Notes from Edmonton workshop June 27 – July 1, 2011

by Rion Swanson on 2011/07/19

Below are all the notes I took during this workshop, although they do not cover every day. Thank you so very much Master Chen and Allan, as well as everyone who attended. It was another excellent workshop, and was great to meet Ronnie, Charles, Lee, Drew, and Carlos.

Day 2

“You bully your opponent and never follow your opponent.”

He falls into your trap. You never fall into his trap.

You never retreat.

To bully your opponent means ‘peng’ (you don’t give him a chance).

Yilu is laying the train tracks. Opponent doesn’t have a say in it (he is on the track).

Every touch must be on the rear foot (Taiji principle). Because you do this it will appear you don’t fight.

Do not interpret.

“Everything has to go to the rear foot”.

“Rear foot is front hand”.

You take it to your rear foot.

If he takes his hand to your rear foot, you’re dead. If you take his hand and put it on your rear foot, he’s dead.

If you ‘power up’ it’s all wrong.

At the beginning it’s pure distance; later is relational distance (pure distance = gross size).

You ‘aim’ to his ‘spot’ (where his movement is originating from). Find that spot on him. You must train your body and eyes to see that spot on him.

If you hide that spot, your opponent can’t open you.

Later on, that spot/dot is right underneath your foot (so no one has access to it).

Never pop the shoulder.

Foam blocks exercise (knee to wall). Never trust yourself (that you are doing it correctly).

As long as 1 point is locked/fixed in space, it doesn’t matter what the movement of the other body parts are doing.

Rotation is a continuous lever.

Day 3

Circle never changes size.

Flat circle (but did not become a smaller circle).

Restrictions on body (example: walls your arm will stop at).

Must cut through space on many different planes/dimensions.

By training with restrictions there’s no energy leaking out.

By you not moving, he must move.

Basic positive circle starts with 3 moves, then later 5, then 7, then 9.

If you can create that move with restriction, that’s internal power.

We are physically creating that elastic band power on our body.

Our way of doing things is not better than anyone else’s, it’s only/just different. It is unlike any other way.

Transmission is the physical touch that you are made to feel.

There’s no qinna in Taiji. There’s no silk reeling in Taiji. People made these up and they became popular.

Split without having energy leak out.

Proportional movement (example: Six Sealing Four Closing). – (stay back with left leg and keep right leg posted — the right hand only turns enough to be proportional to back leg movement). Also, do not have energy from back heel/leg move up through body.. keep it moving straight along ground. This is more than just physical head up and down.

On ‘learning’:

Stick to the principles. ex: Don’t personalize it. If you’re told to produce a door hinge, don’t say you have to stretch your head (you may personally have to stretch your head but don’t tell others to stretch their head, only tell them to produce the door hinge).

Learning requires you to just follow.

The human body and psyche are yin and yang (extremes). That’s why you can’t have someone who’s very creative and stable at the same time (maybe only a few people every couple hundred years).

To walk the middle way is the highest enlightenment. Confucious’ ‘middle doctrine’. Taiji is the middle way. Taiji is not strong, not weak; not hard, not soft.

In Taiji you are trying to get something your body can’t get.

A circle is a straight line with 5 restrictions.

1. You do not produce energy.

2. Energy does not bend.

The energy source is always there (in the body). You just make the connections (body alignment). — like turning on the power switch. Example: Light goes through space but bends through objects.

You have to find the source of his power (its power) ex: the dot. then aim at and attack the dot/source and he falls down. The source/dot is naturally hidden. You must find it. Everything has a source. Ex: A tree. The source is the root. Everything that can touch/interact with the tree is removed from the source (source is hidden). Ex: Temple of Heaven capstone/cap piece.

Hide your dot away from the opponent. In the beginning it is distance. Later (another level) keeping dot hidden becomes other than just distance. Even if it is an inch away from him, as long as he cannot touch it, it is a world away from him.


Grandmaster Hong said do not read. All writing is flawed. It gives you a false sense of understanding. The author writes what means something to him. You as the reader do not have that experience.

20 yilus a day for 3 yrs.

Ex: children will self-correct. Parents should not do too much. Kids will learn.

Layering idea is key to learning Taiji. When you are at level 1, do level 1 stuff.

Teachers job is to provide good examples. Teachers should not think highly of themselves because they do not learn from you (in the way you think they would). When you see mistakes on your students, it is mistakes you do (they are copying you). Be mindful of your mistakes so you can correct them.

If  you put a screw in the wall, that’s it, end of Taiji.

“When you do it right you will know”. But how will I know how to do it right?

If you tense up, you have no power.

Lesson #1: Do not move the elbow (but no one has learned Lesson 1 yet, so can’t teach Lesson 2). Ex: hammering a nail and the hammer shivers (loses its integrity) everytime you to to hammer the nail.

“Power is made not with movement but with orientation.”

“We don’t want to move, we want to re-shape“.

Day 4

‘Cap’ or ‘lid’ is a constant downward. Top keeps a lid on it. Leg/feet alternate but meet in dantian.

There can be 0 (zero) power coming from upper body. Only enough to do steering wheel.

Push, push, push until it finally flips/explodes (only when this happens do you get yin/yang).

