Tossing Online Video Trailer

by admin on 2010/11/01

Author: Chen Zhonghua          Length: 25 minutes          Language: English          Location: Edmonton

The elimination of “Tossing” is one of the major distinguishing features of the Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method system from other schools of Chen Style Taijquan. In this short video, Master Chen Zhonghua explains the difference between rotational moves and tossing moves.

Tossing Online Video
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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

greadore November 1, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Master Chen:
Another enlightening video. I now see why the “taichi” walk is as it is. It is so one does not toss and so one can move using the rotational energy. It is a very deliberate movement. I have a question. In doing the positive circle with the right foot forward and right hand out, I first pull the right hand in to the body with the energy on the elbow. I then rotate to the left with the right knee going down and the left knee going up. I recall you saying in another video that here the weight is on the right heel. In this video (the tossing video) you talked about the cross power so when you do the same movement as described above (ie., turning the body to the left) there is connection of the right shoulder with the left foot and the power is on the left foot. What is the distinction between the weight on the right heel yet power on the left foot? Am I confusing things here or do both exist at the same time?
Thanks!
Gary Readore

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Chen Zhonghua November 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm

The torso pushes the left leg down onto the left foot. This causes a compression of the left leg. By doing so, the right foot is “pushed” out, with the heel leading and digging into the ground. The power is on the right heel but the source of the power is on the left foot. This action is called “Shovel Out” (Chan Chu). In another word, the right foot is being pumped out by the left leg downward sinking.

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greadore November 2, 2010 at 7:12 pm

OK, I see now. This also helps keep the left ankle “engaged” (if I explain that correctly) so when you sink into the left kua you screw down into the ground through the ankle and this causes the rotation back to the right and also pushes the right hand/arm out. Without the torso pushing the left leg down onto the left foot one kind of “floats” (which may be like tossing I guess) and the connection to the foot and connection of the foot to the ground is not as “complete”. Is this a somewhat clear explanation?

Also this is different (and in a way, subtle) from teaching I have had of “pushing” both feet into the ground. In this case, the compression of the left leg/foot by the cross-connecting torso causes the right foot to be pushed out (so you get a similar, outward “effect”, but in reality is not the same thing). But I see that in your method the right leg is not actively/overtly “pushing”. In this case is the left leg “substantial” and the right leg “insubstantial”? If one were to actively push with the right leg would this make the right leg also “substantial” and thus create a case of “double heavy” (with regard to the left leg/right leg, or with regard to the right hand/right leg)? In this case the right leg can be used as a “pivot” since it is not “actively” engaged?

Thanks!

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Chen Zhonghua November 2, 2010 at 9:06 pm

The explanation in your first paragraph is correct. To further explain, the power on the right foot must come from the left foot. This is called “the power must be behind”, meaning power should never be where it is felt/engaged. The further away the power source from the engagement point, the higher the level.

Your second paragraph analogy using the feet of “substantial” and “insubstantial” is correct in what you want to express. I can see that you understand the point of “double heavy” in using this example. I just want to caution you about the words “substantial” and “insubstantial”. These words in reality can CAUSE total misunderstanding in almost ALL people. When you go through many years of training and experience you will understand that it is always a matter of “substantial” and insubstantial” but the meaning of those two words in taiji are not the same as the meaning of the two words in English. If you use a lever as an example, you will see that the pivoting point separates the two sides. One side is substantial while the other side is insubstantial. But it is definitely not one side has power while the other side does not. The two sides are the SAME. The only difference is the two sides have different orientations, movements of energy, or directions, etc. From a physical point of view, they are not hard/soft type of divisions. Your words of active/inactive are closer to what needs to be expressed.

“In this case the right leg can be used as a “pivot” since it is not “actively” engaged?” I don’t know what this sentence refers to.

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dragonchef November 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

Master Chen,
Is tossing something that you view as a deficiency that is being overlooked/not understood in the current teaching of other schools of chen style taijiquan? In Chen jiagou, is chan chu a principal that would be traditionally taught?

Thank you for your videos they are beyond insightful!

