Found In New York City

by John Upshaw on 2022/10/19

When life started happening again after the pandemic, assuming it is after, I felt that my push hands had lost a certain quality.  Before, my ability to get in and squeeze out all the space was good.  Since 2020, it wasn’t the same. I had lost something. I didn’t know what “it” was, and it greatly bothered me for the last year and a half.  So, I went searching for it in New York City…and yes…this was my actual intention when I decided to see Master Chen Zhonghua at the NYC workshop.

Famous psychologist Carl Jung introduced the concept of synchronicity.  It’s when an event or series of events in the external world magically align to the experience of an individual, or perhaps mirroring or echoing an individual’s personal concern or need.  It is those moments that are “too coincidental”.   Well, that happened.  It was “as if” Master Chen knew what I was missing.  It was presented throughout the course of the workshop in several lessons.  Looking back on it…strange and eerie…a phenomena…

The first clues were in the feet and hands.  When pulling in, the feet “suck” up to the ground, like a cat sinking it claws into its prey to pull it in or to “suck up” its body upon the prey.  Same concept occurs when pulling up the rear foot.  The front foot sucks the ground creating a fixed point. With the front foot and the dantian sucking in, space between the front foot and rear foot is squeezed, which pulls up the rear foot.

In one of the many drills Master Chen had us do; one illuminated the clues necessary to find the elements that I had lost when applying Ji. Here were the following steps:
1. Place hands on your opponent.
2. Suck from the lao gong points to the elbows like a vacuum (this is very significant).
3. The touch that you have sticks to your opponent.  Use that touch to connect them to the ground. This changes your relationship from a horizontal touch to a vertical touch.
4.  Connect your elbows to kuas or dantian and pull, which is squeeze, your rear leg up.  The hands, arms and elbows don’t move, you don’t move your opponent, which becomes fixed. So, the key points were to “suck and squeeze”.

In and out were a theme. The out starts with a non-moving dot and stretches/expands outwards.  The in is the sucking up and squeezing out the space in between that I discussed in the previous paragraph.  This is like the Big Bang, which Master Chen used as an example.  The Big Bang started as a dot and expanded outwardly.  When it reached its limit, it comes back to the center. In our taiji, we need the qualities of stretching/expanding outwardly.  We need the sucking and squeezing.  These are the things that I was missing and found.  These are the elements that made my inside larger than my outside.  These are the actions that allowed me to SUCK up to my opponents and SQUEEZE out all their space.  When I attach and adhere…I suck, squeeze, twist and sink to create a downward spiral…that is what I found…

Oh, yeah, other components to add to my list to train that derived from the NYC workshop are ‘segmented move”, which I have trained before, and “changing rhythms” Additionally, Michael Calandra worked with me on:
1. Slow it down.
2. Feel it.
3. Be in the awkward position.
4. Take out all the space.
5. Find a way out.

Josh Landau helped me with my stance, which I knew something wasn’t right and training with him I rediscovered “jamming”…so…I found what I was missing…and then some.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

James Tam October 21, 2022 at 11:12 am

John Upshaw, excellent notes! Thank you!


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