The Magic 45 Degrees

by Sun Zhonghua on 2010/09/29

There are many important principles in Chen Style Taiji Practical Method. One of which is the principle of 45 Degree. I have heard Chen Zhonghua spoke of it many times since. After years of studying and discovering, I am realizing its importance.

45 Degree is found everywhere: stepping; positive and negative circles; the angle formed between your arm and your chest requires 45 degrees. How steep is the angle during “Walk Obliquely”? 45 degrees. Needless to say, “The Fist of Covering Hand” is also a result of 45 Degree. What degree do you turn your waist and open your Kua? Also 45 degrees. There are various examples within the routine, this is also found in Push Hands. Upon match up, the arms form a 45 degree angle, in relation to our bodies, and the ground, When your opponent is pushing against your chest, while your chest remains static, you would be able force out your opponent by a light tap. Which degree are you tapping at? 45 degree. It sounds simple, the difficulty lies in the timing, and the correct 45 Degree; and the accurate deployment of this principle in motion.

It would be reasonable to ask, wouldn’t it be too much of a task to require such accuracy? There is an discrepancy allowance. We could perhaps understand this discrepancy allowance under the perspective of 45 Degree. Practical application presumes that the relation between bodies; the directions of movements; the quality of the effect from the direction to which power is issued; and the smoothness of execution, are also factors that we must take into consideration. We are then able to empirically express position and direction in 45 Degree in a relative manner. Moreover, even if we are able to accurately establish such empirical requirement, absolute accuracy exists only in theory, it is practically impossible. Hence, measurement itself implies certain margin of discrepancy. For example, a lab’s requirement of 25 degrees Celsius plus or minus 2 degrees means that while the ideal temperature is 25 degrees, any temperature between 23 degrees to 27 degrees is acceptable.

In my opinion, we must pay attention to which side of the margin we are on. We would rather turn short of 45 degrees. In other words, during our practice, we should establish the habit of turning few degrees shy of 45; never more than 45; it is best not to reach 45. Past 45 degrees exposes you to be caught by your opponent, therefore we must practice controlling the degree to which we turn.

Chen Zhonghua once gave me a little demonstration. He set two tea cups adjacent to each other where the two cups have only one surface of contact. With a marker pen he dotted the edges where the two cups contact; this black dot is hence equally shared by both cups. He rotated the cups in opposite directions without breaking contact. The two half dots broke in opposite directions. Once both cup’s rotation reached 90 degrees: the peak of the respective parabolas. At that instant, he got up into a horse stance, he stretched out his arms from his body until “Fullness”. While facing him, I said “your arms moved 45 degrees”. He said “observe again my arms and legs, what do they look like?” “The Taiji symbol”!

This rather simple demonstration clearly expressed that the movement of arms is a result of the a “squeeze” caused by the rotations of different body parts. During the opening, his arms moved 45 degrees; due to the arm’s rotation and revolution; and the stipulation of the elbows, once the arms reached “Fullness”, the contour of the Taiji symbol is formed. The line formed by the right arm and the left leg marks the Yin Yang border. The origin of this line superposes the Dian Tian. Not only did this little demonstration explained 45 Degree, it also confirmed the many aspects of The Chen Style Taiji Practical Method’s of the theories.

The above mentioned 45 degrees could be 2 planed, or 3 planed. In other words, it could be flat or three dimensional; it could be singular, or multiple.

In order to grasp 45 Degree, we must regularly practice the routine and Push Hands; and also establish the consciousness of 45 Degree through them. Make reference to sensible reference system, until such point that there is no consciousness of it. Kung Fu results from effort. Truly grasping 45 Degree significantly benefits our routine and Push Hands.

This is what I am working on, anyone interested in 45 Degree should give it a try.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay September 29, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Ahh!!! I wish I could read this :(

Reply

CantonCannon September 30, 2010 at 3:22 am

Hope this helps:

There are many important principles in Chen Style Taiji Practical Method. One of which is the principle of 45 Degree. I have heard Chen Zhonghua spoke of it many times since. After years of studying and discovering, I am realizing its importance.

