TAI CHI NOTES 7
Practise Diligently and Intelligently
NB: - Any mistakes or misinterpretations of what was trying to be taught to me are due to me! Basically I have left the notes as I wrote them at the time, there is a lot of repetition but generally a progression (sometimes, mainly due to me, a regression!). No doubt I've missed a lot too. Please refer to the Download section for documents and video that are not riddled with my interpretations.
Song=Relaxed/Soft/Release (pronounced Soo-ng), GMH=Grandmaster Huang, Mr F=Master Foong, HYZZ=Hun Yuan Zhan Zhuang (Song up/down exercise), SSWF=Song Shen Wu Fa (GMH's 5 Song exercises), HCC=Ho Ching Chi (stretching/expanding), PH=Push Hands, FPH=Fixed PH.
Putian – 20th April to 4th May 2018
20th Bkk – Szx 8.30pm Nick and Adi waiting , then pick up train tickets. Checked into King International Hotel (nice!) and supper around the corner with Eric from HTC Shenzhen.
21st 9.44am train at North Shenzhen Station to Putin with Adi and Adi’s Mum. Arrived 2pm and taken to Assoc, just in time for 3pm class. Nice set up with 5 storey building and bunk bed accommodation. Suman already there.
SSWF1: wait when Song down, don’t turn too soon. When turning, keep chest open but don’t disconnect shoulders. Keep down movement of shoulders ever turning but body is not going down. Make sure body is down early at start; i.e. short time between up and down.
SSWF3: different for the HYZZ straight down (eg SSWF1 separates the HYZZ from the turning), because Yi goes into one leg as turn. I am still confused about this, thinking that while Yi centre goes from foot to foot the body axis stays between the feet and therefore HYZZ can go straight up and down while turning and shifting Yi centre. I didn’t get a definitive answer on this.
SF: - HCC in horse-step (half horse stance): the period of time for the up stretch/expansion of HCC is very short. The 2nd half of HCC in horse-step is Song down. Always with Song, back leg briefly stretches tendons/ligaments but muscles Song. Front leg always Song Down.
- When arm/hand up, shoulders must go down. Otherwise the Yi cannot go into hand. Without this opposite effect of HYZZ then there is no Jing.
PH: protect your horse stance (i.e. always HYZZ/ Song down. While your upper body (arms etc) are soft.
General: concentrate on Song running down in the body all the time and make movements from rotating shoulders like ball bearings with see-saw effect, while also releasing muscles in torso and back and opening/closing chest/shoulder blades. Always soft. Ching (calm), Man (slow). Keep the Qua.
3rd May – Put to Szx by train 4.5 hours. Put Assoc. treated us royally as usual. Picked up by Szx assoc., training after dinner.
Nick’s Notes Putian Hong Kong Workshop April 2018
Ching Man Xi Chaang Song Mien Wen Yun Gong - load the bow. Song Siaaaa; down into the abyss. Chiiii; Up to the highest peak. Activate the shoulders. Disconnect them and keep them very light. Upper body light and Song; constant SONG down legs. Constantly running. Very light legs- the bones and ligaments of the feet song down to the floor. Make very fine joint loosening - each joint with ball bearings inside. Fingers not crooked, wrists not straight. Hang the wrists, SONG and stretch the fingers. Like the palms are lightly stuck to a large ball. are lightly stuck to a large ball. Shoulders very active and light.
- Starting: SONG down right leg to allow left toes to turn in. Song down right arm up, forward, SONG down, ho jing chi.
- Ji: drop wrists together then forward, SONG down, ho jing chi.
Open close Passive qua. Turn starts in the qua. Turn and shift at the same time. Very calm and steady. As the nature of human to innate concept of success, pride and recognition.
- Up but don't lift shoulders then long straight down. Really SONG the chest and arms rise. Turn from the qua with arms connected, don't contract them. More stretch. Then SONG down one leg.
- When song up, stretch the arms- bend the elbows down, then straighten up. When song down, focus the song starting not in the shoulders, but in the neck and chest muscles.
- Ma bu = horse stance.
- Beginners not up and down; just turn the waist side to side.
- But very important for Song. Can separate the left and right SONG. Left upper body song; right still. This allows neutralization in push hands.
