Personal Review of the Chen Taiji Practical Method Workshop in Phoenix AZ (20-21 January 2018) Part II

by pingwei on 2018/02/14

Author:  James M. Riviera

Jim is a retired Information Technology Project Manager for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. When Jim is not working on his 10 acre ranchito,  (small ranch) in Central Texas, he is pursuing his interest in Martial Arts and Sciences, amateur photography, and the preservation of the ecology of Texas, as a Texas Master Naturalist. Jim can be contacted at jim.riviera@outlook.com.

 

Day 2 (21 Jan)

 

  • Discipleship Ceremony (Winston and Benjamin)
    • On the second day we participated in a group ceremony  for the discipleship of Winston and Benjamin. Sifu Ping Wei described the process of discipleship (3 years) and the commitment that is required by the disciples once they are inducted. 
    • The ceremony was very inspiring to observe and I could tell that the disciples were very proud of this moment. 
    • Master Chen then asked the disciples to perform the 81 movements of the Chen Taiji Practical Method form . It was inspiration to watch and made me realize that I have a long way to go. Practice Practice Practice.
  • Foundations
    • In the AM, class consisted of foundations and Yilu practice. The following notes are quick thoughts and saying from Master Chen that I recorded during the session. 
      • Poang  – Concept and execution is similar to a Chinese broom. The broom bristles are tied together tight at the top and spread out . All moves and techniques are performed with this concept in mind.
      • Body Mechanics and Concepts:
        • Internal movements  consists of 2 opposites forces working together with the centerline (head+center of body) as the post. Similar to two (2) balls moving in opposite directions. This allows for no wiggling or extra body movement.
        • Shoulders should always sink into centerline and never be raised.
        • Kua opens the move causing the dantien and foot to align. Kua moves in and out but center stays posted. This is part of Grandmaster Hong’s definition of scientific method. 
        • Traditional Chen Taiji there is a lot of movement. In Practical Method, there is no movement, no wiggle, hips (Kua) are the wheels for movement. There is no tension in any of the movement. 
        • Taiji mobility is like the quality of water, it flows and attaches to the opponent. The weight and pressure matches the opponent with about a small percentage more that the opponent.
        • Move forward, hands projected out and stay in center of body. Movement is from body with hands centered. Force will come up from center and out . 
        • Master Chen spoke of the concept of Outside Dimension in as a theory in moving against an opponent. From my understanding and notes, I captured:
          • The outside dimension is another point of demarcation outside the touch points of you and your opponent. Penetration of the opponent defenses either pull or push is past the point of demarcation. 
          • This penetration is initiated by intention (Yi) . For Practical Method, this relates to positioning yourself forward behind the opponent. Noted difference: From what I have learned in traditional Chen Taiji, Yi relates to a concept of the mind having intention . This is a difference.

 

