Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby charles on Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:32 am

amor wrote:It''s a difficult topic imo especially when you get into the energetic flows these movements cause and the many permutations that occur through out forms, no one except a taichi 'master' could tell you this. There's not much on the rsf about this either understandably so.


Then here's our chance to add something on the topic to RSF.

I'm not a master, but it isn't really all that complicated. Parts of the body can be twisted in one direction until their range of motion is reached - twisting beyond that point causes injury. Parts of the body can be twisted in the opposite direction until their range of motion is reached - twisting beyond that point causes injury. To distinguish between the two directions, we'll give them different names. We can call one direction "positive" or "ni" and the other, it's opposite, "negative" or "shun". (You can chose other labels/names if you prefer. For the purpose of this discussion, I don't want to get into the meanings of the Chinese terms "shun" and "ni".)

People often discuss the direction of twisting related to the hands/arms, but many of the body parts can be twisted and their direction of twisting identified as "positive" or "ni" and "negative" or "shun".

If you hold both arms in front of you with both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down, both are performing the same (ni) twisting action. However, one is twisting clockwise while the other is twisting counter-clockwise. Hence, the common English language translations for "shun" and "ni" as clockwise and counterclockwise are of little use.


Not much on yt either but I found this excerpt from Chen Zhongua which shows a little:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADxV3GQwI5I


Although he unfortunately resorts to the English language translation as "clockwise" and "counter-clockwise", CZH points out, as did Shen Jiazhen, most ("all") actions involve twisting one way (ni) or the other (shun).

With a single arm/hand, one can turn that hand (forearm from the elbow) so that it rotates from facing outwards to facing inwards (shun) or one can do the opposite, turn the hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni). If these two actions are performed successively, each in an arc, a circular action can be performed comprised of two arcs. One arc is shun twisting, one arc is ni twisting: each circular action is comprised of two halves, one of which is shun the other is ni.

The circular action of the arm/hand can have a ni rotation at the top of the circle, as the hand moves upward and outwards, followed by a shun rotation as the hand moves down and in. Alternatively, one can reverse the direction of movement and have a shun rotation at the top of circular action - the hand coming inward and downward - and have a ni rotation at the bottom of the circular action - the hand moving outward and upward. For identification purposes, one can refer to the first action - ni/out at the top of the circle, shun/in at the bottom of the circle - as a "positive" circle. The opposite direction - shun at the top of the circle and ni at the bottom of the circle - as a "negative" circle.

Shen's illustration of hands tracing a Taiji Diagram is an illustration of "positive" and "negative" circles/arcs and the "inflection" points at which the direction of rotation reverses. It is not clear to me whether or not Shen provided the illustration as a suggestion to practice moving the hands around a Taiji diagram, or just as an academic/philosophic way of describing the inflection points. I have not met any Chen style practitioner who engages in the practice of tracing Taiji diagrams with hands or legs. (It mostly seems to be something that non-Chen stylists do thinking that is what Chen stylists practice as "silk reeling".)

If one begins to consider what happens when one moves two arms at the same time, there are a number of common combinations and permutations, as follows:

Single Arm
1. right arm, positive circle
2. right arm, negative circle
3. left arm, positive circle
4. left arm, negative circle

Double Arm
1. Both arms positive circle
2. Both arms negative circle
3. Right arm positive circle, left arm negative circle
4. Left arm positive circle, right arm negative circle
5. Both arms positive circle, 180 degrees out of phase
6. Both arms negative circle, 180 degrees out of phase

Here, Zhu Tiancai demonstrates these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKnfapxdiX4

At least in Chen style, nearly every movement that involves the arms found in a Taijiquan form, application or push hands can be seen to be a one of these, or a minor variation of two basic circles, positive and negative. What matters, of course, is how the hands are motivated to change direction, the physical mechanics that produces that motion.
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby robert on Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:34 am

amor wrote: For me I'd say Ni (palm outwards) has a pushing and opens the back but closes down the front on the side your doing it. Shun (palm inwards) has a pulling and closing action of the back but opens up the chest on the side your doing it.
It''s a difficult topic imo especially when you get into the energetic flows these movements cause and the many permutations that occur through out forms, no one except a taichi 'master' could tell you this.
There's not much on the rsf about this either understandably so. Not much on yt either but I found this excerpt from Chen Zhongua which shows a little:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADxV3GQwI5I

CZH's use of ni/shun agrees with Chen Xin's, although I agree with Charles and don't like the clockwise/counter-clockwise terminolgy.

I'd have to see what you're doing. The following is a common silk reeling exercise - the single arm circle.


There's some prep getting into it, but the circle starts around 2:05 with the right arm/leg winding outward (open) and from there at 2:36 the right arm/leg wind inward (close) and on to 3:06 the right arm/leg winding outward (open). The basic idea is pretty simple, the difficulty is doing it while maintaining taiji body requirements.

As Charles says above from this you have variations, combinations, and permutations.
Try not to let the words confuse you — they serve no other purpose than to guide you into the inner structures of Taiji. Chen Xin
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby charles on Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:56 pm

robert wrote: The following is a common silk reeling exercise - the single arm circle.


Shown is the (single) right arm "positive" circle (1. in my list), as typically done in Chen Village, though the terminology of "positive" is not used in Chen Village teachings. The single arm circle is usually the entry point to movement in many Chen style curricula.

The single arm circle can also be done with a variation of greater waist rotation, turning nearly 90 degrees, as well as with stepping. With the addition of stepping, it is often used as a gateway to bridging and applications. In getting back to Appledog's new style/curriculum, this could be a way to introduce practical applications early in the curriculum, learning them in conjunction with the entry-level exercise.
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby amor on Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:40 pm

charles wrote:If you hold both arms in front of you with both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down, both are performing the same (ni) twisting action. However, one is twisting clockwise while the other is twisting counter-clockwise. Hence, the common English language translations for "shun" and "ni" as clockwise and counterclockwise are of little use.


With a single arm/hand, one can turn that hand (forearm from the elbow) so that it rotates from facing outwards to facing inwards (shun) or one can do the opposite, turn the hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni). If these two actions are performed successively, each in an arc, a circular action can be performed comprised of two arcs. One arc is shun twisting, one arc is ni twisting: each circular action is comprised of two halves, one of which is shun the other is ni.



Thanks charles. This is useful info. on a subject that rarely gets talked about also I have picked up a thing or two from your video's in the past and I'll take this on board as well.

Some things have occurred to me while reading your descriptions:

When in a static posture such as in the 1st paragraph (open/closing of the chest) the palms are facing up and opening the chest. So at the peak of this opening if you look at the hands you would see the backs of the hands. This looks like Ni chan since palms are rotated away or outwards but you have stated it is shun chan. Whereas in the 2nd paragraph you say that Ni chan is where turn the hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni) so again you would see backs of hands.

I'm not disagreeing with you but I'm trying to reconcile the apparently seeming difference so I'll describe my rationale. In the 1st paragraph the chest is fully open towards the front so its shun chan. Whereas when you twist the palms down the chest gets sunk thus opening the back and closing the front hence ni chan.

In the 2nd paragraph when palm is moving towards the body this is shun chan because the front is expanding on the side that the hand is moving palm inwards and towards the body; consequently ni chan on the opposite side as the ribcage is lowering on that side. So in effect what im saying is that shun and ni chan is based primarily on the raising and lowering of the ribcage? This movement of the ribcage is more like frontal plane motion because it involves side to side motion and weight shift/waist rotation, that you've described the 2nd paragraph similar to cloud hands movement. Whereas in the 1st paragraph its mostly static and sagital plane motion imo.


charles wrote:The circular action of the arm/hand can have a ni rotation at the top of the circle, as the hand moves upward and outwards, followed by a shun rotation as the hand moves down and in. Alternatively, one can reverse the direction of movement and have a shun rotation at the top of circular action - the hand coming inward and downward - and have a ni rotation at the bottom of the circular action - the hand moving outward and upward. For identification purposes, one can refer to the first action - ni/out at the top of the circle, shun/in at the bottom of the circle - as a "positive" circle. The opposite direction - shun at the top of the circle and ni at the bottom of the circle - as a "negative" circle.



I have practiced these positive/negative circle foundation exercises but I was unsure about one thing. When the active hand is performing its role of shun or ni, must the passive hand that is by the side always be doing the opposite? Because I used to keep it relaxed but pushing forward from the shoulder
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby charles on Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:16 pm

amor wrote:
charles wrote:If you hold both arms in front of you with both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down, both are performing the same (ni) twisting action. However, one is twisting clockwise while the other is twisting counter-clockwise. Hence, the common English language translations for "shun" and "ni" as clockwise and counterclockwise are of little use.


