Martial Art principle taiji

Yang Style Bow Stances

by Mei Ying Sheng Translated by Ted W. Knecht

The Influence of the Bow Stance on the Frame

The bow stance is one of the most basic components in the practice of Yang style Taijiquan. The traditional Yang style contains 17 postures that employ what is called a front bow stance. Examples of some of the postures that use a front bow stance include Right Wardoff, Brush Knee with Twist Step, and Jade Lady Weaves Shuttle. There are eight postures which use the bow stance that is called the side bow stance. Postures such as Left Wardoff, Single Whip, Fan Through Arm, Diagonal Flying, and Wild Horse Parts Mane are examples of postures using the side bow stance. These two types of bow stances consist of 63 percent of the stances found in the traditional long routine as standardized by Yang Cheng Fu. From this, it can be said that the bow stance is one of most essential and basic components of Yang style Taijiquan. The proper function of the large frame postures is directly linked to the quality of the two types of bow stances. Consequently, the correct execution of the bow stances holds great importance to the Yang style. Comparison of the Two Bow Stances

The “Brush Knee Left with Twist Step” posture and the “Single Whip” posture were extracted from the book The Complete Volume of Taijiquan written by Yang Cheng Fu in 1927. There are relatively few Yang style practitioners today who conform to the strict requirements of the bow stance as set up by Yang Cheng Fu. The following is a detailed description of the two bow stances as transmitted by Yang Cheng Fu.

1. Characteristics of the Front Bow Stance

The Yang style posture of “Brush Knee Left with Twist Step” as shown in the photo will be used to illustrate the proper formation of the front bow stance. If we were to look at this posture from a bird’s eye view, we see that the distance of Yang Cheng Fu’s right heel (center of heel) from the centraleast to west ground line is equivalent to the width of his pubic bone to his right hip joint. For most people, this would be approximately 15 to 20 centimeters. The angle of the right foot (from the center of the heel to the tip of the middle toe) from the east to west ground line is 45 degrees. The distance of the left foot is approximately 15 to 20 centimeters from the east to west line, and the angle of the foot is from the east to west ground line is 20 degrees. In summary of this, the distance of the two feet from the central east to west ground line is approximately 30 to 40 centimeters in width. This is equivalent to the width of the practitioner’s left and right hip joints, in addition, this width is approximately the width of the practitioner’s left and right shoulder joints. The total angle between the two feet is 65 degrees. The distance/length between the right heel to the left heel is termed the “stepping range.” This stepping range is based upon the strength of the practitioner. The stepping range is proportional to the amount of exercise you will receive during practice.

Yang Style brush kneeFront Bow Stance

The following is a description of characteristics found in Yang Cheng Fu’s classical “front bow stance”.

A. The central line, both front and back, of Yang Cheng Fu’s torso is directly in line with the east to west ground line. In addition, the line from his left hip to his right hip is precisely perpendicular to the east to west ground line of the stance.

B. Because the central point of his right heel is approximately 15 to 20 centimeters from the east to west ground line, the right knee joint, right hip joint, right shoulder joint, right elbow joint, and right palm form a straight line paralleling the east to west ground line if we were to look from a bird’s eye view at the stance. By aligning the body in this manner, Yang Cheng Fu has satisfied the so-called “three external harmonies” by aligning the hip with the shoulder, the knee with the elbow, and the foot with the hand.

C. Due to the upright nature of Yang Cheng Fu’s torso, the right leg is naturally straight and the left lower leg (tibia) is perpendicular to the ground. These requirements are exactly what Yang Cheng Fu states in his book entitled Taijiquan. He states that “the torso must be held upright without any inclination. The spine and the weilu (tail bone) are straight. The two legs must differentiate emptiness and fullness. The standard is to bend the leg perpendicular to the ground. To go beyond the perpendicular will lessen the internal strength (jin).” The lower portion of the body is the root/foundation produced by the bow stance, the upper body is the upright and centered frame. Hence, a straight line is formed from the Bai Hui or crown point on the head down to the Hui Yin or perineum on the bottom of the torso down vertically onto the ground. This straight line formed through the body falls directly on the east to west ground line as discussed above. The differential distance of the right heel to the vertical point is 81 percent, and the distance of vertical point to the left heel is 19 percent. Accordingly, the foot with the greatest distance away from the vertical point is the right rear foot. Consequently, we can establish the lines for the Yang style’s High Frame, Middle Frame, and Low Frame postures based on the above example. The practitioner can determine the amount of exercise to be performed based on the distance from the rear foot to vertical point.

