What is the entrance into Taiji?

by Chen Zhonghua on 2011/12/01

Here is what my thoughts are on the question. There are two parts to the answer:

  1. In terms of legality and formality, you need to become a member of a legitimate (whatever that means does not matter here) school and work towards getting a certificate from the school or master showing that you are part of a taijiquan system. You must learn what was taught correctly.
  2. Physically you must quickly achieve one thing that will lead to future learning.

In the comment area you will find my students and others contribute to the answer. This exercise is not about who is right and who is wrong. For those who are my students, the bottom line is that if they start having the ability to “guess” what I have to say, at least they can learn from me. Note that again this is only about learning method. This is in no way a statement of right or wrong, good or bad. Learning just means to learn. The contributions from the comment area all in one way or another belong to #1 above.

Then let me explain what #2 means. My disciple Allan Belsheim and I had extensive discussions on this point during the full time courses that he attended as a student. The discussion was in the form of a story, or puzzle that I showed his class. It was about Inside or Outside. Or we can say are you an insider or outsider? In my teaching studio, I have an office. The secret of my taiji is locked inside that office. All you have to do is to get in and you will get it. How can you get in? You need a key! How can you get this key? If can ask the teacher for it? Which means you might have to do certain things to earn this key. He won’t give it to you without some effort on your part. Or you can make one yourself! You can not break down the door. The secret in the office will self destruct if the down is broken. Your choice. So far this is all theory. Now you need to:

  1. Find a way to get the key.
  2. See if the key works. The only way to do this is to use it to open the door. If it work, it is the right key. If it does not work, it is not the key.
  3. The rest you probably know much better than me.

In taijiquan learning, what is that key? The key to to do one thing right is a stepping stone. This can be anything. In the Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method system, the starting point is: Don’t move!

Find a physical method to test it. Don’t use your believe system. For example, yesterday I showed Michael Winkler this action but he could not get it. When I apply it to him, I did not move. But when he applied it, he moved. He could not believe me because he felt that he did not move. So I asked him to hold on tightly to the door nob, which is locked and does not move. When he pulled very hard on it, it did not move at all. But when I asked him to do the same action but put the hand next to the door nob, his hand kept moving away from the position of the door nob. He moved. So he trained all afternoon until he could do it. But when I started to push on him, providing a somewhat real situation, he moved again. You do this kind of real test and training until you actually don’t move when you apply a technique that involves not moving, you will succeed. You have split yin and yang. Otherwise, everything is in your head and your actions are totally different from your action. You have not entered the door of taiji.

Here is a short video clip I made to add to this topic:

 

About Chen Zhonghua

Chen Style Taijiquan 19th generation disciple. International Standard Bearer of the Practical Method system of Hong Junsheng. Second generation master of Hunyuan Taiji. Been teaching internationally since 1985. Educated in the West with a Master's Degree in Education. Highly accomplished through the lineage of two great masters. Disciplined, precise and powerful. He teaches a complete system of taiji based on the principle of yin yang separation; indirect power as a core concept; movement and tranquility as the source of action. In both theory and practice, his taijiquan deals with the problems of double-heavy. He is a real treasure of the heritage of taijiquan.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Calvin Chow December 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Understanding things can be separated by Yin and Yang is the entrance of Taiji.
Taijiquan is one of the applications of Taiji. Understanding the Positive circle and Negative circle is the entrance of Taijiquan Practical Method. Concepts like move vs no move, open and close, body vs ground, Yin Yang Separation are integrated inside. +/- Circles are like 0 and 1 in digital world. Yilu is the application of them.

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Niko December 4, 2011 at 6:07 am

Instructional videos on practicalmethod.com.

“+/- Circles are like 0 and 1 in digital world”
Hmm, i don´t think so.

