Knowledge : Articles

Choreography and Power i

by 胡歌 on 2016/06/28

Instructor: Hugo Ramiro
Location: Toronto

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“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.

Hong Kong Workshop 2015Nearing Christmas, under the bright festive lights of Hong Kong, K.T. Lin and Nicholas Fung (馮嘉傑) from the Hong Kong Chen Style Taiji Practical Method (香港陳式太極實用拳法) organized the year ending workshop with Master  Chen Zhonghua. On a mild weekend, more than thirty participants from Hong Kong, the Mainland, USA and Canada gathered to train with Master Chen. A special thanks to Tim Duering and Hán Ruì (韩瑞) who came from Daqingshan to help with the workshop. For two days, Master Chen covered the basics of the Practical Method such as the foundations, movement and Yilu. Master Chen also covered the theory of Chen Taijiquan as well as hands on applications and the intricacy of push hands training.

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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

Negative circle is likely the second thing one learns in Practical Method.  The following are some starter instructions for a right-side negative circle:

  1. The right side is considered the front side, and the left side is consider the rear side.
  2. Find a line that is parallel to your chest on the ground.
  3. Put your right foot at 45 degrees to the line with the heel touch the line.
  4. Put your left foot at 90 degrees to the line with the toes touch the line.
  5. Read more

Positive circle is likely the first thing one learns in Practical Method.  The following are some starter instructions for a right-side positive circle:

  1. The right side is considered the front side, and the left side is consider the rear side.
  2. Find a line that is parallel to your chest on the ground.
  3. Put your right foot at 45 degrees to the line with the heel touch the line.
  4. Put your left foot at 90 degrees to the line with the toes touch the line.
  5. Read more

Kelvin Ho Fist Drape Over Body

When I first studied practical method in Nov. 2009, there were a few things that made a long lasting impression. They were:

  1. In with elbow no hand, out with hand no elbow.
  2. Don’t move
  3. Yilu, which is made up of only positive and negative circles.

Many beginners including myself usually ask the following questions:

  1. How did you (Master Chen) know to do that?
  2. How can I not move?
  3. What can I do that myself?
  4. How do I train that?

Read more

Already some time ago now I had an interesting discussion with another person from Germany. There was one aspect showing up, which in principle could be very interessting for all of us who want to learn Taiji.

Here and there Master Chen did point out that in Taijiquan (or at least our style of Taijiquan ..) there is nothing which is related to anything we know from normal life, to the contrary, in general things are totally opposite. Right? Read more

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

Chen Zhonghua with Ronnie Yee in 2004 陈中华和余永安Last Sunday I made arrangements to have coffee then train with my elder disciple brother, Levi. He teaches Practical Method at The University of Iowa’s Chinese Martial Arts Club. We decided to train during his regularly scheduled class time as it provided a good space to practice. A new student arrived wanting to check out the class. Introductions were made. He was a visiting professor originally from China. After some discussion the gentleman disclosed he studied Hong Style Taijiquan for 7 years. Levi and I exclaimed that is the lineage we practice under our Shifu, Master Chen Zhonghua. He stated he studied under a disciple of GM Hong Junsheng and one of his grand-disciples, both Levi and I not having any knowledge of this Master. Read more

Ervinegroup150131After two and half month passed since my first trip to Irvine, I went back on January 31. This time, Edward came to join the group. We worked briefly on foundations. Mostly, I focused on teaching Yilu.

Foundations are important. Yilu is the core. The more students know about Yilu, the more fun they can have while practicing alone. I was able to finish the first 30 forms to “Upper Cloud Hands” and “High Pat on Horse” in the morning. (We did the first 13 moves in last workshop.) Read more

From lowering stress to strengthening muscles, the Chinese marital art can help patients overcome the side effects of chemotherapy.

LaiQingwenWhat they are

is simple: challenges!  This information is for the few who don’t know.

The case of study used is the challenges that happened in Yishui, Shandong, China on Feb. 1, 2015. The two videos are included below for references. There are lots of comments at the youtube site where the videos are. Read more

chenwithhongThis is mine. What is yours?
  1. Continue to watch my masters’ original videos and read their original writings.
  2. Teach sword and broadsword.
  3. Stay away from the corruption of the society and of the taiji world. This means I will not copy or forward anything from the web. Every word must come from my heart, from my own experiences and from my own hand.

