John Upshaw

I started learning Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method in 2005. I learned a rough version of the yilu within nine months. I am a persistent person that continuously seeks progress. As the years have gone by I have missed essential details that are in the form, even though many people would not recognize those missing pieces. Let face it, a form with 81 postures in which each posture has several movements/stretches/rotations in it is a huge undertaking!

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On line Yilu class November 12th 2020 by Johnny Upshaw

• When going down on the left side and brush the knee, the shape/ structure does not change.
• Going down while retaining our structure creates vertical Peng, which we try to train.
• Keep the structure is not to lose the Peng. Don’t retreat and don’t drop.

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Master Chen had Kelvin Ho restate the content from yesterday’s instructions. The hand and shoulder are on the same line or track. The shoulder is fixed. The elbow goes up into that line, which pushes the hand out. The elbow is the lead.

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Master Chen is showing us something that we cannot do. So, if we fake it, we are not learning. It is something we cannot do. The learning is to show us our deficiencies not our efficiencies.

It is very important that we never become comfortable. We must be in that position that we are uncomfortable, and stay in that position. We need to stay in that state of uncomfortable without changing our structure. This will allow our us to re calibrate.
In yilu, we must do it one move at a time until we reach our fullest extent and then reset. Master Chen is trying to bring back the original idea, not continuous. Train each move separately.

The stretch from knee to kua the thigh lengthens. We need to go into the uncomfortable position that we are about to fall down or we do fall down.
We need a clear net gain without changing shape. This net gain can only be created with the stretch and no rotation. This needs to be applied in push hands and in practice. To train this you cannot have wobbly moves. If the opponent creates a net gain during push hands and you don’t that goes into you and you lose. Net gain equals net distance.

 

Today we worked on isolating a movement and twisting the towel. During previous training sessions we did it to feel the trajectory and range. Now we do it with a restriction. The restriction that we did it with was not to move the knee. The main action we were training was twisting the towel with a stretch, not a rotation. Read more

 

On October 20th, 2020, during an online class Master Chen Zhonghua shared and demonstrated an important action of the knee that has not been disclosed before. Prior to discussing the important action, I shall discuss some important functional and structural aspects of the knee as a means of providing a context to help the reader conceptualize how this recently disclosed information is applied in practice and applications.

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Foundations on line notes ~ October 13th 2020 by John Upshaw

 

Kelvin Ho lead us through a positive circle stepping back drill.  With our front hand out, we would step back with a rear foot causing us to go lower, we rotated/shifted from our front kua to our rear kua, rotating the elbow in on the same line with hand staying fixed on that same line…like a spear, tip pointed at the opponent.  By using my kuas in this manner, my range increased.

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I named this the Yilu Project because I have taken some steps to “clean up my yilu”, and this is my baseline for measuring progress or the lack thereof.  I have been attending weekly online classes with Master Chen Zhonghua.  Having access to consistent corrections on my yilu and foundations is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”!  Additionally, I have been getting feedback from my Taiji brother Kelvin, who has a very good eye for details.  Feel free to point out mistakes.

 

Respectfully,

 

John

The actions need to be precise/ accurate. There is only one way to do it right. The adaptation you can get away with it. Read more

October 6th 2020 foundations On-line Class

Today we worked on staying on the line, which exists between the front shoulder and the front hand, and beyond with the same trajectory . The elbow pushes into that line, Which is activating the elbow, thus forcing the handout. The elbow withdraws in a way that integrity of the line between the shoulder and the hand remains intact.

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“The movements of the body are in the Dantian and nothing leaves the dantian. Only power gets out of the Dantian.”

The quote above from Master Chen Zhonghua and his assigning me to write on the dantian sent me on a journey of understanding…and to be forthright, I got stuck. I over thought things and I had difficulties “getting the ball rolling” or rather the dantian article. So being an educated person, I did what students do, and gathered up my information from the online lecture and from past videos from Master Chen Zhonghua.

