DQS Fulltime Experiences 2012-06-23

by Michael Winkler on 2012/06/23

On learning process and emotions

A few weeks ago Master Chen Zhonghua mentioned a lot of important issues according Taijiquan and the learning process, and this was the time when he was about to leave the mountain. Meanwhile he is back again.

One out of many important things he pointed out was that we need to become “a-emotional”, or lets say emotionally very stable, if we want to create peng energy and learn Taijiquan.
We should not get dissapointed when at certain times certain things will not work and ether we should get too exited when at other times certain things will work.

I personally think that’s because we cannot judge about good or bad on the learning process of Taijiquan easyly and we are always trapped in our own views, which very likely are opposite of the reality. After some experience in teaching I found that very likely students feel not comfortable or not “good” when they are making progress – it seems that we feel it just the opposite way very often …

Further I thing that in order to get closer to the core principles of Taijiquan, there are several things that might be more or less important than we think they are, and very likely they might even be totally different.
This for us, I think, is not easy to accept and even more difficult to deal and work with.

For me, this issue as an overall thing in learning, seems to become more and more important, and just the past days I did exerience some of these “up and downs” a lot. Today I got an “up” again, and that’s why it is more easy now for me to write about that … 😉

So yesterday for instance my moral was quite low, because the thing we try to learn here seems to be way too far away, just because of basic things I still need to work on. In addition to that Master Chen talked on the table about the issue, that in all his years of teaching so far, there was not one person (? – hope I got that right …) who did succeed to really do what he is talking about all the time …
And when my mind doesn’t totally cheat me now I remember that he said this in 2010 on the table as well.
So emotionally I would say this then was quite challenging – to use a more nice expression.  But I did try to remember myself about not to believe what I’m thinking or feeling and instead try to let these feelings calm down and go, and just keep on running. But honestly at that moment I was really afraid of that there might be a point in the future where I would give up …

Today then there was a change again. I was on my way to the place to practice in order to do as many Yilus as possible, thinking that this is the only thing reasonable to do. Also I know that I always did way to less Yilus a day, but then I ran into a nice possibility to push with lots of Chinese guys under the supervision of Master Chen.
There was one concept which started to work a bit more: to reduce the power in the upper body when going in, and with some of the pushhands partners this was quite successfull.
Master Chen did demonstrate very clearly how it feels when he is going in, without a tiny little bit of a push or using any force, and then he did move his waist, arms went sideways and down without the thigh moving – which was one of my problems, my thigh moved.
After I succeded doing this relatively good, this was the perfect situation to remind myself not to get too exited or confident about this “success”, just the same like it was not necessary to be dissapointed the day before.

Don’t link the moves and don’t try to “be smooth”

Something else I’d like to share from todays training: Master Chen reminded us not to link the movements in the form and that there is not such a thing like “beeing smooth”. He actually never uses the word “beeing smooth”, instead he choosed to use the words “moving proportional”.
“Beeing smooth” is only an appearance and and illusion. This he compared to the action of the chain of a bike for instance. Because of every single link of the chain beeing proportional the motion seems to be smooth.
Or another example, a video: there are no smooth movements, there are only single pictures, but they move constantly so that the illusion of a smoothly moving picture is created.

So for the form training this means:
We always should keep the single movements seperated – one move at a time, and don’t link them. And as far as I understood now this also is not changing over the time, it will always be like that, only the outer appearance will change.
So practicing the form will be very different, single seperated moves: tak – tak – tak – … not “smooth”.
In this way, according to my actual understanding, we are able to train seperation of bodyparts and getting able to use them in different directions and so on.

“Beeing connected” is a result and not an instruction

This seems to be strongly related to not moving the bodyparts which needs to be fixed in space, while others are moving.
At this moment I dropped a question about to care or not to care about connections at this moment, also because I’m confrontated with this question a lot when I’m teaching, and the answer was:
Beeing connected is a result, but not an instruction! The instruction is not to move the body, for instance, and when you do this you will be connected when your hand is pushing out. Together with Masters hands-on demonstration this became quite clear.

So far for today. I for myself found another very interessting aspect of Taijiquan, which in my understanding goes along with Buddhists or Daoists ideas when working with the mind: getting a special state of the mind which is stable and even, no matter what.
This I think is very challenging, but also worth to look for, and probably it should not matter if we “get it” or not (in Taijiquan), instead we could keep ourselfs on the path of practice and learn to let go …

All best from the mountain, hope to see you once,
Michael Winkler

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.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Niko June 23, 2012 at 3:18 am

Concerning smoothness of movements, i can remember a situation which i have still in front of my
inner eye, because it was very strange. It was in the lobby of the Yulange Hotel when Master Chen did some moves. It looked to me like he was moving in “frames”, like a film played slowly, picture by picture. He was not moving slowly at all, but the appearance was comic like. In that moment i couldn´t believe what i see and was extremly amazed. I have never seen anyone else moving like this.