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Calvin December 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

My thought comes from Master Hong that he needed to make sure all movements in Yilu of the student get to be either + circle of – circle, which is like digital”10100101″ etc. I could be wrong as I am new to PM. I just try to get out my comment to start the discussion.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 5:44 am

” …+ circle of – circle, which is like digital”10100101″ ”
If a + circle is 1 and a – circle is 0, then i would like to know which posture you are specifically referring to in your binary code.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

You can not linearly encode two actions at the same time. One shoulder rotating up, the other down simultaneously is in conflict with your digital ….

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

“My thought comes from Master Hong”
Never.

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CantonCannon December 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Hey, Niko, how is going? This is Nicholas. Yes, I believe master had said that iching principles is exactly the same as computation.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

Hi Nicholas i don´t know exactly what you mean by ” iching principles”. You don´t mean i ching, or ?

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

Apart from that, i´am just working to help promote the website.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

Do you believe you can understand what the Master is telling you ?

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CantonCannon December 4, 2011 at 7:51 pm
Chen Zhonghua December 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I asked the questions for a reason. You keep trying when you get to the answer I want, I will let you know. For now you are answering what taiji is, not how to get started (entrance). Or what is the one thing you can do to say that you are now starting to do taiji?

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charlie wishon March 13, 2014 at 7:43 am

To do tai ji you cannot play games .Especially when pushing ! Action must be sincere.

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charlie wishon March 13, 2014 at 7:57 am

Indifference

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jhayes December 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

produce 2 opposing circles simultaneously ( split the circle)

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Chen Zhonghua December 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I understand your words, but how can I produce 2 opposing circles simultaneously? I mean know that will not make me different from when I didn’t know that.

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dragonchef December 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

commitment to practice

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Zhao Zhidong December 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

Through the practice of positive and negative circles, one trains the body to start spiral moves. Each move then contains yin and yang and the concentric and eccentric movements.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 12:05 am

This is after you have entered the door

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Zhao Zhidong December 5, 2011 at 12:09 am

Then entering the door means to practice hard according to the correct method.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 12:40 am

Entering the door is to begin. As a beginner you don’t have the ability to know what is right and what is wrong. Of course practice hard is right because everyone knows what that means and the understanding of that does not vary that much. Everyone knows that to get it, you must practice according to the correct method. Everyone in any school will tell you that. In addition, everyone in every school will also tell you that he/she is doing it according to the correct method. This includes people in our school. Therefore, “to practice according to the correct method” is a very nice saying that does not help anyone at all.

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ttk December 5, 2011 at 12:45 am

Finding a good teacher who can show you the door.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 12:49 am

“Finding a good teacher who can show you the door”. Who in the martial art does not know this? And who got anywhere because he/she knows this?

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 2:30 am

en trance into Taiji ?

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王 龙 December 5, 2011 at 6:19 am

First you must have qualified teacher to point the way. Without a qualified teacher your practice in your entire life will not amount to anything. Secondly, you must like the style. Practicing is a very boring process. You must learn to find interest in such a boring art. Thirdly, you must be persistent. Learning off and on will not lead to achievement. I believe that once you have these three point. You are not far from entering taiji.

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michaelkoh December 5, 2011 at 8:21 am

Not moving the whole body in one direction. Adjacent body parts must move in different directions.

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rgb December 5, 2011 at 9:20 am

I’m not certain I fully understand the question but if it is asking “How should the student be when beginning/starting Taiji?” then a possible response might be, “He should be like an empty cup.”

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 11:50 am

Your question is valid. Of course you ask yourself how to be, or better behave in the beginning, this is all to human.
But you shouldn´t be like an empty cup. Only very few man may have tried to achieve it. I have never seen a cup walking through the streets, but bottles.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

You start understanding the Master when you can listen to him, without the internal commentator
in your mind playing around with frazzles of acoustic information in your consciousness.
This individual blending is the cause for the gap of understanding. It has absolutly nothing to do with the intellectual capabilities of the mind. Experience shows, that people who´s ego feels intellectually challenged all the time have an even wider gap to pass.

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rgb December 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Hello.

I’m not sure I followed all of that. Can you please clarify?

