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by Rick Pietila on 2019/10/12

Master Chen showing Rick Pietila how to align the rear elbow with the front hand

Master Chen showing Rick Pietila how to align the rear elbow with the front hand

Recently at a 2019 Toronto CA workshop hosted by Kevin Ho, Master Chen Zhonghua demonstrated and taught the participants a training drill that requires the starting position to have the rear heel off the floor and both hands in a double push position, chest high. While going over this drill and teaching to the finer more precise details, he offered that we students feel his back leg starting positions with our hands. One hand was to be placed on the ankle while the other on the inside thigh to feel the active tendons and muscles. He suggested that students pull or rake across these two areas to gain a better understanding of the physical requirements for the drill.  When I took my turn, pulling across these areas, something registered with me to the feeling of the amount of tension in the leg as well as what precisely for this move was being used to generate such great power, and speed.
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John Upshaw

  1. Gears on either side of spine move in opposite direction

The gears twist on either side of the spine and your intention along with where you are looking can send power in any direction you want. You can also add better control by also changing the percentage of each lever. with straight spine hold with front left qua use right hand across. them Opening qua to right

Power comes from restrictions, stretch to point of rotation, Movement is muscle., no movement is a lever

Every two ends have a fixed point rotate of two ends can cause the fixed point not to move

Drill – front stance right with bend arm in front of you at shoulder level. rotate left shoulder around and back while rotating front shoulder out and around to   squeeze energy through front arm into opponent. Be sure there is a restriction in your chest with a curvature that does not extend even though you stretch from your front shoulder to other shoulder as you perform procedure

When looking and observing understand and look at the 3 dimensions

Your volume is made up of your width, height and depth which is a 100%, through use of proper levers you add a small percentage for example adding lever in your shoulder of 3 percentage adds to your volume and you become 103% restrictions do the same like keeping the same shoulder height in a  move  where say you move forward. Another example of dimension is when moving forward only legs move not the body belly, the body is like a car the legs are the wheels

Your center cannot come out of the structure      In order to go forward with an arm you must either stretch up or down. Don’t lean

In front stance  Drop shoulder while rotating out and around also pop qua up in order to have energy more focused

Improve your form try first 13 doing this

For the first part of every move in the form, there is an internal power part with principles governing the 3 dimensions. the internal power that is required is like turning the handle on a door, once done opening the door is easier to continue.

2.       The yin and yang in practical method using a table saw and piece of wood as example.

The center of the saw is yin the blade is yang energy. The piece of wood close to saw is yang and the further piece is yin. It must move slowly to cut or it becomes a fight. if the blade is loosed it cannot cut straight.

Like a saw you need to move slowly. If you ae not locked with opponent it is like a loose saw. When done right the opponent feels different called a happy death. This happy death must be experienced many times to learn




  1. Opening qua to rotate

Step through opponent with front leg in front stance. Wrap arms around back onto shoulders. stay erect as you drop hip open and rotate either front or back kua without moving shoulders up or down. Do not stick ass out on way down


  1. Resolving opponent’s power by moving
    1. Use a window ledge and move back and forward dropping and rising without your hands leaving the ledge
    2. Hand’s are stationary on opponent you must resolve force by moving anything other than hands


  1. Front stance placing front hands on forearms both lock with power lock both sides of waist and move them


  1. Find opponent’s back and; locked point and then tap back
    1. opponent holds bent arm in front of them with other hand supporting structure roll back and lock either high back middle or lower back.
    2. First just hit opponents’ hand with your open hand. Notice power is in the front hand
    3. Now use your arm extension stretch to first get to the back. You will notice you have to stretch quite a way to get to the back
    4. Now try to notice if the upper back is locked (does not move) if upper moves include your chest in stretch to check middle lower. once found
    5. Execute tap to back by lightening extension on hand rotate left shoulder around and back while rotating front shoulder out and around to squeeze energy tap through front arm to their back

If the opponent is in a front horse stance you must tap the back on a 90 degree angle , so if their front foot is right then your arm tap is a left. You must also have a straight line to their not moving dot.
5.    Moving backward against wall

Stand about 2 inches from the wall your arms are in front of you elbows bent down hands point forward

  1. Move your back (lower shoulder blade area) back against the wall. Do this a few times
  2. Now once your back hits cause your fingers to go out, before moving forward arms are locked, if someone in front of you fingers extend to upper chest just below thyroid


