Master Chen Workshop notes March 7-11 2020

by Mark Hanley on 2020/03/12


Basically, once again I will combine the 4-day seminar into a summary by grouping what I call related items. It was a great environment to get corrections from others or better understanding of push hand drills. Great bunch of people.


We did foundation work every day along with the Yilu form lots of either 13 moves or 81.

Twisting towel – This is like two versions of you working toward a common goal. The first version Locks the physical body. The Second you push from back kua to                   move arm when it stops pushing you go back. Zero percent of move came from the first you.

             This concept is also in fetch water – first you stretch from floor up through opposite shoulder. The Second you push the kua to the line from the back. The above              examples were shown in order to show the exactness required. When there is movement elsewhere in the body the intent and power evaporate.

Terms understanding

Throughout the seminar Mater Chen would make the following statements and show examples.  He would have us do a few items to engrain it in us.

                            The lock is Yin The move is yang

                          Definition of not moving the pieces of the arm. Master Chen encouraged us to take this learning and put them in our form  

To move the hand, you must move the elbow

To move the elbow, you must move the shoulder

To move the shoulder, you must move the kua

To move the elbow, extend to armpit,

He also said that in order not to be trapped bypass a Joint. So my elbow is moved by my shoulder then use the kua or foot to move the elbow. This leaves                                       nothing for the opponent to catch, it also makes the line longer


Stretch into legs through hip – I realized I moved my knees or stretched from one foot to another. Now I am trying to stretch through the hip like turning over a an hour glass to stretch or fill to the knees and then feet

Getting rid of slack example Positive circle Practise first aligning elbow (a little) without moving hand.  This gets rid of the slack because when you only rotate elbow it removes slack


Finding the center of the line – Real or otherwise all things go through the middle / centre. So you should beat the opponent to the center. Let your opponent create the two ends and beat them by recognizing and beating them to the center and creating the line

Example of structure and not moving –   The chair does not move. Someone stands between legs of chair. Someone holds one leg and someone else holds the other. When they pull at the same time the person in the middle moves


Rules You can work toward understanding and accomplishing

To move the elbow, try Bypassing joints

–        Open shoulder to move elbow

–        Open kua to move elbow

–        Open heel to move elbow

You always break energy through joints When opponent pushes elbow move turn shoulder / bicep to bring around elbow then there is no fight

Understanding the energy of in and out -Elbow In energy is on the bottom of the arm, hand out the energy is on the top of arm

You can go back and forward but cannot go sideways this would be considered retreat

Power comes from locking first then moving Looseness is like a cotton ball, energy is absorbed by the cotton. A thrown rock you feel it goes through you

Stretch from the back to connect and go through the opponents back


Example of not moving Positive circle hand out without moving or shifting energy will find the back foot

You must have a bite in your grip, do not grab the muscle penetrate to the bone or ligaments. you can penetrate with two fingers or a forearm or a single finger

When you step in if your arm is in front you only have access to the arm if your arm is behind the person you have access to the whole body

You must develop a rod from your front shoulder to front hip first to help remove space. Then you learn to move hand and elbow to create a byte.

All drills

  1. Get to the other side
  2. Stretch in order to cause rotation and bypassing joints
  3. Cause separation by not allowing anything in your body to follow the stretch


How to

Mater Chen talked about Bidirectional elbow rotation where the energy from the elbow went forward to the hand and back toward shoulder.

Mater Chen showed how you can sense this initially. He had me take my arm and place my palm on his elbow joint and the other hand on his wrist. And then he opened his elbow sending first some energy to his hand and then back to his shoulder.

I found I could do the same thing by applying pressure on my elbow and then slowly opening the elbow I could feel the bidirectional stretch. I then took my palm away and tried to do the same

Master Chen said then try to take the backward energy all the way to the back shoulder



Exercise to live longer

Align yourself by Depressing chest and Ming man point (coccyx  ) in order to connect the points into one line in the body



Exchanging of energy Drills between you and your opponent

  1. The S curse in the arm to create a line (bent arm creates a line from shoulder to hand
  •   You have your hands on the biceps of the opponent. If your wrist turns out on the biceps then the shoulder turns inward. If your wrist turns in on the biceps then the shoulder turns outward

2. Bend arm release through hand

  • The opponent holds your wrist with both hands. You bent arm back toward yourself. When they have been up rooted split your energy by stretching your finger from left to right or right to left. You can feel the energy split if you did not unlock

3. Expansion and contraction

  • Master Chen had me push his chest with my two hands arms extended, his expanded his chest and arm. His chest then collapsed as he brought his elbow around and down through my two arms.

