Extremely subtle and profound,
Boxing theory is not to be taken lightly.
At the beginning of history martial art was of paramount importance;
And it was there that science of learning has its root.
Its essence has largely been lost, having been distorted to a sheer absurdity.
This Boxing is based on spirit and mind,
Merits of all schools are included in it.
Most earnestly I advocate the rejuvenation of shadow boxing,
With a view restoring it to its original essence.
In doing so I devote myself to the exploration of theory,
While considering the combat techniques as only secondary.
To master the quitessance of shadow boxing, Start with pile-stance keeping.
With the universe in your mind,
You learn trial of strength through perception.
Keep bones all over the body well balanced,
Bending of joints is kept with a limit.
As if it where from high in the clouds,
Your breathing should be deep, smooth and gentle.
Feeling comfortable and leisurely,
You behave as if you where mad.
Dismiss all distracting thoughts from your mind,
Concentrate on it as if to listen to the drizzling rain.
Away from the world your body seems,
Nothing is allowed to attached to it.
Visible, the form is like flowing water, Invisible, it is like the atmosphere.
Lithely you act is if you were drunk,
Leisurely you move as if you were bathing.
In meditation you face up towards the sky,
Without desire you set your mind on nothing. Practicing shadow boxing is like going through a furnace,
Everything mental and physical is tempered and moulded.
Mind is transformed from within,
Breathing is regulated by the quiet mind.
In quietness you are like a maiden,
In motion you are like a dragon.
Discharge strength in relaxation while keeping the mind tense,
Let hairs stand out like halberds gathering momentum.
Muscles tighten and relax like frightened snakes, steeps are swift as sweep winds.
Huge waves rise underfoot which sweep in length and breadth,
Like a whale turning and swimming across the sea.
At the top of the head a magical force exits,
From a thread the body seems to suspend.
With eyes slightly closed and mind concentrated,
You see nothing and hear next to nothing. Lower abdomen should remain full,
while chest is held back a bit.
The force discharged from finger tips is like electricity,
The tips of the bones are like edges of spears.
Be like an agile monkey in appearance,
Be like a cat in moving your steeps.
Let strength burst out at a mere touch,
Make it stay on without interruption.
As learner you mustn’t feel mysterious about it,
Its plain theory will engender your natural interest.
Mountains seem to be flying when the mind is used,
Seas seem to be overflowing when strength is applied.
Return to infancy to search for the sounds of Nature,
Make the body as slithe as that of a baby in bath.
Don’t do anything like pulling the seeding to make it grow;
But proceed step by step according to the course of nature.
Knowledge contained in shadow boxing is infinite,
Combat skills constitute only a trifling part of it.
First of all strength should be evenly distributed,
And the body squarely erect and well-balanced.
Motion rests in stillness and vice versa,
With spirit directing them both.
Route should go through where centre of gravity falls,
Coordinate relaxation and tension without slipperiness or stagnation.
Turning should be done steadily, accurately and in one breath,
Hooking and filing work together and suit each other rightly.
Fortune or misfortune, wisdom or folly, it depends upon careful calculation of the opponents intentions.
Bending and stretching succeed each other immediately,
substantiality and insubstantiality interchange automatically.
Strike a deadly blow at the enemy as fast as lightning.
Display your imposing manner with an eye-expression of a vulture or a tiger,
Move your feet solidly and steadily as if moving in mud.
Like a bird of pray swooping down on and a dragon overturning the sea,
You are full of strength within and around.
Concentrate your mind on the target accurately, mercilessly and ruthlessly,
Be courageous and cautious at the same time.
Wether chopping, winding, drilling, wrapping or horizontal striking,
Make effort to choose the right time and opportunity.
Keep on practicing it like this with perseverance,
The skill will come to you of itself.
Changes most be made in an invisible way,
Movements must be performed with no fixed intention,
With heroic spirit you can shake the heaven and earth,
With a broad mind you have the worlds in your heart.
What can this boxing be compared to?
It can be compared to Taoist and Buddhist doctrines;
It can be compared to Ban Gu’s writings;
It can be compared to Wang Youjun’s calligraphy;
It can be compared to Wang Wei’s paintings;
Being similar to them in profundity and subtlety.
How can such great attainments be accomplished?
The answer lies in skillful cultivation of the great noble spirit.
What has been said above is abstract though,
Spiritually you must practice it conscientiously.
by Wang Xuanjie
Hai Feng Publishing Co. May 1988