This beginner class is also the Silk Reeling Foundation class. The aim of the level is to introduce the student to the theory and principles of Tai Chi through a set of foundation breathing exercise and Silk Reeling.
The silk reeling also known as Chansijin 缠丝劲, is the foundation and most important principle of Chen Tai Chi. The Silk reeling exercises involve simple continuous rounded and spiral movements connecting the hand to the ground powering via the yao kua(腰胯）or the hip joint and the waist.
Eighteen Breathing Exercise
I am Wen Shang. Since September 2018, I started to practice taiji with Sien in Donghe Elementary School, Taiwan. Every training session started with more than 20 minutes of silk reeling workout, I was struggling, this was followed by 1 hour plus of practicing footwork and routine, it was an up hill task for my body. During that period, I used Master Zhu’s online video in the morning while I practiced 10-15 minutes of silk reeling workout as the warm up follow by Chen style old frame routine. By the end of November, I was able to follow the online video at home and practiced the most basic breathing and silk reeling exercise. Each time for about 20 minutes, my leg strength began to improve. On February 9th, 2019, when I was practicing tangled work, Sien said that I could improved on the posture , but I couldn’t understand it. So he simply took video of the me of doing the silk reeling work and asked me to go home to review. At first glance, it was really obvious, and my center of gravity is leaning forward, so the muscles in the thighs and waist are stiff and got tired easily. I had to put a square towel on my head and practice the silk reeling work, so as not to disturbed my family when things fell overhead in the morning. It took about a week to get used to it. In mid-February, Sien asked everyone to practice the Yan Shou Hong Quan (Cover hand punch, the signature move in Chen routine), reminding everyone to relax and punch 500 times, and then start the day of the hand and the hand for 500 times a day. At that time, my idea was to accumulate 10,000 punches. Since most of the motivation experts (Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy) said that it took 21 days or more to get into habits, with 500 times a day, it will only take 20 days to reach 10,000. I just grit my teeth and I should be able to finish it. A week later, I could sense slight difference. Two weeks later, there was a feeling of loosening, relaxing (Song). In the third week, both hands can archive the relaxing vibration. It is also found that after the practice of 500, immediately doing the silk reeling, there will be a completely different sensation, the hand will naturally move in sync with the waist.
In mid-March, Sien asked everyone to practice silk reeling exercise and Chen Style arm swinging . I tried to do 100 times for each move, and it took 40-50 minutes to finish. I can’t quite match my morning practice time, and I keep counting, I lost count. So I changed to 3 minutes for each movement, 1 minute is in slower pace and 2 minutes in faster pace. All in all it takes 42 minutes to complete. Still a little too much for my morning routine, so I modified further to just the first four moves around a single hand for 3 minutes, the rest of the action for 2 minutes, which took about 32 minutes. I will then take a break and follow the Master Zhu’s online video to practice the routine, about 20 to 30 minutes. When I come home after work, I practiced half a stroke punch for 500 times, takes about 20 minutes. There was a time when I sprained my ankle and didn’t dare to do the silk reeling exercise.So I only practiced 15 minutes of standing stance breathing exercise. I did that for about a week. Then I went back and practiced my hand, and I realised that I had improved on my other tai chi skill : my wrist could have the feeling of extension and relaxation. In the past few months, you can feel the natural rotation of the lumbosacral spine, and the movements of the routine can be easily positioned. The number of adjustments by Sien were also decreasing, and the weekly progress can be felt. Even when practicing tai chi on weekdays. Occasionally when my concentration was not there or my body posture misaligned, I would be unbalanced and unstable just as mentioned by Sien. I started to understand what Sien demonstrated when the body’s structure is not in place the body become unbalance and tend to fall. I have always remembered that Sien and Jasmine have been practicing silk-reeling for two years. Every day for more than an hour, they practiced till their legs were like stones, and they were only relax their joints ; Tianzhong also said that when he last visited Chenjiagou, every time he practiced the routine, they had to do 30 minutes of silk reeling exercise. I imagined that the basic silk reeling exercise is just like fine tuning every components in the machine. This is to keep the condition of the component in the best condition. When it is time for routine practice, it will naturally be different. This experience allow me to link to my other area that I had: Some music players will concentrate on a basic skill for one month before the game, and then practice the whole song before the game. When practicing calligraphy, I will also practice a certain basic skill until I am able to write the whole work. However, the songs are not well trained, at most others feel ugly; calligraphy is not written well, at most others feel ugly. If you punch the wrong way, you will feel uncomfortable. Therefore, the basic silk reeling skills are really important and you have to work hard on them. I saw a very useful passage in the book “How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond” by John Powell Deliberate practice is to practice things that are difficult for you. Once you master it successfully, you will go further. No matter how boring it may be. The book says, please believe that “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”, Samuel Goldwyn. The harder I work, the more talented I am. I believe that according to the practice method that Teacher Zhang has passed, correct and continuous training, everyone is a lucky person. In this article, I would like to thank Xianlong and Shi Min.
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