Elbow In, Hand Out

The ten word dictum while doing positive circles:

Elbow in, no hand in

Hand out, no elbow out

Source: Chentaichi.org – Jibengong Positive Circle

I am currently working on the positive circle exercise in the Hong Junsheng Chen Taiji Practical Method as taught by Chen Zhonghua. The first movement of the exercise is “elbow in”, however when doing this, the elbow must go in, not the hand.

What’s the difference? For me, I found out that when I did the ‘elbow in’, the movement originated from my hand. In other words, the intention was first placed on my hand and then I thought about pulling the elbow in.  While minor, I feel the placement of intention can have strong consequences when trying to perform the application.

So, in the initial posture, I would have to constantly remind myself, “think about the elbow, think about the elbow, think about the elbow not the hand” Doh! I just thought about the hand! LOL .. 😉 At first I felt a strong push back in my mind as I would naturally think about my hand, but over time, I felt the intention point slowly travel down to my elbow. For a while, I was stuck on the inner forearm because I was imagining someone trying to pull my arm as I pulled my elbow in. Eventually, the goal is to toss all that out the window and just think about the elbow. As the dictum states above, “elbow in, no hand in”.

After the elbow is brought in, I mean *really* in, at least to the point that the elbow touches the ribcage, the body turns via the up and down motions of the kua. For a right handed positive circle, the right kua goes down, the left kua goes up. One big distinction for me is the turn initiating by the kua, NOT the waist…

Finally, the hand goes out, but when doing this movement, remember the dictum, “hand out, no elbow out”. This means the hand leads the movement, think about the hand and not the elbow. 

Below is a clip that I am using for reference when practicing the positive and negative circles:


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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One Response to Elbow In, Hand Out

  1. taijiquestion says:

    Hi WM,

    This is the kind of thing that I found so fascinating about GM Hong’s taiji with Chen Zhonghua as modern leader of the Chen Practical Method.

    The way I heard this (read of it, I should say) is: “Hand leads the arm out; elbow leads the arm in”. I loved the simplicity of this, the efficiency.

    The elbow is naturally closest to the torso. The hand is naturally furthest from the torso. So as the arm needs to move further or closer to the torso, these endpoints of the forearm are designated to lead the forearm to and fro.

    There’s a whole lot more that builds on this floating-forearm concept, I believe…

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