D. When the right foot is in the rear and the right hand is held to the front, we form what is called the Ao Bu or “Twist Step” bow stance. Sometimes this is explained when the right hand is held out in front while the left foot is standing forward. Under the correct conditions for a proper Ao Bu front bow stance, we form the second longest energy vector path in the body. This occurs when a straight line is formed from the rear right foot to the front right hand. In terms of the martial application we can explain it by using the Taiji principle of “the waist being the axial hub and the arms being the wheel.” During the process of dissolving the enemy’s attack with the left palm (brushing), we borrow the attacker’s force and turn it back on him by using the body’s second longest energy pathway. The energy is connected from the root of the right foot, issued up the right leg, controlled in the waist, and manifested in the right palm. In summation for the above material on the front bow stance, we can say that Yang Cheng Fu’s “Left Brush Knee in Breaking Stance” not only conforms to Taiji principles and theory, it also conforms to the demands of motor dynamics. The posture is imposing and open on the outside and flowing with energy and blood on the inside. It is indeed a posture to strive for.

2. Characteristics of the Side Bow Stance

The Single Whip posture will be used to describe the characteristics of the Yang style side bow stance. From a bird’s eye view of the Single Whip posture, we can see that the center of the right heel is positioned along the east to west ground line on the ground. The right rear foot is turned out 80 degrees from this east to west ground line. The left front foot is positioned directly along the east to west ground line. Hence, the angle between the two feet is also 80 degrees. Yang Cheng Fu’s posture of Single Whip is a classical form of the Yang style side bow stance. The characteristics of this type of bow stance are described below.

Yang Style Single WhipSide Bow Stance

A. By looking at the posture from directly above, we can see that the center of the right heel is precisely along the east to west ground line. The right knee joint, the right hip joint, the left hip joint, the left knee joint, and the left foot fall directly along the east to west ground line. The full front part of the torso faces sideways to the south and the full back section of the torso (including the spine) faces to the north. The front and back parts of the torso intersect along the east to west ground line. The left and right shoulder joints match up directly with the left and right hip joints, respectively, the left and right elbow joints join up directly with the left and right knee joints, respectively, and the left and right fingers of each hand match up directly with the left and right toes of each foot, respectively. Therefore, the above satisfies one of the principles of the “three external harmonies.”

B. The line from the Bai Hui or crown point passing through the Hui Yin or perineum point down to the vertical ground point must fall directly onto the east to west ground line between the two feet. The differential distance from the rear right heel to the vertical ground point is 70 percent more than the distance of the front left heel to vertical ground point (30 percent). Consequently, the further the right heel is from vertical ground point, the greater the amount of exercise attained.

C. When the right foot is positioned to the rear in relation to the placement of the left hand in the front, the stance framework is called a Shun Bu side bow stance. Shun means “in the same direction as.” In other words, when the left/right foot and left/right hand are positioned in the front this is called a Shun Bu side bow stance. The distance between the rear right foot to the front left palm in this stance is the longest energy vector pathway in the body. While the right hook hand dissolves the incoming force of the attacker, we can borrow the attacker’s energy and turn it back upon him with an attack from our left palm. The energy pathway for this technique moves from the root of the right foot, issues up the right leg, controlled in the waist, and manifested in the left arm and palm. In this way, we are using the body’s longest energy pathway. No matter what the “stepping range” is for either the front bow stance or the side bow stance, the Bai Hui and the vertical ground points must line up directly on the east and west ground line between the two feet. This vertical ground point is the “central equilibrium point” as stated in the Taiji classics: front advancement, rear retreat, look left, gaze right, and central equilibrium.

Fighting Characteristics Formulated from the Bow Stances

Based on the proper structure of Yang Cheng Fu’s front and side bow stances, the bones, tendons, and muscles below the waist will attain the greatest relaxation and sinking. The body’s most optimal condition for advancing attacks and retreating defense is placed on the rooting of the feet and the driving down reeling silk internal strength of the legs. Under the conditions of “differentiating fullness and emptiness” and “relaxing the hips and rounding the groin” within the postures, the root or foundation of the upper and lower body’s frame will be the most solid. The Taiji Classics state this idea as “no matter how I move, the root is secured in the feet.” All of the postures which originate from a bow stance within the Large Frame Yang style have their own unique practical fighting applications. They are founded upon the basic principles of motor mechanic in promoting the varying array of fighting techniques within Taijiquan. If this was not the case, how could the first three generations of the Yang style (Yang Lu Chan, Yang Jianhou, Yang Cheng Fu) have become so famous in the capital city of Beijing?