Respectfully,
Raymond Chen

Reply

Chen Zhonghua November 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

I don’t know whether other schools overlooked/understood this principle. From my dozens of years of experience, however, anything that is principle based is very difficult to absorb to the body (personalize). To the average person, if you don’t toss, you cannot move; if you move, you are guaranteed to toss. That is to say, the average person can not MOVE. He can only TOSS. Understanding of this human deficiency is key to Chen Style Taijiquan training. It was said that Chen Fake realized after dozens of years of teaching in Bejing that students could not follow this principle of not tossing. Therefore you see today’s new frame. But the best thing is to take a look at traditional masters such as Fu Zhongwen, Ma Yueliang, Hong Junsheng, Yang Zhenduo and Feng Zhiqiang. They REAL masters don’t toss when they perform their taiji. You can also try not to toss and see what happens.
To “shovel out” is a principle taught by a Chen village grandmaster, Chen Fake.

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Xavier Santiago November 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Excellent video! Tossing is a quality that comes from our every day movements, but a mistake in learning to move correctly in Taiji training. It is not part of Taiji training and is a common mistake. This video clearly explains what “tossing” is, why it is a mistake, and how to avoid it. Avoiding it is the hard part, for which requires constant practice. This video points the way to correctly practice in a step by step format that is clear and simple to follow in order to eliminate tossing from your Taiji training. I highly recommend it.

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kim allbritain November 3, 2010 at 9:51 am

Good points, thanks to all of you especially master Chen.
I seem to be able to feel how this mechanic leads to a ‘squeezing’ energy directed from the
combined tension of the legs outward.

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MichaelW November 6, 2010 at 8:55 am

Another video I can highly recomment. Here Master Chen goes through the topic of “tossing” in great detail and in the usual manner he put it into praxis right away.
The content is explained in the use of stepping, the cricles and in some moves out of the first part of the form as well.
This video again helped me a lot to get a closer picture of how the form in “Practical Method” should be.
Thanks a lot for this great lesson!

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Gary Readore November 9, 2010 at 8:19 am

Master Chen:

I have another question for you regarding the positive circle (right foot and hand in front). In practicing this move I seem to have realized something new. The question begins after I pull the right arm in with the elbow leading. As I turn to the left, the left kua opens and the right knee “goes down”. The opening of the left kua causes a spiralling and separation of energy, one down into the left foot and a corresponding spiralling up the leg leg and over and down into the right foot (which causes the “shoveling out”). What I just felt for the first time is as I continue the positive circle and sink down on the left kua, the right kua opens. This causes the same spiralling separation of the energy now going down into the right foot as well as across and down into the left foot. Is this correct. I feel the up/down movement of the knee and open/close of the kua that you reference. This keeps the force/energy into both feet at all times and the dang is rounded/open.

One question I have; in doing push hands do you need to keep this opening and closing of the kua (and corresponding connection through and with the ground) present at all times? This in conjunction with the stretching and opening of the body is what coordinates the ability to express the power so that all is connected (from the rear foot all the way through and out the hands/fingers) and without any “gaps”? In actuality, it is not the manipulation of the “waist” (which is common in many taichi styles) that is key, but is is actually the manipulation of the kua that is significant. This is another subtle yet sisnigicant difference. I find that having this structure allows one to “not move”, as you indicate in many of your videos.

Thanks!

Gary Readore

Thanks!

Gary

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Chen Zhonghua November 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

If what you say is actually what you felt and what you can do, you actually UNDERSTAND it! I have to caution you that it is not common to UNDERSTAND this. We are talking a handful in almost a hundred years. I am not trying to discourage you. I hope you are on the right track. I made a video just to further explain these points, which will be posted soon.