12-10-2014 7-44-40 PM
We must train to use a lot of power.

If you want to learn how to move a big rock and you just go up to it and use your hands to tip it back and forth, you are wasting your life. You have to get a good grip on it and try to lift it. If you can’t move it then: 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

3-27-2014 1-31-09 PM

I came upon this picture from Chen Xin book 陈氏太极拳图说 Illustrated Canon of Chen Taijiquan. It strikes me that the spiral lines is drawn carefully to go through the major joints.

Spiral is the structure that allow to return incoming force outward, think of drill bits that extract material upward as it drill inward. Master Chen also explain the spiral mechanic in this video Read more

Levels of Training i

by Wilkin Ng on 2014/02/13

taiji levelMaster Chen has said in an interview that at certain stage he felt his overall strength get much better.
I asked him how was his training different after that stage. His reply is that the training progress to a different dimension. Each dimensions becoming less physical.

However student must complete the first level, Read more

 By John Upshaw and Levi Sowers

The interaction occurring amongst the various elements of our body are numerous and complex.  This is especially true when applied to the movements, and thereof lack of movements, in Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method.  The purpose of this article is to provide a framework that will allow the reader to conceptualize the necessary movements that are congruent with the taiji principals, and inherent to the Practical Method system.  The 1, 2, 3 theory of taiji movements will be the framework for describing these internal relationships.  We hope that readers will be able to distinguish between what parts of the body moves from what does not move. When that is identified, then a clearer understanding of the lines that are stretched upon within oneself becomes more recognizable. Read more

We all understand the importance of “don’t move” in Practical Method. To achieve “don’t move”, there’s a pitfall need to be aware. Read more

I believe that what happens to a connected person’s body when being pushed can be understood by understanding how a trampoline works. Read more

Listening 3

by Mat Beausoleil on 2013/10/02

Any serious Taijiquan practitioner should develop the ability to listen and observe. Read more

If I were asked what I thought the key to learning Taijiquan was, I would have to say that it is the ability to break and change old habits, both physical and mental. Because habits are usually formed at a very young age and have gone unnoticed for so many years, most people are slaves to their habits. Bad habits are usually very difficult to identify and in most cases, nearly impossible to break. Like everything else, I feel that in order to be able to understand and deal with a certain issue, one needs to go deep into the mind and explore its roots and how it actually functions in the human psyche. Read more

Once the student is more advanced and the process of opening up the body is well under way, the body will naturally start adopting many of the fundamental principles of Taijiquan. When the practitioner is able to demonstrate that his mind and body both have a good grasp of such things as connectivity, separation, differential in movement and spiraling, the body will be able to move in such a way that the limbs will be powered by rotations occurring in different parts of the body, much like a gearbox. Once this has been achieved, the next step is for the student to meticulously go through each move in the form and learn its applications. In this step of the systematic process, the student will be required to experiment with and refine all of his knowledge and understanding and start applying it to real situations. This will help consolidate and solidify the practitioner’s overall understanding of the different movements of the form as their function and purpose will progressively become clearer. This is the point where everything starts to finally make sense. Read more

Suspended Head 6

by Todd Elihu on 2013/05/17

In 2009 on Daqingshan, Master Chen Zhonghua instructed me to keep one point on my body stable and fixed during push hands practice. The location of the point was up to me; I could make it be the lower back, rear foot, etc. However, the most important thing was to maintain the integrity and stability of the chosen point. Read more

Chen Style Tajiquan Practical Method
Grandmaster Hong Junsheng

General Principles
o Peng
Peng has been one of the most talked about topics in Taijiquan. Hong defined Peng as having two meanings: one is the upward expanding action of ward-off and the other the overall combined expanding energy that permeates all moves of Taiji. It is the latter meaning of Peng that is most important to him. “Without Peng, there is no Taiji.” Read more

Yilu & Erlu 1

by Xavier Santiago on 2013/02/15

Yi Lu is one of two forms in the Chen style Taijiquan lineage of Chen Chanxin who condensed the postures of the 7 barehand forms of Chen Wanting into 2 forms; Yi Lu and Er Lu. Yi Lu is the training form of Chen style Taijiquan.

