Cannon Fist Workshop – Final Notes

by Rion Swanson on 2010/08/03

Below are my notes from all the remaining days of the seminar:

lower body = earth

upper body = heaven

earth –> time (past, future, present)

heaven –> no time (realm of the immortals: no past, no future, only present)

Legs (lower body) must follow time (can only move forward).

Arms (upper body) do not obey rules of earth (are in the realm of heaven) so can move back and forward – but arms don’t actually move backward because legs are moving whole body forward (so hands only move backward in relation to body) but not in space.

Grand Silk Reeling exercise  – keep the line.

Metered movement

– increase power exponentially

-even if you can do just 1%, you’ll be amazing

(based on diagram where A is a stepped line, and B is a diagonal line)

Both A and B travel the same distance but, B will take (1 min.), A will take (2 mins.)

ex: drop hip kua as your arm moves in and out in a positive circle

Seek the straight line in the circle. Without the straight line, there is no power. A circle is made of a straight line.

Whenever you power it has to be straight; whenever you don’t power you have to be curved.

No more recoiling in the end. You never get your power from bending, you get your power from stretching.

Taiji eliminates velocity from your actions. Power comes from speed that’s innate in the structure.

You use speed differently in the external vs. internal martial arts. External uses speed to gain/use momentum. Internal martial arts is very similar to anti-tank/armour-piercing bullet.

Taiji uses speed to take you there (to get in).

Ji and An always work together. An = to push causing a separation. Most people do Ji and believe it is An (I stand there, you move).

At the beginning your techniques never relate to the principle.

Use speed to get in – then you seek the relationships between 2 points.

Your opponent is ‘the ball’. Master Chen will always go through the centre. (based on diagram of a sphere/ball with a centre point. Distance from any outside point to the centre is always the same).

We want to be proportional (this is structural strength).

Without training, you always overextend, you just don’t know it. (ex: hand/palm turning up to face ceiling in Cloud Hands). Keep rotation to 45 degrees; if you go past 90 degrees you can be pushed over.

The difference between right and wrong is only a hairline away (so close it’s basically imperceptible/very hard to see).

The true nature of Taiji is how empty it is.

Chen Taiji Practical Method is a seed. The seed is the transmission. Ex: plant the seed of a watermelon and you are never going to get an african violet.

If you are on the topic, you have already lost. (ex. teaching kids about drugs being bad). Dimensional thinking. Positive and negative are on the same dimension. Ex: problem = punch to your face. Don’t try to solve the problem of his/her punch…just kick! If he applies horizontal power, apply vertical power! Master Chen is stronger than you(student) because he is never in your dimension. This is called “I am always where my opponent is not.”

In negative circle, make sure your rear shoulder does not move. 1. Initially everyone is doing the front arm movement more or less correctly, but the back shoulder moves. 2. then, in trying to stop moving the rear shoulder, the front arm movement becomes too straight and stiff. 3. finally, we need the proper arm movement from 1 and no shoulder movement from 2.

Partner can help by holding shoulder back by simply placing fingers in front hollow of shoulder (shoulder’s nest?). Also, make sure chest/front is hollowed so energy goes down to rear heel.

All movements on top will be horizontal; all movements on bottom will be vertical. Right now we have horizontal movement on top and bottom. Ex: car bumper hitting you. The bumper goes forward horizontally but the wheels rotate downward.

Actions are always on a ‘T’. (diagram of a T with 45 degree angle or vector arch going from bottom of T to top right end of the crossbar). Vector power. Opponent will never feel local power, they will only feel vector power.

In Taiji there is no neutralization; there is no head-on.

Movement must be proportional.

If you split the power equally it will be bigger. If you split it unequally it will feel smaller than it was originally.

total rotation = proportional movement = do not have double heavy moves = always stretch

To avoid double heavy, power must be split.

In Yang style Taiji, the keyword is ‘stare down’ your opponent’s centre. In our method we are trying to split ourselves (then our opponent can’t).

If you have your centre, you will have your opponent’s centre (they are one and the same).

18-25 yrs old = Taiji competition style fighting. Avoid doing this because you’re too old for it anyway. It is a good sport but don’t chase this goal of competitive techniques. Learn to feel the principles.

Push a wall exercise. You learn to feel energy go from hand/wall down to your foot. ‘T’ in wall exercise. adjust body (shoulders sunk) in order for energy to move downward to feet/floor. Rear knee must not go forward (toward wall), otherwise your body will collapse onto the wall. Wall exercise gives you the finger energy. Small finger movement has power of whole floor/earth behind it.

Anywhere energy gets trapped is a flaw.

In Cannon Fist you must learn to separate fist and elbow. Ex: elbow must move faster (inward) than fist in order to do the (second last?) move in the form (Cannon Exploding in the Den).


Thank you very much Master Chen and Allan for putting on another excellent workshop. The details about proper alignment of the movements of the Cannon Fist and Foundations was so valuable to learn!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Khamserk August 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Wicked notes Rion! Sounds like a good week.


Anonymous August 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Thanks. Yes it was awesome!


Allan Belsheim August 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

Again, Rion, I must compliment you on your notes and posting them here so quickly. They are very good and explain the essence of what we tried to teach. Keep up the good work and best wishes teaching while I am away.


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