Chen Xin’s Push Hand 36 Sicknesses

by Yhang Yun

Although it is said that Taiji Quan spread out from Chenjiagao Village, there were no real quality classics written down there until Chen Xin. So today Chen Xin’s Taiji Quan classic is greatly respected in Chen family.

Chen Xin (1849 – 1929) was a sixteenth generation member of the Chen family. His father and uncles were famous Chen style martial artists in the village. He and his older brother got training from when they were young. But the family arranged for his brother to do more martial arts and he to do more literature study. He was not really successful in his work. When he got old, he thought his brother was a success in martial arts but he did not do anything with his literature skill. So he determined to use his knowledge of traditional philosophy to write a Taiji Quan classic. He started working toward this goal in 1908. For about twelve years, he worked hard. Finally, he wrote a book which was called Taiji Quan Illustrative Teaching Materials and the other name is Taiji Quan Postures. He made four copies of this book in his own hand writting. He had no son, so he gave his book to his nephew Chen Chunyuan before he passed away. He told Chen Chunyua: “If you think someone is good enough to get this book, you can just pass it on to him. If not, just burn it.” Chen Xin died poor.

In January of 1932, Tang Hao and Chen Ziming, who was Chen Xin’s nephew and taught Taiji in Shanghai at that time, went to Chenjiagao Village. Chen Chunyuan showed them Chen Xin’s book. Later Tang met Guan Baiyi, the president of Henan Province Martial Arts School, and suggested to Guan that he should get a copy of this book. Guan collected seven hundred dollars to buy the book from Chen Chunyuan and then published it in 1933 with name Chen Style Taiji Quan Illustrative Description. Chen Chunyuan was very poor at that time. He did not even have money for Chen Xin’s funeral until he got this payment. Guan’s publication made Chen Xin and his book famous and popular. When Tang Hao and Chen Ziming met Chen Chunyuan in the village, Chen Ziming took two articles from Chen Xin’s book. They were “Push Hand Sixteen Items” and “Push Hand Thirty-six Sicknesses”. Then he published them in his book in 1932. So when Guan published Chen Xin’s book, these two articles were not included. Chen Ziming’s book was much less popular than Guan’s publication. This is why these two articles are not popular.

The second article describes some common mistakes or misunderstanding in Taiji Quan push hands practice. Each one has an item name and one or two explanatory sentences. The last paragraph is a summary of the article. Some of these mistakes are in general principles and some are with specific techniques. This article is important and interesting, especially for beginners. Because the principles of Taiji Quan are very different from other kinds of martial arts, some skills and principles are right and work well in other arts but not in Taiji, especially some skills which depend a lot on person’s athletic ability. This article tells us what skills are wrong in Taiji push hands practice, even though we may feel some of them are obviously right. The mistakes are called sickness which means they will block people from developing real Taiji skills. It does not mean people can never use them in their fighting. It means people should not intentionally use them in their practice. If one thinks it is good for he/she currently and does not want to change, generally he/she will get bad habits and can never reach a high level. In Taiji practice, people always say that you should throw something away which maybe you feel good today but is wrong in principle. For example, if you use your hand to block your opponent’s hands from pushing your body, it seems like a good defence. But if you just do it in your practice, you will not have a chance to study how to solve the problem when your body gets pushed directly. From Taiji principles, you should defend against your opponent with any part of your body. Wherever an opponent touches you, beat him back from there. Because the principle and skill of Taiji push hands are unusual, there are a lot of skills that are really difficult to understand for beginners. So to understand this article will really help people to understand Taiji Quan. If you read this article and feel something confuses you, it may mean you need more practice and to study Taiji principles more deeply. Be careful, it is the most important thing to separate what is right and what is wrong in your practice. Do not judge what you do solely based on whether it works for you now. You also need to access whether what you do is consistent with Taiji principles. Never let bad habits and faults get in gained into your body and into your practice.

For more people to get benefits from Chen’s article, I translate it here. I did not put any explanation from myself. I just try to keep the original meaning of the article. Because the article was written in traditional style and used a lot of ancient words, I give some notes so that people can understand it more easily. I hope it can help you develop your skills.

(Below all italic sentences are Pinyin transliterations of Chen Xin’s original item titles. Bold font sentences are the translation of Chen Xin’s original text. The regular font sentences are my notes.)

Kashou(1) San-shi-liu(2) Bing(3)

Push Hand Thirty-six Sicknesses

(1) Kashou is another name for Tuishou – push hands.

(2) San-shi-liu is Thirty-six. There are total thirty-six kind of push-hands mistakes included in this article. Some of them are very similar. Readers should pay attention to separate these different meanings very carefully.

(3) In traditional Chinese, some wrong things or mistakes which can prevent you from going ahead in the right way are usually called Bing – sickness, illness or disease. Some of them may never kill you but if you do not correct them, you cannot go very far.