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Beauty in Taiji 5

by John Upshaw on 2020/09/24

Beauty is a chrysanthemum bud opening up until it reaches it’s maximum, then withers away.  If it gets disrupted, it withers away prematurely.  Beauty in taiji is being fully expressed.  We can’t be deficient, not reaching our maximum; nor can we be over extended…

 

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The Central Vertical Line

The central vertical line (CVL) is an internal stretch that exists between the bau hui to the hui yin. I have heard Master Chen refer to this as a “rod” in the body. It should be present whether we’re doing foundations, form or push hands.
When I’m starting with students that need to strengthen the CVL, I have them do a guided imagery drill. The guided imagery was taught to me by Richard Johnson when I attended a week long workshop with Master Chen in 2011.  I adopted the guided imagery and added a partner component as a means of enhancing the physical understanding and strengthening the central vertical line.

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I entered into class late and saw everyone doing double positive circles. He instructed us to do it in a higher stance with our elbows attached to our waist.  Read more

In the previous section I covered The  4 Essential Taijiquan Techniques, which included Peng, Lu, Ji & An.  I left that lesson on here for review and quick reference.  In this finial section, part 3, I will cover The 4 Corner/Auxiliary Techniques, which include Cai, Lie, Zhou & Kao.  It is located after section 2.   Subsequent information from Master Chen’s writing will also be included in the descriptions. For those that are interested, I will moderate a Zoom discussion about all 3 sections this coming Sunday July 5th at 8 am CST. If you want to attend and can’t, please message me and we can set up a private Zoom session.

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For this Online Video Class, I will be examining the contents in a segmented manner.  In this classic video, Master Chen descriptively teaches the 8 Techniques in Taijiquan.  In this 1st segment of the online video class, I will cover the Basic Energies in Taiji Applications.  In the 2nd segment I will cover The 4 Essential Taijiquan Techniques, which include Peng, Lu, Ji & An.  In the last segment I will cover The 4 Corner/Auxiliary Taijiquan Techniques, which include Cai, Lie, Zhou & Kao.

This video is definitely worth taking the time to thoroughly investigate and gain an understanding of the techniques of Taijiquan.  I will moderate a Zoom group session during the last segment for those that purchased the video as a means of solidifying the material taught by Master Chen.

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In this short online instructional video, Master Chen teaches many essential elements that are necessary when applying Ji to an opponent and several principles inherit to Practical Method.  Ji, squeezing, is a passive action that has “water like qualities”.  Ji, like water “takes up all the space in all directions”.

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In Adjust the Middle Online video, Master Zhonghua Chen teaches how to strengthen one’s own structure and how to break your opponent’s structure and take their power away.

Early on in the video Master Chen utilizes a rubber cord to demonstrate how the 2 ends are connected by pulling in the middle.  He emphasizes that the outside of the 2 ends are the outside and what is between the 2 outside points is considered inside.  In the video he demonstrated this on the rubber cord and then on a student.
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Click on the picture above to go to the video.  Please leave comments in the reply video section.

The important components: 1.  Having 2 lines, 2. Having separation 3.  Resolve through rotation (one line is the catch or lock and the rotation provides the other action for the other line).  Click on the gif

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In this short video, Master Chen teaches key concepts and principles that are necessary in push hands and in the development of our taiji skills.  After watching the video you will gain and understanding of what it means to “match” an opponent’s power. Additionally, you will have a clear understanding of how “adding” beyond the contact point requires yin yang separation, which is an inherent principle to Practical Method Taijiquan.
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The “Dimension: 5 Points” online video builds upon the understanding and skills that were covered in the Step Up To Ji, Move Into Empty Space and Warping Energy 2 Online videos and classes. It allows Practical Method Taijiquan practitioners the opportunity to expand on ones’ understanding of how to use multiple dimensions to immobilize an opponent much like a spiderweb does to ensnare a moth helpless.

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WarpingEnergy2

Thus far, the videos I have selected as curriculum have been focused on the functional aspects of using ones own bio-mechanical structure and the structure of the opponent to “take up space” for the gaining of strategic positioning and for martial purposes. The video “Step up to Ji” gave a basic procedure of how to make contact while matching power and move in other body parts that adhere to the Practical Method’s principle of separated and sequential movements.  In the following video, “Move into Empty Space”, several lessons were taught by Master Chen in various ways to take up the opponents space and demonstrated a few examples of applications, such as going down and adding a dimension.