- Rotate the hands lightly- grease the ball bearings. Rotate the shoulders backward in ho jing chi Rotate the shoulders backward in ho jing chi movements. Make it larger and more intense. The elbows really come in tight before fa jing
End Nick’s Notes China April 2018
Nicks notes China July 2018
Every movement, begin with Song. Yi and Song. The heart first Song, and then flow through the body. Light and starting at the feet, every muscle massaged. Feels very good. The legs stretch song down, the qua brings the shoulders down. Very light. Very centred. Suspended.
HYZZ; Tight and stiff, then relax. This way feel the power unfold. Like wringing tight, then releasing. First release the mind, then direct the yi to make the muscles mobilise. Through mobilising the muscles, you can yield. Through yielding, you can fa jing. Before song down, must hang up. (Gua) Song from the throat to the chest. When rising to the top, arms move in in in towards the body some more - very light, but find more room to move inside When song down only, the sole will flatten onto the ground, but it will be heavy. Hang the body and mobilise the tendons, ligaments and joints to actively song down. This will flatten the feet and make them light at the same time. Of course, the same in all forms and the same with ho jing chi. Like bark stretching and splitting on a massive tree. If very song, but not centred and moving correctly, you will fall or wobble. It's only because of stiffness that one stays up and straight. So be very song and very centred so that you can stand without stiffness. When song down, the legs must song evenly and in balance. If not stable, the jing cannot run. Movement like water; ebb and flow and like a tsunami. Long and steady and fluid. Nei tong = internal movement Nei shuen = internal rotation Nei yun = internal mobilisation of muscles. Must move and turn first to allow internal mobilisation.
FPH; Tiger back Bear waist Dragon front When pushing, keep hands steady and back adjust. Song from ankles first, knees then upper body down. Don't collapse the upper body - don't push the upper body down to song; song smoothly through the ankles knees qua and the body lightly follows. Keep very steady. Song down into front leg - knee comes forward - very stable when pushed. Ball, then dragon strike. Palms down waist bent nearly 90 degrees. Be very light. Don't think of Jing or push hands. If you do, you will surely lose. Keep firm in hands and song in arms. Keep adhering.
SSWF1; Let song start from feet and lead the body down in time. Song down at 10% - much faster. Close in on 0 % Keep shoulders turning and running.
SSWF2; Very steady, very smooth and very light. Long through the arms to the finger tips. Spread out the jing. Don't clench the hands. Application: Let the arms swing - all joints song. Like a snake. The arms swing out and if push back, the arms follow back.
SSWF3; Not 100% weight in one leg, but notice clear the substantial and insubstantial. Turn left, song into left foot, knee forward, right hand rises. Very natural movement with arm slightly bent. Open the chest and song through the chest. Qua in, not stomach bent. More Qua. Correct Qua. Sink through the legs.
Form and Ho Jing Chi; Calmness, light, fine. Gong tooey, song, internal movement of tendons joints and ligaments. Very light and fine. Whole body song and qua in. Remember to gong tui then turn qua then dong down then go jing chi. Ho Jing chi is very fast - it is the brief bounce, followed by long song and knee forward. Never think 'fa jing' Fa Jing is a natural return; a reflex unwrapping. Natural. Like wringing a sort, it must return. Every movement, as though whole body, all the muscles, are being massaged. Very enjoy your massage. When song down and turning, the shoulders hang 'gua' and swing in the joints very smoothly. Very soft. If your leg begins to feel stiff, raise your horse stance to relax and soften, then song down again. Kao: shoulder facing front, body facing side. Keep 90°
Tui Shou; When your body goes in front, it songs in at the same time. Become like a wave. A wave can easily lift the heaviest ship. When pressure builds up, change direction. (Better before pressure builds up) Practice the ball - this prepares for continuous movement and return when pushing hands. When Master fa jing he is balanced. If he pushes with the left, the right arm also extends jing.
End Nick’s Notes China July 2018
Seremban & Mentakab 18th-25th August 2018
HYZZ: - when going up, as the arms touch the body, you keep going up and closing the arms because the torso contracts inward therefore giving more room for the arms to move in.
- Song down then becomes expansion. Song up becomes contraction. Expansion like balloon in all directions. Contraction makes room internally for external (eg – arms), make sure shoulders are relaxed and not raised (keep finger position on thigh and hands stick lightly. Don’t bend wrists too much, let elbows bow the arms out.