6 stretching hands and fingers through to Achilles heel

Structural restrictions

-        Left foot forward straight leg from foot to knee. Arms in front of you elbows down, wrist and hands forward. Back right leg bent and you are on the ball of the foot. Back is straight


-        Stretch from wrist to fingers down chest from inside of back hip through to Achilles heel. All stretches are at same time. Notice you separate at waist if done right

With opponent

Use opponent’s bent arm to align hands the separation at the bottom of you causes them to react. If nothing happens lower shoulders without moving

Related drills

  1. Walk doing above by stepping front, drop hip half step up     and release
  2. Use opponent in front of you


7 stretching around opponent

Both you and opponent hold biceps now drop back hip and fill it

Twist front hip toward them as your arm rotate the other direction around them

Or from twist simply cut them by moving elbow in opposite direction as hip



8 stretching around opponent using one hand

  1. Step in behind opponent front leg
  2. Catch opponent with front elbow, elbow to hand is raised
  3. Extend arm straight the way it is pointed
  4. Rotate shoulder back at fingers back around your back


9 rotate  the shoulder

Drill 1A  twisting towel

Start in stance use the heel , knee going back and hip coming forward to move arm. When meeting resistance roll shoulder around from blade which causes you to go under


Drill 1 B  locked arm

Opponent pushes your forearm and elbow to lock it against your body. Roll your shoulder  to get under them


When practicing yilu:

  1. Put myself inside a fixed sized box.
  2. Pull against the sides of the box coming into dantian.
  3. Push against the sides of the box going out of dantian.

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Participants of the Vienna Workshop with Master Chen Zhonghua in 2019
So we were doing lots and lots of six sealings four closings exercises at the end of the Vienna Workshop. I was leading the group and counting. Then, at #476 something in my hip cracked open. A rush of pure energy run through my body and I felt like a conductor between heaven and earth, and then … Read more


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Instructor: Master Chen Zhonghua
Date: Mar 7-10, 2020

I was asked to write a post about my overall experience with Practical Method up to this point, so I’ll try my best to put those experiences into words. My first live experience with Practical Method was during the Toronto seminar with Master Chen Zhonghua in March of 2019. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to train on and off with both Kelvin Ho and Hugo Cascoduro (depending on my work schedule), with most of this post addressing the live push hands and applications portion of the training.

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Probably the biggest thing had to do with the learning process: The questions that arise in my mind are usually off topic and I think their purpose is to distract me from paying full attention to what Master Chen is teaching at the moment.  By asking them out loud I’m distracting everyone else too.  My mind doesn’t want to give up control.
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Comments on 2019 North American Practical Method training camp

From my perspective, this year’s training camp was outstanding! I came with the thought that I had progressed a lot but after a short time I realized (as usual) I have so much to learn. I am basically a very beginner but I can see that each time I attend a function with Master Chen I can get a little better grasp of what he is teaching.
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I am an interpreter from Inner Mongolia, I continued to learn practical method for third time during the month of July .I felt honored to learn with Shabar from New York and Mike from France.
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Notes from Day 1, Phoenix Practical Method Workshop
These are pretty rough, just short statements.

Every movement needs to have intent and some reference. When we do taiji we need intent. Taiji is governed by yin yang.

We need to see what is really there. Usually we think we see but that is not what is really there.
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I moved out of Vienna and I‘ve been thinking how I could offer Practical Method classes here in Lower Austria. In Vienna I started a group from scratch, together with Fabian. But with three kids now and a full time job I simply have no resources to start a group this way. “There must be a better method” I thought. And, as is often the case at the country side, my neighbor helped me out.
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basic_1For more than a year now, Sven Gusowski from Practical Method-Berlin visits us each monday at our office at Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) to do fifteen minutes of basic foundations exercises. We basically do variations of the positive circle and learn movements that can be easily repeated at home or anywhere.
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Push Hands was demonstrated at 2019 Canadian Cultural and Martial Arts Festival

How Practical Method has helped my arthritis

June 18, 2019

I am 64 years old and have been on long-term disability for over 10 years due to a form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). I previously studied and practiced several external martial arts and they all eventually made my AS symptoms worse. I have had the disease my whole life but only diagnosed in [...]

