The Dantian of Xingyi

THE ELIXIR FIELD
The elixir field is the source of the active aspect, the mansion of energy and power. If you want to be proficient in the art, you must first strengthen your elixir field, and if you want to strengthen your elixir field, you must first practice the art. The back-and-forth of the two will solidify each other.
     My art comes down to understanding the importance of the elixir field. When we consider past teachers, there was oral instruction passed down but few writings, and so for later generations of students it has been quite difficult to understand their reasoning. What I solemnly learned from my father and have practiced for twenty years I will describe briefly.
     “If you want to be proficient in the art, you must first strengthen your elixir field.” This is because if your elixir field is deficient, your energy will not be full. If your energy is not full, your power will not be sufficient, and those five elements and twelve animals will be but empty postures. In your defensive techniques, it would be like you are guarding a city wall against emptiness, and in your offensive techniques, it would be like you are an army defeating weaklings. Therefore, when facing an enemy and frustrating his formations, you must always be as if there is a ball of resolute energy within your lower abdomen. Energy suddenly goes from your waist, through your back and neck, and courses through straight to your headtop. At that moment, your eyes become a vanguard observing and your mind becomes a general strategizing. Drilling and overturning, horizontal and vertical, lifting and dropping – they are applied according to the situation. Dragon or tiger, monkey or horse, eagle & bear – they are transformed into as is appropriate. In a moment of the opponent’s slightest inattention, victory or defeat can be firmly discerned. This is the fullness of the elixir field resulting in the refining of skill.
     “If you want to strengthen your elixir field, you must first practice the art.” Why is this so? I will explain. Some say the elixir field receives what is innate and inherent in the body, that there is enough within the self and nothing to wait for from outside [meaning specific practices or rituals are not required, not that there is no need for obvious requirements such as air, water, food]. You can still be good at sufficiently taking care of yourself, so why put it off until there is something to practice? Personally, I disagree with this. Sure, when people do not overindulge in sex, thereby not wasting their kidney essence, and take care of themselves properly, then vitality will be abundant. In this way you can promote longevity, but you will not actually be able to get energy from the elixir field to be expressed skillfully. If you want it to express skillfully, that is the point where practice must be begun.
     The method of practice is half gathering [energy], half wielding [energy]. Gathering has to do with methods within the “eight requirements” [explained in the following chapter], such as: your tongue should prop up, your teeth should be closed together, your anus should be tucked in, and your “three centers” should be combined [The center of your headtop goes downward, the center of your foot goes upward, and the center of your hand withdraws.], and also you must send out your diaphragm. If energy can course through all of the five organs – heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys – one after another without obstruction, then it will be fulfilling what is said within the eight requirements that “the five elements should be smooth”.
     After doing this for a long time, the energy will begin to be able to fully collect in your elixir field. Although you are gathering, if you are not good at wielding, you will still not be able to express it skillfully. You must send energy collected in your elixir field upward from your lower back to dwell in your chest, fill your abdomen and organs, be concentrated at your ribs, and flush your brain. Additionally, in your ordinary practice, your body will be unusually upright and your hands and feet will be unusually maneuverable. When dealing with an opponent’s attack, your posture will be adaptive. Responding to the changes of your posture, the energy will go along with it and arrive in an instant. When your adaptiveness is beyond description, this is what it means to be good at wielding. And so gathering and wielding should be part of your hard work on a daily basis.
     This art is not like those who sit in silent meditation to cultivate an elixir of immortality. Past experts in this art faced large groups of opponents alone. While we do not know how abundant was the energy in their elixir fields, surely they had it in mind and there was not one who did not diligently practice this art by training the elixir field from the start. Once we are discussing the elixir field with a good understanding, then we can gain access to the martial path.
TRAINING THE ENERGY
In martial techniques, what has shape is the postures and what has no shape is the energy and power. What the postures wield is energy and power, for without energy and power, the postures have no use. Therefore the energy and power is the foundation of the posture. But if you want the power to be sufficient, you must first seek for the energy to be full. Thus the energy is the basis of the power.
     In the previous chapter, I mentioned gathering and wielding, which I have already gone over, but the secrets of my method of training the energy I have not yet discussed fully, so I will now describe the rest of it in detail.
     The practitioner uses the “eight requirements” as the starting point. They are the beginning of the Xingyi boxing art. While internally training the energy and externally performing the posture, whether it be the five elements or twelve animals, the alternating between empty and full, lifting and dropping, drilling and overturning, you must never depart from the eight for an instant.
     What are the eight requirements? 1. The inside should be lifted. 2. The three centers should combine. 3. The three intentions should be linked. 4. The five elements should be smooth. 5. The four tips should work in unison. 6. The mind should be leisurely. 7. The three structure points should align. 8. The eyes should be venomous. These will be individually explained below:
[1] The inside should be lifted:
     Tuck in your anus to lift its energy up into the elixir field. The energy gathered there then goes from the spine straight to the headtop, then returns and then goes up again, circulating round and round endlessly. As it says in the Manual: “By tucking in the anus, the inside is lifted [energetically].”
[2] The three centers should combine:
     The center of the headtop goes downward, the center of the foot goes upward, and the center of the hand withdraws. The three therefore make the energy gather into one place [i.e. the elixir field, which is the center between the three centers]. If the center of the headtop does not go downward, then the energy goes upward and cannot enter the elixir field. If the center of the foot does not go upward, then the energy goes downward and cannot gather in the elixir field. If the center of the hand does not withdraw, then the energy goes outward and cannot contract into the elixir field. Therefore the three centers must combine together, for only then can their energies return to being one.
[3] The three intentions should be linked:
     The intentions of mind, energy, and power are linked into one. They are the three internal unions. These three use mind as the planner, energy as the commander, and power as the soldiers. If the energy is not abundant, the power will be insufficient, and even though the mind is scheming, nothing will be of any use. Therefore when the energy intention is trained well, then you can externally command the power intention, corresponding internally with the mind intention. I would also say that the linking of the three intentions begins with the energy.
[4] The five elements should be smooth:
     Externally the five elements are the five boxing techniques: chopping, crashing, drilling, blasting, and crossing. Internally the five elements are the five organs: heart, liver, stomach, lungs, and kidneys. The external five elements techniques change from one to another according to a smooth sequence. There is a pattern to the whole and rules for the changes. Where the energy and power goes, the posture follows, and where the posture goes, the energy and power concentrate. Therefore when the energy and power are full, the posture is useful, and by practicing the posture, the energy and power can be increased.
     The Manual has this to say about the internal five element organs: “The five elements are basically five key pathways. If left unguarded, they will get blocked up.” When I began to learn these skills, I was inclined toward learning ways of moving energy around, such as the shoulders hanging, the neck straightening, the teeth being closed together, the tongue pressing up, the inside lifting, and so on. I practiced in this way doing a single posture for several days, and gradually the energy was able to reach to my solar plexus. I had tired my body out until my limbs were drained of strength. After training hard for several days, I gradually felt the energy slightly travelling downward, and again I was exhausted. After practicing like this several times, I started to be able to get the energy to go straight to my elixir field as soon as I got into a posture. This has to do with the five elements as five key junctures. [It seemed after the last passage from “the Manual” that he was going to discuss the five organs, but instead he seems to be saying he went through the above process with each of the five element boxing techniques as if they were five stages of an energy-training ordeal.]
     By not ardently practicing, progress will be broken and impeded, and you will be unable to gather energy into the elixir field or wield energy in the four limbs. For the energy to be adequate for a martial artist, the five elements should be smooth, and you will thereby have smoothed energy.
[5] The four tips should work in unison:
     The tongue should prop up, the teeth should be closed together, the fingers and toes should curl in, and the pores should be tight. If the tongue presses up to the palate, then the saliva is concentrated and there is better circulation of energy. If the teeth are tightly closed together, the energy penetrates to the marrow. If the fingers and toes are curling inward, the energy is concentrated in the sinews. If the pores are tight, the energy of the whole body is gathered and strong. By “unison” is meant that when in each posture, if all of these four are working together in this way, there will be no parts [of the body] getting ahead of or falling behind any other parts, none going slower or faster. If any of these four is missing, the energy will be scattered and the power will be slackened, and then there will be little purpose in talking about technique.
[6] The mind should be leisurely:
     When practicing, there is to be no panic or haste within the mind. Panic leads to fear. Haste leads to stress. Scared, the energy will be discouraged. Stressed, the energy will be disorganized. When discouraged and disorganized, the hands and feet will be out of arrangement. If you are generally not practicing, then internally you will be deficient and empty, and when encountering opponents, you will be timid and recoiling. When facing an opponent, never be scared or stressed, but have instead a mind at ease. Therefore the leisurely mind and the training of the energy are the outer and inner aspects of each other.
[7] The three structure points should align:
     The nose, hands, and feet are to align with each other. If the hands are not aligned with the nose, then if you incline to the left, the right side will be empty, and if you incline to the right, the left side will be empty. If the hands with the feet or the feet with the nose are not aligned, the error is the same. If the three seem very aligned with each other, but when you incline diagonally the strength is not evenly placed throughout the body, they will surely be unable to be united into one and the energy will be scattered as a result. Even if the center of the headtop goes downward, the energy will not easily move downward. Even if the center of the foot goes upward, the energy will not easily gather upward. Even if the center of the hand withdraws, the energy will not easily contract inward. This is a natural principle. Therefore if the three structure points do not align, it will be a big obstruction to the training of the energy.
[8] The eyes should be venomous:
     If the eyes do not seem to be very connected to the training of energy, you do not understand that venomousness has an intention of quick perception. One without abundant vitality will not be able to have this. Experience dictates that our skills are not something only soldiers should practice, civilians also should practice them. By training your strength everyday, you can invigorate your body, and by training your energy, you can develop your spirit. The elixir field will be concentrated and the five organs will be comfortable. For such a person, his spirit is sure to be nimble and his mind is sure to be quick. The orifice senses of hearing, tasting, and smelling will surely be able to be fully sensitive, but the eyes especially will surely be shining and bright, having a sharpness that shoots at the opponent. Who says the venom of the eyes is not energy?
In such law-of-the-jungle moments, all creatures and countries emphasize their skills. The distance an archer can shoot depends entirely on the quality of the bow, but hitting the target depends entirely on the archer’s strength of mind, hand, and eye. Thus for one whose energy and power are insufficient, he may have spied the target with precision, yet when the moment comes to shoot, his mind shivers and his hand shakes, and he is unable to hit the mark. It is then therefore crucial to give eager attention to your daily practice. When your body is strengthened, your vitality abundant, and inside and out are as one, you can then rectify your errors.
     You may say: “So energy moves inside and power manifests outside. You have discussed the energy. What about the power?” To which I say: “From the outside a person observes me and my power is easy to see, and because of my training, my energy is easy to understand. Furthermore, energy and power are basically one thing. When the energy is sufficient, the power can be known.”
     You may also say: “You have been talking purely of energy and power. Can you not talk some about the postures?” To which I say: “When training the postures, you must first seek to make the energy full, but when training the energy, you must first discuss postures. This is because the energy and postures are applied together. Because the posture forms on the outside, it has signs which can be seen. Because the energy moves on the inside, it is profound, subtle, unobservable. Thus the student who consistently pays attention to the postures often neglects the moving of energy. Our outward posture lies solely in the energy and power, and that is why attention is to be continually devoted there.”

Yang Banhou Explaining Taiji Principles

太極法說
EXPLAINING TAIJI PRINCIPLES
楊班侯
attributed to Yang Banhou
[circa 1875]

[translation by Paul Brennan, Sep, 2013]

目錄
CONTENTS

八門五步
[1] The Eight Gates & Five Steps
八門五步用功法
[2] On the Training Method for the Eight Gates & Five Steps
固有分明法
[3] Our Innate Ability to Distinguish
粘黏連隨
[4] Stick, Adhere, Connect, and Follow
頂匾丢抗
[5] Crashing In, Collapsing, Coming Away, and Resistance
對待無病
[6] Fighting Without Mistakes
對待用功法守中土
[7] Practicing Maintaining the Central Ground in Fighting
身形腰頂
[8] The Body’s Posture – The Waist & Headtop
太極圈
[9] Taiji’s Circling
太極進退不已功
[10] Taiji’s Skill of Advancing & Retreating Ceaselessly
太極上下名天地
[11] Taiji’s Above & Below, or “Sky & Ground”
太極人盤八字功
[12] Taiji’s Eight Techniques in the Realm of Mankind
太極体用解
[13] Taiji’s Substance & Application
太極文武解
[14] Taiji’s Civil & Martial Qualities
太極懂勁解
[15] Taiji’s Identifying of Energies
八五十三勢長拳解
[16] On the Thirteen Dynamics Long Boxing Set
太極陰陽顛倒解
[17] Taiji’s Inversion of the Passive & Active Aspects
人身太極解
[18] The Taiji-ness of the Human Body
太極分文武三成解
[19] Taiji’s Separation of the Civil & Martial Qualities into Three Accomplishments
太極下乘武事解
[20] Taiji’s Lesser Accomplishment – Its Martial Quality
太極正功解
[21] Correctness of Skill in Taiji
太極輕重浮沉解
[22] Taiji’s Lightness & Heaviness, Floating & Sinking
太極四隅解
[23] Taiji’s Four Secondary Techniques
太極平凖腰頂解
[24] The Proper Alignment of Waist & Headtop in Taiji
太極四時五氣解圖
[25] A Taiji Map of the Four Seasons & Five Energies
太極血氣根本解
[26] The Essence of Blood & Energy in Taiji
太極力氣解
[27] Strength & Energy in Taiji
太極尺寸分毫解
[28] Taiji’s Reducing Measurements
太極膜脉筋穴解
[29] Vessels, Channels, Sinews, and Acupoints in Taiji
太極字字解
[30] Some of the Terms in Taiji
太極節拿抓閉尺寸分毫解
[31] Taiji’s Reducing of Measurements in the Context of Controlling, Seizing, Capturing, or Sealing
太極補助氣力解
[32] Taiji’s Boosting or Dissipating Energy & Strength
共三十二目
(Thirty-Two Sections in Total)

[Supplementary Texts:
太極空結挫揉論
(i) Taiji’s Emptying, Tying Up, Filing, and Kneading
懂勁先後論
(ii) Before Identifying Energies and After
尺寸分毫在懂勁後論
(iii) Reducing Measurements After Identifying Energies
太極指掌捶手解
(iv) The Fingers, Palm, Fist, and Hand in Taiji
口授穴之存亡論
(v) On Personal Instruction in the Acupoints that Save or Kill
張三丰承留
(vi) What Zhang Sanfeng Inherited
口授張三豐老師之言
(vii) The Teachings of Zhang Sanfeng
張三豐以武事得道論
(viii) Zhang Sanfeng on Using Martial Arts to Achieve the Way]

 

八門五步
[1] THE EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS

方位 八門
position / gate:
掤 南 坎
warding off – S / ☵
捋 西 離
rolling back – W / ☲
擠 東 兑
pressing – E / ☱
按 北 震
pushing – N / ☳
採 西北 巽
plucking – NW / ☴
挒 東南 乾
rending – SE / ☰
肘 東北 坤
elbowing – NE / ☷
靠 西南 艮
bumping – SW / ☶
方位八門乃為陰陽顛倒之理周而復始隨其所行也總之四正四隅不可不知矣夫掤捋擠按是四正之手採挒肘靠是四隅之手合隅正之手得門位之卦以身分步五行在意支撑八面五行者進步火退步水左顧木右聁金定之方中土也夫進退為水火之步顧聁為金木之步以中土為樞機之軸懷藏八卦脚跐五行手步八五其数十三出於自然十三勢也名之曰八門五步
The positions of the eight gates are based on the principle of the passive and active aspects inverting each other, cycling round and round, following each other in their process. All of the four primary techniques [corresponding to the cardinal directions] and four secondary techniques [corresponding to the corner directions] must be understood. Warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing are the four primary techniques. Plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping are the four secondary techniques. The combining of these cardinals and corners thus positions the trigrams.
The body makes its steps according to the five elements, bracing in all directions. The five elements are: advance (fire), retreat (water), step to the left (wood), step to the right (metal), and stay in the center (earth). Advancing and retreating are the steppings of water and fire, left and right are the steppings of metal and wood, and the central earth is the axis for all of them.
Embrace the eight trigrams as you step through the five elements. Techniques plus steps equals eight plus five, amounting to thirteen, naturally expressed as the Thirteen Dynamics, known as the Eight Gates & Five Steps.

八門五步用功法
[2] ON THE TRAINING METHOD FOR THE EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS

八卦五行是人生成固有之良必先明知覺運動四字之本由知覺運動得之後而后方能懂勁由懂勁後自能接及神明然用功之初要知知覺運動雖固有之良亦甚難淂之於我也
The eight trigrams and five elements are innate within us. You must first understand that they are based in these four terms: perception, realization, activation, action. [These four terms amount to “moving with awareness”. This is a breakdown of four words – 知, 覺, 運, 動 – which would typically, and especially so for modern Chinese speakers, only be considered as two terms: 知覺 and 運動. To break movement (運動) and awareness (知覺) into their component parts results in: moving = the activation (運) of movement + the act (動) of moving, and awareness = the perception (覺) that something is + the realization (知) of what it is. In short, moving with awareness. This idea is further elaborated upon in the next section, where the purpose of breaking down the two terms into four becomes more clear.]
Once you have achieved moving with awareness, then you will be able to identify energies.
Once you can identify energies, then you will be able to be miraculous. But in the beginning of training, you should understand moving with awareness. Although it is innate, it is nevertheless hard to achieve within oneself.

固有分明法
[3] OUR INNATE ABILITY TO DISTINGUISH

蓋人降生之初目能視耳能聼鼻能聞口能食顏色聲音香臭五味皆天然知覺固有之良其手舞足蹈於四肢之能皆天然運動之良思及此是人熟無因人性近習逺失迷固有要想還我固有非乃武無以尋運動之根由非乃文無以淂知覺之本原是乃運動而知覺也夫運而知動而知不運不覺不動不知運極則為動覺盛則為知動知者易運覺者難先求自己知覺運動淂之於身自能知人要先求知人恐失於自己不可不知此理也夫而後懂勁然也
From birth, our eyes can see, ears can hear, nose can smell, mouth can taste. Sights and sounds, smells and tastes – all innate senses. Dance of hands, prance of feet – the abilities of our limbs are all innate forms of movement. Pondering upon this, we find it is our random experience – “Our natures make us the same, but our experiences make us unique.” [Lun Yu, 17.2] – that makes us lose touch with what is innate. If we want to return to our innate qualities, there will be no martial aspect unless we seek the source of movement, and there will be no civil aspect unless we grasp the basis of awareness. With these things, then there will be moving with awareness.
If there is activation and perception, there will be action and realization. If there is no activation or perception, there will be no action or realization. When activation is at its height, action is initiated. When perception is fully lucid, there is realization. Action and realization are the easy part. Activation and perception are tricky.
First strive to move with awareness for yourself, grasping it within your own body, then naturally you will be able to spot it in the opponent. If on the other hand you try to find it in opponents first, you will probably never find it in yourself. You have to be able to understand this concept in order to be able to identify energies.

粘黏連隨
[4] STICK, ADHERE, CONNECT, AND FOLLOW

粘者提上拔髙之謂也
黏者留戀繾綣之謂也
連者舍己無離之謂也
隨者彼走此應之謂也
要知人之知覺運動非明粘黏連隨不可斯粘黏連隨之功夫亦甚細矣
Sticking means to lift up high.
Adhering means to stay and be attached.
Connecting means to let go of yourself and not separate from the opponent.
Following means to follow him wherever he goes.
If you want to move with awareness and yet you do not understand sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, it will be beyond your reach, for it is a very subtle skill.

頂匾丢抗
[5] CRASHING IN, COLLAPSING, COMING AWAY, AND RESISTANCE

頂者出頭之謂也
匾者不及之謂也
丢者離開之謂也
抗者太過之謂也
要知于此四字之病不但粘黏連隨斷不明知覺運動也初學對手不可不知也更不可不去此病所難者粘黏連隨而不許頂匾丢抗是所不易矣
Crashing in means sticking your head out.
Collapsing means not enough pressure.
Coming away means separating.
Resistance means too much pressure.
You should understand that these four mistakes will not merely interfere with sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, but will also prevent you from moving with awareness. When beginning to work with a partner, you must understand and especially prevent these errors. The difficulty in sticking, adhering, connecting, and following is in not allowing yourself to crash in, collapse, come away, or resist. This is not at all easy.