The Relation Between Stance and the Diagram
In the classic, Discussions on Taijiquan, it is stated that wardoff, rollback, press, and push relate to the four cardinal directions of Qian, Kun, Kan, and Li, respectively. Pull down, split, elbow, and bump relate to the four corners of Zhuan, Zhen, Dui, and Gen, respectively. As published in Yang Cheng Fu’s book entitled The Complete Volume on Taijiquan’s Applications, there are a total of 94 photos of Yang Cheng Fu in stationary postures from the classical Yang routine. Each and every posture strictly follows the eight trigram positioning of the four cardinal and four diagonal directions. In the Ninth Palace Eight Trigram Diagram, the four cardinal directions are east, south, west, and north, and the four diagonals are southwest (corner 1), southeast (corner 2), northeast (corner 3), and northwest (corner 4). The total of these eight directions yield the eight trigrams. By placing an intersecting point within the center of these eight directions, the ninth palace has arisen. The following are some basic rules that must be observed in the Traditional Yang style.
1. The central intersection point within the Ninth Palace Eight Trigram Diagram when lines are drawn from each corner is often called the central palace. In terms of this, every change to different postures within any given stepping sequences from the routine must commence from the central palace point of the diagram. Examples of this are as follows: After completing the commencing posture in the routine, the right toes turn out 80 degrees to the right to begin the Left Wardoff posture of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. The right heel is considered to be the central palace. Upon turning out the right foot, the left foot steps out toward the south along the north to south ground line to form a left side bow stance. Following onto the Right Wardoff posture, the left toes turn in 45 degrees. In this case, 15 centimeters from the heel of the left foot becomes the central palace. The right foot steps to the west approximately 15 centimeters to the right of the east to west ground line to form a right front bow stance. Continuing onto Single Whip, the toes of the right foot turn ten degrees past the south. The right heel is now the central palace. The left foot steps to the east directly along the east to west ground line to form a left side bow stance.

2. On the basis of the four line directions of the Ninth Palace Eight Trigram Diagram, we can standardize the structure of the two above described bow stances. In this way, we can prevent the often seen problem of a front bow stance not having a front and a side bow stance not having a side. Let us use the left front bow stance from Apparent Closing as an example to illustrate this. The most commonly observed problem with forming a proper front bow stance in this posture is the inability of the practitioner to sink his right hip enough. This will cause the central line running from the Bai Hui point down to the ground to deviate from the east to west ground line. This deviation will cause the body to lean slightly to the right (south). Another possibility could occur if the hip and shoulder joints are not lined up properly. When this occurs the left palm is slightly in front of the right palm during the pushing motion within the technique. This destroys the symmetrical balance of the posture and lessen the degree of power generated for the application. An example of a side bow stance not conforming to its guidelines can often be seen in the left side bow stance of Single Whip. The most commonly observed problem with forming a proper left side bow stance is again the practitioner’s inability to sink the right hip down enough. When this occurs, the central line of the front and rear sides of the body does not line up properly with that of the north to south directional line. This will cause the body to tilt to the left as well as shorten the length of the longest energy pathway in the body.

The Central Equilibrium Line

As noted above, the vertical line running from the Bai Hui down through the Hui Yin point to vertical ground point between the two feet on the ground forms the essential central equilibrium line for Taijiquan training. To illustrate the importance of this line let us use Grasp Sparrow’s Tail as the example. During the transition from Left Wardoff to the stationary posture of Right Wardoff, the central equilibrium line moves along the east to west ground line to form a right front bow stance. Continuing on to when the weight shifts back to conduct Rollback, the central equilibrium line moves directly along the east to west ground line without deviation. The central equilibrium line moves forward along the east to west ground line during the action of Press as well as during the action of Push. During the practice of stationary push hands, no matter what technique is being conducted such as wardoff, rollback, press, or push or what direction the waist is being turned, the central equilibrium line must be constantly maintained between the two feet along the east to west ground line. No matter if you are shifting forwards or backwards, the central equilibrium line must maintain its vertical position.

No matter what the transition may be for the 25 various bow stances in the traditional Yang style routine, the central equilibrium line must be always maintained between the feet along the ground line. Besides the two different types of bow stances, there are eight empty stances, four natural stances, two single legged stances, and two drop stances that also have their own central equilibrium line. Among the thirteen postures of wardoff, rollback, press, push, pull down, split, elbow, bump, advance, retreat, look left, gaze right, and central equilibrium, central equilibrium is the core, it is the soul, and it is the life line of Taijiquan. In order to hold fast to this life line you must put the foundation of the front bow stance and side bow stance at the forefront of stance forms training.

Martial Art principle Structure taiji

Single Whip of Yang Style Taijiquan

by Dr. Mei Ying Sheng, Si Chuan Province, China Translated by Ted W. Knecht, Shen Zhen, China

The Single Whip posture of Yang style Taijiquan has a historical record of three generations. Among the large frame postures as standardized by the late Yang Cheng Fu, Single Whip is one of the most precious postures characterizing the basics of Yang style Taijiquan. Because of Single Whip importance within the Yang style, it appears numerous times within the traditional 108 posture routine.

The 37 postures of Yang style Taijiquan, including the Single Whip posture, have their own applicable fighting techniques and artistic structure. To illustrated this point, an example of Single Whip’s martial application is as follows: Should an opponent use a palm or fist to attach toward my face, a hook hand can be used to counter by dissolving the strike to the right side. At the same time, I would advance a step forward allowing the internal energy (jin), generated by the stance, to issue from the right heel through the right leg, up the spine into the left arm and finally out the palm in a relaxed, flexible whipping motion to strike the opponent. This exemplifies the physiological phenomena in which the root is in the heel, the power is issued through the legs, generated in the waist, and shaped in the hands. From the view point of the overall mechanics of the posture, one can see how the origin of the name, Single Whip, was created.