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

What exactly ?

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rgb December 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Hello.

Regarding your 2nd sentence, you wrote: “Of course you ask yourself how to be, or better behave in the beginning, this is all to human”. Respectfully, I don’t agree with you. I think the reality is, most students do not/never ask “how to be” or how to better behave.

Most people have an ego-centric view of the world. What they see, what they hear, what they experience, what they know, what they’ve learned, what they like and don’t like – basically everything in their brain – represents reality/”the truth”/the way of the world etc. For the beginning student, this creates prejudice and bias and ego and many, many obstacles to learning effectively. When learning a new Art, you must empty yourself of all these things and simply become a vessel to receive knowledge. And just as even a single drop of poison can taint a cup full of water, even the smallest bit of bias (or whatever it may be) can pollute your learning of taiji.

One must enter the door, “empty.”

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm

“I think the reality is, most students do not/never ask “how to be” or how to better behave.”
Nice, next time i will ask Joseph how to better behave.

“Of course you ask yourself how to be, or better behave in the beginning”
It must not have necessarily something to do with that, that you represent or express. Coming up with own learning strategies in the mind might be a process that lead to distraction. When your self-representing model, the ego, wants to learn something new, it likes to build bridges to grab the knowledge. In affairs of the pure reason this works quite good, logic is a helper. Taiji can´t be grabbed, it is to be recieved. When this happens, your pure reason is immensly enriched and able to relax. What you can learn onwards is infinite.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 10:12 am

By the way, the entrance has been found. Discussion is over, at least at my part.

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CantonCannon December 5, 2011 at 10:14 am

The entrance to Taiji is to rid yourself of any assumptions, and follow exactly what master is requiring us to do. If master says elbow in, it and nothing else must be in, for e.g.

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Niko December 5, 2011 at 11:14 am

“The entrance to Taiji is to rid yourself of any assumptions”
The problem is, that this is also an assumption.

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rgb December 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

This is a response to Niko’s message dated December 5, 2011 at 14:15 (I can’t nest any more responses).

To answer your question:

What does this mean?
“the internal commentator in your mind playing around with frazzles of acoustic information in your consciousness.”

What does this mean?
“This individual blending is the cause for the gap of understanding. It has absolutly nothing to do with the intellectual capabilities of the mind. Experience shows, that people who´s ego feels intellectually challenged all the time have an even wider gap to pass.”

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Niko December 6, 2011 at 3:35 am

What does this mean?
“the internal commentator in your mind playing around with frazzles of acoustic information in your consciousness.”
This is the opposite of an empty mind.

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Kelvin Ho December 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Master Chen Zhonghua is the entrance into Taiji.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Just want to make sure everybody and the people who are viewing this understand what is going on here. I asked the question, “What is the entrance into Taiji?” here for my students to respond in order for me to gauge whether they have been paying attention to what I have taught. I am not looking for right or wrong type of discussion. I am trying to see who call recall the most relevant information. I think Michael Koh of Singapore observed something about me while in Hong Kong in Oct. 2012 that he should share with everybody.
It is also very very important that you use your real name (or state you are not part of the Practical Method system) in these discussions because otherwise the discussion drifts into something meaningless.
The website is designed as a learning/teaching tool for me so information is very specific in nature.
Thanks to all in advance for such a vibrant discussion. This is a very important topic. The more accurate you are on the topic, the less deviation you will have in your learning.

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Allan Haddad December 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm

From my understanding: true separation of Yin & Yang is the entrance to Taiji… In relation to ‘quan’, it is proven not from what you think or say, but if your body can do it. Anyone who has felt Master Chen can attest to this.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

“true separation of Yin & Yang”, “if your body can do it”
Getting closer to what I want to say…

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rgb December 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm

My apologies to M. CZH and to all for taking the discussion off topic. For the record, I am not a student of the Practical Method and thought, based on some of the responses, that the question was asking one thing when apparently it was asking something else entirely. If the capability exists, please delete my posts so that the discussion thread is easier for people to follow.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm

No need to apologize. No need to delete anything either. I provided the background information so that viewers have a better idea why I appear to be rude, or stubborn here.

