Toronto Workshop Notes 22-25 Oct 2018 Harshil

by Harshil on 2018/10/28

Day one


Moving Steps positive circle instructions


Do not involve torso, Do not lean

Torso and elbow are locked, isolate torso from hand and foot, Stretch is a must.

Use front of the torso to catch the opponent at 45 to front

And use rear Kua and elbow to throw the opponent

Elbow coming and Kua going out must be like a pair of scissors

If the elbow is on Kua it’s locked and if it’s not connected there is no bite.

Initially, do not worry about power, only direction.

Train your body to become a pair of scissors.



One has to be able to project energy.

Projecting energy is the process of Separation. (Separation causes energy projection.)

Separation means one thing moving and another thing not moving.

i.e, A cup full of water. Once you give it a momentum and stop, Cup remains and water gets out. Similarly, on your body when executing the move, energy goes out. This energy can not be seen and hence Taiji is perceived as mysterious.

Foundation exercises are designed to bring this energy out. Once you have it you can play with it and that play is Yilu. Without energy, Yilu is merely choreography.

One can continue doing yilu choreography without having any energy and get frustrated with not getting the result. i.e. Working on setting up a electricity in a house that is not connected to any power source or a car without any gas.

Learning the Form is not enough, one must generate energy. (Form and Substance).

In the very beginning we try to Change random movement into regular movements, and then Regular movements to concentrated movements.

The way to observe is to look at feet. But the point of reference should not be the floor. That is misleading. The floor can be at hand.




Pull elbow away from the wrist, creating as much stretch as possible. Rotate and create a spiral to increase surface.

Work to make stretch a surface and then volume. Stretch is splitting Dot to the line, line to surface, surface to volume. Volume is bigger in terms of size.

Power is about size. A small person may be able to fight with a bigger opponent is he is able to use a larger size of himself and does not allow a bigger opponent to fight with large size.

Regular people with no Taiji skill can at the most fight with a line. Taiji requires to use volume to fight.


On learning


Always focus on following instructions instead of doing action or getting the result.

Instructions are designed as counter-intuitive to human action. If following instructions correctly you can’t do anything. Because you are still human you cannot do anything but you still want to do something so you do something else that is not as per instructions. And once you start doing, there is no comeback.

People with a large body can easily fight others but that is not learning Taiji. If you they get an elephant, they can’t work with it.




Catch a dot on the opponent

Whenever engaging opponent, you have to catch a spot on the opponent that has no power

But you have to match/mirror opponent first

Initially you are large, later on, one can do instantly

i.e. If you take a stick and want to move whole stick by touching only one spot, you have to push the middle of the stick otherwise you won’t catch a stick.

You have to catch that spot all time

All animals have a spot where if you ouch they won’t fight. It’s called the dead spot. Cow-nose, Tiger-back of the neck, Rabit-ears.


Day two


On learning


Observations – Lion biting a cow, once it bites it doesn’t let it go. Eagle doesn’t let go of its catch. Humans don’t have such primitive skill because of a developed brain which let go of skills.


On how to teach


Avoid spoon feeding. When teaching to students, don’t teach easily. Just fight with students and let students observe and try harder to get it, this way students can pick up on their own but If you teach they don’t understand and they don’t learn.


Avoid repeat Instructions. If you say something 3 times even dogs do not listen.

Hardship makes a mind remember that everything cannot be figured out and it needs help. It’s same as the debt you forget and lending you remember.


There is no readiness to learn. Chen fake was teaching his students so much that he would go inside their body to put a warm that enables to learn Taiji but no student would take it.






Taiji is the art of deception.

It’s Either yin or yang. 0 or 1.

We want an opponent to not see switching on & off the power.

It’s difficult for the brain to process this switch, once you see the power you don’t see not powerful and once you think it’s not powerful you don’t understand where it is coming from.


Clarity is like Jumping off a building. Top of the building is solid and the bottom is solid. These two points fixed are solid and the middle is nothing. Opponent makes move in nothing and hit the solid end.


In Daoism, there are 3 levels of clarity -


Upper clear = immortal.

Jade clear = higher immortal.

Heavenly clear = ultimate immortal.


Power, Balance, Harmony = 0 to 1 without confusion


When you talk about the form you talk about your own experience and can relate only up to extent of your own experience.


On Learning


A theory is pure without any attachments and hence easy to grasp but difficult to attain.

Theory is clear 1+1=2, But people add their own interpretations, i.e, 1apple +1orange =confusion. Don’t link your experience or anything else to theory.


Just copy move from Master. Don’t analyze and accept your own interpretation without copying the move. Don’t seek advanced knowledge.



3 points at contact to be locked for stability. Touch opponent with 3 points before executing the move.


2 fixed point is creating Peng (like a pressed bow). Maintain it in all moves. What’s gained cannot be lost.


Rubber cord practice

Level 1 stationary = bypass hand by connecting elbow to Kua. Train to pull the cord with Kua.

Level 2 moving = foot. Pull the cord with a foot.


Push Hands

Catch inside bite outside. Catch outside bite inside.

Rotate. Turn with one foot. Rotate on other.

Triangulate to attack. Kua aims to elbow on the same line to crunch opponent.




Stand in Half horse stance. Partner locks front knee by his both knee.

Partner touches front knee with his right or left knee.

You tap your partner’s shoulder on respective shoulder.

