Prague Seminar Notes by Matej Velicky May 6, 2009

by fulltime on 2010/03/13

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method Workshop, Master Chen Zhonghua in Prague 11-12 April 2009

•Basic posture – half horse stance – the heel of the front foot and tip of the rear foot are on the same line. The rear knee is less bent than front one. The torso must be in the centre between the two feet.

•There are two real and one imaginary line. Real are legs and torso. Coccyx to the ground is imaginary (also hand to the waist)

•When pushing, one kua goes up, one down, centre is constant – it doesn’t go up and down as a whole.

•In Practical Method there is no warm-up. If you want to practice taiji you don’t have to do anything else, just do taiji. Similarly Master Chen answers someone’s question about workout – push-ups, weight lifting etc. Of course you can do that but it won’t help you in taiji.

•Every distance between the joints – i.e. foot-kua, kua-shoulder, shoulder-shoulder, shoulder-elbow etc. – should be the same – naturally it is not therefore you have to stretch these distances (not stretching exercise but stretch within the moves)

•There is always line or stick. Imaginary stick – from the feet to the hand

•When being pushed by the opponent you have to ‘cut him off’ the point where he pushes (i.e. not give him solidness to push on).

There are several levels of cutting off: first hand, then elbow, then shoulder, then kua, then foot and ?final one is hand to get him down?

In other words: DON’T fight the line but cut it off.

•The key is to manipulate with hands, not to use power on them

•Opponent stability to rear foot – don’t move the knee – no power!

•Don’t move the shoulder sideways, shoulder is relaxed and sunk down. The reference point for shoulder being relaxed is baihui point on the head.

•!! The stick (line) is the aim, the circle is a method !! We learn how to go on a straight line while using curved moves.

•Positive circle notes:

1st move: hand withdraws, body is dead still till elbow touches the ribs

2nd move: only waist, nothing else – no knees

3rd move: no elbow – only the hand and the rear foot

•Silk reeling theory: only one thread is going out of a silk cocoon at a time. Web net would be better analogy to taiji but Chinese people like pretty things.

•Separate everything is a method. Separate ! shoulder, elbow, finger etc.

How do you separate?

1.stretch – it is not a movement, there is zero movement



4.finally no movement

•!!! The inside doesn’t go outside, outside doesn’t go inside. It is like a tornado: Inside is still like the eye of a tornado, outside there is a storm.

•Everything must be separated

•No move in taiji has real life analogy – it is unnatural therefore we have to clear our mind of whatever previous experience we’ve learned before.

•We have to train to feel nothing,  ? hit is wrong ?

•Employ blurred vision – like in Chinese traffic: view is out of focus and the traffic has its own rhytm. Out of focus but focused – i.e. not ‘distracted’ byt focusing on one thing.

•Concept of pushing: first use your hands to pull yourself towards the opponent then lock your feet and push.

•Rubber bands: rubber is fixed on a stick (tree), fixed feet and the centre

1.Band goes around your waist. Run and stretch the band on your waist, then go upright with your torso and let it catch you -> then try to turn with the kuas to stop it.

2.Pull (negative circle). You can move on a line only – this is guaranteed by the rubber band (it has to have fair resistance). Pull your elbow toward your front knee and foot. Sink down with your body?

3.Push (positive circle). Lock shoulder, elbow, turn the kuas (try to get your torso behind the hand with the band – lot of power) and stretch out your hand.

4.Stretch the band using your arms in front of you, when you can’t anymore enter in with your chest – it’ll separate the hands holding the band easily

•Always create more in the feet and the waist than you are going to release using the top (ratio 3:2)

•Every move in taiji is unnatural – was it given to us?

•Twisting the Towel: stay in the centre, don’t move your hands at all, just turn with the waist.

•Fetching the Water: stretch the centre, elbow touches the ribs all the time. The front hands doesn’t have to go up in between the moves – it just look fancy and smooth.

Double positive desynchronized (Cloud Hands)

There are two locks: vertical and horizontal (spine).

Hands are always like T letter. Feet are as on the figure. The space between the legs (knees) never closes.

•Hong’s book: ‘Dang must be round’ It means it cannot close anywhere in the routine. Example where this is most explicit is in stepping. If you close your front leg towards the solid one in order to advance, you close the dang. The correct way to do this is to split the legs while keeping the dang round.

•Training Stick 2.5m: push flexible stick against the wall – it mustn’t bend. Also stretching exercise – stick moves on the line.

•Yilu: You must perform like a robot (separated moves), body must be like a sand bag – inanimate, we have to learn to move like a machine.

Key points:

•one movement at a time

•don’t move your hands


Point of reference:

Every profession has No.1.

In taiji the point of reference is your body. There are two real and one fake centre. When the kuas are open you have all three centres.

•How to open the kua: it can’t be ‘short’. Imagine that you turn not only your waist but much larger (imaginary) part. When is the kua turn done right you should hear a sound – like rain or so.

•Tuishou: everything must go longer – longer wins – from shoulder to foot etc. This is leverage principle – use one spot (hands) to access the centre.

•In Chen Style Practical Method the learning volume is still the same – if we meet Master next year, he’ll teach the same stuff and what changes is our understanding. Therefore the learning is like a cylinder – you can go very deep in understanding but in fact you don’t learn anything new. In some styles it is not deep but flat and large – because people don’t understand.

•Hands are like a net – don’t grip but expand

•There is always a fork on the body

•Peng force can expand like universe does – it is not limited, it starts in dandien

•Daoist theory: The Heaven is unselfish father, the Earth is selfish mother – time thief. We all steel time – by eating, sleeping etc – that is why we live.

•Upper body must be xinyi

Lower body must be bagua

Middle body is taiji

•Yang style too diffucult. Yang Luchan was already a national champion before we learned  Chen – how much better he could even get? That is why it is too advanced.

•Traditionally: Yilu: 7 years, then Erlu: 3 years

In Master Chen’s experience: Weapons help people to find the right moves. Firstly people naturally fight better with weapons, secondly with weapons errors are multiplied.

•Three important things in taiji:

1.Never speed

2.Never lift

3.Use dot, not a surface

•Sparring – chose one technique which you are going to drill for half an hour, then do free push hands, try to only use that technique.

•Stepping is like a pump


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