1. Chou – withdraw; take out; leave; get awayThis means that when you attack(1), you can not get in optimal position(2), and you feel that you will lose, so you want to withdraw your body(3).(1) The original character is Jin which means to go forward or come in. In push hand it means to make an attack.(2) The original word is Deshi which means you are in right place which gives you an advantage over your opponent; and therefore your opponent is at a disadvantage. The other technical word, which is also used often with this word, is Deji which means you get the right timing. In push hand principle, you should always keep yourself Deji and Deshi.(3) When you feel that your position and timing are not optimal, then you simply want to withdraw from physical situation.

2. Ba – pull out; run awayThis means to withdraw your movement and run away.

3. Zhe – cover; block; shield from; hide fromThis means to use your hand to shield(1) yourself from the opponent.(1) To shield or cover from means, for example, that when your opponent attempts contact your body with his hand, you use your own hand to shield your body from his hand; or you use your hand to block or brush away his hand. It means that you are afraid to use your body to defense attacks.

4. Jia – fend offThis means to use your arm to fend off(1) the opponent’s hand.(1) Fend off has the meaning of blocking; in martial arts technique sense, in an upward or outward fashion, usually after having made contact with the attacking arm.

5. Keda – knock against directly; clashIt looks like using something to knock against something else directly(1).(1) In many martial arts a directly clashing type of block is commonly used, but using such clashing will prevent you from achieving higher Taiji skills.

6. Mengzhuang – suddenly and vigorously collide or dash againstSuddenly collide recklessly attack, just depending on brave force to dash forward vigorously; it is not natural(1), just want to take chance.(1) In Taiji natural means responding to the situation appropriately. It is not natural; rather, just taking the chance to win.

7. Duoshan – dodgeDodge your body from the opponent’s hand. To make a sudden dodge(1) causing the opponent to fall down.(1) This means to leave from contact.

8. Qinling – invade, aggression, intrude into and maltreatWant to invade into the opponent’s control sphere(1) and to mistreat him.(1) The original character is Jie which means a space. In push hands, we say each person has his own Jie where he can do his best. If he goes out this space, it is easy for him to lose his balance. If you come in to his space, you are in danger. The Taiji good skill is to lure or lead the opponent to go out of his space and come in your space.

9. Zhan – chop; cut offLike to use a sword to chop something.

10. Lou – hold in arms; hug; embraceTo hold the opponent’s body in your arms(1).(1) For example, to wrap your arms around the opponent’s body forcibly as in a bear hug.

11. Mao – resist; support with hand; hold; helpThis means to forcibly use the hand to resist and press the opponent holding him down.

12. Cuo – rubThis likes to rub something in the hands. To rub(1) the opponent with your hands or elbows.(1) This rubbing just causes local pain at the target.

13. Qiya – bully and oppress; ride roughshod overQi means to cheat or deceive, Ya(1) means to press down the opponent’s hand with big force.(1) Qiya simply is bulling or riding roughshod over the opponent.

14. Gua – hang; put up; get caughtThis means to use the hand or the foot to hook(1) the opponent.(1) For example, hooking your hand or foot around the opponent’s bodypart in order to control or throw him away, just like some wrestling skills.

15. Li – leave; go away; separate fromThis means to separate from the opponent, and be afraid that he will attack you.

16. Shanzuan – dodge and deceiveThis means to deceive(1) the gullible opponent and then attack him.(1) Using sneak attack tactics on the gullible opponent (eg. hey, your shoe laces are untail).

17. Bo – move; dispel; fiddle withThis means to use the hands forcibley(1) to move the opponent.(1) The original character is Ying. It means forcibly struggling.

18. Tui – pushThis means to forcefully push the opponet aside(1).(1) This push is without a specific purpose.

19. Jianse – hard and unsmooth; involved and abstruse; intricate and obscureThis means your skills are not mature(1).(1) Your skills are not well developed.

20. Shengying – stiff; rigid; harsh; lack of changeJust attack with reckless qi(1), and try to win with stiff skills.(1) Reckless qi means simply attacking without understanding the required principles.

21. Pai – push aside; push out; repel; exclude; reject; removeThis means to push the problem away(1).(1) Without directly solving the problem.

22. Dang – block; hold back; hinder; stop check; obstructThis means that you cannot use the lure skill(1) to make the opponent in trouble so just to block him out with force.(1) The lure skill should be included in almost every Taiji skill. Instead of blocking a person from coming in you should study how to lure someone in and upset his balance.

23. Ting – straight up; stand; hold outThis means hard, tough, or stiff(1).(1) Ting means that you already know you have lost but you are incapable of accepting or admitting defeat.

24. Ba – tyrant; overlordUse force to control others, like a tyrant(1) beating with force.(1) For example, using force, not skill, to get others to obey you.

