John Upshaw


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


Master Chen Instructing Gawain to take space by stepping

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Theory and training for matching power principle, to use indirect force to match opponent push

Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 13 min.   In: English   Year: 2015  Difficulty:2/5  At:Edmonton

Matching Power
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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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10856457_10153365437296528_603459249230409363_oAn awesome practice on Sunday with Levi and Gerry. We focused on separation of movements/body function, finding the lines, taking and not losing space…just to name a few…Levi corrected our first 13 postures

Theory and practice of scissors power
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 14 min.   In: English   Year: 2015  Difficulty:2/5  At:Toronto

Scissors power
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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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Chen Zhonghua with Ronnie Yee in 2004 陈中华和余永安Last Sunday I made arrangements to have coffee then train with my elder disciple brother, Levi. He teaches Practical Method at The University of Iowa’s Chinese Martial Arts Club. We decided to train during his regularly scheduled class time as it provided a good space to practice. A new student arrived wanting to check out the class. Introductions were made. He was a visiting professor originally from China. After some discussion the gentleman disclosed he studied Hong Style Taijiquan for 7 years. Levi and I exclaimed that is the lineage we practice under our Shifu, Master Chen Zhonghua. He stated he studied under a disciple of GM Hong Junsheng and one of his grand-disciples, both Levi and I not having any knowledge of this Master. Read more

Theory and practice for finding space to move in during push hand.
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 51 min.   In: English   Year: 2014  Difficulty:4/5  At:Toronto

Move into empty space
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How to make connection in own body, and how to disrupt connection in opponent’s
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 14 min.   In: English   Year: 2014  Difficulty:2/5  At:Toronto

Adjust the Middle
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Upper Midwest Practical Method Gathering will occur at Mount Hosmer City Park in Lansing, Iowa.

We will cover Yilu, Erlu, and push hands. We will be meeting on 08/09/2014 at 5:30 am through 9:00 am and 7:00 pm through 9:00 PM.We will meet again the following morning on 08/10/2014 at 5:30 am through 9:00 am. Read more

A Taiji move has to be done with sub moves in different dimensions. This 65 minute video cover the Theory, Training and Application of this principle
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 65 min.   In: English   Year: 2014  Difficulty:2/5  At:Oakland

Dimensions: 5 Points
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Mini lesson on the importance of not moving the back, training for isolation of the arm by doing spiral movement.

Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 15 min.   In: English   Year: 2013  Difficulty:3/5  At:Oakland

Don't move the back
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The Drill

In the beginning of the video Master Chen demonstrates a drill that emphasizes separation.  This is the primary theme throughout this instructional video.  He stands with his back against the wall and has a student push against his torso.  Without moving his back, he easily brushes the student’s hand off.  He demonstrates this again, the wrong way, moving his back and shoulders, which then is unsuccessful at removing the student’s hands.  Master Chen then explains with out separation,   there is no yin and yang.  “The separation of yin and yang is very important!”

The Lessons to Remember

“Once there is yin and yang, the recombination of what yin and yang can do becomes unlimited!”

“The separation gives you yin and yang.  Once it is is separate, the recombined effort  is what we call in taiji whole body movement.  The body has to work as one unit, not one piece.”


GIF showing no seperation

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GIF showing yin and yang seperation

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GIF showing differences between no separation and seperation


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GIF Master Chen demonstrating the same principle of separation or isolated movements without the wall behind him


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GIF showing the difference between the shoulder tossing and the shoulder rotating in it’s socket (open hand represents the socket and fist represents the shoulder joint


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GIF demonstrating the drill once more

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At the end of the video as Master Chen was doing the drill, he said you must experience this Chuck (Charles Paoletti disciple #19)!  I met Chuck in 2013 and I can say with 100% accuracy, he is the biggest person I have met practicing Practical Method Taiji!  Master Chen’s point was that if you train this with a more powerful person, and you are able to move their hands off of you while doing the drill, you did it right, achieving yin and yang separation!

Please ask questions or make statements about what you learned from this video.













 By John Upshaw and Levi Sowers

The interaction occurring amongst the various elements of our body are numerous and complex.  This is especially true when applied to the movements, and thereof lack of movements, in Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method.  The purpose of this article is to provide a framework that will allow the reader to conceptualize the necessary movements that are congruent with the taiji principals, and inherent to the Practical Method system.  The 1, 2, 3 theory of taiji movements will be the framework for describing these internal relationships.  We hope that readers will be able to distinguish between what parts of the body moves from what does not move. When that is identified, then a clearer understanding of the lines that are stretched upon within oneself becomes more recognizable. Read more

1. Beginning. 2. Basic Energies in Taiji Applications. 3. 8 Techniques in Taijiquan. 4. Some Applications.
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 53 min.   In: English   Year: 2011  Difficulty:3/5  At:Daqingshan International Taiji Training Center

Taiji Applications 2011
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