Cannon Fist Workshop – Day 3 Notes

by Rion Swanson on 2010/07/28


-Talking about stretching to attain proper structure: Chemicals/toxins deposit in your ‘corners’. Eliminate all corners/creases and create the arch. No power. Structure!

At first when you do this (properly expanding and stretching into any position within the form), you’ll feel totally exhausted and will feel the need to sit down and never get up! This is not like the normal notion of exhaustion (as in the tiredness from the seminar yesterday or the exhaustion from running a marathon).

“Learn to be efficient”. Always lengthening.

There is no push (push leads to muscle activation). Only stretch. The intent must not be to push. Instead, lengthening, stretching.

Master Chen’s instructions are Taiji. But when you think you are doing Taiji you are doing something else. Simply follow instruction..

Structure is very important.

Intention is very important.

Make ‘angel wings’ (scapula) disappear. Eliminate protrusions (elbows sticking out, pointed armpits, shoulder blades, etc.). An interesting quote I heard mentioned by someone this morning from some past class: “Let the dogs eat your shoulders!”

“Power is always removed from where power is”.

(Based on a diagram): Your own body = double lock (locked in place); Your opponent = single lock (on a track). The point connected to (in between) the double lock and single lock is called  ‘Total freedom without freedom’.

The notion of ‘Empty your cup’ is false. To empty your cup from a Taoist point of view is not possible. Children still have the capacity to learn. Open up your capacity to know. What is, is.

The most important thing in our life is timing. Everything has a time (ex: the four seasons). Another example is when kids learn about sex and molestation before they need to know. There are things you should not know. In the west, it is the ‘right to know’ – this can be damaging. If you learn about something too early, it may have drastic negative effects on you for your entire life. Traditionally Taiji was taught incrementally because the belief was that if you were given more information than you needed to know, you could not learn. To learn you must keep things fresh. If you are told/taught something, your mind brings in a concept of what you already know instead of learning the new.

Whenever you bring a body part in line, it never breaks any of the Taiji rules.

A common translation of Ji is ‘Press’. This is incorrect.  Ji means to squeeze (as in ‘taking up space’). The example used was of a sponge expanding and filling the space.

‘Knees move up and down’ means the knees don’t move.

Example of fists rotating on fixed points was used to describe how parts of the body move ‘up and down’. As the fists rotate, you can tell because you see the knuckles moving up and down, yet the fists have not moved out of their fixed points in space.

There are actually only 7 techniques, not 8. All  7 moves/techniques (Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao) are based on concept of Peng.

For reference, the Eight Hand Techniques are listed as:

1. Peng

2. Lu – rollback

3. Ji – squeeze/taking up space (this is critical to Taiji)

4. An – push

5. Cai – tear

6. Lie – split-break

7. Zhou – elbow strike (?)

8. Kao – hitting with any part of body

No part of the body can move. Each part must do some type of rotation though.

Kua cannot move, but can fully rotate (called ‘open’). – like a ball bearing in a socket.

Finger can only aim at opponent.

For most people, dantian rotation is to ‘wiggle’ -this is 100% wrong. Dantian rotation is Kua rotation.

In the class, do Taiji only. Avoid even doing warm-ups in the class. This is psychology in terms of how people relate to their practice. Whatever you do in the studio comes into the system.

Taiji Foundations consist of positive and negative circles, and combinations of these. (Single pos. and neg. circles; twisting the towel; drawing water from the well; Six Sealing Four Closing; double negative circles; double negative circles [Punch Covering Hand version]).

From a Taoist point of view, it is important to not discuss, not conclude, and not analyze.

There is (typically/mostly?) no learning. There is only confirmation. Ex: You only read those things you agree with. You do not even see the things you disagree with. How then do you learn?

“The ‘internalness’ is the intent”. (Relating to internal martial art).

“The intent is when there isn’t any intent”. Ex: The intent in steel is not the same as the intent in mud. The intent is built into the steel, but the steel does not know of its intent. Keep training until you have the structure. The intent is built into you. Every part works the way it was designed.

When you think you push, you never push (your mind thinks you’re pushing but nothing in your body is actually pushing). Taiji is resolving those paradoxes.

Train the structure.

Taiji used to be called ‘long fist’ (it still trains long energy/power). Ex: long energy  vs. short energy. Wing Chun may be an example of short energy/’short fist’.

Design of the Yilu and Erlu: Practical Method says 81 moves in the Yilu. Others say 83 moves in the Yilu (a beginning and end move are added to the form). 9 x 9 = 81. 9 is the highest number (from Taoist point of view). 3 is the basic number in Taiji. 9 is infinity in Taiji and is also therefore equal to 0. The Yilu is a yin system. A yin number must be complemented by a yang number. 81 is the ultimate yang number complement. Within the Cannon Fist/Erlu, every move is a yang move. This is complemented with yin structure. The Erlu has 64 (8 x 8 ) moves. 64 is the highest of yin. The structure of the form (yin) brings tranquility.

Centre/torso must be strong always. Only then can the limbs be loose in the Cannon Fist routine.

Without the key there is no understanding. With the key you can unlock the code. (Relating to direct learning from a lineage master).

‘Out’ is stretch (expansion). ‘In’ is reverse stretch (contraction/compression). A coil opens and closes but is always on the same line.

If you look like everyone else you are 100% wrong. If you look different, you may be right or you may be wrong.

‘Taking up space’ – one analogy (Master Hong) used to describe this was making a cast of your foot. It fits so perfectly to your foot that even if one single grain of sand gets in, you’ll be terribly irritated. Alternately, if you have a loose shoe and many grains of sand get in, it won’t bother you much because the sand can get pushed into the corners.

Boiling water analogy: From 0 degrees to 99 degrees = 0%. Only at the boiling point of 100 degrees will you have it (Taiji). This does not mean that the effort is wasted, even though it is useless at this time. One day it will change and push from 99 to 100 degrees! Keep this in mind when training. You could think of it as the 2 gears: even at 99 degrees, the 2 gears may be touching but still not interlinking. Only at 100 degrees will the gear sprockets interlink and then work properly.

As for learning, you will not be able to apply these intellectual understandings into practice right away, but over time you’ll be able to feel these things, then you’ll remember what Master Chen was saying and you’ll understand the meaning.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Khamserk July 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Nice notes Rion! They are a great reiteration of many of the concepts that Master Chen has been talking about on Daqingshan. I don’t manage to record everything he says so thanks for putting the ideas down here!


Anonymous July 29, 2010 at 2:46 am

Thank you again Rion. great notes


Allan Belsheim July 29, 2010 at 6:16 am

Thanks very much for being able to share your notes, Rion. It is excellent to see what we have just learned from Master Chen posted as a reminder and allows us to hold these concepts closer.


Jay July 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

Great notes! Thanks for sharing 🙂


Gene July 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Hi Rion,

Thanks for sharing these notes. They are great!


Peter Fu July 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Thank you Rion! Excellent notes!


Leave a Comment
Leave a comment on the content only. For admin issues, please click the "contact" button on the top left.

Previous post:

Next post: