Kua 胯

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

Re: Kua 胯

Postby amor on Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:28 am

charles wrote:Opening and closing the kua are independent of "sinking": they are two different things. One can open the kua and not sink, one can close the kua and not sink, or one can open the kua and sink and close the kua and sink. It also has nothing to do with "empty" or "full": one can have an open kua that is empty or an open kua that is full, etc.

The references to 'sinking' I used above was in the context of standing or moving zhan zhuang, not in actual fighting, you dont want to sink when fighting. But just for future reference what's your definition of 'sinking' as you understand it?
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Re: Kua 胯

Postby marvin8 on Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:39 pm

charles wrote:
marvin8 wrote:What are the benefits of opening and closing the kua in a martial context?

Your question doesn't really make much sense. Different styles use the body differently, including how they use the kua. Some styles use a stance that has a closed kua (e.g. Wing Chun). Some styles use a stance that has a predominantly open kua (e.g. Chen Taijiquan). Both work.

If your question is why would one want to alternate opening and closing the kua - within the same style - again, the short answer is that it is part of how one, in that style, uses the body to generate force/power and to neutralize, how one coordinates - or not - the parts of the body. It is basic to the style and how the body is used within that style. In Chen Taijiquan, one of the simplest, overt examples of opening or closing the kua is to power a leg strike against an opponent's leg to destabalize the opponent's leg. An example of the action in solo training is shown at 1:57 in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRAv85s3OZk

Opening and closing the kua are independent of "sinking": they are two different things. One can open the kua and not sink, one can close the kua and not sink, or one can open the kua and sink and close the kua and sink. It also has nothing to do with "empty" or "full": one can have an open kua that is empty or an open kua that is full, etc.

The following opinions are from a striking discussion and an article, which may not reflect my views.

Folding the inguinal crease will give you the ability to defend and attack quickly and efficiently, while maintaining good balance, alignment and structure. An example of avoiding a punch is, in a boxer’s orthodox stance folding the rear hip will move the head off center to the right. Flexing the front hip will move the head to the left. Another option is changing levels by folding the inguinal crease(s). By flexing the hip and keeping the lower back stable, one is in a position to change, defend and counter attack seamlessly. These can be done without moving the feet and moving out of range for a counter.

On the other hand, bending at the back, bending/straightening the knees or moving away can take one out of alignment, balance and prevent quick transitions from defense to offense. This gives the opponent an opportunity to attack, while one is out of position.

From the June 1994 issue of T'ai Chi Magazine, PUMPING THE KUA "Sung Kua," http://www.stltaiji.com/media/documents ... %20Kua.pdf:
J. Justin Meehan wrote:From the beginning of my Tai Chi studies back in 1967, I had heard and reheard the ever recurring maxim “sung kua." Based upon my early lack of experience and understanding, I, as most others, had always interpreted the expression as "relax the hips." Only after studying the Hun Yuan Chen style of Grandmaster Feng Zheqiang, under Master Zhang Xue Xin (of San Francisco) , did I become aware of a much more specific meaning for this important concept.

Many Tai Chi practitioners, upon hearing the admonition to "sink the kua" or "relax the hips," responded by lowering their body by bending their knees, tucking their tail bone under and using more hips. But there is a big difference between using the hips to lead the movement, and "loading up" the joint crease where the lower front of the torso and the upper leg meet.

To "sung kua" one does lower the body, but not by just bending the knees and Jetting the knees come forward as in a typical low "horse stance." I eventually came to see that even the so-called "External Arts" do not do this. See for instance the photos of the Shaolin Master in horse stance in Robert Smith's 1964 book Secrets of Shao/in Temple Boxing or his 1969 book with Don Draeger on Asian Fighting Arts. Many of us also saw the movie Iron and Silk, where Master Pan corrects his student's upright, square horse stance by pushing him in the chest and watching him fall backward. To adjust, Master Pan had his student sink into the hip crease and lean forward slightly. This resulted in a slightly forward leaning posture, and firmly rooted the brunt of Pan's push directly into the stance's alignment to the ground and created immovable stability.

As for the Internal Arts, sinking into the kua has three functions: (1) to firmly root and align the body down the base leg(s) and directly into the ground (2) it provides an additional "power spring" from which force can either be compressed downward or released upward; and (3) it can also aid and assist in shifting and/or turning the torso and hip area from side to side. In the first two functions, it is as if the kua were performing the sinking and releasing functions usually accorded to the knee. Proper sinking into the kua and tucking the tailbone under the torso also takes a lot of unnecessary pressure off the knee and allows the power of the stronger muscles of the thighs, hips, and the lower torso to come into greater play.

I recall the words of Master Zhang Xue Xin,one, of our country’s leading Chen Masters and senior U.S. disciple of Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, stating that, "Americans only know how to use the hips, and not the kua." While of course the hips are important and should be involved in compressing, torqueing and guiding the release of force, the kua joints are the major movable joints and "powerbooster" in enhancing this activity. In practicing initially, it is even helpful to minimize the movement of tbe hip in order to make a real kua connection and to actually feel for oneself the augmented power of the kua.

