DISCUSSIONS WITH CHEN XIAOWANG
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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