change angle

by Richard van Berkum on 2013/02/18

Dear master Chen,

If I listened correctly you don’t move but rotate to change angles. I have a question about the positive circle. In the first half if you lead with the elbow it seems the angle in the elbow gets sharper. Is that a move or does that happen through rotation? As far as  know a rotation isn’t considered a movement. Also what happens when you keep “pushing” the elbow in the line of the shoulder and hand to create power? It look likes the elbow is dropping away from the line which should make the structure weak. I can’t seem to unite these directions although I think I understand them separately.






About Richard van Berkum

Aikido student interested in taiji principles and trying to learn from them.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Andre February 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

OK, Well Richard since no one has answered your inquiries, and i had basically the same question at some point, I’m gonna try to answer it, and I’m sure Master Chen will correct me in whatever mistakes I might make. Also, read the post about power, structure and change.

So basically the central line is…
Alfred says:
“- why do we rotate Bruce?”
“-So we can learn to change our directions up. …and down… and left… well you get the idea.”

This is literally in line, with the whole concept of power cannot change direction, structure can.
If you look at a simple 3 point circle you’ll see,
1.In the first move, the elbow is drawn to the ribs, now there is a line there, from the outside to the ribs, that line must me kept, that means consistency in the use of your power.
2. At step 2, the structure you have, as in the ‘angle’ between the 2 parts of your ‘arm’, will lock, and through the shoulder rotating, the entire structure rotates toward the rear foot, now aligning with the foot. This effectively means that you redirected the line, or the power, or changed the structure, so that what was on to your ribs is now going to your feet.
3. Now at 3 you rotate you trunk -maintaining that same line-, as to not loose that power. This will cause huge compression, seriously I’ve tested it. Most of the things Master Chen says, i test right away, and i have some pretty big friends, and they bounce off, not a huge bounce, granted, but if even an absolute beginner, given the right alignment can do something with it, then it really works.
Besides its pretty logical that compression would lead to greater power output right?

So, all in all, i guess what has to be understood is that keeping the line is one thing, rotation is another ‘thing’, not moving is another ‘thing’, trying to mess with all of them at once might mix things unintentionally. Thats why in the first move i said: line, elbow, comes in. second one: keep everything/rotate. 3. compress, keep the line. That way concepts don’t get mixed up.

So there is always a line, and you rotate exactly to, in a sense,’keep’ that line, and then you compress it to, in a sense, ‘power’(or maybe i could say ‘increase’) that line. One thing doesn’t have to conflict with the other.

This is my current understanding of what you asked, based on Master Chen’s instructions, and personal experiences like i said.
Anyone please fell free correct me if there are any faults,
Thank you for asking the question btw, I’m sure a lot of people have it, and it gives people like me a chance to further clear it up.



Chen Zhonghua February 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Very good comments and understanding.


zanshin February 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thanks Andre,

I have looked for the Article you mention but I can’t find it. Would you care to post a link here so I can read it? Thanks



Andre February 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm
It was right below your post thats why i mentioned it. :P

Also, I wrote in another post at another time that, to me, one of the greatest thing I learned in practical method training, and I say greatest because it made a huge difference, was: don’t think too much about it!
This is a -practical- method after all. :D
So in my experience the more you train, and the less you dwindle or sidetrack, the more you gain long term.

Questions are good, they inspire us, but most of the ones i had, and I’m guessing you do too, were and are -very- long and complex, and at first you don’t really see it. But in the end sometimes what we are really asking is “please master, teach me Taiji ‘logically’, and in one short paragraph”. Which is crazy and impossible! Besides, ‘learning’ or maybe i should say ‘understanding’ Taiji is the whole point of training. So its better to simply go train right?

Recently when i have a question, either I allow the form to teach me what to do, or i generally forget about it. The answer will come, when its ready.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,
And good luck.


zanshin February 21, 2013 at 6:00 am

Ah I didn’t understand it. Thanks! I agree with you about training but since I don’t have a teacher and no example I have to find out everything by my self. I watch a lot of videos by master Chen and try distilling out what’s actually happening which isn’t easy. But master Chen makes up for that with his comments.
I actually only train the basic exercises and try to get to the stuff that happens internally. I also try to teach my self the Yilu through the video master Chen made. But in the end it’s like you said that the training you do is what counts.


Andre February 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm

I did the exact same thing you are doing, for around 1 year, until i met master Chen at a workshop.
Thats part of why i said what i said, in the way i said it. And its also why i made sure to emphasize the form, learning things from it.

Not sure you’ve seen this post:

There are actually a lot of people in the same situation in this site.
I urge you to attend a workshop closest to you though, check here:

In the workshop Master Chen can further assist you in your learning path.

Until then, personally I recommend the energy alignment series.



zanshin February 22, 2013 at 1:58 am

Thanks for the links. I see master Chen is visiting Holland again. I’m planning to attend that workshop.



Chen Zhonghua February 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Richard, your question is quite complex. That’s why I have not answered yet. You appear to understand the concepts of rotation, direction, and sequence of movements. There is one more thing here that might help you. During the process of any action, say a three-step circle, the point of contact changes. (1). When you pull in the elbow, you assume the opponent is holding your hand. (2). When you are rotating your waist, you are assuming that the opponent is holding your hand and has moved in to push on your elbow also. (3). When you push your opponent back with your rear foot, you assume that the front of your body, knee, kua, shoulder, elbow, and hand, all touch your opponent.

This appears a bit unrelated to your question. But in reality, your question is not entirely related to the actions of the circle.

Hope this helps.


zanshin February 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Master Chen, thank you for the clarification of the circle. I was wondering if a were mixing things up and it seems I was.


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