So confusing. Yes it is very
important to position the referred form in this book as xiaojia
Chen's point of view is heavily flavored by his knowledge of Yijing
philosophy and internal alchemy. The book is basically steeped in it.
Chen starts right at the source with the Luo and He River maps that
were the pre-cursors to the Yijing in order to explain in minute detail
exactly where taiji philosophy and movement came from. He then segues
into Yijing philosophy and explains the trigrams, a basis for
understanding how the trigrams influence the form that follows later.
The meridian theory from TCM is then introduced as an explanation for
It is quite normal and
almost evident that Chen Xin refers to Yi Jing and internal alchemy, as
we know that Chen Xin was a high level scholar and did want to express
his erudition within his works on martial arts.
At his time Yi Jing was
the most elaborate philosophical and mathematical concept to be
manipulated by scholars, as well as “internal alchemy” a prime subject
for any Taoist adept... We can also continue with TCM which was at that
time the only known medicine for a Chinese.
In a word, as a serious
scholar he would use these most refined conceptual tools to explain the
core movement in Chen style: silk reeling.
Basically the silk reeling originates in the dantian and then spirals
out through the meridians in the body and the limbs. Chen provides
perhaps a bit more detail than necessary to understand that concept,
but better too much than too little.
Well, this is jumping too fast to a conclusion in mentioning dantian
than spirals… In fact through a real and long practice, we will feel
the absolute NEED for further details about how to spiral AFTER the
dantian and it is NOT too much.
Chen makes it so clear right from the beginning that internal alchemy
is THE point of doing taiji. He even mentions seated meditation at key
points in the text as a way of illuminating things that may not be
clear from just form practice. The form itself is explained in terms of
the alchemy with each move broken down into silk reeling and alchemical
components. This section will prove invaluable to practitioners of any
taijiquan style. Using this text, taiji people can pick out the alchemy
elements of each move in order to practice them.
Chen does mention martial uses of the taiji, but these comments are
buried inside the larger alchemical context. In order to understand the
applications, you must be thoroughly familiar with the yin/yang
philosophy that Chen uses or else the application theory won't make
sense. So in order to grasp what he says about application, you must
grasp the central thesis of the book which means not skipping the long
parts on alchemy.
alchemy... at the time of Chen Xin and before, yes but today this can
be also verified by more scientific approaches such as biomechanics,
This book is a masterpiece, albeit one that will unfortunately not be
as influential in the West as it is in the East. For example, when I
studied Chen style in Taiwan, my teachers told me this was the only
book I needed to buy. It's deep enough to be plumbed for a lifetime.
But because of that depth, few will be able to penetrate the book's
teachings. Basically the book is far deeper than most are willing to go
in their taiji practice even though following the advice of this book
would lead them to true knowledge of the taiji and taijiquan.
As I read it, I felt a little sad, as if I had been given a glimpse of
a masterpiece that would unfortunately not be shared by many people.
Very true Tom, because
of esoteric terms, concepts coming from the past of Chinese Ancient
civilization, we should rather try to read it with our present eyes and
grasp what it makes sense for us in our daily practice and there are a
lot of tips from Chen Xin that we can get...
2) By Tom
“Chen makes it so clear right from the beginning that internal alchemy
is THE point of doing taiji. ”
Another mentioning Chinese alchemy, but this time Tom is going further
in terms of historical references
It would be more accurate to say that internal alchemy was THE point of
doing taiji–for Chen Xin . . . but not necessarily for his father or
other Chenshi practitioners of Chen Xin’s or earlier generations,
especially those who–like Chen Xin’s brother and father–trained their
taijiquan in the context of their economic livelihood as caravan
security or personal bodyguards. But there does seem to be significant
evidence of at least allusions to Daoist alchemy dating back to Chen
Wanting (ca. 1600-1680). So the scholar and the warrior are intertwined
through several generations of the Chen family’s martial art.
It’s worth considering Jarek’s writing on Chen Xin and the context for
his book (see http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/taiji/chenxin.html)
True, Jarek has done a
fabulous job in offering unvaluable information on Chen Xin, his life
and how laborious he worked on his books...
For naysayers who doubt that alchemy was ever a part of taijiquan as it
developed within Chenjiagou before Chen Xin, there is the reference to
Chen Wangting (1600s) in his dotage in Chenjiagou: “Now old and
fragile, I am left only with the book of Huang Ting [Jing] for
company.” This book is a traditional classic of Daoist alchemy.
“In creating the art he drew from a number of sources including
Jixiaoxinshu (New Book Of Effective Techniques,) a military classic
penned by General Qi Jiguang. But what is most significant about
Wangting’s contribution is his incorporation of Daoist philosophy into
his martial system, drawing from Huang Ting Jing (Classic of the Yellow
Court), a Daoist book of high-level spiritual training often confused
with Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic) the
foundation volume of Chinese medical theory.
Recent evidence credits the Li family, Wangting’s mother’s side, with
the Daoist influence. There was a mythical figure, Wang Zhong Yue,
author of the classic Taijiquan Lun. We now know that Wang was a
schoolteacher hired by the Li family. Interestingly the Li family also
has their own martial art called Wuji system. Wuji is the word for the
Daoist concept of emptiness, the state of the universe, pregnant with
infinite possibility, before it organized into the harmonious interplay
of opposing forces known as taiji.”
Don’t worry Tom we
definitively believe you, it has definitively strong connection with
Chinese Internal Alchemy, but it is also true for any Chinese Internal