In this video, Master Chen teaches additional methods of taking up space by “whatever happens, you fill in the gaps”.  It is taking out space, working with space, playing with timing, and/or playing with structure.  The information from the previous video online classes come into play.  Significant additions are made in this video that further advances ones’ repertoire on how to use ones’ structure and the intentional use of working with space as a means of building martial skills and abilities.

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MoveIntoEmptySpace

Move into Empty Space

Various Methods

In this video viewers get to witness Master Chen teaching various methods of how to take up empty space along with a variety of applications. This complex video requires viewers to segment each movement in a number of lessons given.  In addition, with the direct examples demonstrated, key principles inherit to practical method are embedded throughout the video.
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StepUpToJi

We will have an online class based on this video using the comment section of this video at 10:30 am Central Time, 11:30 pm Eastern Time on Saturday, April 4, 2020. On the days that I am teaching, I have selected a series of videos that will be taught in a sequential manner. The primary emphasis will be improving your understanding of how to take an opponent’s space that utilizes the principles that are inherit to Chen Style Practical Method Taijiquan. The video’s include:
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PicsArt_11-25-04.25.43I started learning practical method on 2005. I had a lesson once a week from one of Master Chen’s disciples. At that time I practiced maybe once per week.
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Mise en place (French pronunciation: ​[mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) is a French culinary phrase that means “putting in place” or “everything in its place”. It refers to the setup required before cooking, and is often used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients, the components that a cook will require for the menu items that are expected to be prepared during a shift.

Master Chen often has referred to “the set up” before applying power…before doing “your move”.  What are the ingredients (components) of your set up?  What needs to be in place before you do your move/apply power?  Please add ingredients!!!

We are pleased to have Master Chen Zhonghua back for the 4th annual training camp.  Once again, the taijiquan training, lodging and dining will be at one location with one cost at the same location as last 3 years.  This will be an intensive workshop focused Theory, Foundations, Yilu, Push Hands and Broadsword.  Disciples will take part in the instructions.
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Practical Method Popsockets for your smartphones are $12 plus shipping. As many of you are aware I teach a group of kids, which several have attended Iowa workshops taught by Master Chen. I was able to work out a fundraising deal with the company so 50% of all the sales will be applied towards tuition for my kid students that have financial need. So an awesome item + good price + great cause = excellent purchase!

For orders email me midwestpracticalmethodtaiji@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

Thanks,

John Upshaw

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I was having a discussion with my disciple brother Brennan Toh about what I have been working on with my long term students Gerry and Emily, with specific attention to Lie , one of the 8 techniques of Taiji.  At the North American Practical Method Training Camp last year Brennan was taking me down with this same technique, except his upper/lower body separation was crazily effective….he took out significant space from below without his top moving (his top continued to match my upper body).  This lead to him suggesting the following drill: Read more

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Pretend to fight to find the end points. Once locked, move-in the middle point.

 

(Alignment) Rear fingers look for the front elbow. The rear kua looks for the rear elbow.

 
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Personal Information
I was born in Austin, Minnesota USA in February of 1968. I moved to the neighboring state of Iowa as a child. My early experiences in life set me on my path in martial arts and a career of helping struggling children. I was a homeless orphan at the age of 15. I was fortunate enough to have been taken under the wing of someone who taught me kung fu every morning with no fees…it taught me many life lessons besides the martial aspects; such as commitment to others, commitment to the art, self-discipline, and an overall respect and awe for being a part of something that had a bountiful history, honorable tradition, and rich with culture.
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We are pleased to have Master Chen Zhonghua back for another training camp. Again, the taijiquan training, lodging and dining will be at one location with one cost at the same location as last year. This will be an intensive workshop focused on foundations, drills, form, push hands and applications. Disciples will take part in some of the instructions. Other areas of instruction may include Chen Style Jian and Cannon Fist (Erlu).

