I've been wanting a blog for a bit, as a way to share stuff. Sometimes there are subjects that just never comes up in class, or stuff that needs to be revisited, or material that invites further discussion.
This is therefore an experimental method of communicating information. What you see here has been sent to CMIA members by e-mail. I hope in time that there will be a collection of these entries accessible through the club website (www.coldmountaininternalarts.com ).
Enjoy! - Steve.
Notes from 2006 on Chen Family Tai Chi Chuan
(taken by Steve Higgins, Cold Mountain Internal Arts, www.coldmountaininternalarts.com)
When the first Grandmasters’ Tai Chi Chuan symposium took place at Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada in 2006 the Chen family was represented by Grandmaster Chen Zhenlei.
The symposium lasted a week, most of which I spent with Grandmaster Yang Zhenduo. However I was able to attend sessions with other grandmasters. The following are remarks made by Grandmaster Chen Zhenlei through an interpreter.
Parentheses indicate my own interpolations.
The characteristics of the Chen style are:
· Ease of movement
· Slow and gentle movement and silk reeling
· Visible martial applications.
· There are no postures that look like pushing or pulling.
· There is no uplifting of the body (consistency of level).
· Movement is continuous with no pauses.
· Spirals connect movement to physical power and conceal strength.
· There is rotation in all joints: wrists, shoulders, hips, neck etc.
· All motions are curved.
In addition, movement from side to side is generated through loose hips with palms soft, thumb gently folded in. Rotation from side to side is limited and the hips and knees are stable. While the hip joints rotate, the pelvis does not twist from side to side. The arm follows the body (and movement is carried). The torso rotates only to the degree consistent with relaxation and central equilibrium.
To empty a limb, the joint cannot be locked. (In the transition of Yin-Yang palms, the body slightly leads the arm.) At their fullest, Yin and Yang each begin to develop their opposite. This is why the art is called “Tai Chi”.
Stomping is accomplished by relaxing and sinking the body. The upper and lower body must be coordinated. It is like lifting a rock and then releasing it so that it falls by itself. So the stomping foot is actually empty. The stomp is actually empty, rather than active. The same thing is true of kicks. So in these movements there is no chance of hurting a knee…if you do it properly.
The same thing is true of explosive fa-jin. To suggest that the internal organs can be hurt by explosive
fa-jing is incorrect… if it is done properly.
1. Strengthens the movement of blood and Qi,
2. Increases sensitivity,
3. Brightens the spirit!
But you must ensure that the body is springy and loosened.
Be careful to teach this according to the student’s physical condition. For eg. You may wish to teach in higher postures, omitting stomping and going more slowly.
Fa-jing, also in punches, is expressed with spirals. The power goes from the feet, to the legs, to the waist, to the hands (Wu Yu Hsiang’s Classic) in spirals. There may be a rotation inwards of the thighs and legs as this is done. In this, legs and arms are coordinated. Everything is coordinated together. The whole body is used as a unified transition point (for internal power). Punch, single elbow, back of shoulder --- in all cases the strength must be relaxed into the striking point.
(At various times during the symposium the grandmasters agreed that all styles of Tai Chi Chuan were dealing with the same stuff, that what varies between them is their training paths.)