Taiji S Line Online Video Lecture

by John Upshaw on 2010/11/23

Taiji  S-Line Online Video Class

 I will cover this video in segments As a means of breaking it down in digestible pieces. In this first section I will outline the elements that are important for the foundational setup of the S line. This includes stretches, power a differential and levels of taiji movements. In the following segment I will get more into detail about the S line and how it functions.
 Don’t move your hand:
Master Chen uses the rubber cord attached from his rear foot to his front hand. Both the hand and the rear foot our end fixed points that create a line.  When you push the other body parts onto the line, the line becomes longer.
SmartSelect_20200923-221321_MX Player Pro
In the GIF above, Master Chen demonstrates everything going on to the line. At the end of the gift he shows the loss of power when you go off that line.
How much power is not dependent on muscle, it is dependent on one thing, when something is added to the stretch, how much you can retain the two ends of the stretch.
In the picture above the student maintains a stretch at the 2 ends.
Power is a Differential:
 Master Chen stated that we want to go through the precision route. That there is no movement.  We maintain our stretch while adding, “one added grain of sand will blow the whole thing up.”
In the picture Master Chen adds a stretch.  The more the student maintains the 2 ends of the original stretch, more power is produced.
Levels of Taiji Movements:
1.  Movements
2. Rotations
3.  Connections
4. Precision
5. Intent
If you are able to turn your movements into rotations then it will cause connections. These connections become alignment. The alignment merges toward purpose, which is aim. The intent is very small movements. It is empty.
The levels of taiji movements are sequential. You can assess where you are at 1 through 5.



This is a record of the Edmonton Workshop on Nov. 21, 2010 by Master Chen Zhonghua. The main focus of this video is the S energy line. Master Chen discussed and taught this topic with 70 minutes of exhaustive examples and exercises. Many related topics and exercises are covered in this video.
Author: Chen ZhongHua   Length: 70 min.   In: English   Year: 2010  Difficulty:4/5  At:Edmonton

Taiji S Line
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

greadore November 23, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Wow, I’m like a kid in a candy store. This is great. The circles are starting to make sense now as well as the demarcation lines. I can see why we don’t want the knees/body to move. The energy goes over the back and the hands don’t move. The rear foot and kua are key! The rear foot and kua are key! Keeping strength from the front hand is going to be tough. Now if only I can find someone to practice on.

Master Chen, one question. Is it fair to say that it is really the rear kua dropping (the rear kua causing the knee to be pushed down) and thus causing the rear foot to push into the ground that is key/important rather than just thinking of the rear foot pushing into the ground?

Thank you!

Gary Readore


Chen Zhonghua November 23, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Let me just say that right now you have found the key. This is the first step. The second step is to use this key. To learn to use this key, it is more than just twice as difficult as finding it.
1. Once you decide on a demarcation line, anything in front of it must remain PASSIVE all the time. This does not mean it has no power. It means it cannot have active power. Anything behind the demarcation line must go backwards and be active. Making the front (arm) passive is going to be so tough that you really want to forget about learning taiji.
2. The rear foot actually only acts as double anchor. It cannot move! The rear kua (as you stated) is crucial here. The sinking of the rear kua when the rear foot-front foot-front hand-torso structure is intact, causes the rear foot to connect to the front hand. As the rear foot does not move, the more the sinking of the rear kua, the stronger the connection between rear foot and front hand. This is the taiji power, at least I can say for certain, Chen Taiji power. One of the main principles of Chen Taijiquan is called “Xia Ta Wai Nian 下塌外碾“,sinking down to grind out. This refers to the rear kua sinks to grind the front hand out: perfect case of lever.


greadore November 24, 2010 at 8:46 am

OK. Yes, I realize now that keeping the front passive is not going to be easy, as the front arm/hand wants to actively push out or resist. I know you say the rear foot does not move, but it is OK for the heel of rear foot to pivot/rotate outward as the rear kua sinks, right? I see this occuring in your movements. In this case one ends up pushing a lot with the ball/front part of the foot.

Or in theory, is it best to not have the rear foot rotate at all? The rear foot seems to want to rotate outward as the spiral force goes down however. If the foot doesn’t rotate, it seems that there could be a “binding” / excessive twisting in the knee area unless one straightens the rear leg to get the energy to go up through the back to be released. I guess my question is this, if the rear foot doesn’t rotate and the leg straightens this causes the body to shift/move forward rather than it needing to move backward, thus kind of defeating the purpose, so it seems that the rear foot really needs to rotate outward, right?

