Chen Style Silk Reeling Practice By Chen Zheng Lei & Gao Xiao Hui with De Ru

21/07/2015 00:00

Chen Style Silk Reeling Practice

By Chen Zheng Lei & Gao Xiao Hui with De Ru

Published in T'ai Chi - The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan Vol 23, No 3


Silk reeling is the most basic move in Chen Family Taijiquan. It consists of various winding and spiraling motions. 

All the silk reeling moves, either internal spiral or external winding, either forward winding or backward winding, either natural or reversed, are like Yin and Yang: opposite to each other, but complimentary at the same time. Silk Reeling keeps qi (chi) centered, cultivated and stored for use. 

Ancient Taiji script says, "Silk reeling qi comes out of kidney. From there it is penetrating everywhere. There is no motion in Taiji without moving silk reeling qi (Chan Shi Jin)." 

The qi is transferred to every cell in the body. It penetrates into every nerve ending and organ. Qi is stored abundantly throughout the body, in bones, muscles and ligaments, nourishes every cell, and contributes to unrestricted circulation. It aids the digestive system, improves metabolism and can prolong life. 

Chen Family Taijiquan Silk Reeling (Chan Shi Jin) 

The method of practice of Chen family Taiji Silk Reeling is as follows: Let qi go up to the Baihui point at the top of your head. Empty the mind. Keep the upper body upright. Maintain the natural curve of the spinal column. Allow the shoulders to sink down. Pull the chest slightly in. Let the qi sink down to the dantian. Breathe naturally. Relax the thighs and bend the knees. The upper body needs to feel empty. The lower body needs to be solid. 

As the Taijiquan commandments clearly state, hard and soft, steel and flexible, and fast and slow, intermingle with each other. External motion moves in curved lines, and internal qi moves in a spiral motion. 

Whenever the hands are in motion, the body must move using the waist as an axle. There are no cutting lines, nor jarring bumps. Every motion is circular like the Yin and Yang diagram. This is the most important and basic principle of Chen family Taijiquan. 

Using the principles of Taijiquan, a practitioner rotates and turns the ankles, knees, hips, waist, wrists and shoulders, and folds and extends the chest and waist. 

Qi then can be moved freely throughout the body up to the outer extremities, such as the fingertips. Qi also moves downward to the feet, which are rooted on the ground. All this qi manipulation is controlled by the waist motion. Qi coming out of dantian through the waist motion penetrates all the way into the fingertips in spiral and curved motion, through internal organs and bones. 

Taiji motion must gradually become soft but not too soft: hard but not too hard; heavy but swift and changeable. The internal qi is like cotton wrapping on a steel bar, soft outside but hard inside. When this internal control is achieved so is silk reeling qi. 

When a bullet comes out of the barrel of a gun traveling in the air, it travels in curved arc and in a spiraling motion. Taiji motion is the exact same motion. This self-rotating and penetrating motion is called Zhi Zhuan. The arc traveling curved motion is called Gong Zhuan. 

Like the Earth, which travels around the sun and rotates on its axis, Taijiquan requires every part of the body to move if any part of the body moves. Every part of the body coordinates and accompanies the others using the waist as the main axle. Every move in Taiji is in constant motion without stopping. All moves Taiji are filled with winding circles. 

The Way of Silk Reeling Qi Motion 

As Master Chen Zhao Pei stated, silk reeling has numerous windings: forward, reverse, up, down, left, right, inside, outside, big, small, forward, and backward, plus hundreds of other winding motions. Each is coordinated with another by the central internal qi. 

Silk reeling in the hand motion of the palm circling from inward to outward is called natural winding. Palm circling from outward to inward is called reversed silk reeling. 

For instance, in Cloud Hands, when both hands move in circular motions, the hand that moves downward toward the lower front stomach is doing a natural winding motion; the hand that moves rotating upward and pushing out is doing reversed silk reeling. 

Reversed silk reeling is expressed in the legs when the toes pivot inward. When they pivot outward, this is natural silk reeling. All silk reeling directions change with the changes of the body motions. Natural and reversed are the two basic silk reeling methods, opposite but complementary to each other. These two basic silk reelings are everywhere, throughout the entire Chen family Taiji, from the beginning to the end. 

These two basic silk reelings generate many other silk reelings. The four common pairs of silk reelings in four different directions are left-right, up-down, inside-outside, and forward backward. Up-down and left-right are combined as one complete two-dimensional picture and at the same time are  combined with inside and outside silk reeling to become a three-dimensional picture. This is the characteristic of silk reeling. 

Balance is another important feature of Chen Family Silk Reeling. In order to reach precise left and right balance, superb internal and external coordination of every motion is required. The body must be thought of internally and externally as a whole in Taijiquan practice. All of the above mentioned windings must accompany each other and move flawlessly together to obtain the benefits that qi can provide, so as to satisfy the special needs for health and combat. 

Therefore, during any step of Chen family taijiquan practice, there will be at least three pairs of directional silk reeling besides the two basic natural and reversed silk reeling motions. As one grasps the basic principle of Chen family Taijiquan patterns, he or she must learn to always travel in invisible arcing motions. 

The motions of Chen Family Taijiquan are complicated with numerous multiple motions happening simultaneously, and are ever-changing. Realize that not all motions will occur in the pattern of double-natural and double-reversed silk reeling. With left being natural and right being reversed, and right being natural and left being reversed, combinations of these silk reeling principles will always be present. 

