Taijiquan – The Art of Receiving

By Wee Kee Jin

Taijiquan is no different from any other exercise or martial art if it is practiced without understanding the principles and without putting the principles into the movements. Regardless of the various different Taiji styles or Taiji forms, they are all based on the same set of Taiji classical texts. They are: The Chang Sang Feng Taiji Classic, The Wang Ts’ung Yueh Taiji Classic, The Song of Thirteen Postures, The Understanding of the Thirteen Postures, The Song of Substance and Function, The Song of Push Hands and, in the case of the Yang style, The Ten Important Points of the Yang Family. Practitioners should put the principles into the movements, rather than going into the movements to look for the principles. To put the principles into the movements, the practitioner must constantly read and understand the classics and, when practicing, the mind must ‘ask’ and the body must ‘answer’ (respond).

The foundation of Tajijquan practice is in the Taiji Form. By neglecting the Taiji Form and only focusing on push hands, it is like working on the function (application) without the substance (body). By knowing yourself and knowing your opponent you will excel in push hands. Knowing yourself comes from the practice of the Taiji Form, where you learn to be relaxed, balanced, connected and synchronised without any external forces affecting you. The relaxed force of Taiji is cultivated and developed in the practice of the Taiji Form.

In the Chang Sang Feng classic it is stated, “At the moment of movement, the body should be light, agile and most importantly connected (synchronised)”. To achieve this, the central equilibrium must be maintained in position, in transition and in the release of the force, both in the Taiji Form and in push hands. To maintain the central equilibrium the practitioner has to keep in mind the following principles: The Song of Thirteen Postures”, Tuck in the tailbone and keep a consciousness on the crown of the head (pai hui meridian point),the body will be agile if the head is held as if suspended from the top. ”The Wang Tsúng Yueh Taiji Classic, “Do not tilt or lean. Stand like a level scale”. Only when the central equilibrium has been achieved, can one talk about changes and relaxation. The central equilibrium is the foundation of Taijiquan. It is one of Taiji’s ‘Thirteen Postures’ and all the other twelve postures must have the central equilibrium within them.

The practice of the Taiji Form is not about whether you know the whole Form, nor is it measured by the number of different Taiji Forms or styles you know. It is about putting the principles into the Form and understanding the movements in the Form. The Taiji Form is only a tool for you to transfer the principles from the Taiji Classics into your body, and eventually the Form should become Formless because any movement you make should have the principles within it.

Besides having the Taiji principles, the practitioner must also understand the movements in the Form. After learning the whole Form the practitioner must seek to understand the sequence of changes that creates the movements and get the sequences to change in relation to each other, and in so doing, achieving the principle that is stated in the Understanding of The Thirteen Postures, ”Remember, keep this in your heart, when you move every part of your body moves, when you settle every parts settles”. In different postures in the Taiji Form, the arms, the legs and the body might be in different positions and you might face different directions, but the sequence of changes and what happens in it is the same. That is why the great Taiji teachers of the past always say, ”when you understand one movement, you understand all the movements”. In fact the most effective way of practicing the Form is the single posture practice.

The changes within any movement always begin from the base (feet, ankles, knees and hips joints) and the letting go of excess tension from the calves and thighs muscles. The base creates the body (trunk) movements – the relaxation of the chest from within, the melting sensation of the body muscles and the letting go of excess tension from the upper, middle and lower back, creating movements in the back. The body creates the arm movements – the sinking of the shoulders and dropping of the elbows. The movement of the body comes from mind cultivation, so the mind awareness must be in the body to imagine and visualise the body’s movements happening. After prolonged cultivation the movements will materialise. The base and the arm movements will only be connected if there are movements in the body, otherwise they are only coordinated.

Relaxation in the Taiji Form: there is a difference between relaxation and being ‘soft and floppy’. “Fang Sung” (relaxation in Chinese) means to ‘let go’. To let go what?, to let go any unnecessary tension in the posture (body) and movements. In Taiji we use the minimum amount of tension to sustain postures and movements, anything more than is necessary we call it tension. As our awareness of our body increases so does our ability to let go of unnecessary tension. When the upper body becomes lighter and the base become heavier, it is the sign of relaxation taking place. In the end, the upper body becomes yin and the base become yang and, when the practitioner reaches the highest level, only the feet are yang the rest of the body is yin.

Sinking: Sinking is a mental process and it is very important in Taiji practice. It can only come after the practitioner is able to relax. Sinking develops the root in Taiji, to enable the practitioner to ‘borrow the energy from the earth’. Sinking is also a training to take any incoming forces into the ground (internal neutralising) in push hands. The sinking should start from the Pai Hui meridian point (crown of the head), and this is to ‘swallow the chi of the heaven’. It should go through the body, legs and feet, through the bubbling well into the ground.

To borrow the energy from the earth, the practitioner must visualise the sinking awareness rebounding from the ground, traveling through the bubbling well, up through the legs, the body and the arms, past the Lau Kung meridian point and to the fingertips. When the practitioners master the Taiji Form, then they will have a structure to receive the forces in push hands.

Push Hands: In the old days it was known as an exercise of ‘sensing and feeling’, but somehow it was later called push hands. Push hand s is a very misleading phrase because actually it has nothing to do with pushing and nothing to do with the hands. Most Taiji push hands we see is just like a wrestling match, or like two goats locking horns, using brute force and thus deviating from the Taiji principles. The reasons are that one person wants to push, the other doesn’t want to be pushed. The bigger one use his body weight and strength, while the smaller one tries to dig in to hold his ground. It always take two hands to clap!

We have to look into the principles, understand them and then proceed into the practice. One of the Ten Important points of the Yang family says, “Use your mind ,not your brute force”, as long as you use your mind the door to Taiji push hands is open for you to enter; if you still want to use brute force it is just like locking the door and try to get in again. If you still want to use brute force, don’t come to learn Taiji because even you have ten lifetimes you cannot achieve the essence of Taiji.

In the Song of Push Hands it says, “Let him use immense (brute) force to attack me” and “Lead his movements with only four tael to neutralise a thousand katty of force”. This clearly shows that a greater force will not stand a chance if it is dealt with using the Taiji principles.

The foundation of Taiji push hand is receiving, not pushing, and the highest form of Taiji force is the Receiving Force (jie jin), and so therefore the practice of receiving should start from the beginning. Professor Cheng Man Ching said that “If you are not prepared to receive (incoming force) do not come to learn Taiji because you will be wasting your time in your lifetime you will not get the essence of Taiji”. In the Wang Tsúng Yueh Taiji classic it is stated, “A feather cannot be added, a fly cannot settle” and in the Ten Important Points of Yang family it says, ”I am not a meat rack”. All of these points emphasise that you should receive and accept the forces, not resist against them.

