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Tai Chi Silk reeling energy

The term “缠法” (Chán Fǎ) was proposed by Chen Xin, also known as Chen Xinyi, in his book “Illustrated Explanation of Chen-Style Taijiquan.” He stated, “Taijiquan also involves ‘Chán Fǎ’ (Entwining Techniques).” He further emphasized, “Without understanding this, one cannot comprehend the essence of the martial art.” Chen Xin affirmed the significant position of “Chán Fǎ” in the Chen-style Taijiquan routines and elaborated on its various forms: “there are ‘Jin Chán’ (Advancing Entwining), ‘Tui Chán’ (Retreating Entwining), ‘Zuo Chán’ (Left Entwining), ‘You Chán’ (Right Entwining), ‘Shang Chán’ (Upward Entwining), ‘Xia Chán’ (Downward Entwining), ‘Li Chán’ (Inward Entwining), ‘Wai Chán’ (Outward Entwining), ‘Shùn Chán’ (Clockwise Entwining), ‘Nì Chán’ (Counterclockwise Entwining), ‘Dà Chán’ (Large Entwining), and ‘Xiǎo Chán’ (Small Entwining).”

From my understanding, “Shùn” and “Nì” represent the fundamental self-rotating variations, and they naturally encompass aspects of advancing, retreating, left, right, upward, and downward motions. As for “Dà” (large) and “Xiǎo” (small), they belong to the category of revolution. However, Chen Xin did not explain based on what criteria “Shùn” and “Nì” were determined, and he did not provide details on the coordination of hand revolution, let alone discuss the rules of “Chán Fǎ” for the hands, leaving scholars perplexed and unsure about the essentials. In the following, I will present an introduction to “Chán Fǎ” in terms of the gaze, body, footwork, and hands, based on what I have inherited from the Chen family and by referencing Chen Xin’s description.

In the book “Chen-Style Taijiquan” by Shen Jiazhen and Gu Liusheng, they established that “Shùn” (clockwise) and “Nì” (counterclockwise) are the fundamental entwining techniques, and the other five pairs are positional entwining techniques. This clarification is an improvement over Chen Xin’s listing of the six pairs of “Chán Fǎ.” However, Shen Jiazhen stated, “Shùn is when the rotation follows the clockwise direction, and Nì is when it follows the counterclockwise direction.” I believe this explanation does not sufficiently cover the concept of “Shùn” and “Nì” in hand and foot entwining techniques. This is because each hand and foot has a left and right side. For example, if the right hand rotates clockwise, it is “Shùn,” but if the left hand rotates clockwise, it becomes “Nì.” Therefore, I would only apply this explanation to the rotation of the torso, where turning left is “Shùn” and turning right is “Nì.”

Regarding the “Shùn” and “Nì” of leg entwining techniques, it should change according to the direction of the body’s rotation. When the body rotates left, the left leg is “Shùn” while the right leg is “Nì,” and vice versa. In “Shùn Chán,” the knee should rise upward, while in “Nì Chán,” the knee should hang downward. However, only one rise and one drop are allowed, without double “Shùn” or “Nì” changes, and there should be absolutely no swaying left or right.

Differentiating the self-rotation of the hands is relatively straightforward. When the thumb rotates outward, turning the palm upward, it is “Shùn Chán.” When the pinky finger rotates outward, turning the palm downward, it is “Nì Chán.”

The coordination of the hands and arms rotating left, right, forward, and backward is called “Gōng Zhuǎn” (Public Rotation). The direction of public rotation includes left, right, forward, and backward. Within the left-right and up-down public rotations, there is only one “Shùn” and one “Nì.” Specifically, when the right (left) hand rotates right (left), “Nì Chán” is used in the upward motion and “Shùn Chán” in the downward motion. When rotating, the “Nì Chán” technique uses the hand to lead the elbow and the elbow to lead the shoulder, diagonally turning from the front of the chest to the side of the chin on the right (left) and upward. This completes the first half of the circle. Then, relax the shoulder, sink the elbow, collapse the wrist, and lift the fingers, bringing the elbow back to the side, sticking to the ribs. The rotation is done mainly using the forearm, rotating from the navel to the front of the chest. Chen Xin said, “One hand is in charge of half of the body (in terms of combat techniques, the hand is like a sentinel, defending the torso).”

Chen Xin originally said, “With the nose as the central boundary.” However, I fear that scholars might misunderstand it as “the hand must be brought to the front of the nose,” so I have corrected it to “in front of the chest.” Wang Zongyue’s “Treatise on Taijiquan” says, “No excess and no deficiency.” Naturally, there should be a limit to serve as the standard for “excess” and “deficiency.” The coordination of hand techniques and the torso is “high not above the eyes, low not below the navel, centered not exceeding the chest (the palm should slant toward the chest).” Exceeding this range will result in a loss of strength if overextended or an ineffective attack if not extended enough. Generally, the rotation from the front of the chest to the eyes should be around 90 degrees. These are the rules for “Shùn” rotation. For example, the movement of the left and right hands in the “Cloud Hands” or the right hand in “Block and Rub the Knee.”

In the rotation of the public rotation of the left-right and reverse hands, the backhand starts with “Shùn Chán” from the left or right upward angle, turning inward, and the direction of the fingertips remains at a left or right outward upward angle, while the elbow should be pulled down below the breast. Then, it changes to “Nì Chán,” turning the elbow to

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