With a single arm/hand, one can turn that hand (forearm from the elbow) so that it rotates from facing outwards to facing inwards (shun) or one can do the opposite, turn the hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni). If these two actions are performed successively, each in an arc, a circular action can be performed comprised of two arcs. One arc is shun twisting, one arc is ni twisting: each circular action is comprised of two halves, one of which is shun the other is ni.



When in a static posture such as in the 1st paragraph (open/closing of the chest) the palms are facing up and opening the chest. So at the peak of this opening if you look at the hands you would see the backs of the hands.


I wrote, "If you hold both arms in front of you with both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down, both are performing the same (ni) twisting action." I made no mention of opening, closing or the chest. I stated "both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down". When the palms are facing DOWN, you see the backs of the hands; when the palms are facing UP, you see the palms of the hands. As I described it, above, it is simply rotation of the forearms to turn the palms over.

You then ascribed opening of the chest to the palms facing up. I'm not sure why. The chest can be open or closed, or neither.


This looks like Ni chan since palms are rotated away or outwards but you have stated it is shun chan.


I stated that in turning the palms from facing up to facing down, "both are performing the same (ni) twisting action." Not sure where you believe I stated it is shun.

Whereas in the 2nd paragraph you say that Ni chan is where turn the hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni) so again you would see backs of hands.


That is correct.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time, I'm just not sure where the confusion is.

So in effect what im saying is that shun and ni chan is based primarily on the raising and lowering of the ribcage? This movement of the ribcage is more like frontal plane motion because it involves side to side motion and weight shift/waist rotation, that you've described the 2nd paragraph similar to cloud hands movement. Whereas in the 1st paragraph its mostly static and sagital plane motion imo.


I think what is happening is that I'm providing the simplest, lowest-level, most general description of "shun" and "ni". For discussion purposes, call it a "level 0", or base-level description. You are asking a question about, for discussion purposes, say, "level 3". In the process of asking the question, you've filled in the intervening levels, 1 and 2, with a variety of assumptions. Those assumptions don't appear to be correct. The result is that the question about level 3 makes little sense.

I've described turning the palm over, pronation and supination of the forearm:

Image

Image

Simply, supination is "shun", pronation is "ni". That's "level 0", that the arm/palm can be twisted in two directions and that that is important. No discussion of how to motivate the body to do that.

"Level 1" might be starting with the hands palm-down in front of the torso and using the closing of the chest, rib cage, bowing the spine, etc. to turn both palms over, a symetric action like squeezing a balloon. No weight shift, no rotation to the left or right. (A one handed version is the forward hand in "roll back" in Yang style forms.) Next, you might start with the hands palm-down and use opening of the chest, rib cage, straightening of the spine, etc. to turn the palms over. This is a symmetric action like standing in the middle of a door way and pushing against both sides of the door frame simultaneously. (One handed versions appear in the forward hand in left and right "ward off" and parting the horse's mane in Yang style forms.) Both actions are "ni", but driven differently, one by closing, one by opening.

"Level 2" might be to introduce helical "spiral" motion in which the rotation occurs while extending or retracting the arms. (Level 1, above, is (mostly) circular, not spiral/helical.)

"Level 3" might be to introduce forward AND back as the "translation" occurring during the helical motion: one hand extends while rotating and the other retracts while rotating. This involves "shearing" across the torso and, unlike the previous levels, introduces asymmetric motion. One way of accomplishing asymmetric motion is to have one side of the body open while the other side closes.

"Level 4" might be to introduce asymmetric motion left and right and up and down.

The single-handed circle can be performed at all of those levels. It depends upon what you want to train and at what skill level you are.


I have practiced these positive/negative circle foundation exercises but I was unsure about one thing. When the active hand is performing its role of shun or ni, must the passive hand that is by the side always be doing the opposite?


Of course not. If it is "passive" how can it actively be doing the opposite? If it is doing the opposite, then it isn't passive. The "active" hand is constantly changing: it isn't a static situation.

