“Yilu Torque” Online Video Trailer

by Shopmaster on 2011/07/01

In this video, Master Chen teaches an advanced method of Yilu training.
In each move there should be torque power, and it is generated by separating each movement to horizontal and vertical portions.

Presenter: Chen Zhonghua   Length: 12 min.   In: English   Year: 2011  Difficulty:4/5  At:Maple Ridge

Yilu Torque
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

KT July 1, 2011 at 8:33 pm

A very important principle on the split of energy is explained and illustrated. If understood correctly, your training will be lifted to another level. By splitting, you will be better connected and the structure becomes more solid. However, Master Chen only made illustrations on several moves and one has to figure out how to make the torque in the other moves of the form.


JohnnyU July 2, 2011 at 4:19 am

Another important piece to the puzzle of taiji, which exists throughout the yilu. The meaning of vertical and horizontal separation is clearly explained along with it’s relationship to torque. It is my understanding torque is an influence that tends to change the rotational motion of an object. The degree of torque depends on three quantities: the force applied, the length of the lever arm connecting the axis to the point of force application, and the angle between the force vector and the lever arm, all of which Master has expressed throughout several lectures…again, another important piece that leads to understanding and eventually intent…


Chen Zhonghua July 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Actually most importantly, a quality of stiffness and strength of the materials involved that allows the three qualities you mentioned above to work. They only talk about the three qualities in mechanical terms because in that field the materials of the torque tool is an assumed given.
In taiji, we must first of all reach a level through training that the body parts are trained to be strong enough to perform those three qualities.


David Carr July 4, 2011 at 7:02 am

The fulcrum is the support upon which that lever is supported. This, IMHO, is the main focus for me in understanding the multiple possible directions of energy flow and nuetralization of same. But more than mechanics, mind intent (yi) is paramount. What one believes, is so. What one see, is so. What one feels, is so. Therefore, seeing the action before it is action – will make it so – when used in tandem with your prescribed definition of torque and its relation to push


Chen Zhonghua July 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

David, Thanks for the comment. In reference to Yi, mind intent, and even other concepts such as Qi, I have the following guideline on it.

My master Grandmaster Hong Junsheng, clearly defined our style as Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. His focus is on the physical aspect of taiji movements that can be explained, demonstrated, taught, learned and replicated. By this he does not have a positive or negative view of other more elusive concepts such as intent and qi. He simply has a different focus for his personal approach. As a disciple and student of the Practical Method system, I totally share his views. I feel that even within the physical realm, there are so many aspects to explore that I will never be able to accomplish much in this life.

Thank you very much for bringing new concepts to the viewers and readers of this site. While I personally will not be involved in further discussions, I appreciate and encourage others to learn and benefit from such.


Allan Haddad July 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

I feel after watching this I am back at square one again.. how not to confuse being stiff with creating torque.


bruce.schaub July 12, 2013 at 7:08 am

Hi Allan, I remember when I first watched this video, it really threw me for a loop, and I was very frustrated. I set it aside and hadn’t watched it again until you made that comment. So I watched several times last night to see if I could try to understand better now and wanted to try to help because your notes have helped me so much. So, I don’t know if this will but here goes.

I remembered while watching what Master Chen told a group in Germany while giving private lessons. He said it in push hands training context, but said it is trained mainly in the Yilu. “When you move the bottom, don’t move the top, when you move the top, don’t move the bottom.” So this is basically the upper/lower separation we are trying to create, which if done correctly produce torque (twisting force), in the body….mainly I think due to sinews (muscles, tendons, fascia, etc) being twisted around the skeletal structure underneath. I think Master Chen is saying that if we are too loose, as we move through the Yilu there is no stretch, and therefore, no twisting. If we move too stiffly in one big piece there is also no twisting. So I think we have to use the 1,2,3 method of move the foot, then establish the front kua, once that lower body movement is established, only then are we allowed to move the top into position. There is of course “adjustment” and things like simultaneously turning over circles when shoveling out (like in Block Touching Coat for example). I’ve been trying to work with feeling like the upper body is basically stuck in space while the lower moves, and is only reluctantly pulled into position once the bottom locks. It helps me to imagine I am working against some resistance. Hope this helps.


Chen Zhonghua July 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Key points to know about the production of torque force is that:
1. it only happens at the point of power.
2. there has to be only one state of tension at the point of power. So looseness and stiffness are not involved.
3. All other factors happen at the time of preparation, not impact.


bruce.schaub July 13, 2013 at 7:45 am

Thank you Master Chen. I just wanted to be sure I’m understanding the use of the word torque correctly. Torque, I believe, is a measure of twisting force. For example, I have a torque wrench that is designed to exert 60 lbs of force on the bolt it is designed to tighten. It has a limit on it, so when it reaches 60 lbs of pressure on the lever arm (wrench handle in this case), it alerts you to that fact. That force is exerted onto a point (a bolt) in this case, and rotates that bolt until it is tightened to exactly 60lbs. So how I produce that force onto the lever arm is not relevant to the torque produced. I can push it with my arm, I can pull on it with my body, I can even push it with my foot. What ever I do to it, my force will be transmitted through the lever arm to rotate the bolt. This is what you mean by it only happens at the point of power? and there is only one state of tension at the point of power? (meaning whatever i do to the lever arm, in the end, a constant state of tension must be used in order to produce the rotation onto the bolt)


