Yilu Challenge

Read more

In Practical Method, we are constantly seeking methods to actualise simple principles and concepts into physical reality. During Master Chen Zhonghua’s online class on 16 November 2022, he showed a device to fix the two feet.

Read more

We were at the Sydney Practical Method workshop. Master Chen was demonstrating a partner exercise with me, to show the attendees. The exercise was to fix the front foot, and I had my right leg in front of his left leg. Read more

Teacher: Master Chen Zhonghua
  • Saturday 3 Sept 2022 – 9:00am to 11:30am, 2:00pm to 4:30pm. Workshop Day 1.
  • Sunday 4th Sept 2022 – 9:00am to 11:30am, 2:00pm to 4:30pm. Workshop Day 2.
Location: Dance 102 (Studio 1) 2/575 Pacific Hwy, St Leonards NSW 2065
Public Transport: 5 minutes walk from St Leonards train station.
Topics: Theory, Foundations, form (Yilu), applications and push hands
Fee: $380 for 2 days, $220 for 1 day.
Register: http://bit.ly/PM2022Sydney
Private Sessions:
  • Monday 5th Sept 2022 – Private Sessions (contact Brian to book in).
For further information, contact:
Brian Chung
+61 423 035 857
Suggested preparation for first-timers, get yourself familiar with the following:

  1. Positive and Negative Circles: Two Circles of Taiji
  2. Yilu First 13 Moves: Chen Style Yilu 13 Moves

Read more

  • Circle: the circle drawn by the shoulder must be bigger than the circle drawn by the hand.
  • Exercise: use a support for the front wrist, like a chair. The wrist cannot move (but it rotates). Do a negative circle with the rest of the body going up and down. The middle today is the shoulder, the two not moving ends are the rear foot and the front hand.
    Going down is physical at the beginning, later on is how we connect to the foot.
  • Every move in Yilu is to tie and untie a knot, to lock and unlock the body. We need a lot of torque and twisting.
  • Training process. We go from a unary system (based on one) to a binary system (based on two) to a ternary system (based on three). Three is stable, but not usable. So we go to a quaternary system (based on four) and we’re in chaos again and come back to stability in a quinary system (based on five). Five, like the five elements, means stable. Three is structural stable, five is rotation. To have stability in space, we need to rotate, we need to have five.
  • The interaction between the five elements, based on Dantian/centre, means stability. Chinese value the colour yellow, like yellow earth. It represents stability and for this reason is the colour of the Emperor.
  • Training exercise: “Fist draping over body”, “Lean with back”, “Fist covering hand downwards” with power. The intent: we have to throw something out of the body. At the beginning don’t worry about the structure, later on we can control it.

Read more

  • In fighting we need to be in a position where our opponent can only see our fist, not the body. (Can somebody please write the Chinese word for it? I recall the sound, but not the spelling). The ni position is the opposite, the body is exposed to our opponent.
  • Kick with the heel: as we extend one leg ,the body has to go down for the kick to result in a straight extension. It has to remain on the track.
    Generally we have to remember: the pivot must be anchored (stability=dot), the movement must be on the track. In doing the Form we cannot add these things too early.
  • Learn to listen to the sounds. Clothes, stepping, breathing… it gives us a wider view of the system. The ability of replicate the sound relates to the ability of replicate the move. “Body breaking wind” sound.
  • To dig/scoop (chinese wa includes both concepts). We used “cloud hands” for training the digging. Lock the front hand and foot and use the middle (elbow-shoulder-kua) to dig. Lots of power on the kua, because of the kua cannot move, the resulting action is a rotation.
    To dig properly we cannot move the rear shoulder. Two body parts not moving, only move the middle. It is humanly not possible, we have two but we need three. If we can do a little bit of it, we already have uncommon abilities.
  • In learning the count is one-two-three, in the real move everything is performed at the same time
  • Increase differential: capacity to move the body without moving the outside.
  • When we dig, we cut something off of our opponent

Kelvin Ho took on the yilu challenge once again and completed 200 yilus on Dec. 24, 2021 as inspired by Sooyeon Zacharias’s 180-yilu record on Dec. 18, 2021. He first attempted the challenge back in 2018, and completed 115 yilus. He started at 3:35 am and finished at 1:05 am. The entire duration was 21.5 hours broadcasted on zoom with 16 hours and 5 mins actually doing yilus. Many people came to visit and cheered. Many thanks for everyone’s support, especially for Sevastianos Maillis from Greece, Jojo Juarsa from Indonesia, and Sooyeon Zacharias from Canada who did yilus along side through zoom. They definitely helped ease this challenge. Sevastianos completed 36 yilus, Jojo completed 71 yilus (his personal best), and Sooyeon did another 100 yilus. For more information about Yilu Challenge, please refer to https://practicalmethod.com/2014/07/the-yilu-challenge/.

