The importance of Chanfa in Taijiquan

by Hong Junsheng on 2010/11/17

This is a chapter of the rare writing by Hong Junsheng that just surfaced recently. Here it is for readers of our website.

The old Chen Style Taijiquan Treatise begins with “Taijiquan, the method of Chan.” This is the characteristic of taijiquan. It is this point that it conforms to physiology; it is also this point that it conforms to physical dynamics.

Chan is the rotation of a spiral. Every move is governed by Chan, from head to foot, from limb to finger. Suspended energy starts to Chan from Baihui on the head, reaches to the Dang area, then turns left with the suspended energy leading to the left, or turning right with the suspended energy leading to the right. When turning right, the right Dang is loose while the left Dang is tight; when turning left, the left Dang is loose while the right Dang is tight. The side of the Dang that is loose then the leg turns out chan, the tight side will turn in chan. Out chan is from the root joint to the tip joint (i.e. from Dang to toe). In chan is from tip to root.

Out chan, in chan is even more obvious on the hand. Out chan is from the root of the arm turn upward, it stops when the turning reaches the center of the palm, facing up. In chan is from the fingers downward to the root of the arm. It stops in the center of the palm facing down. Out chan produces opening energy; in chan produces joining energy. The coordination of the movement is such that it when the outer shape joints you use opening energy; when the outer shape opens you use joining energy. This is the wonder of yin and yang, or empty and solid. The finger usage is also such as every joint in the fingers has chan energy. Out chan starts with the small finger, in chan starts with the thumb. Both are centered on the middle finger.

From the point of view of physiology, every part of the body such as fingers and foot has meridians. Therefore this type of chan movement can give each meridian proportional exercise, effecting the inner organs, so much so that the cell could be exercised. This will enhance the function of metabolism. The treatise says “One moves all move”, and “Movements are like a string of nine pearls, it reaches every where”. When one knows how to move in chan fashion, he can then “move one and move all” and “reach every where.”

From the point of view of dynamics, chan energy uses the hand to neutralize oncoming power, the same hand retaliate the opponent. Only this way we can reach the level of “Looks loose but not loose; almost open but is not open yet”. This is the wonderful method of “soft overcoming the hard”. Power comes from spiral movements that can destroy all!”

Hong Junsheng
May 1, 1962 in Jinan


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

James Tam November 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Can Shifu (Master Chen) or someone knowledgeable please explain what “经常形合用开劲,形开用合劲” means?


Chen Zhonghua November 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

James, this means when your body is moving inwards towards dantian, the energy actually moves outward to the limb tips; when the body moves outward to the limbs the energy actually moves inward towards dantian. This is a basic principle of taiji that I have been teaching. This is a yin yang combination. People without training will do the opposite.


洪 森 November 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm



Paul Janssens November 19, 2010 at 2:58 am

Right. I don’t often write but here we go.

Is: “When turning right (of suspended energy), the right Dang is loose while the left Dang is tight”
Similar to: The ‘right Dang is loose’ refers to the ‘right kua is opening, not linear, but with a spiral in intent, resulting from the suspended energy turning right’?

Is: “The side of the Dang that is loose”
Similar to : The inner side of the leg of the leg has to relax, or ‘let go’, in order for the kua to open. The intensity of tension on the outside of the leg is less than the tension on the inside of the leg.

Is: “the leg turns out chan”
Similar to : The inner kua ‘opens’.

Is: “from Dang to toe”
Similar to: One needs to ‘feel’ the toe(s) in order to get the reference on the ground. Otherwise one is ‘floating’ on the cushion of the foot.

Is: “when the outer shape joints you use opening energy; when the outer shape opens you use joining energy.
Similar to: When your training partner touches you, you use opening energy; when his body structure ‘opens’, you use (in one example) the Positive circle where the arm goes out (in chan).

Other observations:
Part on ‘Finger usage’. Marvelous. What else is there to say. Best description I have read or heard of.

“From the point of view of physiology,… …could be exercised.”
Very insightful and important as it points to the significant healing factor of this Practical Method. Also supported by ‘New’ findings on structure of fascia and studies in movement of the fascia around the whole body. This is brilliant as the Yilu form can be used to completely move without ‘over-stretching’. (Assuming one has already learned to back off and not go too deep into the movements too fast)

On Power: We are only used to feel power that is linear. Some claim to have spiral power by ‘turning’ the arm, and ‘flicking’ the hands, effectively ‘snapping’ wrist. This is wrong use of ‘In chan’ as the elbow goes out, instead of making the structure line up back to the back toes. (One could adapt it, but then, you’d be playing Chen Style Practical Method) or as Master Chen writes “People without training do the opposite”.

This text is a nice piece of ‘Martial authority’ and is destined to be read by many. There is a great ease in communicating the complex subject. Let the reading of this text be a contract for you, the student, that you follow what is explained.
It’ll help improve one’s skills and, for you, if you not already are a student, help you in becoming one. Many thanks to Master Chen for enabling the release of this text.

Power comes from spiral movements that can destroy all !


KT November 19, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Master Chen, can you please post the Chinese version of Grand Master Hong’s teaching?

Many thanks.


Chen Zhonghua November 19, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Click on the Chinese language icon at the top/left corner of the screen.


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