One of the maxim’s I’ve heard in the Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method as taught by Master Chen Zhonghua is:
There is no shifting of weight, only turning
It has taken me a very LONG time to even grasp this concept, let alone exemplify it in my own body mechanics. Prior to the Chen Practical Method, all the taiji I have ever been exposed to consists of shifting the weight side-to-side, back-to-forward, and leg-to-leg.
In the Chen Practical Method, the weight stays centered and the body only turns about the central axis. There is NO shifting of weight. The turning of the body is driven by the movement of the kuas (one up, one down; one open, one close).
In order to move by turning about our central axis, we must “make our body like a door hinge”. This means that we draw a line through the top of our head down between the eyes, through our nose, through the center of our chest, through the belly button and down through the center of the tailbone. This line then becomes like a hinge on a door. For the door to function properly, the hinge remains vertically and horizontally fixed and can only turn left and right. In other words, the center-line must remain vertically fixed and centered between our two feet, and not moving horizontally.
Below is a video clip of Master Chen Zhonghua explaining this concept of the door hinge and how to keep our center:
- 0:43 – Center-line should be established as a door hinge
- 1:20 – demonstration of “wobbling”
- 1:49 – demonstration and explanation of “the door hinge does not move”
- 2:28 – application demonstration of the hinge moving horizontally (flaw) and turning about the door hinge (correction)
- 3:10 – demonstration of door hinge concept within the cloud hands form, note the “locking” of the body (ie, rule of thirds) and opening of the kua creating spirals up the hinge
- 3:55 – demonstration of incorrect cloud hands movement and the impact of “moving back” or horizontal movement
- 4:09 – if your knee has the intention of being pulled flat, it means your spine is moving horizontally. This motion is wrong and can be capitalized by an opponent. In the Hong Practical Method, the body does not retreat
- 4:37 – pulling the knee flat comprises structural integrity in the other leg
- 4:52 – demonstration of how movement must only come from the kua
I would like to extend a hat tip to Internal Arts IA for bringing the video to my attention. He made the following observation on his own blog:
Note the portion of the video when Master Chen shows the different mechanics in play as he presented his center to the opponent straight on, creating a flat surface which was easy to push. Then he showed the effectiveness of the stable center with micro adjustments of rotation presenting an angular surface, immediately destabilizing his partner on the video clip
Think about making your body like a door hinge the next time you engage in push hands or during forms practice and see if it makes a difference. If it does and you want to learn more, check out Master Chen Zhonghua’s online store or search for a workshop near you. If you’re in the Midwest, USA, Master Chen is tentatively planning a Fall 2010 workshop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.