The Single Whip posture as illustrated in figure 22 has been copied from Master Fu Zhong Wen book entitled Yang style Taijiquan which was originally extracted from the drawings of Yang Cheng Fu in the book, Comprehensive Volume of Taijiquan Uses. As shown in the drawing, the toes of the left foot point to the east with the lower part of the leg vertical to the ground (knee above the heel). The right leg is naturally straight. The toes of the right foot point to the south with the foot turned in ten degrees (both feet form an 80 degree angle). The upper body faces due south. The feet are planted flat on the ground to allow the internal energy to spiral into the ground. The hips are relaxed and the groin is rounded to form a left side bow stance. Using this correct tance as a basis of the Single Whip posture, the left wrist is dropped at shoulder height with an erect palm. The right wrist is curved upward slightly higher than the shoulders with the hand forming a hook. Both elbows are sunk downward with the joints relaxed and open. The arms are outspread to the left and right. Looking from the front view, the hands are equal distance from the center line of the body.

Because of the balanced nature of the entire posture, structurally, it is very stable and firm; and artistically, it is very beautiful and appealing to the eyes. If force was applied to the left palm of the Single Whip posture of Yang Cheng Fu, the route in which the force travels is from the left arm and shoulder down the spine into the right leg and into the heel of the right foot. If one were to look from above, the force would travel through the body in a straight line. A Chinese proverb states that a thousand pounds can not break a straight piece of wood. This suggests the stability and strength of the Single Whip posture.

The following discussion will examine the “Single Whip” posture performed by Yang Cheng Fu as compared to the various stationary postures of more recently developed Taijiquan routines (refer to the following drawings as examples of these recently developed Yang style Single Whip postures). There are three apparent differences between the “Single Whip” of the more recently developed routines and that of Yang Cheng Fu:

1) The toes of the right foot are turned in too much of an angle causing tension in the muscles of the groin and hip areas. This will subsequently cause the muscles, joints, and tendons of the lower body to loose it’s relaxed and natural state.

2) The directions of the left arm and left leg as compared to the right arm and right leg are quite different; and the upper and lower relationship of the arms and legs are not uniform. The stationary Single Whip posture must conform to the six harmony relationship in which the hands and feet, elbows and knees, and shoulders and hips must be vertically in line with each other; if this relationship does not exist, there will be a lose in the balance of the left and right sides of the body.

In Yang Cheng Fu’s Single Whip posture there is also an alignment with the left fingers, the toes of the left foot, and the nose to form a triangle pattern. This conforms to the basic requirements of the methods of the hands, eyes, body, and legs. Throughout the history of Yang style, those who have studied Yang style Taijiquan have followed these basic essentials.

3) Due to the turn to the left in the upper body, the line between the left palm and the right foot is off-set. Consequently, if pressure is applied to the left palm, the energy will be directed to the left rear, not to the right heel. As one can see, any power issued from the right heel would never reach the left palm. Under the situation in which the components of a straight line are of equal length and when the distance between the ends of a bent line are shorter than when straight, then the Taiji requirement of “extending long and attacking far” (fang chang ji yuan) is not satisfied.

The following discusses more minute details of the Single Whip posture. If the thumb of the left palm is bent inwards, the face and/or point of the palm can not be used as the striking surface. The thumb interferes with the surface. By allowing this, the edge of the palm is the only area that can be used for striking. This does not conform to the requirements of sinking the wrist and relaxing the fingers. If the left wrist is higher than the left shoulder there will be insufficient force for striking. The wrist must be in direct alignment and at the same height as the shoulder in order to deliever sufficent force in this technique.

Every posture in Taijiquan is intimately composed of four tightly related components which consist of a start, a rise, a turn, and a close. Each component is mutually related to each other and appears in every movement within Taijiquan. Consequently, in order for a posture to close, it must also have a beginning, a rising and a turning motion. The closing component is the stationary posture and is also the goal of each movement. The closing component of a posture is the end result of properly performing the beginning, rising, and turning component of a movement.

The stationary posture of a routine is the end point/result of a technique and the starting point for the next technique. Therefore, if the starting point has a fault, the beginning, rising, and turning components of the next movement will go a stray.

If one looks in detail at the recently developed Yang style Taijiquan routines and the various video tapes produced in China and abroad, one can see that there are very few that resemble the stationary/ending postures of Grandmaster Yang Cheng Fu.

Yang Lu Chan learned Taijiquan from Chen Chang Xing. Afterwards, the Yang style was passed down through the generations to Yang Jian Hou and Yang Cheng Fu. Through these generations of study, the masters changed some of the founding principles of Taijiquan while at the same time also maintaining many of the theories and principles to further the development of the art. Taijiquan gradually advanced to high levels after many years of research and practice. Through this evolved a brilliant radiance of energy from the county of Yong Nian in Hebei Province.

