The Four Characters: Support, Lead, Relax, and Release
Support the opponent’s power and borrow his force. This involves agility. Lead the opponents power to the front of your body, then begin to store your force. This involves concentration. I relax my force without bending. This involves stillness. I release my force from the waist and feet. This involves completeness.
The important Points in Form, Application, and Power Training
The ancients have said, “If you can entice the opponent to enter and then cause him to fall into emptiness, you may use four ounces to deflect a thousand ponds. If you cannot entice the opponent to enter and then cause him to fall into emptiness, you will not be able to use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.” This statement is very deep and has broad applicability; it is beyond the scope of beginners. I will continue with an explanation so that those who have made the decision to study may make progress as they practice. If you want to know your self and know others, you must first give up yourself and follow the opponent. If you want to give up your self and follow the opponent, you must first obtain the opportunity and superior position. If you want to obtain the opportunity and superior position, you must first move the entire body as a coordinated unit. If you want to move your body as a coordinated unit, the whole body must be without misalignment, your spirit and qi must be stimulated. If you want to stimulate your spirit and qi, you must first raise your spirit. If you want to raise your spirit, you must not let your spirit be dispersed externally. If you want to prevent your spirit from being dispersed externally, you must concentrate your spirit and qi in your bones. If you want to concentrate your spirit and qi in your bones, the front of your hips must have power, the shoulders must be relaxed, and the qi sunk downward. The force (jing) must come from the heels, transform in the legs, be stored in the chest, and moved in the shoulders. The leader is the waist. Above, the arms coordinate in attack. Below, the legs follow. The force is changed internally. Withdrawing is closing. Releasing is opening. When still, all is still. Stillness is closing. In the midst of closing is the desire to open. When in motion, everything moves. Movement is opening. Moving through the forms is the gung fu of understanding the self.
Before moving, first check to see if the whole body is conforming to the above described principles. If any part of the body is not in alignment with any of the principles, immediately make corrections. This why the forms must be done slowly and not quickly. Striking Hands (pushing hands) is the gung fu of understanding others, of knowing others in movement and stillness. All this still involves questioning the self. If positioned correctly, as soon as the opponent strikes I do not have to disturb his actions in the slightest but take advantage of his movement and enter. I am assured of borrowing his force. The opponent throws himself. If you are not in a position of power, you still not have remedied the problem of “double-weighting.”1) The answer is found in yin/yang and opening/closing. This is what is meant by “Know yourself and know others, and in a hundred battles you will taste victory a hundred times.”
1) “Double-wieghting” refers to using force directly against the force of the opponent, there by creating two centers or “weights.”