Because I used to keep it relaxed but pushing forward from the shoulder


Hmmm, "relaxed but pushing forward". It's either relaxed and not pushing forward, or it is pushing forward and, by definition, not relaxed.
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby wayne hansen on Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:52 am

GrahamB wrote:I was actually thinking of doing a video on it, but then I thought - why bother? It would just be a load of people telling me how my shit is fake ;D


Don't pussy out Grahame let's see it
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby amor on Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:32 pm

I wrote, "If you hold both arms in front of you with both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down, both are performing the same (ni) twisting action." I made no mention of opening, closing or the chest. I stated "both palms facing up and then rotate the palms to face down". When the palms are facing DOWN, you see the backs of the hands; when the palms are facing UP, you see the palms of the hands. As I described it, above, it is simply rotation of the forearms to turn the palms over.
You then ascribed opening of the chest to the palms facing up. I'm not sure why. The chest can be open or closed, or neither.



I think I got over my head on the first part I wrote concerning your descriptions on shun/ni so I'll probably come back to this once i've found an example in the form
of a youtube clip or other to hopefully show some aspects of what I am getting at. I admit though I did make an error when I mentioned looking at the hands when palms are up you would see the backs of hands but no, you are right, I went back and did it and you do see the palms.
But briefly, I know you didnt mention open/close concerning the descriptions of palms raised in shun and palms lowered as ni but this is an opening/closing action is it not in a standard horse stance posture;
although for a full open/close I'd imagine there would have to be a kind of lifting action involved as well by contraction of the back muscles and overall straightening of the
spine, for opening. Then twisting down of both palms, one clockwise the other conterclockwise, or Ni chan for closing. But yes I did assume incorrectly and oversimplify as its not a strict open/close I admit.

I've described turning the palm over, pronation and supination of the forearm:
Simply, supination is "shun", pronation is "ni". That's "level 0", that the arm/palm can be twisted in two directions and that that is important. No discussion of how to motivate the body to do that.


One thing to check, when you say
With a single arm/hand, one can turn that hand (forearm from the elbow) so that it rotates from facing outwards to facing inwards (shun) or
one can do the
opposite, turn the hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni)


So, the movement of bringing the palm inwards, forearm from elbow, is shun I agree but when you do ni to cause the palm to go back out you dont use elbow/forearm, you use
the shoulder or rather the movement would be initiated from the shoulder right?


Another thing just for future reference, in the thread op link the author says:
According to qualities and capabilities, Tai Chi Chuan silk reeling energy can be divided into two basic types. The first is ‘forward’ (shun) silk reeling where the palms
rotate from facing inward to facing outward. Within this group almost all consist of Peng (ward off) energy (see the solid lines in figure 1). The second type
is ‘backward’ (ni) silk reeling where the palms rotate from facing outward to facing inward

and you have said previously:

With a single arm/hand, one can turn that hand (forearm from the elbow) so that it rotates from facing outwards to facing inwards (shun) or one can do the opposite, turn the
hand so that rotates from facing inwards to facing outwards (ni)


so your version of shun and ni is the one that I agree with but note it does differ from what the author has said so I just want to check that your version is the correct
'convention'?( Im not critiscising the author as the rest of the article may be correct according to how the author has defined shun and ni)


Of course not. If it is "passive" how can it actively be doing the opposite? If it is doing the opposite, then it isn't passive. The "active" hand is constantly changing: it isn't a static situation.
Hmmm, "relaxed but pushing forward". It's either relaxed and not pushing forward, or it is pushing forward and, by definition, not relaxed.



When I mentioned about the arm by the side being passive I meant to an external observer who wouldn't record any movement unlike the active arm that is being waved across, up and down. Also the 'pushing forward' from the shoulder was not really a forceful push but its mostly about keeping the ribcage sunk as the tendancy in my case was for
the connection, which I couldn't always feel, near the shoulder (left specifically) to 'break' . This issue is due to tightness in my back and I just keep the shoulder rolled forward so as to keep this connection 'alive' otherwise I risk wrenching my spine and resulting injury.

So When I do movements for a positive circle with right arm I can feel that when palm does shun the left hand automatically does ni and vice-versa. For example I do shun in a
positive circle as I bring the arm down and in across the body and at the same time I initiate a pushing action since the back will be expanded at this point and the back is now primed for pushing.
Also at this point I should be doing Ni with the left arm in case you can't feel it. As the hand flips over and goes into Ni I then initiate a pulling action as the front
expands and the left arm should be doing shun.