  • Combat Theory and Techniques
    • In the afternoon, Master Chen directed the seminar toward practicing combat techniques and theory.
      • Against an opponent, there is no looking around, no hesitation. Always  moving  forward.
      • Bridge space and move forward quickly.
      • Punch is generated from the feet, to the Kua or hip and then through the arm and fist. Release is short but very powerful and through the opponent. Note: During  demonstration of theory and techniques  by Master Chen ,  he would go around our circle of students and demonstrate the technique to verify the validity. He came to me and threw a short punch to my chest. I have participated in other combative martial arts where receiving punches and kicks to the body are pretty normal and part of the learning of the art. However, the punch that Master Chen connected on me was very unique. After the initial strike, I felt a warm glow in the area where struck me that stayed with me for about 15 min. It did not totally incapacitate me but I continued to feel it for awhile. 
      • Technique: We finished up the day by practicing movement against an opponent. The technique requires the defender to move in close to the opponent and using three points of contact and a brush knee to throw th opponent. The three contact points of the opponent are the chest, hip and knee. Movement of the hips and back of the opponent causes an opening and hole for the opponent to fall into. The knee is the chopping board on this throw. You give the opponent a little more pressure back than he is giving you.   Note: In the years of Aikido that I have studied, there is a similar technique called Kokyu Nage that produces the same results using the three contact points . So I was familiar with this technique and concept. 
      • Combat concept:  In Taiji, the opponent goes straight down and not out. Otherwise the opponent can come back in to kick you or reach you. Note: In my studies of Aikjujitsu , this concept is the same. The end result is to end the conflict and not allow the opponent to get back in.
      • Chen Taiji movements are low which allow kicks and slaps to the knees and the groin area. 
  • Final Dinner
    • That evening we had a final dinner at Sifu Ping Wei ‘s beautiful residence in Phoenix. It was a  great evening of celebrating the discipleship of Winston and Ben. Also, to meet with and discuss further with fellow students , what we learned and our approach to the practical method. Many local students brought family and spouses to attend and I enjoyed the feeling of kinship.  Lastly, we sat around and listened to the latest report from Master Chen on the current  development of the school in China and their curriculum now contains Chen Taiji Practical Method. He also mentioned that he is receiving support from local government officials for Chen Taiji Practical Method which is helping in securing the popularity of Chen Taiji Practical Method. Master Chen also shared his stories and experience with Practical Method. I found this valuable in learning about Practical Method, and how it compares with other forms of martial arts I have studied including current Traditional Chen Taiji. Overall it was a great evening and many kudos to Sifu Ping Wei for hosting this event and opportunity for  training. 
  • Final Thoughts and Impressions 
    • Overall, the seminar in Phoenix was very enjoyable and an opportunity to further my journey in Chen Taiji. The Practical Method is real and it filled in gaps that I had in my traditional Chen training. I feel that the people that I met at the seminar are excellent examples of this style of martial science. Everyone was friendly, willing to share, and very likable. Everyone have success in other areas of their life as well as Taiji..  I attribute this to this  art and the type of people it attracts.  
    • As Master Chen stated in the beginning of the seminar, the science has to be real and he convinced me thru his teaching and examples.  Master Chen is very amicable and affable. His teaching manner makes it easy to approach him and ask questions. However, what really hit home with me , is that he is very willing to share his knowledge openly. He is very transparent and it’s refreshing. I have studied other arts including traditional Chen Taiji , where the Sensei or Sifu are not so willing to share their knowledge without years of practice and commitment to them. Even then there is still a sense that you are not accepted. I did not feel that way during the seminar. At times, I felt that he gave us so much information and it was difficult to comprehend in accordance with the technique and foundations. I would have like to seen more practical application.  However, Master Chen shared a lot of the philosophy of Taiji in general which really assisted in understanding the overall concept of Practical Method.
    • Master Chen demonstrated numerous times the science and methodology of Practical method , time and time again during the seminar. I saw him utilize the theory against opponents larger in size. They went down no matter what. They could not resist against the theories and technique. I felt  it myself when Master Chen struck  me in the chest with a unique strike. It did not fell me but it definitely left a burning sensation in the area. It was impressive. 
    • Finally in retrospect, coming to Phoenix and participating in the Practical Method, brought back memories of my time in the Japanese art of Aikido. As stated earlier in the beginning of the report, I have a 35 year history in other martial arts .  At one time, I step out of a traditional style of Aikido and studied a scientific , harsher style of martial science, Aikijujitsu. As in Practical Method, the theories of Aikijujitsu are based on practicality, alignment of body, and total commitment to intention of besting an opponent. This experience assisted me in understanding the theories and mindset of Chen Taiji Practical Method. I feel that its very efficient and down to earth methodology to practice the martial science of Chen Taiji. It was a pleasure to have met everyone at the seminar. I am gratefully thankful to Sifu Ping Wei for hosting such an enlightening and fun weekend. I hope to continue to practice on my own here in Central Texas and possibly see everyone again at a seminar soon. 
 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Vincent February 14, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Thanks. Some clear notes. After some time practice I stopped making deeper comparisons with th other martial arts. Since that time my understanding of pm deepened. There is only superficial comparison possible in my opinion.

Reply

pingwei February 14, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Different people have different background, different experience. “Comparison” is inevitable. Through comparison, one can make a decision if he or she will take on the journey of Practical Method. The review by James provided his insides through his accomplished martial arts quest and his excitement of his encounter with Practical Method. This is most valuable to any new people.

Reply

Vincent February 14, 2018 at 9:42 pm

I fully agree Ping.

Reply

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