During the 12/22/21 English Zoom class, Master Chen showed some clips of Chen Xu aggressively overwhelming a student.  I think I saw how he did it.  Besides taking the student’s space, he moved as if he was a chainsaw; that is, just as the teeth on the chain bite into the wood and are pulled backward by the chain, Chen Xu’s feet caught on the ground and were pulled backwards, which pulled him forward.  He never punched or even pushed, he only pulled.  Even when he had pulled himself to the student he never punched or pushed.  He continued to pull, not so much with his legs, but with his arms as he clawed his way around the student.

Maybe the way you fight using tai chi is the same way a tiger attacks.  Predators never punch.  In fact, the only reason they extend their front legs is so that they can pull them back.  I don’t remember where this saying came from, maybe xingyi: ”The hand never comes back empty.”  In other words, the hand or claw is extended, grabs something and then pulls back.

So, I suggest an English name for Chen Xu: Chain Saw.  Chen Xu and Chain Saw even sound pretty much the same!

Past Video Highlight
Ong Wen Ming’s yilu" target="_blank">Link on 25th of December 2021 in Bali Island, Indonesia.

Sooyeon Zacharias is the new record holder for doing the most number of yilus in single day. She did 180 yilus on Dec. 18, 2021 from 6:00 am to 11:59 pm with an actual effort of 18 hours. She has so far performed a lifetime total of 12579 yilus.

The previous record was held by Han Rui and Wang Kai for 172 yilus back on Aug. 31, 2017.

For more information, please see: https://practicalmethod.com/2014/07/the-yilu-challenge/

A: Hey Sooyeon, are you on vacation?
S: Yes, I am.
A: What do you do then?
S: Yilu
A: Don’t you do that everyday already?
S: Yep, just more of it, about 9 times more to be exact.
A: That’s not a vacation.
S: It’s an yilucation, and I love it.

Recently I understood how to continue a stretch by switching to different body parts.
  • For a while I had experienced tightness in the shoulder while performing Yilu. This is also apparent when practicing Basic Foundations, specifically in a three count Positive Circle right between Step 2 and Step 3.
  • In a recent online lesson on 18th August 2020, an Master Chen gave an instruction on second count of the Positive Circle. Excerpt from Kelvin Ho’s notes http://practicalmethod.com/2020/08/64906/ In the 3-count positive circle: In with elbow, turn with kua, out with hand. When we do turn with (front) kua, the rear kua does not move. This action itself has already started to drive the hand out. When the front kua can’t go anymore, we open the armpit, and the rear knee while the rea kua is still not moving.
  • After practicing according to this instruction by sequentially focusing on (1) opening the front kua, then (2) the rear knee and armpit. This completely changed my Basic Foundations and Yilu.
  • When splitting in step (1), there is a clear ‘hit’ point where continuing the action beyond this will cause the front shoulder to get stuck, the chest will pop, and the torso will toss sideways.
  • By locking in position at the ‘hit’ point and switching to open the rear knee and armpit without moving the rear kua, the split in step (1) is continued while the body itself remains stable.
Practising this throughout Yilu and all of the Basic Foundations it suddenly became clear to me today that there is a three way split occurring. Implementing this concept every move in Yilu took forty two minutes.
Example – Six Sealing Four Closing
The result is as follows:
  1. Front Kua splits to
  2. Rear Kua / Front Shoulder / Front Knee
  3. Rear Knee / Front Elbow / Front Heel
  4. Rear Heel / Front Finger / Front Toes
Keep in mind it was only necessary to follow the simple instruction to create the result.
  • These moves are sequential.
  • What is done must be maintained. Nothing can be undone.
  • Overall there is only one outcome of splitting on the 45 degree line.
  • In each segmented step, the action is on a specific body part. In order not to break this action, the other body parts adjust in position without themselves moving.
  • Different body parts are used to complete the one action in a sequential order.
  • In the final step, the end result is that the power is on the front finger and rear heel.