25. Teng – remove something to make room; releaseTo use the right hand to hold the opponent, then to use the left hand to support his arm, and then to release the right hand to strike him(1).(1) This means using a complicated series of techniques instead of using a simple direct technique.

26. Na – control; grip; take; holdTo grip and control the opponent’s joints.

27. Zhi – straight; direct; frank; forth rightThis means to use straight force; there is no twining, softness, and winding idea included in it.

28. Shi – simple and unadorned; dull; naiveThis means too simple and unadorned(1), it is easy to be cheated and bullied.(1) The skill is dull and changeability is not understood.

29. Gou – hookThis means to use the foot to hook(1) and throw the opponent.(1) Using a specific technique to control the opponent.

30. Tiao – raise; push upTo push up(1).(1) This means forcibly raising something up, controlling, and then throwing away.

Peng31. Peng (1) – expand; inflateTo use hard Qi and force(2) to fend off and push away the opponent’s attack, not to use Zhongqi(3) to contact the opponent’s hand.(1) From Chen Xin’s explanation here, I think the Chinese character should be other Peng instead. The other Peng character is pronounced the same but has a different meaning. It means expand.(2) Hard qi and force means muscular force.(3) Zhongqi results from Zhongding (central equilibrium).

32. Di – conflict; resist; withstand; keep out; supportThis means just to use hard Qi and force to resist the opponent.

33. Gun – roll; trundleTo be afraid of getting hurt, so roll to side. This looks like a ball rolling away.

34. Gentou Gunzi(1) – somersault stickThis means when I push the small end of the stick down, the big end turns back and hits me(2).(1) Gentou means somersault. Gunzi means stick. Somersault stick has one end is bigger, the other is thinner. When the stick is placed on the ground, hit the thin end quickly, the stick will fly up (somersault). This is a children’s game. If you are making a mistake to stand in the way, the stick will hit you. Usually it will be the big end that hit you.(2) In push hands, your successful technique causes your opponent to hit you.

35. Tuoda – “steal hit”; sneak attack; surprise attackDo not attack directly, just surprise attack to some parts where the opponent is not prepared to defend.

36. Xintan – greedy; corrupt; covert; avariciousYour skills are not good enough to win, but be very covert and greedy; it must lose if try to fight.

For the above thirty-six sicknesses, someone may have all of them, or four or five, or one or two. If a person has any one of these, his skill will not mature. When a person’s skill has matured, no mistakes will occur. To keep Yuanqi (original qi) smooth, no movement may be uncomfortable. But how do you do push-hand? It is said: when the opponent’s hand is coming(1), I should use my hand to lure him in, and then let him get into an uncomfortable position. It is called Zou – go (or walk away). Zou has the other name of Yin – lure. Why is the skill named Yin (lure) also named Zou (go)? Yin means lure him to come in; Zou means he is coming and I am going, and do not oppose him, so it is called Zou. But in Zou there has to be some Yin and Jin (enter) with it (a high level pratitionor can lure the opponent come in, and even let him feel he must come in; if he comes in, I am in comforable position and he is uncomfortable, so that I can do whatever I want) (2). This is really a wonderful key in (Taiji) Quan, but without long and hard practice, it cannot be achieved.Note:(1) In Chinese when we say that the opponent’s hand is coming, it just means he makes attack to you whatever skills he uses, punch or kick.(2) This note was written by Chen Xin himself.This article discussed some of the most common mistakes in push hands practice. Some of them are always made by most people, so that it is why I think the article is very important for our practice. Taiji Quan is not like other martial arts. If Taiji is approached in a general martial way, it is easy to go astray. If you make some of the mistakes described above, it does not mean you cannot fight; it just means you are not using real Taiji skills. If you cannot avoid these, you cannot reach a high level of Taiji Quan. To really understand Taiji is not easy, especially for beginners, because everyone can just understand what he can do straightaway. Usually we say Taiji skill is not obvious and direct. For you to understand it, you should touch someone who can really show you this skill, and then add hard practice and deep thinking. Little by little you will make progress. I hope Chen Xin’s article gives you some inspiration.

Courtesy by ycgf.org

Thirteen Important Points in Taijiquan

Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows; contain the chest and pull up the back; the qi sinks to dantian; an intangible energy lifts up the crown of the head; loosen the waist and kua; distinguish empty and full; upper and lower follow one another; use mind intent, not strength; inner and outer are united; intention and qi interact; seek stillness in movement; movement and stillness are united; and proceed evenly from posture to posture. These thirteen points must be attended to in each and every movement. One cannot neglect the concept of these thirteen points within any of the postures. I hope that students will be cautiously attentative, and test and verify these in their practise.

Yang Chengfu (1883-1936) The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan translated by Louis Swaim
ISBN 1556435452

p. 12-13

Stirring Rice after the Hunger’s Past

by Han Shan (712-793)

Pursue them 10000 miles,
Raise high your sword, take careful aim
The faintest hesitation, or wince, or blink
And one will strike, and one of you is dead
You need not begrudge his life to take it,
Or be so selfess as to offer yours
The secret to victory?
Don’t fight for greed.