Thank you!

Gary Readore


Chen Zhonghua November 24, 2010 at 11:13 am

Very keen observation. This is what distinguishes GM Hong from me. His rear foot does not move; mine does. That distinguishes the level of mastery and ability.
Having said that, all your observations above are correct. I only have a cautionary note. The rear foot can rotate but CANNOT move! The difference between the two are huge and are not understood by untrained people. I will make a special mini lesson sometime in the future to discuss the difference between moving and rotating, a very important topic which has been covered many times in my workshop videos.


Chen Zhonghua November 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

Another important principle applies here:
Rear foot is double lock; front hand (contacting point) is single lock; and whatever is in between must make adjustment.


Ping Wei November 24, 2010 at 9:12 am

Don’t try to do push hand with people other than Master Chen, if you want to seek feedback. (Practice among Master Chen’s students is different story.) My own experience this fall in China convinced me just that. I tried push hand with a Yang style Tai Chi teacher in my hometown Wuxi. His comment was that my hands were too heavy, which was really meaningless to me. But at that time, it confused me for a second. My trust in Master Chen and the practical method never wavered. I took the comment positively. If he could not handle “heavy hands”, how much does he know about tai chi?
On the other hand, after read Master Chen’s comment on active and passive power of the front arm, I do need correct feedback about my practice, which, I believe, nobody else can give me. Can’t wait to see Master Chen in January.


Pavel Codl November 29, 2010 at 6:56 am

This is a “must see (& study)” video. It illuminates to me a lot of things I was confused or uncertain about, while reading them in the book of Master Hong Junsheng. Thanks for sharing such oustanding instructional video. I can just strongly recomend it for everyone.


Gerry December 7, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Excellent discussion. Especially valuable to see the discussion of progression from movements to rotation to connections, precision, then intent. I certainly have tried to progress out of order. I have plenty of work to do just to get to rotation.


Niko April 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Very important video. I never saw Master Chen teaching so impulsively.


Carlos Hanson September 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Another fantastic video. I think it is an extension of the Concave Circle of Taiji videos. In reality, I am learning that everything is an extension of the circles. It is wonderful that there is so much to learn and practice with the Basic Foundations. It makes practice simple. Do more circles. Yilu extends the learning by allowing variations on the circles, different ways to try out what you’ve learned from the circles.

Another important observation from this video is how hard it is to follow instructions. When we are trying to practice a certain thing, and we are told to do something, we try to make it fit into what we are practicing rather than just doing what we’re told. Often that means making much more extreme movements that we are practicing, so we can feel what our body is doing much more easily. If we can feel it in an extreme movement, it will be easier to find the feeling in a regular movement.

This video is like a layered cake. Each section builds on the one before it. I think the last section, Knee Movement Directions, is a cherry on top.


cshum00 February 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Anyone who wants to advance from movement to rotations and connections should watch this video. Master Chen clearly explain how rotations and connections work here. And i loved how he told students to make the exaggerated rotations for them to understand which back and rear leg muscles are engaged in order to connect the rear foot the the front hand.


jeff.younger April 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I give this video 5 out of 5 stars. It’s lucid, candid, and practical. Easily worth the money. Get it.

I don’t do Tai Chi Chuan. I do Kali. Why? Because every time I’ve asked basic questions of Tai Chi Chuan instructors, they have nothing but touchy-feely answers. They cannot explain the methods nor exhibit real power. I moved to Hong Kong and searched for the real thing, unsuccessfully. So believe me, most people do not have the ability to explain Tai Chi Chuan like this.

Like all good teaching, it’s prompted me to think about other things. I think real fighting is always done with weapons. A real adversary will always seek the advantage of weaponry. I’d really like to see this practical theory applied to weapons. I wonder if weapons work would speed skill development.


Chen Zhonghua April 3, 2013 at 1:33 am

Thanks very much for your comments. The traditional in taiji is that you need many years of bare hand forms training before learning to use weapons. In my recent teaching (10 years), I find that teaching weapons early will actually help students understand movements better. This could be wrong as it has not been proven with the passage of time.


charlie wishon March 13, 2017 at 9:53 pm

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