Zhuan Guan Application

by Wilkin Ng on 2010/12/29

Here is a short clip on the importance of mastering the concept of Zhuan Guan.

Zhuan  (turn) Guan (joint)

Training video on Zhuan Guan Zhuan Guan Online Video Trailer

Master Chen description on Zhuan Guan ( point 19 )

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

CantonCannon January 5, 2011 at 12:58 am

The concept of “Turning Over the Joint” is a rather confusing one. In a conversation with the master he said that I understood it in a fairly deep manner so I thought I should share a summary here. I decided to watch it a second time before I write the following review:

I remember clear as day when Master wrote “转关” (Turning of the Joint) in my note book. Mind you, unlike now, I took very little notes in the beginning, because I am a very visual and slow learner, and need a certain amount of look-see before I could commit learning to notes, and hence I remember what Master had written. Nonetheless, the understanding of this concept has only been clearer to me after years of Yilus, and push hands. Therefore, rest assured that if you are still, like I was a few years ago, thinking “huh?” after Master’s explanations; the key to your understanding is through doing more Yilus.

Instead of writing my interpretation of the video, and in the process confuse you more. I would give you a few notes to consider:

- Turning Over the Joint, as mentioned in the video, is also a Chinese idiom for “paradigm shift”. You could say it is a “break through”. It is a sort of break through that happens only when you have practiced something over and over again. For example, once you have practiced the rudiments of, say, drumming, you can’t help but be able to sound better even when you add on top of the rudiments or take things away.

- we are practicing only one principle which is embedded in the Yilu, and moreover, the circles, more accurately, THE circle. Hence, if you don’t see it now, again, go back to the circles.

- If you feel that your Yilu doesn’t look or feel anything like Master’s, think what is it that your joints are doing instead of thinking if the final product looks the same as Master’s. Take the concept of elbow in for example, is your elbow really in? Is there still room to move it in?

Hope that helps! Now get off the computer and give me more Yilus! ;)



johndahms2 April 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Good points Nicholas.

In addition I feel that turning the joint refers to a mechasim of using the bodies joint’s rotational ability to move force within the body. I tried to describe the first push in this video to provide some insight into turning the joints and independent movements in relation to forces. Hope this is useful to anyone.

I think its useful to watch Master Chen’s waist and upper Kua (upper leg/buttocks) area in the first push with Steven Chan. It you watch this several times over you can see that a rhythm is created between the two. Then as Steve adds some distance to the push, and just about when Master Chen is to fall back, Master Chen pushes the above mentioned section of his waist like a cylinder towards the front of the screen on a slight diagonal. This drop if randomly executed would likely only yield a change in location of Master Chens body, but as you can see from the video the drop pushes force into is feet which in turn travels back up through his body as increased effort needs a place to go and is bound by Master Chen’s lower body’s structure. This effect changes the dimesion or direction of Steven’s push from a horizontal (with refrence to the floor) to a diagonal pointing behind Master Chen to the ground
(for reference imagine a decending diagonal line from the middle of the video screen to ground in the video then appropriately translate it to the direction of Steven’s push.) Due to Steven’s change of angle and IMPORTANTLY his constricted structure (meaning he’s stiff so any force on him will affect his body as a whole) his body is forced upwards. Now at this point you can see that Master Chen rotates his right arm towards the back wall, this INDEPENDENT rotation allows the energy generated from the earlier mentioned waist/kua drop to pass onwards through to his hand, and apply’s a secondary effect to Steven body ( look for the S on Master Chen’s body to see the flow of force). This secondary effect is similar to someone pushing Steven from straight on from the perspective of the video ie, put your finger on the computer screen to stevens chest and push straight. The secondary effect enhances the lift on Steven but most importantly is a force he is not equipped to deal with whatsoever, as his body is still focused on fighting master chen with his original push. Thus from the compression of master Chen’s lower body in conjuction with the right arms rotation Steven’s body is forced up and towards the top right coner of the video screen.