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greadore November 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I felt this doing the positive circle, not doing push hands, I can’t do it. I’m just trying to see if I am on the “right track” in understanding the basic concepts and ideas. I have been doing yang style taichi for about 18 years. I think I have had good training but feel I have still been missing something, which you seem to be filling in the missing pieces (perhaps only in theory right now, but I think I am starting to understand the “real” concepts). Many of the concepts you teach (whole body connection from the foot all the way to the hand, body extension, expressing all the way out to the fingers, no gaps in the structure, use of the kua, …) are things I have been taught, yet the real ability to use these concepts was not quite “on the mark” I see. One can feel to be “so close” but yet still be “so far”. I push hands on Mondays with other taichi classmates, most with 20+ years of experience and pretty good push hands skills and sensitivity, I would say. I try to incorporate the concepts you teach but find it difficult to apply as I am not really sure on the details and exact “mechanics” and what I should be doing to apply them, especially in the “heat of battle” and with those of some skill level. I guess I will really need to feel it to truly understand it. I became somewhat frustrated in realizing that the true ability can and probably is very elusive, especially not being around someone who can actually show, guide and teach you, as the case with myself. Is this really attainable without direct teaching? I’m hoping there are things (perhaps even very small) that I can glean from your teaching and use to help improve my taichi. At the least, I feel I have begun to gain a better understanding of the basic taichi concepts, which for me is a benefit.

I have another question for you. How were you able to achieve the level of skill that you currently possess? Was a lot of it attributed to the many hours spent studying and working out “one-on-one” with Master Hong? How much was attributed to your own self study and working things out on your own? How realistic is it for one to attain the level of ability that you have, especially in this day and time where “life” requires so much of one’s time and energy? I talk of this a lot with other taichi masters, teachers and fellow students. It seems that the ability and skill of the great masters of the past is somewhat like a “fleeting memory”. For the ability of the successive generation is not quite at that same level, and the ability of the generation to come will be lesser still. It seems that taichi and the internal arts in a sense are slowing “dying”. That we can never gain the level of skill of the great masters. What is your thought on this?

Sorry to be so “wordy”/lenghty. I just find that you have an insight into this art that few have and I am eager to hear your thoughts, comments and ideas.

Thank you!

Gary Readore

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Chen Zhonghua November 9, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Let me give your long question some short answers, of which each is equally difficult to determine.
1. Find the right teacher in the right lineage. (I am not specifying how or what here)
2. Study by imitation only. Absolutely no questions. Just copy, copy, copy. This will take about 7-8 years.
3. Experiment what was learned for another 3-5 years. This is when you ask and question everything.
4. It is now your own. At this time, you will think that you figured it out. Actually, it is the knowledge that was passed down to you that is surfacing in you.

This is what I see in my life and teachings:
1. People of all abilities have always managed to choose the wrong lineage and teacher.
2. People cannot learn till they ask and are satisfied with the answers. Here is the strange Daoist logic: you cannot ask about something you don’t already know, but if you do know, you don’t need to ask. So don’t ask.
3. After about ten years, they should be in a position to test their knowledge but now they realize that they cannot trust any of the things that they already tested at the beginning of their learning. Now they want to go back to basics but it is too late. You can not ask an adult to pretend to be a child.
4. Most people spend their entire taij life in denial.

Conclusion. Learning sequence and learning methods in the modern/western model does not work with traditional skills.

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greadore November 10, 2010 at 10:29 am

OK. Thank you for your comments and insight. Very much appreciated. I am not a Daoist so this way of thinking is not familar to me, but as you comment and teach I am starting to understand. Sorry about asking so many questions, I am just trying to make sure I am heading in the right direction and not off on a “wild goose chase”. As you somewhat allude to, much time in taichi can be “wasted” chasing after the wrong thing. I will continue to practice and study your material. I will try and refrain from asking questions.

Thank you!

Gary Readore

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Chen Zhonghua November 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Let me explain it another way. On top and not on top is the issue. On topic is the the focus of attention is on what is being taught. Not on topic is the other way around. Let me give you an example. In my years of teaching, I have observed one thing that is common. You can try this yourself. Every time I am teaching/talking about a topic, say, the kua, students will ask, “Yes, what about the knee?” This type of question never fails.

I realized after observing this that students are “thinking”, or “putting things together in their mind” when the situation is a mere teaching case, a demonstration that only requires observation and memory.

In another word, there is no right or wrong but on topic is required. The traditional way of rejecting questions is a method to keep students focused on topic. Only when one is on topic for for a long time that the questions because relevant.

