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Old 04-06-2012, 11:24 PM   #1
tlk52
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Internal power in tai chi chuan

I recently (8 months) started Tai Chi with william C C chen, who emphasizes tai chi for fighting and isn't into any mystical kind of anything. He's probably best known for training fighters that win tournaments, both push hands and also san shou (sanda)

his tai chi form is VERY soft, but in his training you separate the ribcage from the abdomen to generate power(in the context of the movement) and each tai chi move has 1--3X of moving, collapsing and raising and twisting the ribcage independently (no bending-without it effecting the rest of your posture, very subtle, you can hardly see it when he's doing the form, but he let me feel his ribs and it was amazing how much movement there was) ...its exhausting and feels like doing situps inside your ribcage... after doing it for a few weeks now I can feel the inside muscles (that I've never used before) becoming stronger... of course that's only one aspect.

the point I'm making is that for master Chen, the internal power is physical, bio-mechanical and not something mystical.

I'm finding it very interesting

here's an interview that he did about 3 years ago at age 75 (though the interviewer doesn't seem to know much about tai chi)

http://quest.tv/free-tv-channels/mop...-nails-theory/

and his latest article:
http://www.williamccchen.com/DOC_15.htm

Last edited by tlk52 : 04-06-2012 at 11:34 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:22 AM   #2
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
I recently (8 months) started Tai Chi with william C C chen, who emphasizes tai chi for fighting and isn't into any mystical kind of anything. He's probably best known for training fighters that win tournaments, both push hands and also san shou (sanda)

the point I'm making is that for master Chen, the internal power is physical, bio-mechanical and not something mystical.

I'm finding it very interesting

here's an interview that he did about 3 years ago at age 75 (though the interviewer doesn't seem to know much about tai chi)

http://quest.tv/free-tv-channels/mop...-nails-theory/

and his latest article:
http://www.williamccchen.com/DOC_15.htm
As it is for most doing serious IP training

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:34 PM   #3
Thomas Campbell
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Nice description. William Chen is a good source for learning (one) perspective on internal power. I'd venture to say that his understanding of internal power is developed more from his own study than on what he learned specificially from Zheng Manqing. The separation of ribs/intercostals from abdomen is interesting and may be similar to Fujian Baihequan (White Crane) shenfa (body usage), which influenced a younger fellow student of Zheng Manqing, Waysun Liao (teaches in Chicago), who studied Baihequan and later taijiquan in Taiwan under Zheng Manqing.

It's a good practice and Mr. Chen is a well-respected teacher. Both his son Max and daughter Tiffany compete in MMA, although to what extent either uses taiji in tournament fights is hard to say.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:01 PM   #4
tlk52
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Thomas Campbell wrote "William Chen is a good source for learning (one) perspective on internal power. I'd venture to say that his understanding of internal power is developed more from his own study than on what he learned specifically from Zheng Manqing"
--I think that may be true, and I do realize that his is a very personal perspective, but I think a great place to start

one thing about master Chen is that he's been studying, and working on, and refining his ideas about body mechanics since the 1980s (he's 78 now). ie his theory of the "3 nails", his ideas on how the weight moves and how to deliver punches... see that article above (he writes a lot).

He's into tai chi being a living breathing, changing tradition. He often says that his fellow students of Zheng Manqing sometimes argue about who is doing the "real Zheng Manqing style", but that from his point of view 1) none of them are, because their all doing their own style, and 2) that there is no ultimate fixed singular right way and that we have to constantly test and improve things and do your own research, both for fighting and for teaching.

I find his articles interesting both for the bio-mechanical ideas, and for his emphasis that competitive fighting/pushing is the best laboratory to test out if what your thinking about works and also that when your opponents fight you they use their best techniques and don't hold back or hide anything, so you can receive their technique and learn thereby...

"Both his son Max and daughter Tiffany compete in MMA"
I'm not sure if they do ground grappling UFC etc... though I wouldn't be surprised, I do know that they do compete in kick boxing (san shou) and I know Tiffany boxes golden gloves too. they both teach at the school.

however I'm just a newbie and hope to start pushing soon

anyway I'm having a great time with this stuff while continuing to practice Aikido...
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:59 AM   #5
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post

He's into tai chi being a living breathing, changing tradition. He often says that his fellow students of Zheng Manqing sometimes argue about who is doing the "real Zheng Manqing style", but that from his point of view 1) none of them are, because their all doing their own style, and 2) that there is no ultimate fixed singular right way and that we have to constantly test and improve things and do your own research, both for fighting and for teaching.

