Negative Circle Procedure Notes August 18, 2020

by Edward Liaw on 2020/08/18

My notes from the Negative Circle procedure lecture.

AM class

  • Every move divided into three parts.

Negative circle breakdown

  1. All three parts (elbow, shoulder, kua) move. Kua must lead in size. By the time it goes to the foot it is much larger.
  2. Two parts (elbow, kua) move. Two kuas turn, upper body locked onto it as one piece. Rear kua opens up so that knee doesn’t move.
  3. One part (hand) moves. Hand out. Don’t imitate the circle.

Illusion of the synthesis

  • Every part only does what it is supposed to do but it looks like it does more because of the other parts. Illusion from the coordination of independent actions: revolution and rotation. Revolution is physical movement, rotation is no movement.
  • Three independent things. Illusion: brain combines them into one movement.
  • The complexity of taiji is that the movements of taiji are made up in your head.
  • The moves are totally unrelated (separation of yin and yang). When they relate, they are double heavy. Does not mean they do not have relationships. Intrinsic relationships.
  • E.g. Music we hear is made up by the brain. The notes are hit independently, but you hear the synthesized / combined sound.

Elbow placement

  • Hand out, upper arm moving with it. Place the elbow. Then move the hand.

Learning stepwise

  • E.g. Like learning to play an instrument. Learn how to play mechanically. One-two-three. Which finger hits which note.
    • Only until it is totally natural where the finger moves when you think of the note that you can think of the music as you play.
  • At the beginning, your mind can’t have the picture of the master flowing through the form. You have to mechanically segment the movement in your mind. This is the learning and practicing method.

Negative Circle exercise:

  1. Pull the front kua. Lead with kua no shoulder. Leave the hand behind more and more. Move the inside more than the hand to create an arch.
  2. Lock elbow with other hand. Turn kua. Goes down.
  3. Grab to lock bicep. Open elbow. Hand straight. Rotate arm from the shoulder (move from the inside). Open armpit.

Important points

  • Move from the inside. 通 tōng, like 通背拳 tōngbèiquán. Energy goes through. In energy alignment and energy flow. Mistranslated into flow. To go through: enter, pass through, and exit. To get internal power, otherwise get movement. Opposite of stagnation. Flow governs your thought process. To go through governs your action process.
  • Why we move with other hand in this exercise. Clear distinction between active and passive. Otherwise muddy. In a concert, each player must hear only his own part of the music. The audience hears the sum total.

PM class

Descriptions relate to example of pulling a rubber cord attached to the wall with a carabiner in a negative circle.

Restrictions (described by Winston)

  • First move of the negative circle:
  • Hand has a point on it like the carabiner on the wall.
  • Hand is restricted in track of the line of the rubber cord. Hand is passive, pulled by elbow.
  • Elbow connected to the kua, so elbow is also passive, pulled by kua.
  • Shoulder like a CV joint, transmitting power but doesn’t move.
  • Kua movement like a shaft. Kua rotating pulling elbow to move.
  • Creates a stretch like the arm is the rubber band.

CV joint

  • Transmits power and gets rid of unnecessary power at the same time.
  • Like a cart stacked full of books, a push can easily move it along its wheels.

Traditional vs modern

  • Traditional way is to not to tell you. You are enlightened by observing and discovering the master is doing something you are not.
  • Modern way is to show you, to describe everything in detail. But by the time you understand it there is no impact, no shock. And you miss it because the mystery is not there.

Rubber cord vs stick

  • Drawing a circle with either a rubber cord or stick:
    • With rubber cord, there is a stretch in the cord as it extends around the circle, it unstretches coming back.
    • With a stick, there is no stretch in it, you just move the stick around. So it is just tossing.

Carabiner and rubber cord example

  • Kua rotate on the surface, the center is within.
  • The finger has to not move like the carabiner on the wall.
  • The side of the body opening up stretches like the rubber cord.

Stretch to spiral

  • The body needs to have this stretch, in Buddha’s Warrior Pounds Mortar first move.
  • It has to stretch open. 10 inches stretched into 18 inches. Only then it is a spiral. Otherwise it is just turning in place.
  • Training to be more solid or more elastic. We are training to be more elastic.
  • Like the underneath of the armpit is reversing.
  • In this move, you can still stretch in with elbow even when hand cannot move.

Two types of mistakes

  • No fight on the hand (trying to pull hand in).
  • Move body / tilt shoulder in.


  • Train to be longer (coiling). The inside becomes very long: that is where the power is and the freedom of movement is. Have to have length. In push hands, this translates to wrapping around (gaining of points) to constrict the opponent’s movement until they can only fall down.


  • The hands never moved, the body coiled. Characteristics of our specific school (of taiji). Same theory as other taiji, but interpreted differently.
  • In learning, be aware of more, but concentrate / focus on one until it works. All the same, but different perspective.

Double negative circle

  • Hands in place at the bottom.
  • Armpits push hands out.
  • Armpit flips over.
  • Then it is on the elbow.

著 zhuó clutch

  • Elbow must be clutched onto the torso. Like a series of clutches. So that they connect together in sequence.

Backward / forward, outside / inside

  • Backward move (kua) creates forward thrust of the finger. For the negative circle this should go backwards into the rear foot, not the rear shoulder.
  • Lock the outside move the inside. Reversal of this move is to lock the inside move the outside.

Mistake I’m making

  • Kua not opening. Required movement not there.

About Edward Liaw

I have been a disciple of Master Chen since August 2018. I began practicing Practical Method in March 2015, when I spent 3 months full time on Daqingshan.

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