So in modern terms, we welcome questions. Questions that are on topic.

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Chen Zhonghua November 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm

About questions: the word question actually does not have the same meaning. If you asked a question that contribute to learning in the sense of imitating till you get it. That is not a “question”. Otherwise, it is. So the explanation I provided does not really rule out asking legitimate questions.
To put it simply, most of the questions in the west have to do with “my opinion”, not “what do you mean”.

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greadore November 10, 2010 at 9:18 pm

OK. Thank you for that example and clarification. I hope my questions are, for the most part, on topic and legitimate. On that note, I do have one other brief question. What is your thought/opinion on weight lifting. I don’t lift weights very much but it seems like it can cause one to become too stiff (especially in response to an incoming force) and inhibit the ability to be able to “loosen” the joints (especially the shoulders) as required in taichi. I think in one of your videos you referred to building up the muscles as tying knots.

Thank you!

Gary Readore

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Chen Zhonghua November 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I can use your question to bring about a relevancy issue. If you want taiji skills, learn taiji skills. Taiji masters in the past have designed exercises and devices to train those desired taiji skills. These are direct. Why try to use something else and indirectly train taiji skills.

I remember over 20 years ago a student told me that he was running/jogging every morning in order to build up his cardio-vascular ability so that he could enter a taiji push hands competition. He got the idea from a fitness club trainer.

My answer to him was that he assumed there were no exercises/ways to train those qualities in taiji. Wrong assumption.

Most people in taiji believe that taiji is mysterious and by extension indirect. Most people start to believe that taiji skills are developed without any noticeable indicator till all of a sudden, “Bang” you got it. Untrue. Taiji skills are developed systematically, which means you can see the progression almost every day. So taiji is more direct than even most modern sports. You get what you put in. You train weights, you get skills related to weight train, not related to taiji training.

This is not to say that skill and training are not transferable to taiji. They are. But when there are other ways of directly doing taiji, why do something else and see how much is transferred to taiji?

So you have raised a very interesting and direct question. In my view, most people are so lacking in their taiji, they cannot even follow the choreography correctly and yet, they are very concerned with many other skills. This is one of the issues we have to deal with in term of learning and teaching methods.

Hope this helps directly.

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Laurie Desjardins November 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Wonderful comments, I’ll keep them in mind and see what more I can bring to training! Thank you.

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kim allbritain November 11, 2010 at 8:38 am

Regarding Gary’s description above in which he asks ,”do you need to keep this opening and closing of the kua (and corresponding connection through and with the ground) present at all times?”.

This is what I try to do in my practice but I use the word ‘pulse’, even though that definition is inaccurate. Pulsing implies 2 binary states of energy, empty & full, but that is not correct as it seems more relative than that. One foot is more full or more empty than the other but never completely so. It is the change between them that I am thinking of.

In a PS with right side, as the torso turns in the pulse seems to move left and back which in turn,
(if we are connected), transmits a pulse to the right and forward. This is what I feel as a ‘squeeze’ or Ji. Hong wrote that the “front issues while the rear sinks”.

So, in this case the answer is ‘yes’ to Gary? That this connected action is continual and thus is present at all times. That even though the energy transmits through the lower structure (Dong), as a pulse, it never is so extreme that one side or the other is truly ‘empty’ or ‘full’, but only more so relative to each.

Which leads me to this observation:
In reading through the post from Master Hong entitled “Common Errors in Taiji”, he speaks of the relationship of the hand and foot when speaking of ‘double heavy’.

He describes the diagonal line of connection from the lead hand (power) and the rear foot, stating that “These examples show that if the hand is solid then the foot must be empty” and “if the front hand and foot are both solid, then the front foot cannot move freely”. Here he is referring to the hand/foot on one side within the context of advancing.

So, even though I feel the answer to Gary’s question would be yes, there exists the exception of
stepping. For that moment it is different. For that brief instant of transition, would not all of the
power be on the diagonal line from the front hand to the rear foot?

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mudpuppy123 October 22, 2012 at 11:26 am

I have studied chen taiji in China and most students are tossing in nearly every stance.

Reply

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