There are 32 accommodations on-site and 2 single occupancy cottages. If those slots should fill up, we will list hotels near the retreat center and allow those individuals to participate just the same as the other participants.

July 25th 2018 through July 31st 2018

Price:
4 nights 3 days is $550,
5 nights 4 days $700
6 nights 5 days $800
4pm check in and check out is following your last day breakfast.

Prairiewoods Retreat And Conference Hiawatha, Iowa

For more information please contact:

John Upshaw johnnyupshaw@yahoo.com
Levi Sowers lpsowers@gmail.com

One of my corrections from Sifu during a private lesson in 2015 was on separation of hand from my head. For instance, when out with hand in Single Whip, as I placed emphasis on the stretches when my hand went out, my head would follow…this would occur at varying degrees, yet that isn’t relevant because any deviation of the head changes everything as I will get to soon.

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YIR1

History and Development of the Midwest Group

Master Chen Zhonghua’s first workshops in Iowa were in 2007 and 2008, hosted by John Brown. In the summer of 2009 I organized the first Midwest Practical Method gathering, along with Tim and Levi, in the Northeast Iowa area, which was led by Tim Duehring. The group met periodically throughout the year for several years. Tim move to China to work for Master Chen, which Levi Sowers then led our gatherings. Several of our group members became disciples of Master Chen Zhonghua, which initially, Tim was the only one. The Midwest disciples, in chronological order, include: Levi Sower, John Upshaw, Erwin Ramthun, Jeff Clevenger and Christopher Dusek.

Levi Sowers and I have organized 3 Midwest Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method Workshops that was taught by Master Chen. These workshops occurred in October of 2013, September of 2015 and July of 2016. We have organized the first North American Practical Method Training Camp that will be led by Master Chen this coming July.

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We are pleased to have Master Chen Zhonghua back for another workshop. This time Taijiquan training, lodging and dining will be at one location with one cost. This will be an intensive workshop focused on foundations, drills, form, push hands and applications.

Date: July 28 – Aug 1 2017
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Partner exercise to train getting in
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 10 min.   In: English   Year: 2016  Difficulty:1/5  At:Vancouver

Step Up To Ji
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Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 8 min.   In: English   Year: 2014  Difficulty:2/5  At:Perth

Ji Power (Perth)
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In this short online instructional video, Master Chen teaches many essential elements that are necessary when applying Ji to an opponent and several principles inherit to Practical Method.  Ji, squeezing, is a passive action that has “water like qualities”.  Ji, like water “takes up all the space in all directions”.

In the beginning of the video, Master Chen has his foot on the bottom of a door with a student on the other side.  There was a little space the door could open.  Once he occupied that space with his foot, it became a “lock”, which is a passive action.  It “jammed”, the door preventing the person on the other side from having that space again.

In the GIF below, Master Chen demonstrates the “water like quality” with the participant, Gawain Siu.  He rotates and stretches his shoulder around to fill the space between Gawain’s left elbow and left side.  Notice the stretch that is occurring while not moving the contact point.

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In the GIF below, Master Chen points out Gawain’s Elbow took the middle, which is the Central Equilibrium.  He then rotates his shoulder, taking up space and changing the central equilibrium.  Master Chen then adds one, shifting the scale of balance.  Master Chen says, “The middle is not a physical middle.  When you are stronger, I have to be longer than you.  When you are weaker, I have to be shorter than you”.  Shortly after, he states, “when you change angles, I have to immediately mirror it.”  This is significant as it speaks to the 3  ways of matching; length, weight and angle/direction.  The 3 ways of matching was taken from my notes during a private lesson I had with Master Chen in Iowa, my note is included

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In the first GIF below, Master Chen points out Jhung Siu has the space on top, then points out there is a little space on the ground between them.  By taking that little amount of space between them, it is enough to “tip the scale”.  Then throughout the rest of the video Master Chen demonstrates locking the top and moving the bottom, utilizing the stepping method that is instilled in all of our forms and movements in Practical Method Taijiquan.  Please see the additional GIFS.

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Master Chen Demonstrating Stepping

Stepping

Master Chen Instructing Gawain to take space by stepping

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