3.6 CHEN silk exercises

Shun chan y Ni chan. Chan shi jin basics.

“In Taiji Quan there are a lot of forms, weapons, applications… It is very complicated. In the Chen style there is a saying:

There are a thousand techniques but only one principle. %22 (Chen Xiowang).

“Chan si jing [chansi gong] is the method [Qi gong] to move the central Qi [Zhong Qi]. If this is not understood, then boxing [TJQ] is not understood either %22

(Chen Xin, 1929). Author of the Chen taiji book.

The chan shi gong is a basic exercise that serves to find the only principle %22dantian moves and the whole body follows.%22 Thanks to chan shi gong we also work on chan shi jing (spiral energy). Within the chan shi gong exercises we can distinguish two types of forces Shun chan and Ni chan.

Shu chan shi or natural movement. The little finger turns inward. Qi goes from hands to dantian through hips is yin in nature and is associated with the Lü force.

Nichan shi or movement that turns in the opposite direction. The thumb turns Qi going from dantian to the extremities, passing through the back. It is an outward force and is considered to be yang in nature, it is associated with the Peng force.

Despite the large number of chan shi gong exercises, only three types of movements can be distinguished: the first type or horizontal circle, the second type or undulating and the third type, which is a mixture of the previous two.

Within each movement of the chan shi gong exercises, four significant stages are expressed:

Xiao yin (little yin) is where the shu chan movement begins.

Tai yin (large yin) is where the shu chan phase ends and gives birth to: Xiao yang (small yang) is where the ni chan movement begins.

Tai yang (great yang) is where the ni chan movement ends, giving way again to xiao yin with the shu chan movement.

Chan si jin:

Chan si jin or unwinding silk: Introduction

There are two basic techniques for unwinding silk, called %22Shun Chan Si%22 (%22unwinding silk naturally in a clockwise direction%22) and %22Ni Chan Si%22 (%22unwinding silk in reverse – anti-clockwise%22).

In Tai Chi diagrams the solid lines represent Shun Chan Si, or unwinding silk in a natural way, and the dotted lines represent Ni Chan Si, or reverse way of unwinding silk.


Generally, Ni Chan Si or unrolled silk in reverse mode belongs to a class of %22Lu Jin%22, or recharged energy that is generally used to neutralize the force of an attack.

Shun Chan Si requires the palm of the hand to be gradually turned upward, rotating from the inner to the outer side. Ni Chan Si requires the palm to be gradually turned downward by rotating it from the outer to the inner side.

The practice of wrapping silk begins at point 1, then passing through points 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the order indicated to finally return to point 1, starting a new cycle. Repeat the exercise until you feel tired.

Important points

  1. Use your waist to direct your arm and hand movements. You should never move only your arm and / or hand).
  2. Your hand should trace the diagrams accurately. Do not allow your hand to drift outside the curved line in the diagram.

Some of these defects alter the movements and their effects of discharge and recharge of energy decreasing the benefits of the practice.

It is advisable to print the figures of the exercises for the left and right hands separately and have them conveniently enlarged on a copier. Then you can stick them on a cardboard, hanging them on the wall at the height of your arms, facilitating the correct learning of the exercises.

Although the enlarged figures will not look very beautiful, they will be an invaluable element for practice, easily learning the correct position of the hands.

One-handed training:

When practicing with your right hand only, put your right foot first.

Fig: Right hand diagram:


Then change position putting your left foot first. If you do the exercise with your left hand, always put the foot of the same side in front, changing later to the right.

Fig: Left hand diagram:


NOTE: While naturally resting your other hand on your waist.


Two-handed training.

Begin the practice in a straight position with your feet shoulder-width apart, bending your knees slightly and keeping your body relaxed.

Spread your legs apart during practice, helping the energy flow through your legs. Do the two diagrams with both hands simultaneously and at the same hand speed.


(Great Technical Contribution of Master Chen Xiaowang in teaching Chen style Tai Chi)

Silk Spinning Practice.- Spiraling energy. (Chansi jin)

There are basically two technical senses of Silk Yarn:

Shun Chan Si or Natural Movement, %22Unwind the Silk Thread%22 and Ni Chan Si, %22Wind the Silk Thread%22

Most of the Shun Chan Si, belong to a %22Peng Jin%22, to protect themselves from an attack and the Ni Chan Si, belong to %22Lu Jin%22, neutralize a force in the opposite direction.

Dantiam Movements: (Chansigong)

1.- Lateral Circulation (Shunchan and Nichan)

2.- Forward and backward

3.- Combination of the 2 above

Within each movement four significantstages are expressed:

1.- Initiate Yin

2.- Full Yin

3.- Start Yang

4.- Full Yang

Principles of Practice:

1.- Comfortable Posture and Natural Movements

2.- Sequence of the execution technique

3.- The Movement arise from the Lower Dantiam

4.- Application of the Principles of the Body

5.- Maintain Body Connections (3 external harmonies)

a.- Shoulders and Hips

b.- Elbows and Knees

c.- Hands and Feet. and all connected to the center. (Lower Dantien)

6.- Circulation of energy from the periphery to the dantian and from the dantian to the periphery; Uniformity of movements.

7.- Identify the phases of Yin and Yang in its execution; Dantien opening.

Benefits of the Practice:

* Allows loosening of the joint, giving freedom of movement;

* Develop spiral energy within the body:

* Benefits the joints, tendons, muscles and improves circulation:

* Strengthens the connective tissue and increases the secretion of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints, maintaining their flexibility.

* Increased coordination, opening of shoulders, back and waist.

* Generates and strengthens the connections for the circulation of energy in the body.


1.-Intention and not Force.- The intention (Chi) guides the Chi, and the Chi produces the movement.

The movements become smooth and agile, the energy makes the body move and makes it flexible, without using muscle force. When muscular force is used, the movements of the body are dispersed in disorder.

2.- Empty and Full.- Clearly distinguish between Yin and Yang. %22Heavy and light, it means that the body is very stable, and ready for mobility, discovering the up and down in order to be able to root, without collapsing and rising, open without losing the center.%22

3.- Remain calm in the movement.– Chi circulates and expresses itself effortlessly, if the body is relaxed, without tension, or blockages, and maintaining the connections for a correct posture.

4.- Simultaneity and Harmony of Movements.– The body is a whole whose elements are related, harmony is an important factor in this simultaneity. The whole body moves in favor of one.

5.- Continuity.– The movements must be chained without breaks, no movement is taken to its extreme, not extremely lengthening steps or arms, so that the end of one movement leads to the beginning of the next.

6.- Naturalness and Flexibility.- The fluidity and harmony of the movement are achieved thanks to the practice that gives the flexibility of the joints. Contrary to the rigidity that leads to the inability to execute movements with continuity. Using Chi to naturally drive movements, and a good structure and alignment, allow them to achieve continuity, circularity and unity in them.

7.- Slowness and Fluency.- The practice initially in slowness and at an even speed, allows to develop and harmonize the energy. Slowness saves energy and favors presence in movement. The union of slowness and fluidity leads to a great subtlety in the perception of our body, space and energy. However, speed is not excluded, particularly in martial relations, in fajing movements, and in order to experiment that stability and flexibility is not lost in lively and unforeseen actions.

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