對待無病
[6] FIGHTING WITHOUT MISTAKES

頂匾丢抗失於對待也所以為之病者既失粘黏連隨何以獲知覺運動既不知己焉能知人所謂對待者不以頂匾丢抗相對於人也要以粘黏連隨等待於人也能如是不但無對待之病知覺運動自然淂矣可以進於懂勁之功矣
Crashing in, collapsing, coming away, and resistance will lose in a fight, and so they are called mistakes. If you neglect sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, you will not be able to achieve moving with awareness. And if you are not aware of yourself, how will you be able to know your opponent? Therefore when fighting, do not use crashing in, collapsing, coming away, or resistance, thereby opposing the opponent, instead use sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, thereby awaiting the opponent. If you can do it in this way, then not only will you be without mistakes, but moving with awareness will be automatically accomplished, and you can then progress to the skill of identifying energies.

對待用功法守中土 俗名站橦
[7] PRACTICING MAINTAINING THE CENTRAL GROUND IN FIGHTING (COMMONLY CALLED STANDING LIKE A POST)

定之方中足有根先明四正進退身掤捋擠按自四手須費功夫淂其真身形腰頂皆可以粘黏連隨意氣均運動知覺來相應神是君位骨肉臣分明火候七十二天然乃武並乃文
When standing centered, your feet should be rooted.
Start by understanding the four primary techniques, then advancing and retreating.
The four techniques are ward-off, rollback, press, and push.
You have to do a lot of work to get them to be real.
For the body posture, your waist and headtop should both be correct.
When sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, your intention and energy are to be uniform throughout.
Movement and awareness respond to each other.
Mind is sovereign and body is subject.
When you get the degree just right,
you will naturally have both the civil quality and the martial. [i.e. If the “degree” is not right, there is “overcooking” or “undercooking”, in which case too civil would be undercooked and too martial would be overcooked.]

身形腰頂
[8] THE BODY’S POSTURE – THE WAIST & HEADTOP

身形腰頂豈可無缺一何必費工夫腰頂窮硏生不已身形順我自伸舒舍此真理終何極十年数載亦糊塗
For your bodys posture, how could your waist and headtop be ignored?
Neglecting either, all your work would be in vain.
Waist and headtop are to be exhaustively studied for your whole life.
When your body’s posture is natural, it will naturally be loosened and comfortable.
If you dismiss this truth, how will you end up
but that after ten years you will still be confused?

太極圈
[9] TAIJI’S CIRCLING [as in the circles of the pushing hands exercise]

退圈容易進圈難不離腰頂後與前所難中土不離位退易進難仔細硏此為動功非站定倚身進退並比肩能如水磨摧急緩雲龍風虎象周旋要用天盤從此覔久而久之出天然
Circling while retreating is easy, but circling while advancing is difficult,
so do not get sloppy with your waist and headtop when going forward or back.
It is hard to stay in the central position,
so the ease of retreat and difficulty of advance are to be carefully studied.
As this is a matter of movement rather than stance,
stay close to the opponent while advancing or retreating.
Circling can be like a watermill as it speeds up or slows down,
or like the dragon-like clouds or tiger-like winds winding all around.
If you use the sky as a model to help you seek this,
then after a long time it will be expressed instinctively.

太極進退不已功
[10] TAIJI’S SKILL OF ADVANCING & RETREATING CEASELESSLY

掤進捋退自然理陰陽水火相既濟先知四手淂來真採挒肘靠方可許四隅從此演出來十三勢架永無已所以因之名長拳任君開展與收歛千萬不可離太極
It is natural to ward off while advancing and roll back while retreating,
since passive and active, like water and fire, exchange roles with each other.
First understand the four primary techniques and get them to be authentic,
then you may move on to plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping,
performing the four secondary techniques on the basis of the primary.
Then there is the Thirteen Postures solo set, which goes on and on ceaselessly,
and hence is called Long Boxing. [“It is like a long river flowing into the wide ocean…”]
You may spread out and gather in as you will,
but by no means allow yourself to stray from the taiji concept.

太極上下名天地
[11] TAIJI’S ABOVE & BELOW, OR “SKY & GROUND”

四手上下分天地採挒肘靠由有去採天靠地相應求何患上下不既濟若使挒肘習逺離迷了乾坤遺歎惜此説亦明天地盤進用肘挒歸人字
Four techniques divide into above and below, sky and ground:
plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping each having their source [pluck & rend based in sky, elbow & bump based in ground].
When plucking and bumping are coordinated with each other,
there is no worry of above and below coming out of joint.
But if rending and elbowing are not coordinated with each other,
you will lose the relationship between sky and ground and be left with only sighs of regret.
As this explanation is clearly about the realms of sky and ground,
when advancing using elbowing or rending, return to the condition of mankind [i.e. the proper range, the balanced position, man being the middle zone between sky and ground].

太極人盤八字歌
[12] TAIJI’S EIGHT TECHNIQUES IN THE REALM OF MANKIND

八卦正隅八字歌十三之数不幾何幾何若是無平凖丢了腰頂氣歎哦不断要言只兩字君臣骨肉細琢磨功夫內外均不断對待数兒豈錯他
對待於人出自然由茲往復於地天但求舍己無深病上下進退永連綿
This eight technique song concerns the eight trigrams with its four primary and four secondary techniques.
A mere thirteen dynamics is not a lot.
But however many there might be, if their standard is not maintained
and if the position of your waist and headtop is misplaced, you will end up sighing with woe.
     The key to their being no division lies in but two words:
the “sovereign” and “subject” roles of the mind and body – ponder them carefully.
Your skill should have no division between internal and external,
and then there will be not any mistakes however many contenders you fight.
     What comes out of you during a fight should be natural,
coming from such interactions as between the realms of ground and sky.
When you no longer have a problem with letting go of yourself,
there will never be hesitation as you go upward or downward, forward or back.

太極體用解
[13] TAIJI’S SUBSTANCE & APPLICATION

理為精氣神之軆精氣神為身之軆身為心之用勁力為身之用心身有一定之主宰者理也精氣神有一定之主宰者意誠也誠者天道誠之者人道俱不外意念須臾之間要知天人同軆之理自淂日月流行之氣其氣意之流行精神自隱微乎理矣夫而后言乃武乃文乃聖乃神則淂矣若特以武事論之於心身用之於勁力仍歸於道之本也故不得獨以末技云爾
勁由於筋力由於骨如以持物論之有力能執数百斤是骨節皮毛之外操也故有硬力如以全軆之有勁似不能持幾斤是精氣之內壯也雖然若是功成後猶有妙出於硬力者修身體育之道有然也
Principle is the substance of essence, energy, and spirit. Essence, energy, and spirit are the substance of the body. Body is mind applied. Power is the applying of body. Mind and body have a specific controller: principle. Essence, energy, and spirit also have a specific controller: heartfelt sincerity. Sincerity is the way of nature and to be sincere is the way of mankind, and neither of these ways leaves the mind for an instant.
If you understand the principle that nature and mankind are of the same substance, you will naturally grasp the solar and lunar [i.e. active and passive] flow of energy, that the energy is the flow of intention, and that spirit lies naturally hidden within principle. Then you will obtain the martial and civil aspects, and the qualities of wisdom and spirituality. In order to make use of martial arts as a means to discuss mind and body or to develop power and strength, keep it based in the Way, for this art is not only for developing skill.
Power comes from the sinews. Strength comes from the bones. Looking at it purely physically, one who has great strength is able to carry many hundreds of pounds, but this is an externally showy action of bones and joints, a stiff strength. If on the other hand the power of your whole body is used, it may appear you are unable to lift hardly any weight at all, yet there is an internal robustness of essence and energy, and once you have achieved skill, you will seem to have something more wonderful than one who has the stiff sort of strength. Thus runs the method of physical training for self-cultivation.

太極文武解
[14] TAIJI’S CIVIL & MARTIAL QUALITIES

文者軆也武者用也文功在武用於精氣神也為之軆育武功得文軆於心身也為之武事夫文武尤有火候之謂在放卷得其時中軆育之本也文武使於對待之際在蓄發當其可者武事之根也故云武事文為柔軟軆操也精氣神之筋勁武事武用剛硬武事也心身之骨力也文無武之豫備為之有軆無用武無文之侶伴為之有用無軆如獨木難支孤掌不嚮不惟軆育武事之功事事諸如此理也文者內理也武者外数也有外数無文理必為血氣之勇失於本來面目欺敵必敗爾有文理無外数徒思安静之學未知用的採戰差微則亡耳自用於人文武二字之解豈可不解哉
The civil quality is the substance. The martial quality is the application. The civil training within the martial application is a matter of the essence, energy, and spirit. It is the physical cultivation. The martial training of the civil substance is a matter of mind and body. It is the martial reality. The civil and martial qualities in the training process are a matter of when to coil and when to release. This is the basis of physical cultivation. The civil and martial qualities in a fighting situation are a matter of when best to store and when best to issue. This is the foundation of martial reality.
It is said that a dose of civil in the martial makes it a softened physical exercise, the sinewy power of essence, energy, and spirit, while adding more martial to the martial would make it a hardened fighting drill, a solid effort of mind and body. The civil quality without the martial quality at the ready would be just application without substance. The martial quality without the civil quality in tandem would be substance without application. Since one piece of wood will not support a whole building, and since you cannot clap your hands with just one hand, this is not just a matter of health and fighting, but is a principle that applies to everything.
The civil quality is the inner principle. The martial quality is the outward skill. Those who have the outward skill but lack the civil principle will be consumed by reckless glory. Discarding the original purpose of the art, they will try to overpower opponents and inevitably lose. Those on the other hand who have the civil principle but lack the outward skill will be distracted by meditative expectation. They will have no idea what to do in a fight, and they will be destroyed the moment it turns chaotic. To apply this art upon an opponent, you must understand both the civil and martial qualities.

太極懂勁解
[15] TAIJI’S IDENTIFYING OF ENERGIES

自己懂勁接及神明為之文成而后採戰身中之陰七十有二無時不然陽得其陰水火既濟乾坤交泰性命葆真矣於人懂勁視聼之際遇而變化自得曲誠之妙形著明於不勞運動覺知也功至此可為攸往咸宜無須有心之運用耳
Once you are identifying your own energies, you will be working your way toward something miraculous. Succeed at the civil aspect and then delve into the martial. There are at all times in the body seventy-two channels for passive energy [as well as seventy-two channels for active energy]. When the active aspect is balanced by the passive, water and fire are in a state of mutual benefit, skyness and groundness are at peace with each other, and the genuineness of one’s life essence is preserved.
Once you are identifying the opponent’s energies, in a state of seeing them and hearing them, you are adapting to everything you encounter, and will naturally obtain the subtlety of falseness and trueness [i.e. the manipulating of emptiness and fullness]. The postures will be performed with effortless precision and your movements will be conducted with awareness. Once at this degree of skill, everything you do will be appropriate and you will not have to put thought into what you are doing.

八五十三勢長拳解
[16] ON THE THIRTEEN DYNAMICS LONG BOXING SET

自己用功一勢一式用成之後合之為長滔滔不断周而復始所以名長拳也萬不得有一定之架子恐日久入於滑拳也又恐入於硬拳也决不可失其綿軟周身往復精神意氣之本用久自然貫通無往不至何堅不推也於人對待四手當先亦自八門五步而來跕四手四手碾磨進退四手中四手上下四手三才四手由下乘長拳四手起大開大展煉至緊凑屈伸自由之功則升之中上成矣
In your own training of each posture, once you have learned them all, they are joined together to make a long routine, flowing on and on without interruption, one posture after another, and thus it is called Long Boxing. It is crucial for the set of postures to be performed consistently, otherwise it may after a while turn instead into either “slippery boxing” or “stiff boxing”. You assuredly must not lose your pliability, and the movement of your whole body should be grounded upon mind and spirit. After practicing over a long period of time, you will naturally have a breakthrough and attain everything you have been working toward, and nothing will be strong enough to stand up against you.
When working with a partner, the four techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, and push are the first of the thirteen dynamics to work on. Stand in one place and do the four techniques rolling in circles, then do them advancing and retreating, doing them at a middle height. Then do them higher and lower as well, practicing at all three heights. Starting with the basics, work your way through the solo set. Then begin working with the four techniques, larger gross movements at first, then focusing on the finer details until the skill of extending and contracting is fluent, and you will have ascended through the midway of attainment, and then will continue to the top.

太極陰陽顛倒解
[17] TAIJI’S INVERSION OF THE PASSIVE & ACTIVE ASPECTS

陽乾天日火離放出發對開臣肉用氣身武立命方呼上進隅
陰坤地月水坎卷入蓄待合君骨軆理心文盡性圓吸下退正
Examples of the active / passive:
☰ / ☷
sky / ground
sun / moon
fire / water
☲ / ☵
releasing / coiling
exiting / entering
issuing / storing
offense / defense
opening / closing
subject / sovereign
muscle / bone
the practice / the theory
the energy / the principle
body / mind
martial / civil
dedicated to / absorbed in
square / round
exhale / inhale
up / down
advance / retreat
oblique / direct
盖顛倒之理水火二字詳之則可明如火炎上水潤下者水能使火在下而用水在上則為顛倒然非有法治之則不得矣辟如水入鼎內而治火之上鼎中之水得火以然之不但水不能下潤藉火氣水必有温時火雖炎上得鼎以隔之是為有極之地不使炎上炎火無止息亦不使潤下之水永渗漏此所為水火既濟之理也顛倒之理也若使任其火炎上來潤下必至火水必分為二則為火水未濟也故云分而為二合之為一之理也故云一而二二而一總斯理為三天地人也明此陰陽顛倒之理則可與言道知道不可須臾離則可與言人能以人弘道知道不逺人則可與言天地同軆上天下地人在其中矣苟能参天察地與日月合其明與五岳四凟華朽與四時之錯行與草木並枯榮明鬼神之吉凶知人事興衰則可言乾坤為一大天地人為一小天地也夫如人之身心致知格物於天地之知能則可言人之良知良能若思不失固有其功用浩然正氣直養無害悠久無疆矣所謂人身生成一小天地者天也性也地也命也人也虛靈也神也若不明之者烏能配天地為三乎然非盡性立命窮神達化之功胡為乎來哉
The inversion principle can be explained with water and fire. Left to their own devices, fire rises and water sinks, but if water is placed above fire then they are in an inverted state. Of course, if not done properly there would be no inverted state, [just a fire put out and some water made into steam,] and so it has to be a situation of water being put in a pot which is then positioned over a fire. When the water in the pot receives the fire’s heat, not only will it not be able to sink away, it will also absorb the fire’s heat and inevitably become warm, and although the fire is rising to the pot, it is stopped there and goes no further. By not allowing the fire to rise freely or the water to sink away, this is water and fire as in After Completion [hexagram 63 – made of water ☵ on top of fire ☲], and is the principle of inversion. If the fire is allowed to rise freely and the water to sink away, the result will of course be that the water and fire will go their separate ways as two entities, and this is water and fire as in Before Completion [hexagram 64 – made of fire ☲ on top of water ☵]. So goes the principle that in separating they become two and in joining they become one, and thus it is said that one becomes two, then two becomes one, which totals three, namely sky, ground, and mankind.
Once you understand this principle of passive and active inverting, then the Way can be discussed. Once you understand that the Way cannot be departed from for a moment, then human beings can be discussed, and it is through human beings that the Way can be glorified. Once you understand that the Way is not far away from human beings, then the universe can be discussed. It is all one entity of sky above, ground below, and mankind in the middle. If you can examine the world, and be one with the shine of the sun and moon, with the grandeur and erosion of the landscape, with the wax and wane of the seasons, with the growth and decay of plants, and come to terms with the favors and frownings of spirits, and understand the rising and declining of human affairs, then can be discussed the larger universe of skyness and groundness, and the smaller universe that is a human being.
To understand the human body and mind, study the awareness and abilities of things in Nature. Then the human awareness and abilities that come from Nature can be discussed. If you do not forget your innate talents, nor your noble energy, constantly nurturing it and never harming it, you will survive indefinitely. And so it is said that a human being is a small universe. The sky represents your nature, the ground represents your life, and your naturalness represents your spirit. If you do not understand this, how will you be a blending of sky and ground to make a third? Unless you express your nature and sustain your life, the work of spiritual enlightenment and transformation has nothing to build on and cannot come to fruition.

人身太極解
[18] THE TAIJI-NESS OF THE HUMAN BODY

人之周身心為一身之主宰主宰太極也二目為日月即兩儀也頭像天足像地人中之人及中腕合之為三才也四肢四象也腎水心火肝木肺金脾土皆属陰膀光水小腸火胆木大腸金胃土皆陽也茲為內也顱丁火地閣承漿水左耳金右耳木兩命門也茲為外也神出於心目眼為心之苗精出於腎脑腎為精之本氣出於肺胆氣為肺之原視思明心動神流也聼思聰脑動腎滑也鼻之息香臭口之呼吸出入水醎木酸土辣火苦金甜及言語聲音木亮火焦金潤土塕水漂鼻息口吸呼之味皆氣之往來肺之門戶肝胆巽震之風雷發之聲音出入五味此言口目鼻舌神意使之六合以破六慾也此內也手足肩膝肘胯亦使六合以正六道也此外也眼耳鼻口大小便肚臍外七竅也喜怒憂思悲恐驚內七情也七情皆以心為主喜心怒肝憂脾悲肺恐腎驚胆思小腸怕膀胱愁胃慮大腸此內也夫離南正午火心經坎北正子水腎經震東正卯木肝經兑西正酉金肺經乾西北隅金大腸化水坤西南隅土脾化土巽東南隅胆木化土艮東北隅胃土化火此內八卦也外八卦者二四為肩六八為足上九下一左三右七也坎一坤二震三巽四中五乾六兑七艮八離九此九宮也內九宮亦如此表裏者乙肝左肋化金通肺甲胆化土通脾丁心化木中胆通肝丙小腸化水通腎已脾化土通胃戊胃化火通心後背前胷山澤通氣辛肺右肋化水通腎庚大腸化金通肺癸腎下部化火通心壬膀胱化木通肝此十天干之內外也十二地支亦如此之內外也明斯理則可與言修身之道矣
The heart is in charge of the whole body, the body’s taiji [the body’s “grand polarity”, the body’s “1”].
[2] The eyes are the solar and lunar aspects, the “two polarities”.
[3] The head represents the sky and the feet represent the ground. The Renzhong acupoint [between lip and nose] represents mankind, along with the Zhongwan acupoint [solar plexus]. The three combined are the “three substances”.
[4] The four limbs are the “four manifestations”.
[5] The passive [or more solid organ] correspondences [to the five elements] within the body are: kidneys – water, heart – fire, liver – wood, lungs – metal, spleen – earth. The active [or more bag-like organ] correspondences within the body are: bladder – water, small intestine – fire, gallbladder – wood, large intestine – metal, stomach – earth. The external correspondences are: headtop – fire, jowls and Chengjiang acupoint [below the lower lip] – water, left ear – metal, right ear – wood, both sides of the “life gate” [earth]. Spirit is expressed from the heart. The eyes are the sprouts of the heart [similar to “windows to the soul”]. Essence is expressed from the kidneys. The brain and kidneys are the source of the essence. Energy is expressed from the lungs. The gallbladder energy has its source in the lungs. When the eyes see clearly, the actions of the heart make the spirit flow. When the ears hear clearly, the actions of the brain make the kidneys smooth. As breath goes in and out, what is perceived by the senses of smell and taste are: salty – water, sour – wood, spice [sweet] – earth, bitter – fire, sweet [spice] – metal. And the sounds they produce are: clear – wood, fire – hoarse, congested – metal, breathy – earth, distracted – water. The scent and taste of the air as the lungs pump it in and out, and as the wind (☴) and thunder (☳) of liver and gallbladder produce the five manners of voice, comes and goes as the five fragrances/flavors.
[6] Mouth, eye, nose, tongue, spirit, and intent make the six internal unions by which the six desires will be overcome. Hand, foot, shoulder, knee, elbow, and hip make the six external unions by which the six paths [front, back, left, right, up, down] will be straightened [i.e. moved toward efficiently].
[7] The seven external apertures are: eye, ear, nose, mouth, anus, urethra, navel. The seven internal emotions, which are governed by the heart, are: joy, rage, worry, obsessiveness, grief, fear, shock. Inside, joy is in the heart, rage is in the liver, worry is in the spleen, grief is in the lungs, fear is in the kidneys, shock is in the gallbladder, obsessiveness is in the small intestine, terror is in the bladder, anxiety is in the stomach, and pensiveness is in the large intestine.
[8] The internal qualities of the eight trigrams:

☴☲☷
☳    ☱
☶☵☰

☲: S / Wu [noon] / fire / heart meridian
☵: N / Zi [midnight] / water / kidney meridian
☳: E / Mao [dawn] / wood / liver meridian
☱: W / You [sunset] / metal / lung meridian
☰: NW / metal / large intestine / transforming of water
☷: SW / earth / spleen / transforming of earth
☴: SE / wood / gallbladder / transforming of earth
☶: NE / earth / stomach / transforming of fire
[9] Externally, ☵ is 1, ☷ is 2, ☳ is 3, ☴ is 4, the center is 5, ☰ is 6, ☱ is 7, ☶ is 8, and ☲ is 9. 2 and 4 are the shoulders, 6 and 8 are the feet, at the top is 9, at the bottom is 1, on the left is 3, on the right is 7 [producing a “magic square” in which every line of three numbers – horizontal, vertical, diagonal – adds up to the same number]:

4  9  2
3  5  7
8  1  6

These are the “nine palaces” [eight trigrams plus the center]. The internal quality of the nine palaces is the same.
[10] The inner and outer [alignment with the ten Celestial Stems (the names of the days of the ancient ten-day week, a poetic microcosm of the agricultural process: 甲 Jia – “Seed”, 乙 Yi – “Sprout”, 丙 Bing – “Shoot”, 丁 Ding – “Ear”, 戊 Wu – “Sickle”, 己 Ji – “Bundle”, 庚 Geng – “Pestle”, 辛 Xin – “Sack”, 壬 Ren – “Haul”, 癸 Gui – “Store”. The pulse of the days is: active, passive, active, passive, the odd-numbered active days intended as being more work-oriented days and the even-numbered passive days intended as being more rest-oriented days. The order is twisted below because the pairings are presented passive/active rather than active/passive.)] runs thus:
Yi: liver and left ribs / transformed by the metal of the lungs
Jia: gallbladder / transforms the earth of the spleen
Ding: heart / transformed by the wood of the gallbladder and liver
Bing: small intestine / transforms the water of the kidneys
Ji: spleen / transformed by the earth of the stomach
Wu: stomach / transforms the fire of the heart, energy coursing through the mountain and valley of back and chest
Xin: lungs and right ribs / transformed by the water of the kidneys
Geng: large intestine / transforms the metal of the lungs
Gui: kidneys and lower body / transformed by the fire of the heart
Ren: bladder / transforms the wood of the liver
These are the internal and external qualities of the ten Celestial Stems.
The twelve Terrestrial Branches also have internal and external qualities [which for some reason are not delved into here. The Terrestrial Branches are the names of the ancient “hours” of the day: 子 Zi (11pm-1am – “Conception” – picture of a baby, representing also the new day beginning at midnight), 丑 Chou (1am-3am – “Curled Up” – in sleep), 寅 Yin (3am-5am – “Contortion” – curled up further in sleep), 卯 Mao (5am-7am – “Shutters Opening” – i.e. dawn), 辰 Chen (7am-9am – “Slight Bowing” – looking down away from the sun above the horizon), 巳 Si (9am-11am – “Deep Bowing” – slouching over in response to rising sun), 午 Wu (11am-1pm – “Oppression” – sun directly above), 未 Wei (1pm-3pm – “Short Shadow” – shadow finally moving off center), 申 Shen (3pm-5pm – “Long Shadow”), 酉 You (5pm-7pm – “Wine Withdrawn” – the wine going back into the bottle, i.e. sunset), 戌 Xu (7pm-9pm – “Depression” – woundingly missing the daylight), 亥 Hai (9pm-11pm – “Bliss” – picture of a man and woman in bed together). As a further side note, since the Celestial Stems describe an agricultural process and the Terrestrial Branches are based on the progress of the sun through the sky, the 天干地支 Celestial Stems and Terrestrial Branches probably should have been called the 地干天支 Terrestrial Stems and Celestial Branches.]
Once you are clear about this theory [that there is a taiji quality of passives and actives inherent in the body], you will then be able to talk of the methods of self-cultivation.

太極分文武三成解
[19] TAIJI’S SEPARATION OF THE CIVIL & MARTIAL QUALITIES INTO THREE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

蓋言道者非自修身無由得成也然又分為三乘之修法乘者成也上乘即大成也下乘即小成也中乘即誠之者成也法分三修成功一也文修於內武修於外軆育內也武事外也其修法內外表裏成功集大成即上乘也由軆育之文而得武事之武或由武事之武而得軆育之文即中乘也然獨知軆育不入武事而成者或專武事不為軆育而成者即小成也
As far as the Way goes, without cultivating the self, there is no source from which to obtain it. It is separated into three vehicles for cultivation, “vehicle” meaning accomplishment. The greater vehicle takes you all the way to the top. The lesser vehicle gets you at least to the bottom. The middle vehicle is to succeed via sincerity. The methods are separated into three kinds of cultivation, but are working towards the same accomplishment.
Cultivation of the civil quality is internal. Cultivation of the martial quality is external. Physical training is internal. Martial affairs are external. When the cultivation methods, both internal and external, surface and interior, are merged and achieved together, this is a grand accomplishment, the top.
When one obtains the martial quality by way of the civil training or obtains the civil quality by way of the martial training, this is the middle.
When one knows only the civil training but knows nothing of the martial part of it or focuses on only the martial part of it but does not do the civil training, this is the bottom.

太極下乘武事解
[20] TAIJI’S LESSER ACCOMPLISHMENT – ITS MARTIAL QUALITY

太極之武事外操柔軟內含堅剛而求柔軟柔軟之於外久而久之自得內之堅剛非有心之堅剛寔有心之柔軟也所難者內要含蓄堅剛而不施外終柔軟而迎敵以柔軟而應堅剛使堅剛盡化無有矣其功何以得乎要非粘黏連隨已成自得運動知覺方為懂勁而后神而明之化境極矣夫四兩撥千斤之妙功不及化境將何以能是所謂懂粘運得其視聼輕靈之巧耳
Taiji’s martial quality is to be outwardly soft while inwardly hard, always seeking softness. By being outwardly soft over a longer and longer period, you will naturally obtain inner hardness, so long as your mind is focused on the softness rather than the hardness. The difficulty lies in containing hardness within and not letting it expose itself, outwardly only engaging the opponent with softness. By using softness to respond to hardness, his hardness is made to dissipate until it is spent.
How is such a skill to be obtained? Once your sticking, adhering, connecting, and following are complete, you will naturally have achieved moving with awareness, and from there you will move on to identifying energies, then gain a miraculous understanding, and ultimately you will have been transformed.
As for the subtlety of four ounces moving a thousand pounds – how could you have such an ability if your skill has not reached a transformative state? Thus it is said that you are to recognize when you are connected to the opponent, and thereby obtain the art of keenly observing and listening.

太極正功解
[21] CORRECTNESS OF SKILL IN TAIJI

太極者元也無論內外上下左右不離此元元也太極者方也無論內外上下左右不離此方也元之出入方之進退隨方就元之往來也方為開展元為緊凑方元規矩之至其就能出此以外哉如此得心應手仰髙鑽堅神乎其神見隱顕微明而且明生生不已欲罷不能
Taiji is round, never abandoning its roundness whether going in or out, up or down, left or right. And Taiji is square, never abandoning its squareness whether going in or out, up or down, left or right. As you roundly exit and enter, or squarely advance and retreat, follow squareness with roundness, and vice versa. Squareness has to do with expanding, roundness with contracting. [Squareness means a directional focus along which you can express your power. Roundness means an all-around buoyancy with which you can receive and neutralize the opponent’s power.]
The main rule is that you be squared and rounded. After all, could there be anything beyond these things? By means of this you will become proficient at the skill. But “gazing up, it grows higher, and drilling in, it gets harder…” [i.e. there is always more to it], so magical it is. When you look upon it at last, it hides again, revealing there is yet more subtlety to it, illumination upon illumination. It generates new features infinitely, rendering you “unable to quit even if there were the desire to do so.” [Lun Yu, 9.11]

太極輕重浮沉解
[22] TAIJI’S LIGHTNESS & HEAVINESS, FLOATING & SINKING

雙重為病干於填寔與沉不同也雙沉不為病自爾騰虛與重不易也雙浮為病祗如漂渺與輕不例也雙輕不為病天然清靈與浮不等也半輕半重不為病偏輕偏重為病半者半有著落也所以不為病偏者偏無著落也所以為病偏無著落必失方圓半有著落豈出方圓半浮半沉為病失於不及也偏浮偏沉失於太過也半重偏滯而不正也半輕偏輕靈而不圓也半沉偏沉虛而不正也半浮偏浮茫而不圓也夫雙輕不近於浮則為輕靈雙沉不近於重則為離虛故曰上手輕重半有著落則為平手除除此三者之外皆為病手蓋內之虛靈不昧能致於外氣之清明流行乎肢軆也若不窮硏輕重浮沉之手徒勞掘井不及泉之歎耳然有方圓四正之手表裏精粗無不到則已極大成又何云四隅出方圓矣所謂方而圓圓而方超乎象外得其寰中之上手也
– [1a] Both sides fully heavy [“double pressure”] is wrong. It is too full. It is different from sinking.
– [1b] Both sides fully sinking is okay. It has to do with being ready to move. It is different from heaviness.
– [1c] Both sides fully floating [“double vacuum”] is wrong. It is too empty. It is different from lightness.
– [1d] Both sides fully light is okay. It has to do with natural nimbleness. It is different from floating.
– [2a] One side under-light and one side under-heavy is okay. To underdo means one side is stable. Therefore it is okay. Since to underdo is stable, it will not lose squareness and roundness.
– [2b] One side over-light and one side over-heavy is wrong. To overdo means neither side is stable. Therefore it is wrong. Since to overdo is unstable, it will lose squareness and roundness.
– [2c] One side under-floating and one side under-sinking is wrong, for it is not enough.
– [2d] One side over-floating and one side over-sinking [is wrong, for it] is too much.
– [3a] One side under-heavy and one side over-heavy, you will be not only sluggish but also unsquared.
– [3b] One side under-light and one side over-light, you will still be nimble but you will be unrounded.
– [3c] One side under-sinking and one side over-sinking, you will still be balanced but you will be unsquared.
– [3d] One side under-floating and one side over-floating, you will be not only scattered but also unrounded.
Both sides fully light [1d] is not a matter of floating, and thus it is nimbleness. Both sides fully sinking [1b] is not a matter of heaviness, and thus it is alertness. Thus it is said: “The best technique is both light and heavy [2a], half and half, thus you will have a balanced technique.” Anything beyond these three [1b, 1d, 2a] would be wrong.
When your inner naturalness is not obscured, it can be sent outward as purified energy, flowing into your limbs. If you do not exhaustively study these aspects of technique – lightness, heaviness, floating, sinking – it would be like digging a dry well. But if you possess squareness and roundness, then warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing will all be there inside and out down to their smallest detail, and you will have attained a great achievement, and then plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping will also be squared and rounded. And so it is said: “Square but round, round but square.” Going beyond the shape [squareness OR roundness] takes you to the highest level [squareness AND roundness].

太極四隅解
[23] TAIJI’S FOUR SECONDARY TECHNIQUES

四正即四方也所謂掤捋擠按也初不知方能使圓方圓復始之理無已焉能出隅之手矣緣人外之肢軆內之神氣弗缉輕靈方圓四正之功始出輕重浮沉之病則有隅矣辟如半重偏重滯而不正自然為採挒肘靠之隅手或雙重填寔亦出隅手也病多之手不得已以隅手扶之而歸圓中方正之手雖然至底者肘靠亦及此以補其所以云爾春後功夫能致上乘者亦須獲採挒而仍歸大中至正矣是四隅之所用者因失軆而補缺云云
The four primary techniques, aligned with the four cardinal compass points, are ward-off, rollback, press, and push. In the beginning, there will be a lack of understanding of the principle that squareness can lead to roundness and that they may alternate. Thus ability will emerge in the four secondary techniques of pluck, rend, elbow, and bump. Due to your outer limbs and inner spirit not maintaining nimbleness of squareness/roundness in the primary techniques, the mistakes of lightness, heaviness, floating, or sinking will start to manifest, and with them the secondary techniques.
For example [3a]: “One side under-heavy and one side over-heavy, you will be not only sluggish but also unsquared.” This situation will naturally lead to the secondary techniques. Or [1a]: “Both sides fully heavy… is too full.” Again the secondaries will emerge. If your technique has many flaws, you will be compelled to use the secondary techniques to make up for them in order to regain a roundness that is centered and a squareness that is squared. Even a beginner can achieve this with the techniques of elbow or bump. But one whose skill has risen to a higher level still has to maintain the techniques of pluck and rend to regain a position that is centered and squared. Therefore the purpose of the four secondary techniques is to troubleshoot the mistakes you make in those moments when your technique is performed contrary to the theory.

太極平凖腰頂解
[24] THE PROPER ALIGNMENT OF WAIST & HEADTOP IN TAIJI

頂如凖故云頂頭懸也兩手即平左右之盤也腰即平之根株也立如平凖所謂輕重浮沉分厘絲毫則偏顯然矣有凖頂頭懸腰之根下株尾閭至囟門也上下一条線全憑兩平轉變换取分毫尺寸自己辨車輪兩命門一纛搖又轉心令氣旗使自然隨我便滿身輕利者金剛羅漢煉對待有往來是早或是晚合則放發云不必凌霄箭涵養有多少一氣哈而逺口授須秘傅開門見中天
Your head is like a centered pole, as in “your headtop is suspended”, and with your hands making the trays to each side, your waist being the platform base, you are “standing like a scale”. Whether you receive the slightest bit of lightness or heaviness, floating or sinking, the tipping of the trays to either side will reveal all to you. With your headtop suspended and waist rooted below, you are connected from tailbone to skullbone.
Standing in a vertical line,
all depends on a horizontal rotation.
My adaptations can catch the smallest change,
and I can distinguish all measurements.
     Rotating my waist,
the great flag is waved.
My mind sends the command, the energy carries the directing banners,
and I naturally move with facility.
     My whole body is activated
like a toughened arhat warrior.
In fighting,
one will be either early or late.
     Joining with the opponent, I send him away,
but it is not necessary for me to try to launch him into the stratosphere.
With an amount of power contained,
I need only express a “ha!” and he goes far enough.
But this is something that must be taught personally
in order for the door to be opened and the view to be seen.

太極四時五氣解圖
[25] A TAIJI MAP OF THE FOUR SEASONS & FIVE ENERGIES [meaning the five elements]





春木噓東 ☯ 西呬金秋



呼吸

中央

S: summer / fire / “he” [scolding]

E: spring / wood / “xu” [shushing]          (taiji)          W: autumn / metal / “xi” [sighing]

N: winter / water / “chui” [boasting]

Center: earth / “hu-xi” [breathing]

太極血氣根本解
[26] THE ESSENCE OF BLOOD & ENERGY IN TAIJI

血為營氣為衛血流行於肉膜胳氣流行於骨筋脉筋甲為骨之餘髮毛為血之餘血旺則髮毛盛氣足則筋甲壯故血氣之勇力出於骨皮毛之外壯氣血之軆用出於肉筋甲之內壯氣以血之盈虛血以氣之消長消長盈虛周而復始終身用之不能盡者矣
Blood is for nourishment. Energy is for defense. Blood flows through muscles, tissues, and limbs. Energy flows through bones, sinews, and vessels. Healthy sinews and nails are a sign of healthy bone. Healthy scalp hair and body hair is a sign of healthy blood. When the blood is vigorous, the scalp and body hair is lush. When the energy is full, the sinews and nails are robust.
Thus the boldness and strength of the blood and energy when the blood is emphasized manifests outwardly in the robustness of the bones, skin, and hair, while the form and function of the energy and blood when the energy is emphasized manifests inwardly in the robustness of the muscles, sinews, and nails. The energy relies on the blood’s burgeoning or depleting. The blood relies on the energy’s decreasing or increasing. Decreasing then increasing, burgeoning then depleting, the cycle goes on endlessly. Make use of this your whole life and you will never be worn out.

太極力氣解
[27] STRENGTH & ENERGY IN TAIJI

氣走於膜胳筋脉力出於血肉皮骨故有力者皆外壯於皮骨形也有氣者是內壯於筋脉象也氣血功於內壯血氣功於外壯要之明於氣血二字之功能自知力氣之由來矣知氣力之所以然自能用力行氣之分別行氣於筋脉用力於皮骨大不相侔也
Energy courses through the tissues, limbs, sinews, and vessels. Strength emerges from the blood, muscles, skin, and bones. Therefore a strong person has an outer robustness to their skin and bones, a matter of posture, while an energized person has an inner robustness to their sinews and vessels, a matter of presence. Training the energy and blood with emphasis on the energy will empower the internal. Training the blood and energy with emphasis on the blood will enhance the external.
If you awaken to the functions of these two things, both the energy and the blood, you will naturally come to understand the basis of strength and energy. Understanding what strength and energy are all about, you will naturally be able to distinguish between the using of strength and the moving of energy: the moving of energy will be felt in your sinews and vessels, while the using of strength will be felt in your skin and bones – extremely different things indeed.

太極尺寸分毫解
[28] TAIJI’S REDUCING MEASUREMENTS

功夫先煉開展後煉緊凑開展成而得之纔講緊凑緊凑得成纔講尺寸分毫由尺住之功成而后能寸住分住毫住此所謂尺寸分毫之理也明矣然尺必十寸寸必十分分必十毫其数在焉故云對待者数也知其数則能得尺寸分毫也要知其数非秘授而能量之者哉
Work first at training gross movements, then finer details. When the gross movements are obtained, then the finer movements can be talked of. When the finer movements are obtained, then measures of a foot and below can be talked of. When your skill has progressed to the level of a foot, then you can progress to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. This is what is meant by the principle of reducing measurements.
A foot has ten “inches”. An inch has ten tenths. A tenth has ten hairs. These are the measurements. It was long ago said: “Fighting is a matter of measuring.” Understanding the measurements, you can achieve the reducing of measurements. But if you want to understand the measuring, you will not be able to without the deeper teachings.

太極膜脉筋穴解
[29] VESSELS, CHANNELS, SINEWS, AND ACUPOINTS IN TAIJI

節膜拿脉抓筋閉穴此四功由尺寸分毫得之後而求之膜若節之血不周流脉若拿之氣難行走筋若抓之身無主地穴若閉之神昏氣暗抓膜節之半死申脉拿之似亡单筋抓之勁断死穴閉之無生搃之氣血精神若無身何有主也如能節拿抓閉之功非得點傳不可
Controlling his vessels, seizing his channels, capturing his sinews, and sealing his acupoints – these four skills are to be worked toward after you are able to measure down from the level of a foot to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. When his vessels are controlled, his blood will not circulate. When his channels are seized, his energy will not move. When his sinews are captured, his body will have no control. When his acupoints are sealed, he will lose consciousness.
By controlling certain vessels, he will seem half dead. By seizing certain channels, he will seem fully dead. By capturing certain sinews, his power will be cut off. By sealing the lethal acupoints, he will not survive. Basically, if he is without energy, blood, or spirit, how will he have any control over his body? However, even if you have ability in the skills of control, seize, capture, and seal, these particular effects will not work without specific instruction in them.