Jay June 23, 2012 at 4:37 am

Thank you Micheal,

I find it very interesting to read the experiences that other students are having; especially those who are studying full time at DQS. Also I appreciate the reminder concerning being proportional, or being smooth. I think it is a natural practice to try and smooth out the form when practicing on one’s own; your reflections of Master Chen’s comments on the chain is a great way to visualize the concept. Lastly, I think the word you might have looking for is link (i.e. links in the chain)

Thanks again and keep up the good work.


mountainroad June 23, 2012 at 4:53 am

Thank you for sharing your thought with us. This is very helpful. There is a word that I don’t quite understand.
one of my problems, my thide moved. THIDE? Is it thigh, part of the leg??
Thanks again enjoy your time there. Lin Lin


John Upshaw June 23, 2012 at 5:55 am

I appreciate your reflections, Michael. It is very difficult to maintain an emotional and mental state of neutrality…not being attracted to or repulsed from… I find these emotional and mental process oftentimes parallel our physical movements…I believe the term for this posture is “wuji”, someone please correct me if I’m wrong …I think what makes it especially difficult to maintain this position is the fact “we are passionate about Practical Method”…automatically drawn to or upset when something is not functioning as expected…so for me…as your reflections triggers my own…the need to keep the passion (as it does motivate practice) yet have it separate to maintain a-emotionality during practice…


michaelkoh June 23, 2012 at 6:13 am

Michael, I too am going through the emotional rides. Up and down. Your article reflects exactly my thinking. I keep telling myself to persever and trust in yilu. If I don’t remember wrongly Master Chen mentioned the milestones are 3rd year, 7th year and 10th year. I am sure looking forward to my 10,000 yilu. Hope to see you there too.


Michael Winkler June 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

I’m surprised, so many comments so fast – thank you everybody. So here some responses, I put them here just in one comment:
@Niko: Yes, sounds like the same kind of demonstration we got today
@Jay & @Lin Lin: Thanks for the english lessons, I will edit the articel right away, both of your suggestions were what I meant.
@John Upshaw: Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well. For me personally this issue also goes along with getting rid of any kind of attachements, not to be misunderstood as “not caring about anything anymore”. I think this is a common misunderstanding of Buddhist thinking/living/practice as well. Perhaps that is the reason why I did like the way Master Chen was talking about getting “a-emotional”, which for some people might sound quite hard. But I did associate that with a calm and actually nice state of mind, which by itself could be very joyful – without attachements … ? 😉
@Michael Koh: Thank you very much for your comment as well. I believe, this comment might help me during future “downs” to remember what we were talking about here. And yes, I also hope to see you there!


Hugo Ramiro June 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thank you for an honest and very helpful article Michael!


Hugo Ramiro June 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

Oh and by the way, great job translating for Master Chen at the Berlin Open House!!! 🙂


bruce.schaub June 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Michael, great article. Master Chen said something profoundly revealing , related to frustrations everyone must feel, in the Berlin lectures recently posted. The human body is not even and it is impossible to make it even, so we have to create as many separations as possible to make up for the fact that we can’t even make one clear 50/50 separation. An incredibly difficult an arduous task. But by creating more we make up for the lack of clarity in the induvidual separations themselves. So the Top/bottom separation you talk about (where your not fighting with power on top) would be one, front back seperation, finger eye seperation, inside outside seperation, etc…eventually with practice and precision we can have enough for Wuji to begin to manifest as a result of the many layers (some of which must be created with “intents”). I certainly struggle with emotionalism, usually as a result of trying to figure things out. Better to trust in process and follow procedure. If the principles are the road we want to be on, then the rules are the ditches on either side of us. It’s very easy to go off the road and fall in the ditch becoming intelectually mired down, writhing and spinning trying to “understand” (i am perhaps the worst offender)….but the rules are there to simply keep us on the road….necessary restrictions to walk on the path (they also keep our opponents out…conditioned mind included) and are the way out of the ditch, if we just follow Master Chen’s procedure….orient yourself , step out using a line, attatch your middle finger to a dot in space…. “in with elbow, out with hand”….the simplest things have the greatest capacity for depth, refinement or just getting back on the road….thanks for the article! Your fast progress and great attitude are a pleasure to watch unfold.


Todd Elihu June 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm

The point about connection being a result of establishing non-moving parts of the body is very enlightening. Thanks for relaying your experiences of the process of learning, Michael!


Niko June 25, 2012 at 9:54 am

The emotional load in the Practical Method System is vast. According to the principles, untrained vs. trained is equal to mortal vs. immortal. So now you can choose, to whom Master Chen is talking to.


Carlos Hanson June 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

I think it is a great point about becoming “a-emotional”. I would even extend it to practice in general. In my case, I had a great start with my Yilu goal for this year, but the last couple months has been difficult for me to reach my daily goals. I should be “a-emotional” about it and continue to do what I can. Nothing is permanent. I will reach my goals again.

“Being connected is a result, not an instruction” is enlightening to me. I have always looked at whole body connection as a goal of practice, but instead, it is a byproduct. It remindes me of something that Master Chen said in Edmonton last summer: “applications are side effects”. If we train properly, with consistency and repetition, we should achieve the results we are supposed to achieve. However, without proper instruction, we may find ourselves focusing on secondary results rather than primary requirements.


Carlos Hanson June 29, 2012 at 6:25 am

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