Energy Alignment

by Kelvin Ho on 2020/01/13

Energy path is the pathway that energy travels on. There are both a physical path and a virtual path for a given setup. For any three points in the body, they can form a triangle (unless they all fall into one straight line). For this discussion, let’s use right hand, left kua and left foot as the three points. As similarly discussed in this previous article, while the right hand and left kua form one physical (solid) line, and the left kua and left foot form another physical (solid) line, the right hand and left foot form a virtual (invisible) line. While the actual energy travels along the two physical lines, it can be viewed as if it travels on the virtual line.

Consider a case when the opponent touches me with his right hand with the setup as described above, the virtual line represent the energy path. If I can match the power, angle and speed as presented by the energy path, it can be viewed as a non-moving rod. In Practical Method, we may consider it as the base dimension and let’s call it “one”. Based on the principle of yin-yang separation, we want to add an action in the another dimension, which we call “two”. This approach of establishing actions is often referred as “Add One”. When the 2nd action is applied, it must not influence/affect/disrupt/impact the first action, in other words, it is totally independent of the first action. In order to use the 2nd action to create a rotation based on the fixed rod (like a rotisserie), the first action must be responsible for keeping the rod in place (non-moving) while the 2nd action needs to go over or under the rod, or both at the same time, i.e. the 2nd action creates another energy path that goes around the rod.

In actual operation, if the opponent pushes on me, I would first bring that energy to my rear foot. This creates one energy path in his body, and one energy path through my body to the ground. This establishes “one”. Note that this is no push back to the opponent, I only attempt to adjust my body parts to redirect the incoming energy to the ground. This is like collecting water through a funnel, and let it out the other end. Another point about the establishing the first energy path is that I must get to a point that I am stuck, which is uncomfortable. In order to truly do a 2nd action (“two”), I must be able to stretch in a way that does not alter/disrupt the first energy path.

As described above, I match the opponent by meeting his power at our fronts, and that location becomes a non-moving point. Another way is to let the opponent’s force be matched by a stretch that I create against a designated non-moving point of my own. A third way to match is to create an equal and opposite action against the opponent, in between his action and mine, there is a non-moving point. In all 3 examples, there is always a non-moving point, only with which rotation is possible. However, rotation is only a result, we only perform linear actions against restrictions to create stretches. Another point to note is that the 1st and 2nd energy paths must cross each other but without affecting each other to create an effect that is larger than the sum of them. Within a given energy path, there is also a non-moving dot. If we can disrupt/move the non-moving point of the opponent’s energy path, the opponent’s power won’t be able to continue.

The way we use power produces one energy path, but in Practical Method, the indirect or resultant energy path is what we really want to use. Once we have one level of indirectness, we will realize that it is possible to have more levels. What it means is, for example, if action B causes action A, it is possible to create two levels of indirectness by having action C to cause action B, which, in turns, causes action A. The better we become, the more indirect our actions will be. The opponent will have a difficult time stopping us because he can’t identify the real source of power when he can only feel the effect of it.

Sorting out the energy paths is like combing through the hair to remove any knots. Once we see them and can keep them in place, we will also see the space in between, which we will ultimately need take up.

The above summarizes my understanding at this point of time. Understanding will increase as our abilities increase. We must keep our consistent training to strive for further breakthroughs. Happy Training!

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:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

vincent den hengst January 14, 2020 at 10:27 am

Even though I can follow what you are reasoning and thinking to understand it, I am not able to apply all in my most of actions in random push hands / partner exercises. I have been watching the fantastic 4 energy alignment videos (for those who know the yilu 81 already: BUY this series! This is a must) about ten times each and still not ready to remember all the details. I am still working on the details in my yilu in order to know the energy lines. I have to practice smaller bits like:
creating the rods,
always shovel out when stepping in the 1,2,3 sequence,
trying to use the body parts right in every yilu move,
applying ‘don’t move’, ‘rotate’ and ‘open the kua’ and
knowing where the lines are.
By reading this article I get some insight from how you combined interlocking aspects of the theory and how my efforts could benefit from our insight.

Thanks for this great article, Kelvin!


Rick January 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

It took me a while to understand what you were saying in your article (Energy alignment) but when when I was showing a friend how to apply it on me I suddenly found myself accelerating toward the ground. I was astounded how effective it was. Thanks for sharing your insight.



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