By John Upshaw and Levi Sowers
The interaction occurring amongst the various elements of our body are numerous and complex. This is especially true when applied to the movements, and thereof lack of movements, in Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. The purpose of this article is to provide athat will allow the reader to conceptualize the necessary movements that are congruent with the taiji principals, and inherent to the Practical Method system. The 1, 2, 3 of taiji movements will be the for describing these internal relationships. We hope that readers will be able to distinguish between what parts of the body moves from what does not move. When that is identified, then a clearer understanding of the lines that are stretched upon within oneself becomes more recognizable.
Within thisof taiji movements, the numerical representations can be defined as a physiological location that has the capacity to function as a joint. The many joints of the body are present to connect the movements of two or more structures. Proper alignment of these joints and the associated body parts allow/prohibit power to move throughout the body. Moreover, the joint’s functions are to connect two or more structures. The resulting alignment creates lines on the body untimely leading to the generation of power on the opponent. When the numeric representations interact, this is referred to as being “related”. In this of taiji movements, the following relationships are allowed to move towards one another (Figure 1):
- 1 can relate to 2
- 2 can relate to 1
- 2 can relate to 3
- 3 can relate to 2
At this point you may be thinking “how does this relate to my body and taiji movements?” Remember, each numeral represents a physiological location within its anatomically correct sequence. For instance, elbow, waist, and feet can be directly inserted into the 1, 2, 3format (Figure 2).
- Elbow can relate to waist.
- Waist can relate to elbow.
- Waist can relate to feet.
- Feet can relate waist.
These sequential relationships exist in several places throughout our body. For example, hand-elbow –shoulder, waist-knee-foot, and elbow-waist-rear foot are few sequential relationships that can be applied to the. The purposes of these relationships are to ensure there is no slack, provide a pivot point, maintain structural integrity, maintain space taken from an opponent and develop a line of power that is present in the body (Figure 2).
Another important component of thisis that of being “unrelated” or a state of “unrelatedness”. Unrelated, from a taiji perspective, can be defined as a relationship in which the nonmoving elements of ones’ physiology are not associated, thus having no effect, with the moving or rotating body part and vice versa. The moving or rotating body part functions independently from the rest of ones’ physiology. This is directly correlated with one of Practical Method’s key principals; one part of the body can perform one function. Therefore, in the 1, 2, 3 of taiji movements, the following illustrates the relationship of movements and no movements.
- When 1 relates to 2, then 3 and everything else is unrelated
- When 2 relates to 1, then 3 and everything else is unrelated
- When 2 relates to 3, then 1 and everything else is unrelated
- When 3 relates to 2, then 1 and everything else is unrelated
To make themore concrete, we will use a section from the as an example. Imbedded in our minds is Master Chen Zhonghua’s voice saying, “in with elbow, turn waist, and out with hand”. Hearing this instruction allows me to “connect the dots” in applying the . The first thing that is required is to identify the 1, 2, and 3 physiological locations, out of a multitude of combinations. For the coming in we will use the combination of elbow (1), waist (2), and left rear foot (3). Beginning from right hand extended out while in a half horse stance, elbow relates or goes to waist. During this time waist is the and foot is unrelated. Then waist goes to left rear foot. When this occurs, the foot is the and elbow is unrelated. Within this small sequence of movements is a microcosm that can be applied throughout the entire . However, we would recommend beginning with the and perhaps a section of individual postures from the , erlu, and even sword forms.
We previously placed much emphasis on how movements are related in functional manners. We will now shift our focus to movements that are related in dysfunctional manners that compromise the physiology’s structural integrity. Within the, the following relationships are prohibited to move toward one another (figure 3):
- 1 can not relate to 3
- 3 can not relate to 1
It is important to note that moving away is allowed as long as one of those points is fixed. In both of the relationships mentioned above, 2 is pushed out causing the structure to buckle (Figure 3). Buckling from a taiji perspective is when a structure collapses from the inside out. Another Practical Method principal, “the inside stays on the inside and the outside stays on the outside”, is directly related to this dynamic of compromised structural integrity. Please refer to the clip below:
When Levi, on the left, is issued energy from Master Chen Zhonghua, his structure buckles. Applying the 1, 2, 3, the following illustrates what happens;
- 1 is head
- 2 is waist
- 3 is feet
Levi’s(1) relates to his feet (3) causing him to buckle. If you watch closely you will see Levi’s waist (2) leave the inside and move to the outside until his rear foot makes adjustments. It is clear that Levi buckled under Master Chen’s power and structural integrity.
The purpose of this article was to present the 1, 2, 3of Taiji Movements. It is our hope that readers are better able to understand, identify, and implement this of taiji movements within their practice/training regimen. With adherence to these relational principles, we hypothesize taiji practitioners will see a series of changes including: a reduction in slack, increase ability to maintain space taken from an opponent, increased structural integrity, and enhance one’s ability to generate power on the opponent. Ultimately, with continued practice and adherence to these principles, it gives the practitioner an option to be the buckler or the one prone to being buckled…the choice is yours.