If you find any move unnatural or awkward, you may have to readjust your leg or waist positions in order to get the natural curved, smooth motion. Eventually, you will correct your moves to be internally and externally coordinated. 

The Application of Silk Reeling 

Silk reeling is a way to get rid of rigidity and improve elasticity and flexibility so as to unblock the qi channels and allow internal qi to flow smoothly. Internal qi and external motion should flow together and complement each other. 

When one reaches this stage he or she will not only greatly improve energy balance and well-being, but will increase ones self-defense capability in combat. As an old saying goes, "Cultivate the root and the leaves will grow and flourish; release and unblock the water sources and the river will run a long course. This the way of Chen Family Taijiquan. 

I. The Effect of Silk Reeling on Health and Well-Being 

Qi (as in energy) flows and circulates constantly. If there is any block or pause in the flow, ailments or disease will occur. This is the theory of Yin and Yang and has been proven in Chinese medicine to be a reality. Qi (as in blood circulation) is not at all straight in your body but goes in a curved, winding motion. Chen style Taiji silk reeling follows this principle and is designed to activate qi and smooth one's blood flow along the arteries and veins. The improved circulation of blood, and balanced qi in one's body by the external silk reeling motion and internal qi silk reeling, helps to improve nutrient absorption, which can improve health and prevent disease. In this way, one can reach total health and wellbeing. 

Silk reeling through Taiji can also improve the digestive system and metabolism. In turn, free fatty acid transportation will also be greatly improved. 

Physically, Taiji practice also gives certain intensity and load-bearing exercise to the muscles and bones so they get much-needed systematic exercise. Bones improve in their density and elasticity; muscles and ligaments improve in their flexibility, strength, toning, and length, allowing overall body shape to improve. 

Furthermore, joint rotation and turning ability will also be greatly improved. Due to greatly improved nutrient absorption and qi and blood transportation. joint lubrication will also be better maintained. The skin will also benefit. Due to the improved transportation of qi, blood and nutrients, the skin receives more nourishment and becomes much brighter and healthier. Due to the large expenditure of the energy, lipids are in great demand as fuels to burn. This not only reduces but large amounts of fat under the skin, also reduces large amounts of fat in your blood system and other organs. Taiji can assist in increased muscle fibers and a reduction in fat.  

II. The Effect of Silk Reeling on Self-Defense in Combat 

The famous Chen Taiji master. Chen Xin once theorized. "In Taiji, the whole body is filled with winding and circular motion, Internal winding motion is co-operated with external winding motion. When one moves: all others move simultaneously. All qi power is delivered from the center of the mind through the inside of the bones, then transmitted from the muscles and ligaments to the tips of limbs.” The Taiji qi power is total body power. The silk reeling power is centered power. i.e. the power is delivered from the center of your mind and body, together through all parts of the body, striking simultaneously as a whole into one point like a bullet out of a gun barrel in a winding and penetrating shot. 

Arm power comes from the mind; passes through the shoulders to the elbow, and out to the fingertips, Said Master Chen Xin. This is natural and forward silk reeling power that transfers through the hones and muscles. 

The power can also he reversed from the fingertips into the body. This is known as reversed silk reeling. This is used to lead the opponent toward you. In traditional combat Sanda or today's sports sanshou. this principle is applied by experienced fighters. The above teachings tell us that we must use the circular winding qi, delivering it from the internal body to the extremities. This is the only way that no one can invade you and defeat you. 

Without the internal silk reeling qi power. you will be like many of today's competitors, relying on rigid straight muscle strength. They attack opponents like mountain goats, pushing each other in opposite directions. To solve the problem of today s Taiji competition. we must first learn how to apply the winding motion power Because the motion and power point is constantly changing winding and spiraling. any power applied against it can quickly be dissolved. There are three ways to apply the winding and spiraling internal power for combat and self-defense: 

1. When being attacked by an outside power, one must apply winding and spiral motion, without losing ward off energy, to meet the attacking power point. Follow the momentum direction immediately and then turn and rotate so as to dissolve the incoming power. 

If the opponent's residual power remains, one must add more power to assist him or her to meet zero resistance and put him or her down to the ground. If the opponent feels that he is losing the power point and withdraws the power and changes power directions, one must follow that opponent's power and give an immediate counter attack to the returning power and put him or her down. This is defined as the leading out and counter-attacking method

2. Give a sudden attack whenever you observe the opportunity. You must apply the whole body power with centrifugal; winding motion. Pinpoint all power onto one point, like a bullet coming out of a barrel. This is the spiral penetrating internal power striking method.

3. The dissolving power method. When being qinna gripped (grappled and locked), you must follow the twisting directions of qinna to rotate and turn accordingly. In this way, you will avoid the strong point to find the empty and weak spot to overpower the opponent. Many people have the misconception that Taiji is soft; it can not be used for combat or self-defense. This is because they do not see this aspect, nor do they have any experience in combat or any knowledge of the qi power of Taiji silk reeling. 

Silk reeling is not only a way to improve health and well-being but it is also an important way to improve self-defense skills in combat. Silk reeling is not only an important way to cultivate qi for health; it is also a way to empower one for self-defense.


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