My experiences with Taijiquan – Practical Method

by Sarah on 2018/07/29

I started taijiquan practical method in 2011. In 2016 I became disciple of Master Chen. Taiji – the separation of ying and yang and having both at the same time – is a part of my daily life and I am very happy about it.

1. Practical method
This style in the lineage of Chen Fake, Hong Junshen, Chen Zhonghua follows very clear instructions to establish the taiji movements. In the end there should be no fight anymore, one is just walking through the opponent without knowing.

2. Chen Zhonghua
I appreciate my Shifu Chen Zhonghua for being a true master in my eyes. He is not judgemental, very clear, very hardworking, at the same time so funny. He is not only my taiji teacher but also my life teacher. He is such a good example of just doing things, going through obstacles without complaining, seeing everything like it is and not having ideas or dreams about reality and missing what is going on in the moment. He was pointing out some crucial points (of reality) to me and I would like to thank him in this way for being my Shifu and helping in my progress (hopefully there is one ;) ).

3. Training experiences
Instead of going through the theory of Taijiquan practical method (you can find so many great and wonderful articles on this website here (www.practicalmethod.com), which are explaining everything wonderfully) I would like to share my training experiences.

3.1 Physical Training

At the beginning of my training I thought everything gonna be very easy to achieve. I thought I could open my kua in three months. I underestimated the challenge of changing the already trained body and mind behaviors.

3.1.1 Body Changes
Since I started with my training my body changed a lot. I had to start something because I was all tensed up, bodywise and mentalwise. I had a lot of back, neck and shoulder pain. My toes were bended and stiff.

I am facinated to see my body change. My toes are opening up, even the small toe. I feel like I am getting more inside my body, more lively and space inside my body is created. I am getting more flexible. My body is getting stronger.

Some examples: At the moment I work in a farm, so I go harvest papayas for example. They are hanging quite high, so somebody has to kick them loose and somebody has to catch them. Sometimes when I want to catch them, I can’t do. Sometimes I am afraid, because they are falling very fast. Sometimes I am thinking to much, it is too important for me to catch them. But everytime, they we’re falling in surprise to me, I catched them. My reflexes are getting better and faster.

Another thing I am doing in the farm is helping in the kitchen. I am used too the fact, that I am not very fast in peeling, cutting etc compared to the tamil ladies who are doing this already their whole life. Recently I was peeling cooking bananas. First I was very slow, but repeating the same move again and again I was getting faster and faster. I took in my shoulder, stretched my back etc. to sit in a more comfortable position and tried to not waste energy. After a while (maybe half an hour) I was faster then the tamil lady and she also was astonished. I realised, that I never trained like this, repeating one move for an hour and give the body the opportunity to get more effective.

3.1.2 Body pain
Sometimes, before, while or after training there is pain in the body. Sometimes the pain is coming, because of the traing (muscel soreness). Sometimes it is an opening pain. Sometimes it feels as if one should stop. Shifu said, that one has to go through the pain. Pain can be an obsticale to stop the training.

One time I was training very late in the evening. I was already quite tired and after three yilus I felt hungry and exhausted. My mind was telling me to stop and go cooking. It got worse and worse. I had the feeling, that I could not move anymore. My whole body was shaking. It felt, like I gonna fall down if I would continue. I nearly stopped my training and was going to eat something, when I remembered Shifus words about obstacles. I told myself that I can do at least ten minutes more of training and that I could do it very slowly. (At this time my minimum amount of yilus a day was five). So I just kept going and concentrating on the next step and after some time every pain and body sensation was gone. I was still hungry but didn’t feel weak anymore. Everything was normal. I don’t know, what happened, but I was very happy that I kept going and didn’t stop.

My neck, shoulder and back pain is mostly gone. When I sit to long in a wrong position my back is hurting again, but normally this pain due to wrong positions is going away through the training.

3.2 Mental Training

3.2.1. “Just train”
After seven years I started to train. What I mean by this is, that before I was thinking and rethinking every movement in the foundations and yilu. Rather then training I was thinking. Maybe because I took myself as too important. Maybe because I overestimated the influence and capacity of the brain. Training means, move the body. One has to do the moves again and again and again. Then suddenly something is going to happen, that one didn’t know before. For example, I can feel something is moving (f. ex shoulder, kua or back and I was not aware of this movement before) and as soon as I can feel the movement, I can work in this .

Conclusion: Dont think, train!

3.2.2 “Take yourself out of the process”

I always took myself as too important. Sentences like: “I am good in this, I am not good in this…” This I can do, this I can’t do…”, “I am always like this”, “they can do better then me…” are not helpful at all. Through training I learned to put all the ideas about me out of me, when you start training put everything on the side and just train. The benefit of this is to be empty and fresh.

Conclusion: Restart and restart and restart again. Train.

3.2.3. “Don’t judge, don’t evaluate”
Try to copy without judging. Watch the form of Chen Laoshi and try to copy. Take a video of your form and foundation and try to put hand, elbow, knee etc. in the same positions. Don’t think, you are doing good or bad, those ideas are not helping in the learning process. We learned to make those judgemental statements about ourselves sometimes, somehow. They are just feeding our ego, they are trained habits to make us feel good or bad. Once we can see, they are serving another purpose (“to make us feel good or bad, maybe also to feel us better or worse then others), we can give them up and starting training again.

Conclusion: Don’t judge yourself, train.

3.2.4. “Follow instructions”
Do, what you have been told to do. Do not try to understand the instructions. In the beginning of my training I wanted to understand why I should do it like this and not like this. I even tried to discuss instructions. I know see, that this was very senseless and a waste of time.
“Things we don’t know, we can’t see.” “If you want to know the taste of an apple, you try an apple. Don’t ask other people about the taste of an apple (or maybe think about the taste).” Those sentences of Chen Laoshi make clear, we have to understand through experiences, through training. If we can do it, there is no need for discussion and understanding anymore (we will understand, because we know how to do it).

Conclusion: Don’t talk, train.

3.2.5 “Instructions”
Read the instructions (“hand out, elbow in”, “don’t move, rotate”, “don’t bend the wrist”, “stretch, don’t move”, etc.) again and again. Use Chen Laoshis words. Never think, you understand anything. My experience is, that while training I suddenly realise, ahh I moved my hand etc. and then I can change it. So the instructions are “popping up” while training.

Conclusion: Don’t try to understand instructions, train like it was shown to you.

3.2.6 “Accepting reality”
We think, we are listening, but we are not. We think, we are observing, but we are not. We think, that we are copying, but we are not.

We need to accept this and to move on. Shifu said, that from a daoistic point of view we are nearly 100 % wrong about everything. So how can we know? We need a good teacher and follow his instructions. We can type ourselves and watch us afterwards. Very often something feels good and right, but if one watch oneself from outside, it looks different, then it felt before. “Don’t believe in your feelings”, try instead to establish measurements from outside (training on a wall to have a not moving part, rubber band, teacher, video).

Conclusion: Don’t believe in your feelings, use outward measurements.

4. Daqinshan
Daqinshan, the international training center, is located in the mountains somewhere between Beijing and Shanghai. I went there four times and spent all together a little bit over a year there. It is a perfect location for training. Group training with a well trained teacher is provided four times a day. In the mean time you can enjoy delicious food and rest. I recommand to everybody to go and train there. It is such a great experience and will help you for your own training to establish a training routine.


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About Sarah

I am learning Taijiquan - Practical Method since 2011.

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