Also it’s very valuable, at least I think it is, to note that Master Chen’s upper body ( from waist say navel to head doesn’t engage or move towards Steven but rather continues to retreat and entices Steven to continue with his push). If master Chen’s upper body were to try and rebalance itself, it would meet Stevens force and force would re-enter master chen’s body forcing him to fold like a V inwards of the screen. This point exemplifies the practice of letting the opponets push continue and not meeting it with a reaction. While the earlier description, details how other parts of the body can be used independently to form other actions unbeknownst to the opponent. Try it out and see if it works for you, it might be a good idea to film it and compare it to the above video just to get a more accurate account of what your actually doing.


Kelvin Ho April 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

Thanks John. Your description helped me look at the video differently.


Wilkin Ng April 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

Good writeup John, it helped me notice more. I now see Master Chen left hand, which i think initiate the pull of Steve on his 45 degree angle. I saw initially the right arm is pinned by Steve push, only when Steve react to the pull then the right arm is free to push Steve back.


Todd Elihu April 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I see “Brush the Knee” in both applications.


Alex May 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm

To me, there is something important happening with Master Chen’s left side just prior to the compression and R hand movements. This subtle move seems to have altered the non-moving point Steve set up to do the move (seems like the non-moving point is at Steve’s R hip area). I can’t tell exactly what is happening to the non-moving point Steve set up, but Master Chen’s first move definitely interacts with it. Master Chen could be compressing that side and also setting up a new non-moving point on his own L hip area. This L hip area moves back when he falls back, but doesn’t move much when the counter is applied. This seems to shift the dynamics of the situation anyhow, then Master Chen adds other dimensions with his R kua immediately after this has been done.


May Hoepfner-Chen Kwai Cheng October 1, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I find Johndahm2′s article most helpful. But for someone who just started, I only see how Master Chen equalizes and then add 1 diagonally to line of attack! Details explained by John already! Most interesting!


bruce.schaub October 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

Definitely a great post and discussion, that has helped me to put a finer point on the subject of “Zuan Guan”. This may be an overly simple realization, but I’ll state it nonetheless, as someone who has struggled to understand this topic. Taiji is sometimes verbally defined as “extreme limit”. When yin or yang reach there extreme limit, they flip and go to the other side. When Nick asks about the elbow “is your elbow really all the way in”, and John mentions Master Chen lets himself be pushed back “almost to the point of falling over”, were talking about reaching the extreme limit. This seems to be one of the keys in manipulating the turning of the joint. — When Steve is pushing he is forming a natural line of power between his rear foot and front hand (which because Steve is strong and is using good structure has a lot of power) but, as Master Chen moves to his own extreme limit, he is also exhausting the limitation of Steves power along that line by stretching it to it’s end, where there is none. He then takes him slightly beyond that point to gain the advantage of Steve’s reaction, and the critical element at that moment…time. When someone gets taken slightly past there extreme limit to where central equilibrium is compromised, there is a deeply embedded very human psychological reaction. They become stiff, as John points out, but they also tend to react with every fiber of their being in the opposite direction, which is energy that can be manipulated, if you have the experience of knowing the and feeling the timing. I would judge from the size of Steve’s bounce out, a fair amount of that energy must be his own, combined with the fact Master Chen’s power is amplified by his lack of movement and critical timing. There is a sequence of events that relies on a milliseconds difference between working and not working, and takes a lot of experience trying to catch the time before it starts to work. So we could say, in the instance of this clip in sequence: we have to be aware of where the line of power is forming, take ourselves to the extreme limit, take our opponents line to the limit (plus a little to cause him to fall into emptiness), then at the exact moment utilize top/bottom separation (giving up the top to gain the position underneath , going to the other side of the line) stabilize our own central equilibrium, sink , and issue catching opponents reactions, at which time a new line is formed working against the opponents weakest angle. I found that the video “Push Hands Technique: Enticing Into Emptiness” goes a long way towards helping to further clarify utilization of Zhuan Guan, understanding the importance of reaching the limit, using the line, going over, length, angle, sequence of events, timing, etc. A brief but comprehensive look at usage.


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