Quan Xue Chan Hui review, part 2

This is part two of “DVD/VCD Review: Chen Xiao-Wang “Internal Strength Learning Boxing and Coiling Slightly“.

You can order the videos on kungfu_tea001’s ebay store. (DVD version | VCD Version)

First let me say that this is the first dvd in a series of twenty six DVDs(!) in which Chen Xiao Wang completely teaches Chen style. This VCD/DVD however will not teach you the form of taiji. No, Chen Xiao Wang realizes that before you learn the form, you must learn the basic movement rules of taiji. And he uses the first DVD in the series (three VCDs) to teach you how to do that. This review covers the second and third VCDs of part one (of twenty six).

The impact of the first VCD (part 1/3 on the dvd) was not lost in the second and third VCDs. Chen Xiao Wang answers many questions that should be understood by tai chi players of the Chen style.

What really has to be remembered is that this is the first DVD in a complete series of DVDs by Chen Xiao Wang. Furthermore is that this is Chen Xiao Wang speaking. Without question, he is an authority on this art with few equals.

So when the second VCD opens with the question “What is the relationship between the taijiquan frame and the law of motion?” and “What is the standard to judge of the taijiquan frame is correct or not”, we are blown away. The implications of the answer Chen Xiao Wang gives are not neccessarily profound; But rather, an answer has been given. This will hopefully clear away the cobwebs of misunderstanding among millions of uderinformed (or worse, misled) taijiquan players in the world.

As a fatter of fact, when Chen Xiao Wang answers the questions above, he does so (again) by outlining the basics of how to fight using taijiquan. He, quite simply and clearly, links the principle of movement discussed in part one with the frame of taiji and explains why it is important in a fight. This fresh perspective is not a violent one; actually Chen Xiao-Wang appears calm, yet firm. This is a great middle ground between wet noodles and paramilitary types which you tend to see at either end of the spectrum (no names, no names).

As he does, Chen Xiao-Wang tends to go off on relevant tangents. Here he begins to discuss the truth about the relationship between large circle and small circle in Chen style. As an example, some people (jarek szymanski and formosa neijia) seem to have said that that Xiao Jia, Da Jia (Lao Jia), Xin Jia, etc. are unique branch within Chen Style, or that you must first start with large circles and then “progress” to smaller ones, or something like this. This is not the opinion of Chen Xiao-Wang, and he explains his position with reference to the basic theories of taijiquan. What he says certainly makes a lot of sense. He also discusses the history of all of these different branches and how they relate to each other as recorded in the Chen family documents, for the past several hundred years. All in all, it’s completely fascinating. And this is just the first part of the lecture he gives in part two of this DVD (vcd #2).

Next, Chen Xiao Wang explains the five levels of Taiji kungfu. This is similar to his classic “five levels of taiji skill” essay which has been published in tai chi magazine and on websites many times. However, to hear him discuss it as a part of this presentation is different, because he explains it in a different way. He links it to everything he has said so far, using the terminology he has defined. This opens up new levels of understanding for the student of Taiji. For example, he says “two yin and eight yang is sanshou”, and “three yin and six yang is drawing a large circle”. These are all explained very clearly in the video. One of the most memorable things about this video is how Chen Xiao-Wang yet again uses the principles he discusses to outline how he would react in a fight. He will freely admit, “If I am attacked from behind, I can’t know about it.” and then answer the obvious question on how to apply the training and principles already discussed to best respond to such a situation.

I’d just like to say again what a great motivator Chen Xiao-Wang is. Listening to him explain, you can feel his enthusiasm. But more than that, he is a great teacher, and the way he explains things makes you think that if you just practice a little harder.. or a little more correctly.. you will make progress. Of course, what he says is true.. Thats what makes this such a great video.

Okay so this review is a little long. I’ll say this much: The last half of this video (including the third VCD, or part 3 of the DVD) is in no way a lower quality than the first half. This set is such an amazing value I’m actually very suprised it didn’t cost five or six times as much.

Other lectures and demonstrations on VCD #2 and #3 in this 3-VCD set:

3. How to exert force (fa jing) – in this martial applications from the form are shown, including a very interesting application of single whip versus one, two, and four opponents.