This poem is by Han Shan who took the name Cold Mountain and became one of the most famous and beloved poets of the Tang Dynasty.

Reference: plumpub.com

The Meaning of Tai Ji Quan

From the moment of conception, there is an Original Qi contained within that nurtures the body. There is no excess or deficiency; it is balanced and does not flow. It is ultimately good and complete, and is known as the True Yang. This is the same as the so-called centralized qi. This qi normally benefits the four corners of the body, and penetrate to nourish the bones. There is no place in the body it does not reach, there is no point in time which it is absent. The internal and external are united in a single qi. It flows ceaselessly without a break. The opening and closing, movement of stillness of martial forms have this qi as their root. The mystery of the various extensions and contractions springs forth from this qi. To open is to extend and to move. To close is to contract and to be still. Opening is yang and closing is yin. To issue, extend, or move is yang. To withdraw, contract, or become still is yin. Opening and closing is like the one qi moving through the cycles of yin and yang. Tai Ji is the one qi. The one qi is Tai Ji. When referring to the body, it is called Tai Ji. When referring to the use, it is called the one qi. When yang is called for, it is yang. When yin is called for, it is yin. When it should be above, it is above. When it should be below, it is below. From yang comes yin and from yin comes yang. The one qi is lively and active. It is established everywhere.

Opening and closing are natural; they alternate as appropriate to the situation. This is the same as Tai Ji Quan. The ancient were not able to demonstrate this to others or write it in books. This is the way it is. If the student is able to alternate opening and closing as well as stillness and movement, and comes to a deep understanding of their source, the commen root of every posture will be clear and one will obtain their mysterious uses(1. The central feature of the postures is the combination of an empty circle which has form and a formless circle which is full. These two circles represent the principle of the “empty” and “substantial.” Within the postures there is an apparent emptiness, but the posture is not really empty; it appears to be substantial, but there is in reality emptiness(2. This qi flows to all places without obstruction. It is rounded and lively without angles. It is without excesses or deficiencies. When manifest, the Six Harmonies are complete(3. When returning, it is hidden as a treasure within. Its changes are without limit. Its uses are inexhaustible. Herein lies the real teachings. It is the sum of Tai Ji Quan.

1) There is a famous saying that “The Tai Ji never departs from Yin and Yang; Tai Ji Quan never departs from opening and closing.”

2) In Tai Ji Quan, each part of the body has a balance of the “substantial” and the “insubstantial”. In general, the leg that supports most of the weight and the parts of the body that are applying relatively more force are substantial. The leg that bears less weight and the more passive parts of the body are insubstantial. Every move in Tai Ji Quan seeks to maintain the balance between the two states at all times and in equal proportions.

3) As described above, the Six Harmonies are divided into the Three Internal Harmonies (heart harmonizing with intent, intent harmonizing with qi, qi harmonizing with force) and the Three External Harmonies (shoulders coordinate with hips, elbows coordinate with knees, and hands coordinate with feet).

A Study of Taijiquan
by Sun Lutang, Translated by Tim Cartmell
ISBN 1556434626

p. 57-58

The Essentials of Triumph

There are Five ways triumph can be known:

Those who know when to challenge and when to not to challenge will triumph.
Those who recognize how to use the nomerous and the few will triumph.
Those who agree on superior and inferior objectives will triumph.
Those who prepare to lie in wait for the unprepared will triumph.
Those who lead without interference from a Ruler will triumph.

Those who know these Five, as well as the Tao, will triumph.

Thus, its said:

“Know the other and know yourself:
One hundred challenges witout danger;
Know not the other and yet know yourself:
One triumph for one defeat;
Know not the other and know not your self:
Every challenge is certain peril.”

The Art of War by Sun Tsu

The Art of Strategy: The Leading Modern Translation of Sun Tzu’s Classic The Art of War
by R.L. Wing
ISBN: 0722534884

p. 51

The Heart of Da Cheng Chuan

Inwardly alert, open, calm.
Outwardly upright, extended, filled with spirit.
This is the foundation of stillness.
Add the hard and the soft, the powerful and the relaxed,
Motion and stillness, contraction and extension:
In the instant these converge, there is power.

Wang Xiang Zhai

The Way of Power by Lam Kam Chuen
ISBN 1856751988
p. 18

The Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan

Attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh [Wang Zongyue] (18th Century)
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

T’ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void]
and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion T’ai Chi separates;
in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi.

It is not excessive or deficient;
it follows a bending, adheres to an extension.

When the opponent is hard and I am soft,
it is called tsou [yielding].

When I follow the opponent and he becomes backed up,
it is called nian [sticking].

