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.