Taiji with William C. C. Chen
While I was in New York city I had the opportunity to visit Master William C. C. Chen for a private lesson. I have not practiced that much taiji from the tradition of professor Cheng Man Ching, but definetly feel that there is a lot go gain from mixing this approach to taiji with the style of Sam Tam, and William C. C. Chen is well known as an exponent of this tradition.
Williams thing is “the bodymechanics of taiji” and he challenged some of my ideas of taiji during the hour I spent with him. He put focus on the ribs instead of the center (dantien) which is what i have previously worked with and challenged the idea of keeping the back straight (or at least vertical). Furthermore he was able to demonstrate how to “energize” the form by, in his words, moving the energy body instead of the physical body – a concept I still do not quite grasp, but which makes a lot of sense when seeing him move.
According to William speed and power comes from the simultaneous expansion and rooting from the ribs in a movement where the lower ribs roots down and the upper ribs flows upwards. This means that you should not move the arms from the hips (as much taiji litterature will tell you), but rather get the body “under” the arms to allow the arms to flow freely. William was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach to great effect while both punching and pushing.
All in all it was a very benefitial meeting for me. Most important was that I got a new understanding of how to issue (push or punch) from the simple idea of rooting while expanding, an element which is also central for Sam Tam who talks about expanding from the center.