Rather than keeping the Chen Zhonghua workshop notes until I can fully prepare a blog post, I figured I would just release them and then loop back to them in future posts. Already, my understanding of the Chen Taiji Practical Method has changed a lot since the workshop. I can only hope that with correct practice, my understanding of the material will only get better.
More and more students of Master Chen Zhonghua are posting their own workshop notes online at the Daqingshan Fulltime Blog. In the spirit of spreading taiji word and following the footsteps of Master Chen Zhonghua, I will do the same.
The wujimon blog started in late 2002 as an avenue of exploring my own path on this journey we call taiji. Most of the time, it’s just me rambling on whatever comes to my mind about taiji. My ramblings are snapshots in time that change and evolve with practice and contemplation.
Without further ado:
Chen Zhonghua Workshop Notes
March 2009; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Hosted by Tim Duehring
Do not lift the point of the broadsword, but pivot the sword about the point of contact
When doing the buddha warrior pound mortar with broadsword, as you lift the sword, keep the blade perpendicular to the chest. This hides the blade from view. You end the position with the tip of the sword pointing at the opponent.
There is no pushing, only pulling. It feels like someone is pulling you from behind. Other times, it feels as if your insides are being jarred up. Quite an unsettling sensation.
CZH let me armbar him and he showed me what it was like when the energy went into his shoulder. He then demonstrated what it felt like when he sent the energy back to me, pinpointing the energy at the top of my spine. He made no movement and I felt a weird sensation as if someone was pulling me from behind.
Rolling the energy, example of having a spear/staff pushing against you. Without retreating, you energetically roll around to the other side of the spear and attack. It’s like physically standing on one side of the spear, but energetically attacking on the other side.
It’s about percentages and splitting your energy. You don’t push with your hand, the hand remains fixed and you push with your whole body. The movement of the knee can then direct the energy into your opponents body.
In pushing, you make 2 contact points. You attack with the third point (like the vertex of a triangle).
You must put yourself in an awkward position to make your opponent feel like they got you, but in reality, you get them.
When turning, isolate the knee, do not let it turn out. Turn using your kua, but at the same time, do not close the kua, but keep it open and activated.
Sometimes you must create space between you and your opponent by using the waist. This open area can then generate a lot of power in the body by utilizing the dantien.
A lot of times, we fall down b/c we only have horizontal energy. We haven’t yet developed vertical energy. This means that when someone pushes you, you redistribute the energy vertically instead of being pushed back horizontally.
Vertical energy is developed through pile stacking. He showed us an exercise where we get in a zhan zhuang position and rock back on our heels until we feel like we are losing balance. At that point, you elongate the spine, stretching from the top of the head all the way to the heels to regain balance.
When I asked about the hand method in the practical method, he said that you must lock the wrist and expand the energy out into the fingers and pile them. It’s like the chinese broom where the bamboo is tied together. When you squeeze the bamboo shafts, the bristles spread out. It’s like a hard container that allow the energy to disperse out.
When doing the movements, all energy goes into the body. Everything folds in or goes into the center or the dantien almost like building a little energy ball.
Asking, talking or explaining about chi is not really relevant to what we are doing.
In the original chen family broadsword, there was only 13 cuts. The hard part is to be able to execute the techniques WITHOUT retreat. He talked about how Hong was able to get the third movement off, but it felt as if it was humanly impossible.
In the practical method, it is hard to judge your skill or progress. It feels like you are doing nothing when you are actually generating quite a bit of power. It feels awkward at first. Your movements are going into your opponent’s opening and trapping your opponent at the first contact point, then you trap at the second contact point. This causes your opponent to either over extend themselves or put themselves in a compromising position. Finally, after defining the vertex of energy, you move WITHOUT moving any of your previous contact points to send your opponent down.
Hong said at the highest level, when you do 1 move, it feels like your body moves in 9 directions at the same time. At a point you get used to it and feel as if it’s normal, but your opponent doesn’t understand how you move thereby feeling awkward against your attack.
Defense and Attack happen in 1 movement at the same time. Not 2. It’s all about percentages and the splitting of energy
When entering the workshop conference room, on table was a taiji ruler, bang, rubber cords and a lot of pole and stick. One pole has a weight tied to the end of it.
In taiji, there is no pushing, only pulling.
For more, see: Chen Zhonghua Workshop Notes Unfiltered Part 2