The practitioners of this generation have varying differences in the way the Yang style is performed. This occurs due to many reasons such as differences in teachers, one’s physical condition, differences in the level of education and various other attributes; therefore, it does not really matter if the postures are slightly higher or lower, faster or slower, more or less; what really matters is to preserve the tradition teachings of the founding fathers of Taijiquan which would include the theories and methods of training. These should be strictly followed without deviation.

The author does not necessarily suggest that the older a style is, the better it is; but one must continue to maintain strict attention to the philosophy and tradition of the style in order to continue to improve the art for future generations.

Energy Martial Art Mindset principle Structure taiji

Hook Hand of Yang Style Taijiquan

by Dr. Mei Ying Sheng, Si Chuan Province, China Translated by Ted W. Knecht, Shen Zhen, China

From the books of many famous traditional Yang style Taijiquan practitioners (Diagrams 1, 2) and also from the books of the newly formed styles of Taijiquan (Diagrams 3, 4), one can see that the basic method for performing Single Whip seems rather similar. For example if the front of the diagrams face south, noted as 12 o’clock, then the hook hand is located at 2 o’clock. Afterwards, the left palm pushes out from 2 o’clock over to 9 o’clock. Diagram 1 and 2 show the hook hand at the 2 o’clock position and Diagram 2 shows the left palm at the 9 o’clock position. From these diagrams one can see that within the process of pushing the left palm out to 9 o’clock, the right hook hand barely moves.

Over the past several decades the author has observed the above mentioned method for performing Single Whip by numerous practitioners; no matter if it is being performed in the traditional Yang style routine or from the newly created competition routines. It has been suggested that this way of performing Single Whip is a “method of habit” rather than what was originally taught. The following is a discussion to suggest a more concise definition of the practice of Single Whip as taught by Yang Chengfu.

Yang Chengfu’s Single Whip

An explanation of the practical application of Single Whip can be found in Yang Chengfu’s book entitled “Taijiquan’s Practical Applications” published by Wenguang Printing Press in 1931. In this book, Yang Chengfu explains that “if an enemy attacks from the rear [as you stand in Push from Grasp Sparrow’s Tail], I would use my right hand to form a hook hand to dissolve the attack; at the same time the left palm would straighten out from the front to the left attacking the chest of the enemy…. The dissolving of the attack and the palm strike must be conducted simultaneously”.

In Yang Chengfu’s book entitled “The Complete Volume of Taijiquan Usage” published by the Zhonghua Book Company in 1933 explains the use of the right hook hand and the left palm in Single Whip. “If the enemy attacks from the rear, I would move my center to the left foot…. When the two hands wipe over to the left, the right hand forms a hook hand. The left palm moves inward with the center of the palm facing out. The waist and hips should relax as the left palm attacks the chest of the enemy. This pattern of movements must be conducted at the same time.”

Even though the words used to describe the usage of the hands in Single Whip’s application are different, the meaning is essentially the same. From the aspect of observing the postures in these two books, there is only the one posture of Push from Grasp Sparrow’s Tail prior to the stationary posture of Single Whip. Unfortunately, there are no transitory pictures from Push into Single Whip to illustrate the complete motion of the hook hand.

From only observing the diagrams one would assume that the hook hand basically does not move while the left palm pushes out to the left. However, this does not conform to what Yang Chengfu describes in his explanation of the application. He states that “the hand movements must be completed in one motion”.

Principles in the Taiji Classics

In the “Taijiquan Lun” it states that “there is no place that is concaved or convexed. There is no place that is disconnected”. The “Explanation of the Thirteen Posture Moving Abilities (Shisan Shi Xing Gong Xin Jie)” states that “when one point moves there is not one point that does not move” and “when one point is silent there is not one point that is not silent”. The “Five Character Song” states that “when raising the hands, they cannot be stiff… the two hands must be suspended up and penetrating in one breath”. It also states that “the internal strength of the body must be completely united into one”. The “Zou Jia Da Shou Xing Gong Essentials” explain that “the upper body movements must be coordinated with the lower; when one part of the body moves, then all parts move; movement is termed opening but within opening there is also closing.”

Yang Chengfu taught in his “Taijiquan Ten Essentials” that “when the hands, waist, and feet move, the spirit of the eyes follow with the movement; if there is a discontinuity in movement either in the upper or lower body, there will be chaos in motion”. It also states that “the frame must contain opening and closing and full and empty movement; the so-called opening, not only includes the hands and feet, but also the opening of the intent; the so-called closing, not only includes the hands and feet, but it too includes the closing of the intent; one must combine the internal with the external to form emptiness”. Presently, the way in which many people perform Single Whip is very far from the way in which it is stated in the Classics.