Develop automatic reaction to initiate rotation on correct side based on where you have locked your opponent with your knee and avoid rotating on the wrong side or wasting time to think over which side to rotate.


Day Three


Moving Positive Circle Instructions


In with elbow, don’t lift the front foot, pull in and jam the foot. When front foot jams in, elbow hits the line connecting the foot and Torso.

Similarly, Out with hand, rear foot jams in when energy goes out.


Drill – Pull in a one piece your opponent. Aim a dot on your own body where the opponent is going to hit and connect the dot to the floor. This results in bouncing off the opponent when he hits that dot on your body. Later on, pull in the opponent and step in to hit the opponent.




How to overcome the opponent’s power?

First, understand what is not using power. – In Taiji, power is constant and hence when the result is achieved it is as if power was not used at all.

Then what is smooth. – The opponent is 99 and I’m 100.

Because power itself has no meaning.

When the opponent is approaching with full power, on hit whoever backs off feels pain on hitting. When the action is completed you feel relieved.


On Learning


In small observations when you figure out something it can make you excited or sick. Pay special attention to see what you can pick up and once you start to see it, it’s like a thread being pulled and you can continue learning. i.e, old Chinese window has the veil of paper so you can only see the shadow but if you make it a little wet you can see through clearly.

The path to clarity is lonely as once you see, nobody will believe you. The probability of someone saying that- you are able to see what we can’t see – is almost zero.


On Teaching


More advanced you are, more likely that people will back off because they think they can’t do it.

The traditional method of teaching lets student learn by himself and experience and then explanations are given by analogies. Hong used a lot of analogies while teaching.


On Culture


Historically, civilization was guided by rare and talented people. Today, “everyone is special” belief has gone too far.

Being able to distinguish between Real and Fake is an ability/a rare thing.




Don’t move Triangle of hand, elbow, and torso. Only rotate kua.  Create a lock by interacting with your opponent at 90.

Keep two ends fixed and move middle, don’t move the ends.

When you get better, hands can connect to foot and is 9 times powerful than just hand and torso acting alone.




All Taiji moves are created by switching pivot.


On learning


Associate the words with the real thing and not the explanation of it. Explanations have a tendency to change as per the person trying to explain.


Day Four


Double Negative Circle Synchronized instructions

When opening up, Go infinitely large, when closing, go infinitely small

To get the feeling of this, do as explained below (non-Taiji move)


How to become infinitely large – stretch out fully, i.e. foot stretches to become longer and toes of your foot grow like tree roots. Head stretches upwards towards the ceiling. Fingers stretch downwards to touch your toes.

How to become infinitely small – Turn your kua and torso, in with elbow on axis outside of the body and in front of you. Do not go up and down on same axis that of becoming infinitely large.




All movement in Taiji has to be proportional.

When wrist moves it is caused by the elbow, when elbow moves it is caused by the shoulder, when shoulder moves it is caused by the waist, when waist moves it is caused by kua, when Kua moves it is caused by knee, when the knee moves it is caused by foot. Nothing moves by itself and every move is indirect and proportional.

When moves are proportional, eyes cannot catch moves as there is no differential in the move.

Proportional movement gives an ability to become like a wall at times and like sand at times.

The human body has lots of differentials and hence it is easy to get a handle on it. Proportional moves remove these handles on a human body.

The proportional move is matching the power.

Matching power requires -

1) Ability to observe opponent’s move to adjust to it

2) Ability to change your own body to get in a position.

One does not remain strong all the time. One has to make his own body a stick or a rope.

If the opponent’s move is loose, you penetrate as a stick. If the opponent is strong, you wrap him as a rope.

I.e. snake has the ability to be as strong as a stick and as loose as rope. Also, a snake can constrict without losing a grip. Human movements lose grip easily.




Step Up to Push with Two Hands move

No moving of hands throughout the move

Turn and step ahead in one piece, (Kao)

It appears like moving clouds (clouds moving in relation to the sky in the background)




To get your opponent in one line, you have to move in spiral fashion i.e. Tornado


On Learning


Ultimate training is to bring clarity in moves

There is no clarity in the move because while doing one move you add another which nullifies it

Human problem is confusion

One with clarity has no confusion and is immortal

The tendency to make connections between unrelated concepts is the root cause of confusion

Truth does not exist without lies around it and people remember only lies and forget the truth


Stepping instructions


While Shovel out the leg – back of the knee is tight, the ankle is locked at back, body only moves downwards, foot only moves forward digging dirt, initially go small to maintain balance.

If moving backward, toe touches the ground first then heels.




Positive circle hand out

If the elbow is not on the line, move it to bring in line to execute the move

If a move is contributing 100% to accommodate for action, it is not moving

If you can not move it is called stiff

If you overdo move it creates slack

Train to get a just-right move that contributes to  the action

If the straight aim is too stiff go around it but do not deviate from the original aim




Create root

Root is created through Peng

Imagine root is far from the point of interaction and you get longer grab

If you grab the wrist and create peng by imagining root at the shoulder, your grab is arm long




1)    Push both hands of the opponent to engage him and once balanced, shoot aim from waist below to hit


2)    Catch opponent from behind by putting your foot at the back of his foot and use this as the lever to push the opponent

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

James Tam October 29, 2018 at 8:40 pm

Great notes. Thanks Harshil!


taibarb7 October 31, 2018 at 7:28 am

Very good notes – thanks for sharing!!!


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