Robotic Movements of Practical Method (Facebook discussion)

by Damian Jagosz on 2020/09/20


My Yilu video started a discussion on Facebook that Taiji doesn’t look like robotic movements.
Several people tried to explain why we practice this way until we came to the term of paper tigers.
I decided to describe in a longer post why I practice this way and for me this method works.

I recommend reading the whole thing:

I am the front person in the movie.
I don’t know if this is a good place and time but I want to extend the post you started about “Paper Tigers”
There were a lot of tough fighters in my family. Grandfather, father, uncles always fight and told fights stories.
The walls of my city remember crushing from Nunchuk or just like after family gatherings when they set up beer bottles to cut the necks of Nunchuk.
Most trained Oyama Kyokushin Karate aggressively and were very strong for one hit only.
When I was a child and I didn’t want Karate, I wanted Kung Fu.
My father was laughing at me and stupid trening. Once when he was drunk he smashed my nose, always showing the superiority of Karate over Kung Fu. Yes, they had broken minds, but it doesn’t matter.
I quickly understood what reality is. I have had the opportunity to fight on the street more than once and I know that this is a madness.
The street isn’t about style or who’s how good it is.
There are no best. One day you win, me tomorrow. Mood, mental state, slippery hands or floor, a fly in the eye, thousands of variables. Fighting is only about determination.
If someone catches me crushingly from the larynx, instead of stepping back under the pressure of the hand, we have to go forward and hammer the teeth into the opponent.
But martial arts is a deeper concept and even if we focus only on the combat aspect, training is like forging a weapon from iron in fire.
This weapon must be useful. Everyone likes a different weapon, so many have to try.
I’m training Taiji blindly *only* three years correctly or badly, but keep training.
By trying to learn as much as possible from Master Chen Zhonguh’s lessons, I acquired more tools than I had in Shaolin years.
In the second year in Berlin, the Master said my muscles must disappear.
I stopped strength training and stretching.
The range of motion for my elbows and shoulder has increased.
The grip strength increased. I stopped moving as loosely as before, gaining more stability …
After training with Chen Xu, I discovered the physical meaning of Dantien. I was able to start breaking people by sucking. My core began to get stronger.
I understood the difference between words: tight, soft, strong, loose and stretch.
There was a cool strong guy in Berlin called Fight.
When we met for the first time, I could only stand with him by force. A year later he couldn’t do anything to me, although I was much physically weaker without strength training.
I started having something that stronger colleagues who still practice Shaolin don’t have.
A friend invited me to the class so that I would meet his Master – Shaolin monk.
I was surprised myself when the monk couldn’t put the Qinna on me, so he started hitting.
Even my short adventure with PM Taiji changed my applications and structure.
I have a little more time, feeling like I’m not sacrificing movement.
When I met Master Chen for the first time and he showed me the applications, it fascinated me how he moves.
Not falling people, not type of technics or hiting me with a heavy hammer fist.
But how he move and breake time and dimension.
He broke my rythm. He changed positions and angles, always moving forward into empty space.
Something like borrow from the future. If we know the result of the actions, what will happen to the opponent, we can set a trap.
I was fascinated by freedom in movement. Do what you want and don’t care.
In applications, the opponent always lands in the Practical Method Yilu stance. Incredible.
For me, it is proof that the source of form is experience – not just a mere invention.
A year later, during an open house in Berlin, the Master asked everyone what they wanted to learn. Most said for health etc
For me, it was still this freedom of movement. Trust in a situation.
This is probably the most difficult thing we can learn from him and I don’t believe that such quality comes from soft training.
I know the term of paper tigers very well as vibrating fists.
Every time I had the opportunity to meet someone in the country who criticized PM, I asked him to practically demonstrate his true Taiji.
Suddenly it turned out that the vibrating fists did not work in contact.
They need at least minimal space to generate force, backward and forward movement.
It was even funnier to touch such a fist. Only touch without force. The result was like a electecity power cut.
And I’m talking about the older students of famous Masters. Not relevant.
For me, practical boxing works better than anything else even at a beginner level.
All I have written is just my own thoughts and my point of view.
The martial artist did not judge the training method but the result.
Robot move is one of method.
I sometimes experiment with different speed, strength, and size positions.
I treat the form like a study book.
We must remember that moving like a robot with perfect isolation is not our goal.
There are many dancers who do it perfectly, but their movements have no function and combat ability
I showed the Master’s movies to my karate and combat uncles. They don’t understand the style but they confirmed the quality.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelvin Ho September 20, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Being robotic is a training method, the end result we are looking for is the ability to carry out individual actions together but independingly. It is what Master Chen calls synchronized desynchronization.

This is not a warm-up in the sense that it is done differently than some other times for the same form. It’s the same form used for the purpose of warming up the body before the rest of the training, but the form itself is not just for warm-up.

Real smoothness only comes from years of practice.


John Upshaw September 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm

It’s good training to start out “robotic”‘…we call this “segmentation of movements”. It allows movements to be full, complete within itself and train for separation. Keep up the good work Damian Jagosz!


Eric Moore September 20, 2020 at 3:14 pm

I found that video very helpful, thank you!


Edward Liaw September 20, 2020 at 3:46 pm

I had learned the yilu by following along with others at group practice and not in steps. For a long time, I practiced the yilu with this mindset of following along. When Master Chen corrected the second part of the yilu for me, I finally realized I had skipped learning the clarity of sequential movements. Although I could see the shape, it was blurry. I had missed all the details. This step is a very important one.


Yuxin Liu September 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm

This method can give time and opportunity to find the longest line and stretch. Each move has a fixed posture, which need to be precise. So we know exactly what we are doing.


Damian Jagosz September 21, 2020 at 12:02 am

My understanding is that any solid movement is a dot. We have more dots each year.
The more dots, the edge is smoother without sacrificing our structure.


胡歌 September 21, 2020 at 3:50 pm

This is perhaps the most important statement in your article, from my point of view. Maybe change the first sentence to “My understanding is that we are training to make a dot.” Then your overall statement is perhaps even more clear.


Brian Chung September 21, 2020 at 6:22 am

My understanding is that clarity of sequential movements is an invaluable teaching, learning and training method.

– While instructing the demonstration of movements must be clear.
– Instructions must be clear.
– We must be clear what the requirements are.
– We must be able to clearly demonstrate what we are trying to achieve with our body.
– This should be visually clear to the student, instructor, teacher and also an external observer.

Eventually we reach a point that the clarity of our movements is beyond the threshold of the clarity of the observer. The observer then (mis)interprets the movements as smooth.

The reality is every move is sequential and is highly regulated.



pingwei September 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm

People’s negative reaction toward robotic way of move of Practical Method is normal, because what they see is not their grandma’s Tai Chi. Sometimes they make offensive comments because PM challenges their intelligence. They don’t understand. We should be unapologetic. We don’t need to explain to them that eventually we will get “smooth”. This is our way of training. It doesn’t matter if they like it or not. We follow our own path, or our own destiny.


Damian Jagosz December 9, 2020 at 2:54 am
Joe Bodie December 9, 2020 at 5:09 pm

I have heard that Hong Jun Sheng studied Wu style before he met Chen Fa Ke. In the Wu style they have a form called the Square form that is done in a similar way. I wonder if there is a connection?


胡歌 December 11, 2020 at 4:16 pm

By Hong’s own words there is no connection. That is not to say that there are not similarities. Practicalmethod is the teaching/learning method as taught by HJS to CZH of the art Chen family Taijiquan as taught to HJS by Chen Fake.


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