太極字字解
[30] SOME OF THE TERMS IN TAIJI

挫柔捶打於己於人按摩推拿於己人開合升降於己人此十二字皆用手也屈伸動静於己人起落急緩於己人閃還撩了於己人此十二字於己氣也於人手也轉换進退於己身人步也顧盼前後於己目也人手也即瞻前眇後左顧右盼也此八字闗乎神矣断接俯仰此四字闗乎意勁也接闗乎神氣也俯仰闗乎手足也勁断意不断意断神可接勁意神俱断則俯仰矣手足無著落耳俯為一叩仰為一反而已矣不使叩反非断而復接不可對待之字以俯仰為重時刻在心身手足不使断之無接則不能俯仰也求其断接之能非見隱顕微不可隱微似断而未断見顯似接而未接接接断断断断接接其意心身軆神氣極於隱顯又何慮不粘黏連隨哉
Applying to either yourself or the opponent: file, knead, punch, strike, push down, rub in, push out, seize, spread, merge, ascend, descend. These twelve terms are all techniques.
Applying to either yourself or the opponent: bending, extending, movement, stillness, rising, falling, quick, leisurely, evade, counter, incite, conclude. These twelve terms apply to your own energy in relation to the opponent’s techniques.
Applying to your own body in relation to the opponent’s stepping: turn, switch, advance, retreat. Applying to your own gaze in relation to the opponent’s techniques: look left, look right, look forward, look behind. These eight terms have to do with your spirit.
These four terms have to with intention and power: disconnecting, connecting, bowing forward, yawning backward. Disconnecting and connecting have to do with your spirit and energy. Bowing forward and yawning back have to do with your hands and feet. The power may disconnect, but the intention does not. If the intention disconnects, the spirit can stay connected. If the power, intention, and spirit disconnect together, there will be bowing forward or yawning back, your hands and feet not touching or landing where they would have. To bow forward is to end up cracking your head. To yawn backward is to end up toppling over. To keep yourself from cracking your head or toppling over, you must disconnect then reconnect. Bowing forward and yawning backward are important things to consider in fighting. At no moment allow there to be in mind, body, hand, or foot a disconnection without reconnecting, and then you will prevent bowing forward or yawning back.
Seeking for the skills of disconnecting and connecting will not work without seeing what is concealed and revealing what is subtle. With concealment and subtlety, it is like you have disconnected but not disconnected. With seeing and revealing, it is like you have connected but not connected. By connecting and disconnecting, disconnecting and connecting, in mind, body, and spirit, you will ultimately be concealing and revealing, and then you will have no worry that you are not sticking, adhering, connecting, and following.

太極節拿抓閉尺寸分毫辨
[31] TAIJI’S REDUCING OF MEASUREMENTS IN THE CONTEXT OF CONTROLLING, SEIZING, CAPTURING, OR SEALING

對待之功既得尺寸分毫於手則可量之矣然不論節拿抓閉之手易若節膜拿脉抓筋閉穴則難非自尺寸分毫量之不可得也節不量由按而得膜拿不量由摩而得脉抓不量由推而得拿閉非量而不能得穴由尺盈而縮之寸分毫也此四者雖有髙授然非自己功夫久者無能貫通焉
When in your fighting skill you have obtained the sense of a foot, an inch, a tenth of an inch, and the width of a hair, you can then estimate the opponent. Regardless of any ease you may have with the techniques of controlling, seizing, capturing, and sealing, in order to control his vessels, seize his channels, capture his sinews, and seal his acupoints, you must make estimations of a foot, an inch, a tenth of an inch, and the width of a hair.
To control without estimation, his vessels can be obtained through pushing down. To seize without estimation, his channels can be obtained through rubbing in. To capture without estimation, his sinews can be obtained through pushing out. But as for sealing, without estimation his acupoints cannot be reached, because [to get to his acupoints] you have to work your way down from the level of a foot to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. For these four skills, even if you receive instruction from an expert, you will not be able to master them unless you personally put a lot of work into them over a long period.

太極補瀉氣力解
[32] TAIJI’S BOOSTING OR DISSIPATING ENERGY & STRENGTH

補瀉氣力於自己難補瀉氣力於人亦難補自己者知覺功虧則補運動功過則瀉所以求諸己不易也補於人者氣過則補之力過則瀉之此勝彼敗所由然也氣過或瀉力過或補其理雖一然其有詳夫過補為之過上加過遇瀉為之緩他不及他必更過仍加過也補氣瀉力於人之法均為加過於人矣補氣名曰結氣法瀉力名曰空力法
There is difficulty in boosting or dissipating your own energy and strength. There is also difficulty in boosting or dissipating the energy and strength of the opponent. When your awareness is insufficient, boost [your energy]. When your movement is overdone, dissipate [your strength]. These are things that are not easy matters when it comes to yourself.
When the opponent has too much energy, boost it. When he has too much strength, dissipate it. By this means, you will win and he will lose. Or you may when he has too much energy, dissipate it, or when he has too much strength, boost it. The principle is the same in either case, and yet to elaborate further: if he has too much [of either], add more so that he is overdoing, or if he has too little [of either], dissipate it further so that in his insufficiency he adds more and again ends up overdoing. Both boosting his energy and dissipating his strength induce him to overdo it. Boosting his energy is called the method of “tying up his energy”. Dissipating his strength is called the method of “emptying his strength”.

[SUPPLEMENTARY TEXTS]

太極空結挫揉論
[i] TAIJI’S EMPTYING, TYING UP, FILING, AND KNEADING

有挫空挫結有揉空柔結之辨挫空者則力隅矣挫結者則氣断矣揉空者則力分矣揉結者則氣隅矣若結柔挫則氣力反空揉挫則力氣敗結挫揉則力盛於氣力在氣上矣空挫揉則氣盛於力氣過力不及矣挫結揉揉結挫皆氣閉於力矣挫空揉揉空挫皆力鑿於氣矣總之挫結揉空之法亦必由尺寸分毫量能如是也不然無地之挫揉平虛之靈結亦何由而致於哉
To empty or tie up by way of filing is different from emptying or tying up by way of kneading. Emptying by way of filing, the opponent’s strength is boxed in. Tying up by way of filing, his energy is interrupted. Emptying by way of kneading, his strength is spread out. Tying up by way of kneading, his energy is boxed in.
If you apply the tying & kneading filing, then his energy and strength will be reversed. If you apply the emptying & kneading filing, then his energy and strength will fail. If you apply the tying & filing kneading, his strength will build up from his energy until his strength is greater than his energy. If you apply the emptying & filing kneading, his energy will build up from his strength, making his energy overloaded and his strength insufficient.
The filing & tying kneading and the kneading & tying filing will both result in his energy getting sealed off by his strength. The filing & emptying kneading and the kneading & emptying filing will both result in his strength being chiseled away by his energy. Basically, methods such as tying up by way of filing or emptying by way of kneading all require that you work your way down from measurements of a foot, to an inch, to a tenth of an inch, to the width of a hair. If not, there will be no occasion of filing or kneading and a flattened out void for emptying or tying, for they will not be gotten from anywhere.

懂勁先後論
[ii] BEFORE IDENTIFYING ENERGIES AND AFTER

夫未懂勁之先長出頂匾丢抗之病既懂勁之後恐出断接俯仰之病然未懂勁故然病亦出勁既懂何以出病乎緣勁似懂未懂之際正在兩可断接無凖矣故出病神明及猶不及俯仰無著矣亦出病若不出断接俯仰之病非真懂勁弗能不出也胡為真懂因視聼無由未得其確也知瞻眇顏盼之視覺起落緩急之聼知閃還撩了之運覺轉换進退之動則為真懂勁則能接及神明及神明自攸往有由矣有由者由於懂勁自淂屈伸動静之妙有屈伸動静之妙開合升降又有由矣由屈伸動静見入則開遇出則合看來則詳就去則升夫而後纔為真及神明也明也岂可日後不慎行坐臥走飲食溺溷之功是所為及中成大成也哉
Before you are identifying energies, you will typically be making the mistakes of crashing in, collapsing, coming away, and resistance. Once you are identifying energies, you will perhaps still make the mistakes of disconnecting, connecting, bowing forward, and yawning back. Before you are indentifying energies, it is natural to be making mistakes, but even after you are identifying energies, there are reasons as to why there are still mistakes to be made. When in that vague zone of almost but not quite indentifying energies, there is a lack of precision in disconnecting and connecting, hence there will be mistakes. And then when almost but not quite at the level of the miraculous, bowing forward and yawning back may still not be entirely under control, again resulting in mistakes.
As long as you are not making the mistakes of disconnecting, connecting, bowing forward, or yawning back, you are doing it right, for if your identifying of energies is not genuine, you would not able to prevent such mistakes. What does it mean for it to be genuine? Simply that a sensory foundation must be laid to build it up into a reality. Be aware through observing: there is looking forward, looking behind, looking left, looking right. Be aware through listening: there is rising, falling, quickness, leisure. Be aware through feeling: there is evading, countering, inciting, concluding. Be aware through acting: there is turning, switching, advancing, retreating. In this way, your identifying of energies will be genuine.
You will then be able to reach the level of the miraculous, and this is because there is a foundation, the foundation being the identifying of energies. The subtleties of bending, extending, movement, and stillness are automatically built upon that foundation. Then spreading, merging, ascending, and descending are in turn built upon bending, extending, movement, and stillness. By way of bending and extending, movement and stillness, spread his attack aside when you see him enter, then merge with him as he tries to exit. Descend when you see his attack come in, then ascend as he withdraws.
Once your genuineness in identifying energies reaches all the way to the point of the miraculous, at such a level you will thereafter be mindful in every activity – whether it be walking, sitting, lying down, running, eating, drinking, or even going to the bathroom. By this means, your achievement will go from middling to great.

尺寸分毫在懂勁後論
[iii] REDUCING MEASUREMENTS AFTER IDENTIFYING ENERGIES

在懂勁先求尺寸分毫為之小成不過末技武事而已所謂能尺於人者非先懂勁也如懂勁後神而明之自然能量尺寸尺寸能量纔能節拿抓閉矣知膜脉筋穴之理要必明存亡之手知存亡之手要必明生死之穴其穴之数安可不知乎知生死之穴数烏可不明閉而不生乎烏可不明閉而無生乎是所謂二字之存亡一閉之而已盡矣
If you strive for the reducing of measurements before identifying energies, yours will amount to a small achievement and be but a smattering of martial skill. You will not be able to estimate the opponent even at the level of a foot before you are identifying energies. After you have achieved identifying energies, you will have a miraculous understanding, and you will automatically have the ability to reduce measurements. From there you will then be able to control, seize, capture, and seal.
To understand the theory of vessels, channels, sinews, and acupoints, it is necessary to be clear about which techniques will save or kill. To understand the techniques that will save or kill, it is necessary to be clear about the acupoints for life and death. In the acupoint art, how could you go without knowing them [seeing as not knowing them might result in killing someone by mistake]? To know how to activate the life and death acupoints, it is necessary to be clear about the technique of sealing. Sealing is what determines both life and death.

太極指掌捶手解
[iv] THE FINGERS, PALM, FIST, AND HAND IN TAIJI

自指下之腕上裏者為掌五指之首為之手五指皆為指五指權裏其背為捶如其用者按推掌也拿揉抓閉俱用指也挫摩手也打捶也夫捶有搬攔有指襠有肘底有撇身四捶之外有覆捶掌有搂膝有换轉有单鞭有通背四掌之外有串掌手有雲手有提手拿有十字手四手之外有反手指有屈指有伸指揑指閉指四指之外有量指又名尺寸指又名覔穴指然指有五指有五指之用首指為手仍為指故又名手指其一用之為旋指旋手其二用之為根指根手其三用之為弓指弓手其四用之為中合手指四手指之外為獨指獨手也食指為卞指為劍指為佐指為粘指中正為心指為合指為鈎指為抹指無名指為全指為環指為代指為扣指小指為幫指補指媚指掛指若此之名知之易而用之難淂口訣秘法亦不易為也其次有如對掌推山掌射雁掌晾翅掌似閉指抝步指湾弓指穿梭指探馬手湾弓手抱虎手玉女手跨虎手通山捶葉下捶背反捶勢分捶捲挫捶再其次步隨身换不出五行則無失錯矣因其粘連黏隨之理舍己從人身隨步自换只要無五行之舛錯身形脚勢出於自然又何慮些須之病也
The “palm” is the area of the hand below the fingers and above the wrist. The “hand” refers to the whole thing up to the fingertips. A “finger” refers to any of the five fingers. A “fist” is when the five fingers are clasped inward to emphasize the back of the hand. Palm techniques are matters of pushing down and pushing out. Finger techniques are matters of seizing, kneading, capturing, and sealing. Hand techniques are matters of filing and rubbing. Fist techniques are matters of striking.
Fist techniques: Parry & Block, Punch to the Crotch, Under the Elbow, Torso-Flung Punch, and beyond these four there is also the Overturned Punch. Palm techniques: Brush the Knee, Exchanging Palms, Single Whip, Through the Back, and beyond these four there is also the Threading Palm. Hand techniques: Clouding Hands, Raising Hand, Seizing Hand, Crossed Hands, and beyond these four there is also the Reversing Hand. Finger techniques: bending, extending, pinching, sealing, and beyond these four there is also estimating, which is also called “reducing measurements” or “seeking acupoints”. The five fingers also have five-fingered functions, operating as a whole hand as well as individual fingers, and so these can be termed as either hand or finger techniques: corkscrewing, planting, curling, or closing inward, and beyond these four hand/finger techniques, there is also “standing alone”.
The forefinger is the impatient finger, sword finger, assisting finger, or sticking finger. The middle finger is the central finger, closing finger, hooking finger, or smearing finger. The ring finger is the completing finger, surrounding finger, exchanging finger, or covering finger. The little finger is the helping finger, healing finger, enticing finger, or hanging finger. Though the names of these techniques are easy to comprehend, they are difficult to apply, even with personal instruction in the deeper methods.
Supplementary palm techniques: Palms Facing Each Other, Push the Mountain, Shoot the Goose, Spreading Wings. Supplementary finger techniques: Sealing Shut, Jab in a Crossed Stance, Bending the Bow, Working the Shuttles. Supplementary hand techniques: Reaching Out to the Horse, Bending the Bow, Capturing the Tiger, Maiden’s Hands, Sitting Tiger Hands. Supplementary fist techniques: Punch Through the Mountain, Punch Under the Leaf, Turning Behind Punch, Momentum-Splitting Punch, Wrap & File Punch.
A further supplementary layer is that your steps are to go along with your body’s changes and are never to perform a step unassociated with the five elements, and thus you will be free from making mistakes. Because of the principle of sticking, connecting, adhering, and following, as well as letting go of yourself to follow the opponent, your body in turn will go along with your stepping, and as long as you remain true to the five elements, there will be such a naturalness to your posture and steps that it will not matter even if you do make some mistakes here and there.

口授穴之存亡論
[v] ON PERSONAL INSTRUCTION IN THE ACUPOINTS THAT SAVE OR KILL

穴有存亡之穴要非口授不可何也一因其難學二因其闗乎存亡三因其人纔能傳第一不授不忠不孝之人第二不傳根底不好之人第三不授心術不正之人第四不傳鹵莽滅裂之人第五不傳授目中無人之人第六不傳知禮無恩之人第七不授反復無長之人第八不傳得易失易之人此須知八不傳匪人更不待言矣如其可以傳再口授之秘訣傳忠孝知恩者心氣和平者守道不失者真以為師者始終如一者此五者果其有始有終不變如一方可將全軆大用之功授之於徒也明矣於前於後代代相継皆如是之所傳也噫抑亦知武事中烏有匪人哉
There are acupoints that save and acupoints that kill. They cannot be learned without personal instruction. Here are three reasons why: because of how difficult they are to learn, the fact that they are a matter of life and death, and the degree of a person’s talent. There are eight kinds of people not to be taught:
1. the disloyal and unfilial,
2. those who are fundamentally unkind,
3. those with crooked intentions,
4. those who are rude and reckless,
5. those who think themselves superior to others,
6. those who care more about rules than they do about people,
7. those who are fickle,
8. those who will have an easy time picking it up and then just as easily discard it.
It must be understood that these eight people are not to be taught. Criminals of course do not deserve to be considered at all. As for those who may be taught, they are eligible to be given personal instruction in its secrets. There are five kinds who may be taught:
[1] those who are loyal, filial, and gracious,
[2] those with a mild temperament,
[3] those who will hold to the method and not discard it,
[4] those who will be true to the teacher,
[5] those who will complete the study as ardent as when they started.
These types will be resolved to complete the study without having doubts and can be shown the whole thing, and what will be given to the pupil is illumination. It goes from those who already know it to those who will know it, the torch being passed down through generations, always by this process. But what a shame it is that of those who know martial arts, some turn out to be criminals.

張三丰承留
[vi] WHAT ZHANG SANFENG INHERITED

天地即乾坤伏羲為人祖畫卦道有名堯舜十六母微危允厥中精一及孔孟神化性命功七二乃文武授之至予來字著宣平許延年藥在身元善從復始虛靈能德明理令氣形具萬載咏長春心兮誠真跡三教無兩家統言皆太極浩然塞而冲方正千年立継往聖永綿開來學常續水火濟既焉願至戌畢字
“The sky and the ground made the world.
Fu Xi was the progenitor of mankind.
He drew the trigrams and declared the Way
for Emperor Yao and Emperor Shun, and for sixteen generations on.
The most mysterious of pinnacles have consented access
to the most dedicated, such as Confucius and Mengzi.
The skill of spirit transmuting the life-force
went down through seventy-two sages to King Wen and King Wu.
     “Instruction has come to me
by way of the writings of Xu Xuanping.
The medicine to bring about longevity lies within ourselves,
in the perfection of our original state being revived. [Basically, live every day as though it’s your first, a lesson that could have been learned from pretty much any Daoist poet.]
Your natural self can empower and enlighten.
The truth when expressed can fulfill you in spirit and body.
With countless repetitions, chant of lengthening the springtime.
Heartfelt sincerity will have a real effect.
     “The three doctrines [Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism] are not different schools,
for all that each of them discuss is a matter of the Grand Polarity
which runs through everything,
centered and everlasting.
The ancient wisdom is always with us,
constantly inspiring new students to learn.
When water and fire cooperate [as in hexagram 63 – water above, fire below, leading to a heated cooking pot, as opposed to hexagram 64 – fire above, water below, an absence of interaction which produces nothing],
our goals are able to come to fruition.” [The metaphor in this last statement is that ancient knowledge is the fire and the act of learning from it is the water being brought to a boil.]

