by webmaster2 on 2012/11/07

Learning Taiji is to solve a set of contradictions.
Neither over-extended, nor deficient.

Anything that exists is the resolution of a contradiction. Therefore, when you see a contradiction in a matter, you have not resolved the issue. When you have, you will not see the contradiction any more.

In taiji, you must reach a stage when you create movements without moving; you don’t push but your opponent is pushed out; etc. When you still cannot do this, you are still not at the level yet.

originally published on 2008/03/03

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

James Chan November 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

I think to learn to resolve contradiction one must be able to physically convert a push to a pull. See Master Chen’s clip “every push must be a pull”.


Han May 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Mr. Chan, are you in Philadelphia Pa? I live in the Lehigh Valley – Allentown, and just purchased the Basic Foundations video.


James Chan May 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm

I will be in King of Prussia for a few more weeks. In June I will move to Collegeville.


James Tam November 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

What is a “contradiction” in the first place? Example?


gigi November 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I think contradiction is relate to the limitation of mind.
You think is x posibilities.In reality it is x plus 1.
That 1 is beyond.Follow the people who are already there.


Calvin Chow November 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Push is not a push by hand it is a pull at the back(拔背). As in the beginning of video “Toronto 2-4”, front forward, back backward, a spiral sinking move produces a force to the front and to the back at the same time, so it is a separation of Yin and Yang.


James Chan November 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Everything we learn in Practical Method is physical, including Contradiction. As an example, when engaging in tuishou (push hand), to execute a push, one normally leads with a forward hand (or body) movement. The contradiction is that in practical method we train to do the opposite. We lead with back foot in a pull action.


James Chan November 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm

In one of Master Chen’s workshop he said the inside must be stronger than the outside for the power to flow outward. In toushou, one must power up the inside more than the outside. This is counter intuitive and appears to be a contradiction. Most people believe in powering up the extremities.


James Chan November 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm

What is contradiction? I heard Master Chen said it in his video. When you think you are doing it right; you are absolutely wrong. When you are doing it right you would not know it.


James Tam November 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm

“Learning Taiji is to solve a set of contradictions”
If doing it right is wrong and when one is doing it right one doesn’t know, then how does one solve this Taiji secret/puzzle? On a more practical level, how does knowing or being aware of this contradiction (or the concept of contradictions) help in our practice of the Practical Method?


Calvin Chow November 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I think push hands or free fight is the way to prove if we have solved the Taiji puzzle or understanding the concept of contradictions.


bruce.schaub November 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

It seems to me that being aware of the contradiction is not useful, but is actually the impediment. It is a flaw of not understanding fundamental relationships that manifest in many different ways. The many manifestations make the mind confused and lock on to the parts we don’t understand which appears as a conflict or contradiction. Eventually over time and with practice, things that appeared to be contradictions are resolved. But if we always keep in mind we are looking for a relationship between three things, there are no more contradictions. We are looking for Yin and Yang but to find them we have to first have “Don’t Move”. Many pairs of Yin and Yang that can be combined in an infinite number of ways that all pivot on “Don’t Move”. I think the point of the original post was not to say that we should look for contradictions, but we will invariably have them as we learn. If we just keep working at it, eventually we will realize that what we thought was a contradiction, wasn’t actually at all.

If the hand doesn’t move it will have tremendous power….
Many small separated movements produce a large unified energy….
If we feel like we have a lot of power we won’t have any power…..

These ideas seem contradictory because they are the opposite of how we normally think, feel and behave, but there really just differentials of the same 3 fundamental components. It’s human nature to be very attracted to “movement” and not to understand “no movement”….. because we never do it…’s not in our nature, so we have to go through a series of processes to gradually be made to comprehend it physically…..a practical method….


James Tam November 22, 2012 at 7:38 am

Thanks Bruce. Very good comments. What you said in your last two sentences of your first paragraph struck a cord of resonance with me. I tend to agree with you that “being aware of the contradiction is not useful, but is actually the impediment.” On a slightly different note, what are your thoughts on the relationship between “don’t move” and “zhong ding” (if any)?


bruce.schaub November 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

Oh, I’m happy if it helped. I think I’m woefully unqualified to answer what Central Equilibrium (zhong ding) really is, because I don’t have it. I would say, based on the theory of three, “zhong ding” and “don’t move” are one in the same. Based on what I know of Master Chen’s process for learning, I’ve heard him say…. “first we have no center, then we have a fake center, eventually we develop a real center.” Zhong ding is a “real center” and therefore a highly refined form of ‘Don’t Move”. If we follow his instruction and truly learn to not move something, we “Enter the Door”, but there are many levels of understanding between “enter the door” and “Zhong Ding”. “Don’t move” actually means many different things in different relationships. What we have to watch and learn is “Don’t move” in relation to what. It is my understanding that GM Hong reached a level where even his revolutions were rotations, where for most ,revolutions will always be normal actions or movements to set up a rotation.

Here’s an analogy based on some things Master Chen said in Phoenix, last week. The earth is spinning on an axis so it is rotating. The axis doesn’t move in relation to the earth, so the axis give’s the earth “don’t move”, but in relation to the Sun, the earth is moving through space revolving around it. So the earth is moving and not moving at the same time. It has a center but is moving in relation to a larger center…..the sun. If we equate the planets to the joints, and the sun is the “dan tien” we have a set of relationships that provide for unlimited combinations of movements and alignments, all based on rotations.

We have to methodically work our way inward and than learn how to make the “inside come out”…..


Michael Winkler November 23, 2012 at 1:04 am

Thanks for all the comments, I think this is a crucial topic, especially when you are teaching …
Very often students make me aware of contradictions again, and very likely this is challanging because things are really hard or even impossible to grap with the rational mind only.
So I also think “being aware of the contradiction is not useful, but is actually the impediment” seems to be true. Questions can also simply vanish while one is keeping on practice.

And thanks to Bruce for sharing the picture of earth rotating on one axis and moving around the sun. This is another picture which might help to get along with contradictions a bit more.


bruce.schaub November 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

No problem, I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in these discussions. It helps to solidify my understanding of things as I study videos and practice. One of the videos that helped clarify one of the main contradictions/sources of confusion is the mini lesson “Hands on Positive Circle Sequence” where Master Chen is detailing the 9 count circle for you, Michael, and a small group of students on the mountain.

In this video we can see how the hand itself NEVER MOVES, yet it IS MOVED, through space by other parts of the body. The hand ROTATES as it is pulled through space but even the rotation is caused by movements elsewhere in the body. The intention is never to “self move” or even “self rotate” the hand. It’s like the hand is completely removed from the process, with no action on it, it never moves and therefore all the power of the rotations of the joints, goes to the hand.

If you showed this video to someone off the street and said “hey look, Master Chen is moving without moving! he never moved his hand” they would say “your crazy, i can clearly his hand is moving”…. Not only that, but it is difficult for someone who doesn’t understand the importance or potency of these relationships, to grasp why it is so extremely important and how it creates Taiji power. It just seems like a big contradiction…..


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