One does not need to look far in the sports world to find evidence of the natural use of the "sunken stance" utilizing the sinking of the body into the kua. Almost every sport utilizes the sunken stance to create stability, store power and increase total body power. Think of the tennis player’s sunken (although also continuously shifting from side to side) position while awaiting the opponent’s serve. Watch the baseball player holding the bat while waiting for the pitch.
Wrestlers are continuously in this stance when confronting their opponent in the standing position. Boxers whose punches are weak because they are primarily using arms to punch are told to "sit down" on their punches. All great "punchers” in the boxing world have the ability to use the weight transfer and "stand up" power from a crouched position. "Sung kua" is by no means a foreign concept for athletes who excel in their various sports.

Locating the Kua

The kua is referred to anatomically as the "inguinal canal or groove." Through the interior of this pelvis area are muscles which connect the lower back with the upper thigh bone. Also this area is unique because it contains the largest collection of lymph nodes which are part of the body's immune system. The joint referred to as the kua is normally responsible for the turning out or turning in of the leg and assists in raising and lowering the body. This area also cushions the spine from the jarring impact of running, jumping and kicking.

Imagine if one could have two knees on each leg instead of just one. One would be more powerful and more flexible in each leg. Well the kua can be thought of as a second knee on each leg. By sinking into the kua, the actual knee, if property aligned, suffers less stress and the body, waist and torso can access greater ground power. Instead of primarily bending the knee, the sinking into the kua compresses the leg like a giant shock absorber spring. Instead of feeling pressure in the knee, the pressure by-passes the knee and is felt as the pressure of the sole of the foot on the ground.

In order to gain the extra flexibility and power of the kua, one must sit more deeply into one's stance without allowing the knees to extend further over the toe. When done properly, a crease appears between the upper leg and lower torso, along the leg line which would be covered by the elastic leg opening of a pair of “jockey” shorts. (I wear "boxers" myself.) One could hold a pencil in the kua crease and usually a person's pants will also visibly crease as one sinks or tums into the kua.

In the rear weighted stance, the kua of the base leg would crease or "close" and the forward non-weight bearing leg kua would open. Upon sinking into the kua, one will feel more firmly rooted to the ground, as if the body actually weighs more. The body's weight will pass through the knee of the leg rather than being supported by the knee.

The stance is like the "pouncing "position of a "cat about ready to pounce oo a rat." One will be firmly rooted and ready to explode forward with greater power. Now the leg fires its power in three connected stages: (1) the push off of the foot on the ground; (2) the straightening of the knee; and (3) the pumping upward of the kua. Try this while pushing or punching against the heavy bag and one will immediately notice the difference.

Developing the Kua

Try to isolate the kua. One can raise and lower the body while standing with the weight on one leg by sinking and standing up, using the kua alone. Isolating and pumping the kua will make the leg seem stronger and the torso more powerful. Direct the sinking of the kua until one feels more heavily rooted to the ground. Pump the kua and send more leg power into the lumbosacral "ming-men " area and ultimately into the upper back, arms and hands. Later, try to coordinate this power further by opening and closing the chest and back area. (See my article on the ''Thoracic Hinge.")

Always be sure to keep the knee properly aligned. An excellent reference on this subject is Jay Dunbar's article on Knee Safety in the August 1992 issue of T'ai Chi Magazine. The knee should not extend outside or inside the power line of the base leg. When done properly, one will see instantly the wisdom behind the Classics admonition to "sung kua" or to sink/close into the inguinal crease. When walking up the stairs or when kicking, access the pumping of the kua. When sinking before issuing any power first sink deeply into the kua and then use the ''kua pump" to explode outward. Using the kua will also assist in developing a faster and more powerful push in "pushing hands" practice. It will also store and release more power in lunging forward to cover more ground or to "close the gap" with an opponent.

It doesn't make any difference which style of Tai Chi that you study. The use of the kua has been mentioned by the Taiji Classics, but not often understood. The Chan Szu Chin exercises of the Chen Style are designed to help develop the kua. Outside of the Chen Style, the only other teacher I have seen stress this kua power is Master William C.C. Chen, my first Taiji teacher from New York. Regardless of style or activity, one will notice a qualitative difference, which will improve the results of one's intended efforts. Also, by pumping the
kua, we are stimulating the lymph nodes located therein activating the immune system, thereby deriving greater health benefits. One is also learning to cushion and protect the spinal column from the impact of lower body movement. Whether for martial, health or ergonomic work related purposes pun1ping the kua will "Pump you Up!"
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Re: Kua 胯

Postby charles on Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:25 pm

amor wrote: But just for future reference what's your definition of 'sinking' as you understand it?