There is no neutral/freedom/slack. This is peng energy.

Even when the car goes downhill it does not ‘coast’ with gravity, it still uses the engine to go downhill.

Imagine a ceiling at collarbone? height or waist height so downward push/movement is always happening.

There should be a concentration of energy at the dantian point.

You want your own body to be like a sandbag (it only moves as much as it is kicked for example). Your opponent should be like a bouncy rubber ball. Ex: Put 20 lbs to sandbag and 5 lbs are produced. Put 20 lbs to a bouncy ball and 500 lbs are produced.

Everybody thinks yin and yang is in 2 dimensions. In reality yin/yang is in 1 dimension. It means at the same time on the same object. The 2 have to happen at the same time.

“There is 1 right and unlimited wrong”. (Taoist principle).

‘Principle’ is something you do NOT interpret.

The place you cannot touch is the only place you can touch. Ex: Touch the very tip of you elbow to (near) your dantian area.

Try to figure out the worst thing, and do that.

You’ve GOT to force yourself to accomplish something no matter how insignificant.

Other people do the normal things they are designed for. You must find the thing (a method).

Observe the characteristics/tendencies of every body part.

If the kua is not open, it drags the dantian (tossing).

Put fist on dantian (imagine a pole through you at the dantian to lock it in space) then really exaggerate using muscles on right side only (for positive circle right side).

Explanations make sense but won’t help you.

Do yilus, foundations, and watch videos of Master Chen.

3 Rings of Taiji:

First, the 3 must be trained to become 3. Then try to work the 3. 1 and 2 can work together. 2 and 3 can work together.

3 can never see 1. 1 can never see 3. (ex: hand sees torso, then you have collapse).



3=boy(s) outside

Make the wall bigger. (elbow and knee/#2)

Ex: Elbow goes in to torso (#2 goes into #1, then it is said that 1 is inside 2 and is only called 2).

Combine 2 and 1 so 1 is in hiding.

Opponent moves as a side effect of you moving yourself.

Job of qigong is to have sex with yourself. When small heaven is open you can live in a cave for 10 years – everyone looks stupid.

From day 1 we become tainted so have lost the ability to do things such as open the small or large heaven orbit.

Baby’s first cry breaks the air seal. Standing up breaks the skeleton seal. Male’s first ejaculation breaks the energy seal. (5 different seals?).

Have to be unbroken/virgin state.

The similarity is fake. The difference is real.

Enough repetition of yilu will re-wire the brain system.

Movements of Taiji are so much simpler to learn than language for example. But no humans can escape learning language. Anyone can avoid/escape learning Taiji.

We just don’t give Taiji enough attention (not enough practice). Do Taiji as if you are breathing! You will have real kungfu.

Qigong => energy

Taiji => skeletal

external martial art => muscular

50% people feel energized after qigong (less sleep). 50% people feel drowsy/sleepy after qigong.

9:00, 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 – important times in qigong.

Yilu => movement, structure, shape (organ)

Erlu => sporadic, diagonal, (function) no real physical form

Ex: Yilu => stomach; Erlu => spleen

Yilu=> kidney; Erlu => bladder

Never retreat . You have to be firm. Produce the feeling of giving in without giving in (avoid ‘softness’ — no peng).

Fig 1b – Same net distance created makes opponent feel like Fig 1a.

Play with time. You see Fig 1a happen, so then next time you implement Fig 1b.

Every move must produce hand to foot connection feeling (rod/stick). Doing this is called “internal adjustment”.

You must develop enough power to withstand his first blow.

Peng => ever expanding, continuous energy.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carlos Hanson July 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I was going to email you about these. I’ve got most of my notes typed in a document, but I still want to organize them some way. Thanks for posting these. I’ll get mine up soon. Do you mind if I pull some of your notes into mine if they are not already there?


Rion Swanson July 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Certainly, and I’m hoping your notes will add further explanation and context as I know we both took notes at some of the same times, but you also took notes at times I didn’t.


CantonCannon HK 馮嘉傑 香港 July 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Good notes!


Gary Readore July 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Enjoyed reading these notes. I see you have references to images. Is this something you could email to me so I can see what they are referring to. If so, my email is:



michaelkoh July 19, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hi..I understand the notes are taken within a specific context during a topic on which Master Chen is teaching. I can’t wait for the workshop videos to be released. But I can’t help being puzzled when you make this statement “There’s no qinna in Taiji. There’s no silk reeling in Taiji. People made these up and they became popular.” Can you elaborate?


Chen Zhonghua September 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm

By doing proper taiji, you can catch people without qinna technique; you produce chan energy without silk reeling exercise. Qinna is a set of moves/actions skills outside of taiji. So is silk reeling exercise.


Rion Swanson July 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Sorry about the delay on the images. I hope they help clarify.

Hi Michael. As for the ‘no qinna and silk reeling in Taiji’, all I can say is that I understand these things to be techniques whereas we are focusing on putting the principles into practice. I’ve seen Master Chen demonstrate, for example, how a qinna technique can be rendered useless when he moves in accordance with Taiji principles.


drew kruszelnicki September 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

nice notes thanks a great job. can u e-mail these to me?


CantonCannon September 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

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