Edmonton Workshop Notes: October 13 and 14, 2018.

by Rion Swanson on 2018/11/04





-No move, only rotate

-Rotation –> power

-Friction (feet) eventually on the opponent

-Action and Attachment

-Movement without movement

-move –> you become dead (like a top spinning, then starting to wobble, then falling over)

-Stretch –> life

-It’s not how much you learn, it’s whether you get it!

-Test: everything you do: times by a factor of 10 (Master Chen’s teacher), Everything you do times by factor of 100 (Master Chen).

-A rotation can be improved, other things cannot (they will blow up!)

-Lock at hips/waist, nothing below moves

-Correction for me: upper body/shoulders move too much still (more than lower waist/kua area). They should be the same.

-Taiji movements are the movement of a car engine (everything is internal), the “internal combustion engine”

-kua, knee, foot (lower body internal engine)

-elbow, shoulder, kua (upper body internal engine)

-‘Sagging’ translates to aging. We don’t want slack (sagging) – rubber cord example

-In with elbow, no hand. Out with hand, no elbow

-Reducing slack/sagging means cheating aging.

-Moving like that is like the breathing of the universe

-Correction for me: on ‘hand out’, fingers lead the way. When opponent is there in your way, your body will push into opponent. This is wrong. Like water, it has to continue on past the barrier(opponent). Water never continues just hitting the same area only, it always goes around the barrier.

-Where Master Chen touches, he cannot have friction/interaction

-Once you touch, there’s no interaction (at places of contact/touching)

-You need more power, you need more gas! The tire does not hit the floor more!

1. Rotation

2. Move and Adjustment (the fighting part is the adjustment)

-You need to practice continually with a partner (where they don’t fight you, but just give you feedback)

-You lock or freeze the point of contact (“no more move”) at that point

-It continuallly appears not to fight but continually picks up more area

1. Principle

2. Concept

3. Action

-Of these, we must understand what belongs to what (and not confuse any of them with the others)

-Only one principle. Taiji is Yin and Yang. When something is divided, it is Taiji.

-Concept: everything has to have two parts.

-The more parts your body is divided into, the smoother you will operate

-Smoother is strong (not rough, course). Ex: steel vs. raw iron

-We want the training to be very smooth (divided into many small moves/segments). Then the movements become very strong.

-You can only have one action (at a time). The rest of the body parts are adapting.

SAY THESE THINGS EVERY TIME YOU TRAIN: “In with elbow, Turn with waist, Out with hand”. Tip of elbow, dantian dot, end/tip of middle finger. Think of those actual body parts.

-For tip of middle finger out (hand out), you must have the opposite (the rear foot).

-In the beginning the most important thing is to be LOW (low, large stance, and kua can never be lower than your knee)

-Kua has to be at least 1 inch higher than your knee.

-You must train to re-engage the whole torso area. As you age you lose this.

  1. In with elbow
  2. Turn (rotate) waist
  3. Hand out (with foot)

-Numbers 1 and 2 are getting to the fight. Number 3 is the fight.

-My correction: My 2 is too small. My 3 is pretty good.

-Taiji has nothing to do with speed. Taiji has everything to do with how you move your body!

-Intention training: When you think, don’t move! When you move, don’t think!

Practice first part of Yilu:



-Every move must have a focus/intention

-#2 intention is in both elbows only

(lunch break)

-The word ‘not moving’ in the Tao Te Ching was mistranslated to the word ‘tranquility’ (ie: meditation).

-In regards to learning: Get rid of the emotion, remember the instructions (ie: something useful).

-Don’t describe an action, then add how you feel about it!

-Do not assume you know!

-The point of touch is sealed together.

-It’s the opening from internal body that does the work.

-Not moving, you have the power of the universe. It’s the movement that makes you have less power.

-“To skirt” –> “To shirt” (the strength is there if you don’t move, ie: have a part that doesn’t move).

-Nothing has power unless it’s stable.