Rear hip "open", not sunk


Rear hip "open", not sunk, rear knee colapsed


Rear hip open and sunk, crotch rounded

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Re: Kua 胯

Postby charles on Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:30 pm

marvin8 wrote:The following opinions are from a striking discussion and an article, which may not reflect my views.

The first states, more or less, opening and closing of the kua provides mobility.

The second goes into a bunch of stuff but primarily states its about augmentation of "power".

If those "may not reflect my views", what are your views?
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Re: Kua 胯

Postby marvin8 on Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:59 pm

charles wrote:
marvin8 wrote:The following opinions are from a striking discussion and an article, which may not reflect my views.

The first states, more or less, opening and closing of the kua provides mobility.

It is about more than mobility (e.g., balance, alignment, structure, ability to use opponent's force, and counter.). I agree in general. From long range, footwork and other techniques may play more of a role. I believe this is in line with Tai Chi principles. I was interested in other views and if there was something to add, especially in the martial context.

charles wrote:The second goes into a bunch of stuff but primarily states its about augmentation of "power".

If those "may not reflect my views", what are your views?

The article gave a more narrow definition of "kua" than others in this thread. I am not arguing the definition of "kua."

I am more interested in using the knowledge and seeing how it's applied in self-defense/fighting. In the striking discussion, actual video of fights were posted showing stiff hips and flexible hips of fighters and how it effected the fight.
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Re: Kua 胯

Postby amor on Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:19 am

charles wrote:
Rear hip open and sunk, crotch rounded


Look like Wong Kiewkit has the spirals going in his legs so his knee is not collapsed. I am no where near having a perfectly balanced upper and lower half but the spirals are key to getting the lower/upper body coordination goingimo
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Re: Kua 胯

Postby marvin8 on Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:04 am

Here is Chen Zhonghua's (Chen Taiji Practical Method) description of Kua.

Chen Zhonghua: Q&A on How the Kua Function in Taiji (Part I), from http://practicalmethod.com/2016/09/chen ... ji-part-i/:
PINGWEI on 2016/09/01 wrote:*This article was originally published in T’ai Chi, the International Magazine of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Vol. 29, No.5, October 2005. ISSN 0730-1049, Wayfarer Publications, Los Angeles, CA 90039.


Editor’s Note: The kua are central to the optimum practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, whether for health or self-defense. Yet they are largely misunderstood in their function and rarely used correctly.

In early years of practice they are usually not accessible to the understanding of practitioners.

Indeed, there are different understandings on how the two kua–located at the joint connecting the hips with the top of the upper leg bones–work, individually and together.

Often experts will describe the function of the kua differently based on their own experience. Sometimes their words are different but the meaning is the same. Sometimes the words and the meaning are different.

Chen Zhonghua (Joseph Chen) feels that coordinating two kua together produces the proper structural flow for Taiji form, power, root and whole body movement.

He explains the function of the kua in its relationship with activity of the dantian, which many commentators describe as the source of transfer of power.

While he agrees that the dantian serves to facilitate transfer of power, he emphasizes, that ability is dependent upon coordinated joint rotation of the kua, driven by leg action from the ground.

This article is in a question and answer format and is based on a seminar in which Chen Zhonghua explained the function of the kua, how to open the kua and training to improve the use of the kua.

This article presents Chen’s answers to students’ questions at his annual two-week summer workshop in Arkansas. The course material for the seminar was Hong Junsheng’s “Practical Method of Chen Style Tai Chi.” Chen is disciple of Hong and Feng Zhiqiang.

Most students were intermediate to advanced level. Training at the seminar emphasized mechanics and application skills. Following is a selection of the questions and answers about the understanding of the function and usage of the kua.

Anatomy and General Understanding

Student Question: It is quite common for teachers of the internal arts to emphasize the importance of the kua for attainment of higher levels of skill. What could you say about the kua in terms of its role in the practice of Tai Chi?

Chen Zhonghua: Its fundamental role is that without the kua the upper and lower body cannot properly work together. The kua are the body parts responsible for integration of upper and lower body.

Student Question: Can you give some description or details? In context of the hips, groin, pelvic girdle, or femur, speaking in simple layman’s view of anatomy–how would you describe the kua?

Chen Zhonghua: The kea is that ball joint inside, at the top of the thigh bone. I don’t know the English name for it (femur), the ball joint inside, inside the hip.

Student Question: The tops of the thigh bones that rotate?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes, the ball joint, that’s the kua.

The rest, the body parts connected with it, are just things associated with it. That’s why there is always confusion, why the understanding of it always changes.

At different levels you will be able to associate your kua with other parts of your body. It’s these various different perceptions of experience of the kua, that give rise to different explanations of the kua among different masters or teachers.

Student Question: When they talk about the kua, maybe their definitions are more in terms of its usage?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. As you exercise that joint, it affects the structure and movement of your body. The better you are at using the kua, the better your body is coordinated. So it will appear that different masters use the kua differently, with varying levels and depth of experience of that function. Ability to connect the kua with better integration with the body reveals higher skill.

