Knowledge : Articles

This section contains serious articles on all aspects of taijiquan.

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Bees, Bubbles and Taiji

What’s common between all the above entities? You guessed it – Emergence!

Observing their behaviour shows how distinctly order emerges out of what looks like chaos when looked at superficially.

From work of bees in beehives and work of ants in colonies to swarming of birds or school of fish almost everything in nature display Emergent behaviour. All these earthly creatures act locally doing simple repetitive activities following a fixed rule but collectively they can overcome problems and perform complex feats.
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The Magic of Taiji 5

by Bhargav on 2020/04/04

MasterChenAndBhargav
Ever wondered why Taiji is so magical especially at the hands of true masters?
I first experienced that magic when I met Master Zhonghua Chen in Daqingshan on a warm July evening of 2012. Ever since that moment I have developed a fixation of sort to figure out what is behind that magic – it is so ever present in everything Master Chen does, it is impossible to differentiate between the magic and the magician! Read more

Energy Alignment 2

by Kelvin Ho on 2020/01/13

Energy path is the pathway that energy travels on. There are both a physical path and a virtual path for a given setup. For any three points in the body, they can form a triangle (unless they all fall into one straight line). For this discussion, let’s use right hand, left kua and left foot as the three points. As similarly discussed in this previous article, while the right hand and left kua form one physical (solid) line, and the left kua and left foot form another physical (solid) line, the right hand and left foot form a virtual (invisible) line. While the actual energy travels along the two physical lines, it can be viewed as if it travels on the virtual line.
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Real or Fake 7

by Travis Knaub on 2020/01/08

     Up until the 2019  seminar in Iowa I did not know my moves were fake. My moves imitated the real thing but were not real. They still are not what I want them to be, but now I have the tools to get me closer to the real thing. Master Chen showed me how to find the line.

      There is a line to be found in all Practical Method motions. The hand and elbow has to stay on track. A good way of understanding this is comparing the motion to a bi-folding door. There is a fixed end that does not move, the handle and the end that moves on the track. The shoulder is the fixed end, the elbow is the handle and the hand is the end that is on the track. The handle pulls the door open and pushes it shut. The end on the track does not perform the action. The elbow pushes and pulls the hand on the track. The hand never moves. This concept should eventually spread throughout the body. Master Chen explains this the best on the “Sydney 2014 Workshop 1” Online Video. This video contains a lot of valuable information.

     Currently I am working this concept in my yilu. I am also working on not moving the mid-line of my body as well as keeping a knee fixed during transitions. I have a long way to go, however thanks to Master Chen and the disciples at the Iowa summer training camp, I have the tools to get me where I need to be for the next time we meet up.

My current first 13

Intent i

by Kelvin Ho on 2019/11/20

Today, there was a discussion among some of the North American disciples on intent. What is it? What does it mean?

The discussion allowed me to solidfy a couple of things.
In 2019 Iowa Camp, shifu mentioned:

Spencer’s notes:
The camp’s lessons this time were pervaded by the idea of “intention”. Intention in PM is what we call “to lead”. For example, in the positive circle, the elbow in is the “lead” Intention has no meaning in itself, but it changes everything. I am starting to realize this is one of the reasons Master Chen’s form looks so much different than mine and I can never figure out why. Your eyes can only see movement. The act of leading translates to intention, and when intention is used, the action is different. In with elbow, turn at waist, out with hand… You have to be clear about those intentions. Say them aloud! When the intention is clear, you produce a very thin line. From one large thing, you pull out one dot. This is the concept of silk reeling. Read more

Guitar String i

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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Drilling Down 1

by Kelvin Ho on 2019/04/06

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

Foundations corrections

Positive circle correction (3-count):

  • Before I start the first positive circle the middle finger of the front hand must concentrate on a dot. The front middle finger is no higher than the eyebrow. The elbow and palm of the front hand are directed towards the floor. There is a stretch from the front middle finger to the rear foot. The front forearm is stretched and the front shoulder is pinned down (it does not move).
  • Keep wrists straight throughout.  Read more

20181225_103048~2Today, I trained with John Dahms. We discussed about creating a shell around ourselves to prevent ourselves from moving. Creating such a shell is only half of the equation, the other half is that we must stretch/expand the inside as much as possible. This is like a fight between containment and breakout. It is a conflict that we must find a resolution. I think of it as building up a bomb, and then doing a controlled release of the energy through a narrow tube aimed at the target. For this to work, the person doing the containment should be different from the person trying to break out, so that each person is not affected by the other person when performing the desired function. The difficulty comes when in reality there are no two people, but just myself. Ideally, I would be required to split myself into two. In actual practice, we need to use different body parts to perform these separate functions, so they don’t interfere with each other. These actions must be clear. Read more

