Chansijin, or silk reeling force, is one of the essential elements in the practice of Chen style taijiquan. Silk reeling refers to tai chi’s continuous spiraling/coiling/twining movements of the whole body. To explain silk reeling, we will use the example of a beach ball.
Take a beach ball and float it on water (swimming pool, bath tub, etc.) With the tip of your index finger, contact the very top point on the ball and push it straight down under the water.
Can you do it? If not, why not?
It is because the ball is a sphere. When you apply pressure to a sphere, its nature is to roll away in any one of countless directions. Theoretically, if you could follow the exact center of the ball, you could push it under the water… but this would take great skill.
When an outside force is applied to your body, your body should respond like the beach ball. This is silk reeling. This allows you to maintain your structure and balance while neutralizing the force.
Try this exercise with the beach ball. It will become very clear how difficult it is to follow the center and push the ball under the water!
Make your body like the beach ball! Don’t give the outside force a point to push!
By the way, the water represents PENG JIN, or expanding, rising force… We will discuss this in a future post.