But the simple objective anatomical definition of the kua has not been wrong in the past. It is commonly understood to be that ball joint.

The Functional Relationship with Upper and Lower Body

Student Question: So great ability brings better coordination of kua with different parts of the body. Could you distinguish the role of the hips, the waist and the kua in terms of using it properly?

Chen Zhonghua: To properly use your kua you have to properly use the body parts around the kua. You have to use your hips correctly and use your two thigh bones, the femurs, correctly.

Also, you have to use your weight correctly and move your tail bone correctly. These are the things that are associated with it, so they must be considered. But these are “about” the kua, you cannot talk about it without considering the areas I just mentioned.

Student Question: Perhaps the area of the body that most frequently causes confusion about mechanics of correct Tai Chi practice is the role of the waist. Can you talk about the connection of the waist and the kua and the distinction between the waist and the kua in terms of usage?

Chen Zhonghua: In terms of function, it is better to emphasize the primary role of the kua, rather than the waist. On the surface, people view Tai Chi exercise in terms of the waist. Waist is what you see, but the work is done by the kua.

Consider the waist area from the kua, the crease in the two legs, (inguinal crease), from that portion all the way up to your arm pits. This whole body trunk, this one piece must be expressed, exercised as one piece.

Think of this one piece as a round cylinder sitting on top of two legs. It is the function of the kua to coordinate the two legs directing this one cylinder.

Student Question: Communication from the legs to that whole upper body?

Chen Zhonghua: The communication will never occur unless the kua is properly aligned.

Think of it like a physical machine. The “U joints” on the two thighs must adjust so the cylinder can be aligned correctly, adjusting in terms of length, angle and its ability to maneuver with “connectedness.”

The “connectedness” is very elusive and difficult. The requirement of the joint is to be connected to take full weight of the body, yet it must have flexibility to direct movement at all times. So it is similar to a universal joint. The kua must be able to carry the weight with a constant friction level and yet constantly changing direction, without disrupting the connection.

The Kua Guide Change of Direction

Student Question: How does the kua function to accomplish those different things?

Chen Zhonghua: The other body parts I mentioned earlier must come into play.

We must understand how they work together.

Now we are talking about the function of different body parts associated with the kua. The trunk, the waist and torso, must be erect. It sits squarely on top of the two legs and the kua joint guides the waist as it adjusts to actions involved in maneuvering, changing direction.

The two kua guide change of direction. The body trunk doesn’t guide, it adjusts to changing direction.

Like a log in water, the water can move, causing the log to move, not the log causing the water to move. The two kua must move in a manner directing upper body movement, not the other way around.

Recognize this major distinction. Most people mistakenly assign primary function to the waist. The waist actually is the base of this cylinder I talked about.

To view waist movement as primary, to view it as physically moving the cylinder, causing your legs to move–that’s wrong understanding. Leg movement causes the kua to move, thus causing the adjustment of the trunk

Student Question: Like the incorrect practice known as “noodling”? Too much waist movement, or the knees and the arms and shoulders are moving all over place, with no kind of strong connected root from the ground and power because the upper body is separated from the lower?

Chen Zhonghua: That’s right.

Student Question: This has been the most amazing discovery emerging from what you have taught us, over the course of this workshop. For so many years, books and instructions from teachers always seem to place all emphasis on the “guiding role of the waist.”

Mention is made of the necessity to “open the kua.” But no one has ever clarified details of how the waist is being directed by kua, as opposed to moving the waist, using the waist muscles–rather than being directed by adjusting mechanism of the kua.

Now it is clear why performance of form and difficulties in push hands practice have been less than satisfactory, with the undesirable quality mentioned. This is a starting point to get on the right track. Thank you very much.

Chen Zhonghua: You are welcome.

Integrative Function of the Kua

Student Question: Can you elaborate how the kua makes for the correct “connectedness” of the trunk, hands and arms being driven powerfully from the ground–as opposed to non connected “noodling”?

Chen Zhonghua: The critical element is the action of upper body in relation with lower body. The trunk must be set in a fixed position and cannot move independently. It can only rotate, or adjust to the action of the legs.

Action of the legs must be on the knees. When the knee moves, energy is propelled both ways. One portion goes to the feet right through the ground, the other portion into kua in directing the trunk. That is the proper action.

That is why beginners have excess knee movement. As they improve, movement of knees becomes smaller. With practice they learn to effectively make use of small movement to cause large changes in the body.

Student Question: Did you say that one knee is pushing while the other is pulling? one pushing the ground and the other pushing the kua?

Chen Zhonghua: The two knees: one must go up, one down. That is the physical action. At all times, the main source of power of the body must be two knees going one up and one down.

As skill develops, they may not appear to do so, but the action is still the same. As the player gets more advances, knee movement may be less obvious, but still the power must be initiated from the two knees.