Martial Requirements

In the book, “The Complete Volume of Taijiquan Usage” Yang Chengfu was able to describe in detail the usage of the hook hand in Single Whip. He states that “if the enemy attacks from behind, I would shift my body weight to the left leg… allowing the two hands to move to the left….” There are several meaning to the above sentence in terms of moving the weight onto the left leg. Firstly, it is a way for closing distance. Secondly, it is a way for the two hands to adhere to the on-coming attack. This will allow the practitioner to focus on listening to the energy (Tingjin) of the attacker. Next, Yang Chengfu goes on to say that “I hook the right hand with the fingers pointing down”. The right hook hand is used to dissolve the attack and to also stick and not allow the enemy to escape. This will then allow the left palm to issue internal strength “fajin” to the enemy’s body. In this way, the attacker will lose his center and fall into empty space. As seen from the above scenario, the way in which Yang Chengfu describes the use of Single Whip can satisfy the requirements of “listening (Tingjin)”, “adhering, connecting, sticking and following”, “leading the attack into empty space (Yin Jin Luo Kong)”, and “not loosing the attacker and not resisting attack (Bu Diu Bu Ding)”. During the moment in which the attacker’s center is lead off balance, the hook hand and left palm are positioned to the south. The left palm moves inward with the palm facing toward the outside. Following, the left palm issues out toward the attacker’s chest. At the same time, the right hook hand is arcing to the right rear corner.

As Yang Chengfu states in his book, “the left palm and right hook hand move to their designated positions simultaneously as if drawing a bow and arrow”. As can be seen, this satisfies the requirement of “when one thing opens, everything opens”; as well as, “within dissolving there is attack, and within attack there is dissolving”. If one practices the Single Whip posture as many people do today whereby the right hook hand is placed in position prior to the movement of the left palm, then it will not conform to Taiji fighting principles as taught by Yang Chengfu.

During the process of dissolving the oncoming attack with the right hook hand, one can also borrow the attacker’s force for one’s own benefit. When using the right hook hand to borrow the attacker’s force, one must use the “waist as the center of the wheel and the arm as the spoke”; thereby, the left palm simultaneously attacks the enemy. This can be viewed through the theory of rotational mechanics. If you were to push on the front end of a rotating door, the rear end will swing around and push you. Whatever the amount of force you use will be the amount returned by the swinging door. Another example of this principle is when an acrobat jumps onto the end of a seesaw from three feet high, the person on the other end will be propelled up into the air three feet. In terms of Taiji theory, one borrows to attack just as “four ounces can deflect one thousand pounds”; as well as the Taiji practitioner “stands like a balanced scale and moves lively like a cartwheel”.

For example, in Single Whip, the right hook hand dissolves and borrows, let’s say, 50 pound of force from an attacker and is diverted to the left palm for a counter attack. When one also adds into the equation the ground connection of the feet that is transmitted up the legs, controlled in the waist, and issued out through the arms, this 50 pounds of force that the attacker used may increase several times when used in the counter attack. The method in which Taiji uses to fight is not based on how much force oneself puts forth, but is based on how much the attacker puts forth. A common phrase in Taijiquan is “if you ask me how much force I will use to hit you, it is best first to ask yourself how much you are going to use.”

The most commonly seen way most Yang stylist perform Single Whip is by using the hook hand to dissolve the enemy’s attack starting at 9:00 passing through 12:00 and ending at 2:00. During this time period of dissolving the attack, the left palm has yet to attack out. It is only after the hook hand has arrived at 2:00 that the left palm pushes out for the counter attack. By this time, one has already lost the opportunity to borrow the striking force and revert it back upon attacker. Not only this, but one has also lost touch with the requirement of “within dissolving there is attack, and within attack there is dissolving”. Through the lose in the opportunity to borrow the force of the attacker, one has also lost the Taiji fighting principles of “guiding the attack into empty space (Yin Jin Luo Kong)” and “no excess and no deficiency (Wu Guo Bu Ji)”. One other important point is that while the two hands are moving to the right side prior to the hook hand formation and left palm pushing out, one leaves the left rib cage open for attack by the enemy. In the past, Taiji masters called this type of motion “Getting Close to the Fist (Ai Da Quan)”.

Presently there is also another way in which the hook hand of Single Whip is performed. Some perform the hook hand by first forming the hook hand at 3:00 and then as the left palm pushes out, the hook hand moves over to 2:00. The application for this way of practice is very difficult to comprehend. (Please note Diagrams 3 and 4 for an example of this method).

Yang Chengfu wrote that “when the two hands move to the left, the right hand forms into a hook hand with the fingers pointing downward” during the transition into Single Whip. The above statement is identical to his disciple’s (Chen Weiming) description in the book entitled “The Art of Taijiquan” published by the Zhong Hua Shu Ju Press in 1925. Another of Yang Chengfu’s high ranking disciples, Li Yaqian, also explained the usage of the hook hand in Single Whip as “after the two palms wipe over to the left side, the right hand forms into a hook”. The above methods of conducting the hook hand during the performance of Single Whip quite obviously conform to the principles of Taijiquan. In addition, the manner in which Yang Chengfu’s disciples practiced the hook hand was quite different from the way in which it is most commonly practiced today.

