Notes for Ottawa Workshop Mar. 24-25, 2018

by Kelvin Ho on 2018/03/24

Master Chen at Ottawa ChinatownIMG_20180324_171734__02Toronto group attending Ottawa Workshop Mar. 24-25, 2018

Thank you very much for Rachelle and Emile’s hospitality for hosting the Toronto group attending the Ottawa workshop. It was such a pleasure meeting both the old and new faces. The following are my notes.


Rise and Shine – First lesson at 6 a.m.

At Rachelle’s Place
Leader of the action:
Don’t move the hand.
When you are pushed, you need to put the power in front (behind the opponent) away from the contact point.
When you are pulled, you need to put the power behind (in front of the opponent) away from the contact point.

Fighting is about adjusting the rhythm, e.g. switch between hand and elbow.

Everybody’s problem is that we think that we need to push. There is no push. Even when it appears to be a push, it is a really still a pull. Trust that. Every push is a pull. Pull it into something that is solid (like the rear kua).

You can’t analyze anything you do not know.
Analyze only after you can do it.

I am still pulling my hand when I do elbow-in. I need to produce a lag at the hand relative to the elbow.

Elbow-in, don’t go back to the forearm. Elbow-in, release the hand to let it go forward. Rotate the bicep to bring the elbow-in.

Just like a triangle, a circle can be viewed as being made of 3 arcs. There is one side/arc that is not physically there. A rotation can be viewed as elbow in lined up with a dot on the ribs, that dot is stretched against the back of the head, the back of the head is stretched back against the hand. This completes a circle.

Positive Circle: 1st and 2nd counts are the first half of the circle (coming in), 3rd count is the 2nd half of the circle (going out).
Negative Circle: 1st is the first half of the circle (coming), 2nd and 3rd counts are the 2nd half of the circle (going out).

After stretching the front kua without loosing anything, stretch the rear kua, e.g. after Punch Covering Fist, stretch the right kua to cause elbow-in, then stretch the left kua to cause the hand out.

Power causes action (PM).

Power is not power unless there is a conversion, e.g.

  1. You don’t know there is power in a car unless it hits something.
  2. Power comes from food you eat.
  3. Light hits a crystal and it is split.

We always have a T. For two points to come together, you pull the third point away from the two points.  For two points to go away from each other, you push the third point into the line formed from the two points. For the third point to come towards you, you pull the two points away from you.  For the third point to go away from you, you push the points towards you.

At the workshop

Action/move (Old Frame)
Adjustment/coordination (New Frame)
Play with action and adjustment to be just right 正好 (Practical Method)

Loose hit, tight turn

Hand is responsible for striking.
Elbow can be used to strike or adjust. If used to strike, another body must be used to adjust.

When the opponent pushes into me, he creates slack, and I need to take up that slack by filling it, e.g. rotate something to fill it up.

Rubber band example:
Rotate the two kuas to to keep the rubber full (no slack)

Don’t go up, the opponent can always go away. Always go down, the opponent can’t go away because he will fall to the ground.

The ability that we are training to do is in to be precise.

When Master Chen talks about the dot, he means precisely that dot for that particular engagement (not for the vicinity).

To create a line, line up two dots, and stretch them from each other.

Drill 1: First action of the first move
Elbow in to get elbow out of the way, rotate the kua, stretch it towards the rear heel, don’t pop the right shoulder, don’t move the hand. As you turn to the right due to what is mentioned, the elbow can be reversed (hands cannot take over and move). The elbow has to continue in the direction of the rotation.

Shoulder is inside of the top.
Kua is the inside of the bottom.

Always become bigger, always expand.

mmexport1521947888156 Positive circle: 1, 2, 3
1 body part in 1st count
2 body parts in 2nd count
3 body parts in 3rd count

Negative Circle: 3, 2, 1
3 body parts in 1st count
2 body parts in 2nd count
1 body part in 3rd count

Body parts are limb, torso, leg.

Spoon and fork analogy:
Master Chen asked people to pick up a spoon (which is something very simple), and walk over to drink some soup.
Everyone will always just pick up a fork.
If you are able to follow instructions, you can move on. However, after thirty years, when you are still picking up the fork, you can never drink the soup.

In with elbow no hand,
Turn with waist no arm,
Out with hand no body.

When it is a system, alien things cannot come in.
You can’t take some parts of a system and put them in something else.

Cavity in between muscles are always hollow. Play guitar with the tendon in that space. Funny bone.

Drill 2:
1) 3 people in a group
2) The first person leaned against a wall
3) The second person pinned the forehead and chest of the first person against the wall.
4) The third person provided resistence to the first person by holding his hand.
5) The first person rotates the elbow to a point that it is aligned against your chest, and the hand goes out by itself or you can do elbow-in without bending forward.

Drill 3:
1) Head up
2) Squeeze the shoulder, elbow into the finger tips, which are pointing toward to the centre of the opponent.
3) Push from the rear foot

Drill 4:
1) First pretend to match the opponent push.
2) Without moving the hand, pull/yank the opponent into yourself
3) Stretch the finger

Drill 5:
1) Catch the opponent and pull both of my elbows towards the dantien
2) Once the opponent is pulled in, stretch the back to extend both hands.

Double Negative Circles in Cross Hands
My dantian was too weak. It went backwards. I need to make it go into my two feet so that my legs are strong and the triangles (dantian and the two kuas, dantian and two knees) are solid. When the feet are strong, the hands can be like the ropes and they would have power.

Fists drape over body
My right shoulder was retreating/going backwards. It should stay on top of the kua.
Elbow-in with a fixed shoulder will cause the hand to go out.

Base Knowledge vs Extended Knowledge
It was explained using an orange. See Video.
We call the fruit that has an orangle-coloured skin “orange”. By the time, we can use the word “orange” to represent that particular fruit, we have base knowledge. There are different words for the same fruit in different languages. We learn about these different names. This is extended knowledge.
Practical Method focussed on the base knowledge.

Action vs Adjustment
Master Chen calls the combination of the two simply “movement”.

Practical Method focus on maximum action and minimal adjustment. So our adjustment does not look big or obvious.

When teaching, don’t demonstrate. We may be only able to show 30% since we have mistakes, and students may create a false impression.

Rotate on one side of the triangle, e.g. Coat hanger example.
I finally saw the triangle used in a sweep-like move.

We need to have a rhythm when pushing hands, e.g. Light touch, light touch, get in, hug.
Always disengage about 10 counts (Always follow a procedure, the count of 10 is only an example).


Master Chen and his discples

Workshop Participants

Ottawa Workshop Participants


Dusk view at Rachelle’s Place


About Kelvin Ho

Kelvin Ho, Master Chen Zhonghua's disciple, is the instructor for Practical Method Toronto. He has been teaching and promoting the Practical Method system in Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill, Canada since 2011. He has received numerous medals in various Taiji competitions in Greater Toronto Area. He is also a vice-president of MartialArts Association Canada. Like his teacher, he feels an obligation to pass this great art onto others. Contact:

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