Student Question: How do you distinguish that from saying the power is coming from kua, one pushing down and one pushing up?

Chen Zhonghua: Kua is the joint responsible for transmission of power. The mistaken notion of dantian acting as the transmission should be amended, to recognize the primary role of kua.

The dantian, (in Tai Chi functional terms, not qigong usage), is defined as the area between kua and the arm pits. This is one big ball. When this area turns you won’t see the kua turn.

On the surface, you only see the area from kua to arm pit turn. Therefore, many people practice shoulder movement, turning dantian from the top. We must emphasize turning of the dantian from the bottom.

Student Question: And that is from the knees pumping like pistons, one going down and one going up?

Chen Zhonghua: It is more precise than that, but at the beginner level it is important to know that the knees function like two pistons.

Kua Establishing Correct Usage of Dantian and Upper Body

Student Question: When you bring in the concept of the dantian, are you saying the kua is rotating on each side and the ball is staying centered?

Chen Zhonghua: Whatever the intended activity of the upper body may be, rotations of the two kua are coordinated so as to ensure the trunk sitting on top of them remains erected all the time.

How you do that each time varies, but the trunk must remain level, erect and suspended.

Student Question: It seems that the functional role of the abdominal area just above the kua, the dantian or whatever, this includes the whole waist?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes.

Student Question: So the waist really isn’t moving, it’s not moving up and down and not moving left and right. It’s staying in one place like a ball sitting on top of these two rotating balls under it?

Chen Zhonghua: I can give you a better word. It’s called “adjusting,” not moving.

The dantian area adjusts the movement or the actions of the kua area, driven by the knees.

At the same time, the dantian area can adjust to other movement, such as the shoulders being pushed or pulled by your opponent.

In any case, dantian doesn’t cause action. It adjusts to actions applied on to it.

Student Question: Would you also say it is the point in the center of the body that maintains that uprightness and equilibrium?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes, it maintains and it adjusts. It does not create action. But for most practitioners, due to incorrect understanding, they attempt to create the action from the waist.

Student Question: So you mean dantian should keep itself completely stable?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes, it is important that movement is initiated in the knees. Incorrect practice, attempting to initiate movement from dantian, leading to twisting the waist, the knee, the arms and everything.

The common mistakes in practice, wrong body mechanics such as the knee twisting sideways, are due to wrong application of kua, not connecting properly with associated body parts.

Student Question: So if the kua is open, one can get this action with the knees, one going to the ground, one going to the kua and adjusting with each other to allow the continual centered position of the dantian.

If the kua is too pinched, or closed, or compressed, however, you say it, then the knees will not be allowed to go down and up? If there is some twisting of the knee, does that mean the kua is resisting being open?

Chen Zhonghua: There are two ways to view it.

One, the kua is resisting, so the knee twists. Second, even if flexibility of the kua is adequate to allow correct action of the kua, incorrect action of the kua, incorrect action of the knees would push the kua out of alignment. It is necessary to develop the awareness of coordination of kua and knees.

Student Question: You have to learn how to coordinate them with each other to produce the alignment and the proper balancing?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes.

(To be continued in Part II: Functional Relationships of Kua, Dantian and Physical Structure; Function of Kua in the Transfer of Energy; The Key Role of the Kua in Meeting Unique Requirements of Tai Chi; Correct Usage of Kua, Establishing a Center for Advanced Tai Chi Skills; Practice for Developing Correct Ysage of Kua.)

Chen Zhonghua: Q&A on How the Kua Function in Taiji (Part II), from http://practicalmethod.com/2016/09/chen ... i-part-ii/:
PINGWEI on 2016/09/02 wrote:Image
Functional Relationships of Kua, Dantian and Physical Structure

Student Question: You have clarified the function of knees and kua and their primary role in directing action of the waist, dantian and upper body. Can you elaborate further on the mechanics of how the kua directs the activity of the dantian, to allow the qualities of correct practice and higher levels of Tai Chi?

Chen Zhonghua: Consider the globe of the earth. We have all seen these globes, resting in a seat cradle underneath. Similarly, the kua has legs underneath it.

Compare what is above it to the globe. This “globe” for us is the dantian. Dantian is anything sitting on top of the two kua.

When two kua move proportionately, in coordination with each other, the dantian resting above can function correctly for desired results. If one kua moves more than the other kua, you will see a “noodling” quality or other incorrect practice.

This defines the relationship between kua and dantian. Kua is only the seat. Dantian is what is on top of the seat.

If one kua disengages from this dantian, resulting movement is not upright, not balanced, causing “noodling,” “wiggling,” and other incorrect qualities.

An example would be belly dance movement, as contrasting with the dantian movement we describe.

Student Question: Practically speaking, when I see you move, your shoulders stay level and your hips stay level. They rotate, but they don’t gyrate up and down.

Chen Zhonghua: They don’t but they do. You may not see the subtle underlying activity.

