In Search of the Dantian

by John Upshaw on 2020/09/25

“The movements of the body are in the Dantian and nothing leaves the dantian. Only power gets out of the Dantian.”

The quote above from Master Chen Zhonghua and his assigning me to write on the dantian sent me on a journey of understanding…and to be forthright, I got stuck. I over thought things and I had difficulties “getting the ball rolling” or rather the dantian article. So being an educated person, I did what students do, and gathered up my information from the online lecture and from past videos from Master Chen Zhonghua.

One cannot simply understand the Dantian without examining it’s relationship with the kuas…in fact without the kuas there is no dantian. When the kuas are open, stretched together they form a cradle and the Dantian is released. Please look at the picture of the fountain below. The round ball represents the dantian and the cradle or pedestal it is resting on are the open kuas.

What does the Dantian do? Well it sits in the cradle to put it simply. “The real intention, is no intention”, it is built into the structure. Therefore, if you push a ball that sits in a cradle it turns. It can be pushed in any direction and it will rotate following the path it is on like a ball rolling down a hill. If the dantian is “absolutely locked, the action of the feet will cause the dantian to spin”. When something spins it creates centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is the apparent outward force on a mass when it is rotated. For example, a spinning wheel.  When the wheel spins, force radiates down the spokes and outward.  If  a string was attached to the tire, it would straighten out during the rotation.  We can call this force power…”only power leaves the dantian”.


When I started writing this I made it more complicated than what it was. I had to “understand the biomechanical processes”. It turned out to be simple, which leaves me with a Chinese saying, “大道至简“ da dao zhi jian. It roughly means the overarching theory is the simpliest. To me a cradle with a ball in it exemplifies yin and yang, our guiding principle.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

胡歌 September 28, 2020 at 5:37 pm

A simple, clear article. “Only power leaves the dantian” – words to train by.


Steve Doob September 28, 2020 at 8:43 pm

I think of the dantian as a ball confined from below, but also from above. It sits in an upright bowl–the pelvis–and is further kept in position from above by an upside down bowl–the ribs and sternum. Both bowls have to be level or the ball will fall out. For instance, the ball is falling out in the stereotypical American man whose belly sticks out and whose lower back (mingmen) sticks in. It’s not that he doesn’t have a dantian, it’s just that it’s in the wrong place. He has to pull it back to where it belongs and where it can connect the upper body to the lower body. When it’s out of place the body is broken (disconnected) and power can’t get through.


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