-When you do it right, unfortunately, it looks totally fake.

-One with the Tao: Whatever the larger thing is, you align with the larger thing.

-You must change as things change.

-Always borrow power from something bigger. –> First 10 years: borrow from the floor. Next 10 years: borrow from space.

-Eat bitterness

-Correction for me: Do not move the torso. I’m moving the torso when I speed up, my straight line head to huiyin is straight when I’m going slow.

-It’s not about how careful you are, it’s about how differentiated you are.

-You are a machine. Accept your program.

-You must be bigger than YOU, not bigger than your opponent.

-Stretch 2-4 inches more than before.

-The inches you add to make yourself longer (when fighting opponent) are REAL! They are not in your imagination. The change of the contact point is REAL!

-“REAL” = “CLEAR” (in Taiji terms)

-Humans are the other side of logic. If we get a bit closer to logic, it is a big deal.

-Shoulders in/forward when fighting. Never shoulders back and chest out (that’s a show of posturing). When animals fight, everything is in and forward ready to engage or pounce.

-You want your line to be direct to the opponent/all your energy focused onto/into them.

-You want all their energy to be indirect toward you (never attaching to you or attacking you directly).


-The circle is actually a triangle (coat hangers used)

-If you move, it becomes an external style.

-Those taking notes: Do not seek understanding. If you don’t remember, you can’t really question. Your brain replaces what you saw/hear with what you used to know.

-You must remember the words and actions.

-If you can’t remember, you are discussing something that does not exist!

-9 triangles on Master Chen’s body.

-Once you understand it, none of your movements will look like Taiji.

-Once you establish the centre line (totally locked), the spot you place your hand is very precise.

-Taiji is a totally new operating system in your body.

-(Regarding the triangles on your body): 9 usable dots in your body. Each one has a designated method:

  1. Wrist is one method. The method for the wrist is to lock it.
  2. Elbow. Method for elbow is to rotate to dantian.
  3. Shoulder.
  4. Kua (front kua ie: in positive circle).
  5. Other kua (rear kua).
  6. First kua (front kua again).
  7. Knee.
  8. Ankle.
  9. Overall [settle body (?)].

-That changed hand is the deepest secret in Taiji.

-Switching of the kua. The religion of Taiji.

-You are totally on your own for 99.9% of the time. Other person will give you the final touch.

-What is a true yin yang split? It means there must be 2 of you!

-When you walk, dantian does not move, but each leg moves separate. 3 points. You need the third one, otherwise it does not work (“third hand”).

-The real magic is the method. You follow the method, it’s faster.

-“The body has to be separate in order to be together.” Example of steel cable (contains many separate pieces/strands).

-2 wooden coat hangers held together touching at metal part of the joint (the ballbearing) is the point of rotation. The coat hangers triangle shape never moves (never loses its structural integrity).

-Taiji uses negative energy. The negative energy; you cannot see it moving.

-It takes a long time to be able to utilize power from the joints.

-Same as squeezing toothpaste: outside is locked, lots of compression.

-Like when you hammer, all power to tip of the nail.

-Like a slingshot. You didn’t pull it back much, but when you release it, it goes far.

-The real internal is you can’t see it. The mechanics are the same.

-You follow the rules, it will feel horrible. But it will regenerate your body.

-You are elongating the body. Stretch rubber cord –> it is porous. Full of air pockets.

-We are seeking to really fundamentally change your body.

-You are not moving, you are just rotating to change perspective.

-Master Chen holding a pole vertically against the floor and pushing down from the top. Student pushing the pole from the side.

-No physical change but inside tenses up on impact.

-You can tense 1%, 10%, 100%; whatever you want.

-Shield generation, called the “Iron Vest”.

-Same as an airbag, when there’s no force it does not come out.

-Timing training.

-Iron Vest (beginning training. Tensing). Image of an arrow toward a cirlce.

-Golden Bell (more advanced training. Tensing plus small rotation). Image of an arrow going toward a circle but glancing off it. Roundedness lets incoming force shear off.