What is Fajin? 2

by Kelvin Ho on 2018/12/01

Toronto Oct 13, 2018

Toronto Oct 13, 2018

Master Chen has stated before fajin is everything is in the correct place, add speed. How do we ad speed?
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Clarity 1

by Kelvin Ho on 2018/11/30

Toronto, Oct 23, 2018

Toronto, Oct 23, 2018

When I first heard Master Chen Zhonghua talk about clarity, he was referring to our movements which needed to be clear, meaning that if we wanted a body part to move in a particular way, no other body part should compete or be dragged into that movement. For hand-out, the hand must clearly be the leader, whereas for elbow-in, the elbow must clearly be the leader. When we practice yilu, we must learn to do it in a segmented way, like writing block letters rather than cursive. We must first establish a train track in our bodies, so our actions will cause our body parts to move along the track (in other words, according to specific principles). The opponent may be fooled by our actions, but we certainly must be very clear on what we tried to do. In practice, we must have a clear goal, so our practice is focused and can take us there.
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Beauty of Taijiquan i

by Kelvin Ho on 2018/04/22

KelvinHo_HollywoodSign

More and more I find that the beauty of the Taijiquan lies in its simplicity. Read more

KelvinHo_PiShenChui_20180112cIn the Ottawa Mar 24-25, 2018 workshop, Master Chen Zhonghua re-emphasized the importance of creating a differential. He mentioned that steam would always rise up through an opening in a pot, and water would always run down a fall. These are examples of having a differential. We don’t force the steam up or push the water down. It is the property of steam or water given the situation. As long as the particular situation happens, the steam or water will simply behave that way. Steam and water are examples of a differential in position. There are also timing differential, power differential, length differential, movement differential, etc.

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Rotation is the result of linear movements v2

Recently, I understand more about the statement:

“Rotation is the result of linear movements.”

Our actions are like on the tangent of a circle. The non-moving dot is the centre of the circle. Every linear action is very small. The direction changes all the time. The sequence of such actions along with non-moving dot cause the rotation. The actions are continued on top of each other, and they have a relationship with the non-moving dot. In the form, it is like dragging the flesh around some non-moving rod or dot. It is almost like someone pushes the arm on one side for elbow in, and someone else pushes the other side of the arm for hand out. This is related to the stretch that Master Chen Zhonghua showed on the inside or outside of the forearm. Another example is that if someone touches me in the front, I don’t move the front, but I stretch the back over or around that non-moving front.
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KelvinHoProfile1Yi (intent) is not just a thought. In my current understanding, yi describes an ability for your body to do a precise action as you command it to do. In other words, your body listens to your brain. It takes training to get to that state. Master Chen Zhonghua has said before, “the real intent is no intent”. Think about riding a bike as an example. After you have learned how to ride a bike, you don’t think about how to coordinate your hands and feet, how to balance, you only think about where to want to go. You appear to be able to do it with ease. For taijiquan, we need to train long enough to make an action habitual, so that we don’t think about it when we need it, and it just comes out.
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True Disciple i

by Kelvin Ho on 2017/08/04

Who is a true disciple?

A true disciple is someone who follows the teacher based on the principles of the teachings. When the teacher evolves in his understanding, a true disciple will do the same. Even if the teacher and the true disciple don’t see each other for an extended period of time, their evolutions will still head in the same direction.

Taiji Trinity

August 4, 2017

Principle: Separation of Yin and Yang Concept: Indirect Power Action: In with elbow no hand, out with hand no elbow. These are three ways of describing taiji. They are one and the same. Master Chen Zhonghua discussed the above during a Q&A session at the North American Practical Method Training Camp from Jul 29 to [...]

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Independent Movement

July 25, 2017

To link movements together is to become double heavy.  Instead of moving together, each body part must complete its’ designated role to complete a function.  Desynchronized synchronization – first we must learn how to take our body apart before we can put it back together.  Like a machine, the power only comes from every piece [...]

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Make your movements your own

June 6, 2017

Within Chen Style Taijiquan, an important aspect is that all our movements must be our own movements.  We never move as a result of an external stimuli.  This requires we bring extreme awareness to every body part – those which are moving and especially those which are non-moving.  When we go out with the hand, [...]

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Why the Teacher is Important

March 6, 2017

I had an interesting experience lately. I took singing classes with a professional classical singer. It was only one single event, but I learned two important things in those one and a half hours which are not only reflecting back on my Taijiquan but also on my life in general. Western Learning Methods Everything is [...]

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S-curve is really the circle

December 31, 2016
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Lever in “Second Closing”

July 11, 2016

Many years ago when I was just learning Yilu, I had questions about how the “Second Closing” (the move after fetch water) was done properly. I was just imitating the movement, the hand was waving from one place to another place. I had no idea where was the energy alignment in that particular move. Master [...]

