Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival, is one of the four most celebrated traditional festivals in China. It is on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. The exact date varies from year to year on the western calendar. This year it is on Monday the 14th June.
Knowledge : Stories
John Upshaw and I met because of Practical Method. He lives in Iowa, USA, and I live in Toronto, Canada. We started to get to know each other through Facebook posts and chats. We first met in person in New Jersey Camp in June 2012. Despite living far apart, we started to train together in early morning on weekends using video conferencing, such as Google Hangout and Skype. We learned straight sword, erlu, and recently broadsword together. Last night, I stumbled some upon notes I made back in 2013/2014 for the online practice sessions. Upon reviewing the notes, what we have been practicing remains the same over the years. To name a few, the instructions include:
- Out with hand
- In with elbow
- , lock, fix something, such as the hand, the knee.
- Go over
- Open the kua
We improve over time in terms of detail and quality of the movements, but we will never be perfect. and the training just keeps going. Such notes allowed me to re-live some of the wonderful memories, and thanks to shifu to keep reminding us to make notes.
A few days ago my Tai Chi Practical Method teacher here in Queenstown, NZ took this video of me to mark exactly one year of practice for me in the Practical Method. I am one of Yuxins foundation members. Prior to starting on the Practical method my only Tai Chi experience was approximately one year of Yang style. Read more
During this time of the pandemic, I had a very valuable opportunity to attend Shifu Chen Zhonghua’s online class. By listening, seeing and following the instructions given in the class I began to understand the principles of the Taiji practical method and apply them to and push hands. All this time I thought that I understood and could do well, but what I understood was wrong. Read more
After many years of watching Master Chen practice taiji, it occurred to me that he moves like a predator. I have always known that he makes micro-adjustments in each muscle when he does the form, but watching it has always felt mechanical; like he is a machine, able to move each joint in his body independently. But, when I watched my cat hunt for the first time, I realized that his movements are actually very natural. Read more
On August 24th and 25th, 2019, I participated in Master Chen Zhonghua’s workshop in Dongying, China.
On September 3rd, I went to Daqingshan to train for a week and began my Practical Method journey.
In February 2020, invited Master Chen to come to Queenstown, New Zealand for the first time for workshop.
In mid-March, I learntfrom Master Chen’s detailed instructional videos. Started to practice the routine 3-5 times a day. Since mid-April, I practice 10 times a day until now.
What a fantastic set of online classes that Kelvin Ho has run! I was challenged in each class to bring myself back to the uncomfortable-ness of our practice. Read more
Back in 2011, I wrote about how my taiji journey got started: http://practicalmethod.com/2011/10/how-did-my-taiji-journey-get-started/. 7 more years passed by quickly on this journey, and it is now 2018. Much of the time was spent learning how to learn. In this article, rather than talking about taiji principles or concepts, let me share Master Chen Zhonghua’s teachings on learning.
I started taijiquan practical method in 2011. In 2016 I became disciple of Master Chen. Taiji – the separation of ying and yang and having both at the same time – is a part of my daily life and I am very happy about it.
1. Practical method
This style in the lineage of Chen Fake, Hong Junshen, Chen Zhonghua follows very clear instructions to establish the taiji movements. In the end there should be no fight anymore, one is just walking through the opponent without knowing.
The 6th Daqingshan International Competition
Daqingshan Mountain from the Pagoda
The start of my stay in China coincided with the 6th International Daqingshan Competition (April 28th to 30th this year), a yearly gathering that Master Chen started to promote both Taijiquan forms (a series of choreographed movements particular to each Family style) and also to provide a stage for a largePush Hands (a means of practicing Taiji techniques whilst trying to unbalance your opponent) tournament.
I’m writing this at about 30,000 feet on the plane from Munich, Germany to Toulouse, France. Master Chen Zhonghua is sitting next to me, it’s late evening and we are both tired from traveling shortly after noon.
On the last flight, from Danzig, Poland to Munich Master Chen gave me another lesson about.
Some of those ideas I had already heard on a flight almost two years ago, but what Master Chen taught me a few hours ago goes much, much further, of course. Some questions were answered, especially regarding applying theon the body.
The application cannot be written down, really. It must be demonstrated and felt. Trying do write it down will never do justice to the physical experience felt in person. Read more
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.
I had an interesting experience lately. I took singing classes with a professional classical singer. It was only one single event, but I learned two important things in those one and a half hours which are not only reflecting back on my Taijiquan but also on my life in general.
Western Learning Methods
Everything is about intellectually understanding things. After listening to my singing for a short time and before the teaching started I got two or three pages of text describing how the breathing organs work and how those relate to singing. Doing Practical Method for a while now and being in contact with eastern learning methods I just skipped through the pages to see if there’s something useful. I asked the teacher whether knowing this stuff is of any importance, especially in the beginning. She said, being a little puzzled, that most people want to know what they are doing, first. Intellectually. I explained, that I do PM and I trust her as a teacher me through exercises which she figures are important for me at my current state. She started teaching me.