- higher level HYZZ there is no stop, no start just continuous and internally.
- forward about 3” but keep in bubbling well point (ankles more Song). At a higher level can even put centre in heels when you have achieved much more Song.
- hang neck and body like roasted duck; stretching through whole body but hanging and loose, and don’t press (sink) into feet, feet are light.
Open & Close: - Spine Song. Find centre line. After open to commence closing, release to open left foot (Yi into right leg). Song to turn left then hang body (stretch it up) to move forward into left leg. Turn back 45 degrees. Don’t turn back too much. Right leg relaxed and turn right on toes. (Work on) Song down to bring right heel in and Song down to centre then Song up. Generally - Slowly, calmly, wait! Calmness and stillness before turning very finely.
SSWF1: Keep ankles, knees and hip soft. Heel of empty leg should not lift or move.
SSWF3&5; give time for HYZZ to release down into legs. Get the release through the muscles and will naturally HYZZ. But you cannot rush it. Don’t lose height, stretch and release leg muscles to move forward and backwards (SSWF5) or to turn (SSWF3). In SSWF3 arms are a combo of swing and shoulder rotation.
FPH4: to cover the elbow movement, the hands surround elbow – left hand slides up and rotates to ‘push’ just below shoulder (on bicep)
FPH (all); put HCC into all FPH (upgrade), same as in form, it is always straight and short and not when turning. HCC occurs when weight is 50/50 and Yi has come to soles. Then after, continue down and expanding. Don’t worry about transition from HCC to HYZZ; practise and it will become natural.
General: Everyday practise one thing and everyday try to reduce the force in the body.
Work On; hanging body and finding gaps in HYZZ by coming forward more (particularly ankles)
Anecdote; in the welcome at Mentakab, about 60 people gathered to greet Mr F. After domos there was a Q&A. Someone asked (in Chinese) with a clear reference to Nick and me “How can foreigners understand Tai Chi when they cannot speak or read Chinese?” Master Foong’s cutting reply was “How come you can speak and read Chinese but still cannot understand Tai Chi?”
Nick’s Notes Seremban August 2018
3 levels: E.g Kai he jiao 1. Part by part 2. Song and find the centre line. 3. Whole body song and move (see video) shoulder moves to the left then back. Ching Man Xi Chang, Song Mien Wen Yun Nei yi. Nei song, nei tong, nei yun, nei hua, nei fa; Intention, song, movement, mobilization, yield, expulsion. Whole body works together, strung together, one unit. Same time, same speed.
Ho Jing Chi; Beginners going down all the way to the sole, then forward, then song sia again. But more advanced, gong down but tui and reach 50 50 and the yi reaches the sole at the same time, then ho jing chi. One, not two.
HYZZ; When up, elbows in in in because body continues in in in the elbows must follow. Whole body song whole body moves internally. To close the elbows is difficult if the joints are not song. All the shoulder joints, the spine, and the whole body must song to allow the elbows in when song straight up. Song up starts from the feet, then ankles. Wei li in and hips shift forward. Very song. Come forward 3 inches. Song the ankles. Practice each aspect individually. First, practice fine turning, with clear and calm centre. Then, practice shoulders song. Then, chest and ribs song (make the gap for shoulders to song). Then the abdomen and waist. Then the thighs. Then knees. Then ankles. Then feet. Perfect one before moving to the next. This is how to progress. This is how to distinguish yin and yang within the body; how to become naturally song, and how to utilise automatic timing.
SSWF1; Ankles very song. Whole body song. Very long song sia before turn.
SSWF3; Waist and thighs disconnect.
SSWF5; Gong down internally (count to 10) but hang hang hang.
Short Form; Elbow must fold earlier and move closer to the ear. Don't give a chance to connect. Song all the joints.
Tui Shou; Very song can automatically adjust
End Nick’s Notes Seremban August 2018
Putian China- 30 Sept to 9th Oct 2018
SSWF1; - move downward with shoulders and torso when turning (but not overall height)
- turn only the waist and keep level (also no sinking), don’t twist torso or legs
- empty the leg first before shifting into other leg
- when turning back to start again, 95% into the turn can start raising body slightly so that timing is correct to drop the body and raise the arms
- as turning, the arms are still stretching out as shoulders, chest and back muscles are still dropping.
