I dropped by to see George Xu yesterday and he gave me this great list of the seven levels of chansijin.
- Like a Three-Section Staff.
- Like a Rope.
- Like a Snake.
- The Dantian becomes a perfect ball that rolls in all directions.
- The Outside and Inside move together.
- Sense of space moves the body.
- The mind spirals. (Only the opponent feels the spiral.)
Chansijin is closely associated with Chen Style Taijiquan, but the idea of spiraling is common to most internal martial arts. Chen Style has spun-off its own qigong system called chansigong (silk reeling work). The metaphor here is the act of transferring a silk cocoon to a spool by pulling just a single filament (strand) of silk out of the cocoon. The filament is gently attached to the spool and then the spool is slowly and continuously turned. Once you have many spools of filament silk, they can be spun together into a very strong thread, which can be made into fabric.
When I studied with Zhang Xuexin he liked to call this same practice "making noodles" which mixed the metaphors of pulling and twisting with the resulting looseness.