口授張三丰老師之言
[vii] THE TEACHINGS OF ZHANG SANFENG

予知三教歸一之理皆性命學也皆以心為身之主也保全心身永有精氣神也有精氣神纔能文思安安武備動動安安動動乃文乃武大而化之者聖神也先覺者淂其寰中超乎象外矣後學者以效先覺之所知能其知能雖人固有之知能然非效之不可淂也夫人之知能天然文武目視耳聼天然文也手舞足蹈天然武也孰非固有也明矣前輩大成文武聖神授人以軆育修身進之不以武事修身傳之至予淂之手舞足蹈之採戰借其身之陰以補助身之陽身之陽男也身之陰女也然皆於身中矣男之身祗一陽男全軆皆陰女以一陽採戰全軆之陰女故云一陽復始斯身之陰女不獨七二以一姹女配嬰兒之名變化千萬姹女採戰之可也亦安有男女後天之身以補之者所謂自身之天地以扶助之是為陰陽採戰也如此者是男子之身皆属陰而採自身之陰戰己身之女不如兩男之陰陽對待修身速也予及此傳於武事然不可以末技視依然軆育之學修身之道性命之功聖神之境也今夫兩男之對待採戰於己身之採戰其理不二己身亦遇對待之数則為採戰也是為汞鉛也於人對戰坎離之陰陽兑震陽戰陰也為之四正乾坤之陰陽艮巽陰採陽也為之四隅此八卦也為之八門身足位列中土進步之陽以戰之退步之陰以採之左顧之陽以採之右盼之陰以戰之此五行也為之五步共為八門五步也夫如是予授之爾終身用之不能盡之矣又至予淂武継武必當以武事傳之而修身也修身入首無論武事文為成功一也三教三乘之原不出一太極願後學以易理格致於身中留於後世也可
“I understand the idea that the three doctrines are basically the same: they are each a study of life, each take the mind to be controller of the body, and are purposed to maintain mind and body, to bring longevity to essence, energy, and spirit. With essence, energy, and spirit, we can be calmly civil and boldly martial. Calm and bold, civil and martial – as these things are expanded and have a transformative effect, there will come wisdom and spirituality. The earliest discoverers of this found their way into truth and then took it to another level. Later students then imitate what they did in order to achieve their awareness. Such awareness is innate in everyone, but to get at what they were doing, it is nevertheless necessary to follow in their footsteps. Civil and martial are inherent to human ability. The seeing of eyes and hearing of ears are inherently civil while the dancing of hands and prancing of feet are inherently martial, and so both aspects are clearly inherent. Having achieved the layers of civil, martial, wisdom, and spirituality, the forefathers advanced the teaching of self-cultivation by way of physical training, though not by way of martial arts.
“When the teachings reached me, I grasped the receive/oppose [counterbalancing] nature of the dancing prancing, in which the passive aspect of the other person’s body is borrowed to build up the active aspect in one’s own. The active aspect is the masculine quality. The passive aspect is the feminine quality. The body has both qualities. While the maleness is active and the femaleness is passive, the femaleness receives the active aspect to counter her own passive aspect [as the maleness receives the passive aspect to counter his own active aspect]. Thereby the active [or passive] returns to its initial state [of being in balance with the other]. The passive feminine aspect within the body means more than a young woman being developed enough to become pregnant. There are countless ways in which a woman may enact counterbalancing, and this is not about the bodies of men and women being somehow corrected. It is said that taking advantage of the skyness and groundness in one’s own body is what makes the counterbalancing of the passive and active aspects. This means that a man may make use of the passive aspect of his masculine side as a way to counter his own feminine quality. [However, this work of balancing the masculine and feminine qualities within oneself] is not as efficient as the self-cultivation of two partners making use of their masculine quality to work at balancing their passive and active aspects [through the constant exchanging of passive and active roles during the pushing hands exercises].
“Seeing as I have placed these teachings into a martial context, martial arts must not be viewed as something trivial, but as a part of physical education, a method of self-cultivation, a practice of life-enhancement, a category of wisdom and spirituality. The work of counterbalancing between two partners is no different in principle from the counterbalancing within your own body, but when working with a partner, it is like counterbalancing between mercury and lead. [In the context of two partners pushing hands, the role of the attacker is solid and heavy, like lead, while the defender is fluid and yielding, like mercury.] When fighting, the four primary techniques are a matter of active opposing passive, while the four secondary techniques are a matter of passive receiving active. The eight trigrams supply the eight techniques. The body and feet stand centered. To advance is to oppose actively. To retreat is to receive passively. To step to the left is to receive actively. To step to the right is to oppose passively. The five elements supply the five steps. Combined, they are the eight techniques and five steps.
“These teachings of mine you may make use of for your entire life and yet never be able to use them up. What I have gained and am passing down is to be taught as a martial art of self-cultivation. As to the method of cultivating the self, it does not matter if it is approached by martial or civil means, for the achievement is the same. The three doctrines, at any of the three levels [greater, middle, lesser], are all inescapably based in the concept of the grand polarity. I wish for the next generation of students to examine the theory in the Book of Changes within themselves and that it be continued by succeeding generations. That would be a good thing.”

張三丰以武事得道論
[viii] ZHANG SANFENG ON USING MARTIAL ARTS TO ACHIEVE THE WAY

蓋未有天地先有理理為氣之陰陽主宰主宰理以有天地道在其中陰陽氣道之流行則為對待對待者陰陽也数也一陰一陽之為道道無名天地始道有名萬物母未有天地之前無極也無名也既有天地之後有極也有名也然前天地者曰理後天地者曰母是乃理化先天陰陽氣数母生後天胎卵濕化位天地育萬育道中和然也故乾坤為大父母先天也爹娘為小父母後天也得陰陽先後天之氣以降生身則為人之初也夫人身之來者得大父母之命性賦理得小父母之精血形骸合先後天之身命我得而成人也以配天地為三才安可失性之本哉然能率性則本不失既不失本來面目又安可失身軆之去處哉夫欲尋去處先知來處來有門去有路良有以也然有何以之以之固有之知能無論知愚賢否固有知能皆可以之進道既能修道可知來處之源必能去處之委來源去委既知能必明身不修故曰自天子至於庶人壹是皆以修身為本夫修身以何以之良知良能視目聼耳曰聰日明手舞足蹈乃武乃文致知格物意誠心正心為一身之主正意誠心以足蹈五行手舞八卦手足為之四象用之殊途良能還原目視三合耳聼六道目耳亦是四形軆之一表良知歸本耳目手足分而為二皆為兩儀合之為一共為太極此由外歛入之於內亦自內發出之於外也能如是表裏精粗無不到豁然貫通希賢希聖之功自臻於曰睿曰智乃聖乃神所謂盡性立命窮神達化在茲矣然天道人道一誠而已矣
“Before there was the universe, there was the principle which governs the passive and active energies. This governing principle by which the universe exists is the core of the Way, and the way these energies flow is in the manner of complementary opposites. For passive and active to oppose and yet complement each other is a mathematical principle: to be [zeroed out in a half-and-half state of] one part passive and one part active is the Way. ‘The Way that cannot be described is the origin of the universe itself. The Way that can be described is the source of all things within the universe. [Daodejing, chapter 1]’ Before the universe existed, there was merely nothingness, and thus nothing to be described. Once the universe existed, there was finally somethingness, and thus things to be described. Before the universe existed, there awaited the principle of existence. Once the universe came into being, there was then the creative principle.
“Pre-beginning, it was the principle of existence that brought about the balanced passive and active energies. Post-beginning, the creative principle then gave rise to the ways of coming into being: gestation in a womb, hatching from an egg, spontaneous generation from water, and metamorphosis. The Way is the way of neutrality, nourishing all things by being in a balanced position between skyness and groundness. The sky and ground are your greater parents, of the pre-beginning. Your mother and father are your lesser parents, of the post-beginning. When we are born, we are the recipients of the energies of passive and active, of pre-beginning and post-beginning, and on such a basis we begin. When we are born, we are given by our greater parents our life-force and disposition, and are endowed with reason. From our lesser parents come our physical essence, blood, and bones. By the merging of the life-force and body of the pre-beginning and post-beginning, we each then become a person. For us to align with the sky and ground, taking our place as one of the three substances, we cannot ignore our fundamental origin [as a product of both].
“As long as we are able to follow our nature, we will not lose touch with our origin. By not forgetting where we come from, we will not lose touch with where we are headed, for if you want to know where you are going, you must first know where you are coming from. With our origin mapped out, our way ahead is a clear route that will be traversed by way of instinct. We all, whether smart or stupid, worthy or worthless, have an instinctive awareness that will point us to the Way. If we cultivate the Way, we will be able to know our origin and can fulfill our destiny. To know our origin and fulfill our destiny lies in being able to cultivate the self. Thus it is said [in the Da Xue]: ‘From king to commoner, it all comes down to self-cultivation.’ The way to cultivate the self is through instinctive understanding and ability: eyes keenly seeing and ears acutely hearing, hands dancing and feet prancing, martiality and civility. ‘Broaden your understanding by studying things deeply, thereby improving your intellect and smoothing your emotions.’
“Since mind is in charge of body, the intellect should be improved and the emotions smoothed in order for the feet to perform the five steps and the hands to perform the eight techniques. The hands and feet amount to four, and they can be used in such a variety of ways, but instinct is able to retrieve their basic state [of unity]. The eyes see as a union of three [what the left eye sees, what the right eye sees, what both eyes see by triangulating together] and the ears hear along the six paths. The eyes and ears amount to four, but within they function as one, instinct again regaining the basic state. Ears, eyes, hands, and feet – they each are divided into two, making two polarities, but each functioning as a unity, totaling a grand polarity.
“Gathering inward from without, expressing outward from within, all of it in this way can be reached, inside and out, specifically and in general, all understood thoroughly, and we will naturally attain the hoped-for achievements of the worthies and sages, their vision and knowledge, their wisdom and spirituality. This is what they meant by fulfilling one’s nature and facing one’s destiny, taking spirit as far as it will go and thereby causing transformation. The way of both Nature and mankind is sincerity and nothing more.”

– – –

[*Survey of Textual Variations (Wu document left side / Yang document right side):

Harmless character variants:
section 5 – 斷 / 断
7 – 淂 / 得
10 – 淂 / 得
13 – 淂 / 得
15 – 得 / 淂
21 – 顕 / 顯
23 – 缉 / 緝
24 – 憑 / 凴
30 – 顯 / 顕
ii – 淂 / 得 ; 也 / 矣
iv – 淂 / 得
vii – 淂 / 得 ; 淂 / 得 ; 淂 / 得 ; 之 / 者 ; 淂 / 得

Flipped words (one occasion in each document):
24 – 絲毫 / 毫絲
vi – 濟既 / 既濟

Missing words (one occasion in Wu document, seven occasions in Yang document):
1 – 五行者 / 五行
2 – 淂之 / 淂
13 – 淂矣 / 得
19 – 得成 / 得
22 – 半重偏 / 半重偏重
ii – 緣勁 / 勁
iv – 如對掌 / 對掌
vii – 補助身 / 補助
There are also two occasions in Yang document of missing character components:
17 – 悠久 / 攸久
25 – 呬 / 四
As for accidentally added words, there is one occasion in Wu document:
22 – 除除 / 除
In section 30, 於己人 is expanded in Yang document to 於己於人 five times, indicating deliberate addition in Yang document rather than absent-mindedness in this section of Wu document.

Mistaken words (one occasion in Wu document, ten occasions in Yang document):
3 – 知 / 覺
5 – 匾 / 區
18 – 亮 / 毫
23 – 使 / 始
24 – 囟門 / 匃門 ; 云 / 去
32 – 一然 / 亦然
iii – 末 / 未
vi – 戌 / 戍
viii – 壹 / 一 ; 手 / 乎 ]

Reference: EXPLAINING TAIJI PRINCIPLES (TAIJI FA SHUO) with an introduction and pictures of the original manuscript.

 

Chu Shong Tin – The evolution of his teaching

In honor of the late Chu Shong Tin – a legend and true master of Wing Chun

You are able to find more of Chu Shong Tin’s teachings here: Sung Wing Chun youtube.com

'Video' Post | By on March 20, 2015

We need to practice meditation gently

The most stable posture for meditation is sitting cross-legged on a cushion. Choose a cushion that is the right thickness to support you. The half-lotus and full-lotus positions are excellent for establishing stability of body and mind. To sit in the lotus position, gently cross your legs by placing one foot (for the half-lotus) or both feet (for the full-lotus) on the opposite thighs. If the lotus position is difficult, it is fine just to sit cross-legged or in any comfortable position. Allow your back to be straight, keep your eyes half closed, and fold your hands comfortably on your lap. If you prefer, you can sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting on your lap. Or you can lie on the floor, on your back, with your legs straight out, a few inches apart, and your arms at your sides, preferably palms up.
If your legs or feet fall asleep or begin to hurt during sitting meditation so that your concentration becomes disturbed, feel free to adjust your position. If you do this slowly and attentively, following your breathing and each movement of your body, you will not lose a single moment of concentration. If the pain is severe, stand up, walk slowly and mindfully, and when you are ready, sit down again.
In some meditation centers, practitioners are not permitted to move during periods of sitting meditation. They often have to endure great discomfort. To me, this seems unnatural. When a part of our body is numb or in pain, it is telling us something, and we should listen to it. We sit in meditation to help us cultivate peace, joy, and nonviolence, not to endure physical strain or to injure our bodies. To change the position of our feet or do a little walking meditation will not disturb others very much, and it can help us a lot.
Sometimes, we can use meditation as a way of hiding from ourselves and from life, like a rabbit going back to his hole. Doing this, we may be able to avoid some problems for a while, but when we leave our “hole,” we will have to confront them again. For example, if we practice our meditation very intensely, we may feel a kind of relief as we exhaust ourselves and divert our energy from confronting our difficulties. But when our energy returns, our problems will return with them.
We need to practice meditation gently, but steadily, throughout daily life, not wasting a single opportunity or event to see deeply into the true nature of life, including our everyday problems. Practicing in this way, we dwell in profound communion with life.
Thich Nhat Hanh on Sitting Meditation “Peace is every step”

On Constant Purity and Tranquility

The Wonderful Scripture on the Constant Purity and Tranquility, Spoken by the Ultra Supreme Elder Lord

The Elder Lord said:

The Great Tao, being formless, creates heavens and earths;
The Great Tao, being emotionless, runs the sun and the moon;
The Great Tao, being nameless, eternally nurtures all beings.
I do not know its name, and artificially call it “Tao”.

For things belong to Tao, some are pure, some are turbid; some are dynamic, and some are static. Heavens are pure, and earths are turbid; heavens are dynamic, and earths are static; the male are pure, and the female are turbid; the male are dynamic, and the female are static. It falls from the source and flows to the branches, therefore all things are produced.

The pure is the origin of the turbid; the dynamic is the base of the static. If one can always be pure and tranquil, the whole universe will return (to its origin).

A person’s divinity likes to be pure, but his heart disturbs it; a person’s heart likes to be tranquil, but his desires draw it away. If one can constantly dispel his desires, his heart will of itself become tranquil; if he also can make his heart limpid, his divinity will of itself become pure, then naturally, the six desires will not be produced and the three poisons will be cleansed. If one cannot achieve that, it is because his heart is not yet limpid, and his desires are not yet dispelled.

For a person who can achieve that, when he observes inward onto his heart, there is no heart; when he observes outward onto his body, there is no body; and when he observes remote things, there is no thing.

Since these three kinds of things have been understood by his heart of true self, he sees only the emptiness. Observe the emptiness by using the emptiness, the emptiness is not emptied. Since that which can be emptied does not exist, the inexistence of inexistence does not exist either; since the inexistence of inexistence does not exist, there comes the pellucid, bright, and everlasting tranquility. When it is tranquil but there is nothing that is made tranquil, how can desires be produced? Since no desire can be produced, that is the true tranquility — the Reality.

The Reality always corresponds to, and reflects all things; the Reality always stays in its nature. Always reflect in such a way, yet remain tranquil constantly, then it is the Constant Purity and Tranquility.

By keeping such purity and tranquility, one will gradually enter into the true Tao. When the true Tao is entered, that is called the Achievement of Tao. Though it is called the Achievement of Tao, there is actually nothing to achieve, just in order to enlighten living beings, it is called the Achievement of Tao. To those who can understand this with the heart of their true self, the sacrosanct Tao can be imparted.

The Elder Lord said:

A superior person does not compete, an inferior person loves to compete; the superior virtue is free from virtue, and the inferior virtue clings to virtue. Those who cling to anything do not understand Tao and Virtue.

The reason why living beings do not achieve the true Tao is because their hearts are deluded; their hearts being deluded, their divinities are perturbed; their divinities being perturbed, they are attached to myriads of things; being attached to myriads of things, greed and desires are produced; greed and desires being produced, worrying and afflictions also come. Worrying, afflictions, and illusionary consciousnesses torture their bodies and their hearts, and make them profaned by defilements and turbidities, wander among births and deaths, immersed in the ocean of afflictions constantly, and forever lose the true Tao.

The true and eternal Tao can be achieved naturally by those who understand it with the heart of their true self; and those who understand Tao with the heart of their true self, can constantly be pure and tranquil.

The Immortal Elder Gok said:

I had achieved the true Tao. Formerly I had recited this scripture ten thousand times. This scripture was studied and practiced by heavenly gods, and was not taught to inferior persons. I received it from Eastern Glory Heavenly Emperor, Eastern Glory Heavenly Emperor received it from Golden Gate Heavenly Emperor, Golden Gate Heavenly Emperor received it from Western Royal Mother. As for the direct line of Western Royal Mother’s disciples, they imparted it only by word of mouth, and never wrote down the words. Now for the world, I have recorded it by writing it down. A superior person, who understands it with his heart of true self, will ascend high and become a heavenly Immortal; a middling person, who practices it, will get his position in Southern Heavenly Palace; an inferior person, who gets it, will live in the world for a long time, and then roam through the three realms, and ascend into the Golden Gate.

Tzaw-Profoundness Real Person said:

For a person who studies Tao, if he recites and holds this scripture, he will be guarded by virtuous gods of the ten heavens, and then his divinity will be protected by the Jade Seal, his body will be refined by the Golden Liquid, then both his body and his divinity (sublimed souls) will become miraculously beautiful, and he will dissolve in Tao as the Reality.

Midmost One Real Person said:

If a family has this scripture and they truly understand it, no misfortune or obstruction will interfere with them, hosts of sages will guard their door, and their divinities will ascend to the high realm to worship lofty Real Persons in the present of them. When their merits are sufficient and their virtues are completed, the Heavenly Emperor will respond them, and by reciting and holding this scripture without retrogression, they will fly upward riding the clouds of purple light.

Translated into English by Silfong Tsun

How to avoid impact and controll contact using movement and awareness

Systema Israel youtube.com

Ancient Life Cultivation Methods

15 Advisable Actions

  1. It is advisable to comb your hair often.
  2. It is advisable to rub your face often.
  3. It is advisable to move your eyeballs often.
  4. It is advisable to rap on your ears(occiput) often.
  5. It is advisable to click your teeth often.
  6. It is advisable to swallow your saliva often.
  7. It is advisable to warm your back often.
  8. It is advisable to protect your chest often.
  9. It is advisable to massage your abdomen often.
  10. It is advisable to contract your anus(muscular contraction) often.
  11. It is advisable to rub your soles often.
  12. It is advisable to shake your limbs often.
  13. It is advisable to touch your palate with your tongue often.
  14. It is advisable to keep your skin dry often.
  15. It is advisable to be silent when you relieve yourself.

 

Various Impairments & Injuries

  • Reading for too long brings impairment of blood.
  • Sleeping for too long brings impairment of Qi.
  • Sitting for too long brings impairment of flesh.
  • Standing for too long brings impairment of bone.
  • Walking for too long brings impairment of tendons.
  • Thinking for too long brings impairment of spleen.
  • Too much anger brings impairment of liver.
  • Too much worry brings impairment of heart.
  • Too much sorrow brings impairment of lung.
  • Too much horror brings impairment of kidney.
  • Too much food brings impairment of stomach.
  • Too much exertion brings impairment of diaphragm.
  • Being injured by wind in spring usually causes diarrhea in summer.
  • Being injured by heat in summer usually causes malaria in autumn.
  • Being injured by dankness in autumn usually causes a cough in winter.
  • Being injured by cold in winter usually causes seasonal febrile disease in spring.
  • Being full and drunk to copulate causes exhaustion of spirit and strength.
  • Speaking during midnight’s sleep causes much loss of Qi.
  • Sitting(or sleeping) in wet places causes numbness,arthralgia or leprosy.
  • Braving wind and rain causes somatic heaviness and pain.
  • Overeating causes dysentery and abscess.
  • Do not take food after your anger.
  • Do not be angry after your meal.
  • Do not take cold food or drink after being drunk.
  • Do not sleep immediately after being sated with food.

 

Energy Flow(Qi) Cultivation Methods

In the midnight, a little while of still and quiet sitting(without thinking) is substantial to generate Qi in your whole body.

Whenever you are free, stir your tongue in the mouth, touch your palate with your tongue, wait for the saliva to be produced, gargle with the saliva in the mouth, gulp the saliva down with a gurgling sound, meanwhile quickly draw in a breath of fresh air through your nose and mentally direct(envision,as if you see) the fresh air accompanying the saliva(regarded as an energy flow) to flow down to “Dantian”(the point 2″ below the navel inside the underbelly, hold on for a little while. Now slightly contract up your anus, mentally direct the energy flow to go backwards to “Weilu” , then to flow upwards through “Jiaji” and “Yuzhen”, and finally to arrive at “Niwan”. Now this is a completed circle. So go round and begin again.

Frequently doing this exercise will make you healthy, strong and energetic. And you will have a sensation of the energy flow flowing in your body.