4. The direction of Taijiquan – demonstrates many martial applications for the first section of yi lu. Here, “direction” is like “aim” or “intent” behind movements, i.e. the proper direction to fajing or apply the combat techniques, for example. Then Chen Xiao-Wang performs the form but every movement is a fajing. I counted fifteen fajings in the first few movements.. Must be seen to be believed. Then a discussion of some misconceptions about taiji applications, such as “punch at ground”, etc.

The third VCD opens with a few questions to answer, such as “what is the psychological state we should hold while practising taiji” – from that point he also gets into discussing theories of TCM and how they apply in taijiquan practice, and what you can expect from them when *you* practice.

Next question, “what effect can be achieved by the frequent practice of taijiquan hand pushing”.

Like every single question in this video, this one is a bombshell. Chen Xiao-Wang discusses everything you ever wanted to know about Taiji pushing hands. The exercise is explained from the ground up and linking it to taiji theory, which is of course immediately linked to practical demonstrations of how to practice. A complete set of pushing hand exercises is shown. Chen Xiao-Wang’s opponent must have gotten tossed out twenty or twenty five times just in what’s shown. Well, who ever said taiji practice was slow and gentle?

Well, this review is getting really long 🙂 But you know what? It’s worth it. Overall, I think this first offering in Chen Xiaowang’s DVD video series is an excellent product and well worth the money.

If I had to say anything bad about it, then I would say that it says too much; In a first video (there are more than twenty DVDs in his series) I didn’t expect to see pushing hands demonstrated so completely. They also didn’t really teach the form. But then again, the *next 14 dvds in the series* teach empty handed forms – 19 form, 38 form, lao jia and xin jia. This includes a three disc set entitled “punch in new frame”! For old frame and new frame there are four DVDs each. So actually the truth is I can’t find a single fault with this video series…. SO FAR (evil laugh)

I’m planning to slowly pick up the entire series. I’ll write some reviews of what’s in the other videos later on.

Hey.. is that a knock on my door?

Wow, my *four DVD laojia set* just arrived! I can’t believe it got here in less than a week 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. I’d trust to CXW’s teaching for jibengong, taolu, tuishou and usage. I’d leave the history lectures to people who have actually done historical research into taijiquan. CXW’s is only one point of view, not “the truth.”

  2. Yes I know what you mean, and it does in fact seem rather, shall we say, controversial.

    It is very true that CXW has his own viewpoint on the history of taiji, and we would be fools to deny that a marketing imperative did not exist. However, there is another side to this coin which we must also acknowledge, that CXW is likely not the kind of person to intentionally twist history to his own ends to any great degree; and the fact that the Chen family has records which go back hundreds of years and include notes on who taught who and what their skill level was. It is unknown to me how comprehensive or impartial these records were, but logic would dictate they were kept by the “people in charge” at the time.

    There are all sorts of things coming to light in recent years. Such as that the “original” five sets aren’t actually lost and may even still be being passed down in their entirety, for example. Curious, ehh? Or that the Yang family may have passed down the chen forms internally for several generations. Very curious.

    But all in all, especially as an “outsider” (that means me), it seems that CXW is one of the most authoritative sources which currently exist in the world, at least in english.

    Therefore if someone contradicted something he said about taiji’s history, I would be very curious to know if there were any historical records to back it up. Believe me, I have met a few teachers of “xiao jia” here in Taiwan. Some agree with what CXW said, some don’t, but nearly all had their own idea and all had a pretty interesting level of skill. I mean – unfortunately – if I really wanted to be fair, I can admit that the Chen family records could be faked as well. I’m just being impartial here. Yet when I stop being impartial, again, it is easiest to believe what Chen Xiao Wang said. I guess this is an area which I cannot really understand unless I learn more chinese and gain access to original documents (which are probably mostly private).

    In the end I think you are right though, it’s far more important to understand what CXW is saying about jibengong than about history ^^ Idle speculation is fun (You wouldn’t BELIEVE what I’ve come up with wrt idle speculation about neijia history) but it detracts from practice.

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