Notes for online practice sessions using video conferencing

by Kelvin Ho on 2013/04/07


Facebook Event:

Feb. 9, 2014:


6:30 am – 10 Yilus

8:00 am – Examine our negative circles


Harshil Meraiya (India), John Upshaw (U.S.A), and Kelvin Ho (Canada) attended today’s session. It’s great to have someone new joining.

John and I did 10 yilus.

Harshil had some questions on double positive circles, we showed the 3-count double positive circle as in this video:

For Harshil’s positive circle, focus on not moving the front knee, such that on the 2nd count, there is a stretch as the waist is turned. On the 3rd count, make sure that the hand-out is led by the middle finger. He had the tendency to initiate that move with the shoulder and/or the elbow.

We went on to discuss more on negative circles:

1) Harshil – On a 3-count negative circle, his elbow went out first. He needs to make sure that the hand goes out while the elbow is held back.

2) John – The shoulder joint needs to go over the top to complete the negative circle. The difference between the positive and negative circle is that a positive circle goes from lower half to upper half, and the negative circle goes from upper half to lower half if we just look at the shoulder joint. As we transition from count 3 to count 1, the hand has to keep going out, and should never come back. John was also raising the shoulder as the hand rose up. We tried to figure out how keep his shoulder down with this exercise:

Slowly raise the hand from low to high.  At some point, the shoulder will start to go up with the hand as this is how most of us raise a hand. Find a way to keep the shoulder down as the hand passes the point where the shoulder wants to go together with the hand.

John figured out how to use some muscles at the back to keep the shoulder down. He then realized how he was using the shoulder itself to try to keep the shoulder down before, and it was not an effective way to do so.  We must remember: One body part can only do one thing. He had the tendency to initiate the 3rd count of the negative circle with the elbow. When he used the other hand to help hold it back, he realized how the energy could pass through the shoulder and the elbow and get to the hand. It also helped the shoulder popping problem.  When he let go of the helping hand, the energy again didn’t quite reach the hand, so he would be working on this.

3) Kelvin – The rear shoulder was a bit higher than the front shoulder, I needed to pull it more.

At a later time, John and I discussed half horse stance, and how the front knee needed to close while the rear knee need to open, but neither knee should be moving, and they would serve as anchors to help rotate the kuas.


Feb. 2, 2014:

The online practice session using video conferencing resumed today from 6:30 am EST to 9 am EST. Michael Koh, John Upshaw and I attended. We started out discussing about the shoulder using the positive circle, how a shoulder often gets raised in two instances:

1) As the right elbow comes in, the right shoulder is pushed up instead of trying to reach the lowest point on the ribcage. This is referring to the first count in a 3-count positive circle.

2) When the right hand is supposed to go out, instead of the hand leading, the right shoulder initiates the action, and it pops up and goes back.

We showed each other our positive circles, and they did look slightly different. As discussion continued, it was evident that this was a result of each of us paying attention to different aspects of the positive circle, and spending more time on those parts.

I observed that Michael’s circle was more 3-D than both John’s and mine. Michael talked about how he visualized drawing the bottom of a cone using the elbow in the 2nd count of a 3-count positive circle, and the middle finger being the tip of the cone. He tested it out with his son, and he remembered Shifu (Master Chen Zhonghua) showed it that way in the application of Six Sealings Four Closings. He pointed out that he didn’t see me doing something similar. Indeed, I didn’t. This triggered me to see that I was missing that dimension in my circle. I would need to have a stretch between the elbow and the shoulder. Only when a stretch is at its extreme, rotation will occur.

Another discussion was about the two halves of the circle. The first half is powered by the front foot pushing while the second half is powered by the rear foot, i.e. it is like two pistons. When the front foot pushes, the front kua opens, such that if I put a dot on the front thigh, and another dot on the dantien, the distance between these two dots need to increase with the front kua being the demarcation line. Michael was able to do this very well.

In discussion, we often simplify it like two dots going away from each other along a straight line. In reality, it might not be like that, but rather in a spiraling way, it depends on how the kua rotates.

With the recent discussions on the Don’t Move group, and today’s session, the concept of dimensions seems a bit clearer to me.


Other things to note:

1) The hand always wants to go out, the elbow always wants to in. The wrist is straight without bending. There is always a stretch between the hand and the elbow.

2) The shoulder always wants to go down to find the kua, it is also like tying the shoulder to the ground, and that’s what we should be doing for the entire form.

3) The waist only rotates in one direction throughout the entire circle. There is no reset in performing the circle.  If one travels from point A to point B, in order to get from point B back to point A, one cannot use the same original path, otherwise, this is the same as not doing the circle.  One must get from B to A using a different path. Imagine a two lane road separated by a barrier between them. One uses one lane to get from point A to point B, then somehow one gets to the other side of the barrier, and goes back to A using the other lane.

4) Today, I was reminded by the discussion itself that I needed to listen to others about myself, and believe in ourselves when looking at others. In other words, I am not able to measure myself objectively, so we need someone or something external to myself to facilitate it.


June 16, 2013:

Today we covered the following Cannon Fist postures:

1. Buddha’s warrior attendants pounds the mortar

2. Block touching coat

3. Six sealing and four closing

4. Single whip

5. The hammer of lifting and blocking

6. White ape presents fruit

7. The fist of protecting the heart

8. Serial cannon


June 9, 2013:

Written by John Upshaw

This session started with discussion about my “First 13 Postures” video I (John) posted on Google + this past Friday.  Kelvin pointed out three structural flaws in my yilu.