Translated by W. Zhiliang from some Chinese Traditional Medicine books published in the Qing Dynasty.

Reference: Sinoherb

Secret records of understanding the Way

TRUE AND FALSE

The Old Man of Clear Serenity said:
There is nothing in the world that does not have both

true and false versions. Practice of the Way may also be true or false, so students should first distinguish the difference clearly.

True practice is total sincerity. It is not a matter of avoiding the world or leaving society. And neither does it depend entirely on deliberate sitting and reciting scriptures. The essential thing is to refine away the false within the true to filter out the true from the false. Only then do you attain the true reality of perfect sincerity.

If you only concern yourself with reciting scriptures in front of other people and do not concern yourself with inner cultivation and self-government, or if you sit quietly all day, immobile as a statue, looking good out wardly but inwardly agitated by roaming thoughts and miscellaneous ideas‐all of this is false.

The false is antagonistic to the true, so if it is not eliminated it will harm the true. But to get rid of it you have to find the appropriate way. If you do not find the way, it is like shutting the door to catch a robber; the false can not be eliminated and the true issure to get hurt.

People who are not of the highest wisdom are influenced and conditioned by false images every day, so they lose sight of natural realities. They are so used to untruth that it becomes truth for them.

Even if there are some who have a little higher consciousness and clearly know that worldly affairs are all artificial, when taught to cultivate the real they still find the artificial hard to relinquish. If they are to be resolute, they first have to refine themselves within the artificial until they feel they have no more interest in artificial things; if they set them aside to seek the real after that, then they will be able to find the real.

If you happen to have been born in a rural area and are basically uncomplicated and unaffected, and never having experienced the bedazzlement of prosperity you do n o t know there is such a thing asartificiality, then you do not know there is reality either. That is because the real is hidden within the artificial and the artificial is not outside the real. What is quintessential is to be able to find out the real in the midst of the artificial and discern the artificial in the midst of the real.

Therefore cultivation of the Way does not require leaving home. You must mix with society, harmonizing illumination, living in the material world without being infected by materialism.

The Old Man of Clear Serenity said:
In quiet sitting, whether or not there is a specific process, you should not cling to form. If you consciously and deliberately try to apply mental images, you are prone to develop all sorts of illnesses. That is called drawing a snake with legs on it; you will bring trouble on yourself.

When we look into the source of this problem, we find it can be attributed to one’s own fixation, inflexibility, and habituation to biased views. It also comes from conceit and rigidity and failure to clarify instructions from a teacher so as to understand them thoroughly.

The upshot of this failure to abide by the principles of the practice, taking in the elixir too rapidly, without the process’s being completed, sitting hastily and carelessly before yin and yang energies have found their respective places.

Some consciously focus their attention on the lower elixir field when they sit. Some roll their eyes up into their heads to gaze upward. They are doing mental gymnastics.

Some concentrate attention on the breathing, like pumping a bellows. Some focus their minds on counting breaths, trying to take energy in without letting it out.

There are a number of such patterns. They can cause dizziness, deafness, reddening of the eyes, distention of the abdomen, pain in the tendons and bones, mental fogginess, nocturnal emissions, and other symptoms.

People who lack the basic capacity tend to develop illnesses by what they do in their pretenses of practicing Taoism. What they do not realize is that practicing the Way is cultivating and nurturing the Way of nature, the natural course.

First it is essential to clear the mind and minimize desires. After that, you preserve and nurture the vital spirit. You may succeed in prolonging life, or even in permanent realization of wizardry or buddhahood; but the effective result is due to inconspicuous practice according to principle, clearing the mind and not making up anything‐it does not come from artificial contrivance.

Generally speaking, quiet sitting has three types of principles. First there are the principles on which higher alchemy is based. In the middle there are the principles of refining the alchemical elixir. Finally there are the principles of lower alchemy.

So every step has its process. The order must be understood, the principles must be observed. Even those who are sincere and genuine may be able to keep the principles of preparation and procedure, but most act carelessly when it comes to completion.

I am going to reverse the order and talk about lower alchemy. You cannot rush; you will be finished only when you have attained thorough resolution, so that your vital spirit is clear and fresh. Otherwise you will merely have one or two experiences, or the process will break down after starting.

If you are careless with lower alchemy, it is very easy to cause harm. I see so many people trying to practice without doing it correctly from the start. Before their minds are settled, and before they have perceived the right conditions, they immediately cross their legs, fold their hands, and deliberately sit. Their heads are not right to start with; their bodies are not upright,their gaze is not even. They try to operate the process before the fire is even burning in the furnace. Even though there remain a number of conditions that have to be present, they cannot wait‐ they thus shut eyes tight, so that purity and pollution are not distinguished and positive energy cannot rise. This way of practice is hardly effective.

In practice, the eyes and ears are the most difficult point. If you simply take the distention of the primary opening to be the process of the work, you may experience itching and ringing in the ears, blurriness in the eyes, and drooling from the mouth that must be consciously drawn in. These are all examples of inability to await the right opportunity, like eyesight and light unable to combine.

If the opening of the ears has not been shut to the outside, the breath in the nose has not become subtle, the true liquid has not been produced, or the fire in the furnace has not been ignited, no state is genuine.

It is altogether essential to reach the point where the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue merge, and vitality, energy, and spirit fuse; that is when the light of insight shines forth. If you do not wait for the medicine to be produced and the fire to ignite, how can the great elixir be refined? If the firing is insufficient, the negative polluted energy in the body cannot be cleared away. Then pure positive energy cannot rise.

I always tell people that the first essential of practice is to even the temper well. You should not practice sitting hastily; wait until positive energy rises and the medicine is produced – only then is the time right.

When it comes to contemplating emptiness, it is essential to attain reversal of attention inward, the state of turning the light around. Rolling the eyes up into the head is not reversal of attention, nor is it turning the light around when the eyes see darkness. You must reach the point where the eyes do not see, the ears do not hear, and the breathing in the nose is extremely subtle. Then you have no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind; you are aware only of the existence of the primary opening, nothing else.

When you arrive here, the light of your true nature emerges. This is called the celestial monarch of the four elements offering a bowl.

Afterward, work on not letting go of this little mystic pass; that will surely be a good way to produce an alchemical pill. But work individually, because the state of turning the light around may take more or less time, depending on the individual.

Above all, don’t be in a hurry. If you do n o t wait for a genuine state to occur but forcibly withdraw your vision and consider that to be turning the light around, sitting with your eyes closed, then positive energy cannot get in and negative energy cannot get out. You will only toil uselessly, without benefit.

There are some people who roll their eyes up into their heads and gaze upward with excessive force. If they do this for a long time, they will suffer either brain damage or possibly blindness, both irreversible. This is very harmful, so I have taken up the admonitions left by the masters over the ages to systematically encompass the practical requirements for realizing the Way.

I have revealed the mechanisms of mysticism without fear of celestial regulations, in hopes that each individual may find out what it is to be human, and return home, to permanent realization of the state of fulfillment of higher development.

If you have worked for a long time but have not perceived any truth, it is because your mind is still unstable. Sages taught people to know how to stop, after which there is stability, calm, and peaceful meditation. The function of stabilization is great indeed! If you practice correctly, your mind will be stable and your temper will be even‐how could you then be unable to perceive truth?

Sitting work is called quiet sitting because it is a matter of cleaning all the pollution from your mind. Once the pollution is gone and your mind is clear, truth naturally becomes evident. The reason people cannot see truth is simply because their minds are too noisy and they cannot see through things and events as they really are.

Whether or not they practice quiet sitting, practitioners of the Way must clean old impurities out of the mind, making it clear and pure. Renew this work daily, without haste or hurry, and eventually you will spontaneously see the benefit.

So when you begin, it is essential to make a real effort. Accumulating vitality is setting up the foundation. Stopping thoughts is principal. Unifying spirit and energy is obtaining the medicine. Keeping the spirit still and not letting it scatter is incubation. Refining the spirit back into cosmic space is obtaining the alchemical pill. After the pill is complete, is it not the highest universal truth?

There is a folk saying that if you want effort to deepen, wear an iron pestle down to an embroidery needle. The point is that practitioners of the Way must not be in a hurry to see results.

Whether or not there is any progress cannot be determined on the surface. You should know there is a time to rise up and a time to lie low, a time to go forward and a time to withdraw. It is like walking a mountain path, which has high and low places, even and uneven places‐how can it be viewed as all the same?

You just have to follow the right pathway and you won’t go wrong. As long asyou don’t stop walking, eventually you will reach the peak, so why hurry? If you hurry, your legs and feet will get numb, your head will get dizzy, your eyesight will get blurry, and you will gasp for breath. Then, instead of speeding on your way, you have created obstacles. Unable to go on, you will give up along the way. Isn’t that a waste of all your previous effort?

Strive to break through material form, empty your body and mind, and become lively and fluid. Don’t “draw a snake with legs on it” and you will naturally not be guilty of “drawing a tiger like a dog.” Develop your character in relation to the outside world as much as you can. When your practice is accomplished and its results are fulfilled, then real truth can be seen without looking, inherently containing endless subtleties.

Reference: Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body translated by Thomas Cleary p. 123 – 130

Investigating the Method of Tai Chi Boxings Push Hand

Step One: The Push Hands System of Awareness Energy

From the preceding account of the skillful practice of the set, you have arrived at the level of Push hands. Awareness energy is acquired through the practice of Push hands. Two people must practice this together, and this practice is very important. If your Push hands opponent does not have a high level of skill, then you will fall into bad habits. Get the best-qualified Push hands opponent in order to mutually refine and polish this art. Then you will move on to the higher level of the method.

You must practice Push hands in accordance with the sphere of the T’ai Chi boxing books or you should not Push hands. You cannot get this from drawings or photos. If you try to learnPush hands from pictures or an unqualified opponent, you will develop the defect of slipping hands, and the technique will not be effective. The rules for Push hands practice follow:

I. Open,Close,Yin,andYang

T’ai Chi theory says that T’ai Chi was born from Wu Chi, and Wu Chi is the mother of Yin and Yang. When there is movement, Yin and Yang separate, and in stillness they recombine. Theory also says that this subtle reasoning is the foundation of T’ai Chi boxing. The idea is to contain stillness inside. If the Ch’i is peaceful and harmonious, then you can distinguish the opponent’s energy. In stillness there is movement, then you can transfer the refined Ch’i to spirit and change the opponent’s energy.

With movement, the Yin and Yang are separated. This is called opening, and it is outward drawing of silk; it is attack. When you are still and the Yin and Yang are combined, this is inward drawing of silk; it is defense. In all of the T’ai Chi movements, don’t forget these two functions. In the use of opening and closing the body, you must implement the achievement of Yin and Yang. Inside you contain empty, solid, receiving, and releasing. One arrives at the level of using tension and relaxation. The two must strive to be corresponding and then you can change in any direction. If you do not fully understand Yin and Yang, regardless of how clever you are, it is of no use in this skill. The T’ai Chi is born of two ideas. Only if you adhere to the above category can you attain the function of Yin and Yang. Never be without this principle.

2. Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow

Boxing theory says that you must utilize the movement of Yin and Yang. Use the opponent’s posture to follow his form, and use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time. Then the light can overcome the heavy. It’s all in the timing. The term “ not arrive” means to get rid of defects. When you “arrive” you have sticking energy.

The term “ not passing” refers to having light energy. To “follow the bent” is moving energy. If you cannot bend, then you have the defect of stiffness. To “follow the stretched” is following energy. If you expand to excess, then there is the defect of resistance. These four uses of energy are only learned through the practice of Push hands. There is no other way to get the actual use. You must complement these skills with the qualities of categories three and four, below.

3. Hard and Soft

Shifting between hard and soft smoothly and easily. T’ai Chi theory says that if an opponent is hard, I am soft. This is called evading. I follow the opponent’s back and it is called adhering. When his strength comes toward me, I respond softly. Soft and hard dwell together. During soft energy you must especially conceal Peng ching. Don’t forget the top of the head, then you can evade. If you are soft without Peng ching and attempt to become hard, the movements will be stiff. This cannot be called evading. If you can change from hard to soft in a smooth and easy manner, you can limit someone who is not smooth and easy. The person is drained of his power. To adhere is to attack; it is hard. Evading is the defense; it is soft.

Evading is called draining energy, and adhering is called replenishing energy. When a man possesses this adhering and evading energy, then he can regulate the opponent’s energy. After the skill of adhering and evading is acquired, the opponent’s energy can be felt or intuited.

4. Quick, Slow, Adhering, and Evading

T’ai Chi boxing theory says that when the movement is quick, then respond quickly. If the movement is slow, then slowly follow. Although you use evading to draw someone in, adhering is used to break the opponent’s root or balance. The opponent’s motion must be followed whether it is fast or slow.

So, if the movement is fast, then respond fast. If the movement is slow, then slowly follow. When you have this achievement of responding with the appropriate speed, the quick and slow support each other. This is the way to feel the opponent’s changes between motion and stillness. Examine these four categories when you practice. If you are not in the habit of using Open, Close, Yin, and Yang to move energy, then you can’t judge the degree of fast and slow motion because you have not learned to distinguish the hard and soft. When you Push hands, also pay attention to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, and the smooth and easy change from soft to hard. How can you expect to correctly use T’ai Chi boxing if you can’t distinguish Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, or if you don’t get the essence of Adhere and Evade?

In order to receive this awareness energy, you must do what is required, which is to Push hands for along period of time and gain deep experience. Afterwards, the real Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow can beborn. This is learning T’ai Chi boxing. You cannot excel without this stage of practice. Although the category of Adhere and Evade has many facets and complications, the principle is as stated. You must Push hands to maturity and gradually comprehend this awareness energy. From this awareness energy you can attain the class of the Gods. To avoid using strength takes a long time, and it is not possible to understand it suddenly. This is to learn Push hands, and the process of learning awareness energy. Study and research the above four steps.

Questions:

I. Do you have opening and closing energy in all of your movements? Do you have outward and inward drawing of silk?

2. Are Yin and Yang clearly distinguished in all move‐ ments? Are empty and solid clearly distinguished?

3. Do you have fast and slow power in all movements? Can you move between fast and slow smoothly and easily?

Step Two: The Posture and Force of Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow

I. Lightness

T’ai Chi boxing theory says that empty and solid energy are also at the top of the head. You must have lightness and dexterity in order to utilize Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow. After achieving lightness, you can know the heavy. The energy of the top of the head is empty and suspended. It is said that the top of the head has Peng ching. This is when the spirit of vitality‘is aroused. Then you won’t have to worry about being slow or heavy, and the changes will benatural and lively.

2. Sinking

Boxing theory says that the Ch’i sinks to the Tan T’ien. In order to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, you must have the ability to sink. After sinking is understood, you can overcome opponents and not be overcome. Make the Ch’i sink to the Tan T’ien. This is the power of lower Peng ching. The mind moves the Ch’i, then you must sink and get the Ch’i to penetrate into the bones. Then when you push hands, you won’t just be blown by the Wind.

3. Upright and not leaning

Boxing theory says that to achieve this Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow you must not lean or incline. Your body must have the power of being upright, then you can sustain anattack from any direction. This upright body will provide you with a good position, enabling you to deal with all circumstances. This way a rigid posture won’t be your downfall.

4. Don’t lean on, don’t sink into

T’ai Chi boxing theory says that if you want to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow it is harmful to lean against an opponent’s body or allow him to lean against you. This is important in learning awareness energy. Also, if the body rises up , then the root is broken. So you draw in the opponent but do not let him lean.

5. Dexterity

T’ai Chi boxing theory says “suddenly conceal, suddenly manifest.” In order to use Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, you must have the power of dexterity and liveliness. When you conceal you are soft and light. When you manifest you are hard and sinking. You can interchange soft and hard, lightness and sinking. Your dexterity is rapid. Opponents can’t measure you, yet it is extremely easy to understand their methods.

The above five categories must beunderstood. Relaxation and tension are only focused on one thing at a time. Later, the two I shoulders will each have a different purpose at the same time. If the left is heavy, then the right is light. If the right is heavy, then the left is light. This is the power of dexterity. If the opponent leans back, then you adhere high. If he leans towards you, then stick deep. If the opponent enters, then make the connection long. If he retreats, then closely follow. Attain this power. This is the consciousness of dexterity. A feather cannot be added without the body coming to life. Even a fly landing on the body will set it in motion.

Boxing theory also says that “Men do not know me, I alone know men.” A hero is without peer because of this, because of learning Push hands. Study and research this second step.

Questions:

I. Does the dexterity rise to the top? Is the t o p suspended? 2. Is the Ch’i sunk to the Tan T’ien?
3. Is the body upright and n o t leaning?
4. Is there the defect of leaning against the opponent?
5. Is there a smooth and easy transfer from hard to soft? From lightness to sinking?

If you have the above categories mastered without defects, then you have the proper posture of Push hands. You can say that you have the spirit of vitality. Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow. Don’t worry if this achievement does not happen right away. Seek out the awareness energy and you can prevail over other systems.

Step Three: Seeking Awareness Energy in Push Hands

I. Balancingenergy

T’ai Chi boxing theory says that in order to seek out awareness energy, the body must stand like a scale. The top of the head is the top of the scale. The two hands at the left and right are the weighing plates. The two shoulders linked together form the scale’s horizontal beam. The waist is the scale’s root and the sacrum is the base of the upright post, threaded from the sacrum to the top of the head in a straight line. When the body stands like a scale, it can weigh the opponent’s energy‐whether it is great or small, light or heavy, rising or sinking. Everything is manifested in this scale. This is called the light and heavy method of awareness energy.

2. Neutralizing energy

T’ai Chi boxing theory says be lively like a wheel. Seek awareness energy. Although the body is like a scale, the wheel still needs to be installed. You need to think of measuring an opponent yet not being measured. You must measure and follow. The Ch’i must move the wheel. The waist is the axle, the two shoulders joined together wait, and the wheel moves horizontally side to side. The wheel moves in an erect position. One touch from any direction and it turns. This is how to get the measurement. This is called the directional method of awareness energy.

3. Pulling and attracting

T’ai Chi boxingtheory says to sink to one side and follow. If your body is double-weighted, then it is impeded. Use awareness energy to know the opponent’s direction – whether it is coming or going, or whether it is light or heavy, and to what degree. If you can do this, then you have the method of awareness energy. The body stands like a scale, not leaning. Also, it is lively like a wheel.

If the opponent adds strength in any direction, then you feel the sinking of your weight on one side in the direction of the movement. This is to “sacrifice yourself to follow the opponent.” If the energy comes in, then the wheel revolves and you can draw in the opponent. If the energy goes away from you, then pull and four ounces can topple a thousand pounds. This pulling energy is very important in learning Push hands. The parent of pulling energy is the power of sinking on one side. If the opponent adds strength, you must adjust the sinking on that side. Then the body can revolve. This action of the wheel is hidden in the sinking of one side of your body. This hidden and uneven sinking can be to the left, right, up, down, front, or back, and the wheel will drag as it revolves. If you try to form the wheel at the left, right, front, or back with equal weight on both feet, you will have the defect of double-weightedness. Equal weight will impede the wheel and the body won’t be able to move. If you lean past the balance point, the wheel will be toppled. You can measure another’s energy level by this sinking on one side. Note that this is a hidden leaning.

The above three categories comprise the method of awareness energy. The body must be like a scale and a wheel simultaneously. The pulling action lends impetus to the movements. Boxing classics say that you may study for many years to gain this awareness and power, but if you have not corrected the defect of double‐weightedness, you still cannot prevail over an opponent. To avoid this defect you must know Yin and Yang as well as the dexterity, solidity, lightness, and sinking, and the theory of reversal. You also must know how to adhere and evade. The hard and soft changes must be smooth and easy. When you have mastered these flowing changes, then adhering is evading and evading is adhering. Yin does not leave Yang, and Yang does not leave Yin. Evading and adhering are actually one response. Yin and Yang are combined. This is called awareness energy. When awareness energy is understood, the more you practice, the more refined you become. Gradually you can do what you intend.