In the practice of Push hands the body should have all the elements that are experienced in the Taiji Form. The key to receiving is to throw away self (ego) and invest in loss. “Invest in loss; small loss small gain, big loss, big gain”, what beautiful words spoken by professor Cheng Man Ching. It seems that by receiving (yielding) you are losing but that is not the case because the person pushing is actually giving you “Taiji money”. As he keeps pushing he gets poorer and as you keep receiving you get richer. When the day comes that he can no longer push you (that means he is Taiji bankrupt), then perhaps you could give him some interest on the “Taiji money” he gave you! In the beginning the practice of receiving can be very frustrating because you get pushed over all the time. As you progress you start to realise where you get stuck, and why, but you will still get pushed over because you can’t yet do anything about it. Gradually though, you learn how to ‘unstick’ yourself and take the force down into the ground. Receiving must be done with total acceptance, in the process of receiving if you have even the slightest intention or thought of countering, then it is receiving without total acceptance. When you master the art of receiving, you will able to perform the principle that is stated in The Song of Push Hands, “Draw him into emptiness, gather the force and send it out”.

Receiving (yielding and neutralising) is not to receive the oncoming force on to the body as the body has only a limited capacity to absorb the force, but to take it into the earth, which has a relatively limitless capacity. The process of receiving the force into the earth is similar to the sinking process in the Taiji Form except that it starts at the point of contact[, rather than the pai hui].

The upper body is yin and the base is yang, so any adjustment to incoming movements and forces must begin from the base and, as in the Taiji form, the body and arms follow the changes of the base. The hands are used only to stick to the opponent, and at any chance to release your force it should be released through the legs with the feet remaining firmly grounded to the earth. As it is stated in the Chang San Feng Taiji classic, “The root is in the feet, discharged through the legs (relaxed force), controlled by the waist (direction) and expressed into the fingers”. No matter how big or small the issuing is, the hands never extend more than a space of one inch (the extension is only the result of sinking the shoulders).

In push hands, you do not go into it to look for a push or plan to set up a chance to push, you just follow the changes of your opponent and let the push happen by itself. If there is a will to push, then there will be intention and desire. ‘In the principle everything is base on the principle of yin and yang. When the yin reaches its extreme it will become yang and vice versa. So whenever you think you are in the most advantageous position you are actually in the process of going into a disadvantaged position and whenever you are in a most disadvantaged position you are in the process of going to an advantageous position. It is always better to change from a disadvantage to an advantaged position, rather than the other way around. When you reach the highest level of push hands, there are no pushes

from you. Your body structure is an empty void and any force that comes into contact with it travels into the earth and rebounds back, returning to the person issuing the force. This is the highest level of Taiji force, the Receiving Force, where the practitioner neutralises without neutralising and issues without issuing. To attain this level one must be able to “Forget yourself and follow the other without your own opinion, follow the heart and mind and let it be natural”.

To borrow the words of professor Cheng Man Ching when speaking about push hands, “It is an idea without motives, an act without desire. What a wonderful art Taiji is; it has nothing to do with pushing, it is all about receiving”. As practitioners of Taijiquan we should be true to the art, not only preaching the principles, but also practicing and adhering to them. Taiji is not only an exercise for health or a martial art for self defence, it is most importantly the Dao (philosophy) of life.

Wee Kee Jin, 2006

Reference: www.taiji.org.uk

Wang Peisheng creative interpretation of some Taiji principles

Master Wang’s Creative Interpretation and Application of Some Taijiquan Principles in Self-defence

Master Wang makes it a point of emphasis and has set an example to his students of how one should use one’s mind and learn from experience of success and failure after having studied carefully the theories set in the Taijiquan classics, listened earnestly to his teacher’s or anyone else’s interpretations, and watched attentively their ways of applying these principles in practising or combating. The following are a few examples:

(I) There is a principle (a sentence of eight Chinese characters) set in the Taijiquan classics attributed to Wang Zongyue of Ming Dynasty, with a note that it had been handed down by Zhang ‘Sanfeng, a Taoist on the Wudang Mountain in the Song Dynasty. The first half in four characters may be translated into English as “No excess, no insufficiency”, and the generally accepted interpretation is ‐when doing Taijiquan, whether in solo practice or in pushing-hands exercise, or sparring with a partner, or in actual combating, you should use only the very necessary amount of force, not a bit more or less; and any movement you make should be just right in position. But the second half, also in four characters, are explainable in two ways: more generally as “stretch out as your opponent bends in ” , and some would also supply the natural reverse “and contract as your opponent expands”; and less generally as “follow the bending. adhere to (or follow) the stretching.” Which is correct, or more adequate? What is Wang’s opinion?

Basically, Master Wang prefers the second one, but he would add something to it, as summed up from his long years of experience: “follow your opponent’s bending without letting him have any chance to turn to stretching; and adhere to his stretching without giving him any. opportunity to turn to bending, he will then be found in an awkward position ready to be handled easily.”

(2) There is a sentence in a known Taijiquan treatise that may be rendered into English as: If you fail to catch a good opportunity or to gain an advantageous position, your body will be in a state of disorder and the cause of such a fault must be sought from the waist or legs.

Evidently this is a very important teaching, and as there is nothing abstruse with the language, we can just do according to the advice given. But why and how? The general view is that: to a human body the legs form the foundation of every posture taken and the waist acts like the axle of the moving parts, so if there is anything wrong, fundamentally there must first be something wrong with the waist or legs, or both, so the way to correct the fault is by adjusting the waist or legs. So far so good. But what if your waist itself senses some discomfort? Adjust the waist? And what if your legs sense some discomfort? Adjust the legs? Master Wang says no, and advises: if your waist senses some discomfort, forget the waist and adjust the legs; if your legs sense some discomfort, forget the legs and adjust the waist. Try it out yourself and see- if it works.

(3) In the “Chant of Pushing-hands”, there is a sentence with seven Chinese characters, the first four meaning ‐ entice (your opponent) to advance and fall into emptiness (failing to reach his target); the last three, meaning ‐ when all conditions are met, issue energy instantly. The principle is obviously sound and clear, but what are the necessary conditions, and how to catch that very moment instantly? To those who have had some basic knowledge and training in Taijiquan, the first part of the question is not difficult to answer, the following conditions are generally taken as the necessary conditions: your opponent’s slight loss of balance, the moment he gets into an awkward position, and his centre of gravity together with the most effective line through which to attack him all being sensed and located. But the second part presents real difficulty, many may have practised for years and have not yet found a sure way of catching that very right moment. If that is the case and energy is issued at the wrong moment, all the conditions may be instantly changed to your disadvantage. Now let me offer  you Master Wang’s simple and reliable way for your reference ‐ The moment your opponent comes into contact with you, you should apply the Taijiquan principle and technique of “adhering, joining, sticking to, and following” to his every move, with no letting go and no resistance, while keeping an acute awareness of what is sensed from the point in touch with ‘ your opponent. Should he refrain from making an initiative, you could expose a point of weakness purposefully and entice him to take advantage of it During the whole course of pushing-hands if a sense of heaviness is felt , at the point of contact with your opponent, do not issue energy or restrain yourself instantly if you are about to issue; but at the moment when that sense of heaviness turns into lightness, lose no time to issue energy. Of course, to be able to catch the very right moment instantly, you must first have developed a keen sense of touch and a quick reaction through years of pushing-hands practice. Nevertheless, Master Wang’s teaching offers a simple to follow rule in judging whether the right moment is there or not. That surely is a thing of importance, and I hope Master Wang’s advice will prove useful to you.

