Importance of Silk Reeling
Silk reeling is at the centre of Chen style Tai Chi training, helping the student to develop strength, internal energy, co-ordination, body awareness, unity in movement, relaxation and grounding. Also known as Chan Si Jin; Chan (pulling), Si (silk) and Jin (kung fu).
Silk reeling is a set of repetitive spiralling movements that include; whole body relaxation, dantian rotation, soft opening and closing of the Kua, expand and compress, smooth weight shifting, appropriate body alignment, relaxed waist involvement with coiling limbs, a rooted lower body and diaphragm breath work.
The coiling action of silk reeling creates a spiralling internal force, used for power in Tai Chi Chuan. What sits at the heart of an effective coiling action is relaxation (fang song) of the upper and lower body; shoulders, elbows, chest, hips, sacrum, tail bone and knees, expansion and compression of the joints, with the perineum moving in a backward figure 8 movement. The whole body moves as one continual spiralling unit driven from the waist/Dantian area.
At any level of training Chen style Tai Chi, silk reeling drills are of great importance. How you move in silk reeling is how you move in the Tai Chi form, both are interdependent on each other. Training silk reeling drills is a life long commitment to improving your Tai Chi form.
Silk Reeling - Key Principles
|Peng Jin||Expanded, rebounding, resilient, spiralling, balloon-like structure and motion. Lengthening and stretching the connective tissue, tendons, sinews, fascia with elastic expansion, compression and coiling.|
|Fang Song||Active relaxation of the muscles. Releasing, relaxing and softening the muscles, whilst surrounded by lengthening and stretching connective tissue.|
|Chen||Grounding and rooting in the lower body.|
|Ground Path||A heaviness of the lower body pressing into the ground through the feet, paired with an opposing elastic expanding connection to the opposing hand, wrist, elbows or shoulder.|
|Kua||The outer hip crease, internal hip socket, part of the buttock and lower back. Opening and closing motion into the kua in the silk reeling movements.|
|Dantian||Rotation of the dantian through the movements.|
|Chan Si Jin||Silk reeling principle. A spiralling and coiling motion in the torso and limbs. In the lower body the spiralling of the limbs extends to a figure 8 movement of the tailbone through weight shifting.|
Silk Reeling - Alignment & Other Principles
|Feet||Full connection to the ground through the foot. Toes and heels stay planted on the ground. Arch is maintained. The feet are aligned to transfer the body weight to achieve ground path.|
|Legs (Dang)||Rounded, open, arched, relaxed groin and thighs, including knee alignment.|
|Waist (Yao)||The waist loosening and turning in the movements. Song yao is applying active relaxation to the waist.|
|Lower Back||Open the lower back by relaxing and lengthening the lumbar and sacrum. Bring dantian towards mingmen to fill the lower back to protect your spine.|
|Spine (Ding)||Body upright, spine, neck, head. An upward lengthening elastic motion in the spine, paired with opposing 'Chen' force.|
|Chest (Han Xiong)||The chest is hollow / empty. The heart centre and opposite heart centre areas are both kept open. Non protrusion of the chest puffed out, and non slumping of the chest inwardly.|
|Elbows (Chui Zhou)||Drop the elbows, rotate the elbow down slightly, retain and slight bend. Place a gently relaxed weight in the elbows to create space in the joint.|
|Arms||The arms travel through negative and positive circular movements across all planes within the alignment. Wrists not passing the centre line, nor extending further than 45 degrees from the centre line. Limbs not hyper-extending to a locked position.|
|Shoulders (Chen Jian)||Avoid the shoulder crests protruding forwards, and the shoulder blades closed together at the back. Relax and drop the shoulders down with gentle weight. Avoid having your trap muscles hunched up by your ears.|
|Empty / full (Fen Xu Shi)||The difference between empty and full when shifting weight onto each leg. Training single leg balancing drills, empty stances and 70% - 30% weight shifting.|
Silk Reeling Resources
- Youtube clips of Chen Silk Reeling
- The Motion of Silk Reeling by Nick Gudge
- The Five Levels of Skill in Chen Style Taijiquan
- Silk Reeling Commentary by Nick Gudge
- The Five Most Important Taijiquan Skills for Beginners
- Chen Style Silk Reeling Practice including Health Benefits by Chen Zheng Lei and Gao Xiao Hui with De Ru
Instructor Nicola is passionate about sharing Chen style Tai Chi with her students. Following the forms of Grand Master Chen Zhenglei she provides live online private tuition using Skype and/or Facebook video call. The types of live online lessons offered are Chen Tai Chi for previous students/those with experience and Hibernating Bear Tai Chi. Learn authentic healthy movements in your own home and join Nicola's community of students on a journey to improved health and wellbeing.
Nicola helps students progress through the traditional principles of Chen style silk reeling and the empty hand forms, teaching through a hands-on method rather than ‘watch and follow‘. Lessons start with traditional Chen warm up exercises that loosen every major joint in the body. Next a Qigong breathing session, focusing on relaxation, softening the body, lowering the heart rate and slowing the breath. Progressing to ‘Standing Practice’ (Zhan Zhuang), a static Qigong posture as a meditation and stillness exercise. Moving onto Silk Reeling Drills, the signature movement of Chen style and then the main content of her lessons covers the empty hand form.