Learn the steps of Push hands and study the following:

I. Does the scale feel the strength and weakness of the opponent? Can you distinguish it inside?

2. Outside, you have the wheel’s rubber band; inside, is the degree of Ch’i enough?

3. When pulling, does it follow your intentions? Is it lively when changing from light to sinking?

4. Is your mental concentration good? Is dexterity never awkward or forced?

If you can answer yes to the above and fulfill the requirements of high-quality T’ai Chi, then you have the achievement of awareness energy. From this you can be sure of success. When this energy is understood, the body can follow in any direction that is required. You can strike without effort. From awareness energy alone it becomes possible to “sacrifice yourself to follow others.”

When following others, you are in control, but if you follow blindly it has no effect.When following there must be a fixed spot to follow. Following can’t be effected without knowledge. Respond from the nearest point to yourself and adhere. After you adhere to this point you turn and there is no escape for the opponent. Then follow, and regardless of how the opponent changes, adhere to this point’s center of gravity. Follow one point not two . Follow closely, because if you do your body can become a lever. Then it is easy to get the opportunity and position of boxing. If one point is followed, then you won’t grasp at shadows and miss the opponent. This is to seek awareness energy. This is understood from paying proper attention to adhere and evade. Most men can’t function close in. T’ai Chi boxing theory says the foundation of this boxing method is to sacrifice yourself to follow the opponent. This is the ultimate conclusion of the T’ai Chi boxing theory. Learn to respond with extreme attention and focus. When you practice ask yourself questions and discern the answers.

For reference, the study of the above three steps is for Push hands. Study and research these main points as the foundation of this exercise. It is imperative that you know Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow without the defect of leaning or inclining. If you fall short in any way, the movements are less than skillful.

Reference: The Tai Chi Boxing Chronicle by Kuo Lien-Ying p. 33 – 42

The 10 tenets of Qigong

  1. Tranquility
  2. Experiencing
  3. Nothingness
  4. Emptiness
  5. Rootedness
  6. Openness
  7. Oneness
  8. Compassion
  9. Harmony
  10. The Way

Tranquillity
Take emptiness to the limit; maintain tranquillity in the center” — Lao Tzu

In other words immerse oneself in a state of tranquillity. It is the basic of basics that one be able to keep a peaceful mind. To be able to remain in a state of deep tranquillity is a prerequisite to attaining higher qigong states, and it is the core of practice.

The first consideration is whether we can achieve that state of tranquillity. Practically every practitioner has come across this or that difficulty, or had this experience or that attainment. For beginners, it is always difficult to relax and quiet down. This may not be a problem for someone who has a more receptive mind and whose body naturally relaxes when the mind quiets down. But for most beginners, it is very difficult to quiet one’s thoughts and relax the body. They usually need to relax their bodies before their minds can calm down.

Then, how can we enter this tranquil state? Handed down from a long time ago is a qigong saying: “substitute ten thousand thoughts with one.” It is so basic that to practice any qigong forms or routines, particularly in the elementary and intermediate stages, no one can expect to go anywhere if it is not first achieved.

What exactly is “substituting ten thousand thoughts with one”? How do we do it? Following are some answers.

First is to adjust the body. This applies to the general meditation routines, including standing and sitting meditation. While either standing or sitting, try to loosen up your body‐muscle, blood circulation, bones and countenance. When each and every organ in your body is relaxed, your mind will naturally follow. This method is easy to do and is efficacious to many. Someone who has never done qigong training should first ease off the forehead, then the eyes, and feel the effect; next loosen up the whole body, from head to heel, inside out, and untighten the muscles until there is nothing between the bones and the muscles. Little by little, the mind also quiets down.

Second is to control one’s breathing. There are quite a few breathing exercises and many books are available about methods that can be used.You can adopt any kind of breathing method as long as it helps you relax and is also convenient for you. Although there are various levels of breathing control, general practitioners should only be concerned with convenience.

Third, focus attention on certain body parts; for example, concentrate on the dantien point. This point of concentration replaces all others and gradually one enters tranquillity.

Fourth, try chanting mantras.This is essential fort he Buddhist Pure Land qigong, which teaches no other methods other than chanting the mantra, “Nammo Amida Buddha.” You can do it in silence, or in a low voice. After chanting this mantra day in and day out, you will do it without any conscious effort, even with out uttering the sound. You can walk on the street or do other things, yet the rhythm of the mantra has become so instilled in your consciousness that the sound, audible or not , produces its effect. There is no mystery in Buddhist mantras or other incantations; they simply substitute endless thoughts with the singleness of mantra recitation.

For example,say you are talking to an old country woman. It would be quite irrelevant if you try to teach her all about qigong theory.All you need to do is tell her to chant “Nammo Amida Buddha,” and after chanting thousands and thousands of times she will have the blessings of both spiritual wellness and physical health.Chances are she will be so immersed in the mantra that all other thoughts are dispelled and she will have achieved the desired tranquillity. She has no more worries and her health is regained. As a result, her family benefits and that is a blessing.

Fifth, concentrate on the routine. Different schools of qigong teach different routines, which are sets of body movements, together with regulated circulation of qi, the energy, and point of attention. Some schools stress the importance of the mind. Others claim that mind plays no part in their practice.

Right now in China, Fragrance Qigong is very popular.Many practitioners of this style claim that it is good to practice Fragrance routine because it involves no mind. It is simple and effective. Normally I make no comments on the alleged pros and cons of various styles of qigong. Yet in this case, when one does such routines as Phoenix Nodding, Dragon Tail, or Bodhidharma Rowing, one certainly gets some idea of the meaning of such titles. What is in your mind when such phrases flash by? That is a thought‐ a good one, though. Also, it seems to be pure movement without thought when you are doing the routines. Nonetheless, the act of doing movements contains thought,a single-pointed thought that dispels all others. This is yet another example of “substituting ten thousand thoughts with one.”

I must be honest and say that all the popular forms of qigong are not high level ones. Advanced qigong routines are generally transmitted in encoded forms by the masters. Regardless, even these popular forms and routines simply will be of no use if they ignore the function of the mind.

I will give another example to make my point. Kong Jing qigong also emphasizes pure movements. It equates its routines with the circulation system of the human body; for example, the movement of each finger corresponds to a specific blood vessel. Its movements can cause strong energy flow in the body. Again, it claims that mind has nothing to do with the movements.But even so, one needs to concentrate on the motions to be able to practice well, which is not different from concentrating on the meridian points. All in all, these simple routines are easy to follow and offer a good start for beginning students.

For every qigong form, especially on the elementary and intermediate levels, the most fundamental issue is to be able to enter deep relaxation and direct your mind to a single point of attention instead of being swamped with myriad thoughts. I hope to open a clearer way of looking at the different forms and moves of qigong, and to facilitate your practice. Such understanding will also help you gradually and naturally find the way that fits your individual needs. Better yet, you may be able to come up with ways that can help you relax faster.

A lot of qigong movements have interesting names, such as those we mentioned earlier and others like Holding the Sun and Moon, Embracing the Universe, Standing on Snow Mountain, and so forth. They all connote some positive message, which infuses the practitioner with a certain psychological association. Imagining traveling through the infinite light of the universe or imagining being totally transparent can certainly help with one’s understanding of the movements. Therefore we can see the purpose of these titles. Would you like a movement that is named A Mouse Crossing the Street? I think not.

The next thing to do is desist thinking, which means in the process of quieting down, cease any thought the moment it emerges, instead of letting it run wild. Usually the mind will pop up with new ones,and it is important to halt each one as soon as it arises. Before long, you will acquire the ability to shut out any unwanted thoughts, and eventually you will be able to do it without ever being conscious of the process.This is the high level you should seek. Again, it is to “substitute ten thousand thoughts with a single one.” The single thought is used as a means to halt the ten thousand thoughts.

The last step is to “conquer without conquering.” You can read about this in the Buddhist Diamond Sutra. What does it mean? Say you are agitated, and your mind just will not calm down. What can you do? Just ignore it. Yield to it. Make no effort to subdue it. In the long run,the mind will surrender it self, and thus you have conquered your mind without conquering. This is also of a higher nature, which is more difficult to attain.

When you try to quiet down, your mind is unlikely to cooperate readily. It churns out all kinds of thoughts. At such a moment, you need to sit quietly, trying to figure out where your “true self” hides. Through the eye of your true self, try to observe your mind. It may run in every direction, but your true self can manage it. In due course, you will enter a state of deep meditation despite the resistance of your surface mind. The deep tranquillity and the surface flow of thoughts can co-exist. However, your original mind remains undisturbed even when thought seems to be still flowing on the surface. This state of mind is of a much higher level.

The Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism, Hui Neng, once said, “I myself possess no talent, but I never cease thinking.” What he meant was that amidst the turmoil of mind activities, his true mind remains peacefully undisturbed. Just like the ocean in the storm ‐ underneath the surges, it remains calm and serene.

We have discussed the seven ways of achieving tranquillity. Once you are able to make them thoroughly your own, all the mysteries of qigong will become clear. Why is it that calligraphy can help you enter tranquillity? Before starting to use the brush, you wash your hands, dust the desk and lay down the paper. In the old times, people also lit incense. You then sit straight and hold your brush. Now you concentrate on one thing only ‐ doing your calligraphy well. That’s it! The numerous thoughts are now replaced by only this single one, and you easily enter the state of qi.

Experiencing
By experiencing, we mean that when you are practicing qigong, try not to involve any intellectual analysis. Forget all that you have learned and known. Of course, when you are not doing the routines, you should learn as much as possible about qigong theory. Think about it. Talk about it yourself. Listen to others talk about it.Turn it over in your mind.Try to understand it.But when you are doing the routines, think of nothing. No theory. Instead, experience every movement.
This perspective may not be shared by some practitioners. That is all right. Even so, try not to think too much. Just keep it in mind. Sooner or later you will experience its meaning. If not,keep on and it will sink in.It is most important to experience with your heart and with your soul.

Nothingness
In qigong practice, “nothingness” cannot be overstressed. We need to set aside all our attachments to levels and achievements, even to qigong itself. “Nothingness” is really a transcendental state, a natural state of being. For instance, a group of people gathers together. Somebody in charge tells them not to stand too close, sothey quickly disperse. Now the person in charge asks them to please stand more naturally, and everybody begins to assume a more natural posture. They probably did not realize that the way they stood before making the adjustment was the most natural, since nobody was conscious of it. As soon as they were reminded to “be natural,” the spontaneity was lost.

The moment of spontaneous posing can be referred to as “nothingness,” the most natural state of being. It is also analogous to our qigong practice. You do not have to be too fastidious about each move. Just try to relax. Flow through it.

Emptiness
I have gone into great length on this topic in the previous section so I won’t repeat myself.
While we maintain an empty state of mind, our bodies undergo certain changes. They are involuntary. I will not go into details since that may create certain visions, which may be come a hindrance in our practice and lead us astray.

Just pay attention to the changes that take place in the state of pure emptiness, that moment of divine inspiration.

Rootedness
No matter what school of qigong we follow, it is essential that we experience its origin. The same is true with looking at our world: go beyond the surface, the image,and the perception until you get to its origin.
A book is produced with paper. The paper is made of trees, straw or other materials. The trees and straw are grown in nature. Nature forms part of our universe. And where does the universe come from? On and on we reflect on the original state of our world. In the qigong state, we can often experience miraculous phenomena.

Openness
Let me first show you an experiment that can be done during mediation. As soon as you calm down, try to imagine that you can see the meridian points in your body. Some of you may be able to actually look inward and see the channels. When the images of these points appear, imagine again that all the points in your body are open and connected. If you keep on visualizing, your body will experience certain changes. You then imagine that not only your body organs are linked, but your mind and body are connected, too. Through this experiment, you may experience the wonder of qigong.

My research tells me that whenever our minds are blocked, our bodies will be affected by the blockage as well. When you are caught in a difficult situation,you may pull al ong face. Don’t think it is just your face showing the anxiety; your entire body also is burdened. If you ease off your facial muscles, your look will be relaxed and your body will in turn loosen up. Life is a material form of interrelations.Your facial expression is connected with your body organs.
It is known in modern medicine that through a single hair we can know the health of a person. Similarly, in Traditional Chinese Medicine,the ear-acupuncture therapy, with needles applied to one’s ears, can cure ailments in other body organs, for example.
When your brows are knitted because of worry, not only is your body knitted, but your internal organs are also tightened into knots. We often use such phrases as”my heart was in my mouth ,” ” it makes my blood curdle,” “ it delights the cockles of my heart,” and so forth. These are not just descriptive terms. They relate to certain body and mental states. When a person is fearful, his face shows it. His heart also feels the dread. On the other hand, when a person is serene, not only his facial expression tells it but his body feels the peace as well. We need to observe and understand our body-mind relations.

In my work, The Decoding of Human Metaphysical Phenomena, I wrote that “our facial expression is our transient and changeable physiognomy which is in turn our permanent and fixed facial expression.”
A person may be born with a good looking face, but if he or she has been over burdened by the hardships of life , then gradually the look becomes one of distress. A sad face does not look nice. Sometimes the genes may carry it to the next generation.

When you feel mentally distressed, your digestive system may also suffer. Stomach disease, indigestion, and distress are all related. Long term depression may lead to heart ailments. This is now common medical knowledge.
Pay special attention to keeping a peaceful mind. When practicing, signal your self to open up, to connect every artery and channel of your body.

Oneness
To be one with the universe is the ultimate state of qigong. Many qigong guidelines tell us to merge ourselves with heaven and earth, be in harmony with man and universe, and embrace the cosmos. These are some basic principles of qigong practice. However, at higher levels of practice things may be different.
These guide lines are a good way to initiate practitioners into qigong. On the other hand, their over emphasis can be paradoxical. It may become a subjective desire rather than the actual experience, which can lead to illusions. It is important that we reach a state of pure harmony with the universe through our own practice and experience. Do not rely on what the masters say or what the books say. We need to experience this by ourselves.

Compassion
To be compassionate and loving means that we should be kind to everything and everyone. Those who have a kind heart can be close to the state of qigong even without practicing. On the contrary, a person who always harbors unkind thoughts may find it extremely hard to do well even with incessant practice.
From a macro viewpoint, compassion and love form the psychological mainstay in our daily lives as we practice qigong. Of course, for a compassionate and loving person, there will be unavoidable moments of trouble, suffering, anger, or narrow‐mindedness. It is perfectly understandable and we should not be overcritical.

Say for example a person gave some much needed assistance to an old man who is in a life threatening situation; the giver would feel very happy and in a good state of mind. If he did his qigong routines at such a time, the effect would be very good, too. He may have a marvelous experience. On the contrary,if aperson was engaged in something shady and then did his routines, a negative effect could result.
To be compassionate and loving enables us to better receive energy from the universe. Vicious thoughts make us out of sorts with our environment, hence attracting negative energy. Being compassionate and loving is not only a psychological requirement but also a basic practicing skill.

Harmony
The concept of harmony should be understood in the context of qigong. It does not mean that we should not fight against the evils in our daily life.
To maintain harmony is more than what etiquette requires in our speech and in how we deal with people. More importantly, we need it in our qigong practice. Maintaining harmony all around us is in itself a state of being. In Chinese language, harmony contains the meaning “soothing the qi.” Cultivate harmony with your‐self and the universe. When you are in harmony with heaven, the earth and all beings, you harmonize the various life forces into yourself. Try to experience it , feel it and understand it.
While in a group,an adept qigong practitioner can immediately sense from its energy field whether the group is in accord. When we detect disharmony, then we do our best to bring back the harmony, to synchronize the energy flow. It is a way to practice and improve oneself. If a practitioner diffuses discord everywhere, he causes pain. He is then far away from his goal of maintaining harmony.

The Way
Man models himself on the Earth; The Earth models itself on Heaven; Heaven models it‐self on the Way; And the Way models itself on that which is so on its own.” — Lao Tzu
This means man should observe the ordinance of heaven and earth, while heaven and earth operate on the laws of the cosmos, and the cosmos complies with the principles of the Tao. Ultimately, the Tao follows the prescript of nature.
Following nature is the ultimate achievement of qigong. Model ourselves on that which is so on its own. Accept and take whatever is natural.

Reference: The Essence of Qigong By Ke Yun Lun
p. 53 – 63

Breathing Methods and Practice Tips of Health Qigong

by Gong Lihui 2012

Breathing practice is one of the important exercises in practicing Health Qigong. Only when the exerciser is aware of the importance of breathing, using the correct breathing posture with right methods to make the most of breathing, can he learn Health Qigong well and reach the goal of dispelling diseases and strengthening his body.

Breathing is an Important Part of Health Qigong

Health Qigong is a traditional Chinese physical exercise, the movements of which mainly combine exerciser’s body movement, breathing and psychological regulation together. Health Qigong is characterized by its breathing exercise, which makes it fundamentally different from other physical exercises. In a sense, Health Qigong is the practice of inhaling and exhaling. Therefore, before practicing Health Qigong, one should be clear about the importance of breathing, and take it as a key exercise in Health Qigong.

The Breathing of Health Qigong is an Active One

Different from our normal breathing, which is inborn, instinctive, automatic and unconscious, the breathing of Health Qigong is active, conscious and can be regulated by the exerciser. The instinctive breathing of human beings is controlled by nervous centralis in lower brain stem such as medulla, mesocephalon, and spinal marrow. The breathing regulated by Health Qigong is controlled by the upper brain respiratory center like cerebral cortex. These two control centers are totally independent. And this is the difference between the kind of breathing system and some biological systems controlled by automatic nerves, such as cardiovascular system, digestive system and endocrine system. Health Qigong is just based on the regulatory subjective awareness of the breathing system. By making full use of this regulatory subjective awareness of the breathing system and through conscious practice, Health Qigong helps one regulate and strengthen his breathing activity in a scientific way, facilitate the flow of one’s qi and blood so as to achieve the aim of dispelling illness and keeping fit.

Breathing Regulation is the Central Link of the “Three Regulations”

The regulations of body movement, breathing and psychology are the three elements of Health Qigong, which are also known as “three regulations”. The regulation of body movement means adjusting the figure and posture of body to make it suitable and relaxed to do the practice. Breathing regulating means adjusting the rhythm of breath, making it flow naturally to promote blood circulation and massage internal organs, meridian and collateral. Psychological regulation means adjusting one’s mental activities through eliminating distractions to improve the practice effect. The regulation of body movement is the premise; the breathing regulation is the core, dominating the other two; and psychological regulation is the guarantee and is subordinate to breathing practice. The three regulations are interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. They combine with each other organically and none of them is dispensable. As ancient people put it, “without correct body movement, your qi will not flow well. Without a well flow of qi, your mind will get no peace. Without peace in mind, you will have your qi decentralized.” Only when your spirit and body harmoniously combine together, can qi flow smoothly inside your body, thus achieving the effect of keeping in good health.

Breathing Makes Health Qigong Safe and Effective

Breathing is the Key to Keep Vitality

According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, “the qi between heaven and the earth keeps a man alive.” “Men live by the qi between heaven and the earth according to the law of four seasons” (Su Wen• Bao Ming Quan Xing); “qi is the foundation of human beings” (Nan Jing • Ba Nan); “Everything in the universe relies on qi.”(Lei Jing • She Sheng Lei); “Human beings live with qi, and qi is inside one’s body. None can live without QI.”(Pao Pu Zi by Ge Hong in the Jin Dynasty). All these sayings show that “qi” is the living root of human beings and every other thing in the universe. Qi is the way how life exists. With good qi, one can keep fit; otherwise, one will get disease. Without qi, one would die. The end of breath means the end of life.

The theory of traditional Chinese medicine also believes that genuine qi, the qi inside one’s body, is consisted of source qi, ancestral qi, nutrient qi and defense qi. Source qi is the intrinsic qi, which is the qi of kidney. Nutrient qi is made of the qi generated from digesting food and water; it is the nutrient qi that moves through blood and across five internal organs. defense qi is generated from the qi of water and food, running outside the veins and across the skin; it is defense qi that protect one from disease. ancestral qi is the qi one takes from nature; it is breathed into one’s lung and heart, promoting the movement of nutrient qi and defense qi. This is to say that ancestral qi, which comes from the breath, is the fundamental drive to maintain one’s life. This is where the medical science of keeping fit lies by using breathing to guide qi and blood flow.