I find his articles interesting both for the bio-mechanical ideas, and for his emphasis that competitive fighting/pushing is the best laboratory to test out if what your thinking about works and also that when your opponents fight you they use their best techniques and don't hold back or hide anything, so you can receive their technique and learn
I think Mr. Chen's outlook is spot-on. You'll have a great time.

Cheers.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:16 PM   #6
Eric in Denver
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

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Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post

his tai chi form is VERY soft, but in his training you separate the ribcage from the abdomen to generate power(in the context of the movement) and each tai chi move has 1--3X of moving, collapsing and raising and twisting the ribcage independently (no bending-without it effecting the rest of your posture, very subtle, you can hardly see it when he's doing the form, but he let me feel his ribs and it was amazing how much movement there was)
Is there a youtube clip that demonstrates separating the ribcage from the abdomen? I haven't come across this before.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:40 AM   #7
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Ive never heard of 'separating the ribcage from the abdomen' either. I am curious how this could be used for power generation because I dont understand how it could be, but am open to different methods of power generation if it makes sense, can be taught and replicated, and works.

as to the subject at hand...
all good (ie. based in reality) 'internal power' methods are based in sound physical and biomechanical principles.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:06 PM   #8
tlk52
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

the ribs thing is part of the "winding" I

couldn't find any videos of master chen doing this, I don't think that he's so into putting things on youtube etc...but, I found this, which looks very similar, drop ribs/chest, opening while winding up under his left armpit & then releases the wind towards the end of the forward movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5OgzOXy38U

Last edited by tlk52 : 04-09-2012 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 04-10-2012, 05:41 PM   #9
Lee Salzman
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Brett Zimmerman wrote: View Post
Ive never heard of 'separating the ribcage from the abdomen' either. I am curious how this could be used for power generation because I dont understand how it could be, but am open to different methods of power generation if it makes sense, can be taught and replicated, and works.

as to the subject at hand...
all good (ie. based in reality) 'internal power' methods are based in sound physical and biomechanical principles.
The way I might interpret it is that as an isolated movement, it is not going to do much. But that as a component of the, for example, ideal/abstract bodily states of 'open' and 'close', it is a critical part of actively carrying power through the area and also of generating power for the other parts to carry through as well. Your trunk is a big flexible ellipsoidal rod... thing, and the surest way to kill its potential is to treat is as a big stiff block. I think it may have been said elsewhere somewhere, that morning glory/asagao is in the body, not in the hand, per se.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:14 PM   #10
Robert Coons
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Chen CC is good!!
One of the best for learning taiji fighting skills in the United states. If I had my choice, I would prefer to study with Peter Ralston (one of Chen's best students) again, but I like Chen's work.

One point that I must take umbrage with is that he is the most famous for winning tournaments.
It is not true!
Maybe in the US he is pretty famous, but in China nobody knows his name, or even his teacher, zheng's name. They are only popular and America, Europe and Taiwan. In mainland China there are many, many more famous taiji fighters than him. The Zhaobao taiji school called tuishou dao has several people who fight in sanda. Also, Hong Junsheng's student, Li Enjiu beat one of the top sanda fighters in mainland China.
It was very interesting to learn that the majority of the big names in North America are not heard of or even considered to have any skills on the mainland. Overall, the taiji practice in the states is much lower than the mainland as well.
Having been exposed to some very serious lineages of taiji, xinyi, and xingyi all over China, i have to say, there is not a single person in the United states who really has top level taiji skills (at least not who teaches in public). Although I would put my money on Tim Cartmell being able to beat the vast majority of Chinese martial arts people. American teachers tend to focus much more on certain small parts of training and tend to miss the big picture.
At the same time, CC Chen is the best at the Zheng Manqing style. There is no one else in that style I would rather learn from (if we consider Peter as his own style).
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:17 PM   #11
tlk52
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Robert,

thanks for the information, I'm going to find out more about Tim Cartmell and Peter Ralston.

"even his teacher, zheng's name. They are only popular and America, Europe and Taiwan"
Still, that's pretty good to be well known on 3 continents.

I don't know where Zheng is from but WCCC met him as a teen while living in Taiwan. WCCC then lived in Malaysia before coming to the US. So I don't know if he ever lived in mainland China, except as a child.

but just for the record I didn't claim that William C C Chen is "the most famous for winning tournaments." in the world, or in China...

