Followup:”Matching Power”, Where is the Center
Posted by Editor on March 19, 2007
Our last post, “Practical Application of Matching Power”, gave rise to the following comments and discussion with an astute observer, who appreciated the content. He raised some very interesting points which
led to some further investigation of the principles, and practical value, of Chen Zhonghua’s demonstration and teaching shown in that video clip. We will designate his comments with “Q”.
THIS IS GOOD STUFF!! I like this and like how it talks about developing gong, to be able to use in any technique. However, seeing this, I can’t help but think of the “don’t lean on me, I don’t lean on you” idea. Nevertheless, I was quite impressed with what he showed and explains. It kinda goes against the common notion of not countering force with force, as this method does use a ‘rooting’ force?
Can you clarify what you mean by “leaning on me, leaning on you”?
Regarding “rooting” and “countering force with force”, I suspect you might be missing some significant aspects of what he is demonstrating. It is not about “rooting”. It is about center, sensitivity, coordination of different body parts, separation of yin and yang, and coiling energy connected through the center, from the ground all the way to the finger tips. The opponent cannot “feel” Chen Zhonghua, or “touch his center” because Chen is harmonizing all those variables, which creates a “center” which the opponent cannot find, and therefor, cannot control. Then with any slight move Chen Zhonghua makes, delivered by any body part, the opponent’s center is dislodged by that move.
Q, In Reply:
Regarding “leaning”, It almost looks like CZH is allowing the other guy to ‘lean’ on him.
This makes sense from a ‘body as gears’ perspective as we’ll need a little bit of force to get the gears going. Just noting how this goes against the ‘common’ notion of push hands training.
What you have written about countering force, rooting, and center, that brings to mind another angle that makes sense to me. CZH is following his opponents until he ‘leads them into emptiness’, at which point he takes control. However, this ‘leading’ requires a great amount of sensitivity and coordination as you describe above.
Yes. You could say that he is “leading them into emptiness” to the extent that he is letting them “into” his center. But this in no way goes against correct taiji training, only its teaching has been confused. What you describe as “body as gears”, is the functional skill of joint rotation and adjusting balance of all parts of the body, to maintain center, in a manner which does not allow the opponent to locate or control center. What you observe as “allowing him to lean” is a practice to learn, and to gain more sensitivity about what your center is and how to really “defend” it in the taiji way. So you can see, it is by no means countering force with force, it is the opposite. Your perception that Chen is “leading into emptiness” is more appropriate. Because Chen Zhonghua always knows where his center is, and is in balance and control of his movements harmonizing around that center, his opponent only finds that “emptiness”.
You might say that one is making one’s self more vulnerable, allowing the opponent to “come in”. But every time someone “plays” in this way, he/she is developing greater “sensitivity”, and “awareness” of center—-this is the real meaning of “investing in loss”. The video reveals that this is a concrete practice, based on mechanics and functional skills which have been developed, to allow for the ability to move from center in this way.
The part about ‘rooting’ is referring to how he does not take a step or move his feet. This could mean that his center has not been compromised to the point where he’d have to take a step. Again, this takes quite a bit of skill to achieve and is a pretty cool exercise to train this method.
Yes, so “rooting” is not really the right term. It is a function of balance, with joint rotation maintaining correct relationship of body parts in connection with center. Chen Zhonghua is teaching that to his students all the time, so it is not some unattainable “high level skill”. It doesn’t have to take 10-15 years, as others would imply. He constantly emphasizes that the whole thing comes down to correct function and usage, which is always explicitly taught in the method.
Thanks for elaborating further on the point of the exercise. I think I
understand it a bit better now.
Thank you very much for your insights and observations. Perhaps other readers would enjoy joining in?