Sydney Workshop Notes 19/11/2013

by Jyuken-nin on 2013/11/19

IMG_3417After almost two weeks since attending the Sydney Practical Method workshop. I cannot retain all the information I heard in my head. It’s just going to give me a headache. I’m going to empty out all of my thoughts and experiences on what I remember from the Workshop, not to be excited on how many comments I’ll get but for my benefit to continue training unimpeded, because if I don’t, then my energy will be wasted in thinking rather than practicing.

– I asked Paul Janssens, how to ensure how to “get it right”, you must ask your partner to cooperate, and provide the same push, if too hard, ask him to go easy, if we are both competing, then we don’t get to learn and “nurture” the skill

– I don’t care what status or experiences you’ve had, I’ll listen and learn from you

– In the beginning, whenever i did it right, I had no idea what i did, and then i become skeptical, whether the person was just being nice

WithJervis– I tried to keep my questions simple and hands on, Paul told me that Master Chen prefers questions like “can i feel what you are doing?”, when i was feeling what Paul was doing, demonstrating the opening of the Kua, I’d ask him to feel me, to see whether i’ve got the right idea or not.

– when using an imagination, don’t just think about it, use it as an example to create something physical in the body to happen (eg. squeezing toothpaste analogy), and they’re just colourful terms to remember easily

– I started thinking of the word “circle” as a verb, rather than the shape, which could also be termed an ellipse

– When I try to totally listen to Master Chen, I tried my best not to think or attempt to relate it to my past experiences. I realised that if I stand crossing my arms, holding them to my belly or holding it at my back, leaning on one leg or trying to copy him as he’s is explaining, my attention just gets split from holding my own tension, and i cannot fully immerse into or i may miss something from Master Chen’s words and demonstrations

-I’ve heard alot of Master Chen’s concepts before, but i would refrain myself from saying “I already know that, tell me something else”, because who knows, I may or may not have a different understanding of what he says. It’s similar to how people read the bible, they may come across the same verse, but have a completely different view of it than they did before

– Pushing with Master Chen, to describe it, is like I’m just a finger fighting against an entire hand, his body moves like a giant hand!!

group– When Master Chen said that Chen Taiji was created by aliens, i remembered a method i was taught on how to learn, I Imagine i’m an alien that came to this planet, and without using words, i would feel and touch objects as if it was the first time

– I cannot describe with any other words what i felt on Master Chen’s body, which is why i must trust what he describes it as and try to recreate it on myself

– i was starting to “understand” the lever, during my private lesson with Master Chen, it really makes a difference to feel how he locks a point in space and moves other parts to manipulate me, it really did feel like fighting a machine, and finding my weakspots like as if I was in the way of his “train tracks”.

– locking the first point is quite simple, the second move, to redirect, u can rub along the opponent’s empty spots, like washing you’re hands, you need to “feel for the weakness”

– When he was showing me the right movements in yiu, i would also ask what the wrong movements i was making looked like, to develop the eye for detail

– I’ve felt from many practitioners being manipulated with at least 3 points of contact, but never have i felt being manipulated with at least 4 points

WithJohn-Before coming to this workshop, i made my own endeavours by exploring other styles as well as exploring my own range of movement, learning to watch and listen carefully, but it was also to further understand in reference to Practical Method Principles. That way i would not be caught up on “why” questions, and any personal remarks like, “but my knees hurt”.

– feeling Master Chen’s  “Dantian rotation”, when he said “full”, his stomach bloated out (expanded), like as if he had enjoyed a meal and was “full”, and then the rotation, i tried to relate it to his “water fountain” analogy and this video (2.10)

– When i heard people ask, “how can i do that?”, i just thought i wanted to say, “he just showed you”

WithTomLiu– I kept wondering, why in all the photos, Master Chen has the same face, there was something like an serene quietness within him, then i remembered from one of my yang style friends sharing this knowledge with me (lao liu lu), is that you must have an inner smile when practicing Taijiquan, and i also kept hearing Master Chen using the words, “sink the qi to dantien”. I tried to release all the tension from my upper brain (“emptying the mind”), and only left enough tension for an inner smile, my eyes would not wonder, but fix on a certain point, and stay present in the moment and not think about something of the future or the past (“mind of a monkey, intent of a horse”), and then i would just let everything between the head to the pelvis hang like a bag full of groceries (“stretch”), supported by the “table” of the stance and carefully letting my stomach out (“full”) but still maintain control to be able to contract it.(“always on”).

– Practical Method Taiji, is “nerd” Taiji, the body is receiving a lesson in physics and mechanics

-“Declare war on your body” – other systems might say, “The fight is within yourself”

– “the fake centre, is the true centre” – Master Chen demonstrated by spininng his shoe in mid-air

– If you want to be as good as Master Chen, you must become Master Chen!!