-Pushing precisely into elbow joint, not broadly into shoulder, etc. All joints offer vulnerability.

-If it’s extremely soft –> not vulnerable. If it’s extremely hard –> not vulnerable.

-It’s a totally different way of fighting. Looking for weakness.

-Still water. Power goes out but body stays there. Ex: a punch is not a punch. Armour piercing bullet.

-Touch opponent (connect) –> sent something in them and it blows up (energy sent in).

-Last bit of positive circle is where hand follows out.

-My drawing water (right side) –> a lot of movement in my right kua. Have it split, not do other things!

-Image of a line with a reference point at each end, and the split in the middle of the line (split at kua for drawing water).

-If you can find the dot and split it, the substance is not there.

-The split has to be 50/50. Very difficult. You can see it in slow motion if you’re used to seeing it, but if it’s being done to you it seems very quick.

-Master Chen always moving proportionally. All his moves are like that.

-Always looking at where your centre of gravity is. Like a bicycle.

-You can train yourself to sense sensitivity.

-Train until you change your body.

-If knee looks like it’s moving, it’s because kua rotated causing leg to rotate/adjust, then knee adjusted.

-All the movements are opposite of what you see.

-If you learn one thing right, it applies everywhere. Everything’s universal.

-Mozi, Sun Tzu’s teacher. Gentleman of Devil’s Valley. Mozi taught 5 people including Sun Tzu.

lunch break

-For my drawing water (right side), Master Chen touched my jaw on right side so I would stop leaning to the side/forward.

-Your centre always relates to your target (the opponent).

-In with elbow allows you to get on the line.

-Has to be 45 degrees against opponent. Draw lines and put yourself perfect on the 45 degree.

-45 degrees from ground plane also.

-When your body is full of 45s, it’s very hard for your opponent to get a hold of you.

-Three 45’s. Only 2 are real:

-one 45 on the horizontal

-one 45 on the vertical

-one 45 is tracking

-Master Chen taught us 2 skills in Taiji

-one solid – like hammer to nail

-one empty – no power, just variation in speed

-Once you find the centre, your opponent is nullified.

-Equalize opponent with a counterweight.

-If you fight (push forward) or if you back off/away (fight negative), both are normal but not what we’re doing.

-“Matching Power”

-When you rotate, there is no displacement of space.

-The “72 Devils” (distractions/obstacles). A line from point A to point B, with many, many obstacles on the line. These are all devils.

-Use your smartness to walk straight through.

-It’s yin yang split. In the end, it’s simple (from GrandMaster Hong).

-At a certain point, you have to be dumb (have a goal and give up everything else).

-Dumb person can go straight to the end

-A type of smart person needs to come to a point to let go of the distractions and become ‘dumb’.

-Rotation is adjustment of angles, not moving.

-2 students holding rubber cord taut to represent any move you do in the form. Master Chen pulls the cord to show the snap of the cord (shows that there’s power). If Master Chen pulls the cord and one student (ie: anchor) moves, then all is lost. So don’t do this! (ex: move your shoulder, ie: one of the anchors). You will have the loose cord hanging between 2 students with no ability to pull it back and have it snap forward (ie: Springing force).

-You imagine one end of the cord has to be hooked to something (to an anchor). The part moving out (ex: finger or hand) must be against/in relation to the locked part (anchor).

-As you fight your opponent, you change your point of reference (anchor), so it goes very fast.

-It’s how clear your aim is, it’s not how strong.

-From your head to foot there’s a dot. You need to find/be on that dot.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

vincent den hengst November 7, 2018 at 5:27 am

Thank you for these notes, I read through them carefully and used them as a guide in my last three days of preparations for a tournament here in Europe.


Paddy Hanratty November 9, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Great notes. Reading them, I feel like I’m at the workshop.


Sevastianos Maillis November 13, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Very good and useful notes! Thank you!


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