(4) As is generally known, the cardinal principle of Taijiquan is “using the mind (thought), not strength.” Actually, in doing any physical movement, it is impossible not to use strength at all. Thus, in so saying, it is but to emphasize that the art of Taijiquan relies more on the use of one’s mind than strength to overcome an opponent. Such a principle could be more easily apprehended and better appreciated today, for it is common sense now that whatever we do are controlled by our nerve system, with the cerebral cortax of our brain as the control centre. So the really important issue regarding this principle is not why it should be so, but how it should be done.

An answer seems to have been provided in another well known classic entitled “The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures”. However, owing to the terseness and abstruseness of the original text in classical Chinese, it has been interpreted in different ways, such as:

1st – When the mind directs the qi, the mind must be calm, so the qi could permeate the bones. When the qi circulates through the body, the qi must flow freely and naturally, so the qi could be dictated easily and efficiently by the mind;

2nd – when the mind directs the qi, the qi must sink deep and steadily, so as to premeate the bones. When the qi moves the body, the body must be submissive, so as to be dictated easily and efficiently by the mind;

3rd ‐ when the mind directs the qi, the directing must be calm and steady, so the qi could permeate the bones. When the qi circulates through the body, the circulating must be free and natural, so the body could be dictated easily and efficiently by the mind.

There might still be a 4th, 5th . . . From the above, we can see that in studying a Taijiquan doctrine, it is sometimes hard to catch its exact meaning by merely studying the wording in a classic; and in listening to the interpretations offered, there might be big differences of opinion that make it difficult to follow. So do not be disturbed if you find such difficulties and differences. Test what you have learned in your practice and application, sum up your experience of success and failure bit by bit, and form your own opinions one by one as Master Wang has done and advised.

Master Wang is highly praised for his subtle, varified, accurate, and effective movements employed in pushing‐hands practice and in free sparring. He often cites a well known old saying: “How to use one’s kungfu relies totally on one’s mind-intent.” I have particularly asked him about how he uses his mind to direct his movements, and have finally focused on “What to concentrate his mind on and how to shift his points of attention in directing his movements so as to perform a certain posture or to execute a certain combative technique accurately, efficiently, and effortlessly.” The following are the summerized points:

1 ‐ Just before making any movement, think first of uplifting your head lightly and loosening the joints, especially the shoulder ioint and the hip joint. This is a necessary prerequisite to make possible your facing the opponent with an attentive spirit and keeping the limbs in a fully relaxed state, so as to be able to respond quickly to any change and do the stretching or bending to the required extent.

2 ‐ When y0u are doing Taiiiquan in its solo form, you should have in mind a picture of meeting an opponent and that you should use a certain posture or Taiiiquan technique that deemed fit to neutralize his attack or to set him off balance while he is in a certain imagined position. Thus you must first have the knowledge of the combative use of every movement of every posture as told by Master Wang in this book, or by other competent Taiiiquan masters. Only by practising Taiiiquan with such a picture in mind could you have the possibility of making actual use of it in combat.

3‐ Whatever the form and number of movements used in a certain posture, there is a general principle, also a basic requirement, that your arms and legs should move, coordinately, that the shoulder should come into unison with the hipioint, the elbow with the knee, and the hand with the foot. To meet such a requirement, Master Wang’s way is to think of letting the three vital points on y0ur arm meet with or separate from the three corresponding vital points on the leg, those on the right arm in correspondence with those on the left leg and those on the left arm in correspondence with the right leg, one after another in succession in the course of the movement. Let them unite with each other when doing a “closing” movement, and separate from each other when doing an “opening” move‐ ment. All such uniting and separating should be led by the “insubstantial arm” and- one’s mind should chiefly be concentrated on it. The “insubstantial” arm is one on the same side, of your “substantial” leg (one that bears the greater part of your bodyweight). Between the arms and legs, their “insubstantiality and “substantiality” coincide with the opposite party on the other side of the body, i.e. if the right leg is “substantial”, the left arm is “substantial”; in this case the left leg is “insubstantial”, as is the right arm. The three vital points on the arm are: the Jianiing point at the indented part of the shoulder girdle, near the neck; the Quchi point at the outer side of the elbow; and the Laogong point at the centre of palm; the three vital points on the leg‘are: the Huantiao point at the outer side of the hipioint; the Yangling point at the outer side of the knee; and the Yongquan point at the arch of foot. (See Appendix I I I : Diagram of Vital Points Mentioned in this Book) .

Thinking (focusing and shifting your points of attention) in such a manner achieves two things: one is to let the mind direct the movement of the body via the movement of “qi”, since the “qi” moves through a path along which are spread the vital points (as already known and made use of in acupuncture); another is to bring about a unison of the respective parts in a more precise and quicker manner, and to reach a stronger state, since a point on a limb is much finer than a part of the limb, a thought of unison comes quicker than the act of unison, and an external unison actuated by an attentive thought in the mind is stronger than a merely superficial external expression of unison.

4 – As the point of your opponent’s weakness is shown, his being in a disadvantageous position or his slight loss of balance is sensed, and you are to send him off his feet, issue the energy from the bottom up by pressing the heel of your rear foot with a snap against the ground and at the same time think of the palm of the hand that is placed in the rear and is in line with the centre of gravity of your opponent. Do not place your focus of attention on the contacting point (or the fore contacting point, if there are two or more points contacted), nor on the object or the direction your eyes are looking at. Some may raise a question or have a doubt of whether this is in harmony with the general principle “at the instant the mind thinks of something, the eyes should be looking there, and the hands and feet should have reached there.” Still some others may find that on this point Master Wang’s way is even somewhat different from his teacher, Yang Yuting’s. Yes, they are different asMaster Wang has told me, and not without reason. According to Master Wang, in actual application, at the point of issuing energy, your eyes are looking at the direction toward which you are to issue your energy, and you yourself and your opponent should be linked together into one, so the contacting point should not be shifted at all, and therefore needs no more attention. But to enhance the effectiveness or to multiply the forcefulness of your energy sent out upon your opponent, no energy should be sent forth from the contacting point by you, but energy should be sent from bottom up and from the rear end to the foremost end, and that requires your full attention to ensure its being correctly done. And only when you and your opponent have been formed into one at the moment of operation, the energy you are sending out could then reach the target you have set on your opponent’s body instantly.

Try out Master Wang’s way, see if it works, at least he has offered us’something that has made his art of Taiiiquan outstanding in combative use.

Reference: Wu Style Taijiquan by Wang Peisheng & Zeng Weiqi p. 3-8.

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.

 

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”

Starting and Ending Forms of Basic Qigong Exercise Patterns

Starting Form
The Relaxed and Quiescent Form in Standing Position
Pithy Formula

Keep the spine upright and suspend the Baihui Point.
Pull in the chin, shut the lips and touch the tongue tip to the teeth ridge.
Drop the upper eyelids, permitting the eye to look forward.
Tuck in the chest and relax the waist as well as the hips.
Keep both of the elbows outward to form hollowed armpits.
Pull in the stomach and lift the anus without any strain.
Bend the knees, turn them outward and then inward for a round crotch.
Stand firm with feet flat and weight evenly distributed.
For the posture, attention is paid to softess, roundness and farness.

