The Chain Saw in Chen Xu

by Steve Doob on 2021/12/26

During the 12/22/21 English Zoom class, Master Chen showed some clips of Chen Xu aggressively overwhelming a student.  I think I saw how he did it.  Besides taking the student’s space, he moved as if he was a chainsaw; that is, just as the teeth on the chain bite into the wood and are pulled backward by the chain, Chen Xu’s feet caught on the ground and were pulled backwards, which pulled him forward.  He never punched or even pushed, he only pulled.  Even when he had pulled himself to the student he never punched or pushed.  He continued to pull, not so much with his legs, but with his arms as he clawed his way around the student.

Maybe the way you fight using tai chi is the same way a tiger attacks.  Predators never punch.  In fact, the only reason they extend their front legs is so that they can pull them back.  I don’t remember where this saying came from, maybe xingyi: ”The hand never comes back empty.”  In other words, the hand or claw is extended, grabs something and then pulls back.

So, I suggest an English name for Chen Xu: Chain Saw.  Chen Xu and Chain Saw even sound pretty much the same!

About Steve Doob

Studied Kenpo Karate with Ralph Castro in San Francisco from 1963 to 1967. Studied Yang Style with Choy, Kam-Man in San Francisco in 1968. Moved to southern Oregon in 1973. Taught Yang Style and self defense at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, OR from 1978 to 1995. Brought George Xu (Xu, Guo-Min) to Grants Pass for weekend workshops from 1987 to 2005. Been to Shanghai with my wife four times where we studied martial arts with various people. Moved to Durango, CO in 2005 and lived in a large house shaped like a pyramid. In 2021 we moved to a lovely house surrounded by rhododendrons and old growth trees in Port Ludlow, WA. My wife practices "energy" tai chi and I've narrowed my efforts to Practical Method. First saw Chen, Zhonghua in online videos and am trying to learn his style, because I think its structural emphasis is correct.

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