What’s the highest level of achievement in taiji?

by Chen Zhonghua Taiji Academy on 2011/12/21

Open for discussion. Consider:

  • Theory:
    • What is right and what is wrong.
    • What is possible
  •  Reality:
    • What you can achieve.
    • What a human can achieve.

About Chen Zhonghua Taiji Academy

Chen Style Taijiquan 19th generation disciple. International Standard Bearer of the Practical Method system of Hong Junsheng. Second generation master of Hunyuan Taiji. Been teaching internationally since 1985. Educated in the West with a Master's Degree in Education. Highly accomplished through the lineage of two great masters. Disciplined, precise and powerful. He teaches a complete system of taiji based on the principle of yin yang separation; indirect power as a core concept; movement and tranquility as the source of action. In both theory and practice, his taijiquan deals with the problems of double-heavy. He is a real treasure of the heritage of taijiquan.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank December 21, 2011 at 3:58 am

In taiji chuan, if I am connected with the earth and I can use the energy of the earth on my opponent (which is really my energy and the energy of my opponent), then I have archived the highest level.
In taiji dao (tao), if I am connected with the sky (universe) and I am in harmony with the sky, then I have archived the highest level.
Haha, my 2 cents.


gigi December 21, 2011 at 7:49 am

Other level of understanding phenomena in this world – Dao.


Nikolai June 26, 2022 at 12:15 pm

I agree, you can raise your Taiji level and gain more understanding of reality, the Dao. To get rid of the illusions we believe in to be reality is the right way. It might even be possible or necessary to get help from an unexpected source on the path.


Carlos Hanson December 21, 2011 at 8:25 am

Successful and consistent application of Taiji principles relative to anyone else.


Alex December 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

I am gonna fire backwards on this one….I am thinking there is no ‘highest level’ because we always have an opportunity to work on a greater degree of precision in the moves.


Carlos Hanson December 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I agree. Highest level is relative.


sandy.doeur@gmail.com December 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Hi everybody my name is Sandy and I am not a student of Chen Style Practical Method, but I would like to make an attempt at answering this question.

I think the answer to this question is: “to be able to produce peng in all of the movements”. In terms of what is right and wrong we can generate this answer by relating it back to our objective (peng in every movement). We can say those things which lead us to our objective are considered right and that which leads us astray is wrong. It is possible to achieve this if we adhere to the principles that are right, such as moves can be broken into positive and negative circles etc.

What we can achieve personally depends on what we can grasp from our experiences.


Calvin Chow December 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm

One discover Dao in Taiji will find it in the nature. Dao and daily life will become one. One’s Taiji will not look like a martial art form but as daily life. One looks at daily life will discover Taiji principles there. I think that is what we can achieve finally.


Kelvin Ho December 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I think that the highest level of achievement in taiji is when one conforms to taiji principles in one’s every action (let’s assume in martial art context). One would be right when conforms to taiji principles, and one would be wrong when one deviates from them. The better skilled people in taiji are the ones with fewer mistakes than people with lower level skill. It is impossible for a human to be completely conformant, and that’s why there is always room for improvement. What I can achieve depends on whether I am lucky enough to run into “IT”, hopefully, with diligent time and effort spent on practicing with the correct method, I can increase my odds.


Nikolai June 24, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Sounds like you are playing in a lottery and waiting for the jackpot. Would you say it today the same way, after all these years of practice? According from what i extracted from the Zoom Lessons, Master Chen already gave away “secret”.


Kelvin Ho July 4, 2022 at 4:02 pm

Yes, I still have the same view today. To have a chance in a lottery, I need to buy a ticket. I can’t just wish for the jackpot.


Allan Haddad December 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Subjecting myself to ration, I have to believe there is a highest level of achievement simply from empirical observation, but if I knew what ‘it’ was, then I probably haven’t achieved it.
This by no means answers the question, but I recall something Master Chen said and does repeatedly like a machine that might give us a hint. This is my interpretation:

Physically speaking, being able to create a 5-way split is the highest level of taiji. Seeing it done is one thing, feeling it done on you is even greater, but what *does* it feel like? These are only sensory tools to help us learn. There’s always going to be “ah-ha” moments with any progression, but this implies we rationally understand the start and the end of the progress. However, “if you can explain it, you don’t have taiji”. When you scratch your head every time Master Chen does something, that’s a good sign in my books, and probably someone you want to stick around as much as you can to learn from. If you’ve ever been lucky, maybe 1 out of 1000 times, you might have done something so seemingly amazing it is completely beyond words. Same essence. I would relate taiji to supra-dimensional: greater degrees of freedom than our 4-dimensional world. Therefore by definition, our senses will never be able to fully grasp it.

