Edward Liaw

This Thursday in the Zoom class, Master Chen talked about two Taoist ideas 玄关 xuan guan and 设窍 she qiao.  We translated xuan guan as mysterious location, where 关 historically meant a fortress, like a strategic control point; and she qiao as an empty spot/hole/orifice.

These seem like pretty abstract ideas, so I wanted to relate these two ideas to a physical example: a torus.  The hole in the middle of the torus is the she qiao.  The axis of revolution (i.e. the center of the ring) is the xuan guan.


If you cut a cross section of it down the middle, in 2D it is indistinguishable from the cross section of two cylinders (or two of any complementary, intermeshed rotations).  This might call to mind some other examples that Master Chen often uses, such as two water bottles or two meshed gears.

You might also notice this phenomenon in other places, such as in magnetic fields, turbulent water, hurricanes, and more!

General corrections

  • In general, moves are not deep enough, too loose. Don’t feel the bottom.
  • Not stretched out enough. Yin-yang distinction and stability comes from having that bottom.
  • Torso must feel the floor.
  • Not enough intention of power. e.g. Punch covering hand needs that extra stretch at the end to finish it.

Power moves – six sealing four closing

  • Horizontal egg: Power up in with elbow until you hit your ribs. Rotate, don’t lose the line / move your hand. The body/shoulder gets under the hand. Go out straight, along the top of the egg (don’t go out with the hand under the shoulder).
  • Vertical egg: More vertical than horizontal. Then two hands push out from the top down.
  • Digging analogy: Like scooping up water with a spoon. Put the spoon in water. Turn it to pick up the water. Lift. The rotation is like carving out a scoop of jello.

Kelvin covered details of Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar in class today. Read more


Rub foot

  • In between the two rub foot, make a pit stop. 90 degrees to your initial position.
  • Chest parallel to back wall when you kick with heel.

Fist protecting heart

  • Feet 45 degrees to back wall.
  • Don’t rush it.

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  • Using Westernized vocabulary for taiji concepts.
  • No difference. Even if you don’t know any language. Some students found they learned more when turning off the sound. The language is an interference until the language is recalibrated. Same thing applies when teaching in Chinese.

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Twisting towel

  • Must be clear with “in with elbow”. Appear to be going back and forth with the squeezing of the elbow.

Fetch water

  • Same thing, two squeezes on both elbows.

To grind

  • 搓 cuō, to grind. Pole, rubbing on both sides like starting a fire.
  • Other way, stretching. You force the two elbows in to prevent the stretch from forcing them out. Can also say the rubbing of the elbows creates the rotation.
  • And the rotation of the rod separates the two hands.
  • For this practice, minimize the size of the stretch to emphasize the rubbing.

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Get one thing right

  • Figure out one thing and do it right. As an anchor point for further learning. Can’t say you are walking up stairs but never found the stairs.
  • Once you have the method, then you can repeat the same until the method exhausts you.

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Cloud hands

  • Need to rotate torso to give the appearance of the hands moving.

Getting stuck

  • Issue is that you were able to “do” things since the beginning. Able to mix instructions with something you were already able to do.
  • Need to be stuck unable to do it, so that it forces you to do something totally new. Never went through a time where you couldn’t do it. If there is no difficulty why would there be change?

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  • Daoist idea, Humans made correctly but the abilities we have deter us from learning.
  • Gained the ability to make things up in our heads.
  • Everything Master Chen learned are afterthoughts / accidental.
  • Don’t know when you get it, and when you think you get it, you don’t.
  • A dog is just what it is, but we make up this view of what they should look like.
  • Whatever it is, you don’t know it. And whatever you know it isn’t what it is.

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Going over

  • Going over the shoulder: have to go around the shoulder.
  • Like the gear shifter, has to actually change gear.
  • One movement that continues to the other side (normal).
  • Go halfway and change to the other side to go down (switching).
  • (腰裆转换 Yao dang zhuan huan). Waist and dang (half circle, horseshoe) switching. That half circle has to be locked – the shape locks.

