2011.2.12 Puerto Rico Workshop Notes

by Todd Elihu on 2011/02/15

  • Some talk of “qi,” others talk of “internal energy,” in the Practical Method we talk about separation of yin and yang.
  • The back should be able to remain stable as the front of the torso shrinks without bending or causing the body to lean.
  • Although it is good that my power is coming out, too much power is a bad thing.
  • Proper Taiji movement does not require flexing of the muscles. When the muscles flex it causes energy to disperse in unintended directions. Generally speaking, strong is wrong.
  • Power is attracted to movement. Therefore, it is very important that some point on the body or, in some instances, major portions of the body, remain fixed and immobile. If everything moves together momentum is created. When the momentum of a moving body meets the power of an opposing force it bounces off. This reaction can be easily manipulated by the opponent. However, if a non-moving point is established within one’s body, then one can pivot upon this point and redirect incoming power. Power must never be taken into one’s center.
  • Once a point is fixed open and lengthen the appropriate parts of the body. This opening and lengthening must have an effectual aim.
  • While pushing hands, rapidly making small positive and negative rotations and revolutions with a central downward sinking will cause the opponent to fall into a “whirlpool.” The rapid succession of rotations/revolutions changes the orientation of the opponent’s locus of power so quickly that their body cannot adapt sufficiently and thus allowing one the opportunity to spiral them downward.
  • Squeeze out the space, attach as much as possible, and spin the shoulder/kua column downward without losing the attachment while following the opponent’s push.
  • At a lower level, you will be able to bounce some people out and not others. At a higher level, what works on one person will be able to work on everybody.
  • The door hinge is the perfect example of rotation. You can open and close a door all day long and the hinge is no worse for the wear.
  • Once the center is properly situated a small and correctly aimed movement of the fingers is all that is needed.
  • Sword form corrections: When expressing power, sword must remain straight. The shoulders sometimes pop up.
  • Place one’s hand on the chest of the opponent. Proportional forward (horizontal) and downward (vertical) movement is used to imperceptibly obtain leverage. Once one is underneath the opponent, push with fingers without moving the center. Eventually, all this must occur upon touching which further involves accurate timing.
  • Rotation has nothing to do with flexibility.
  • The human concept of “nature” is subjective. The disagreement between this subjective conception of nature and the objective reality of the natural world is the source of a conflict which will ultimately harm the human race. This disagreement is the reversal of Heaven and Earth. Therefore, Daoists seek to transcend such subjectivities and align themselves with an objective reality.
  • Beginners usually have lots of questions. The longer they train the fewer questions they have.
  • After formulating a question, seek to find the answer oneself.
  • The traditional way that a teacher handles a question is physical interaction. Direct sensation cannot be misinterpreted. When the teacher does respond verbally, however, his words should not be analyzed according to one’s own (mis)understanding.
  • Chen Zhonghua once asked Grandmaster Hong about Qigong. Master Hong replied, “Do you see me teaching Qigong?” Later on, Chen asked him again. Hong said, “You didn’t get it the first time, did you? If you feel the need to ask me again, then you should just leave and don’t come back.”
  • After one learns to swim or ride a bike, you can never take that skill away. The same is true for Taiji and Qigong.
  • When issuing power, do not stagnate and stiffen. After fajin is used everything must immediately collapse.
  • Let the opponent push and feel strong, switch the pivot point while squeezing in, then rotate the dantian.
  • When the hand goes out, the shoulder sinks down into the elbow and the elbow connects to the fingers.
  • Whether it’s the back and the front of the torso or the inside and the outside of the forearm, one side moves while the other does not.
  • Most people do not have much range of movement in the shoulders. Silk Reeling/Six Sealing Four Closing partner drill is useful for loosening the shoulders. (It’s great for the kua/dang, too!)
  • The three kowtows of the discipleship ceremony: one kowtow to the ancestors of the lineage, one kowtow to the teacher, one kowtow to the community of fellow disciples. The kowtow is a symbolic act of humbling and submitting oneself to the art. After discipleship the teaching does not change, the learning does not change, but one is expected to work that much harder to acquire the requisite skills. Traditionally, an applicant seeks the recommendation and referral of people close to the master. Only after the master accepts the applicant as a disciple does he begin teaching the novice. However, in the West this does not often occur; it is more common that a student who has been studying the art for some time is accepted as disciple because of the personal relationship between the master and the student or due to the recommendation of other disciples who know the master better.
  • Taiji requires a strong imagination. When attempting to lever under an opponent imagine the energy running through the body as part of a much larger circle which goes under and over the opponent.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikolai February 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Thanks for sharing these notes.


Lsowers February 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Todd these are great. Well done.


Alex February 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Nice notes Todd! Thanks for posting and sharing. Sounds like it was a good seminar.


Xavier Santiago February 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Thanks for the notes, Todd. It was also a pleasure to work out with you. You truly are an excellent role model of what can be accomplished by following Shifu’s teachings. Hope we have a chance to work out again in a near future.


Rafael Velilla February 20, 2011 at 7:56 am

Todd, these are excellent notes. Thanks for sharing with us.


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