So bringing it back towards the question, I would say the highest level of taiji is being able to transcend nature, or in the least mimic it, at will – whatever that means.


Alex December 22, 2011 at 12:44 am

Something similar hit me after I posted. But, I remember it being in terms of the maximum number of unique locks that can be done on someone in one move before the bouncing out happens…I am remembering the number as being much higher than 5, 9 actually, with 3 locks being the start of taiji.

Maybe Master Chen can chime in and mention if the ‘splits’ and ‘lock’s are the same thing, and what number that is.


bruce.schaub December 22, 2011 at 6:48 am

in movement yin and yang separate with absolute clarity….. in stillness yin and yang combine in perfect unity (one true chi) …. when movement and stillness rest on each other, you stand at the gate of emptiness…. ( the mysterious pass), if you enter the great abyss (void) and hold to the center unstriving…. the tao will not begrudge you…. and will come in an of itself….


Niko December 22, 2011 at 10:05 am

“What a human can achieve”
Becoming a red, green dragon.


pingwei December 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

純蔭無陽是軟手 純陽無蔭是硬手 一蔭九陽根頭棍 二蔭八陽是散手 三蔭七陽猶覺硬 四蔭六陽顯好手 惟有五蔭並五陽 蔭陽無偏稱妙手 妙手一著一太極 空空迹化歸烏有。
--陳鑫 陳式太極拳圖說


bruce.schaub December 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

master Chen told a story at one of his lectures in ireland about a basketball player who attempted to engage grandmaster Hong, the man was badly injured, and the following day someone asked Hong Junshen about it and he did not even know that it had happend…. this may be a clue to what a human can achieve in the realm of taiji…


bruce.schaub December 23, 2011 at 8:57 am

….continued …..”as if a mosquito had tried to bite into an iron ox”…


JohnnyU December 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

…continual improvement…


Zhao Zhidong December 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm



Niko January 26, 2012 at 2:03 am

One thing you can achieve is, that you can manipulate people just by thought. It happened to me once,
so i know that it´s possible first hand. It was last year in january in bar i regulary visited at that time. That was
a kind of magic and discussion on that will be held only privatly.


Xavier Santiago January 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

The highest level of Taijiquan, according to my current understanding at my present level, is the ability to create “wonders” which is accomplished by turning of the joints. This is possible by following the correct learning procedure and always training within the rules of movement (and non-movement) without adding or subtracting anything. Proper use of the knee, kua and elbow are crucial in order to accomplish this. Separation of yin and yang within the body must always be physically present as one physically follows the rules. At this level, according to what I have read in Shifu’s writings, you will always be solid when the opponent thinks you are empty and the opponent will fall into your trap (similar to an animal trap).


JohnnyU January 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

“When you get the magic: power, speed, size, and nothing is relevant. You have taiji and nothing else.”.


Gandalf der Weiße April 16, 2016 at 11:22 am

God !


charlie wishon June 9, 2016 at 2:55 am

Don’t move the knee, don’t move the kua, don’t move the back, don’t move the shoulder, don’t move the center, don’t move the hand. Create a zero space rotation…


Nikolai June 26, 2022 at 1:50 pm

What is right and what is wrong?
Totally wrong is to study at an university, no matter which and what, an think you know something significant. That is the delusional way of “modernity”. Totally correct is the traditional study of the circle, to align with the objective reality, the Tao, through activation of internal energy.


Nikolai June 30, 2022 at 4:04 am

What is right and what is wrong?
Wrong: Believing in the Bible and Jesus.
Right: Practicing Taiji and Qi Gong.
That´s what life taught me as a socialized westerner. Any christian Practical Method practioneers on this site?


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