HYZZ; - down is active time, up is relax time. i.e. don’t press. Release as going up and you will feel relaxed and happy! Hang your body. Keep the stretch even when going down. HYZZ down running all the time (when body is going up or down or Ding-i-ding)
- Mr Len corrections; keep chin in and shoulders back with chest flat. A good way to achieve this is put hands further back on thighs. Keep hanging the body and don’t lean forward (balanced in 8 directions).
- Release down all at once not step-by-step (upgrade)
- at medium to advance level, can do internally without dropping the body too much (or not at all!). Don’t have to physically go down much. Internal movement different from external. E.g. when HYZZ down the chest remains flat externally but internally it is closing.
General; - keep the shoulder/arm joints open and back but keep the chest flat
- must use HYZZ everywhere
HCC; I think I finally understand (at least at my level) about HCC. It is what I originally thought, the torso internally like turning (but not turning) and stretching the front leg forward and the back leg slightly up (though, I think the upgrade is back leg going down!). The Qua of front leg MUST go in as the knee goes out. The Qua of the back leg doesn’t matter (Mr F’s words). OF course keep the body hanging. In fact it seems can turn slightly to the outside (eg if right leg is forward, turning slightly right. Wait for ding-i-ding so as to stabilise before HCC. Don’t bring body forward to try and bring knee forward. Keep the principles of Song laying underneath, don’t tighten muscles up.
- Yi (intention), Song (Song – release/relax), Dong (movement), Yun (continuous).
SSWF1; make the arm movement up natural, when arms are about nearly up then open (extend) shoulders and at same time turn waist. Keep the Qua. Don’t turn too much (about 45 degrees) horizontally, don’t bend knees (hang the body).
General; - Keep your structure, don’t collapse when Song down as too heavy and you can be pushed easily. Muscles, ligaments, tendons are Song down but your body is light and reactive. It won’t get stuck or lose centre when pushed. Hang the body. A beginner may have to collapse the whole body to get some semblance of external Song happening.
- make the HZZ faster and finer, so there is no gap and no chance for someone to get your centre, but ALWAYS Song, Song, Song!
HCC; is always Song, not pushing. Muscles are relaxed, it is the ligaments and tendons stretching inside but they are also Song even when contracting or stretching. It is possible to do HCC even when back leg is externally going down. The ‘power’ is not from strength or pushing up, it is from the Song expanding and contracting. It is reactive not active. Always find Song and HYZZ in every movement. Be stable (ding-i-ding) before HYZZ. HCC is HYZZ. It is straight up or straight down. It is important to keep the body hanging, whether up or down. The Song expansion/contraction is in every part of your body. Bring it into everything, your body is alive not dead, so you become aware and conscious of everything within and without you.
Tenom - 8th to 18th December 2018
Suman picked Nick, Tracey and me up form KK airport. Training along with 5 members from HK.
SSWF1; HYZZ down as arms come up for a long time, don’t turn too early. As arms come up, shoulder blades close and chest opens.
SSWF3; good except trying too much on getting the shoulders to rotate, make movement smaller and finer.
FPH; - work on HYZZ down before every movement forward or back, otherwise it is just turning then even after 100 years cannot achieve anything.
- keep centre
General; - no Song up or down, it is not separate, there is always Song within expansion and contraction
- make more movements to train the tendons and ligaments to stretch, otherwise you are not doing correctly and cannot get the internal movement
- the centre is very important. Separate the movements and make them finer
- Lose for a while, win forever!
- joints - shuttle cock
Yi in the body makes it light and responsive i.e. limbs and body no longer dead weight from continuous Song. Song with Yi makes the body relaxed but ready. Song is the most important, without it you just have force. Strive to always find a little bit more Song somewhere in your body. When Mr F does the arm drop (when someone holds your arm and lets go), his arm is very light and not a dead weight ready to drop like most people, yet his arm drops instantly when let go. Do not try to introduce Yi too early, as it will override the Song. You probably aren’t as Song as you think you are!
Nick’s Notes: Tenom December 2018
- First the yi leads the song. When song, all joints and tendons song, then it can circulate and mobilize. So when pushed, you can return.
- Hang. Head up, body down.
- When first turn back to centre, turn first, then shift to centre.