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Choreography and Power

June 28, 2016

Instructor: Hugo Ramiro Location: Toronto Make sure you have annotations turned on for this youtube video. For those who do not have annotation, this is the content: “Choreography is the first thing we learn. If we stop there we have a form that is ‘empty’. After we learn the basic choreography we must input alignment [...]

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Enter the Dragon – Hong Kong 2015 Workshop Review

January 19, 2016

Nearing Christmas, under the bright festive lights of Hong Kong, K.T. Lin and Nicholas Fung (馮嘉傑) from the Hong Kong Chen Style Taiji Practical Method (香港陳式太極實用拳法) organized the year ending workshop with Master  Chen Zhonghua. On a mild weekend, more than thirty participants from Hong Kong, the Mainland, USA and Canada gathered to train with [...]

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Be Mr. Tombstone

January 16, 2016

  I had the good fortune of being able to attend the Autumn 2015 Ottawa Seminar with Master Chen. I was kindly offered the opportunity to bunk up with my Taiji brothers John and Brennan while I was there – one of the several things that made my trip possible at all. On the second [...]

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Practical Method Negative Circle 101

December 12, 2015

Negative circle is likely the second thing one learns in Practical Method.  The following are some starter instructions for a right-side negative circle: The right side is considered the front side, and the left side is consider the rear side. Find a line that is parallel to your chest on the ground. Put your right [...]

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Practical Method Positive Circle 101

December 6, 2015

Positive circle is likely the first thing one learns in Practical Method.  The following are some starter instructions for a right-side positive circle: The right side is considered the front side, and the left side is consider the rear side. Find a line that is parallel to your chest on the ground. Put your right [...]

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Learning Yilu…15,000 times and counting

October 17, 2015

When I first studied practical method in Nov. 2009, there were a few things that made a long lasting impression. They were: In with elbow no hand, out with hand no elbow. Don’t move Yilu, which is made up of only positive and negative circles. Many beginners including myself usually ask the following questions: How [...]

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Learning step one – comfortable in the dark?

October 10, 2015

Already some time ago now I had an interesting discussion with another person from Germany. There was one aspect showing up, which in principle could be very interessting for all of us who want to learn Taiji. Here and there Master Chen did point out that in Taijiquan (or at least our style of Taijiquan [...]

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Using mirror neurons to learn Taijiquan

July 21, 2015

Shifu Chen Zhonghua often emphasizes how to learn Taijiquan. This web site has a great article called 6 Methods of Learning Tai Chi. (Read this if you hav not already.) It expands and elaborates on Grandmaster Hong’s Look, Listen, Ask, practice method. I am working on a PhD in Exercise Science – Sports Biomechanics at Auburn University. A related field [...]

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Let the Principles Do the Talking or The Floor Becomes the Teacher

February 24, 2015

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 [...]

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Report on the Second Workshop (1/31/2015) in Irvine, California

February 5, 2015

After two and half month passed since my first trip to Irvine, I went back on January 31. This time, Edward came to join the group. We worked briefly on foundations. Mostly, I focused on teaching Yilu. Foundations are important. Yilu is the core. The more students know about Yilu, the more fun they can [...]

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Why cancer patients should follow T’ai chi for rejuvenation

February 4, 2015

From lowering stress to strengthening muscles, the Chinese marital art can help patients overcome the side effects of chemotherapy. Sensei Sandeep Desai@TAICHIINDIA http://www.dailyo.in/life/why-cancer-patients-should-follow-tai-chi-for-rejuvenation/story/1/1815.html

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About Challenges

February 3, 2015

What they are is simple: challenges!  This information is for the few who don’t know. The case of study used is the challenges that happened in Yishui, Shandong, China on Feb. 1, 2015. The two videos are included below for references. There are lots of comments at the youtube site where the videos are.

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What is your 2015 New Year Resolution?

December 31, 2014

This is mine. What is yours? Continue to watch my masters’ original videos and read their original writings. Teach sword and broadsword. Stay away from the corruption of the society and of the taiji world. This means I will not copy or forward anything from the web. Every word must come from my heart, from [...]

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There has to be real power

December 10, 2014

We must train to use a lot of power. If you want to learn how to move a big rock and you just go up to it and use your hands to tip it back and forth, you are wasting your life. You have to get a good grip on it and try to lift it. [...]

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The Light Body in Taiji

November 27, 2014

Lecture by Chen Zhonghua 25 November, 2014, DQS [This was a talk given over dinner here on the mountain. The article is a paraphrase based on my memory. ] In Taiji there is an idea of a nimble or light body quality. This quality commonly conjures images of clouds and light breezes. When practitioners of [...]

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Spiral Lines in the Body

March 27, 2014

I came upon this picture from Chen Xin book 陈氏太极拳图说 Illustrated Canon of Chen Taijiquan. It strikes me that the spiral lines is drawn carefully to go through the major joints. Spiral is the structure that allow to return incoming force outward, think of drill bits that extract material upward as it drill inward. Master [...]

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