I don't know if this description of what I am doing above is correct in your opinion it is only a basic outline of what I am attempting. But I would like to add more layers to it before proceeding further. The video below at 3.25 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h48hslU31f0
of Chen Zhongua demonstrates a 8 count circle which I am trying to understand and incorporate into this exercise Also I wouldn't mind incorporating some of your ideas which
you briefly touched on about Levels 1-4. It's good to know that you can advance such a seemingly simple exercise to such a level and get as much as you can out of it.
So how do I go about this?

The reason Im trying to get as much information is because even though im still at beginner level in this class of exercise I want to have as much info. before hand so that
I can anticipate what to do next. Yes everyone says you have to relax and just let everything happen naturally but I dont think its just this and you need to go in
prepared for when you hit a new milestone. Theres so much to know though, from the different palm changes, pushing, pressing, flat, sitting etc. to pivoting on different points
on the foot, the gaze of the eyes , opening/closing, push/pull, tucking tailbone, perineum lift, weight shift, waist turn, breathing etc.; but as you say how to motivate the body
to do all this in these assymetrical type postures is what I am looking at doing.
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby amor on Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:54 pm

robert wrote:

CZH's use of ni/shun agrees with Chen Xin's, although I agree with Charles and don't like the clockwise/counter-clockwise terminolgy.

There's some prep getting into it, but the circle starts around 2:05 with the right arm/leg winding outward (open) and from there at 2:36 the right arm/leg wind inward (close) and on to 3:06 the right arm/leg winding outward (open). The basic idea is pretty simple, the difficulty is doing it while maintaining taiji body requirements.

As Charles says above from this you have variations, combinations, and permutations.


The prep that he does looks interesting for getting you ready for any of the foundation exercises but Im not sure what he is doing all the way through. Do you have any ideas? It looks like he is doing an internal version of cloud hands in a straight posture. Most probably sets up the legs so that they can move about in the hip joints. Looks difficult to do though. Or it could be a more internal version of commencement posture.
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby wayne hansen on Sat Aug 19, 2017 2:05 pm

After looking at the five clips Charles put up I am wondering if anyone has learnt these exercises off a person
It looks like most people have picked them up off the diagram
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby robert on Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:24 pm

amor wrote:The prep that he does looks interesting for getting you ready for any of the foundation exercises but Im not sure what he is doing all the way through. Do you have any ideas? It looks like he is doing an internal version of cloud hands in a straight posture. Most probably sets up the legs so that they can move about in the hip joints. Looks difficult to do though. Or it could be a more internal version of commencement posture.


1 (yi) raise the active arm, keep the shoulder relaxed
2 (er) lower the active arm, palm up, knees bent, qi to dantian, relax, passive arm on hip, leg of active arm raised to toes
3 (san) step out leg of active arm
4 (si) turn the waist and raise the arm (note the hand turns over so you wind as well)
5 (wu) shift the weight, turn to face forward, and right leg and arms have wound so palm is facing out

You can think of it as a single arm version of cloud hands without stepping.
Try not to let the words confuse you — they serve no other purpose than to guide you into the inner structures of Taiji. Chen Xin
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby charles on Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:35 pm

amor wrote:But briefly, I know you didnt mention open/close concerning the descriptions of palms raised in shun and palms lowered as ni but this is an opening/closing action is it not in a standard horse stance posture;
although for a full open/close I'd imagine there would have to be a kind of lifting action involved as well by contraction of the back muscles and overall straightening of the
spine, for opening. Then twisting down of both palms, one clockwise the other conterclockwise, or Ni chan for closing. But yes I did assume incorrectly and oversimplify as its not a strict open/close I admit.


This stuff really isn't that complicated. What makes it difficult is lack of clarity in discussion/teaching.

Are you talking about single arm "circles" and what "powers" the circles? Which one? "Positive" or "negative"?

In Chen Village, the "circles" are often taught "by the numbers". That is, the "circle" is taught as a rectangle, i.e. four sides. There are four corners where pairs of adjacent sides meet. Each corner is given a number. Each "corner" or number is a specific posture. Specific things happen at each "corner"/posture. Knowing what is supposed to happen at each allows the student to do some self-correction.