- Separate the Qua from the knees and the ankles. Train the Qua to turn without affecting the knees and ankles. Same with SSWF
- Keep the Qua. Soften the legs. High level, knees forward.
- Keep hanging the shoulders and make space for the arm to fall without hitting the body. There will be subtle turns and changes in the arms when hanging the shoulders.
- More Qua. More Qua. Give space for the arms to fall, to pass
- Constant running song. Active. Let elbows relax to behind when song arms down.
- Opening, very active song. Work the shoulder joints. Very fine.
- Keep legs song. Movement originates in the legs. Legs bring the body.
- Push. Keep elbows down - attention to the centre.
- Catch sparrows tail. Song the hip, don't turn the waist.
- Stork spreads wings: shoulder down, arm up straight - must be straight. Don't wave the hand. Arm up to horizon then body down, arm up.
- Shuttle cock - shoulders, elbows, wrists. Shoulders bigger (heavier), than elbows, elbows heavier than wrists.
Ho Jing Chi:
- Song moves, not energy, from the back foot to the waist, past the back of the waist, then down the front leg to the foot.
End Nick’s Notes Tenom Dec 2018
Tenom - 12th to 21st February 2019
– Make HYZZ between movements very fine; not suddenly or grossly
- HYZZ running all the time internally. It is like an internal massage and constant expansion/contraction internally. Not just one point but everywhere
- lower body only moves when stepping
– movement always inside, then expansion (down) and contraction (up). Don’t think about up or down, don’t separate; think expansion /contraction. Yi continues even if external movement stops.
- it is not just up and down, it is expansion/contraction. Not just whole body but every point within. This is the pulsing/vibrating, worm/kik-kok feeling Mr F always mentions.
- movement is very fine and slow so that eventually it is all internal and don’t even have to move externally
SSWF4: – when the hands open like a book and then close, it is from releasing shoulders and dropping elbows
PH: – engine started even before you are touched; always on standby and Song/Yi running
Form: – get the body hanging and with continuous movement. HCC comes from hanging first, then the body has gaps internally and very easy to do HCC. Once you have gaps in the body internally it is very easy to do HCC. Once you have gaps in your body (Song) and continuous movement then you will have Fajing. Hanging the body involves the Yi constantly running. So you are always on standby and ready to move.
Antidote: Once when GMH was walking in a Taiwanese park, a guy walking past him in the opposite direction brushed up against him. GMH yielded and kept walking. The guy stopped, turned and then exclaimed “Ghost!”
Nick’s Notes: Tenom February 2019
- Very fine, smooth, and continuous shoulder movement, facilitated by smooth and continuous whole body (sensitive feet) song.
- Keep right shoulder straight.
- Open and close all the way to the finger tips (and toes), every joint active and opening and closing.
- Song down, everything expand and yi continues waiting for expansion to stop before returning. Don't song up too quickly.
- Two reasons why arms must bow. 1. The Qua folds and reduces the distance. 2. The arms (elbows) and legs (knees) must move in unison.
- Keep HYZZ running continuously. Movement originates in the 3 points of the leg. Lower part moves first.
- legs and arms move in unison. Must song done further into legs, both when straight down on two legs, as well as down one leg. The song brings the arms.
- Make sure you up 90% in order to allow more room for legs to song down. Don't stay low.
- More fine and smooth in all movements, don't jerk the shoulders; no sudden lifts and drops.
- The stop is important, but the yi keeps running; only the body up and down rests.
- Work on the natural centre. Centre through the arms, too. Centre in the upper arm, and another centre in the forearms. Keep the centre running g gently through the legs, with feet very soft. SS4 When press up, centre if arms very straight. Don't strengthen the elbows.
SSWF5; Gong down, then very light and still move forward. Both legs very song. Even front leg is movable and rubbery.
- Loosen shoulders and whole body actively and continually HYZZ. Feet also active song. Very light and active. Light sticking. Move direction and enter. Stick tightly and wait for opponent to move - then move first. Don't move hands. Wait.
- Enter and move like a serpent.
- Make it CLEAR. Long movement. Steady movement
- Bend at Qua when sticking.
- Step step step.
- Arm hua ok. Body hua gooder. Horse step hua goodest.
End of Nick’s Notes Feb 2019