Explanation
The essentials of the body position of this pattern fall on “roundness and softness”. Roundness brings about the free flowing of vital energy and softness can prevent stiffness. The specific method is as follows: Stand firmly with feet flat. Bend the knees slightly. Turn the knees first outward and then inward. Return to the original position, thus bringing about a round crotch. Sink the vital energy and drop the seat slightly to make the hips relaxed. Avoid using effort when pulling in the stomach and lifting the anus. Once the thought reaches these points, the result will be fine. To tuck in the chest refers to pulling in slightly using effort when pulling in the stomach and lifting that part of the chest above the pit of the stomach, avoiding any forward thrust of the chest. The back of the body will be lifted when the spine stands erect. It is somewhat contradictory to drop the shoulders and hollow the armpits at the same time, but so long as your attention is paid to the slight out-turning of the elbows, you will get hollow armpits and dropped shoulders. To get the head suspended, you should avoid lifting the head with a stiff neck. When the chin is slightly tucked in, the Point of Baihui will face the sky, so the breath can flow freely. Closed eyes help prevent the leakage of vital energy and shut eyes help prevent the dispersing of vital energy. To make the tongue touch the upper palate means to let the tip of the tongue touch it, the upper teeth ridge. Do not use effort, otherwise, the tongue will get stiff and sore. Swallow the saliva, if there is any, slowly and gradually as if it were sinking into Dantian – the Point of Qihai (located at about 1,5 cun below the navel). For this posture, see figure 21,

Note: The Pithy Formula starts from the top and goes downward while the Explanation starts from bottom and goes up. To perform it, you should start from bottom to the top and check it up by mental activities from the top to the bottom. By doing this, it helps get quiescence and the ‘vital energy can go down after going up.

Detailed Movements
The Relaxed and Quiescent Form in Standing Position can also be called the Standing Qigong Technique. This form of Qigong exercise requires a quiescent head, so it’s best for you to think of nothing when performing it. If you fail to do so, you can think of the detailed movements of this Qigong exercise. The general key point of this exercise is that the whole body is relaxed and free from stiffness. This form of Qigong exercise can be divided into 13 detailed steps:

(1) Stand with feet flat and spaced as wide as shoulder width. Keep the feet parallel. Bear the body weight on the point where the feet are perpendicular to the tibae, at point about 2 cun inward from the heels.

(2) Knee-Bending: Bend the knees slightly. Your knees are not to exceed the toe tips.

(3) Crotch-Rounding: Turn both knees first outward and then inward. After that, return to the preceding knee-bending position. This is called the “crotch-rounding”.

(4) Hip-Relaxing: Drop the seat slightly with the vital energy sunken and the hips will be relaxed.

The above-mentioned four items are the detailed movements to relax the lower limbs in the relaxed and quiescent Qigong exercise in standing position, of which “crotch—rounding” is the key point.

(5) Stomach-Contracting: “Stomach” here refers to the lower part of the abdomen above the pubic bone. When pulling in the stomach, just pull inward the lower ‘part of the abdomen. Do not contract it with force.

(6) Anus-Lifing: Draw in the anus and lift it gently only by mental intention. Do not raise it with effort.

(7) Waist-Relaxing: The relaxing of the waist is very important. It must be performed on the basis of the relaxing of the hips. First stretch the back and then breathe out. And now you will feel the waist relaxed. There are quite a number of‘ ways to relax the waist (head-suspending and chin-tucking-in can also help the waist relax), but it takes a long time for you to make the sacral bone loose.

(8) Chest-Tucking-in: Make the stomach pit cave in. Turn both elbows outward.

(9) Back-Stretching: Straighten up the spine and you will have a sense, in a way, of the opening of the scapula.

These five items mentioned above are the requirements for the relaxation of the body trunk, of which the relaxation of the waist is the key point.

(10) Shoulder-Dropping: Relax the shoulders and there will be a sensation of the dropping of the upper arms.

(11) Elbow-Dropping: There seems to be something hanging from the elbows.

(12) Wrist-Relaxing: With the fingers down, the wrists will be free and loose.

(13) Armpit-Hollowing: Turn the tips of the elhows outward with the backs of the hands forward, palms slantly toward the trunk. Though the shoulders are drooped, the armpits are hollowed as if they can hold an egg each.

The above-mentioned four items are the essentials of the upper limbs in the quiescent and relaxed standing position, of which “hollow-armpits” is the key point.

(14) Head-suspending: The Baihui Point on the top of the head is perpendicular to the sky (Baihui is located in the middle of the line joining the two tips of the ears). When the head is suspended, the head seems to be hanging on a thread.

(15) Cheek-Hooking: In fact this is a necessary step to suspend the head. The head can never get suspended if the chin is not tucked in. When the chin is pulled in, nasal breathing will be free.

(16) Eye-Shutting: Drop the upper eyelids, permitting a thin beam of light (In terms of Qigong it is called “to draw the curtains”). This will help the eyes relax. A complete shutting of theeveyes will cause tension in the eyes.

(17) Lip—CIosing: Close the lips slightly.

(18) The Tongue Touching the Upper Palate: The tongue touches the upper teeth ridge gently. Do not use force. Only touch the tongue to the teeth ridge.

These five items are the requirements of the head in the relaxed and quiescent standing of Qigong exercise, of which head-suspending is the key point.

Of the 18 Principles for the relaxed and quiescent Qigong exercise in standing position, head-supending, armpit-hollowing, waist-relaxing, and crotch-rounding are the four key points. Among them the relaxation of the waist is the leading factor. So in this exercise, emphasis is on the relaxation of the waist. Without the relaxation of the waist, vital energy can not sink into Dantian.

The length of time for relaxed and quiescent Qigong exercise in standing position is flexible. If you can reach the stage of relaxation and quiescence in three or five minutes, you are ready for the next form of Qigong exercise. The exercise can also last for 20-30 minutes.

 

The Three Deep Exhaling and Inhaling Form

Pithy Formula

With one hand on top of the other at Dantian, breathe out and in evenly and slowly.
Crouch slightly while breathing out; remain crouched when breathing in.
Stand up only after slowly breathing in, when the air can flow freely.

Explanation
Make the Laogong Point (P. 8) in the inner part of the left hand face Qihai (i. e., Dantian). Put the right hand on top of the left hand {for females, the right hand under the left hand) (see Figure 22). Breathe out slowly, i. e., to breathe deeply. The breath must be gentle, thin, even and long. In ancient times, the method was called “Slow and Deep Exhaling”. Crouch when breathing out through the mouth. Move the tongue from the upper teeth ridge to the lower teeth ridge while crouching. After a short pause, the tongue returns to the upper teeth ridge, and breathe in through the nose. Do not stand up until you stop breathing in (see Figure 23). Regulate breath freely when standing up. Start for a second round when you resume normal breathing. Do three rounds altogether.

Detailed Movements
(1) Start the Three Deep Exhaling and Inhaling Form when the Relaxed and Quiescent Form in Standing Position is over. Before breathing out slowly, put the hands one on top of the other (the right hand on top of the left hand i for males, while for females, the left hand on top of the right hand) at Dantian below the navel (1.5 can below the navel) with Yuji of the thumb placed on the navel and Laogong facing Qihai.