If the opponent’s movement is quick,
then quickly respond;
if his movement is slow,
then follow slowly.

Although there are innumerable variations,
the principles that pervades them remain the same.

From familiarity with the correct touch,
one gradually comprehends chin [intrinsic strength];
from the comprehension of chin one can reach wisdom.

Without long practice
one cannot suddenly understand T’ai Chi.

Effortlessly the chin reaches the headtop.

Let the ch’i [vital life energy] sink to the tan-t’ien [field of elixir].

Don’t lean in any direction;
suddenly appear,
suddenly disappear.

Empty the left wherever a pressure appears,
and similarly the right.

If the opponent raises up, I seem taller;
if he sinks down, then I seem lower;
advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long;
retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.

A feather cannot be placed,
and a fly cannot alight
on any part of the body.

The opponent does not know me;
I alone know him.

To become a peerless boxer results from this.

There are many boxing arts.

Although they use different forms,
for the most part they don’t go beyond
the strong dominating the weak,
and the slow resigning to the swift.

The strong defeating the weak
and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands
are all the results of natural abilities
and not of well-trained techniques.

From the sentence “A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds”
we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.

The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people,
how can it be due to swiftness?

Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and
move like a turning wheel.

Sinking to one side allows movement to flow;
being double-weighted is sluggish.

Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize,
and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.

To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.

To adhere means to yield.
To yield means to adhere.

Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.

Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.

Understanding this you can say you understand chin.
After you understand chin,
the more you practice,
the more skill.

Silently treasure knowledge and turn it over in the mind.
Gradually you can do as you like.

Fundamentally, it is giving up yourself to follow others.
Most people mistakenly give up the near to seek the far.
It is said, “Missing it by a little will lead many miles astray.”

The practitioner must carefully study.

This is the Treatise

Reference:
T’ai Chi Ch’uan Classics www.scheele.org

The soft and weak will overcome

人之生也柔弱,
其死也堅強。
草木之生也柔脆,
其死也枯槁。
故堅強者死之徒,
柔弱者生之徒。
是以兵強則滅,
木強則折。
強大處下,
柔弱處上。
A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.Thus an army
without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.

Referece: Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching LXXVI (Trans. Feng & English)

Spirit – Shen Concentrated

Having the above four, then you can return to concentrated spirit: if the spirit is concentrated, then it is (continuous and) uninterrupted, and the practice of chi (breath) returns to the shen (spirit). The manifestation of chi moves with agility. (When) the spirit is concentrated, opening and closing occur appropriately, and the differentiation of substantial and inubsubstantial is clear. If the left is insubstantial, the right is substantial, and vice-versa. Insubstantial does not mean completely without strength. The manifestation of the chi must be agile. Substantial does not mean completely limited. The spirit must be completely concentrated. It is important to be completely in the mind (heart) and waist, and not outside.

Not being outside or separated, force is borrowed from the opponent, and the chi is relased from the spine. How is the chi released from the spine? It sinks downward from the two shoulders, gathers to the spine, and pours to the waist. This is chi’i from the up to down is called “closed”. From the waist the chi mobilizes to the spine, spreads to the two arms and flows to the fingers. This is chi from down to up and is called “opened”. Closed is gathering, and opened is discharging. When you opening and closing, then you know yin and yang. Reaching this level your skill will progress with the days and can do as you wish.

Red.: from Li Yi Yu’s Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
ISBN: 0938190776

Page: 55

Combative Aspects of Taijiquan

by Ma Yueliang Translated by Ted W. Knecht

Using softness to defeat hardness

Hardness and softness are two types of energies within Taijiquan. One type carries with it a character of resistance and no matter if it is large or small it is called hard energy. The other type follows the incoming attack with no resistance and is called soft energy. Taijiquan nimbly uses both softness and hardness and changes according to the circumstance. This is an important attribute in the fighting principles of Taijiquan. When hardness resists hardness, the one with the greatest strength will win. There is no method of being agile with hardness against hardness. When using strength like two rams hitting head to head, this is called dead energy. When this type of dead energy encounters the live energy it most often will be controlled and lead into emptiness. This is called softness defeating hardness in the terminology of Taijiquan. The application of using softness to defeat hardness is to use softness to move or dissolve the hard energy of the opponent into emptiness during an attack. If the opponent uses force to attack and I also use force to attack who ever has more strength or speed will win. Taijiquan emphasizes using soft dissolving actions in order to stop the vigorous charge of the attack. However, if one only knows how to defense by retreat and cannot advance for a counter attack, then this does not conform to the principles of hardness and softness mutually working together and softness defeating hardness.

