|Chen Zhenglei & Cui Guangbo demonstrating applications in The Art of Chen Style Taijiquan|
Clearing out an old filing cabinet I revisited a notebook from a training trip to China in 1998. It’s easy to forget how much harder it was to get information in those pre-internet days. On the flip side we valued and took note of any information we got! Among the comments that filled the pages was a short list of reminders from Cui Guangbo, one of Chen Zhenglei’s oldest students, who had joined our group training in Zhengzhou. He gave the following pointers on the process of developing fajin in the correct way.
1. Silk-reeling exercises act as the root to fajin.
2. Fajin manifests in a scissor route – that is left leg to right arm and right leg to left arm.
3. The most important thing is to be totally relaxed and to learn the form in slow movements.
4. Each time you are going to release power you should first relax into the posture – loosen the kua, sink body, store your chest, relax shoulders etc.
5. Then, at the moment of fajin, all the relaxed positions should spring into action and be activated into their opposite state.
The notes then re-emphasised the point that above all to learn to fajin effectively you must practice the movement slowly and correctly (posture wise). When the movement becomes very familiar, gradually increase momentum (speed) until the correct quality of fajin is achieved.
The following points were added by Chen Zhenglei:
1. Fajin is based on complete relaxation – the hands, even when held in fists, are relaxed throughout including the point of impact. The idea behind this being that in a real situation by bringing intent it will be easy to provide the necessary force/hardness. The harder part is the development of complete relaxation. [Looking back at this note I’d add this is especially true for adult learners who tend to have more ingrained tension and faulty movement patterns that need to be worked out before there is any thought about added force at the point of impact.]
2. Think of each movement in terms of the entire route and the different possibilities. For example, depending upon where the energy is released, the Hidden Thrust Punch could be (i) a punch, (ii) an elbow strike, (iii) a shoulder strike.
A requirement to learning is the ability to listen and take note, even if what you’re hearing doesn’t seem to make sense at that moment. Assuming you’ve picked the right person to listen to, by following the process eventually what seemed complex may become clear.
|Cui Guangbo and David Gaffney pushing hands (Zhenzhou,1988)|