(2) When breathing out slowly, move the tongue from the upper teeth ridge to the lower teeth ridge. Send out air very slowly and retain a certain leeway. For mental activities, think of letting out completely the turbid substance, or think of the requirements for the softness, thinness, evenness and length, or think of nothing at all.

(3) While breathing out, crouch by bending your knees with the seat slightly lowered until the tips of the knees somewhat exceed the toe tips.

(4) After breathing out, stay in the crouching positon and do not stand up. Move your tongue to the upper teeth ridge, then draw in air through the nose. To stand up while breathing in will probably cause tightness in the chest or even high blood pressure.

(5) After breathing in, start to raise the torso from the crouching position and then breathe normally (natural breathing).

(6) Regulate the breath and then start a second round.

(7) Do the third round. When the torso is raised, start  the next pattern of Qigong exercise.

The Three Open-and-Close Form
Pithy Formular

Start with hands one ‘upon the other over Dantian, and move the hands sidewise, back to back, till they are half chi away from the hips.

Palm facing palm, return them to where they were, and something is gained from both “open” and “close”. With pathogenic evils out and vital energy in, you’d better keep Dantian closed.

Explanation
When performing the “open-and-close” exercise, carelessness must be avoided. Move the hands inward gently and slowly from off the hips in the figure of arc. For beginners breathing may not be involved. When you have grasped the basic skill, breathe out when “opening” and breathe in when “closing”. For mental activities, think of the vast plain when you “open” and think of the vital energy returning to Dantian when you “close”.

Detailed Movements
(1) Start from the preceding position. Turn the hands back to back at Dantian. Move the hands sidewise toward the side of the hips with palms facing outward. This is called the “open form” (See Figure 24).

(2) When performing this starting form, point the fingers to the front (the small finger across the thumb). Move. the palms along a horizontal line at the level of Dantian until they are about half a chi away from the hips.

(3) Turn the palms in an arc to face inward (i. e., facing the centre of the body). With thumbs up and small finger down, move the hands inward to the central line of the body (see Figure 25) until the fingers of‘ both hands meet. This is called the “close form”. Repeat three times.

(4) To do this “open” and “close” form, beginners may not involve breathing. When you have practised for some time, you may consider breathing. Breathe out when “opening” and breathe in when “closing”. Exhale through the mouth when “opening” and inhale through the nose when“closing.

(5)When doing this form of exercise, you can think either of the actions or of nothing at all. When you are skilled, you can imagine: When opening, it is spacious so that the exogenous pathogenic factors can be expelled, and when closing it is sealed so that the exogenous pathogenic factors can not get in.

Closing Form
You must do the closing form when you are through with a form of Qigong exercise. To do the closing form is just like to do the starting form only in reverse sequence. That is, to do the Three Open-and-Close Form first; then the Three Deep Exhaling and  Inhaling, and finally do the Relaxed and Quiescent Form  in Standing Position. The purpose of doing the closing form is to bring the internal energy released through Qigong exercise back into Dantian. As the saying goes: “Doing Qigong exercise without a closing form means to have thrown away what you have gained.”

In ancient China, saliva was called “gold fluid” or “jade fluid” and was always considered as treasure, so swallow the saliva down slowly whenever there is any.

Reference: Chinese Qigong Therapy by Zhang Mingwu  p. 105-115

ISBN 7533103785

Posture Adjustment and Health Preserving in Health Qigong

“Posture Adjustment” is one of the three important elements of Health Qigong exercise. It means that the trainee regulates and controls the basic body shapes and limb movements so that they meet the requirements of the exercise. It is also known as body-shape alignment which is realized through reasonable relative motions between tendons, membranes, bones, and muscles. The earliest record of the term “Health preserving” appeared in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Divine Axis: Benshen: “therefore the health-preserving activities of the wise must be in accordance with the four seasons and climate. Through the regulation of Yin and Yang and adjustment of hardness and softness, these health-preserving activities will prolong life.” Health preserving is also known as regimen. It is a preventive treatment of diseases that strengthens the body constitution, prevent diseases, and prolong life through all kinds of approaches. The earliest record about the relationship between Posture Adjustment and health preserving appeared in Lüshi Chunqiu: Chapter of Ancient Music, which recorded the treatment of diseases “where muscles and bones are shrunk” with “dances” having “draining” effects. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine also recorded information about Posture Adjustment and health preserving, such as “Obey the law of Yin-Yang and adopt varies methods for health preserving”. From this we can see that Posture Adjustment has been used to achieve health-preserving goals. This is evident in different name of health preserving, such as guided health preserving and athletic health preserving. The Posture Adjustment of Health Qigong is different from simple limb motions. It is focused on “adjustment”. In other words, special body shapes and limb-regulating methods are used to achieve health-preserving goals.

Using rotating, bending, and stretching motions to regulate viscera and dredge channels

The emphasis on rotating, bending, and stretching motions is one of the outstanding features during the Posture Adjustment of Health Qigong. There are many rotating, bending, and stretching movements especially of the trunk in the four Health Qigong exercises.

The rotating, bending, and stretching motions of the spinal column are emphasized in many postures in Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing. For example, rotating strength is used from the legs to the waist and then to the arms in “Pulling back Tails of Nine Bulls”. Joint-by-joint drawing, bending, and stretching motions are used for the head, neck, chest, waist, and sacral vertebrae in “Bowing Posture”. The movements of the body trunk fully reflect the characteristics of the five animals in Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi. In “Tiger Posture” for example, the knee-bending, abdomen-drawing, chest-drawing, knee-stretching, hip-forwarding, abdomen-arching, and backward-bending movements are completed at one go so that the spinal column has worm-movements from a folded state to an unfolded state. In Deer Wrestling, the waist is bent and rotated sideways with large amplitude. In Deer Running, the back is arched and the abdomen is drawn in. In Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue which lays more emphasis on breathing, the trunk does not move much, but straightening adjustments are also reflected in all character formulas, such as the leftward and rightward rotating movements of the trunk in “Sh” character formula, and the shoulder-squaring, chest-expanding, and head-shrinking movements in “Hiss” character formula. In “Shaking Head and Tail to Dispel Heart Fire” of Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jing, the spinal column is bent sideways and rotated to pull the tail bones and the neck. In “Both Hands Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and Waist”, the spinal column is bent forward and stretches backward to create benign stimulation on the trunk.

Regular rotating, bending, and stretching motions of the trunk can regulate viscera and dredge channels. According to theories of the traditional medicine of our country, the trunk is where all channels of the body goes through. These channels connect viscera with the rest of the body. “All ways of the five viscera come from channels” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Suwen: the Channel Theory). “These 12 channels belong to the viscera inside the body and connect the limbs and joints on the outside” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Divine Axis: the Sea Theory). All of this has clearly pointed out the relationship between viscera and channels. All of the Ren and Du Channels and channels distributed on both sides of the spinal column or running across the spinal column and circulating all over the body are closely related to the spinal column. Therefore once the channels are unblocked, the blood and Qi circulation will be smooth and the viscera functions will be strengthened. According to modern medicine, exercising the spinal column will not only improve blood circulation, strengthen muscles, prevent pathological changes in the surrounding soft tissues, and prevent hyperosteogeny, but also promote the regulation of the viscera because the preganglionic neurons that regulate the autonomic nerves of the viscera are located inside the lateral corners and anterior corners of the spinal cord. The postganglionic neurons are located on both sides or on the frontal surface of the spinal column. Therefore spinal column exercises will have a direct influence on the autonomic nervous system and thus influence the functions of the visceral system. Health Qigong exactly uses all kinds of rotating, turning, stretching, and extending movements of the trunk to regulate viscera, dredge channels, and achieve body-building and health-preserving goals.