Student Question: Well, I see the back of the hips where they are connected is moving a lot, but it keeps the part above those ball joints appearing to stay level. It seems to me that the pelvic hip joints, which are level with the dantian and the waist, they seem to stay level.

Chen Zhonghua: Sure, that seems a good observation and you can say that, I agree with you.

Student Question: I think when most people say “hips,” they don’t understand anatomy. They may understand hips as being all those bones in the waist area. Where the hip joints are really much lower than that at the top, right where the leg sockets are.

Those leg sockets twist around all over, but you can rotate them by adjusting them in coordination and still keep the hip joints level.

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. You are describing what you see, as correct or incorrect. Also you are describing a quality. A good quality, high quality and low quality. But the essence is still deeper than that.

Essentially, it is like the ball “sitting in the seat.” You can move the globe with the seat stable. Or move the seat, the globe will move. The bottom line will depend on skill level. At varying levels of skill, your actions are different.

At higher levels, the seat remains stationary, always adjusting. The globe moves above it. At beginning level, we are incapable of movement of the globe by not moving, so we move a lot.

The result is over extension and problems we have notices. You observe my hips and kua area remain relatively stable, yet I can still cause action of the body. That’s the difference between our levels. Ultimately, at the highest the level, it should’t even move.

Let me describe it another way. Consider the U joint on a car. It can move the wheel of the car in various directions. Whatever the range of direction, it is still movement.

Yet a look underneath the car would reveal the U joint as fixed onto the bottom frame of the car. Like that, the body part, the joint of the kua, is fixed. Yet what’s inside it can move any direction.

Another analogy. Make your one hand like a cup, your other hand a fist. Put your fist in the cup. The cup is like the kua.The fist is inside it. Now rotate your fist, in the kua. The cup never moves, yet it allows the fist to change in various directions.

In this manner, the kua doesn’t really move. Yet it causes, it adjusts other parts of your body to move within a fixed frame.

Student Question: Is that contradictory to what you said earlier, about incorrect movement of waist first, to move the kua and knees–that correct action is driven from knees, with kua adjusting, then causing waist to move?

Chen Zhonghua: No, not contradictory. It’s exactly the same. For example, imagine your fist inside the cup. Your fist is like the femur that goes into the kua. It moves because the knee moves.

The kua is in a fixed position, but it adjusts to allow movement changing direction. The kua is open, adjusting smoothly, so your body can change direction within a fixed frame.

This is the requirement of Tai Chi, which appears contradictory to students. It is that very elusive ability which must be developed over time through practice.

Student Question: Could you explain the contradiction?

Chen Zhonghua: The contradiction of Tai Chi is that your body does not appear to move and yet you have to create action internally, to generate a degree of power and dynamism at least equal to external arts such as boxing.

How can you generate such power, if your body as a whole does not appear to move at all? The kua hold the key to answer this dilemma.

When the kua is activated correctly, the kua and other body parts provide a fixed frame, so your body appears not to move. Yet this allows activity inside to produce external results.

Function of Kua in the Transfer of Energy

Student Question: That leads to the question of the concept of energy transfer–getting power or energy from the ground, the legs, to the torso, waist, arms, hands.

The key to real power sounds like this coordinating control of the kua? Can you describe the process or explain the role of the kua in this transfer of energy from the ground, the legs, the kua, the torso, the waist, arms, hands–the role of the kua in generating that power?

Chen Zhonghua: Let’s view this from a different perspective.

Internal energy is activated through movement of joints, not through lack of movement. Rather, there is a flow of movement within the frame. But the action of the joints is not that they are “stretched,” or “extended,” or move horizontally. The joints are only turned, or rotated.

Student Question: What you are describing sounds like experience of the kua in doing a positive circle. I feel the pelvic girdle stays centered and that’s the only way my dantian can stay centered.

What happens is that the two kua kind of push against each other. So they have to turn.

One has to rotate up to the other one around in the opposite direction of the circle. It’s like they are pumping into each other.

Chen Zhonghua: That’s correct.

You are getting onto something very important here. The key is, your two kua are locked onto your body frame. Fixed in place, they do not move from that frame, they only rotate.

This is very different from your two hands, for example, which can move freely, without connection with rest of body. The kua is not free to move horizontally. Unlike hands, you can’t put one kua on your body and the other three feet away from your body.

Your two kua are always connected, as an anatomical constant fact. When you believe you are moving your kua, you are actually just rotating one kua against the other. As you just said, it’s as if they squeeze together toward each other causing your waist to turn. That’s very crucial.

In terms of function of the kua in generation of energy, the kua is essentially a junction. So anything that you talk about in regards to any joint applies to kua.

Tai Chi energy being the product of joint rotation, the kua’s role is most important, since it is the largest joint. Rotation of a small joint generates a small range of movement. When you rotate large joint, you generate a large range of movement.

