Internal Arts IA

martial arts , health enrichment, development of consciousness

Q & A Response: Hong Junsheng’s Usage of “Grinding” in Silk Reeling Applications

Posted by Editor on October 17, 2006

A reader named chenquestion submitted a very interesting question in our Student’s Q & A and Comments  section. (Which is open to any and everyone for these types of questions or comments, by the way.) In comments 4 and 5, Chenquestion Says: he queried about Hong’s usage of the term “grinding” which he refers to sometimes as he explains circular movements during applications. He wondered if the term implied force against force. So here we can explore Hong’s ideas in a section from Volume one of Theory.

Your question actually relates to something which is the core of Hong’s teaching. Only you appear to not quite grasp the meaning of the process of coiling energy actually serving to avoid any effect of “clashing force” against force. ( I would also suggest that contrary to your guess that it is something more complex, we must conclude that “movement” is indeed very much at the heart of it.) Not only does the coiling avoid the incoming force, but it also creates a “grinding” into the opponent which then redirects his momentum to your advantage. Hong explains that the “grinding” into the opponent’s arm, for example, will control the opponents forward force, even though you are withdrawing your own arm. Note the context in the section, page 102, which you cited. Hong refers to the details of “shun” and “ni” reeling in response to certain advances from the opponent.

If the opponent pushes on my right elbow joint, then I will react according to the direction of the incoming force. If the force is slightly on the upper part, I will use shun reeling in a negative circle, to withdraw the tip of my elbow. If the force is slightly lower, I will also use shun reeling, but in a positive circle to move my elbow towards my ribs. In both cases the hand must point towards the opponent.

The “grinding” refers to the effect on your opponent, from the coiling of your joint rotations, in the silk reeling movements, as your circling movement always prevents the opponent’s force from hitting directly against your force. At the same time it has the effect of also controlling or restricting the opponent’s movement. The grinding is created by opposite directional forces acting on the opponent at the same time. This will allow you to stick to your opponent, even though you are not exerting any direct force. It also results in your opponent feeling controlled as if stuck in an effect like a gear mechanism. Even if you are retreating, the grinding action makes the opponent feel he can gain no control. As Hong states later in the same section:

In dealing with lu, lie, and advance, although my body and hands physically retreat, as long as the front hand sinks down and grinds out, he will never be as long as I am.

In this context, Hong is addressing some classic Taiji concepts. We have often heard of the qualities of withdrawing, following, neutralizing, attaching, redirecting, using the momentum of opponent’s force, etc. Hong presents his detailed explanations with specific examples, including the unique value which Chen style employs in the coiling energies applied in the applications.

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4 Responses to “Q & A Response: Hong Junsheng’s Usage of “Grinding” in Silk Reeling Applications”

  1. Chenquestion said

    IA, I thank you for this. Even a quick initial reading of your post was quite illuminating; and I plan to keep on re-reading the book (for which your website is a great help in trying to understand).

    Also I appreciate your comments about my “guesses”. By not being more prompt in seeking out qualified instruction, I’ve missed out on a lot, including silk reeling training which is said to be at the heart of Chen tai chi. These lacks limit my imagination – to say nothing of my abilities! I’m looking forward to getting CZH’s most basic video to at least begin getting on track here.

  2. wujimon said

    Hi IA.

    How does this relate with the idea of:

    “Don’t lean on others, and don’t let others lean on you”

    Could the ‘coiling energy’ of chen be equated to the ‘deflect’ notion of yang in this regard?

  3. Hi Wujimon,

    In answer to your first question, I would say the post does relate directly to the idea of avoiding leaning. You might say that maintenance of central equilibrium, and upright structure rotating around the centered spinal axis is a major emphasis of Hong’s teaching. This includes his explanation of the importance of avoiding double heavy, in which upper and lower body would be weighted on the same side of the body. Such weighting would be seen as “leaning”, and make it easy for the opponent to unbalance and uproot the person guilty of that mistake. Hong invariably emphasized the importance of avoiding double weighting.

    I would disagree with the suggestion of your second question. The example in the post does describe rolling back, which is obviously an energy common to all styles of Taiji. Sure, in Taiji, it is a basic principle to roll with the opponent’s incoming energy, and then use the opponent’s momentum against them. But Chen style Taiji places a unique emphasis on the coiling energy. It is used to add more “length” to the circle which the opponent then cannot follow without losing their own central equilibrium. This allows the Chen stylist to use less force, moving less distance, with greater effect of leverage, as the opponent has to move farther, attached to the “grinding”, coiling application of the technique.

  4. wujimon said

    Hi IA.

    You Stated:
    “his [Hong Junsheng] explanation of the importance of avoiding double heavy, in which upper and lower body would be weighted on the same side of the body. Such weighting would be seen as “leaning””

    How does this relate to the Single Whip posture and the left hand and left leg? It is my understanding the left hand is solid and the left leg is solid to maintain the stance. Have I incorrectly defined the solid/empty portions within this posture? Or does this only apply to applications? Ie.. left hand striking and using right leg as “stabilizer”, thereby making left hand solid and right leg solid. But in this example, I guess I’m confused on the term “weighted” and “solid”.

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