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Niko December 6, 2011 at 3:26 am

No remorse.

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michaelkoh December 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I got it now…thanks Master Chen. Let me try again… learn like a child. Master Chen has his own “language”. His words are simple and “primitive” (lack of better word). He says “Touch here”, and you should just do EXACTLY what he says (like a child), dont think. Dont think about “should I sink my chi…”, “should I rotate my kua”, “should I….”, just do just that. Take away all the “thinking” is against our intuition… and I have to change my mindset when receiving instructions from Master Chen. So my answer to “entrance to TaiJi” is “be like a child”.

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Chen Zhonghua December 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

So a child will answer the question very simply:
Please give me the key to the door!

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CantonCannon December 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

i.e. no assumption.

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Pavel Codl December 6, 2011 at 5:10 am

Wow, interesting here… I agree with Michael Koh and I would express it more simply… “Do what you are supposse (told) to do and nothing else!” (So it could be: be as a child and listen to your parents (master)). Master Chen is repeating it since I know him. My recent experience/feeling is similar to what is described in the article. I can make “no move” as I’m practicing solo (well better say almost “no move” :-) ) but as soon as I’m pushing with somebody my body structure is like straws in a wind. Working on it, long way ahead!

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pingwei December 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm

The quest for Taiji is truly a personal journey. How many people are interested in Taiji (both in China ans overseas)? Millions. How many people can really claim and know that they got it? Very few. Why?
(1) They (who failed to grasp Taiji) never met a real master;
(2) They cannot tell right from wrong;
(3) They are too proud of their ego even though somebody pointed them the right things to do.
I practiced Taiji in my first 20 years without a real master’s guidance. Even though I won some form competitions, I knew I was not even close to the door of Taiji. I could fake it out to claim a master of myself. But that’s not me. I would never do it. After I met Master CZH, I was fortunate enough to be able to tell right from wrong, and I was fortunate enough I didn’t have a super ego. Determined to start from zero, I think I entered the door of Taiji now. This is my personal story. I’m grateful for everything Master Chen has been guiding me through the magnificent Taiji world.

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Alex December 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm

if yin-yang separation is close, the door may be actually finding and experiencing the point on which to separate against.

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Chen Zhonghua December 6, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Precisely. But FINDING but be real like doing it with an object. Otherwise it is still in your head.

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Hugo Ramiro December 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

So much happened here in just a few days, I don’t even get a chance to get dirty early on!!
As Allan mentions yin yang separation, and then Alex brings it closer by mentioning the pivot, then I find myself remembering a story Master Chen told us: I believe the location was DaQingShan, and Master Chen was telling us about the push hands competition, and that with 100 hundred competitors and about 150 hours of push hands, there was only one Tai Ji movement the whole time, by Nicholas Fung, where he managed to rotate and bounce his opponent.
I don’t know what this all means but there seems to be a link in my mind.

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Hugo Ramiro December 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

Michael’s story about Master Chen triggers my personal struggle as well. I have some prior training in TaiJi as well, but very little achievement. However, I did get some skill at one thing – I am able to pretend that I don’t know anything when I am learning. This helps me keep things really simple, and not think. I believe that I got one really good work “ethic” from this: I am always willing to *start over* (lose everything) and build something up from the ground anew.
One more story that comes to my mind is this interesting word “sophistication”. In modern english it is considered a good thing – to have sophistication means that one has a certain depth or experience. The origins of the word, however, tell a different story. There is controversy as to whether the original sophists (a class of philosophers) were “good” or “bad”, but the lesson is clear: they were good with words, and found themselves accused that they were often interested in power, rather truth and justice – “hair-splitting wordsmiths” according to one commentator.
The second part of this story involves beer. Back in late europe, about the 16-18th century, beer was fermented in a particular way. As business intruded more and more into beer-making, merchants would turn a profit by selling sophisticated beer (that was the term for it) – in other words, beer that had irrelevant filler added to it. The sophisticated beer was less tasty, less nutritious and obviously of lower quality, watered-down as it was. Not pure, not the real thing.
Moral of the story – sophistication messes things up. Keep it simple, and for me, “don’t move”, and “less smooth”.
Hope this is helpful somehow!

