a mishap and go down. We’ve all had that experience as kids, right? So there you are sprawled on the ground, probably with some bruises and/or road rash. Meanwhile, your bike is lying on its side and maybe one wheel is still spinning with unexpended energy.

    Take any given point on the wheel. As it moves in a circle around and around, there is weight shifting. That piece of the wheel has weight because it exists; and is shifting because it is not stationary.

    But overall, you would not say that the weight of the wheel is shifting, because it is not travelling over the ground; merely spinning (turning).

    Chen Zhonghua’s motionless motion is pretty fascinating (what I understand of it, or kid myself that I do). Personally I’m betting that you’ll come out of his seminar with tons of answered questions, new insights, and new stuff to work on.

    I don’t know how he trains students in stepping. But picture our world spinning; as it revolves around the sun (while our orbiting moon travels with us); and the sun is orbiting around the core of the Milky Way; and all these bodies are influencing each other all the while. And the Milky Way itself is travelling through the universe. And during all this shifting of positions, perfect balance is maintained (with certain temporary, minute imbalances).

    I’m pretty good with words but as CZH once wrote to me, my words are beautiful but not “practical”. Good luck with the Practical Method!
    🙂

  3. wujimon says:

    @TJQ: Great analogies, thanks! I think at this point, it’s best not to talk or think, but just do. I have been trying to hold out and just do, but the thinking got to me. I couldn’t help myself 😉

    Sometimes we just need to practice, practice, practice and in time, I’m sure all my questions will be answered.

  4. Ben says:

    I read something interesting by Master Waller on dynamic balancing tai chi. He was talking about using the sacroillaic area instead of pelvis and hips. I’ve tried it, and you get a more subtle kua movements, less knee and pelvis action and a nice spiral through the legs. Maybe it would make sense in the context of no weight shift? I think Master Waller does a 60:40 weight ratio, not 70:30.

    I tried to find the page again on his site but got lost. There must be a 1000 pages at least on there?

    http://www.dynamicbalancingtaichi.co.uk/A-Z.htm

  5. S.Smith says:

    Sacroiliac region is potent. A subtle squeezing or tension-creation draws the mind to it…I wonder if folks avoid talking about it because of its…location. Squeeze perineum (just a little); get results.

    That whole region needs articulation for soft freedom and power. Like the difference between moving the hand and the fingers: moving the coccyx, inguinal ligament, anus, prostate, and pelvic sit-bones all ought to have their own freedom.

    The last weight-shifting dignity: bladder and bowel control in the final years. What else are we really training for?!

  6. Xsantiago says:

    Hi,

    I’m a one of Master Chen Zhonghua´s newest disciples. Just wanted to put my perspective on this issue, though I still have much to learn.

    When I first met Shifu (CZH) in the 2006 Puerto Rico Workshop, I remember asking him something on how we shift weight and his immediate answer was that we don’t shift weight. Back then this broke my paradigms of what I thought Taijiquan is. As I practiced and took more workshops with Shifu, and read GM Hong’s book on the Practical Method it began to make sense. GM Hong in his book talked about the concept of “erect like a balance” and “the waste is like an axle”. He talked about those points in the classics referred to the pivoting point of a lever. When using a lever the pivoting point cannot shift. GM Hong then said in his book that moving the center of gravity from leg to leg contravenes the requirement of balance and axle and it is contrary to Chen style Taijiquan principle of balance in motion. GM Hong also mentions that before studying from GM Chen Fake, in Wu style Taijiquan there was no moving the center forward or backward or side to side. When learning form G; Chen Fake, that requirement of keeping a central axis and not “tossing” the center was even more precise.

    Now, from my studies with Shifu, I have been learning that as I rotate the kua and allow the knees to point up or down, that helps power up the hands with the opposite foot which again is how GM Hong redefined double heavy as being left hand solid then left foot empty and vice versa.

    Shifu loves to use the example of pedaling a bicycle. Though one leg is empty and the other solid, your center remains on the seat. You do not toss the center when riding a bike and neither of the bicycle’s parts toss, yet the bike moves. All the parts of the bicycle are rotating in place as is your pedaling. Ever since I have been working on applying this to my Taijiquan training, I notice that my applications are now working when practicing them with classmates and friends who study other martial arts though I still have a long way to go in my learning.

    I hope you enjoy Shifu´s seminar in Milwaukee and that your questions can be answered.

    Best,
    Xsantiago

  7. wujimon says:

    Hi XSantiago.

    I do have Hong’s book so I am planning on reviewing that again before the workshop. Hopefully some of his concept will make a bit more sense to me now that I have been working in the method for a bit. Thanks for the heads up on some of the points from the book.

    Also, I really like the pedaling a bicycle analogy. Definitely something to think about! As this time, I am trying not to ask too many questions, but just do and practice and hopefully in time the questions will be answered 😉

    Thanks for the pointers and little guide posts along this taiji journey!

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