4. Changing the angle

  •  Match opponent then leaving your arms in place stretch sitting back stop do not move waist again just stretch with arms. You were able to move them because by moving back you changed the angle and force

5 . General Distance

distance is measured by eyes by shoulders. Boxers rely on elbow movement moving sideways hides elbows and shoulders


6 Ways to connect to your back Do not roll arms


  1. Depress chest and connect to lower back to put arms in front of body
  2. Now expand chest sideways and then Depress chest and connect to lower back to put arms in front of body

7. don’t see an arm see a line with your hands-on opposite side.


Pieces of the form


Fist protecting body

– Use the opposite chest stretch to first engage bent arm and get to fist without moving bent arm structure this arm is like a boomerang then use stretch in kua to move elbow while keeping same boomerang structure

Brush knee with opponent ( proper brush knee)  application

As you step out with heel push your arm down with a byte  in order to stretch opponents’ arm, Lock your forearm and elbow to your front kua. As you land your foot your arm moves down at the same rate as your kua

Tai chi expression for the above is called this is that = examples are your arm is tied to your kua your hand is tied to your foot before elbow in. If there is slack it does not allow this or that to happen


With the above information master Chen had us do drills or feel the experience by him performing the drills on us.

Exchanging of energy Drills between you and your opponent drills example 6

  1. This was a drill to show how to connect to both your back and your opponents back # 6 Ways to connect to your back = Do not roll arms Now expand chest sideways and then Depress chest and connect to lower back to put arms in front of body.

In this drill the opponent grabbed your arms above elbow. Now expand your chest as you raise your arms, your hand and forearm are attached below their arm, once out beyond their body Depress chest and connect to lower back to put arms in front of body. Now stretch from your back to fingers and beyond


  1. This was a drill to show how Expansion and contraction like #5

The opponent pushed my chest with two hands arms extended, I expanded his chest and arms. Depress chest and connect to lower back to put arms in front of body, then collapsed my chest as I brought my elbow around and down through the opponent’s two arms.


Alignment drills

Go backward have your chest become your feet

Someone pushes your chest and walks slow toward you with extended arm. Your chest leans back to where your chest becomes your feet walk back with each push

General Drills

  1. Opponent Steps in right leg you also have right leg forward they  are holding your elbows. They step in and stretch you out. To get rid of the feeling of locked upper body sink opening legs.


  1. Do the same step in as above three 3 times. On third time you do a front right elbow rotation. They have a feeling of hitting a wall


  1. Scissors – step with heel in back of opponent making sure your thigh touches theirs. Your arm stretched across them in front. As you land your foot the thigh effect’s them. At the same time, you stretch to your fingers stretching fingers behind them. You must open your shoulder to make energy goes to fingers.




  1. Your right foot steps in behind the opponent with your arm in front of them at level of elbow. Grab their elbow and squeeze it toward you to have them move energy from right to lower left side. Then rotate thigh and circle your right arm up and back, variation simply move thigh and elbow against one another


  1. Your right hand grabs theirs you step behind their left leg and rotate your left arm around their right bicep. Your left arm rotates up and around while your left leg sweeps them


  1. Opponent pushes on your elbow you wrap your hand and arm around their grab towards ground open or stretch from kua your kua


  1. Do not move – Hold opponent allow them to push you back now connect to floor stretching through to hands and stretch to  hands only back to move opponent



Stand in normal horse stance your right arm is bent in front of you with elbow out right side. Lock your front by pressing front right kua up and front shoulder down.                Now stretch down center of the body to lock the rest of the body. Connect/stretch back left ball of foot to left kua. Feel the connection between the ball of the foot and the elbow. twist back left heel forward and rotate around center. Your elbow moves out not back

Try other side

Now have someone stand between your elbow and front foot. Perform the exercise


At the end of day one we each perfumed the first 13 moves individually

On the last day there was 12 of us. Everyone took turns where we stood in the middle of the floor and each person rushed us one at a time tapping center, one side and the other we had to perform the drill up until the flip. We each performed 3 different drills. It gave us a sense of dynamic execution

About Mark Hanley

I have done Aikido, Karate and Wig Chun. I have practised tai chi for 7 years and have now started the practical method with Kelvin Ho as my instructor

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Liu Yuxin March 18, 2020 at 3:24 pm

That is a lot of information. Thank you!


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