Moving the distal ends to coordinate Qi and blood and strengthen muscles and bones

It is another feature of Health Qigong during Posture Adjustment to strengthen the movement of small joints and small muscle clusters at distal ends of the body. There are many regular movements of fingers, toes, wrists, heels, elbows, and knees in Health Qigong

, such as the forced opening of lotus-leaf palms, the powerful wrist-erecting and palm-pushing movement, and the ground-grabbing movement with ten toes of both feet which are completed at one go in “Showing Claws and Wings” of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing. Another example is the conversions among the natural palms, dragon claws, and clenching in “Blue Dragon Reaching out Claws”. In Health Qigong•Wu Qin Xi, the coordination between the tiger claws and tiger pouncing with fingers as hard as steel hooks, the engagement between flexible Ape Hooking and the heel-lifting movement, and the coordination between the nimble Bird Wings and the balance upon the knee-lifting movement have all reflected the regular motions of the distal ends of upper and lower limbs. In Health Qigong•Liu Zi Jue, the motions of wrists and fingers are also manifested in different ways. For example, the palm-erecting, wrist-rotating, and abducting movements in “Hiss” character formula embody the motions of the distal joints of limbs. Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jing gives more prominence to the exercise of distal ends of limbs. The wrist-bending motion of Bazi Palms, the finger-erecting motion, the palm-opening motion, and the clenching and adduction of the side-drawn hands in “Drawing the Bow with Both Hands like Shooting an Eagle” complement each other. The fully outward rotation of both arms and palms in “Eliminating Five Strains and Seven Impairments” and the coordination of the palm-rotating motion, fist-clenching motion, and ground-grabbing motion with ten toes in “Clenching Fists and Glaring Eyes to Increase Qi and Strength” all reflect the multi-directional and multi-strength motions of the small joints and small muscle clusters at distal ends of limbs.

Moving the distal ends to coordinate Qi and blood and strengthen muscles and bones. According to theories of the traditional medicine of our country, the tips of fingers and toes are starting or ending points of the 12 channels. For example, the Hand Taiyang Channel of the Small Intestine Begins from the tip of the little finger. The Foot Taiyang Channel of the Urinary Bladder ends at the outer side of the little toe. The source points of the 12 channels are located near the wrists and ankles. The theory of the twelve source acupoints (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine: Divine Pivot: Nine Kinds of Needles and Twelve Source Acupoints) applies in the event of diseases with the five viscera. For example, Taiyuan, the source acupoint of the Lung Channel of Hand Taiyin, is located in the dent of the radialis of the transverse grains of the palm (facing upward). Qiuxu, the source acupoint of the Gall Bladder Channel of Foot Shaoyin, is located in the dent in the lower front of the outer ankle. The elbows and knees are where the internal Qi is easily blocked. For example, when there are there are problems with the heart and lungs, internal Qi will be stagnated in the elbows. When there are problems with the kidneys, internal Qi will be stagnated in the back sides of both knees (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine•Divine Axis•Pathogenic Factors). From this we can see that regular movements of distal joints can dredge channels and coordinate Qi and blood. According to theories of modern medicine, movements of distal ends of limbs will improve peripheral blood circulation of distal ends, promote the return flow of venous blood and lymph, boost Qi and blood exchange, and strengthen the ability to control and regulate the peripheral nerve of limbs, muscles, and the coordination between brain nerves and the motions of distal ends of limbs. To sum up, Health Qigong uses all kinds of regular movements of the fingers, toes, wrists, elbows, and knees to coordinate Qi and blood, strengthen muscles and bones, and achieve body-building and health-preserving goals.

Combining relaxation with tightness, adjusting Yin and Yang, and balancing the organism

The combination of relaxation and tightness is also one of the main features during the Posture Adjustment of Health Qigong. Relaxation means that the muscles, joints, central nervous system, and viscera are relaxed during practice. Tightness means appropriate strength is used in a slow manner during practice. The combination of relaxation and tightness is an embodiment of the Yin-Yang theory of traditional medicine in Health Qigong exercises. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine has made the following comments on the relationship between Yin-Yang and health: “When Yin and Yang are in a relative equilibrium, the spirit will be in good condition” and “when Yin and Yang are well-balanced, the body will be full of vitality”. This means Yin and Yang are in a unity of opposites. A man will be free of diseases only when the Yin-Yang balance is maintained in the human body. Health Qigong adjusts the Yin and Yang inside the human body through its unique exercising mode-combined relaxation and tightness.

Health Qigong realizes posture adjustment with a combination of relaxation and tightness in a gentle and slow state. In “Pulling back Tails of Nine Bulls” of Health Qigong•Yi Jin Jing, both arms are adducted and rotated until they are gradually pulled to the end points. At this point they are in the tight state which belongs to Yang. The arm muscles, muscle clusters on the back and abdomen, and some muscle clusters of lower limbs are doing work in a contracted state. Later, the waist is turned to drive both arms to reach out until the next arm adduction and pulling movement. At this point they are in a relaxed state which belongs to Yin. The muscles at joints of the lower limbs, waist, abdomen, shoulders, elbows, and wrists are relaxed one by one. Another example is “Drawing the Bow with Both Hands like Shooting an Eagle” in Health Qigong•Ba Duan Jing. We should display a state of serene mind, relaxed body and be natural and at ease when starting to take the step. This state belongs to Yin. When drawing the bow to shoot the eagle, we should slowly tension both arms and maintain the drawing posture to create an agitating feeling. This state belongs to Yang. In “Seven Movements of the Back to Eliminate all Diseases”, the toes grab the ground and heels are lifted to keep a short-term balance of the body in a relatively tensioned state of muscles all over the body. Then relax the body and drop the heels to slightly hammer the ground. The posture adjustment with combined relaxation and tightness is implemented throughout the four Health Qigong exercises.

Combination of relaxation and tightness, adjustment of Yin and Yang, and balance of organism reflect the inner requirements on the movement guidance of Health Qigong and follow the basic theories of traditional medicine, such as mutual growth and reduction between Yin and Yang and mutual conversion between Yin and Yang. Remedying defects, rectifying errors, aiding the weak, and restraining the strong are all meant to coordinate the relative equilibrium between Yin and Yang in the human body and thus to strengthen the body. According to theories of modern medicine, the relaxation-tightness exercise with all parts being relatively relaxed benefits the contraction and relaxation of muscles, helps trainees to relax the mind, adjusts the nervous system, improves or balances the physiological functions of the organs of various systems of the human body, and thus achieves the body-building and health-preserving goals. (Ding Liling)

Reference: “Posture Adjustment” and “Health Preserving” in Health Qigong jsqg.sport.org.cn

Trilogy of Health Qigong Exercise

In daily exercise, it’s easy to be found that a Health Qigong lover was still difficult tograsp the essentials of exercise even though he spent a lot of time in practicing and themain cause was due to his improper practice. I’ve often wondered how we can help theseimproper practicing lovers to grasp a kind of practicing technique, so that they can betterenjoy the pleasure brought by Health Qigong. I hereby recommend an approach for“trilogy” of Health Qigong exercise to everybody from the essential characteristics ofHealth Qigong and combined with years of teaching and practice experiment, hope that itcould enlighten the beginners and instructors.

