Notes for North American Practical Method Training Camp 2017

by Kelvin Ho on 2017/08/07


On Day 1, I led one session with the following:
1) First 13 moves with counting
2) Detailed first 3 moves with focus on fixed points/axes
3) Going Around A Fixed Point Drill 1 (Peeling Drill) – Create a fixed point at bottom of the palm, stretch the fingers around that fixed point
4) Going Around A Fixed Point Drill 2 (Application of the 3rd count of Positive Circle) – Opponent pushes into the elbow, and establish that contact point as the fixed point, stretch the fingers around that fixed point to topple the opponent.

Snake swallows an elephant. The snake climbs to swallow the elephant while the elephant does not move.

Taiji is the art of pulling a bow. (Note that Master Chen didn’t talk about releasing)

Energy alignment is navigation. Master Chen put his hands up like holding on to a steering wheel. I noticed that he controlled the centre of the steering wheeling and moved his hands around that centre.

Fixed dot in the middle of the two feet. Hold that dot at all times.

To fight you need a stick.

Connect with the elbow, then kua, then knee.

Elbow can control the top only, you need the kua to control the bottom.

Coordination creates perceived power.

New stepping exercise, waist training, suck to the dantian. A partner put weight on my ankle preventing it from moving. I need to be able to pull that foot in.

Be a pyramid, don’t be top heavy.

Potato pipe analogy: In order to put the potato into a pipe, the mouth of the pipe can’t move around.

The back should be the rod, the limbs are blades of a food processor. Don’t allow the back to move backwards.

During push hands, set a plan on how many times to resist before pulling the opponent in. Don’t change that plan, execute it. Set a new plan next time.

Grandmaster Hong said not to read a book.
Knowledge needs to be obtained directly, e.g. A toddler tastes everything.
Using eyes and hears are already a level away from being directly.
Even further away will be reading.

During push hands, separate yourself from reality, e.g. Master Chen holds a can of pop or a cup of coffee, he focuses on not spilling it and not on how to fight. He can’t be dragged into the fight, that will be double heavy.

Pay attention to the seemingly insignificant things that the teacher does. Be observant.

Be yourself and not be yourself, e.g. Mother Teresa.

Taiji is a mirror of life.

Don’t change the drill. I got 0 points during the test as I have changed the particular drill (how I touched the opponent on the right hand).

All taiji positions are uncomfortable, we train to make them comfortable. When opponent needs to match they will have to go into the uncomfortable positions. Master Chen used the concave vs convex shape of the arm as an example.

Wrist elbow knee

Always have a move in mind to execute. Don’t deviate from it.

Push hands technique: Knee moves towards the ground while hand on right shoulder with elbow pulling down.

Taiji Trinity
Principle Separation of Yin and Yang
Concept Indirect Power
Action In with Elbow No Hand, Out with Hand No Elbow

They are one and the same.

Another way of describing taiji is spiral, which is a modern term.

Perceived power comes from being equal.

There is no power anywhere.

To be equal, you need to be a specific place.

I don’t have a centre. It means my distance is off when in contact with opponent such that I can’t rotate.

Start training the separation of thigh and calf, they rotate in opposite directions.

Use heel and toe without moving the knee to allow the kua to rotate.

We need to see the gap in between. Enlarge the gap.

Combination of space and no space.

Life is a combination of events.

Before becoming a disciple, you choose among many paths.
Becoming a disciple means you shut out other things and keep going on this one path.

Stick the front kua to the opponent, and open the rear kua.

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:

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron Bartholomew August 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Great notes, Kelvin!
Attaching mine from the same event:


Steve Doob August 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm

I had a great time at the camp. I liked everything about it. John and Levi had the logistics so well in hand that they could participate in most of the sessions and still appear relaxed. The location was lovely, the staff was friendly and served tasty food and all the participants were fun and eager to help.

People have told me I have SPD—Self Perception Disorder—and the workshop made it clear that they were right. Maybe I’m not as young as I think I am. I had never tried the kind of push hands where the object is to throw you to the ground. Now that my knee is healed I think I should leave such pushing to the youngsters who were so good at it.

I came to the camp all full of myself, thinking I was pretty good at the Yilu I’d been practicing for several months. My bubble was swiftly burst, but I brought home a lot of things to think about and practice that will keep me excited at least until the next workshop. Looking forward to the next Iowa camp!


philcusick August 14, 2017 at 9:56 am

Steve Doob- at 75 years young, seeing you energetically attend all the sessions, and test your skills on the mat…man! you are an inspiration ! I enjoyed working with you at the workshop (and the airport). Hope to see you soon and hope that we are both still doing this when I am 75 and you are 95.


Gerry Gebhart August 14, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Great notes! Must have been a great workshop. While live stream was technically challenged, I did get enough to think about. Looks like a good group. I regret missing it. See us in Phoenix in January!


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