GRANDMASTER CHEN XIAOWANG - DISCUSSIONS
Q: How do you use the dantian in applying force?
CXW: The dantian is the energy center of the body and requires coordination of the entire body. The force generated originates from the dantian and coordinates with the rest of the body, gaining force.
Q: What are the mechanics of applying dantian force?
CXW: Spiral force coordinated through the movement of the body. When the dantian turns, the body turns and pushes the hands. The dantian area is like the center of a circle.
Q: How are the back and legs coordinated with the dantian?
CXW: When the dantian begins moving, you connect the muscles of the legs and back to follow the dantian. Every part moves together, all connected. The hand does not move by itself, the dantian pushes the hand. It’s a three dimensional movement, using the whole body. The dantian, hip, knee, leg all coordinate, initiating in the spiraling through the body.
Q: Does the dantian have force?
CXW: A small amount. The small force pushes the rest of the body (muscle and bone).
Q: What is the connection between qi and the dantian?
CXW: Qi by itself is weak, soft. The dantian “communicates” to the
muscle and bone. The dantian is the storage of all the qi. The jingluo directs the qi through the body. When qi is generated, it is communicated (wired like a bomb) through the body. It is very important to understand the relationship of dantian to qi, qi and muscle, and muscle and bone. The main communication is between the dantian and muscle — this is the essence of Chen Taijiquan.
Q: There is a lot of emphasis on the dantian rotation in the Chen Style, correct?
CXW: Yes, in terms of connection to the whole body and the dantian leading the movement. Also, when empty, the qi goes from the dantian out to the hand it is yang. When it returns to the dantian, it is yin.
Q: What is the importance of yi?
CXW: The application of yi to the movement is important. There are three stages: early, middle, and advanced. Half the mind concentrates on the movement itself, the other half of the mind is empty or open. In the early stage you pay attention to the movement or the qi itself. At the advanced stage you don’t have to pay attention to it, all the channels are open and the qi is flowing naturally with concentrating on it. This is because the energy moves easily through the body. No matter what stage, it is important to keep one half of the concentration on the body’s movement and one half of the mind open.
Q: Are there acupuncture points stimulated by movements in Taiji?
CXW: Different postures require different coordination of the muscles, resulting in different emphasis. Qi is communicated through the channels, so there are different results with different movements.
Q: Are there any differences in breathing patterns between the Laojia Yi lu and Er lu forms?
CXW: Many people ask this. There are same and different principles associated with each form, but one should not try to control the breathing. Keep it natural. When doing fajin, it is natural to exhale. In the beginning you need to focus on correcting the movements, don’t try to force the breathing. As skill increases the body’s requirements for oxygen will adjust naturally. Be honest with the needs of your body. If you run or jump, the body will respond by adjusting your breathing naturally. You don’t need to think about it. Taiji is the same.
Q: Would you discuss qi?
CXW: Some things can only be felt and cannot be described. You should be feeling “hot water”, pouring through your arm and to your hand. Even at low levels, people can feel this. When the arm is circling the little finger moves, energy goes to the dantian. When the thumb moves, the qi goes from the dantian out to the hand.
Q: What is the difference between qi and jing?
CXW: The qi communicates, by itself is different. When communicated to the muscles, the qi becomes jing. Jing is the expression of qi,as it becomes explosive force. Whenever qi communicates explosive force to the muscles, it becomes jing.
Q: What is the difference between jing and shen?
CXW: Jing and shen are nearly the same. Shen is a higher level, jing is the first level of shen. Jing is the foundation of the building, shen is the top of the building. The relationship between yi and qi is the king, the qi is the army (bones and muscle). The yi is the king, muscle and bone the general. Yi effects qi.
Q: What are the most important principles in Chen Style Taijiquan?
CXW: Posture, position — standing post exercise is the first form. This gets the body ready for Taijiquan practice. Before you can drive a car, you have to adjust the mirrors, seats, buckle in, etc. This is similar. Think of the dantian as the center. The body must be in balance, the mind quiet and peaceful, energy flowing everywhere through the body. The key point is that the body is connected, qi is flowing and communicating with the rest of the body.
You have the one posture, two movement principle:The first principle the dantian moves side to side, turning, spiraling,and changing. Connection as above (standing post), maintained in moving, dantian moves the body responds. The second principle the dantian moves forward and backward. The movement corresponds to the dantian movement to another — transition from one movement to another — fundamental. Not spiraling. Once you understand the posture and the movement principles you understand all forms, applications, or any weapon. If you don’t understand these principles, you are like a tree without roots and you can’t grow.The two movement principles can combine into one because of the similarity.The chest/waist change the move, opening and closing.
