Training in Edmonton Dec. 2012

by Michael Winkler on 2011/12/13

I’ve been in Edmonton now for ten days to get instructions by Master Chen Zhonghua and the local teachers and to train at their school.

These days have been very beneficial for me. Special thanks to Allan Belsheim who showed me the sword form and thanks to all the local students I met there to push with them.

I had learned another Chen Style sword form in the past, but didn’t practice this over the last years. Now by learning the Practical Method system I got a new idea about the benefit of practicing the sword form.

It was Master Chen’s advice to learn this form in order to get a feeling “how stiff Yilu should be” … According his teachings mine was always “too loose”.

Another benefit should be to get a better feeling for “not moving”. It is more easy not to move the sword, because this is an object, not like the vivid hands who want to move all the time.

Beside that I got lots of instructions by Master Chen on alignment, connections, adding different directions, intent and in the end about adding power, meaning not to be loose in the form.

I heard all these before, but just recently I start to understand what this means for form practice: one needs to do the form exactly as if you have lots of weight to carry or resiting a strong opponent pushing you. Otherwise you are just doing the choreography without real meaning.

Very likely this is quite different of what most people expect Taijiquan is like.

Because of all the hands-on instructions of Master Chen I had a lot quite enlightening experiences, also I was able to copy things here and there. Then main difficulty for me now is to remember exactly these feelings and to repeat all this with others later. That for me is the main issue, because within this step most of the deviations naturally happens. Looking forward now to work with my students in Berlin again to prepare them for the upcoming workshops in Europe and for Daqingshan Fulltime Training 2012. See you and all best, Michael

About Michael Winkler

2003 Chen style Taijiquan (Laojia-Style from Chenjagou) 2004 getting in touch with various Qigong syltes (e.g. Zhong Yuan Qigong with Xu Mingtang, later Xuan Ling Gong with Xiong Chunjing) 2005 Chen style from Xiao Jimin (son of Xiao Qinglin, a student of Chen Fake) 2010 first fulltime training on DQS (6 weeks) 2012 second fulltime training on DQS (3 month) 2013 becoming disciple of Master Chen Zhonghua Since 2010 the only Taijiquan I practice and teach is the "Practical Method" as passed on by Master Chen Zhonghua.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Niko December 13, 2011 at 4:44 am

“Then main difficulty for me now is to remember exactly these feelings and to repeat all this with others later”

Can you explain this in more detail in the context of Master Chen´s quote below, please.

“It’s important to note that the sequence here is 1). from physical understanding, 2). to mental understanding”


Chen Zhonghua December 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

Niko “It’s important to note that the sequence here is 1). from physical understanding, 2). to mental understanding” is a Practical Method saying. In normal circumstances in China we always say that “Quantity increase eventually will lead to quality change.”


Michael Winkler December 13, 2011 at 9:38 am

About Master Chen’s words in detail you better ask him, but what I wanted to describe here is: when touching Master Chen or him doing applications, for me the whole as it is seems very clear.
Through hands-on I always get a much closer experience about what is going on.

But later on, when practicing alone or with partners, things always change more or less slightly, and applications or single exercises won’t work (that good) anymore.

Now as mentioned before the feeling for me always was a much more important thing, more clear and actually also much more detailed – because it is a whole thing, not cut into pieces through analysis and interpretations, e.g.
So trying to remember the situations like they have been to me seems the best for learning.

Without a physical experience we won’t be able to fully understand, I guess that’s what Master Chen meant by pointing out the sequence “…1). from physical understanding, 2). to mental understanding”.

We always like to believe that we can “get” something by thinking and understanding it mentally.

I think, this so-called “understanding” (mentally) can only mislead you into believing you understand. You have to experience it physically and only after that you can say, that you understands. This process takes a long time (many many years) and that is why Master Chen will show you again and again and year after year.

But in practice that still is before we have created any skill … so perhaps I have to re-define “understanding” again later on …


Niko December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am

Thanks, just wanted to have some more info.


Kelvin Ho December 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

It is usually the case that Master Chen shows something on me, and I remember who it feels like, but when I try to imitate it on others, it doesn’t work. There can be different reasons for that:
1) I didn’t copy it correctly.
2) I don’t have the range of rotation required to execute the technique.

By repeatedly trying and practicing yilu, I may get a bit closer. Yilu trains and prepares the body, and enables me to understand what Master Chen says and shows more and more. By being able to replicating it physically in one situation, I will have a baseline with which I can compare other slightly different situations (a change in the position, incoming force direction, or whatever). That’s my experience for “from physical understanding to mental understanding”.

Just last week, one of my students told me that he found Yilu very difficult to do, and his legs were not strong enough when he went low, and said that it looked easy for me. In fact, it is never easy for me when I practice myself as I tell him. I find it extremely physically demanding and exhausting. I would say that it got actually harder compared to when I first started. Over time, I am told about more rules and requirements: Go lower, go wider, don’t stand up, keep it the same height throughout, carry the same weight throughout, don’t bend your wrist, keep the tip of the middle finger pointing at the same point, don’t back load, turn up the rear knee, hollow the chest, open this, close this, don’t lean, upper and lower bodies can’t move in the same direction or at the same time, etc. However, it is a very rewarding experience in terms of taiji understanding, and if I don’t have much of that yet, I am more physically fit.

I have been thinking about learning the straight sword form. After reading this article, I should start learning that too.


pingwei December 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I do find out sword form helped my yilu practice.


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