If we take the positive circle - out at the top, in at the bottom - as a rectangle, if we start from the bottom, inward corner (along one's centerline in front of the abdomen), I'll call that "1". The hand lifts along the center line to its highest position, point 2. The palm changes from facing inward/upward at the bottom, centerline, at point 1, to facing down at point 2, still along the centerline. The palm then traverses horizontally, away from the center to point 3. From point 2 to point 3, the palm rotates from facing down to facing out. From point 1 to point 3 is "ni". It is "qi from the dan tian to the fingers". It is (predominantly) opening. That is upward and then outward, the top half of the "circle", sides 1 and 2 of the rectangle.

From point 3 to point 4, the hand lowers along the external (third) side of the rectangle. The palm changes from facing out to facing down(ish). To close the rectangle, the fourth side, the palm returns to the starting point, point 1, and the palm rotates from point 4, facing down/in to point 1, facing inward/upward. From point 3 to point 1 is "qi returning from the fingers to the dan tian." It is closing. It is "shun". It is the bottom half of the positive "circle", sides 3 and 4 of the rectangle. Those are the two halves of the "positive" circle as typically taught/performed in Chen Village, one approach. (My labeling sequence starts at a different "corner" than is typical of the Village teaching.)

After sufficient practice as a segmented rectangle, one can eliminate the corners and practice it as a fluid circle.

"Qi" goes out from the dan tian in half of the circle, qi returns from the extremities to the dan tian in the other half of the circle. Half of every circle is (predominently) opening and half is closing. Every movement is a circle: hence, every movement alternates between (predominantly) opening and closing. As one progresses, one can articulate individual parts of the body more fully so as to perform different actions with different parts of the body - somethings open while others close, rather than have the "entire" body open and then close as a "slab".

The "negative" circle is the opposite, with "shun" during the top half of the circle - two sides of the rectangle - "ni" during the bottom half of the circle - two sides of the rectangle.

So, the movement of bringing the palm inwards, forearm from elbow, is shun I agree but when you do ni to cause the palm to go back out you dont use elbow/forearm, you use
the shoulder or rather the movement would be initiated from the shoulder right?


No.

Understand what this is about. The first principle of Taijiquan, at least as some Chen teachers teach it, is, "When one part moves all parts move". Or, alternatively, "When the dan tian moves, everything moves". There is an explicit method used in Chen style Taijiquan to physically achieve that principle. That method is referred to as chan si jin ("silk reeling"). It's purpose is to coordinate the parts of the body in motion: no part of the body moves in isolation of the rest. Part of that method of coordinating parts of the body involves twisting and untwisting of body parts.

The method involves using the abdomen ("center") to drive the motion of the extremities: all movement is initiated in the abdomen and all movement completes in the abdomen. "Energy" goes out from the center, "energy" returns to the center. The single hand circle is a method of training to develop that ability. The result of energy going out from the abdomen to the extremities (e.g. hand) in the positive circle is that the palm rotates to face outwards/downwards. The result of energy returning from the extremities (e.g. hand) in the positive circle is that the palm rotates to face inwards/upwards. The rotation of the palm is a result of what is happening elsewhere: the "engine" is the abdomen and there is a "drive train" that ends at and causes the motion of the extremities.

I just want to check that your version is the correct 'convention'?


I've encountered the directions of shun and ni as Shen states. However, all of the teachers I've had define it as I stated, opposite to what Shen gives.

When I mentioned about the arm by the side being passive I meant to an external observer who wouldn't record any movement unlike the active arm that is being waved across, up and down. Also the 'pushing forward' from the shoulder was not really a forceful push but its mostly about keeping the ribcage sunk as the tendancy in my case was for
the connection, which I couldn't always feel, near the shoulder (left specifically) to 'break' . This issue is due to tightness in my back and I just keep the shoulder rolled forward so as to keep this connection 'alive' otherwise I risk wrenching my spine and resulting injury.


Half of the "circle" is opening and half is closing. How is it possible to do both while "keeping the ribcage sunk"? The ribcage should be very active as it opens and closes. I don't think that one addresses tightness in one part of the body by introducing unnecessary tensions in other parts. If you risk wrenching or injuring your spine, likely your actions are incorrect.

So When I do movements for a positive circle with right arm I can feel that when palm does shun the left hand automatically does ni and vice-versa.