Using stillness to deal with motion

Emptiness and fullness in martial arts is hidden in its energies. It is not openly exposed or shown. If one cannot control the opponent’s balance or center then it will be difficult to advance for one’s own attack. Otherwise this could give the opponent an opening for a counter attack. One must respond to the opponent’s attack as he issues forward by using rotational movement to dissolve the attack into empty space and then one can issue one’s own internal force to defeat the opponent. In most circumstances Taijiquan does not initiate the attack, but in most cases it uses the principle of stillness to deal with motion. Taijiquan relies upon the listening energy of the body and hands to sense the energetic motion of the opponent. Upon knowing the intent of the opponent one can use the fighting principle of first arriving and then attacking. When an attack in very fierce one can first lead the opponent’s force into emptiness and then use either rollback or pluck to counter attack. If one does not want the opponent to get too close, then before he nears apply ward-off to check the attack. In summary, when an encounter is made with an opponent, one should use listening energy to sense out the changes or preparation that the opponent may make in order to turn his energy against himself. In the “Hitting Hands” classics it states that when the opponent does not move then I do not move; when he moves slightly then I have already moved. This illustrates the idea of using stillness to deal with motion. This principle and usage foremost is to wait until opportunity arises to move and then make an attack with ease.

The small defeating the large

All techniques within Taijiquan are found in the outer manifestation of the postures or movements. While the inner manifestation is the internal strength. The combination of the outer motion and the internal strength brings out the art of Taijiquan. The art of Taijiquan uses the idea of the small to defeat the large. The type of fighting strategy is completely in line with motor mechanics. By placing one’s own movement onto of the opponent’s movement and by either increasing or decreasing one’s strength the opponent will lose his center and lose control of his attack. One can then completely control the opponent for a counter attack. The reason for the opponent’s defeat is due to his lose of balance by controlling his center. It must be said again that this type of fighting strategy cannot use hardness to attack hardness but must rely upon one’s knowledge of softness and redirection to accomplish the feat. The methods of using energy in Taijiquan is by dissolving and sticking to the opponent. Dissolving is to redirect and open up the opponent and sticking is to stay in connect with the opponent’s every move. The application of these two types of energies can allow for endless changes in fighting. In every regard, the movements of Taijiquan follow the circular shape of the Taiji diagram. Within the circle there contains unlimited lessons for dissolving and sticking. This allows for constant change to occur based upon the changes the opponent makes. When encountering an opponent one should be at a heightened level of sensitivity in order to control the energy pathways of the opponent. The key principle behind this is to maintain a constant flow to deal with the opponent’s attack. This is not hardness dealing with hardness, but instead it is using softness when there is hardness. If both were to use hardness then there would be no flow between the two fighters. If there is no flow then there will be no way of dissolving and if there is no dissolving then there will be no sticking. Under these circumstances there will be no way to sense the attack the opponent plans. Dissolving must be soft to protect oneself; sticking is conducted directly after dissolving in order to maintain control of the opponent. Another characteristic of Taijiquan’s fighting strategies is that movement is conducted in arcs. The principle of moving in an arc is convenient for movement to change from softness to hardness or from hardness to softness. The interaction of hardness and softness and dissolving and sticking uses the bases of circular movement when applying energy. Moving in an arc is not necessarily slower than moving in a straight line. Since movement in an arc is continuous and can allow for change without pause it sometimes is even faster than moving in a straight line. The principle of first arriving and then issuing attack is derived from this concept. The more profound one’s Taijiquan is the more smaller the arcs become. In fact, at high levels the arc can be more of a notion without physically manifesting it in form or fight.

Words of Experience by Tung Ying Chieh

Translated by Albert Tang

1. Tai Chi Chuan is an internal martial art exercise. Strength is produced in the bones. Power is reserved at the muscles. It does not require one to have tough skin or thick muscles, but sunken “chi” and strong bones are required. Therefore, learners have no suffering of broken bones and hurt muscles, and the tiredness of jumping, but just move naturally to find the potential of power of origin. It is an exercise to develop the your original power.

2. The three main points: spirit, intention, and posture (likeness of the movements’s names) have to be there.If the posture is correct, then the spirit and intention are there, and you will have good progression. Also, you will feel differently every day. Learners should try to feel the differences intentially.

3. If the posture is not correct, then spirit and intention are not there. The result will be just like cooking an empty pot, even after many years of practice you will not be successful. There is a tease saying that ten years of Tai Chi Chuan practice is not as good as three years of kung fu. Therefore, for good Tai Chi Chuan practice: first you have to practice diligently; and secondly you need to have good understanding. Also, the result is dependent on your intelligence, but hard practice can help stupidity. So you should always encourage yourself to practice harder.

4. Breathing during practice – to breathe naturally. Do not force your breath deeply. After many times of practice, your Tai Chi Chuan will reach the natural point. By that time, the breath will be balanced automatically.

5. Originally the thirteen movements of Tai Chi Chuan are the guiding methods of “chi”. Guiding means leading the circulation of “chi” and blood. Therefore, when you do a good job of guiding, the “chi” and the blood will have a good balance. All sickness will be gone, but don’t misunderstand the method, and try very hard to obtain that balance. If you practice hard and naturally, you will get it when you reach maturity (when the time comes).