– When he talked about people over the internet criticizing about his form, i thought to myself, when i’m doing yilu, i must not hide behind Master Chen’s form, i must also face the same opinions, criticisms and probably humilations in order to follow the instructions he gave me, no matter how stupid i think i look

-Overall Master Chen stresses the instruction of “don’t move”, and with the creative mind that i have, which is the best/worst trait that i have, i tried to “find movements that don’t make me move”, but he had already covered it with the “5 Nos”…i think

-“When you finally understand taiji, you’ll want to quit doing taiji” – This took me a while to sink in, and i think i almost did give up. I did the human thing by invalidating my past experiences, whether what i’ve learnt before was right or wrong, all i know is that i would not have come to this point, if i had not experienced what i had experienced before, so difficult to shut that out of you’re mind

-“when you’re happy, you do taiji; when you’re sad, you do taiji; when you’re angry, you do taiji” – This just reminded me of how i go to work, I can’t just go or not go to work because I “feel” like it

– Don’t get excited when you do the technique correctly, otherwise you start associating the sensation of “feeling good” as the right movement, and that makes you no different to a drug addict

-When Master Chen kept stressing how difficult learning Taiji is and that you must be dedicated to practiced, it reminded me of when i was a child learning my timestables(multiplication tables), my dad would force me to learn, even when i was crying and then finally i just gave in and memorized them

Anyways, now that i’ve had my own personal rant, it won’t make any difference, because i could have used this time to practice more yilus, at least the information (good or bad) is out there, and not stuck in my head. Great fun, more practice.

– Jervis Tsui

About Jyuken-nin

love tai chi and watching clips of CTPM

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

gigi November 19, 2013 at 4:06 am

Thanks for your notes.
“When Master Chen said that Chen Taiji was created by aliens” – the scenario
is very possible. If we look at “Ancient Aliens ” from History Channel
we can elaborate an hypothesis such as Taiji is a reminiscence of a great knowledge from that period.
It was thought only for the elites and kept secret generation after generation.
And who knows maybe in the beginning there was some devices to achieve skills in a short time .


Niko November 19, 2013 at 5:13 am

Gigi, if you inform your mayor that they exist, you´ll get psychiatric assessment ( compulsory). Because you bring up the past into the present. Or the future …
Anyways, coolest stuff on this website, only !
So today, i won´t go jobbing, i´ll practice 10 Yilu´s and foundations. Than standing meditation to fill up my form with cement. I need to film my progress for you to assess. My knees are hurting badly, because i went down so much that the ligaments are very stretched out. Going down lots gives me great rooting. It is a bit like my feed are pint to the ground.


John Intervalo November 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Thank you for posting your notes Jervis. The notes have assisted in my own understanding. You’ve motivated me to share some of my own notes of the seminar.
First and foremost I wanted to mention Master Chen’s alien theory for the development of Taiji. I too thought this was a great way to explain Taiji. As Master Chen said, the movements in Taiji are not human. When the untrained experience it, it is unexplainable and what you would normally be expecting to cause what had happened appeared not to move at all. I really liked your analogy of trying to be like an alien, exploring and experiencing everything for the first time with a curious mindset. That’s how I definitely felt with the movements feeling very different to me.
This leads me to another point to “declare war on your own body”. Because the movements are not human and go against our normal human instinct we must declare war against what our body is doing and ensure it does what we want it to do. Understanding the concepts that Master Chen explains is one thing. Convincing your body to perform it is another. The war must be fought in order to reprogram the body to ensure it actually follows what the mind is telling it what to do. I thought this was a very appropriate way of explaining it, “Declare war against your own body.”
As you mentioned, I also very much liked the term “nerd Taiji”. As someone who studied body mechanics subjects at university it was the first time since then that I’ve heard someone with such knowledge of the movement of the human body. What impresses me even more is that Master Chen has more knowledge and understanding of efficiency of the human body! It was also very refreshing to hear Master Chen talk about the scientific method of learning and his ideas for further research.
I would also like to point out what I’m sure many others are also impressed with, the passion, energy and time Master Chen puts into Taiji. Seeing and experiencing how good Master Chen is makes me think how much training he has (and continues to) put in to reach that level. This in combination with his knowledge as discussed previously was very inspiring and makes me extremely motivated to train. The most important point here is the fact that Master Chen makes no secret of the fact that to become good in Taiji you must train hard. Therefore “when you’re happy, you do taiji; when you’re sad, you do taiji; when you’re angry, you do taiji”. Always working towards improving yourself no matter what the circumstances.
My last point I want to mention (and Jervis I remember talking to you about this when we were practicing outside on the last day) the idea of investing in loss. To not be afraid of ‘losing’ because once you are not afraid of falling or losing that is when a lot of the concepts and principles are able to be executed. Again this ties in with “Declaring war against your own body”.
The above points really stuck with me and have helped shaped my approach on training Taiji. Of course these points were on top of the many Taiji principles and concepts that were covered. The seminar was a fantastic experience.
John Intervalo


Chen Zhonghua November 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

There some some ideas similar to investing in loss in this new clip: (make sure the caption button [cc] is on, to see the english captions on youtube player)


John Intervalo November 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Thank you very much for this clip Master Chen. Human instinct of fighting preventing people from exploring the “yin dimension”. 


Allan Haddad November 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

Thank you Shifu.


MoreTaiji November 26, 2014 at 5:10 am

“When Master Chen said that Chen Taiji was created by aliens”
Can someone explain this theory further ?


Chen Zhonghua November 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm

This is an analogy. Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method movements are so out of the ordinary that you can say “it was not humans who created it!”


MoreTaiji November 27, 2014 at 5:19 am

What comes after death ? Is there taoist knowledge dealing with questions like that ?


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