Q: What are common mistakes people make learning Taijiquan?
CXW: One of the most common mistakes is that they don’t understand the two movement principles. They try to just copy their teacher’s movements, without understanding. The student must know what to do and what not to do, not just follow their teacher blindly. Each movement has a standard, and principles to be followed, so the teacher must understand this in order to teach the student, and the student must look for this and will/should be able to adjust other students and themselves. I want to see both the teacher and the student move forward together, toward the same goal of higher standard in Taijiquan.
Q: What is the importance of standing post?
CXW: It is the posture which increases the communication between the dantian and the rest of the body. One posture two movement principle. Standing post is the way to practice one posture.
Q: When should a student begin push hands?
CXW: Before push hands, you must understand the movement principles, coordination of the entire body. If you don’t, you end up with too much arm movement.
Q: Is central equilibrium developed through push hands?
CXW: This is done through the movement principles and the standing posture. Many times people fail in push hands because they lose the balance of the dantian. Maintain the beginning posture then when you move, maintain the two movement principles.
Q: How can people improve their push hands?
CXW: People should practice the entire Laojia Yi lu form. Practice all the postures and the form more often, think about application of each movement. You must practice often, keep the principles in mind during practice, until they become part of yourself.
Q: Is there a need to distinguish between yin and yang?
CXW: I use solid and empty, not yin and yang. It is difficult to explain, use double weighted, which means both sides have the same weight. In Taijiquan, you need to make one side lighter than the other, but that is too easy. If it were that easy, everyone would be a Taiji master. The real meaning is in the static posture. When the body isn’t moving, the energy can’t move, stagnation.
Q: What is the value of Qigong for Taiji practice?
CXW: Qigong principles are similar to Taiji. Same channels, dantian, body, etc. Taijiquan is a complete set of Qigong, you really need no other. Taijiquan is more systematic and sequential. I teach Qigong to those that desire to learn Qigong.
Q: What is the value of the Healing Sounds Qigong?
CXW: It is simple. There are sounds associated with movements of the body.
Just like a musical scale they all come from the mouth, but have different reactions on the body. Depending on your particular ailment or problem you create a specific sound.
Q: The push hands tournament tape from the Chen village looks pretty physical.
CXW: Some enter the tournament without proper practice. There are two aspects to push hands: 1. actively attack, 2. passively protect yourself. If you are being pushed you must protect yourself. You should learn and understand both aspects of the competition. The problem with the tournament is that many try to be number one (win), so both partners are actively attacking each other at the same time. This is the problem. Sometimes the competitors are not well matched either.
Q: How do you use peng energy in fajin?
CXW: The basic idea behind peng jing is energy flow, no stagnation. If energy is broken there is no peng jing. If there’s too much energy, also no peng jing. This is a big problem here in the US. Many people have the wrong idea about peng jing. The mind must be clear and peaceful. Peng jing cannot be forced. Allow energy to flow naturally is the only way.
Q: Is it necessary to have ground path in order to have peng jing?
CXW: No. It is like a car on a lift. The car’s engine can still run and the wheels will turn. Once you place the car on the ground the car will move. Peng jing is similar.
Q: How can neutralization skills be developed?
CXW: The posture must be relaxed, the mind relaxed, then minimal amount of movement is required to neutralize. This is peng jing. If the dantian is in communication with the body, it creates an “energy shield” around the body. If you lose communication with part of the body you lose peng jing. If doing properly, the arm will communicate how the rest of the body needs to respond. The soldier send signals to the general and the body responds as needed.
Q: How does open and close work when attacking?
CXW: When you are going to attack, the body collapses (closes) then opens, when attacking it opens in front and closes in back. Another way to say it is outside open and inside closed. When gathering the outside is closed and the inside is open.
Q: You created a 19 movement form?
CXW: The 19 form is from the request of many students from around the world. There are four sections in the form. It goes from right to left four times. The principles are based on the Chen Style Laojia (Old Frame), Xinjia (New Frame), and Xiaojia (Small Frame). The principles must be clear and then applied to all the 19 form postures. It is easy for beginners to learn. It was designed for the modern human, who has little time to practice a longer form.
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