6. Loosen the shoulders and drop the elbows means don’t hold the strength on the shoulders. Don’t try to make the hands heavy, but move smoothly and lightly.

7. Suspend your top (of your head), and hold the bottom (anus). To suspend the top, the head has to be held naturally. If you hold the bottom, the “chi” will come up from there automatically. To withdraw the power, the breast has to be a bit vacant, but don’t hold your breast and bend your back.

8. Everytime when you pratcice the form, there are at least three things you must do. The first one is to relax your muscle. The second one is to adjust your postures. The third one is to concentrate more on intentions and spiritual styles. When you can master all the movements, then the spiritual style will appear when you move. When you reach this stage your improvement will be better and quicker.

9. Feeling and understanding of power – To learn these you have to practice more of the push hands, then you will get the benefits of stick, hold, touch, and follow. If you don’t have a partner, you can always practice the form diligently, and always use two arms to feel the power. Try to imagine that your opponent is attacking you, and the way in which you are using to control him. If you keep on practicing like that for a long time, certainly you will learn the power too.

10. When you are doing push hands, the most important thing is to study the feeling of power, not trying to knock down your opponent. Try not to let your opponent discover your center, and always control your opponent’s center.

11. You can practice Tai Chi Chuan while you are walking, standing, sitting, and laying. The method is to use your mind to circulate the “chi”, and find the feeling. For example: to feel the difference beween holding a tea cup with strength, and without strength; to feel the difference of walking with heavy steps, and with light steps. When you are standing still, try to feel the difference of straightening your legs, and bending your legs; one leg, or two legs on the ground.

12. During the early stages of practicing Tai Chi Chuan you might experience sore muscles, but don’t worry, as this will pass and you will feel good later.

13. Basic steps to learning push hands is to know the power. There are many different types of power such as: stick on power, follow on power, internal power, suspending power, rubbing power, tendering power, fastening power, holding power, touching power, and pushing power. As well there are types of power such as penetrating bone power, shaking power, crisp power, sudden power, tenth of an inch power, shooting arrow power, and even power. In general the above powers are learned from the feeling developed during practice. It is harder to learn the power by oneself, but easier with two people, as people are alive. Additionally, you can use your own adjustment and feeling when you are enforcing the power. Of course, all the types of power are learned and discovered from body movements. If you have no partners, you can learn the power from the AIR.

14. The principles of Tai Chi Chuan: The root is on the feet; enforced from the legs; controlled by the waist; and expressed by the fingers. These are the principles of enforcing power: never let the knees come over the toes; never stretch the hands over your nose; never raise over your eyebrows; and don’t press down below the center of the chest. All these are traditional rules. If you break these rules, then the power will not be as good. The variation is controlled by the waist. For example: If you push someone to the left with your right hand sideways, and your hand is over your nose, then the power will not be there. But if you let your left chest withdraw backward a little bit, and turn your waist to the left a little bit, then the power is there again. So this variation is on the chest, and controlled by the waist, and finally shows on you fingers, If the whole body is relaxed and sensitive, then strong power will show on the fingers.

15. People are animals, but with senses. For example: if I hit someone with my fist, the opponent certianly will use hands to block, or move his body to avoid the attack. It is the natural reaction of people, but materials are different. An example of this is a hanging sandbag. It is motionless hanging there. If you punch it, it will move forward and backward. The way it moves is on a fixed route. If you punch it to the left it will move back to the right. It is the reaction of materials. But people are different, the opponenet will have various reactions for a punch. Therefore, a boxer has three words: steady, accurate, and fierce. If I don’t have these three qualities, I cannot enforce the power. If I do, then the power has to be powerful. So, how to get steady, accurate, and fierce? First, you have to have sense. So, how does one get sense? Don’t move if the opponent is not moving. If the opponenet moves, you follow and finish the movement before he does. So you will have to fight for that second to finish the movement. Then you will be unbeaten.

16. Before learning Tai Chi Chuan, The strength might be dull strength. After learning Tai Chi Chuan the whole body is relaxed, and with good circulation of the “chi” and blood. But you must get rid of all the nervous tension, and keep the original dull strength. Because when you are relaxed, dull strength can be turned into real power. An example of dull strength is what some people call shoulder power, as the strength is held at the shoulder, and is not controlled by the waist and shown on the fingers. Therefore, dull power is the capital. Relaxation is the Method. If you know the method, then even small capital can achieve great success. if you don’t know the method, then even with big capital you cannot be successful. That’s why if you understand the principle of Tai Chi Chuan, it will benefit you for all kinds of sports.

