In Practical Method, when we want to move foot forward, back, or side, we need to have the weight shift to the supporting leg and “pump” the other leg out. In other words, the leg which is moving out will not interfere the whole body balance. It’s independent from the rest of the body. It can move freely. The taiji terminology for this is “Chan Chu” (Shovel out).
In one of Master Chen’s Phoenix workshops (master classes), he mentioned that when you want to move your foot, you need to imagine as if your hands are holding on a bar so that your upper body is not moving while you draw your leg in and step out. That’s another practical training method.
Not everyone has the access to a bar to hold on to like in a dance studio to try out the method. Here’s what I did in my class, either hold on a fence, or hug a tree.
The purpose of this exercise is to experience the upper body “Don’t move” while you are stepping out with your foot. Give it a try a few times while holding on to something, then try it again without holding on to anything. You will notice that when your hands are holding on to something, an energy line is automatically formed inside your body from your hand to your supporting foot. The line is non-existent when you are not holding on to anything.
(Photo: Adam Montaya)