Forming the Open Hand Palm Shape – Refining


The Getting Started of the Open Hand Palm Shape develops your ability to bring the energy out to your fingertips.

The Adding On adds to the Getting Started by tacking on an additional point to focus the intent.

In Refining we finetune the movement by using timing to generate a wave-like pulse of energy.


This is how to do the 2-step generation process using your right hand :-

a) Curve the top of the imaginary sphere forward with your fingertips. This expresses the Peng energy.

b) As soon as you have performed (a) smoothly seque into the next move which is to push as if compressing the imaginary sphere with the dot on your hypothenar eminence. This allows you to issue An energy.


The Refining here teaches how to connect to your opponent’s body by applying pressure to it.

You then apply a secondary pressure to unbalance him since he is unable to resist two forces acting on him at the same time.


This is a composite fajing method which is derived from a few of the fajing models presented in Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s book on the 22-form.

I have compiled it this way so that it can be learned easily. Once you understand it you can use it to learn the original models that this method is created from.

This compiled method teaches you to issue Peng energy followed by An energy. The energy of Peng is like a wave crashing down whereas the energy of An is like the wave rising. When using both energies one after another in succession you are basically using the movement and energy of a sinuous curve.

The mastery of the hand structure in using the imaginary ball allows you to quickly generate the power with minimal setup and outer movement. This is the first and last thing you learn i.e. bringing the power up to the hand.

The difference is in the learning stage you learn to form, hold and use the imaginary ball through intent. You sometimes have the intent but you often do not have it so you have to keep working on it. In the mastery stage the intent automatically forms the moment you use the open hand palm structure.


Mastering Tai Chi can sound daunting to many but as you can see it is not really that difficult to follow.

The challenge is to overcome your belief that it is difficult to master the art when this is not true, at least not without really putting in your best effort to try.

Forming the Open Hand Palm Shape – Adding On


In this section I will touch on the next step in learning how to form the open hand palm shape.

I classify this as Adding On because I am adding another point to the learning. I could have mentioned the principle in this section in the Getting Started but that might be too much for some learners.

Some learners can handle a lot of information while some can handle less information. My point is if you only have to deal with one, that’s right, one piece of information that would be easy.

You cannot forget one piece of information as compared to three, four or more steps dispensed in one teaching. Having one piece of the puzzle at a time also makes it easier to practice cause you only have to get that one thing correct. If you cannot get this one principle down how would you handle more principles.

So in the Plus Learning I am just going to add one more piece of information to learning how to form the open hand palm shape. If you truly get what I wrote about how to train the open hand palm shape in Getting Started you would already have the foundation of one of the types of fajing method that we use in Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Yang style Tai Chi.


The steps are :-

a) Follow the steps in Getting Started.

b) Now imagine there is a point, a dot on your hand’s hypothenar eminence. If you do not know what that is the hypothenar eminence is the prominent part of the palm of the hand, above the pisiform bone, the hamate bone, and the base of the fifth finger.

c) With part of your intent still on the fingertips now gently push the dot on the hypothenar eminence forward as if compressing the imaginary ball with this part of your palm.


With the principle in Getting Started you should be able to get the force out from your hand into your training partner’s body.

With the content of Adding-On you should be able to make your training partner off balance by taking a step back or even bounce back depending on how he does the resisting. This is another method of fajing that we use.


How fast you can pickup the method outlined in Getting Started and here depends on how much and well you practice.

I am simplifying the method of using the small chi sphere to perform fajing by teaching it as an open hand formation method. This is because if you form the shape properly you will get the structure ready for fajing. I did say the basics are important, right?

So once the key factors are in place fajing should be a piece of cake. If not, well then you know what to do – go practice…… more!!!

At a later stage of learning you can add in the compress-release principle of moving the arm and body each time you push the dot for greater power.


When you can make what you learn here work then it is easy to figure out the fajing methods explained by Grandmaster Wei in his book on the 22-form in relation to using the small chi sphere for force generation.

I would use complicated explanations to explain. I am sure many would be thrilled and excited by scholarly type of explanations that titillate their grey cells.

However, with the future uncertain I might as well get on with it and impart it in a much more simpler manner that is accessible in terms of actually getting the skill rather than knowing it but take too long to master it or maybe never at all.

Forming the Hook – Getting Started


The third and final hand structure you learn is the hook hand.


How to form the hook hand :-

a) Imagine that there is a marble on an imaginary surface in front of you

b) Pick up the marble with the tips of your fingers.

c) Lift the marble vertically up by bending your wrist while moving your elbow upwards minimally.


Learn to sung your arm right up to the tips of your fingers. The imaginary marble will keep your finger focused properly.