The first flaw is in 6 sealing & 4 closing.  When my hand went out, my spine slightly followed.  The need is for me to maintain, not move, my left side when my right hand is going out.  Kelvin also pointed out I maintained the progress I made in my shoulder not popping

The second error that was discussed was my rising up right before stepping forward in 6 sealing & 4 closing.  I believe the issue with that was in my kua closing…the stretch needs to expand while the front hand does not move, mine was retreating.

The third error of mine we discussed was in Initial Closing.  I was off the line, not pulling through dantian to my rear heel…furthermore my hands dropped, which may indicate I was not pulling in with elbow.

We did our 12 yilus and called it another session complete.


June 2, 2013:

John and I did 30 yilus on June 1, 2013, and Kelvin did 24 yilus on June 2, 2013.  We were in discussion to increase the number of yilus on the weekend during the coming summer.


May 19, 2013:

Today, KS Loke from Malaysia joined John and me for the session. We discussed positive and negative circles.

Positive Circle:

1) In with elbow (touch the ribcage)

2) Turn with waist (fixed the front knee, to create a stretch with the front foot)

3) Out with hand (do not turn shoulder first and do not let the elbow go out first)

Negative Circle:

Same as the points discussed on May 12, 2013.

Later, John and I finished the 12 yilus.  Reminder for John to focus on being fully extended all the time during the entire yilu.


May 12, 2013:

Today, John Upshaw and I did 12 yilus, and we discussed a bit about tile hand. We also talked about erlu. I don’t yet know erlu, and we are considering learning it together in our practice sessions in the future. At 11:55 am EDT, Carmelo Farruggia, and his group (John, John, James) joined the Google+ hangout. We did positive and negative circles together, and discussed negative circles, and how the 1-2-3 count would be like:

1) Elbow in (over the top in the shoulder)

2) Drop the hand (the hand should stay outside of the elbow, and the elbow shouldn’t move first before the hand)

3) Hand out (stretch out the hand, and the shoulder and the elbow shouldn’t go out first)

It was great meeting the Fair Oaks group in California. There is a 3-hour time zone difference. Due to limited time today, the meeting was very brief, and it will be great to meet again with more accommodating time for east and west coast.


May 5, 2013:

This was the 5th consecutive virtual practice session. It consisted of 12 yilus (the norm) with feedback and discussion at the end. The first discussion was on the shifting from the front kua to the rear kua when the positive circle turns over on the way out. After the elbow come in and the waist is rotated as far as it can…then there is the shift from front to rear kua. Like a bicycle sprocket, there is a continual shifting, or turning over, from one pedal to the next to complete the 360 circle. The next discussion was on fetch water. After the waist rotates backwards (visualize the rear hand pulling the rope that holds the bucket of water towards the rear kua, hand connected to the waist)…the rear kua rotates backwards, beginning on the crease between the groin and inner thigh, behind the buttocks and connects to the front heel. A lot of good technical information…

The last thing we addressed was the negative circle. In with elbow, turn waist, shift from front to rear kua, lock elbow (everything for that matter) and out with hand…the not moving the elbow and shoulder is what John will work on…much to think on there is….


April 28, 2013:

Kelvin did a record high of 24 yilus today and John did 20.

John is going to have one focus for the coming week, which is to not let the pop or go in the same direction of the hand.  The shoulder can only go down.


April 21, 2013:

Tim Duering showed us how to do fetch water.

Michael Koh of Singapore joined John and me briefly in Google+ Hangout. He shared with us his son’s excellent yilu demo. His front knee and his head were not moving when he did fajin.

We did 12 yilus, and we did 600 fetch water on each side at a later time.


April 14, 2013:

In the 2nd session today, John Upshaw and I did 12 yilus and 600 fetch water on each side. We discussed:

1) Six sealings four closings – For the 2nd positive circle, the right elbow needs to hit a lower point in the rib cage when it comes in, and not raise the waist.

2) Positive Circle – How the shoulder is currently initiating the action (powering up) for “hand-out”, and when it should be just “hand out”. The shoulder should not follow the direction of the hand either. As the elbow comes in, the hand should not deviate from the line.

3) Half horse stance – The rear kua should be lower than the front kua. For Kelvin’s left hand positive circle, the right(rear) kua is not lower than the left (front) kua.


April 7, 2013:

In the very first session on April 7, 2013, John Upshaw and I did 12 yilus and 600 fetch water on each side. It was a very productive 4-hour session, we discussed:

1) Positive Circle: How shoulder should only go down while the hand goes out.

2) Fetch Water: Not moving the hands, and focus on opening the kua.

3) Twisting the towel: Not moving the hands, push with the rear foot, shoulder goes down to the kua, and elbow comes in to the middle line, and the hand is pushed out.


About Kelvin Ho

Kelvin Ho, Master Chen Zhonghua's 97th disciple, is the instructor for Practical Method Toronto. He has been teaching and promoting the Practical Method system in Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill, Canada since 2011. He has received numerous medals in various Taiji competitions. He is also a vice-president of MartialArts Association Canada. Like his teacher, he feels an obligation to pass this great art onto others. Contact:

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