When you rotate your two kua, they cause your waist, your dantian, to turn. It is a coordinated and proportional movement, not independent activity of the kua.

As the largest joint, the kua’s effect on range of movement of the dantian and waist can be quite significant, so much so that the entire body can appear to move.

This is the unique quality of Tai Chi movement, generated by joint rotation, not by muscles pushing and pulling. This is drastically different from normal human activity, which employs the muscles independently pushing and pulling various parts of the body.


The Key Role of the Kua in Meeting Unique Requirements of Tai Chi

Student Question: It seems the reason the kua makes everything else move, is because it’s in the middle of the body. Or it is controlling the waist, which is in the middle of the body.

Chen Zhonghua: Yes, you can say that. As well as being the largest joint, the kua is most strategically positioned. These things illustrate its crucial importance.

Student Question: As I understand your description of generation of power in the upper body, it’s the rotation of the kua, being in the middle, with the knees pumping the ground, driving the power directly through the center to get to those points of the upper body.

What about in terms of its role in the classical Tai Chi functions? For example, to absorb and neutralize, when an opponent is pushing on you. You can maintain your balance or adjust your body parts to absorb his power and neutralize it and then redirect it.

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. Using kua to make dantian waist rotation, half a waist turn translates into 30-50 centimeters, or more, between one and two and a half feet. That is a wide range of movement, in terms of neutralization.

Student Question: How about in terms of redirecting power and then releasing power?

Chen Zhonghua: Your question reflects misunderstanding, as you are using the term incorrectly.

There is no redirection and no release. The most crucial thing is to have proper use of dantian, that long ball centered in the body, controlled by its seat, the kua.

For example, in practice, my body is round. My physical action is more rounded than your physical action.

Everything relates to the dantian. My movements more clearly reflect rotation around a clearly identified center.

You might feel that you are trying to move like a ball too, but it appears as more linear movement. This prevents accomplishment of the higher Tai Chi skills.

All these skills people mention are representations of this one action. The big ball in the center moving and turning.

If the dantian rotates properly, with center never moving, the center never changes positions. Thus, automatically it accomplishes neutralization. Action becomes soft, smooth and strong, causing “redirection.”

To simply say this move is redirect, this move is push, this move is absorbing–such descriptions are incorrect.

I can tell you though, when you master rotation of the center of your body, you will have peng, lu, ji, an and all the other Tai Chi energies. How they relate is an extensive topic for future discussion.


Correct Usage of Kua Establishing a Center for Advanced Tai Chi Skills

Student Question: So the correct description is that you just have this very centered awareness that automatically adjusts to any movement upon it, or any pressure upon it?

Chen Zhonghua: Speaking in traditional terms, the goal as defined by Hong Junsheng is to ultimately have “one point on the body.” Feng Zhiqiang described it as “one grain of qi.”

Through training, eventually you experience the body as always pivoting on one “dot.” Everything rotates and moves around it. That’s Hong’s description of the overall guiding principle. Feng’s overall guiding principle is “one grain of qi.” They are talking about the same thing.

Student Question: Is it a state of awareness and coordination of body, that the individual is experiencing all movement pivoting on this one point right in the center of the body?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. And because everything pivots on it, you know where your center is and your opponent can’t find the center.

The requirement of Tai Chi is to be centered and not reveal to your opponent where that center is. Your opponent feels no center, because he can’t find it.

Wherever he pushes, he can never catch what he cannot find. But if you lack recognition of your own center, your opponent can find it all the time. When you push, you generate a center as you respond to the push–your center goes directly into the push.

Student Question: When you haven’t developed the awareness and coordination of that center, it’s easy for the opponent to find it because any time you try to move or push you’re pushing it right into him?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. Also, from another angle, if I consciously create a center somewhere on myself, you can never find it. And if I don’t establish a center you can find it, because whenever you touch me you are actually creating a center on me.

Student Question: Because the person being pushed knows how to establish balance?

So the key is really about equilibrium and balance?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. It’s who owns it.

Student Question: The one who owns the central equilibrium?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. That word I have no problem with. In terms of yin and yang, balance and establishing center are critical variables.

Student Question: And when you resist, or meet force by force, you lose balance and immediately expose your center to your opponent?

Chen Zhonghua: If you own center, I lose it. If I own it, I don’t lose it and you can’t find it. That’s the objective of training. I have a student who is a magician. He says you impose your conduct onto your opponent. Understand that?

Student Question: Yes, but it seems pretty abstract.

Chen Zhonghua: It means, through training, I can “construct” a center onto myself, so you will not recognize it or be able to locate it. Before you start pushing me, I have already formulated a center in my body.

As your actions are consumed in attempting to find my center, you cannot establish a center for yourself. Without any center you are lost.

Student Question: You don’t have awareness and balance from that central point?

Chen Zhonghua: You can also see that when people do the form incorrectly. From perception of a skilled eye, in observation of someone practicing form, it is obvious when there is no awareness of center.