45 Degree is found everywhere: stepping; positive and negative circles; the angle formed between your arm and your chest requires 45 degrees. How steep is the angle during “Walk Obliquely”? 45 degrees. Needless to say, “The Fist of Covering Hand” is also a result of 45 Degree. What degree do you turn your waist and open your Kua? Also 45 degrees. There are various examples within the routine, this is also found in Push Hands. Upon match up, the arms form a 45 degree angle, in relation to our bodies, and the ground, When your opponent is pushing against your chest, while your chest remains static, you would be able force out your opponent by a light tap. Which degree are you tapping at? 45 degree. It sounds simple, the difficulty lies in the timing, and the correct 45 Degree; and the accurate deployment of this principle in motion.

It would be reasonable to ask, wouldn’t it be too much of a task to require such accuracy? There is an discrepancy allowance. We could perhaps understand this discrepancy allowance under the perspective of 45 Degree. Practical application presumes that the relation between bodies; the directions of movements; the quality of the effect from the direction to which power is issued; and the smoothness of execution, are also factors that we must take into consideration. We are then able to empirically express position and direction in 45 Degree in a relative manner. Moreover, even if we are able to accurately establish such empirical requirement, absolute accuracy exists only in theory, it is practically impossible. Hence, measurement itself implies certain margin of discrepancy. For example, a lab’s requirement of 25 degrees Celsius plus or minus 2 degrees means that while the ideal temperature is 25 degrees, any temperature between 23 degrees to 27 degrees is acceptable.

In my opinion, we must pay attention to which side of the margin we are on. We would rather turn short of 45 degrees. In other words, during our practice, we should establish the habit of turning few degrees shy of 45; never more than 45; it is best not to reach 45. Past 45 degrees exposes you to be caught by your opponent, therefore we must practice controlling the degree to which we turn.

Chen Zhonghua once gave me a little demonstration. He set two tea cups adjacent to each other where the two cups have only one surface of contact. With a marker pen he dotted the edges where the two cups contact; this black dot is hence equally shared by both cups. He rotated the cups in opposite directions without breaking contact. The two half dots broke in opposite directions. Once both cup’s rotation reached 90 degrees: the peak of the respective parabolas. At that instant, he got up into a horse stance, he stretched out his arms from his body until “Fullness”. While facing him, I said “your arms moved 45 degrees”. He said “observe again my arms and legs, what do they look like?” “The Taiji symbol”!

This rather simple demonstration clearly expressed that the movement of arms is a result of the a “squeeze” caused by the rotations of different body parts. During the opening, his arms moved 45 degrees; due to the arm’s rotation and revolution; and the stipulation of the elbows, once the arms reached “Fullness”, the contour of the Taiji symbol is formed. The line formed by the right arm and the left leg marks the Yin Yang border. The origin of this line superposes the Dian Tian. Not only did this little demonstration explained 45 Degree, it also confirmed the many aspects of The Chen Style Taiji Practical Method’s of the theories.

The above mentioned 45 degrees could be 2 planed, or 3 planed. In other words, it could be flat or three dimensional; it could be singular, or multiple.

In order to grasp 45 Degree, we must regularly practice the routine and Push Hands; and also establish the consciousness of 45 Degree through them. Make reference to sensible reference system, until such point that there is no consciousness of it. Kung Fu results from effort. Truly grasping 45 Degree significantly benefits our routine and Push Hands.

This is what I am working on, anyone interested in 45 Degree should give it a try.

Reply

Chen Zhonghua September 30, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks for the translation, CantonCannon.

Reply

CantonCannon September 30, 2010 at 10:38 am

You are welcome, shifu. Btw, this is Nicholas.