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Jean-Philippe December 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Let me try my hand at it:

If I understand correctly, the issue is that we have to “not move” or “rotate” or “separate yin/yang” and that this is the “key” we need to open the door to taiji. I would guess that these commands are the rules. To enter the door to taiji we simply need to follow the rules.

The problem is that for most of us, we *think* we follow the rules, but the door still won’t open. Why is that? There could be a couple of reasons. (1) First of all, it might be that we have the wrong key–that is always possible. (2) The second one is that we have the key but we are not using it to try to open the door. In other words, we have the rules but we do not follow them.

To verify whether it is because of the first reason that the door won’t open or because of the second, we have to follow those rules systematically. This is the only way we can truly verify if they work. To go back to the key analogy, the only way to check if the key we are given is the right one is to try to use it (and give up on any other key we might think we have). In other words, the only way to see if the door opens, we should follow the rules strictly. On first sight, we can’t dismiss the rules if “they don’t work for us.” Most of the time, the issue is not that we don’t have the correct rules or that “they don’t work for us,” it is because of the way we *think* we are applying them faithfully, but we aren’t.

So my answer is: we open the door to taiji by systematically following the rules (and nothing else). This is the only way to verify if the key we are given is the correct one.

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Jean-Philippe December 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I just reread the question and I think I just repeated what was already there… :(

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Alex December 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

haha, it was nice to read though Jean-Philippe. :)

Ya, I can see this question can be approached from multiple angles. No doubt all those things are important.

I was thinking in terms of say….what’s the ‘key’ for really doing taiji, as opposed to only looking and thinking we are doing taiji. There is the unfortunate reality that we can be ‘somewhat’ correct in doing the individual exercises, and still not be able to apply an ounce of taiji on a partner (how frustrating!). So, what is the door that separates these 2 situations..I was thinking it’s the use of the dot – in practice of course, not just talking about it, like I’m doing here. :)

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pingwei December 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

After many false “enlightenment,” I no longer long for the “sudden” acquisition of Taiji power. I don’t believe there’s such a door exists. As long as you are practicing the Practical Method and following the principles/rules, you are in. I rather believe there is a threshold for everyone to pass. With the Practical Method foundation, two circles and yilu, you accumulate the necessary “gong” by practicing. You really cannot measure such “gong” by comparing this week to previous weeks. Taiji is like slow cooking, let it simmer, never give up, it will be done. Maybe we should compare ourselves today with 2 to 3 years, or even 5 years ago, if you have practiced that long. We are better today for sure.

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Jay Smith December 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

The teachings of the teacher
You must record carefully
The demonstration of the teacher
You must watch closely
From the physical understanding
To mental understanding
Contemplate frequently
Practice regularly
Persist
Follow the rules
Seek progress

From Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method – Volume One: Theory Hong Junsheng.

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Chen Zhonghua December 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

It’s important to note that the sequence here is 1). from physical understanding, 2). to mental understanding.
The commonly accepted version is “you must understand the theory before you can physically enabled.”

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Chen Zhonghua December 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Please see the video clip I added to the post.

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Kim Allbritain December 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Master Chen’s last comment brings to mind many things. One of them is that I can not get my students to stop thinking all the time.

When I was young I had very beautiful kicks and was was reasonably proud of them. They looked great and my uniform snapped so nicely. But I fought in a match against a very strong guy and I kicked him in the head, (beautifully), and he just smiled and said to me “nice kick”. Then he proceeded to knock me down.

