Chen style Taijiquan December 2009 Puerto Rico Workshop Review and Notes

by Xavier Santiago on 2009/12/20

As every time I receive instructions from my Shifu, Chen Zhonghua, I understand more that what he has always talked about is one principle that is applied in countless ways.  I used to think it was many principles that he talked about in his workshops, but now I realize that it is just one principle which I will work for my entire life to understand and perfect.   We are working in allowing our body to be able to rotate at the joints.  This rotation causes movement which can be applied martially in many ways. We should never think that we understand the principle, but always work on perfecting it. Otherwise, we will think that we know and shut our minds off to further learning.  Jiebenggong is not just for beginners, it is to be always practiced and perfected as long as we live.  It is the key to making breakthroughs to the next levels.

Positive and negative circle:  In with the elbow, turn the waist, and out with the hand.  It is that simple, and I should never add anything to those instructions. Everything else adapts to the focus of movement. When we go out with the hand, the shoulder pushes towards the opposite foot.  It doesn’t matter if I move the upper waist to turn or the waist connected to the kua, but what is important is that the incoming force in the first part of either the positive or negative circle can go to the opposite foot. Unmovable points make you powerful.  I am in the process of eliminating kua horizontal back and forth tossing.  Push out with the foot as if I am lifting a heavy object.  The kua and knee push down to the foot. They do not go up with the push.  Push onto the dantien and that will cause the force of the push to transfer to the opposite foot.  There is a point on the forearm that does not move and the arm rotates around it.

Make various contact points on the opponent.  Yilu should be practiced fragmented.  Do it fragmented for 7 years.  You don’t miss a spot.  Don’t move the hand. The hand is a tool only moved by some other body part.  When you hold a hammer, it does not move on its own.  Your arm has to move it.  Same with the hand. It becomes a tool held and moved by the body’s rotation in the joints.  The foot as a power source draws its power from the earth.

Look for the opponent’s waist.  Do not fight the contact point.  Don’t let the opponent put a surface in you.  Your opponent can only touch a dot.  When you have a fixed point (the front knee) the pulling power goes forward.  Moving the front knee makes everything go backwards.  One point yin and one yang at the same time.

1st level of training- Move within the frame.  Within the dimension to experience what your opponent is doing.  You try to match.  That way you know what the opponent does.  That is all you get in this phase.  It has nothing to do with sensing or listening to your opponent as it is commonly taught by others.  You need to know why your opponent’s energy moves.  It is within the same frame.

2nd level of training- Later you get out of the frame. And other people can’t fight you.  You need to find the place where you are not in the frame.  Find holes in your opponent.  People are full of holes.  You’re out of the box and keep the opponent in the box.

3rd level of training- You return it to the opponent. You change so you can defeat your opponent.  Push the opponent the wrong way and they are stronger.  Push the right way and you wont believe it (it does not feel strong).  No power is felt.  There is no pushing action with the hand.  Pulling and stretching and rotation cause the pushing effect.  Think of shoe laces.  They are strong when you pull on the loops, but the ends are week and easily pulled.

Need to train to remember where that part is.  It’s remembering, trying to make sense, and you need to listen to those who know.  You can’t find it on your own.  You need to learn to push the button.  You need to follow the rule in order to push the button.  Rules are taught by he who knows the button, where it is, and how to push it.

Building a car is not as important as running it.  You don’t need power, just follow the rules.  If you follow independent rules and not follow the rule you will be wrong.  You will never get it.

Shifu talked about an analogy of a light bulb and a car found by an ancient primitive society.  When someone from our time explains who to turn on the light by pushing the switch or turning on the car, the ancient people will not understand and think it is supernatural what they saw.  To them it is witch craft.  Instead of doing what is simple and turning on the switch or the key, people want to take it apart to see how it works.  When they destroy the car or the light bulb, then they say “see, that will never work”. It does not work because they did not follow the rules, which are simple.

You can fight the opponent if you do not get involved. In Taiji you get the opponent by things they can not understand.  To do that you need to be out of the box and keep the opponent in the box.

If you compare Taiji to something else (like another martial art or movement exercise), then you will only see what you did before; but you will not see Taiji. People tend to only accept what they are currently doing.  They can’t accept anything different.

The only Taiji principle is separation of Yin and Yang.  It is in a different place in every move.  Only think of separation if Yin and Yang.  You don’t know what piece it is.  Cut and stretch is a separation. Push it and there is never separation.  It’s very important to understand concepts clearly. Separation of Yin and Yang make your opponent feel uncomfortable. Same size power in the opposite direction cuts the center.  That is Shigong Hong’s ability.  At the beginning its Yin and Yang separation.  Later it is how clear you separate.  Highest level is how precise your separate.  If you pull, you can never be off.

There is only one answer to your questions, and that is to stretch.  Any other action distorts.  Stretch without thinking and you are never off.  That is being one with the Tao.

The Key word is ZHÙAN GŪAN.  It means to turn and pass the guarded gate.  It means you can go to the other side of the gate without talking to the guard. In English it is a paradigm change.  Look for the mysterious spot that controls life.  Mysterious spots that control you in life.  Remove those spots and become immortal.  Zhùan Gūan is to come out of that box.  In Taiji it is a physical turn.  A door hinge has clear separation of Yin and Yang.  To be a door hinge it’ll take years of training.

Make the opponent’s distance always be off.  If you have phobia of your opponent, you will always loose. Your body will move incorrect.  We power up without the use of muscles.  How physical you are in replicating the moves just the way it is important. Later you need open mindedness.  You need physical structure first before open mindedness.

The hand never comes towards you.  Elbow is always behind the hand.  People are rootless trees.  Never be flat footed while doing your circles.  In your circles one foot is on hee l and one on tip in order to rotate. Also one foot is in the lateral edge while one is on the medial edge (medial and lateral are anatomical terms I added for distinguishing the inside and outside edges of the feet).

All body parts are powered at all times.  Even when a car goes down hill it is still powered.  Power must be removed from the power point (point of contact).  The further the power is removed from the point of contact the higher the level.  It is all rear foot power. Power far removed, kick the rear foot, and your opponent shouldn’t see it.

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