There are as many actions/applications that have both hands doing the same rotation ( both shun or both ni) as there are doing opposite rotation (one shun the other ni). One should train those as well.

For example I do shun in a positive circle as I bring the arm down and in across the body and at the same time I initiate a pushing action since the back will be expanded at this point and the back is now primed for pushing. Also at this point I should be doing Ni with the left arm in case you can't feel it. As the hand flips over and goes into Ni I then initiate a pulling action as the front expands and the left arm should be doing shun.


Sure, this is one example of how one can coordinate the rotation of the two hands. But, there are others and those should be equally well trained - and are in forms and other exercises.

I don't know if this description of what I am doing above is correct in your opinion it is only a basic outline of what I am attempting. But I would like to add more layers to it before proceeding further.


I'd have to see what you are doing to be able to comment on it. However, it sounds like you'd benefit from reviewing/correcting early layers rather than add more layers.


The video below at 3.25 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h48hslU31f0
of Chen Zhongua demonstrates a 8 count circle which I am trying to understand and incorporate into this exercise


Hong's style has some significant differences from other Chen variants: what is "right" in Hong style is "wrong" in Chen Village/Feng styles; what is "right" in Village/Feng styles is "wrong" in Hong style. Start by learning one or the other: trying to mix and match will not likely produce much success.

Also I wouldn't mind incorporating some of your ideas which you briefly touched on about Levels 1-4. It's good to know that you can advance such a seemingly simple exercise to such a level and get as much as you can out of it.


And, that's the point. It isn't a simple exercise. It is the basis, the foundation, for the rest of the style. If the circles are wrong, the rest is wrong. The more "advanced" one's abilities in performing the circles, the more advanced is one's foundation, the more one has to work with in forms, applications, etc.

So how do I go about this?


There is really only one way: study with someone who is skilled in what you want to learn. Books, videos, discussion forums can help, but cannot substitute for a qualified teacher.

The reason Im trying to get as much information is because even though im still at beginner level in this class of exercise I want to have as much info. before hand so that I can anticipate what to do next. Yes everyone says you have to relax and just let everything happen naturally but I dont think its just this and you need to go in prepared for when you hit a new milestone. Theres so much to know though, from the different palm changes, pushing, pressing, flat, sitting etc. to pivoting on different points on the foot, the gaze of the eyes , opening/closing, push/pull, tucking tailbone, perineum lift, weight shift, waist turn, breathing etc.; but as you say how to motivate the body to do all this in these assymetrical type postures is what I am looking at doing.


My recommendation is don't. Start at the beginning and slowly, patiently, methodically work through a proven, progressive method of acquiring skills and knowledge. Knowing about a bunch of stuff that is well beyond your current level will likely just fill your head with incorrect preconceived notions about what stuff is about and how to do it. Largely, one learns through doing, rather than academic theory. Milestones are what you encounter along the way: they aren't the map. And, the map is not the terrain. Learn the terrain first-hand from someone who has traversed it and knows how to navigate it.

In my opinion, the most difficult basic skill is the ability to really "let go" or "relax". (It isn't the same thing as being limp.) In my opinion, without the requisite level of "relaxation" or "looseness", one cannot acquire more advanced skills. I suggest you not underestimate just how difficult it is to achieve that level of "relaxation", or how important it is as a foundation of traditional skills.
Last edited by charles on Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby robert on Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:49 am

charles wrote:In my opinion, the most difficult basic skill is the ability to really "let go" or "relax". (It isn't the same thing as being limp.) In my opinion, without the requisite level of "relaxation" or "looseness", one cannot acquire more advanced skills. I suggest you not underestimate just how difficult it is to achieve that level of "relaxation", or how important it is as a foundation of traditional skills.

I agree and in addition to being a skill it requires a change to the body. Standing, silk reeling/neigong, and forms all condition the body and you have to put in your time.
Try not to let the words confuse you — they serve no other purpose than to guide you into the inner structures of Taiji. Chen Xin
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby GrahamB on Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:31 pm



None of these look like the way you're supposed to do the exercise described above. :-\
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby wayne hansen on Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:06 am

Time for a clip Grahame
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: Shen Jiazhen (1891-1972)

Postby GrahamB on Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:56 am

I'll start a or a FoFundMe - you can all put $5 in.
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