My teacher said that even though I could kick, I did not know how to kick. I didn’t get it at all. But I worked for several more years because I was stubborn and eventually I started to knock people down with my kicks. I had stopped thinking about what I was doing and started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish. My kicks changed, my body changed in it’s usage.

If Master Chen says not to move but to achieve separation, then we know at least one part cannot move.
But another part does move, away from the the static point. If this does not occur, we are doing nothing, no matter what we feel or what it looks like. He says we are pretending.

My physical proof of my kicking technique was that it worked. There was a repeatable effect when certain mechanics were applied. We must prove we are not moving and that we are separating at the same time. It doesn’t matter what we think.

I think:)

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studentofmethod December 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

Good discussion from everyone. I just wanted to say how grateful I am to Master Chen for being so generous with his teaching, it shows how much he wants his students to really understand what makes taiji work, practically. He tirelessly goes over difficult (for us) concepts over and over in ever new and inventive ways, with visual examples, etc. in great detail. This clip is another great example of his passionate teaching to make certain his students really understand.. physically, and not just mentally. This is a wonderful reminder to make sure your taiji works in reality, and I have also learned I have not yet entered the door of taiji. Where is the best location of practice and study groups within the US? consisting of the most number of dedicated practitioners? Im assuming Edmonton would be the best location within Canada?

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bruce.schaub December 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

as soon as you rotate on a central axis you have produced yin and yang…. what does not move is your center….. if you push my left shoulder and i dont allow my center to move, but make my left side (yin), i can transfer 100% of your power back to you on my right side (yang)….using only zhong ding and simple rotation… the more refined the control of the center the better the taiji… of course if we employ our arms and rotate them as well, we can create spirals which exacerbate the power function of the waist rotation, by absorbing and producing that force in different directions simultaneously…..whats extremely difficult is not to move the center… particularly when as we can see with master chen his center is not an axis but a dot that he can create anywhere on his body!

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bruce.schaub December 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

after reading some previous entries, i realize i possibly should not have participated in this discussion…though i have learned a great deal from watching master chen’s videos, i am not a student of practical method, however i do study master chen’s lectures and instructional videos on daily basis…

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Andre December 24, 2011 at 10:05 pm

When you are no longer worried about thinking, then you can start moving.

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mountainroad January 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Thanks for all the comments. somehow the video stopped after 49 seconds. Could it be fit? Thanks.

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bruce.schaub January 6, 2012 at 7:40 am

the relationship between movement and stillness produce the mysterious taiji energy… one part must move while another remains still… the part that remains still becomes the center ( connects to the ground), regardless of what part of the body it is…. if the outer moves (stretches) the inner part must be still.. like the meat that twists around the bone…whether it be fascia, tendon, ligament (whatever it is, if it moves the inner part must remain still) conversely, if the inner part moves…the outer that was stretched must remain still. the relationship between inner and outer are relative to the particular movement so it can be very confusing and difficult. it is not limited to one body part but whole sections of the body connected in spiral fashion may be still or moving, making it even more difficult to produce but in turn more confounding to an enemy…. it sounds weird but watching a snake digest a mouse is quite helpful in understanding this relationship… it holds the mouse internally and stretches its outside layers over it then releases its insides allowing it to flow another few millimeters…then again and again til it’s squeezed it through… in application we snake in squeezing (gi) to take up all the space around our opponent, and though we have not gone against him, he experiences us suddenly as being very full, we use this outer stretching method to get in while a portion of us remains still and connected to the ground..once we are in we bring the previously still portion up to attack. like a general who sends in his best fighters to get strategic position then calls up reserve troops to support and stabilize the situation…

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bruce.schaub January 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

i should add for clarity’s sake… when the rear previously still portion is moving in… the part that stretched in first must become still…locking on to the opponent to hold the position. and also my deep appreciation for master chen going to such great lengths to make these things clear…thank you master chen!