Breathing Helps One Keep Healthy

Talking about learning Health Qigong, some people will ask, “Is it safe? Can you feel the qi?” People raise such questions because some exercisers of Qigong suffered instead of gaining health because of their misbehaviors during practice. Therefore, they do not dare to practice Qigong any more.

The feel about qi is the feeling exercisers sensed about the movement and concentration of qi and blood inside their bodies. Only when exercisers have practiced Health Qigong to a certain level and only when there are abundant qi and blood inside their bodies with smooth meridian and collateral and high concentration, can they have this feeling of qi. Ignoring assiduous and hard practice, trying to find a short-cut way to keep fit and just pursuing the feeling of qi will do no good to one’s health. In the past, some people got hurt during the practice of Health Qigong, mainly because they ignored the dominant position of breathing and only pursued the feeling of qi.

Since 2003, the GASC Health Qigong Administration Center has successively introduced four sets of methods to practice Health Qigong, that is, Yi Jin Jing,Wu Qin Xi,Liu Zi Jue,Ba Duan Jin, and five new sets of methods, that is Health Qigong • Da Wu, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Shi Er Duan Jin, Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang. These methods have absorbed the essence of traditional Chinese Qigong methods, basing on Chinese and Western medicine, physical exercise and related modern scientific theories, and have established the core position of breathing regulation among three regulations. These methods are not only scientific, effective, with diversified types, but also easy to learn and can effectively prevent improper practice and safety risks.

The Breathing Methods of Health Qigong

The Categories of Breathing

Health Qigong is a physical exercise focusing on breathing practice. Therefore, one must thoroughly understand and master different methods of breathing and practicing tips. The breathing of Health Qigong has two basic methods. One is thoracic breathing,that is natural breathing. The other is abdominal breathing, which can be further divided into smooth abdominal breathing and reverse abdominal breathing. And reverse abdominal breathing can be divided into loose anal reverse abdominal breathing and levator anti reverse abdominal breathing.

The natural breathing used in Health Qigong is almost the same as people’s instinctively natural breathing. The two breathing styles are all relaxed, natural, with exerciser’s chest rising up and down at a relatively higher rate, and his defense has the slightest movement. The difference between these two breathing styles is that the breathing rate of Health Qigong is relatively slower, and it has to change according to the body movements, and between inhaling and exhaling there are transitional movements such as breath-hold and pause, which is completely absent under the instinctive state of natural breathing.

When the exerciser uses abdominal breathing, his abdomen will rise up and down with the breathing rhythm, and at the same time, his chest will also expand and contract. Smooth abdominal breathing means exerciser’s abdomen is adducted when he inhales, and bulged when he exhales. On the contrary, if exerciser’s abdomen is adducted when he exhales, and bulged when he inhales, he is doing reverse abdominal breathing. What’s more, if his muscles of the anus and perineum get loose when he inhales, he is using loose anal reverse abdominal breathing; if his anus and perineum muscles tighten up when he inhales, he is using the levator anti reverse abdominal breathing.

Basic Exercise and Requirements of Breathing

The breathing of Health Qigong, regardless of its styles, is made up by four movements: inhale, exhale, breath holding and breath pause. When you inhale, holding the air you breathe in for a very short time is called breath holding; when you exhale, stopping your breathe temporarily is called breathing pause. An inhalation and an exhalation make up a breath. A breath must include one inhale and one exhale, but not every breath must include breath holding and breath pause. Breath holding and breath pause should be practiced in a flexible way according to needs of body movements such as when you stretch your limbs with tension, lift or twist your body, and when you want to have a rest or relax yourself. According to ancient people, “improper exhale of breath and breath pause would do harm to one’s health.” Therefore, your inhale and exhale should go slowly and smoothly, without straining yourself by inhaling too much air and exhale all you have. Breath holding and breath pause should also be practiced in a gentle way. Doing this for too long or with too much force is not good for your health.

Breathing is usually done by inhaling and exhaling through nose. For those with needs to make sound, such as the Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue and Three Plates Falling on the Floor in Yi Jin Jing, the exerciser should inhale through nose and exhale through mouth. As an energy-saving and low-oxygen physical exercise, Health Qigong will help exercisers gradually develop a deep and fine breathing style, with their breathing rate dropping from 16 to 18 times per minute (the normal rate for natural breathing) to 5 to 6 times per minute. However, this must be a gradual process of practicing, and the exerciser should not hurry and rush to next stages. Otherwise there will be three uncomfortable responses, that is “wind response”(with sound in your breath), “puff response”(breathing without sound but feel stagnating and dry in your nose) and “gasp response”(with your nose flapping). These will do no good to your health, but also will upset you and reduce the effect of exercise.

The basic requirements of Health Qigong for breathing is that when practicing the thoracic breathing, the exerciser should breathe according to his body movement, naturally and gently in a coordinated way without gasp or stagnation; when practicing the abdominal breathing, the exerciser should keep his movement and breath in line with each other, with gentle movement and deep breath, guiding every breath to his navel. No matter which method the exerciser adopts, he should let his body movement guide his breath, and let the breath flow all over his body, reaching the goal of harmonizing both the outside body and inside breath in the end. The basic law to keep body movement and breath in line with each other is to inhale when one starts, to exhale when one finishes, inhale first and exhale latter, inhale to store qi, and exhale to deliver air. Exercisers should follow this law instead of practicing against it. Otherwise, the exerciser will feel uncomfortable such as suppressed in his chest, be short of breath, oppressed in heart and palpitate.

The Similarities and Differences between 9 Breathing Methods

Health Qigong has four breathing methods and five new methods. All breathing styles are determined by the characteristics of each method, which generally can be divided into the following three types.

Using One Kind of Breathing from the Very Beginning to the End

This type can be further divided into another two styles; one is using natural breathing from the very beginning to the end, for example, Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu. Since this method involves very big body movement with complicated changes, excessive pursuit of deep and fine breath will result in “wind” “puff” and “gasp” responses. Therefore, natural breathing is required through the very beginning to the end. Only in this way can body movement and breath always become gentle and coordinated.

Another style is using abdominal breathing from the very beginning to the end, such as the Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue and Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa. Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa uses smooth abdominal breathing from the very beginning to the end, keeping body movement and breath in line with each other, with gentle movement and deep breath, guiding every breath to the navel like divine turtle breathing. The Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue uses reverse abdominal breathing throughout the whole process, which is the only one out of the nine methods that specifically focuses on inhale and exhale exercises. From the very beginning to the end, the exerciser inhales through nose and exhales through his mouth, and at the same time making a sound (one can also only exhale without making any sound after he is very skilled in this practice), paying attention to the deep and fine breathing.

Gradually Transition from One Method to Anther

This type of method means the exerciser starts from the natural breathing, and latter gradually transits to abdominal breathing, mainly including Health Qigong •·Ba Duan Jin, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang these three methods. Ba Duan Jin and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang require using natural breathing at the beginning stage and gradually transiting to abdominal breathing as his body movement is more skillful and get into a higher practicing level. Mawangdui Daoyin Shu requires exercisers use natural breathing as a base, letting the body movement guide the breath, using his mind to guide the flow of breath inside his body, and finally harmonizing both the body movement and breath. In this way, his body will become gentle. As the body movements such as pitching, reversing, lifting, landing and folding intensify, his breath will become more deep and fine. Then his breathing will transit to abdominal breathing. The difference between the two is that Ba Duan Jin and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang begin from natural breathing; and transit to abdominal breathing when the movement gets more skillful, while the Mawangdui Daoyin Shu is based on natural breathing, and transits to abdominal breathing with the intensification of body movement.

Frequent Transition between Different Breathing Methods

This type of breathing includes natural breathing, smooth abdominal breathing, reverse abdominal breathing, levator anti breathing and so on, with Health Qigong·• Wu Qin Xi, and Shi Er Duan Jin as two main methods. The transition between different breathing styles doesn’t need to follow any fixed order, and it changes according to the needs and changes of body movements in different practicing methods. In Wu Qin Xi, the body movements of “colliding with the antlers” and “picking fruit” use natural breathing; “seizing the prey ” and “stretch upward” use smooth abdominal breathing, and other six movements use reverse abdominal breathing, among which only “lifting the monkey’s paws” uses reverse abdominal breathing plus levator ani breathing. In Shi Er Duan Jin, “Ming Xin Wo Gu”,“Kou Chi Ming Gu”, “Yao Shen Huang Hai” and “Bei Mo Jing Men” use natural breathing; “Wen Xu Ji Lun” uses smooth abdominal breathing, and the other seven movements use reverse abdominal breathing plus levator anti breathing. No matter what kind of breathing the exerciser adopts, he should relax himself without suppressing his breath. And it is better to inhale and exhale neither too fast nor too slow. By using different breathing methods, the exerciser can regulate the qi and blood in five internal organs, dredge the meridian of his body and reach the effect of physical fitness.

Three Stages of Breathing Exercise

The Initial Stage of Unregulated Natural Breathing

Beginners of Health Qigong can use people’s instinctive natural breathing without subjective control to focus on learning body movement instead of breathing exercise. In this way, exercisers can not only grasp the tips of each movement quickly, but also can keep a smooth and stable breathing. The natural breathing of most people is thoracic breathing, and a small number of people who have received special training can also use natural abdominal breathing. Mankind used abdominal breathing in their early evolution period as natural breathing. After mankind evolved to homo erectus, their lungs rose up and expanded, thus changing from natural abdominal breathing to natural thoracic breathing. New-born babies usually use abdominal breathing at first and slowly change into thoracic breathing. This phenomenon confirms this evolution pattern of human breathing.

The natural breathing of Health Qigong and the completely instinctive natural breathing are not the same. The initial stage of natural breathing naturally follow the principle of letting body movement guide breath, and letting the breath flow all over his body, inhaling when one starts, exhaling when one finishes. This kind of breathing can also be reached naturally by following the body movements. And inhale, exhale, breath holding and pause can also be automatically applied. The basic characteristic of the initial stage of breathing is breathing naturally without any control.

The Intermediate Stage Focusing on Self-regulated Abdominal Breathing

At the intermediate stage, all the nine methods of Health Qigong, except Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu, require exercisers to transit from using natural thoracic breathing to automatic abdominal breathing. At this stage, breathing has changed from the laissez-faire state of unconsciousness back to the central role of subjective concern, with the breathing method shifting from thoracic breathing to abdominal breathing. The depth of breath has been greatly increased, and the amount of oxygen exchange doubled. Breathing slowly becomes deep and stable, with the breathing rate falling, getting closer and closer to 5-6 times per minute.

Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu, using natural breathing from the beginning to the end, also intensify the breathing in the intermediate stage, with internal mind and external body harmonize with each other, the breath flow throughout the whole body and the dominant role of breathing increasingly strengthened. At this stage, the focus of the mental activities shift from body movement to breathing, with every the slightest attention concentrated on breathing. It gradually shows that the body movement serves to breathing. As breathing is intensified, and oxygen is fully exchanged, the regulation and protection effects of breathing towards qi inside one’s body and the five internal organs will become more apparent. As the ancient practice formulas put it, “exhale slowly, and inhale deeply, the inborn qi will be spurred by the cultivated qi.” At this stage, the health effects brought about by Health Qigong will become increasingly apparent. The basic characteristic of breath in the intermediate stage is the “self-regulation”.

The Advanced Stage Focusing on Breathing with Automatic Frequency

At the advanced stage, breathing with automatic frequency is used. It mainly uses abdominal breathing, but can freely switch between a myriad of breathing methods and automatically adjust the breathing rhythm. The human body is a most sophisticated, harmonious, efficient, and automated organism, owning the most perfect self-regulating mechanism that can help the body adapt to various complex environments and maintain a variety of states function well. In the intermediate stage, the self-regulation of breathing is a supplementation and reinforcement to body’s auto-regulation mechanism. This kind of supplementation and reinforcement is very necessary and very useful when one gets sick or is in the state of sub-health, or when the automatic regulation system inside one’s body is imbalanced or lack momentum. But when the automatic regulation system inside one’s body functions well enough, this kind of supplementation and reinforcement is redundant and unnecessary, which may even become unharmonious regulation. Therefore, at the advanced stage, exercisers should breathe naturally, shifting self-regulated breathing back to natural breathing without any regulation.

However, this kind of shifting back is not retrogressive, but a return leaping to a more advanced stage. It is a return looking like the previous one but with totally different nature. It is the negation of negation, a wave-forward progress and upward spiral. The breathing at this stage without regulation does not mean breathing as you like, but breathing naturally, following the whole condition and shifting between various breathing methods. Its rhythm rate may change at random, with body, breath and mind perfectly combined together. The exerciser’s subjective intention is completely in line with the automatic regulation rhythm of the body. Therefore, practicing Health Qigong has become a process of automatically keeping fit and intensification of the body mechanism under the guidance of subjective intention. The basic characteristic of the advanced stage of breathing is “breathing with automatic frequency”.

All in all, those who know the importance of breathing, the key aspect in practicing Health Qigong, have mastered the core skill of the breathing, and give full play to the role of breath regulation, will enjoy greater benefit with less effort.

Reference: Breathing Methods and Practice Tips of Health Qigong jsqg.sport.org.cn

Slowness, Pause, Flexibility, and Observation

by Zhang Mingliang & Cheng Yunhua

When people begin to learn Health Qigong,many people may wonder that why the movements of Health Qigong is always slower than other exercises. Many exercisers who have practiced for many years may come to realize that why they feel comfortable when they exercise slowly. In fact, Practicing Health Qigong is a process which is marked by “slowness, pause, flexibility and observation”. We may discuss it hereon in four aspects as well.

Slowness

Visually, the slowness in practicing Health Qigong Is mainly refers to moving slowly, which is the outstanding feature that Health Qigong is different from other exercises. Traditional Chinese Health Qigong and the theories of life nourishing of TCM believes that the human body is a single whole. It is composed of three parts, one of which is the visible body and the other two are invisible Qi and mind. The body is visual and QI can also be experienced by breathing. Mind may understand by insight only and be difficult to express, but everyone can sense its existence. If we experience the motion speed of the body, Qi and Mind, we can easily find that mind is the fastest (having one’s head in the clouds, which may change quickly), the body is faster (the movements is controlled by the mind and they can be fast and be slow), Qi is the slowest (Qi moves in the meridians of the body at an inherent speed).

As we all know, the goal of practice is to “three regulations”: regulating the body, regulating of breathing and regulating the mind. The high level of practice is the unity of the three. The motion speed of the three should be about the same to achieve the unity. Because the speed of breath cannot be changed, then we can only change the speed of the body and mind. Hence, the exercisers should find a way to slow down the mind (calm down) and the movements (be relaxed). So slowness is an important means of practice. Therefore, judging from the nine sets of Health Qigong which is promoted successively by the Health Qigong Management Center of the State Sports General Administration, the “slowness” is their common feature and the moving speed of the recent five sets of exercises are much slower than that of the previous four sets. Leading the students, I have performed Health Qigong•Da Wu with the music “See steppe with you”, which is praise for its grace, stretch and presence of mind.

Pause

When people practice the nine sets of Qigong, a lot of movements should be exercised slowly or even pause. The most obvious one is the Health Qigong `Liu Zi Jue, in which there are short pauses after almost every action set. In general, the action is always faster than the breath. The ancients said: when people Breathe out breathe in, Qi goes six inches (equal with the height of a person). And the range is much greater when people move and exercise. So sometimes we need pause slightly and wait for the intersection of the breath. For example: there are many short pauses that have been marked in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing, Ba Duan Jin, Shi Er Duan Jin, Da Wu etc. Although the pauses are not specified in some stances, there also are short pauses after every action set in general. If the exercisers do not understand the mysteries in them and move fast and versatilely, it would come to naught. Therefore, no matter what exercises we practice, we had better know that where we should pause, what changes of breath after pause in practice and what kind of effect it has achieved after a long time.

Maybe the beginners are too late to comprehend because they are eager to be familiar with the routine, then if the skilled exercisers are not good at summing up the experience, or even always imitate others. It is really a waste of time to exercise.

What should be indicated hereby is that the pause is just a short time pause of movement, but the breath did not stop. Thus “be continuous” that we demand in the practice, mainly refers to the breath. Although the routine is paused, the breath is still continuous.

Flexibility

The so-called “flexibility” mainly refers to that the movements should be stretch and flexible, but not stiff. After standing up, the human brain is smarter, but it has also paid a price and the spinal column did bending deformation. So many movements in the routines of Qigong are intended to stretch the tendons and pull the bones to facilitate the flow of blood and Qi. Sometimes reverse movements are needed distinguishingly to be corrected.

“Two points stretching method” will be introduced here. For example: When standing, you can imagine that the head stand up to the heaven and the feet grab the earth, then head and feet are the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint; Another example: When both hands flat on the formation of a Chinese character “Da”, you can imagine the left and right hands are toward the most distant places, then the middle finger of the right hand and left hand are the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint; Another example is the stretch waist stance in Health Qigong•Da Wu, the body bend forward about 45 degrees, put the palms together and stretch out forward and upward until the inner sides of the upper arm is near the ears. Meanwhile, coordinating with inhale, the heels go backward and downward, then the middle fingertips of the palms and the heels are the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint. Next, the arms continue to move to the top of the extension, the heels lift and the soles grip the earth, then the middle fingertips of the palms and the soles are also the two furthest apart reverse stretching endpoint. There are many similar movements in the nine sets of Qigong exercises and we will not list all of them here.

What should be noted is that not all movements require the “two points stretching method”. We stress that alternating tension with relaxation in practice and the tension is just in the short time pause, the followed relaxation can facilitate the flow of blood and Qi better. In the state of relaxation, the arms stretched as cylindrical arc and the moving route is also cylindrical arc, which embodies the feature of the stance e.g. loose, round, soft, flexible, graceful and stretch. “Exercises practice in a flexible way and achieve success finally.” Therefore, the range of movements is very large, which includes not only “straight” but also” round”.

Observation

Just as its name suggests, the notes of “observation“ in Xinhua Dictionary is view (observation, sightseeing); the scene (spectacle, spectacularity) people viewed; the understanding and views (viewpoints, ideas) of things; abbey (Taoist temple). The “concept” we discuss in this text only means “observation”, and “looking on” with imposing conditions.

After we practice for a long time and with proper methods, we will experience the feelings: “air-feeling” and “insight” etc. The more obvious and common feeling is “air-feeling”, and sometimes the exercisers feel throbbing, sore, numb and ache in the points that Qi flows in the meridian. At this time, if the practitioners did not have enough skill to regulate, they can simply look on and let these feelings in the body sweep over quickly. Heart is like a mirror. Just let the feelings go away and the exercisers need not bother to worry or command. Otherwise, people may deviate and possessed by the Devil. However, having feelings is better than no feeling. An important reward resulted from the progress of practice is that exercisers are more sensitive to their bodies and are able to observe the blood flow of their own, in order to facilitate us to adjust the method in practice.

“Observation” means observing the inside of the body. The practitioners who have been practicing for a long time can experience a sense of quiet. For example: there are movements, such as holding upward and falling, in the closing forms of most of the stances. While holding upward, hold both hands with both arms in the shape of arc and coordinate with the breath, exercisers can observe that the fresh air that we breathe in meet the Qi from cinnabar field of the human body in the chest. . While falling, then just breath and both hands free fall effortlessly. Coordinating with omphaloskepsis, the gas in the chest also comes down to the cinnabar field.

What should be noted is that the beginners had better practice in the order of “three regulations” first, namely regulating the body (doing body movements), regulating of breathing (coordinating with breath), then regulating the minds (considering appropriate ideas), and finally achieve the unity of the three.

In fact, the beginners just practice it under the correct guidance of teaching books and CD-ROM or the masters and eliminate the distractions, rather than thinking over too much. Practice must be harvested.

In conclusion, “slowness, Pause, flexibility and observation” is the effective routine in practicing the Health Qigong. As long as we practice and digest constantly, the skill that we practice will be improved a lot.

Reference: Health Qigong is Characterized by “Slowness, Pause, Flexibility, and Observation” 

Sam Chin Philosophy of I Liq Chuan

Sam F.S. Chin talks about the Philosophy of his “I Liq Chuan” system

Reference: I Liq Chuan

Nourishing Your Qi

with Robert Peng