Notes from Master Chen’s Foundations Class, 12 October 2020 – Raymond Dickey

by Raymond Dickey on 2020/10/12

In our system, the kua is the dan tien, when both kuas are open, the dan tien is ‘full’

One your body learns rotation, all moves in Yilu make sense.  Without rotation, no Yilu moves make sense.  All the movements will be ‘fake’, ‘made up’, because there is no rotation.

It can takes years of practice to learn rotation, but once the body learns rotation, one can make a lot of progress in just a few months.

Like an ancient tree building roots, PM takes a long time to build foundations – but once foundations are established, a lot can be accomplished.

Late 17th century/early 18th century, system was renamed ‘tai chi’ – before that, it was the Chen family art, and secret.  (1st emperor, ca 2000 BC, defeated all other kings and united the country.  Before that, it was called ‘the spring and autumn’ time.)  Today, in China we have ‘counties’, but the meaning is different.  Each ‘county’ was once an independent state, once with its own government and culture.)

Chen village had its own martial art, early 18th century Chen Wanting retired from the military with a pension, and this freed him to study.  Taoist book, ‘the inner vision of the yellow courtyard’, by a woman Taoist scholar.  All other stories about tai chi origins are just urban legends.

The roots of tai chi are a martial art, it was just modified by Taoist philosophy.  It evolved, like anything else – based on the same principles.

Master Chen’s methods of teaching ‘evolved’ while following the same principles.  The methods of teaching can change.

Hong said that Chen Fa Ke did not teach foundations per se.  But he did do ‘the simple thing’.  ‘I just do the circles.’  You have to ask the right question from the Chinese masters – but they won’t volunteer information.

Upon questioning, Chen Fa Ke taught him the positive and negative circles.  Hong also copied some simple movements, and put together this set of simple exercises as a teaching method for beginners.

Story: Left Canadian group with Master Li An Ju.  Students said the foundations were ‘exactly the same’.  If you follow the principles, the result is the same.

‘If you do it right, it’s always the same.  If you do it wrong, it’s always different.’

Positive Circle, Level 2 practice: Using the kua: do not allow butt to stick out.  Make the kua movement big!  Ok to lean back but not forward

Training method: both hands on front kua, focus on rotation of kua only.  Then add a stick to see how much it moves

Kua has to make a big movement relatively to a fixed point of reference.  Create size!

‘Wiggling’ means no size.

Fixed feet tai chi is ruining tai chi – real tai chi is moving

The ‘don’t move’ principle is about establishing a pivot so you can move better.

Fighting is with the feet – the hands are to control

Never power with anything higher than kua – otherwise you lose the connection to the ground.  Train this to get the feeling that the power is always

‘Shuttle’ – back and forth movement of feet.

Restrictions: cannot lean forward

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