I. Interpretation of “Trilogy” Exercise

What are the essential characteristics of Health Qigong? The definition of HealthQigong has given us a definite answer, namely Health Qigong is a traditional exercise ofour nation with body movements, respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) and mentalregulation as the major forms of exercise. In accordance with the commonly used terms ofHealth Qigong, “body regulation” means “body movements”, “breath regulation” means“respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out)”, “mind regulation” means “mental regulation”, andthe essential characteristics of Health Qigong can be expressed as a heath preserving exercise with combination of “body regulation, breath regulation and mind regulation”, namely the unity and collaboration of “three regulations”. Further simplified, if used “form,breath, mind” to replace “body regulation, breath regulation and mind regulation”, theessential characteristics of Health Qigong can be further expressed as an exercise withcombination of “form, breath and mind” of the human. Accordingly, I proposed “trilogy” ofHealth Qigong exercise, namely practicing Health Qigong based on the sequence of“form-breath-mind”. The specific practicing contents and steps are shown in the following diagram:

  1. Form
  2. Form +breath
  3. Form +breath + mind

Schematic Diagram of “Trilogy” of Health Qigong Exercise (see original diagram in pdf file)

II. Sequence Analysis of “Trilogy” Exercise

(I) The first step exercise – form

As for the Health Qigong beginners, the first step of Health Qigong exercise is to master the practicing methods and essentials of the “form”. The “form” herein refers to body movements and adjustment of body posture, namely “body regulation”, which is the external manifestation of the movements.

The basic contents of the “form” mainly include three aspects. The first is the methods and the hand shape, such as the “tiger claw, deer horn and bird wings” in HealthQigong • Wu Qin Xi, the “dragon claw, tiger claw, lotus leaf palm, willow leaf palm” inHealth Qigong • Yi Jin Jing. As the saying goes, “clever in mind and skillful in hands”. Modern brain physiology research indicated that the hand reflex zone also accounted for alarge area in cerebral cortex reflex zone. The regular changes of the hand shape inexercise can effectively stimulate the hands’ different nerve muscles and enable thecerebral cortex to produce good adaptation variations. The second is the footwork and stances. The moving and transition of the gravity center of the body and the bodymovements are dependent on the changes of footwork and stances. The general requirement of the footwork is “walking with cat-like step” and changing agilely and flexibly.The third is the body methods, including “chest, back, waist, abdomen and hip”. The substance of the “emphasis on extension and rotation of spinal column” mentioned in the essentials of four Health Qigong exercises is the body methods.

Only when one has mastered the “form” methods and essentials can he “guide thewaist and body and exercise all the joints” to fight with aging. The Health Qigong beginneris sure to make great efforts to perform well at the first step, distinguish the movements’routines, directions, angles, vacancy and fullness, laxity and tightness, and achieve neatpostures and accurate methods, so as to lay a solid foundation for in-depth exercises inthe future.

(II) The second step exercise – form + breath

After being more fluent in essentials of the “form”, the practicers can start the secondstep and pay attention to the close coordination of body movements and breathing. If thefirst step is required to achieve “guiding the body into a soft state”, the second step shouldachieve “guiding Qi into a harmonious state”, to combine “body guidance” with “Qiguidance”, thus to achieve “coordination of form and breath”.

Generally speaking, the coordination between breathing and movements is based onrules of “ascending-inhalation and descending-exhalation, opening-inhalation andclosing-exhalation, accumulating-inhalation and releasing-exhalation, andtightening-inhalation and relaxing-exhalation”. For example, the “bird flying” movement inHealth Qigong • Wu Qin Xi, an inhalation is taken as the ascending of gravity center whenboth arms are lifted to complete the movement of “spread wings” and an exhalation istaken as the descending of gravity center when the knees are bended and both hands arefolded, that is the coordination of “ascending-inhalation and descending-exhalation”; the“showing claws and wings” movement in Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing, an inhalation is taken when both hands are changed into willow leaf palms and erected in front of chest, thechest is expanded and the force is accumulated and an exhalation is taken when bothhands are changed into lotus leaf palms and reached forward and the force is released,that is the coordination of “accumulating-inhalation and releasing-exhalation”; the“Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain” movement of Health Qigong • Ba Duan Jin, an inhalation is taken when “looking backwards” and the neck muscle is tightened and an exhalation is taken when “looking forward” and the neck muscle isrelaxed, that is the coordination of “tightening-inhalation and relaxing-exhalation”. In essence, the rules of coordination between breathing and movements are consistent, in general, it can be concluded as “opening-inhalation and closing-exhalation”,for example, for the “bird fly” movement, an inhalation is taken when the chest is expanded to complete the movement of “spread wings” and an exhalation is taken when the chest is folded to complete the movement of “folded wings”. Of course, the skillful coordination between breathing and movements requires a process, which cannot be achieved overnight. How can we achieve it? It shall start with the coordination between natural breathing and movements. Natural breathing is a way of breathing going on all the time around us. The practicers are required to slowly combine the movements withbreathing at the moment of natural breathing and breathe naturally with the changes inmovements. When the natural breathing and movements are coordinated skillfully, thebreathing will gradually become deep, slow, even and long, and then the effect of unifying state of mind is achieved to prepare for the third step exercise. If the natural rules ofcoordination between breathing and movements are violated to pursue unrealistic coordination, it may result in out-of-adjustment respiration, stubborn movements and even suffocation and fail to take effect.

(III) The third step exercise – form + breath + mind

If making distinction with overall exercise and decomposing exercise, the first andsecond steps can be considered as the decomposing exercises and the third step can beconsidered as the real overall exercise. The step-by-step principle is in line with the rulesand is also an important principle for performing well in Health Qigong exercise. Based onthis principle, the first and second steps are the precondition and foundation for the thirdstep and the third step is the goal and pursuit of the former two steps. Only when thecombination between body movements, respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) andmental regulation was achieved can the essential characteristics of Health Qigong be trulyembodied, can the Health Qigong exercise enter the realm of integration of body and mindand the Health Qigong exercise obtain desired effect.

