Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is now teaching in the Decatur-Huntsville area in Alabama. For more information, you may reach him at

Decatur-Huntsville, AL  – Chen Taijiquan Academy – Classes and private instruction by appointment only

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Richard JohnsonShifu Chen Zhonghua often emphasizes how to learn Taijiquan. This web site has a great article called 6 Methods of Learning Tai Chi. (Read this if you have not already.) It expands and elaborates on Grandmaster Hong’s “Look, Listen, and Ask” practice method.

In motor control research, I found the neurological basis for this method of learning. There are neurological mechanisms called mirror neurons. The basic premise is when we see a person do something, mirror neurons fire off in our brain attempting to duplicate the pattern in our nervous system required to copy the movement. At first, it is an imperfect copy because it follows old neurological pathways. With repeated viewing of the action, our brains and nervous system do a really good job of creating new neurological pathways to accurately copy the movement. Read more

Fill it in, then add one.

  • Get in –  Loose –  get into position, set it up, dissipate the opponent’s force. Two ways: Receive (a push from) the opponent. OR, Move into the opponent without pushing. (large circle) Read more

Old analogies – Taiji is like a rolling log (in water).

Theory                      Method

Back silk knot         Silk reeling Read more


I. Stationary

  1. Twisting towel
  2. Six sealing four closing Read more
  • Hinge
    Chest must move like a hinge in order to link.  (Shifu Chen puts the ends of two bottle together and shows them bending and sliding off each other in various ways.)
  • Split
    Do the form with a center split. Then learn to split at any point in the body. This is the same as the demarcation line discussed earlier.

Sunday PM Session

Zhuo – adherence

Never on, never off Read more

Saturday PM session

Practiced first 13 movements of the Yilu

“Pole dancing”

Use pole to practice getting on the line. Practice with pole against arch of far (rear) foot slanted diagonally and against wall horizontally.

(Most of this session was spent in hands-on practice, so not many notes.)

Start with 3 or more contact points and add points. Drop strainght down. (Brush Knee)

Contact points, Far points. Read more

Friday PM session – Form instruction

Repetitions must be done to make the form go into the body. This can be done with 10 yilus/day for 3+ years, 25/day for 1 year or 60/day in 3 months. Read more

Shifu Chen asked me to post my notes, unedited, to our web site. This is not because I am such a great note taker, but it is part of transmitting the knowledge of Taijiquan. Read more

Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method is now taught in Northwest Arkansas by Aaron Bartholomew.  If you are in the area and would like to study Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method, please contact him to set up times and locations.

Contact: Aaron Bartholomew


Richard Johnson is now teaching in the Decatur-Huntsville area in Alabama. See the Alabama Chen Taijiquan Academy on this web site.  For more information, you may reach him at




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This is a review of the 2008 Workshop with Chen Zhonghua from the viewpoint of the host. Read more

Zhan Shou i

by Richard Johnson on 2008/04/10

Taijiquan as self defense can be ruthless and lethal. The fighting method of Taijiquan is called Zhan Shou (Cut Hand). Read more

“Don’t Move Your Hands!”
Contrary to what most believe, the hand in most cases move too much. Everybody wants to learn how to move the hand. In fact, they should learn how NOT to move it! Read more

Chen (2) Jian (1) Zhui (4) Zhou (2) 沉肩坠肘
Sink the shoulder and pull down the elbow.
The shoulder can only sink downwards towards the direction of the kua. It cannot move sideways. It cannot move upwards either.
The elbow must point downwards towards the direction of the Dantian. It cannot raise upwards.

The eight techniques of Taiji: peng, lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou and kao.

1. Peng: overall expanding energy.
2. Lu: energy that catches the opponent and make it come towards you.
3. Ji: energy that gets in close to the opponent but will not act on him.
4. An: energy that pushes but mainly separates from opponent.
5. Cai: energy that severs opponent by a pull or a jerk.
6. Lie (Lieh): energy that severs opponent by a even break (power on both ends or hands).
7. Zhou: energy that twists the opponent.
8. Kao: energy that is whole body action.

“Taijiquan is the method of Chanfa…”

If this is not understood, there will be no undersanding of Taijiquan.”
—Chen Xin, 16 generation Chen Taiji Grandmaster

Chanfa literally means twining method.

The five positions of Taijiquan are: Advance, Retreat, Look, Gaze and Central Equilibrium.

Advance: move forward.
Retreat: step backwards.
Look: size up the opponent.
Gaze: examine the oppnent.
Central Equilibrium: keep the balance and not fall down.