The above two different methods imply the usage of the hook hand in Single Whip. Yang Chengfu’s fighting methods used the theory of “first arriving, then issuing (Hou Fa Xian Zhi)”. During the process of dissolving the oncoming attack by the hook hand, one will be able to borrow this force to turn it back upon the attacker. One other type of explanation for the use of the hook hand in Single Whip is to “use the nape of the hook hand to strike the enemy”. The author finds that this is not very practical. It is more practical to use a fist or palm to make an attack rather than the hook hand. Moreover, the hook hand has a shorter striking distance than both a fist and palm. The amount of force that can be applied to a hook hand technique is relatively minimal. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the wrist could be easily injured while striking with the hook hand. In terms of the application/scenario as related by Yang Chengfu, the attack is originating from the left side. To use a right hook hand to attack a person on the left side would be impractical.

Another method often mentioned for the use of the hook hand is to use the nape of the right hook hand to strike an attacker on the right side while using the left palm to strike at a second attacker. This is quite obviously contrary from the Taiji Classics which state, “when emitting internal strength, be calm and relaxed, concentrated in one direction (Fajin Xu Chenzhe Songzheng, Zhuanzhu Yifang)”. When meeting an oncoming attack during Taiji free fighting (Sanshou), one must utilize the principle of “being calm and relaxed while concentrating in one direction”. Yang Chengfu was very careful to illustrate this principle of “concentrating in one direction” with each stationary posture in his book, “The Complete Volume of Taijiquan Usage”. The Taiji Classics also state that “the reason for not being able to neutralize and control the enemy is the result of double weightiness; in order to avoid this fault, one must understand Yin and Yang”.

Artistic Requirements

The natural beauty of Taijiquan is based on the principles of the Dao. The theoretical basis of this can be found in Laozi’s Daodejing which states “the Dao produces all natural things”. The practice of Taijiquan can aid in returning to a natural form. It has its own universal viewpoint and artistic expression. It is to strive for a meaning between human-being (ren) and nature (ziran). It unites coordination between the form of motion with that of the mind to achieve a higher plane of awareness. Much of this beauty can be found within the poetry of the Taiji Classics.

The Taiji Classics state that “one should perform Taijiquan like a cloud floating in the sky and as water flowing in a river”. When clouds float in the sky, they move in a slow, smooth, and soft manner as a complete unit. Moreover, each and every water particle within the mass of clouds is in constant motion. Water flowing in a river is a complete body in constant motion and conforms to the laws of nature.

The Classics also state that “when the wind blows, the branches of the willow will sway”. During the gentle breeze of spring time the branches of the weeping willow will gently sway back and forth. As stated in the Taiji Classics, “When one part moves, then all will move”. And when the breeze ceases to blow, the willow will come to a peaceful state of silence. The Taiji Classics relate this to “when one part is silent, then all is silent”. The willow branch is in harmony with the dynamic state of mother nature. The willow’s characteristic of this dynamic state exhibits flexibility by continuously regulating itself to the conditions brought upon it by nature. Chen Pu states in his book entitled “Discussions of Taijiquan”: “Coming and going, bending and straightening like the wind blowing the willow tree, nature’s mysteries are in turbulence; lively is it without stagnation”. If by chance when the wind blows upon a willow tree and one of the branches looses its flexibility to move with the wind, this must mean the branch has stiffened and is most likely dead. Consequently, should the hook hand found in Single Whip imitate this stiff and non-moving branch of the willow tree?

As the Taiji Classics say, “Taijiquan must be completed in one breath” and “the entire body is a complete unit”. The degree of difficulty in Taijiquan practice is extremely high and the meaning of the principles are extremely important. The harmonization of the postures is produced by the movements of the four limbs of the body. The way in which the hook hand is commonly conducted by many practitioners today looses this harmonious regulation of the body. Not only does it loose the combative nature of Taijiquan, but at the same time it looses the artistic flavor found in classical Taijiquan. As a general rule, no matter what the posture, if the martial aspect is lost, then the artistic characteristic of the posture is also destroyed.

Qigong Requirements

Taijiquan uses the principle of being relaxed and tranquil in practice and soft and round in application. The shape (xing) guides the internal energy (qi); the internal energy congeals the spirit (shen); and the spirit connects the form. This must be completely controlled by the mind or intent (yi) in order to express the calm, comfortable, and full feeling of each posture. Only in this manner can one guide the circulation of internal energy. Through the many years of practical experience in Taijiquan, the author has found that if a movement does not conform to the principles of Taijiquan, there will not be any sensation of obtaining internal energy (de qi). However, once the posture is corrected and conforms to Taiji principles, not only can internal energy be felt, but the entire body becomes more invigorated and energized. An example of this phenomena is when the lens of a camera is about to be opened. If the conditions/settings are not completely atuned, then the photographic negative will not be exposed correctly. Taijiquan can be seen in the same light. If one does not set up the correct posture by conforming to the principles as stated in the Taiji Classics, then all one is doing is “externally training the tendons, bone, and skin (Wai Lian Jin Gu Pi)”, not “internally cultivating the one breath (Nei Lian Yi Kou Qi)”.

