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Silk Reeling Exercises (Chan Si Gong – 缠丝功)

The main objective of this exercise is to connect all parts of the body, leading from the waist as you move your weight from one part of the body to another. When one party of the body moves, every part moves. When one part stops , every part stops. All parts are connected and move together. Seek the connections of the limbs through the core of the body (dan tian 丹田).

Getting to ready position

  1. Place left hand on left hip.
  2. Raise right arm so that your palm is facing up with your fingers pointing away from your body. Elbow by waist. Upper and lower arms at 90 degrees.
  3. Bend knees slightly and sink your weight onto left foot.
  4. Place your right foot out to the right.
  5. Turn body slightly to the left and flip your right palm to face down while lifting it to chest level. Center of right palm is along the body’s midline.
  6. Sweep the right arm to the right as you transfer your weight to the right foot and sink.

This is the starting position for Silk Reeling sets A,B, and C. In the starting position, weight is on the right, the fingers are pointing upwards and to the left slightly, the elbow is bent slightly and below the shoulder, the upper arm is slightly forward and at an angle to the shoulder, the body face front, eyes forward.

Pointers for Set A (Starting with the right hand out)

For each set, there are 3 things to watch for, the hands, the body and the weight shift.

Hand positions – “Tracing the Hoola Hoop”
The hand is connected to the forearm and the forearm is connected to the upper arm. When the hand is turning, relax the elbow and let the arm rotate naturally.

  1. Lead with pinky, rotate it clockwise to bring hand down on the right. End with palm facing forward into the wall. Keep body alignment straight.
  2. Lead with pinky again, rotate it clockwise and bring hand in front of body at waist level. Palm faces up towards the sky. Fingers point away from the body. Center of palm along the body’s mid-line. Armpit and elbow relax. Space under armpit is about the size of a fist.
  3. Lead with thumb, rotate thumb counter clockwise while lifting the right arm. Expand upwards and outwards like a balloon filling up. Elbow is still bent. End with palm facing down towards the ground and at chest level along your body’s mid-line. Fingers still pointing away from the body.
  4. Lead with thumb, rotate thumb downwards and “push” outwards to return to starting position with palm facing outwards away from the body. Elbow slightly bent. Fingers pointing up and to the left.

Body positions
When turning the body, relax waist and let the knees rotate freely with it.

  1. Turn slightly right.
  2. Turn left towards front, body faces forward.
  3. Turn slightly left.
  4. Turn right towards front, body faces forward again.

Weight Shifting
Weight change is accomplished by pushing the leg backwards and not laterally.

  1. No change in weight. Weight on right leg.
  2. Shift weight to the left side along a curved path like a parenthesis.
  3. No change in weight, weight on left leg.
  4. Shift weight back to the right leg along the curved path again.

Pointers for Set B (starting with right hand)

Hand positions – ” The Cradle”

  1. Gently relax the hand downwards so that the palm is facing the body. Keep wrist relaxed.
  2. Lead with the finger tips; cradle the arm in towards the body, like you are cradling a baby. End with palm at waist level, fingers pointing towards the left and center of palm at body midline.
  3. Lead with thumb, rotate it clockwise (outwards) until you are looking at the pinky. The thumb will be on the opposite side. The elbow is slightly bent and fingers are pointing upwards and away from the body. You will feel the muscles along the forearm twisted like a tightened spring.
  4. Lead with the thumb again, rotating it counter clockwise (inwards) and “push” outwards until you are back in the starting position with palm facing outwards away from the body. Elbows slightly bent.

Body positions (same as set A)

  1. Turn slightly right.
  2. Turn left towards front, body faces forward.
  3. Turn slightly left.
  4. Turn right towards front, body faces forward again.

Weight shifting (same as set A)

  1. No change in weight. Weight on right leg.
  2. Shift weight to the left side along a curved path like a parenthesis.
  3. No change in weight, weight on left leg.
  4. Shift weight back to the right leg along the curved path again.

Pointers for Double Hands (Arms) Silk Reeling

  1. The positions of the hands are opposites of each other. 1-3; 2-4; 3-1; 4;2.
  2. You can think of double hands as just two numbers; 1-3 and 2-4. Whenever one hand is in position 1, the other will always be in 3. Likewise for 2 and 4.
  3. Shift weight only on the 2-4 movement.
  4. Both hands can be high or one high and one low.
Walking with Double Hands
  1. Move only when the weight is fully on one foot.
  2. Place foot out without transferring weight.
  3. If side stepping to the left, wait till the weight in on the left and then draw in the right foot. Similarly, wait till the weight is on the right before you place your left foot out.


Grandmaster Chen Xiao Wang performing silk reeling exercises.


Master Chen Hui Xian explains the figure 8 movements with the knees. Note that the figure 8 is a subtle and the knees are making small rotations. Do not take it literally and push the knees out of position.

Here Master Chen Bing explains how to get into position, the arms getting heavier as it rises. Consistent with Chen Hui Xian’s explanation but described differently.