(Click here to see video)


Student: Why can’t the cormorant swallow the eel?


A) Don’t play with your food! The cormorant should stop tickling the eel and just swallow it.
B) The cormorant is eel.
C) The cormorant can’t get behind the eel.

D) A, B, and C.

The master continued:

The truth is, the eel must have studied this video: Switching in the positive circle.

Toronto Two Person posture

Still looking for the line, working to enact the rules.

The form(s) we train, Yilu, Erlu, the Jian, and so on, are training tools. They teach us various physical technologies. For example, Yilu teaches us how to create a t-bar in our body and how to move it using the outer ends of the “T”. Yilu also teaches us how to fix non-moving points so that we can create the inch-worm movement. We use Yilu and the other forms to train our body, which is to effect a change in our body. The implication being that our shape or condition is not on the mark.
The forms are not for demonstration. Do not make your form look good. Make your form conform to the rules of Practical Method. Lock the front knee in space, elbows in, shoulders down, ming men full, kua open. The forms are not for demonstration. Do not make your form look good.
We cannot hit the ideal form. Remove that idea from your mind. Train to point yourself closer and closer to the ideal and work consistently, so that, millimetre by millimetre, you advance towards that ideal.
The form is intended for [private] training. The form was never intended for public performance. If you do public performance of the form, never forget that you are simply demonstrating a training method – not a finished product! The form is a training method like push ups, stretches, deadlifts, sprints. Perform it well – by following the rules of Practical Method – and have no concern for aesthetics, which will vary based on the observer, cannot be controlled, and are irrelevant to your training.
The form is not an opportunity to hide, it is precisely designed to unmask your flaws. Do not make your form look good.
The form precisely illuminates your requirements for training you up to the next level. If you are making your form look good you are doing something wrong.
Master Chen will let us know if we are on or off or near the mark for the standard at our level.
Keep training and keep working with this – as yet – unformed clay!


True Intention 1

by 胡歌 on 2017/04/06


water has intention

The water has true intent.

“The real intention is without intention.”
Chen Zhonghua

When you make a machine, the machine can only do what it was made for.
If there is a slope and a ball at the top, the ball will roll down. That is intention. There is no thinking, there is no imagination. There is no choice. The only thing that can happen, happens.

Humans are backwards. In other words, humans will do everything but what they were made for. We have a myriad of methods that we use to avoid doing the one thing we must do to develop and learn.

In taiji, we are training to make our body like a true machine again. It can only do what it can do. There is no choice, no alternative. You either do it or break doing it.

Embarassed in Iowa 4

by 胡歌 on 2017/03/14


PM Iowa dinner 2016 John Dahms Hugo etc

From far left: Ed Alvarez, Hugo Ramiro, Jeff Clevenger, John Upshaw, Bruce Schaub, John Dahms, Todd Elihu, Spencer Jones, Brennan Toh

At some point one evening during the 2016 Iowa seminar, in Levi’s basement, a discussion occurred regarding the front kua and a particular orientation of it during a particular move. A statement was made about this requirement, followed by crickets chirping. Sensing that the moment was dying, I decided to wade in and stake my claim; to place myself at risk and bleed, hopefully. “I can do that! I can totally do that!” I crowed. It had been John Dahms, one of Master Chen’s senior disciples, who had stated the requirement. He said, “ok show me”. I sprang up and did something, as best I could, and his response was quick and direct – “You’re not doing it”. As deflated as possible I said “ok” and sat back down (I will come back to this). The discussion continued with some new indications and some new material, revitalised (with the help of my blood, I imagined). That moment still resonates with me many months later as I continue to work on the requirements laid out by John for that move on that evening.

The truth is I lied. I knew I couldn’t do it when I offered myself up, but I also knew something else: if I felt psychologically prepared during the teachable moment I would not really be listening. Somehow I had to create a situation inside of myself where I would be truly receptive, and I knew from Master Chen that two useful qualities in this respect were a. obvious failure (“Invest in Loss”) and b. confusion (“I don’t know”). Even if I simulated these by artificially elevating myself and then coming crashing down in front of everyone it would be better than being ‘very competent’ during the learning process or even not offering myself up at all. The emotional risk is necessary – in other words, I must be ready to put myself aside, no matter how bad it feels so that I can have a chance at real learning, which is always in an unknown and uncomfortable place.

I invested in loss, and in doing so, with John’s careful and attentive instruction, I invested in myself.

Part A

There has seemed to be a pattern for me during Practical Method seminars.