If you have a problem doing so try holding a small piece of cloth between your fingertips while your arm is outstretched. Keep the arm outstretched while the other arm practice the cycle of neutralizing and striking with the open hand.


The hook hand does not appear a lot in the Yang style Tai Chi form so it looks like the least important hand structure.

But do not let its lack of appearance deceive you. In application the hook hand is used a look. The only reason this does not seem so is that in application the hook hand does not look like its formal structure.

In Yang style Tai Chi 108 form the hook hand first appears in the Single Whip posture. The Single Whip technique is at its most basic function a one hand holding, the other hand striking technique; the hook hand being the holding hand. Get the picture now?


The hook hand has other applications besides holding. This will become more apparent once you expand on the learning and refine it via the Adding On and Refining parts.

Forming the Hollow Fist – Getting Started


The second hand structure you learn to form is the hollow fist.


Below is how you can form a hollow fist :-

a) Open up your right hand, stretch out the index, middle, ring and little fingers in a line. The thumb strecthes out as well, forming a horizontal line to the vertical line of the other fingers.

b) Place your left index finger across the root of the four fingers and curl the four fingers to wrap around your left index finger. Place your right thumb on top of the index and middle fingers.

c) Now pull your left index finger out. You have formed a hollow fist.

If you have problem trying to imagine the above another simple way is to form a fist around an AA battery. The only reason I use the idea of wrapping your right fingers around your left index finger is so that you can feel the amount of pressure your right fingers are using to wrap them around your left index finger.


When you form a fist by squeezing your four fingers together your forearm will naturally tightened. The question we should address is are we optimizing our state of sung when we do so.

The use of a hollow fist is to allow us to further sung our forearm muscles when we form a fist. When you do this you can feel a stronger fist-arm-body connection.

Mentally keeping the following between the four fingers is training for the intent.


Fist pack. Fist Filler. Fist load.

These are some of the terms used when you grip an object in your fist to make it more powerful. The objective is to make your hand less compressible, allowing you to hit harder.

A typical tool would be to use a roll of coins. A flashlight would work as well. But what if you do not have a roll of coins or flashlight or other similar tools handy?

Hint – if you hold the hollow in your fist properly it would feel as if you have a rounded tube between your fist, effectively a mental tool to make your fist more solid.

Hold on, hold on but that’s not what you actually feel the first time you form a hollow fist. If anything, you feel your wrist buckling when you try to hit with it.

This is true. The reason why this is happening is because of the absence of the elongated wrist principle. This is why the basics matter.


Learning to hold a hollow fist is pretty straightforward.

Learning to use a hollow fist to actually punch is a another matter. It is not easy to use, at least not without trepidation of the wrist getting injured. I know, I have been there too.

If you want to use the hollow fist you have to suspend your disbelief, at least for the time being, or as long as it takes for you to properly practice to the point where you can actually use it.

Otherwise, you would be better off not learning Tai Chi because then you would not be observing the principles properly and hence, deprive yourself of the opportunity to use the art at an optimal state.

Learning Tai Chi is not difficult but practicing it is like trying to climb a steep mountain without being able to sight the top. The principles is our map for learning Tai Chi and as long as we carefully observe them we should get to our destination.

Forming the Open Hand Palm Shape – Getting Started


The first step in learning Tai Chi is to learn how to form the empty hand palm shape.


We do this by the following steps :-

a) Imagine that there is a ball floating in space in front of your chest.

b) Reach out to gently grasp it with all your fingertips.

In general, remember to hold this imaginary ball between the fingertips each time your hand is formed as an open palm.

There, it is not so difficult, right?


The objective for learning how to form an open hand palm shape is :-

a) To develop the ability to hold an intent at the fingertips

b) Form a connection between the mind and body

c) Develop qualia and insights from forming the open palm in this manner and using it when playing a Yang style form

It is easy to hold the open hand palm shape if that is all you are doing. Try holding the shape consistently when you are playing a Yang style Tai Chi form. Check how far you can play the form without losing the structure.

You can check your performance by shooting a video of yourself going through the form. Practice until you can consistently hold this palm shape every time you practice the form.


This is a key principle in the performance of the Old Six Routines form from the lineage of Grandmaster Wei Shuren. Though this sounds like a Chi Kung practice it is actually a practice to develop a method of issuing power using a combination of intent and subtle body mechanics.

If you observe GM Wei playing the Yang style form (whether the 108 form or 22 form) you will note the use of this learning device in the way his open hand is held.

At a later stage when you spread out the fingers you are expressing the energy of the fan model of fajing.


The practice outlined here is but the very basic level of learning. The ability to use this principle will come when you make a breakthrough in your practice.

This involves your ability to achieve deep insights and body transformation as you refine this practice in tandem with the practice of other key principles. Remember this as it also applies to the practice of other principles.