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bruce.schaub January 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

to be more clear… this is only one of the keys and trying to be more directly relevant to the question that was posed… to be able to intellectually comprehend this is not enough… when you can reproduce it physically you enter the door…. when you can reproduce it perfectly 1000 times you can say you know it… after 10,000 you can say you understand it… beyond this understanding only deepens… master chen is the best kind of teacher… one that makes you feel you can attain it, but lets you know you are still very far away….

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bruce.schaub January 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm

and when master chen confirms for you…. that you have succeeded in doing it correctly, and if he feels that he can teach you… i would imagine that is when you enter the door…

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bruce.schaub January 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm

i mean… it is his office.. and they are his very specific keys…..

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Camille Lipford January 8, 2012 at 10:48 am

I think the locked door in your question is the body and mind of the student. The key is easy to obtain. I think asking Master Chen like a child gets you a key. He probably has an inexhaustible supply. The key opens the door only through a willingness to train the body in a Taiji-like way. In my experience, Taiji feels weird and wrong. Practice it anyway, as exactly as possible according to what the Master has shown and dictated. I have a feeling that there are many entrances, sequentially discovered along the course of one’s training. Each small act that is understood (ie: when the body can routinely accomplish the desired act), like “elbow in , hand out” or “every circle begins at the foot” could be an entrance.

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bruce.schaub January 10, 2012 at 9:25 am

i agree with what camille is saying…… perhaps there are 8 corridors arranged in circular fashion around a central cold black chamber. each corridor having 8 doors that must all be unlocked to allow enough light in to illuminate the tiny imperceptable dot in the very center…..”don’t move!”

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bruce.schaub January 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm

thanks for deleting that…Sun Bu-erh would not have appreciated it…..

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bruce.schaub January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

it was her teacher Wang Zhe’s teaching i was somewhat obscurely referencing…no offense to anyone was meant..only all doors lead to center…..

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Richard Johnson July 12, 2012 at 1:44 am

This thread is sort of dead. It is 18 months old and hasn’t been commented on in 6 months, but I think it makes a crucial point in anyone’s process of learning Taijiquan. The original question is “What is the entrance to Taiji?” and the second question is “What is the key to unlocking that entrance?”Although one or two answers were pretty on target, I would like to add my voice to those.

In Taijiquan, we are learning a different way to move. It is natural, but it is not normal. If we move the way we always move then we have not learned anything. However, we cannot mentally learn how to move in a new way. It is sort of a conundrum with only one solution. We must physically move in a new way, but how can we move in a new way if we only know how to move normally?

Shifu, by asking “What is the entrance to Taiji?” makes a joke, a play on words. On a philosophical level, he gives the answer, the separation of yin and yang. This created Taiji (a state of differentiation) from wuji (a state of uniformity). We can talk about the spark that began that separation another time.

Now, the play on words. “What is the entrance to Taiji (Taijiquan)?” The philosophical answer can be an allegory for us, the separation of yin and yang. We must move in a state of differentiation rather than a state of uniformity. How can we do that? We have defined the entrance. What is the key?

The comments on becoming a child reminded me of a children’s activity song.
Do as I’m doing. Follow, follow me.
Do as I’m doing. Follow, follow me.
If I do it high or low, if I do it fast or slow,
Do as I’m doing. Follow, follow me.
This is how a child approached learning new movements.

So, if the entrance to Taiji is the separation of yin and yang, how do we do it? Do what he is doing. In the article, he says the key is “Don’t move.” Shifu added a great video that explains this a little more. The first step here is to watch what he is doing. Listen to what he is saying. Then do what he says. If you don’t have a bar mounted on a wall and elastic tubing, improvise. Use a belt wrapped around something solid. He recommends trying this with a doorknob or something.

The point is move in a new way by doing what he is doing. Practice moving in a new way so you can feel it and learn it. Eventually, you will realize that this is different and you will start to understand it, but you have to do it first before you can understand it.

Further steps in learning Taijiquan follow the same procedure.

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John Upshaw August 14, 2012 at 5:35 am

There are no secrets…everything is out in the open. The only things necessary are to watch, listen, experience, verify and occasionally ask…

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