Notes on my Visit to Daqingshan by Levi Sowers

by Levi Sowers on 2011/06/04

This is a lengthy review of how I came to know Master Chen, make it to DaQingShan(DQS), and what it was like on the mountain while I was there. At the end, I will post some of my raw notes from the many days on the mountain and some pictures.

I started my taiji path 6 years ago with John Brown an active student of Master Chen. He was originally teaching me the Old Style family Chen form. After 6 months of learning the Oldstyle family form, John came to class one night and said that we were done learning that form. From that moment on, we began going down the practical method path. I attended my first workshop with Master Chen in 2006 in Fairfield Iowa USA. From the moment Master Chen dropped me on my rear end, I knew that something was different about his taiji. The power with which he did it was amazing. Both of my brothers were very skilled wrestlers and never made me drop to the ground like Master Chen. As time went on, I continued to practice and attend 6 more workshops over the next 5 years. The latest one I attended was in February 2011 and was in Arkansas, USA.  4 days of intensive training with Master Chen at the Arkansas workshop inspired me to go to DQS this year and so I decided to spend 2 weeks on the mountain.

I recently returned home from DQS where I spent two weeks training daily. I don’t even know where to begin with this review of the mountain as there are so many good things to say about it. Starting at the beginning, the travel from the airport was very nice. A personal driver was sent to pick me up and take me to the mountain which meant I didn’t have to deal with any language barriers on the way to the mountain. We were welcomed to the mountain with wonderful organic food and clean rooms. The staff on the mountain was there to take care of anything that we needed. The mountain offers many things in addition to Taiji. I went on several hikes around the area which were all wonderful and a workout in and of themselves.

Training usually started around 5:30 in the morning just after coffee. We would train until breakfast. After breakfast, there was self directed training which usually meant that people could attend to personal affairs (I used this time to call my wife) or continue training with other students until lunch time.  After lunch it was usually nap time to get caught up on some sleep. From 3-6 pm Master Chen would come back out and give more instructions until dinner time. After dinner, there was more training that would take place until people slowly made their way to bed.  As always it seems like Master Chen does not need to sleep. I have found at many workshops, the students of Master Chen that I had to privilege to meet on the mountain were all wonderful.

As always with Master Chen, the level of instruction is unlike anything else that I have experienced. His ability to explain what is happening within his body is truly amazing. His teaching style is very hands on and he is always willing to answer any questions that you may have. Overall it was a great time I had on the mountain. I would recommend this trip to anyone thinking about doing it.

Here are some of my raw notes from the time I spent there.  These are very raw notes and may not be word for word but are what I wrote down.

Remember that there is a pivot point in every move.

There is a differential, Thi si a separation of yin and yang. It means that some parts of the body move slower/faster than others

I am too small with the circle. Make sure that the circle is larger on the way in.

Force must all thread through a hole.

The force must not come from other areas. If force comes from other areas, this will lead to resistance.

The Chinese word (ji) third tone=to squeeze. You must have ji to have an. To issue force, you must squeeze.

The body must come to the kua. The shoulder, arm, legs, ect. Talking about pulling in on the circle.

There is a line between the hand and the body. Once the line is established, you cannot break the line.

When pushing out, the shoulder must go toward the foot. (front shoulder)

Concept/Philosiphy: get rid of the opposite. If there is strong and weak, they are the same. In that they exist in the same dimension. The force we make is not of this dimension. Move strength with distance.

When doing fetch water, there can be no movement downward. Compress onto the front hip.

The body stays behind the hand, this powers the hand. It’s like a hammer and nail. The body/everything can move, but the fist/hand may not.

Circle corrections: When the elbow pulls in on the circle, the dantian must lock. The foot/leg must push into the dantian without movement. This generates tension on the elbow. This push acts like a pull of the dantian towards the foot.

On the way out, the lower back must be open, or the power will not go into the foot. This requires the kua to be open. Suck the gut into the back. This allows the lower back/spine to stretch.

If the shoulder goes forward on the way out, there is no change in distance.

Push the fingertips out while the shoulder goes down. This will lead to more power. Lose the elbow and shoulder.

Whenever you push something must rotate.

Notes from pushing with Mr. Steven Chan.

When people pull, follow in and desynchronize. Get in and then push. Don’t push as you go in.

When connectin the back foot to the front hand, the knee must push into the foot. The hip must push into the knee. The hip into the knee are the muscles spiraling around the bone. This requires the kua to be open.

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