Chen Wei-Ming on Internal Power The Complete Chin

The chin of the (whole) body, through practice becomes one unit. Distinguish clearly between substantiel and insubstantiel. To fa chin (discharge) it is necessary to have root. The chin starts from the foot, is commanded by the waist, and manifested in the fingers, and discharges through the spine and back. One must completely raise the spirit (pay attention) at the moment when the opponents is just about to manifest, but has not yet been released. My chin has then already met his (chin), not late, not early. It is like using a leather (tinder) to start a fire, or like a fountain gushing forth. (In) going forward or stepping back, there is not even the slightes disorder. In the curve we seek the straight, store, then discharge; then you are able to follow your hands and achieve a beneficial result. This is called borrowing force to strike the opponent or using four onces to deflect a thousand pounds.

Red.: from Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
ISBN: 0938190776

Page: 54

Carving Up an Ox

Chuang Tzu

A cook was butchering an ox for Duke Wen Hui.
The places his hand touched,
His shoulder leaned against,
His foot stepped on,
His knee pressed upon,
Came apart with a sound.

He moved the blade, making a noise
That never fell out of rhythm.
It harmonized with the Mulberry Woods Dance,
Like music from ancient times.

Duke Wen Hui exclaimed: “Ah! Excellent!
Your skill has advanced to this level?”

The cook puts down the knife and answered:
”What I follow is Tao,
Which is beyond all skills.

“When I started butchering,
What I saw was nothing but the whole ox.
After three years,
I no longer saw the whole ox.

“Nowadays, I meet it with my mind
Rather than see it with my eyes.
My sensory organs are inactive
While I direct the mind’s movement.

“It goes according to natural laws,
Striking apart large gaps,
Moving toward large openings,
Following its natural structure.

“Even places where tendons attach to bones
Give no resistance,
Never mind the larger bones!

“A good cook goes through a knife in a year,
Because he cuts.
An average cook goes through a knife in a month,
Because he hacks.

“I have used this knife for nineteen years.
It has butchered thousands of oxen,
But the blade is still like it’s newly sharpened.

“The joints have openings,
And the knife’s blade has no thickness.
Apply this lack of thickness into the openings,
And the moving blade swishes through,
With room to spare!

“That’s why after nineteen years,
The blade is still like it’s newly sharpened.

“Nevertheless, every time I come across joints,
I see its tricky parts,
I pay attention and use caution,
My vision concentrates,
My movement slows down.

“I move the knife very slightly,
Whump! It has already separated.
The ox doesn’t even know it’s dead,
and falls to the ground like mud.

“I stand holding the knife,
And look all around it.
The work gives me much satisfaction.
I clean the knife and put it away.”
Duke Wen Hui said: “Excellent!
I listen to your words,
And learn a principle of life.”

Song of Application

Light, agile, and alive, seek Dong Jin (understanding Jin);
Yin and Yang cooperate mutually without the fault of stagnation;
If (you) acquire (the trick), four ounces neutralizes one thousand pounds;
Expand and close, stimulate the “drum,” the center will be steady.

“Alive” here means alert and active. In practice you must pay close attention to your partner. In time, you can interpret his intentions from the slightest of motions (i.e., understanding Jin). Where your parter is heavy your are light. When one part of you is light, another part of you is heavy. You and your partner continually follow one another, never resisting, never separating. In this way the motion will continue to flow. In time you will acquire the knack of being light enough to avoid your partner’s attack, and substantial and controlled enough to deflect or attack him. Your postures alternatively open and close with the circumstances. The drum is the abdomen, in the area of the Lower Dan Tian. You stimulate the Qi centered there with sound, attention, breathing and movement. This strengthens the Qi and exercises the control of it. When you attention and actions are thus centered on the Lower Dan Tian, your stance will be stable, and your mind calm and clear.

Reference: Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters Selected Readings with Commentary by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
ISBN: 188696971X

p. 73-74

Sitting Still Doing Nothing

Let the Void be your cauldron; let Nature be your furnace; for your primary ingredient, take stillness; for your reagent; use quietude; for mercury, take your vital essence; for lead, use your vital energy; for water, use restraint; for fire, take meditation.

[Union of the Triple Equation]

Triple Equation of essence, energy and spirit unites to form the Golden Elixir of immortality during deep meditation. According to Master Chao Pi Chen the generative force changes into vitality when the body is still; vitality changes into spirit when the heart is unstirred; and spirit returns to nothingnessb because of immutable thought. The Elixir Field (Dantien) under the navel is where the genrative force [essence] is sublimated into vitality [energy]; the middle Elixir Field in the solar plexus (Middle Dantien) is where vitality is sublimated into spirit; and the upper Elixir Field in the brain (Upper Dantien) is where spirit is sublimated for its flight into space.

“When the mind is stilled, the spirit radiates a brilliance that illuminates all the great mysteries of the universe”. Chao Pi Chen

Reference: The Tao of Health, Sex & Longevity by Daniel P. Reid
ISBN 067164811X

P. 373