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Importance of Silk Reeling

Importance of Tai Chi Silk Reeling

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 Gong; Chan (pulling), Si (silk) and Gong (skill achieved through applied effort). 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.

Chan Si Jin = A spiralling and coiling quality with the physical structure.
Chan Si Gong = The practice of silk reeling drills as a physical exercise and movement.

Chen Style Tai Chi Student Practice

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

Principle Focus
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, release of physical tension and loosening of the joints.
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 The silk reeling principle. A spiralling and coiling quality within the physical structure. This includes the principles Ni Chan and Shun Chan, yin yang directional spiralling in the limbs and torso.
Yi Intention. A deliberate and focused mind.
Chen Style Tai Chi Student Practice

Silk Reeling - Alignment & Other Principles

Principle Focus
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.
Legs (Yin Yang) Yin yang quality in the weight shifting, from empty to full.
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) Root the shoulders. Relax and drop the shoulders down with gentle weight. Avoid having your trap muscles hunched up by your ears. Avoid the shoulder crests protruding forwards, and the shoulder blades closed together at the back.
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.

Live Online Chen Tai Chi Classes

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 video call.

Learn traditional Chen style silk reeling movements in your own home and join Nicola's community of students on a journey to improved health and wellbeing. Discover how to combine body mechanics with applied relaxation and deep breathing.


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