Last week I had the honour of being inducted into the Chen Taijiquan lineage that flows from Chen Fake to Hong Junsheng to Chen Zhonghua. Master Chen requested that I write about my experience of the ‘hands-on’ part of this lineage transmission. He said he’d been pushing with Dave Dahms and I in order to show us particular things and wanted to know what we felt was different.
Initially, my reply to this question was ‘nothing was different’. Master Chen still felt like Master Chen and his explanations of what he was doing were like they always are, clear, easy to understand but harder to put into practice.
I did however notice a difference in how he presented material to me and in my response to it. I found him a lot more unassuming and direct in his instructions – everything was broken into smaller parts and he told me to do simpler, more incremental things when pushing with the workshop participants. I also found him to be more precise in his actions on me. Before Dave and I had our formal discipleship ceremony, Master Chen worked with both of us on differentiating three lines of force, in three directions. I noticed I usually manage to let one of my three lines leak into another and often end up with only two lines. The next day during the workshop, Master Chen grabbed me and, telling me to ‘notice this’ demonstrated using the three lines at extremely close range, knocking me down using very specific combinations of vertical, horizontal and oblique forces. As we were so close, he demonstrated these things directly onto my torso, instead of transmitting them to me through my arm the way he usually does. I felt I could ‘see’ what was happening in his body and what effect it had on me, more clearly than before; his internal tensions and structures were more apparent to me than previously.
I’m not sure if I can accurately describe what he wanted me to feel. I’m trying to stay with my memory of that feeling, in order to recreate it, even if I can’t properly describe it.
My deep thanks to Master Chen.