The quality of “waving arms,” arms moving independently from the body, overextension and other flaws will be apparent.

This brings us full circle, to recognize the primary importance of the correct use of kua, driven by knees, guiding the waist with awareness of the center of dantian, coordinating activities of the upper body.

Practice for Developing Correct Usage of Kua

Student Question: Concerning training to improve these skills, how can we open up the kua? Here is the problem.

People have difficulties practicing, because they are always compensating one part of the body for another, to try to get the appearance of the teacher’s form. How would you advise students to practice, to open the kua?

Chen Zhonghua: There are some basic exercises you can do. Do all the foundation circles I taught you. To a certain extent, these facilitate opening the kua. (See article by Chen in the June 2000 T’ai Chi Magazine.)

Also practicing the “fetching the pail,” “twisting towel” and “6 sealing 4 closing” exercises. Practice that kua exercise, in which you squat down sideways with one leg stretched out, like the action of falling into a sled. Practice each side.

But these exercises do not really produce the open kua experience. They only loosen up the kua, so you are ready.

The ultimate experience of the kua opening evolves over time as one learns how to “restrain,” or be in control of its movement.

I’ll give you analogy, to illustrate how to practice correctly.

Compare the kua movement to a ball turning. The restraining capability I am describing is like that turning ball rotating inside a square box. Imagine the sides of the ball, in constant contact with the box’s four sides, is always “restrained” from any horizontal movement.

The ball can only rotate in its fixed position, inside the box. If the top of the box is open, you can touch it to spin the ball, but the ball doesn’t “toss” or move horizontally. It only rotates.

This analogy illustrates the guideline for form practice. Body movement should be always “connected” and driven by joint rotation, not by independent movement of body parts. Form should be upright and stable.

The body shouldn’t bob up and down, not toss from side to side. The spine must be straight, moving rotationally from center, rather than tilting.

Movement reflects adjustment within a fixed frame, with limbs always connected. There is no “waving of the arms.”

Arms only move connected with the torso, from kua rotation driven by legs, not independently from the body.

That is what kua movement is about. Only by moving in this manner, can you eventually develop your kua.

The function of the kua is to be able to rotate constantly, with the body adjusting accordingly. Many people develop only range of motion of the kua, not functional ability.

Movement without stable rotation accomplishes nothing. Only balanced, coordinated kua rotation produces the qualities of soft, smooth, stable, neutralizing, redirecting–all Tai Chi qualities.

Tai Chi requires adjustment of each kua with each other in complete coordination, with the area above the kua maintaining its equilibrium in the midst of those two rotations.

Student Question: That’s what causes the body or the arms or the movements in the form to be caused by that rotation rather than to be caused by muscles pushing and pulling those parts of the body around?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. Another point, as Master Hong said, “The opening of the kua is a matter of one millimeter.” If your kua is open, a very minute movement can bring profound results.

“Correct usage of the kua allows for application of whole body power. When the kua is open, it serves the function of connecting the body, allowing for flow of energy in a fixed frame.”

Student Question: Could you say it the two kua are open they always counterbalance each other properly to allow the proper alignment and direction of the body? Then the kua can allow the body to have tremendous power because it is structurally aligned?

Chen Zhonghua: Yes. If the body is connected, with proper structural alignment, a little bit of direction from the kua gives it tremendous power, because the whole body’s weight can be directed at the point of contact.

If the kua is not open, mere physical movement of the kua may be like that of a belly dancer, without value for Tai Chi.

Or one might possess the flexibility of a gymnast, moving the kua any which way, but have no Tai Chi skill.

Stretching and increasing flexibility are a physical property, not necessarily indicative of an open kua. They do not have a Tai Chi function.

Opening of the kua is a function, vital for correct Tai Chi movement. Opening of the kua is a special quality.

It reflects the ability to turn your kua to serve Tai Chi, to facilitate the proper structural alignment for postures to serve their proper function.

Coordinating the two kua together to produce the proper structural flow–this creates the proper Tai Chi form, with power, root and whole body movement.

The unity of movement of the different parts of the body is dependent upon the kua functioning properly to facilitate structuring of that unity.
Last edited by marvin8 on Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kua 胯

Postby amor on Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:05 pm

marvin8 wrote:Here is Chen Zhonghua's (Chen Taiji Practical Method) description of Kua.


The unity of movement of the different parts of the body is dependent upon the kua functioning properly to facilitate structuring of that unity.

I came across a decent video of CHZongua demonstrating top and bottom kua in cloud hands because it gives one idea of leg kua with shoulder kua, as it helps to get the picture when not looking at the leg kua in isolation


around the 3.20 mark shows the leg kua opening with the shoulder kua opening. But I dont think you MUST have both top and bottom kua open when doing this. You can different permutations such as top kua closed bottom kua open, or all bottom kua closed and all top kua closed etc.
Last edited by amor on Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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