I just said that "He's probably best known for training fighters that win tournaments, both push hands and also san shou (sanda)" which you've now confirmed!

he's very generous as a teacher.

best

Last edited by tlk52 : 04-17-2012 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:23 PM   #12
Robert Coons
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
Robert,

I don't know where Zheng is from but WCCC met him as a teen while living in Taiwan. WCCC then lived in Malaysia before coming to the US. So I don't know if he ever lived in mainland China, except as a child.

but just for the record I didn't claim that William C C Chen is "the most famous for winning tournaments." in the world, or in China...

I just said that "He's probably best known for training fighters that win tournaments, both push hands and also san shou (sanda)" which you've now confirmed!

he's very generous as a teacher.

best
He is taiwanese, but he learned from Yang Chengfu. He highly modified Yang's taiji after he had a dream in which his arms were broken and he had to fight without them. Or at least according to his personal narrative.
Sorry i misread what you said, my bad. I should have read more carefully.
WCCC is certainly well known for training fighters. Ralston for instance is great!!
I won't argue with that!
I love what WCCC and Peter did for American martial arts.
I've only heard good things about WCCC in terms of his training and how he teaches.
Certainly there are no other students of Zheng Manqing's who are as skillful at the whole package of taiji as WCCC. also I think Zheng himself was probably not as skillful at fighting. Though he claimed to have beaten Han Muxia.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:02 PM   #13
Howard Prior
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Robert Coons wrote: View Post
He is taiwanese, but he learned from Yang Chengfu.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheng_Man-ch'ing

Quote:
Cheng Man-ch'ing (simplified Chinese: 郑曼青; traditional Chinese: 鄭曼青; pinyin: Zhng Mnqīng) (July 29, 1902 - March 26, 1975) was born in Yongjia (present-day Wenzhou), Zhejiang Province (his birthday was on the 28th year of the Guangxu emperor's reign, 6th month, 25th day, which corresponds to July 29, 1902).

....Around 1930 Cheng met the well-known master Yang Chengfu (1883--1936), with whom he began to study Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan, until Yang died. While the exact dates of Cheng's study with Yang are not clear, one of Yang's top students, scholar Chen Weiming wrote that Cheng studied six years with Yang.

....By 1946, he had developed a significantly abbreviated 37-move version of Yang's traditional form.

....Cheng moved to Taiwan in 1949.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:07 PM   #14
tlk52
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

"also I think Zheng himself was probably not as skillful at fighting. "

in one of the interview articles on his site WCCC is asked by one of the senior students if Zheng tested his Tai Chi in tournaments, and WCCC said that he wasn't sure but didn't think so, but that Zheng never objected when he started to fight in them.

Robert wrote-"He highly modified Yang's taiji after he had a dream in which his arms were broken and he had to fight without them. "
-that's very interesting considering the style, the arms never move by themselves, he talks about this often. and nothing is extended very far from the body.

WCCC is very pragmatic about fighting, he writes a lot about this in his articles.

Robert,

as experienced as you are I'd be interested in your reaction to his latest article that I linked to in the 1st post.

Last edited by tlk52 : 04-17-2012 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:23 AM   #15
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Robert Coons wrote: View Post
...he claimed to have beaten Han Muxia.
??
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:37 PM   #16
Thomas Campbell
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Robert Coons wrote: View Post
Also, Hong Junsheng's student, Li Enjiu beat one of the top sanda fighters in mainland China.
It was very interesting to learn that the majority of the big names in North America are not heard of or even considered to have any skills on the mainland. Overall, the taiji practice in the states is much lower than the mainland as well.
Having been exposed to some very serious lineages of taiji, xinyi, and xingyi all over China, i have to say, there is not a single person in the United states who really has top level taiji skills (at least not who teaches in public). Although I would put my money on Tim Cartmell being able to beat the vast majority of Chinese martial arts people. American teachers tend to focus much more on certain small parts of training and tend to miss the big picture.
At the same time, CC Chen is the best at the Zheng Manqing style. There is no one else in that style I would rather learn from (if we consider Peter as his own style).
It was Li Enjiu's student who beat one of the top PRC sanda fighters, not Li Enjiu.

Here are Li and several other of your "famous name" Chinese taiji teachers testing each other back in 1992:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4T4r_TDvmI

Can you point out any moments of "really top level taiji skills" in this gathering of PRC masters?

Here is the son of another famous name entwined with a "grappler" of unknown experience:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIc5NIfrnJs

Can you point out any moments of "really top level taiji skills" in this video? You certainly can borrow ideas from others--this clip has been discussed a lot online. I'd be interested in your observations based on your taiji experience.