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Action vs adaptation

  • Only worry about that particular action. We don’t care much about the adaptation. Once the screwdriver fits with the screw, there is only one thing you can do. You can get away with whatever for the adaptation, but the action must be what it is to have power. Must identify that action.

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Today we worked on three foundational exercises: twisting towel, six sealing four closing, and fetch water. The concepts we practiced were to fire 3 at once and to fold and open.
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Tuesday Foundations lesson included corrections on Twisting towel, Fetching water, and Six sealing four closing.  Shifu emphasized the shoulder going down and also taught a chest opening exercise.

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Rear shoulder hold on the way out (controlled release)

5 points fighting outward, everything else fights inward

Lock shoulders head, only cave in the chest to drive hand out.  Put hand on chest and move it down as hand goes out to train the right intent.

Clear – locked part must be locked, moving part must be moving

Front kua needs to rotate in turn with waist.  It looks like it comes up towards the shoulder.

Raise of kua up when coming in, chest pushes down when coming out


Rear shoulder must not move when turning waist.  Front kua and shoulder has a large move.


Rotate your spine not your head.  Don’t move your eyes.  Only a rotation, no movement.


Don’t move hand backwards.


Homework, 6 sealing 4 closing, face on to mirror, don’t let rear shoulder move, but it rotates.  1000x.


Dao shou – to change the orientation of the hand.  Coming in, it’s pulling from elbow.  Going out, the hand pulls the arm.


Every body part has a role, but which ones are primary and which ones are secondary (only getting out of the way).


Knee up knee down.  Like a physically solid structure like a bike and the pedals are the knees.  Feels like a foot and a half, but it looks like no move.


6 sealing 4 closing.  First one is 70 rear, 30 front.  Front becomes long back becomes short.  Second one switches the pivot to the rear side of body (rear shoulder/kua axis).

Zoom lecture with Master Chen and Kelvin Ho covering six sealing four closing.

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Notes from the Zoom class on the concept of dao shou.
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Notes from the Zoom class on the double negative circle.
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My notes from the Negative Circle procedure lecture.
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My notes from the “Use the Kua to Find the Solid” Zoom lecture.
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Notes from August 11, 2020 Zoom class with Master Chen.  Topic was http://practicalmethod.com/2015/01/recalibration/.

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I have put together some spreadsheets with the form names listed in English and Chinese, with pinyin annotations for those interested in learning Mandarin.





Day 1

  • Double negative has to be more vertical – open below, closes up top.
  • Buttocks cannot protrude.  Kua is not open enough.  It will hurt.

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Day 1

  • The kua has to come out (draw a line forward with the kua).  Don’t move anything but the kua.
  • Partner exercise: partner sets a dot a few inches in front of the kua; you have to get your kua to touch it.
  • Add speed – do it 5 times fast.  Add power – have someone hold onto your kua from the rear.  Add stepping – connect it to your elbow and don’t let the elbow move.
  • Learning – have to make ideas based on physical reality, not on ideas.

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  • Reference points: counting is to establish a standard for us to be able to teach and communicate
  • Direction: must not lose the aim.  Don’t lose the 45 degree facing when practicing the foundational exercises
  • Positive circle 3 count:  1. in elbow; back shoulder to forward foot is the axis.  2. rotate waist don’t involve spine and don’t lose previous axis.  3. push foot, aim at hand. There is a split in the middle.  Again don’t lose previous two axes

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My name is Edward Liaw; I currently reside in San Diego, California.  I was accepted as Master Chen’s 283rd disciple during the 2018 North American Practical Method Training Camp in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, alongside Nathan Heintz and Spencer Jones.  Every day, I am grateful for being a part of a passionate and supportive community of practitioners, students, and teachers. Read more

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The body must separate into two. For example in the opening move, part of the body faces forward and part of it rotates 45 degrees
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