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One of the most important tasks of Hunyuan Qigong practice is to “calm down the mind of the monkey and the intent of the horse.”
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Hong Junsheng Taijiquan Philosophy – As I See it

By Zhang Yanhai 张延海 (Translated from

Mr. Hong Junsheng (1907-1996) of Yu County, Henan Province was an indoor Taijiquan disciple of Mr. Chen Fake for 15 years and as the result has received true transmission of the art. After many years of inheriting the tradition and developing it, Mr. Hong has brought the essence of Taijiquan to a scientific and philosophical level and provided a systematic analysis of the inherent laws of Taijiquan; and at the same time able to demonstrate them visually in front of everyone. He is the first to propose the use of the mechanical concept of “neutral equilibrium” in Taiji. He has his own unique perspective on “rotation” and “silk reeling”.

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When I first heard Master Chen said “not-on not-off” in push hand a few years ago, I thought it was impossible. We either push (on), or not push (off). Through years of training, I slowly come to understand that “not-on not-off” is the result of “peng”, or Yin Yang separation.

A few days ago, after I wrote about stepping training by hugging a tree, I dreamed about a new exercise to help students experiencing “not-on not-off” by pushing a tree. Read more

For those of you that come from other taichi backgrounds and now do the Practical Method, I’m curious as to what led you along this path.  Also, what was your first impression of the Practical Method style?  I’ll tell you a little about my story. Read more

The Taiji Marksman 5

by Xiao on 2012/11/01

During the recent Chen Taiji Seminar in early Mar 2012 conducted by Master Chen Zhong Hua, he used an analogy of how striking in Taiji is like being “struck by a bullet.” Read more

At DaQingShan, Master Chen was discussing push hand with someone, I was observing at the side, I could not resist and said “I have a method”. Master Chen, upon hearing, stood aside, the other person kept the same posture, I used his original posture, applied a effective technique. I held on to that person, as he was working with me, I could not let him fall.
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“架子”是“拳架”一词的更口语,更随意的说法。练太极的都把“架子”挂在嘴边上。练套路叫“走架”,叫“盘架子”。师傅对生徒练的套路里的错误加以纠正,以及为提高生的套路水平而加以指点,都叫“拨架子”,因为“拨”字,含有“拨正”和“点拨”的意思。 Read more

I often heard a Taiji teacher saying to a physically strong student, “You are using force, you will need to first get rid of it, then what comes out afterwards will be Taiji energy.” What is Taiji energy? How is it used? Many people have their own opinions. However, most of them are very abstract, and difficult to grasp and understand. The more the students hear, the more confusing it comes. Isn’t that true? If the information provider is unclear himself, how can the listener understand? Read more

It was a beautiful morning in Phoenix, Arizona. Went to my Tai Chi class at 7:30am. Adam, Read more

Eventually, the positioning of the feet and stances must also be taken into consideration and perfected. When the body is properly connected, the legs are naturally brought in and the knees pushed out as far as possible without compromising the structure of the rest of body. Read more

When Master asked me to write about Taiji from the point of view of a dancer, I thought it was a rather insurmountable task.  I feel that I know so little about both. Yes, I have danced what is collectively known as Salsa for 18 years, but the old adage is that the more you know, the more you don’t know.  I have been reluctant to put anything on paper. Read more

In a few days we will have some videos to post on our work today. Thanks to K. S. Loke of Malaysia and Michael Koh of Singapore for arranging this. I hope we will have some good teaching/learning videos of the foundations of the Practical Method out of this.

The Circle 11

by Mat Beausoleil on 2012/02/23

The circle, simply put, is the basis of every move in the Taijiquan Practical Method system. Every action or movement in the form is actually a part or variation of either the negative or positive circle. Therefore, common sense would suggest that one must gain a deep understanding of the circle and its mechanics in order to have any kind of understanding of Taijiquan and its practical applications. Read more