Whether it is the “form”, the “breath”, or the “form + breath”, both of them are “visibleand touchable”, and what’s going on about the invisible and formless “mental regulation”?How to fulfill the third step? We first need to figure out the essence and contents of thementality and the nature of consciousness. What’s the human’s mentality? Zhang Houcan, the vice chairman of International Union of Psychology, has explained it in plain languagein the article of “Current Situation and Development Prospects of Psychology in China”.She explained the psychological as “first, it is the function of the brain, it cannot workwithout the brain; second, it is the reflection of the real world, it can reflect the realities inthe outside world; third, the reflection of the human is not negative and reactive butpositive and proactive, which can be consciously carried out. The human being not onlyneeds to understand the realities but needs to reshape the realities, and we have to studythese issues if the psychology wants to achieve a high level of development”. The three notes of Zhang Houcan about the essence of mentality can be summarized as “mentalityis the subjective reflection of the human brain on the objective world.” The nature of consciousness theory of dialectical materialism pointed out that, “consciousness is the subjective reflection of objective existence, which is a reflection process of the human brain on the objective world and a process for continuous processing and production ofd ata input externally”. It is easy to see the consistency between the essence of mentalityand the nature of consciousness by linking them together.

According to the conclusion that “the consciousness contains the unity of knowledge,emotion and willpower”, it can be considered that the “mental regulation” contents of Health Qigong include “knowledge, emotion and willpower”. “Knowledge” refers to thetheoretical knowledge of “body movements and respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out)”and the theoretical knowledge of how to improve our health and the mechanism ofproducing healthy effects. For example, the joints, muscles, routines and methods in bodymovements, the respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) methods and how to coordinaterespiration with body movements. “Emotion” refers to emotional feelings or sentiments. In Health Qigong exercise, the practicers are required to enter the healthy emotional stateand enter different emotional states according to different movements. For example, thepracticers are required to enter the state of mind of Health Qigong • Wu Qin Xi exercise toact like whatever role they act to achieve the unity of form and spirit. “Willpower” refers tothe mental state such as self-control, perseverance, confidence and indomitable spirit ofthe human being manifested in pursuit of certain goals and ideals. Understanding theessence of mentality and its contents before interpretation of the meaning of the third step6exercise is, after being more proficient in coordination between body movements andbreathing and combined with the requirements of different exercising methods andspecific movements, to give full play to the imagination based on functions of the brain toenter appropriate artistic conception requirements and gradually achieve the physical andmental state of the “unity of three regulations”.

III. Supplemental Instructions of “Trilogy” Exercise

There are two points need to supplement. First, the purpose of putting forward the“trilogy” exercise is to provide some theoretical guidance for beginners, and moreimportant is to tell the beginners that they must follow the principle of step-by-steppractices and always grasp the essential characteristics of combination of bodymovements, respiratory Tuna (breathing in and out) and mental regulation of HealthQigong. Never start to “imagine or absorb ideas” and even “random thinking” withoutbeing proficient in coordination between movements and breathing. This is “aggressivedoctrine” in exercise and is totally bad for the practicers; second, there is no absoluteboundary between the three steps and it does not mean that the practicing cognitiveprocess of Health Qigong exercise is ended up after three steps exercise. The principle ofepistemology of “practice, cognition, re-practice and re-cognition” is also applicable to thepracticing process of Health Qigong. As the saying goes, “art is endless”, Health Qigongexercise is always a continuous learning and continuous improvement process. Duringthe practice, only when we continuously improve the state of “form”, “form + breath” and“form + breath + mind” based on understanding and practicing levels at different stagescan we gradually improve the level of exercising methods and acquire maximum effectivehealth-preserving effects and more harmonious physical and mental skills.

Reference: “Trilogy” of Health Qigong Exercise (pdf) by Wang Yanqun Chinese Health QiGong Association jsqg.sport.org.cn

Linking Activity in Yiquan

Local parts of body request:
Sole stepping onto the ground,
heel slightly lifted,
sole like a spring,
avoid ankle from shaking otherwise body will quiver.

Both knees expanding,
buttock tight and leg twisted,
anus and belly (retracted as in) inspiration,
hip twisting and crotch wrapping.

Back and waist keep vertical,
chest slightly withdrawn,
shoulder expanding and elbow horizontal,
wrist hooking and finger pointing.

Head and neck all erecting,
mouth open and jaws withdrawn,
hair like pointing up,
teeth like chewing.

Whole body request:
Whole body swelling,
force rushing to a distant place,
linking with all-around,
each hair pointing as a halberd.
Form is bending then force is straight,
Form relaxing then mental should keep contracting,
Relaxing but not slacking off,
Contracting but not stiffening.

Mental request:
Spirit of raging tiger,
Mental of evasive snake.

Spiritual verve:
As a rooster in combat, spreading wings.
As a fish fighting meeting it opponent, turning its gill and erecting.
As a winning cricket relaxing wings, grasping claws and shaking
body.

As a wild horse galloping, its body burnt by a raging fire.
As a cyclone blowing off trees, raising them from ground and then
them spreading out.

Under the slightest touch, bursting immediately, explosive power
undisrupted from combat posture.

Reference:
Zhan zhuang and the Search of Wu
by Yu Yong Nian

p. 198 – 199

Silkreeling Training

A perspective on silk-reeling training by Zhang Xuexin, a student of Feng Zhiqiang, 18-generation. Chen style Taijiquan and founder of Chen Style Xinyi Hun Yuan Taijiquan.

Feng Zhiqiang, a leading student of Chen Fake is one of the most famous exponents of Taijiquan in the world. He is also well-known for promoting a complete set of silk-reeling exercises (Chansigong or also occasionally romanized as Chan Ssu Gong) in thirty five postures which form one of the fundamental training exercises for the mastery of Chen-style Taijiquan.

Feng Zhiqiang’s senior indoor student, Zhang Xuexin, was the first to introduce this system of exercises to the west. The following introduction to Taijiquan silk-reeling exercises is from Zhang’s video tape on silk-reeling and dantian rotation exercises.

____________________________________________


Master Zhang will demonstrate the complete set of silk-reeling (known as Chan Si Gong in Pinyin) and dantian rotation exercises arranged by Master Feng based on his studies of Chen style Taijiquan. One major objective of this set of spiral exercises is to open up and exercise the 18 major joint areas of the body (in sequence from the head to the ankles). The 18 major joints consist of: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, abdomen, waist, kuas, hips, knees, and ankles. 

These 18 major joints are also referred to as 18 “balls” of the human body. By harmonizing the internal turning and external twisting with the Qi and Yi via the silk-reeling exercises, one can reach a state where the entire body will become an integrated “Taiji sphere.” 

In practicing Chen-style Taijiquan, the human body may be seen as a tree with three sections: branch, trunk and roots. In reference to the entire body: the arm is the branch, the torso is the trunk and the legs are the root. The entire body may be further subdivided. For the torso, the head is the branch, the waist is the trunk and the abdomen is the root. For the arm, the hand is the branch, the elbow is the trunk, and the shoulder is the root. For the lower body, the ankle is the branch, the knee is the trunk and the kua is the root. All total there are 9 sections of the human body. The dantian is the center from which the jing and energy are propogated to each branch like a wave. 

These exercises also train the famous eight energies of Taijiquan – Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Jou, and Kao along with qinna (joint locking and grappling) and counter-qinna movements. Master Zhang and his students will also demonstrate applications of the silk-reeling exercises and the fundamental dantian rotation exercises.

All of the exercises presented are useful foundation training not only for students of Chen style Taijiquan but for students of any style of Taijiquan. They are also a good foundation for students of related internal martial arts such as Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. 

Reference:
An Introduction to Chen-style Taijiquan Silk-reeling Training nardis.com