With different exercises she tried to get me in a mode where the voice was full. She put me on a stepper on which I had to walk while singing. At some point I had to lean forward in a shoulder wide stance. Singing “dui dui” up and down the in this position felt strange and she directed me saying “try this” or “try that”. At some point my voice felt awkward. The setting of my muscles in my vocal tract was so wrong. I even got a little scared somehow. I stopped after being in this state for not even a second. Suddenly the teacher almost shouted at me: “why did you stop?! That was wonderful! Do it again!”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that setting during the remaining 15 minutes of the lesson.
This moment, when the awkwardness was on its peek was the moment when the door opened. I didn’t step through it, but now I know it’s there, at least. Even if I would have find this door without the teacher, I would be convinced that it’s the wrong door.
Fresh new Mr. accountant John and I had a catch up today and celebrated. Despite his absence, he has been keeping up with the basics and was able to develop new moves on the basketball court. Yeah, he sent a guy rolling across the court when pushed from behind. I am impressed! And, John didn’t know what had happened except for not moving!
We have a great visitor last weekend in Prague. Rick Pietila from USA currently based in Wienna (Austria) paid us a short visit. Read more
My name is Susanna, I am a Toronto student of Master Chen Zhonghua. I started studying Practical Method in the fall of 2012. At that time, my first daughter was just 9 months old. I brought her to the workshop and carried her around as I learned from Master Chen for the first time.
I learned the first 13 movements at that seminar and practiced them a couple times a week. Since the fall of 2013, however, I started practicing the first 13 movements everyday, without fail, 5 repetitions per day. It would take about 20 minutes to do. I continue to practice like this today. Read more
At the moment we, that is me with my husband Michael and 2 1/2 year old boy Lukas, are on Daqingshan, Shandong Province in China for Taiji Fulltime Training.
The three of us have been here together already last year, so here are our experiences with our little boy on the mountain.
Forms 69-81 of the
Presenter: Chen Zhonghua Length: 7 min. In: English Year: 2015 Difficulty:1/5 At:Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
You can buy all six videos for $40.00 here: http://practicalmethod.com/2020/07/yilu-detailed-instructions-all-six-sections-2015-online-video-purchase/
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
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
Serious students of the Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method are asked to do as many Yilus as possible for a single day. This practice started in 2001 by Master Chen Zhonghua and is known today as the Read moreChallenge. The tests the students courage, endurance and power level.
On the 10th of June, 2014, Master Chen Zhonghua became visiting professor of Taiji at the Handan Colledge in Handan, Hebei Province in China at a simple ceremony held by Prof. Ma Jibin, president of the College. He was also named the official representative of the college for Canada and the United State. Read more
(click the cc button in youtube window for translation)
I was invited by Master Bon and Master Neresini Read morea week long private teaching and weekend public workshop. Here is short report and some pictures from sweet northern Italy district Veneto.
Hong Junsheng Taijiquan Philosophy – As I See it
By Zhang Yanhai 张延海 (Translated from http://chenzhonghua.cn)
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”.
Originally written by: Allan Belsheim Nov 2007
When Master Chen Zhonghua shows us how to do the Chen form, he assures us that the hands are NOT moving. To look at him, everything is moving, including the hand. When we copy his moves, we are told that we are moving our hands and on top of that, we are tossing our bodies. The less we seem to move the more we are told that we are moving. Read more
Originally written by: Allan Belsheim published Nov 2007
During one of our full time Taijiquan course sessions with Master Chen Zhonghua, we were talking about secrets. As we were all of the opinion that there are no secrets, he went along with us. However, he pointed out, “There is a difference between inside and outside.”
So much so that a certain master named Zhao was not ready to join Hong’s classes, even after observing training at Daming Lake for three days. Zhao had come to Jinan from the eastern part of the province in search of Hong Junsheng. When he saw the dedication of the students and the level of difficulty of their practice, he decided to look elsewhere. (When I spoke with him, years later, he recalled that even the old people were doing Hong’s taiji in very low stances). Read more
The rock in the north western corner of the Black Tiger Springs Park weighs about 30 pounds. It has special significance to me. It was the special object that told me just how strong Hong Junsheng was. Read more
One afternoon during our full time Taijiquan studies, in the Hunyuantaiji Academy studio in Edmonton, Master Chen Zhonghua spoke of the mysterious, spiritual borderlands between yin and yang called ling. Read more
My garden loves Taiji practice
i get to admire it then
catch stunning glimpses of orange Read more
The following article was once originally part of Master Chen’s former webpage www.chenzhonghua.org. It gives us Grandmaster Hong Junsheng’s first-hand account of what actually happened in the talked about encounter in a martial arts tournament in Beijing between Great Grandmaster Chen Fake and Wu Tunan. I thought it would benefit everyone interested in Taijiquan history to read this article and learn of Grandmaster Hong’s first-hand knowledge of this encounter. I want to thank Shifu Chen Zhonghua for allowing me to re-publish this article in Practicalmethod.com. Read more
Driving through the immense rural landscape of China by car during a recent research trip my teacher, Chen Zhonghua, and I sought diversion from the lengthy journey by entertaining each other with stories. As we were traveling from the city of Jinan to Chen village (Chenjiagou) we happened to pass Handan, a little hamlet tucked in amidst the fertile fields of central Shandong province. Read more