Reply

Khamserk September 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Thanks so much Master Sun! And thanks so much to Nick. I often lament not being able to read Chinese when Master Sun writes a new article.

Reply

CantonCannon September 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm

You are welcome, Elephant! I learned a lot translating it. I remember it much better.

Reply

Jay September 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm

My wish came true! I can read it! Okay now I wish for a million dollars! :)
Thanks for translation Nicholas, much appreciated.
A great article Master Sun.
Regards.

Reply

CantonCannon October 1, 2010 at 5:12 am

You are welcome, big bro Jay; you are on your own with that million bucks! And notify me immediately once you found the way!

Reply

Paul Janssens October 1, 2010 at 5:05 am

Well written. I like the analogy of the lab requirement. I often ‘play’ with movements to see what they feel like. By executing a wide stand for the positive circle for instance, I am actually looking for the 25 degrees mark. Then the ‘play’ starts by investigating the difference in feeling for the 2 degrees either side of the 25 degrees. This is done by tucking in the tail bone, lowering oneself so the upper leg makes a smaller/larger angle. That is two factors that contribute. There are more.
Good to hear Khamserk and Nick read the blog, thanks Nick.

Reply

Lee Hrappsted October 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Great article, thank you for translation Nick.

Reply

CantonCannon October 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

You are welcome, Rhino!

Reply

Tim Duehring October 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for another great translation Nick.

Reply

nick September 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm

hi fellas, this is nick (not that nick, a different not associated with any of you). I’ve been doing some research and experiments and i’m finding that in life, science, mechanics, engineering, energy, etc there is something about 45 degrees. Does anyone have any deeper knowledge other than that which was posted above (great work by the way). Like i have a little fan in my lab trailer and i notice that when i tilt it at a 45 degree angle to blow out fumes during chemistry experiments, the fan kicks up and spins faster with no added energy applied. I assume its drawing upon power from the vacuum (another discussion) which surrounds circuit. I realize 45 degrees is a perfect 1/4 of pi and brings balance to an equal, yet opposing force, so then with no opposing force, like with the fan, does it then transfer that energy that it tapped at 45 and discharge it in the form of electromechanical energy? I know i should be asking an electrodynamicist, but scientist and engineers tend to have blinders on and are afraid to accept that something might question there current understanding of the world or violate there precious “laws of physics”, ( which i think they’re more like guidelines which can be obeyed or not depending on the person,environment & knowledge to work around that law).

Forgive me for babbling on, but i’m search for an answer or truth that i don’t think i can find within the conventional communities. I just don’t wanna end up like jim carry in 23 lol!

thanks!

- the other nick

Reply

Calvin Chow September 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Two shoulders and two kuas form a square. When you link one of the elbow pointing towards the kua across it forms a diagonal across this square. In practical method, the elbow always links with the waist when turning. When this diagonal forms, you will feel a great deal of tension and get the most power of the waist. It is like arrow on a “full” bow, opponent is the arrow, your waist is the bow.

Reply

bruce.schaub September 30, 2012 at 11:25 am

45 Degrees seems to have the natural efficiency of perfect harmonization, perhaps simply because it is on the line dividing 90 in half, optimizing structural efficiency, so you see it used in things like bridge truss design, creating larger arched shapes out of triangles that utilize 45′s. Also interestingly its used in propellers for planes and boats (and fans) because of its ability to balance forces things like wind and waters resistance with propulsion….even auger blades which have to balance the ability to cut through earth and lever it up out of the ground simultaneously, use this magical angle. As far as why your fan motor spins faster when angled at 45 degrees , there are some very non intuitive physics involving gyroscopics with spinning objects like fans, dealing with the effects of angular momentum and torque counteracting the forces of gravity. So when you change the rotational axis of the fan to an angle in relation to gravitational force, it may accelerate fan speed. Here’s a link to a common physics experiment involving rotation that’s if nothing else very interesting….the many wonders of rotation… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeXIV-wMVUk&feature=related

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