Chen Zhonghua July 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

We might have a slight difference in the meaning here. I used the word constant tension to mean:
1. human body parts can be in many states of tension anytime and/or all the time. Like sometimes they are rope like, sometimes they are rock like. Sometimes they move, sometimes they don’t. These all contributes to an influx of tension states.
2. The human body parts can do whatever is required to get to the point of power. This means your torque tool (like a human body) can move, moving parts, loosen up, and can even have parts that are loose chain like.
3. Once the torque tool is in place and is ready for action, everything has to be locked into only one state of tension. Say the torque wrench must be made of steel and be rigid at that moment.
4. At this point the action will produce torque. No looseness, no wobbling, no deviations.


Allan Haddad July 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Thank you Shifu. I have added this to my small list of points for Yilu.

Bruce, thanks for the input. I can see we analyze things in a similar fashion and I get you.
I have an understanding of what Shifu is saying on a certain level. I agree this applies to 1-2-3 in that it is “the parent”, or source if you will, of the details. Don’t worry so much about what torque is as it puts the cart before the horse. It’s just ‘torque’, some word. It might help to think of it as the net effect of correct actions. My aha moment is in the details.
It’s all shown and explained in the video. It really helps to think of the application of each move in the form since that establishes your point(s) of contact. That is key! Because your series of actions, rotations if you like, must be the most efficient way to transmit power to that point. That’s why it helps to always look back at Shifu’s teachings of the form, particularly application, since it explains the correct sequence of actions. It’s like asking yourself, what is the most direct way of getting from A to B? That’s a line of course, so every action must be related to that line. So this is my aha moment.. don’t confuse twist with rotation, because then you are prone to make the mistake I have been making which is to over-twist, thinking, boy I’m torquing a lot! So I might be able to lock the lower body, or wherever, physically to some degree, and move the upper half to some degree, but that does not automatically mean the movement is correct for our purposes.

    The net effect of the movements have to contribute, not take away, from that line.

So if you over-twist, you could very well feel powerful, but in fact the power is being wasted since it is off the line. So again, twist does not equal torque in the taiji sense per say. Think spin. A gun has spiral grooves etched along the inner surface of the barrel, which causes the bullet to travel in the air along a straight line much better than if it were simply pushed out. Since we are in the business of taiji, we want the upgrade to simply pushing – the spiral. If you have pushed with Shifu and/or any of the senior disciples, you will feel the net effect of this instantiated spiral.. you go spinning!


bruce.schaub July 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thanks, as always Allan! My brick has enticed some Jade!


Chen Zhonghua July 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Another way of looking at this is that there is no twisting. Twisting is just another word for saying a lever. When you apply a lever, the pivoting point is being twisted. If you overlook the pivoting point (the function of course is still there, just don’t analyze the pivoting point), you only see the action of the lever. If you only apply the lever action but don’t look at it as a lever, you look at the pivoting point, you will see the twisting action.


bruce.schaub July 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Master Chen, sorry for being slow to respond, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and elaborate on your meaning and what we are trying to accomplish. I had to take some time to think about it and rewatch the video a couple of more times. There is a lot conveyed in this short video, and the subsequent comments, but I think I am getting a better understanding. Thanks for being patient.

Much of our effort in Yilu is devoted to simply making a good machine, or tool, with which we can produce torque. Not overdoing or underdoing our movements is what gradually makes our body stronger, and as we become more proficient with the Yilu we mustn’t overlook some of the less obvious or seemingly less important little subtle movements like “filler steps” and set ups to produce power, which in the end are highly relavent to being tightly “fitted” enough (like a tool) to produce power.

We are not “torquing” ourselves, but the power produced by correct actions produces torque. Allan put it very nicely, perhaps because he is a mechanical engineer, and some of his terminology is above my pay grade. 🙂 The rifle is a good and simple analogy, in addition to the points that were made, it serves another concept that power is efficiently manifested as the result of being restricted. When the bullet explodes inside the chamber, it’s energy is only allowed to go in one direction, through a very narrowly defined line, in the barrel. Bottom line is, follow the rules, adhere to the restrictions, more yilus……


Allan Haddad July 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

I wish I was compensated accordingly for my terminology :p


bruce.schaub July 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

Haha! You definitely should get paid extra for “instantiated”…. had to look that one up.


Jeffrey Chua July 15, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Hi Allan, thanks for your explanation.
I think I’m getting confused by the semantics 🙂

Would it be correct to say that the way a golfer (or tennis player) generates torque by creating a larger turn angle with his shoulders versus his hips, is very different from how we generate torque in Taiji, as Bruce put it, since we are not “torquing” ourselves? Therefore this is not the right way to do the Yilus?


Allan Haddad July 16, 2013 at 11:39 am

Hi Jeffrey,
All three are different mechanically speaking and use different terminology, so no point in comparing semantics. What they do share is a point of focus which requires a set of specific actions to optimally transmit power.


Jeffrey Chua July 17, 2013 at 3:59 am

Tks Allan!


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