“Move into empty space” Online Video Trailer

by John Upshaw on 2015/01/24

Theory and practice for finding space to move in during push hand.
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 51 min.   In: English   Year: 2014  Difficulty:4/5  At:Toronto

Move into empty space
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

bhargavk January 25, 2015 at 7:41 am

What an amazing clip! The way an abstract concept like ‘dimension’ has been explained and demonstrated is simply brilliant. Thank you Master Chen for this masterpiece!


Bruce Schaub February 2, 2015 at 10:42 am

‘ Behind Enemy Lines ‘

This is an expression Master Chen uses that I find particularly helpful in understanding the procedure for utilizing the method of fighting taught in the recent video ‘ Move into empty space ‘.

Engage the opponent

… this creates a ‘ front line ‘ like on a battlefield, causing the opponent to commit his troops to maintain that line. This is the same as the demarcation line. The key seems to be to cause the opponent to commit enough of his ‘ forces ‘ and attention to preoccupy him, while you move to step 2

Move into empty space ( Go behind enemy lines )

…. while maintaining the front line, you must use stealth to maneuver, another force to take up a position behind enemy lines, ( beyond the demarcation ( front line ) by moving into the empty space. The keys are, you must maintain the front line, the movement of the secondary forces must neither disturb the front line, nor should they be construed as a threat. In keeping with taiji threory, if the two ends are locked ( non moving ) this requires we move whats in the middle, ideally getting the kua in, (kua to kua)

Anchor into your new position

Your new position at this point becomes the critical pivot, the part you have shifted in behind enemy lines must be established as a lock, it must be anchored to the ground as if set in concrete, and must not move in relation to the ground.

Stretch or Rotate

At this point you can either lock everything very tightly and rotate, or you can extend and stretch your alignment once the new anchor point is established. Any type of move that is not either a stretch or a rotation will cause you to lose your anchor point. Technically, a stretch with a non moving anchor can be viewed as a rotation, but in this case, as is demonstrated in the video, when Master Chen instructs students to rotate, he has them lock into one piece.

— In the video Shifu uses different body parts to go ‘ behind enemy lines ‘ , it does’nt have to be the kua, he sometimes uses his head or other body parts. One classical Chen taiji specialization, he has mentioned on several occasions is called ” surprise the top, to take the bottom “, which means you engage the opponent to fight with your upper body then stealthily move the lead foot/leg into strategic position. But this is obviously only one method, he demonstrates many different methods using the same procedure.


Bruce Schaub February 2, 2015 at 10:44 am

Hugo Ramiro This is a really good point for me: “Any type of move that is not either a stretch or a rotation will cause you to lose your anchor point.”
January 29 at 1:56pm · Edited · Like · 3
Bruce Schaub Happy if it helps!
January 29 at 2:06pm · Like
Bruce Schaub Master Chens teaching is very clear, but its a very counter intuitive procedure. I have a tendency to miss his instructions, often times because of my own inability to stay focused on the lesson at hand or I have some pre existing conclusion already in my mind. Then he will say one thing and it will trigger a realization. ” Oh… so thats what he’s been talking about all this time…”
January 29 at 2:15pm · Like · 5
Michael Koh Most of the time the instructions are so clear that we did not hear them. Master Chen always say “in with the elbow, out with the hand”. Most of us did not actually hear this till after 2 or 3 years of training yilu. My class were discussing about when we need to bring the elbow in and push the hand out in the form, one of us said “why didn’t Master Chen tell us this in the first place?”!
January 29 at 9:07pm · Like · 3
Kelvin Ho To avoid that problem, you show nothing but one thing at a time, until that is actually done. However, students will leave very soon that way, and they may also say “you don’t teach”.
January 29 at 9:19pm · Edited · Like · 3
Patrick Dickson so true Kelvin


Bruce Schaub February 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

Question : How do you know which point to pick ? ( in push hands context )

Answer : ‘ Where ever he wants to push, it’s not going to move. See you pushed me here. Everywhere else can move except there. ‘ — CZH

at 37 min…


Discussion from facebook group February 12, 2015 at 10:02 am

Brett Alexander: easy for him to say (but realize it took many years of hard work)

Bruce Schaub: Yes, he makes it look easy

Brett Alexander: because for me, “where ever he wants to push..” .. it usually moves. so i should train more to move everywhere else to ensure ‘where ever he wants to push’ really doesnt move.

Bruce Schaub: It’s not so easy in a fluctuating situation, but we understand to make it work, we have to pick the point the opponent is committed to ‘ having ‘ and stabilize it, then move elsewhere.

When I first got to New York, we went to breakfast that morning and Master Chen, while we were eating, immediately started talking about establishing a Rod in the body. We were sitting, me next to him, and he had me push hard against his shoulder. He pushed power into his shoulder there and it was very full and strong and stable at that point. But he said there had to be a line from that point down to the ground, to make it stable. Since he was sitting, he used his butt against the chair, and said since the chair was stable on the ground it was the same thing. Then he put his foot on the far side of the chair, hard against the ground and made a line from his foot to the shoulder, and said ‘ same thing ‘ . So as long as you can find a way to make that point stable, it works, then he moved anywhere but that anchored point.


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