May 26, Fulltime Edmonton Note

by Xavier Santiago on 2008/05/27

There is a difference between being on and off.  On refers to that point where everything is aligned.  When your opponent pushes against that point there is power against the push.  Off is lack of proper alignment and therefore the off points have no power.  At the beginning we train to develop the on point.  Later we will learn how to stay “on” and move. Do the forms and the circles repeatedly without being too technical.  The technical details are added slowly after many repetitions.  At the beginning we seek to imitate. Negative circle:At the end of the circle the hand goes out as we rotate to the other side and then we pull in the elbow to the ribs.  When doing the negative circle there is a point in the part of the back near the arm doing the circle that does not move.  It is locked while everything behind that point rotates. Practice the circles with my back to a wall where my back can never stop touching the wall.  This forces the kua and the waist to rotate instead of twisting.  Twisting has no power. First move of the first Block Touching Coat in Yi Lu:Left hand is a negative circle which follows the principle of going out and then pull the elbow in. First move of Step Back to Double Shake the Feet in Yi Lu: Right hand doesn’t move forward or backward, it only rotates as space is created by stepping back and removed when cross stepping.  Left hand is a negative circle.  Again, at the end of the circle the hand goes out and then you pull in with the elbow. There is no pushing in Taijiquan, only pulling.  That is the internal martial arts ability of Taijiquan.  Every movement on the opponent feels like if pulled from behind. Learn to lock portions of the opponent’s body in order to pull other parts.  The opponent will feel greater force on him/her.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

xsantiago May 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Today we did 11 Yi Lu back to back. In all moves in Yi Lu there are no retreating moves. We worked on the concept of locking the body part that is farther away from the point of contact. As we do the circles only one kua moves at a time. When moving the next kua you never release the other kua. No body part ever releases.

Locking the arm:

As the opponent pushes on your extended arm, you lock the hand with your fingers pointing at the opponent’s center. You then lock the elbow. The shoulder aims at the opposite hip and locks. The front of the body is totally locked. Only the rear foot can move pushing out the opponent. The opponent should feel not as if pushed, but as if pulled from behind.

Pull down exercise:

As the opponent does a pull down on your arm, you aim the hand being pulled down on that same direction, and without moving that hand you step the opposite foot in the other direction. This throws the opponent backward. It creates a split action.


James Tam May 28, 2008 at 9:29 am

Thank you for sharing your notes and experience.


xsantiago June 2, 2008 at 10:02 pm

James, you are very welcome :cheer:

Well, here are some more notes:

Concept of levers in the body- in order for there to be levers in the body you need fixed points that are locked, but rotate. The middle point between those fixed points is movable. Master Chen demonstrated the point with an old sewing machine in his home. The peddle that powers the machine is locked, but can rotate. the peddle acts on a wheel which has 2 locked points that only rotate and a middle movable point. There is a line that is maintained between the locked points, though there is no actual physical line. The peddle moves the middle point of the wheel, and the wheel then powers the machine. This was a example of what we want to accomplish with our bodies through the practice of Taijiquan.

Positive circle:

The hand does not move, it is locked and can only rotate. the elbow causes the rotation without lifting it. Shoulder aims down at the dantien and never raises. Shoulder and hand are the fixed points, and the elbow the movable point. Keep the hand locked and aimed at the opponent when powering up. Front kua faces the opponent. Lower body is locked. Push with the opposite foot and don?t let the knee move. Knee pushes to the foot without moving. Force goes to the back kua which is locked and transfers force to the front kua. Front kua locks and transfers force to the front shoulder. Shoulder locks aiming to the dantien. Front elbow powers out with the hand leading. Elbow causes the hand to rotate. Opponent is “pushed” out.

Creating fixed points in the body allow you the create levers which power your taiji techniques.

Keep all those technical details in mind, but it is important that you practice everyday without thought of right or wrong. Your circles and forms improve with time the more you do them. Keep the details and corrections in mind without them stopping you from just doing the forms and circles.


xsantiago June 2, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I almost forgot this important lesson. When I go back and practice repeatedly my circles and forms and I start feeling my body is doing different things during my practice, I will completely ignore those feelings and just keep practicing. Master Chen compares it to you driving down the road and suddenly you hear a noise on the side and drive off the road towards that noise. That would not be good at all! The same applies to our practice. Otherwise my forms and circles may deviate into incorrect movements which may feel good, but are still incorrect.

I will just keep practicing and doing repetition after repetition keeping in mind that I eventually want to look like what Master Chen says the form and circles should look like. More corrections will come in time, but if there is no continuous practice and repetition there is nothing to correct.


xsantiago June 5, 2008 at 9:13 am

Movements in Taijiquan must go over the center.

More Kua corrections:

When the back kua rotates it actually rotates in the opposite direction to the hand and that pushes the elbow and hand down as the shoulder is going down.

Yi Lu:

Follow the 6 harmonies. Shoulder/Kua, Elbow/Knee, and Hand/Foot must all be on the same line. These aligned pairs are on the same side of the body.


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