I have observed that there will be a period, generally half of the seminar’s length, during which I hardly know which is my left hand or which is my right hand. This will occur during the first half of the total seminar length. I will forget yilu, movements will come out backwards and inside out, I won’t understand anything that is being demonstrated or described, and I will experience lots of negative emotions, most without clear definition – I don’t even know what I am upset about.
Read more

Which Lesson again? i

by 胡歌 on 2017/02/02

today’s lesson is not yesterday’s lesson
this hour’s lesson is not last hour’s lesson
this minute’s lesson is not last minute’s lesson

today’s lesson is today’s lesson
this hour’s lesson is this hour’s lesson
this minute’s lesson is this minute’s lesson

let go of the past move forward grasp let go of the past move forward grasp
inch along

A thought on Learning i

by 胡歌 on 2017/02/01

When we are studying Practical method under Master Chen consistently enough, we are learning. Somehow there is a process, not within our realm of perception, where something is happening. As this process continues, we like to do a lot of things around and “about” it. We like to imagine that all this activity helps.

When the process where there is something happening begins to mature, and begins to bear fruit – and since it occurs largely without us knowing what happened – we like to feel that all our activity around and “about” it is the reason. And then we might feel very relieved that we did all this activity.

Curves come from straight lines and rotations.



Every move in practical method is either a positive circle or a negative circle, powered by kua action on a fixed point. Identify the positive and negative circles in your actions, fix points appropriately, power with the kua and then find the sequence. Without all of the above, timing might mean nothing.


Choreography and Power i

by 胡歌 on 2016/06/28

Instructor: Hugo Ramiro
Location: Toronto

Make sure you have annotations turned on for this youtube video.

For those who do not have annotation, this is the content:

“Choreography is the first thing we learn. If we stop there we have a form that is ’empty’.

After we learn the basic choreography we must input alignment (tracks) and power.

Instructor: Hugo Ramiro
Instructor: Brennan Toh

Top/Bottom Separation, Taking Up Slack, Creating a Catch, Rotating Without Moving the Hand.

Be Mr. Tombstone i

by 胡歌 on 2016/01/16



I had the good fortune of being able to attend the Autumn 2015 Ottawa Seminar with Master Chen.

I was kindly offered the opportunity to bunk up with my Taiji brothers John and Brennan while I was there – one of the several things that made my trip possible at all.

On the second night, I believe, hanging around in their living room, beginning to chat about Taiji, I was actually lucky to be present for an impromptu lesson by my Taiji brother John Dahms.

He began by mentioning that we need to have a solid, undeformed torso. And he demonstrated, and he talked, and he demonstrated. Because he is a good instructor, his spoken lecture was only a minor dressing on his physical demonstration, serving to subtly direct attention to the physical movement. And as he delivered the instruction, and I watched with screwy eyes, I began to see, a little at a time, something of what he was demonstrating.

By the end of his lesson I had acquired a new angle on a topic that I have struggled with for several years.Such are the benefits of good instructors, training partners and quality material!

The post and two videos below deliver a valuable and enlightened discourse on the topic that John helped me with:

Don’t Move!

“Torso Arm Alignment” Online Video

Shoulder Torso Separation Online Video

photo from flickr

Training Together i

by 胡歌 on 2014/12/10



I always feel happy after I train with my TaiJi brothers, and today was no exception (full house – Allan, Kelvin, Brennan and the unfortunate one). We also had the pleasure of a virtual guest semi-appearance by John, hailing from the midwest of US.
Our training started off with YiLu, followed by, for the first time in a while, free tuishou. It was interesting watching Read more

Lecture by Chen Zhonghua
25 November, 2014, DQS

[This was a talk given over dinner here on the mountain. The article is a paraphrase based on my memory. ]

In Taiji there is an idea of a nimble or light body quality. This quality commonly conjures images of clouds and light breezes. When practitioners of Taiji try to emulate or develop this quality, they end up developing a powerless state that engenders their own constant rout, but call it yielding and deflection. Read more

Re posting for Yaron Seidman and Matt Landau:

Real Learning 9

by 胡歌 on 2013/09/24

Master Chen Zhonghua—“The most important learning that will occur in all your taiji learning is the move that you believe cannot be done and the move you believe does not make sense”

CZH in 美国西东那

Training i

by 胡歌 on 2012/04/30

video from daqingshan 2010 below

Read more

Keep ribcage upright. Don’t lean, keep kua open, don’t indent kua. Bicycle chain analogy (metal stretching, tightening the chain). To keep kua open it is almost like leaning back. Read more