Shoulder, elbow, hand

Shoulder, elbow, hand

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This ‘mantra’ echoes during taijiquan lessons. It underlines the movement of upper extremities and it is intended to clarify the right sequence of muscles/joints involved during action.

For a beginner, the action seems starting from hand as:

  • The hand performs a wide movement, capturing his/her attention
  • He/She has no knowledge/awareness that hand movement is the final effect while the cause is elsewhere.

Action begins in the lower dantian, as depicted in the following drawing, representing taijiquan “silk-reeling power” or chansi-jin

taichi palermo chansi gong

Studying and practicing chansi-jin help us to understand that:

  • Action starts from the center of the body and reaches extremities,
  • A wide movement in the extremities is related to a small movement in the center of the body

As a consequence, we start to focus on our center/inside to produce an effect on the extremities/outside.

By following the spirals going from the dantian to the hands, we realize the meaning of our ‘mantra’:

  • The movement starts from the dantian,
  • Rises along the back,
  • Passes from the shoulder
  • Goes through the elbow
  • Reaches the hand
taichi palermo chansi gong

In a similar way, by following the spirals going from the dantian to the feet, we can detect a muscle chain related the lower limbs:

  • The movement starts from the dantian,
  • Descends along the buttock,
  • Passes from the hip,
  • Goes through the knee,
  • Reaches the foot
taichi palermo chansi jin

During my lessons, I usually alternate between ‘Shoulder, elbow, hand‘ catchphrase and ‘Hip, knee, foot‘ one.

In my opinion, muscle chain related to lower limbs is far more important than upper ones: body weight falls on the legs and an incorrect movement (ie, a knee shifting sideways) could bring troubles