Your statement about taiji in the United States is telling in its sweeping ignorance. You clearly don't have much experience with top-level taiji people in the US. That would be like me saying that Canada doesn't have a single person who really has top level taiji skills, and ignoring Chen Zhonghua or your teacher Yang Hai.

That a North American teacher is not heard of in the PRC does not equate with them not having top-level taiji skills. Most of the very good PRC taiji practitioners I met have not been heard of in North America. So?

Finally, the "big names in taiji" like Chen Xiaowang, Wang Haijun, et al. spend as much or more time outside of China, including the US, as they do in China. For CXW and his seniors like Feng Zhiqiang, in fact, it was the high level of interest (and dollars) from foreigners that probably saved any semblance of martial taiji in the PRC. The government recognized a good potential source of revenue when it saw that interest. And that interest showed in the lament of many top Chinese teachers at not being able to find Chinese students that showed the same dedication to taiji training that many of their better foreign (including North American) students did.

I'd suggest you get around in the US and put in as much time and effort as you did in Shanghai and other places. It might open your eyes a bit.
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:37 PM   #17
Lee Salzman
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Thomas Campbell wrote: View Post
It was Li Enjiu's student who beat one of the top PRC sanda fighters, not Li Enjiu.

Here are Li and several other of your "famous name" Chinese taiji teachers testing each other back in 1992:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4T4r_TDvmI

Can you point out any moments of "really top level taiji skills" in this gathering of PRC masters?

Here is the son of another famous name entwined with a "grappler" of unknown experience:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIc5NIfrnJs

Can you point out any moments of "really top level taiji skills" in this video? You certainly can borrow ideas from others--this clip has been discussed a lot online. I'd be interested in your observations based on your taiji experience.

Your statement about taiji in the United States is telling in its sweeping ignorance. You clearly don't have much experience with top-level taiji people in the US. That would be like me saying that Canada doesn't have a single person who really has top level taiji skills, and ignoring Chen Zhonghua or your teacher Yang Hai.

That a North American teacher is not heard of in the PRC does not equate with them not having top-level taiji skills. Most of the very good PRC taiji practitioners I met have not been heard of in North America. So?

Finally, the "big names in taiji" like Chen Xiaowang, Wang Haijun, et al. spend as much or more time outside of China, including the US, as they do in China. For CXW and his seniors like Feng Zhiqiang, in fact, it was the high level of interest (and dollars) from foreigners that probably saved any semblance of martial taiji in the PRC. The government recognized a good potential source of revenue when it saw that interest. And that interest showed in the lament of many top Chinese teachers at not being able to find Chinese students that showed the same dedication to taiji training that many of their better foreign (including North American) students did.

I'd suggest you get around in the US and put in as much time and effort as you did in Shanghai and other places. It might open your eyes a bit.
I am sorry to link this, but it is obligatory, really, mandatory at this point:

Inquire within
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:23 PM   #18
Thomas Campbell
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
I am sorry to link this, but it is obligatory, really, mandatory at this point:

Inquire within
Your algorithm neglects what to do with the flying fur, or how to properly respond to the "pfffttts" and "rrowrrs".
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:01 PM   #19
AllanF
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

I think William Chen would be a good place to start, he will certainly put you in the right direction. And if you choose in the future you can always explore/meet/feel other people from different lineages and see how they compare.

One think i would suggest, and this is just from my personal experience and opinion, don't get tied to the form only think of it as a vehicle to develop the taiji body (aiki body), nothing more. Yes there are techniques throughout the form but don't become a slave to them.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:20 PM   #20
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
here's an interview that he did about 3 years ago at age 75 (though the interviewer doesn't seem to know much about tai chi)

http://quest.tv/free-tv-channels/mop...-nails-theory/
at 5:30...are those eyebrows real on that guy? Looks like two caterpillars crawling across his face!

In regard to WCCC's idea of internal power, i think it is right, it is not mystical it is not balls or qi or any other hocus pocus. It is something that anyone can learn and train physically if they so choose to, it requires patience and trust that training in the right way will produce the results desired. I personally don't talk about qi nor has my teacher here in China, or any other people i have met.

The practice of the form can be immensely enjoyable in and of itself. Well it is to me anyway!
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:22 PM   #21
tlk52
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

"The practice of the form can be immensely enjoyable in and of itself."

I feel that way too, the sensation in the body when doing the form feels wonderful.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:30 AM   #22
tlk52
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Re: Internal power in tai chi chuan

here's a rare video of WCC Chen teaching in a light sparring session circa 1984

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x0g51PwIUg
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