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Practical Method Yilu Performance on June 8, 2019

June 10, 2019

Yilu Performance at 2019 Canadian Cultural and Martial Arts Festival

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Kelvin Ho Taiji Sword on June 8, 2019

June 9, 2019

Kelvin Ho performed Taiji sword at 2019 Canadian Cultural and Martial Arts Festival on June 8, 2019.

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Practical Method Class at York University

June 5, 2019

I am teaching Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method at Martial Arts Club @ York University. This is an introductory course, which will cover a taste of foundations, form, application drills and push hands. Class Info: Date: Wednesdays, June 5-26, 2019 Time: 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm Location: Room 202 of Vanier College (#56 on the [...]

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Edmonton Class Schedule 2019

May 15, 2019

Location: 5222-86 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Phone: 780-413-0454

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Toronto 10th Anniversary Workshop Sep 7-10, 2019

May 15, 2019
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Practical Method Chicago

May 3, 2019

Spencer Jones is teaching in Chicago

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Poland Workshop 2019 Impressions

May 1, 2019

You can also see a few pictures here.

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600 Yoga Block Fetch Waters A Day

April 11, 2019

While I was still living in Hong Kong, I have started with 300 a day.  John Upshaw and I have been exchanging and we decided 3 months ago to increase it to 600 a day – 3oo per leg, and log our sets on Facebook.  We promised to do this until July 24.  This is [...]

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Drilling Down

April 6, 2019

This week, I found myself able to drill the opponent down causing him to eventually fall vertically to the ground.

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Vienna – Austria! Workshop with Master Chen Zhonghua in Vienna 20./21. March 2019

March 14, 2019

Dear Tai Chi – enthusiasts and those interested! Master Chen Zhonghua is coming for the third time to Vienna to show and share his skill in Tai Chi. The workshop is made for those without any knowledge about the art as well as advanced students of Tai Chi and will grant deep insights in the [...]

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“Federick Wong Yilu Correction (First 13 Moves)” Online Video Purchase

March 10, 2019

Presenter: Kelvin Ho   Length: 28 min.   In: English   Year: 2018  Difficulty:1/5  At:Toronto

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March 2 to 5th Workshop Notes

March 10, 2019

The following are highlights of my workshop notes workshop March 2 to 5th. I have tried to organize them into categories so I could better relate them.  I did not capture everything  Workshop notes: All Questions Should be asked in order to bring clarity: Hear It , See it, Feel It – the 3 questions [...]

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Toronto Workshop, Day 2, March 3, 2019 – Mike’s Notes

March 3, 2019

We are here because we’re humans, not animals. Everything is like loose sand. Among the sand, some things might have a spark. There’s nothing wrong with sand, and nothing wrong with other ways of moving, such as other forms of martial arts or football. It just depends on what you want. Master Chen is looking [...]

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Night of Push Hands: Match Schedule and Scores

March 2, 2019

Click to see match schedule and scores.

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Toronto Workshop 2nd March 2019 day 1 afternoon session notes

March 2, 2019

Drill #Yilu move 1 Jin Gang Dao Dui

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Open and close the kua

March 2, 2019

My attempt to recount what Master Chen said the morning of 3/2/2019 at the Toronto workshop

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Toronto workshop 2nd March 2019 Day 1 morning notes

March 2, 2019

#Foundation instructions 3 count positive circle -maintain equal size in all 3 counts -initially how you feel and shape doesn’t matter -count 1 & 3 is easy, 2nd is difficult

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Notes for Practical Method Toronto Workshop Mar 2-5, 2019 – Kelvin Ho

March 1, 2019

Day 0 Fetch Water Put my front knee against the bench. My front knee should be on top of my front heel. Make my fetch water action much, much, much bigger. Only when there is size, it becomes useful. My action is way too small, Master Chen told me the same at the last workshop [...]

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Master Chen Zhonghua’s fifth workshop in Poland. Gdynia, April 6-7, 2019

February 16, 2019

Detailed information and registration here. Welcome to Gdynia! See also impressions of 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 workshops in Poland.

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Kelvin Ho Chinese New Year Taiji Performance 2019

February 12, 2019

Kelvin Ho was invited to perform at Yee Hong Chinese New Year Celebration on Feb. 12, 2019.

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Kelvin Ho Straight Sword on Feb 10, 2019

February 10, 2019
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