Liu FengCai doing Gao BaGua
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8 Uses for Reeling Silk Power

by Joanna Zorya

Chen Xin identified 3 main uses for Chansijin in his "Illustrated Treatise on Taijiquan", namely drilling, deflecting and drawing. From my own study of Chen style Taijiquan I can only conclude that this list was meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive. I have therefore expanded the list, based on my knowledge of Taijiquan and the other main "Reeling Silk" styles: Xingyiquan and Baguazhang.


All applications of Chansijin are generated by long axial rotation of the limbs, powered by pushing and turning of the torso as a unit. The uses are arranged in complimentary but contrasting pairs as follows:

Striking and Throwing
Deflecting and Drawing
Sticking and Slipping
Locking and Escaping

Striking and throwing use short and long power release respectively. Striking includes, but is not restricted to "drilling" and also contains chopping and palm striking.

Deflecting tends to refer to quite Yang "advancing and attacking" defensive maneuvers. Such deflections would generally meet an oncoming strike at a slightly high-impact angle (but never head-on) to either damage or at least rebound the attacking limb. Drawing is a much softer approach and would be used to subtly deflect an attack and "help it on its way", slightly off course.

Sticking refers to adherence to an attacking limb once initial contact has been made. This would be done to cover and thwart any subsequent attacks or to manipulate the actions of the attacker. Slipping refers to rotating and evading the grabs or attempted joint-locking techniques of an attacker.

Locking refers to Qinna techniques where an opponent's joints are locked to cause great pain and subdue or manipulate the foe. Escaping is what you would do if you have failed to slip out of an attempted joint-lock, once it has been put on. This should be done as quickly as possible after failing to slip out of the lock.

About the writer:
Joanna Zorya is the head teacher of the Martial Tai Chi Association. She can be reached at:

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