Based on recent scientific studies in China, there will be a variety of influences on the body’s health due to changes in postures during the practice of Taijiquan. When the practitioner is in a so-called “qigong state” during practice, the electrical impulses of the muscles and skin, the particle flow within the body, and the constitute of “qi” will be under the direct control of the brain’s central nervous system. Due to this controlled state, there will be a wide range of beneficial effects on the physiology of the practitioner. During the practice of Taijiquan, the sayings “when one part moves, then all will move; when one part is silent, then all is silent”; and “changing, turning, emptying, and filling must have intent, then the internal energy will not stagnate” all directly relate to the circulation of internal energy and blood within the body.

Even though only the right hook hand and arm do not move in the “modern” version of Single Whip’s hook hand, however, this causes all the various muscle groups on the right side of the body to come to a halt. When this occurs, there will be an imbalance in the motion of the muscles found within the entire body which will injure the opening and closing of Yin and Yang of the entire body’s internal and external components. It will also influence the circulation of internal energy within the body’s meridian network. Only by allowing the internal energy to develop through the regulation of properly trained Taijiquan will one be able to obtain beneficial effects of improved energy and blood flow.


Every technique found within Taijiquan has a “rising”, “carrying”, “turning”, and “closing” motion. The beginning of each technique must have a “rising” motion with the coordination of the entire body behind the move. This will then satisfy the saying of “when one part moves, then all will move”. After going through the process of “carrying” and “turning” within the technique, the “closing” will occur with the entire body coming to rest. This will satisfy the requirements in “when one part is silent, then all is silent”. The body’s way of expressing the motion and calmness of each technique is shown through the hands, eyes, bodywork, and stepping/footwork. However, among these the most obviously seen expressions are in the hands and footwork/stances. Due to the differences in hand and foot positions within each posture, there is a very high degree of difficulty and sophisticated intent to coordinate the continuous motion of “rising”, “carrying”, “turning”, and “closing” so that everything (hands, eyes, body, feet) concludes at the same time.

The initial wiping motion of the two hands in the Single Whip posture, that follows the posture of Push in Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, is considered the “rising” component of the posture. As the hands continue wiping to the east, the motion goes through the “carrying” component of the posture. The “turning” component occurs when the hands move back toward the west. When the hook hand arrives at 2:00 and the left palm pushes out to the east (at the same time), the posture has completed the “closing” component.

When the two palms move in a wiping manner to the east from the Push posture of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, the two palms should gradually change from erect palms (Lizhang) to prostrated palms (Fuzhang). The reason for this is because the erect palms of Push are the final “closing” component which is consequently considered the “substantial” or “Yang” stage of the individual posture. The “rising” component of Single Whip is considered the “insubstantial” or “Yin” stage of that individual posture. Therefore, there must be a gradual change from Yang to Yin during each transition of postures in order to fully conform to the principles of “knowing Yin and Yang (Xu Zhi Yin Yang)” and “clearly differentiating substantial from insubstantial (Xu Shi Yifen Qingchu)”. The change from Yang to Yin must be gradual so that the motion conforms to the Taiji symbol where the Yang polarity gradually spirals to the Yin polarity. This is not a sudden and quick change.

When the right palm gradually forms the hook hand after moving to the east and then moves in toward the body, it forms the Yang polarity. As the right hook hand begins to move toward the south, minor Yin begins to arise. As the left palm wipes back toward the south from the east, the palm reaches the Yin polarity and gradually continues into the on-start of minor Yang. As the right hook hand continues to move to its destination at the 2:00 position, it goes into major Yin. At the same time, the left palm simultaneously pushes out to the east (9:00) to become major Yang. The following principles are met through this process: “Yin and Yang is the root (Yin Yang Huwei Qigen)”; Yin polarity produces Yang, Yang polarity produces Yin (Yinji Sheng Yang, Yangji Sheng Yin)”; “among Yin there is Yang and among Yang there is Yin (Yinzhong Shu Yang, Yangzhong Shu Yin)”; “Yin does not leave Yang and Yang does not leave Yin (Yin buli Yang, Yang buli Yin)”; and “a single Yin cannot become Yin and a single Yang cannot become Yang (Danyin buneng Cheng Yin, Danyang buneng Cheng Yang)”.

In traditional Yang style Taijiquan there are many movements where the transitional distance of the two hands are quite varied. Examples of these include Diagonal Flying, Advance Step and Raise Hands, Hands Play Pipa, etc. In some of these postures the movement of the right hand might be very short while the movement of the left hand is relatively long. Trying to coordinate the two hands can be quite difficult to conform to the requirement of “when one part moves, then all will move; and when one part is silent, then all is silent”. However, in Single Whip the two hands have approximately the same distance to cover during the process of “rising, carrying, turning, and closing”; thereby if the same speed is maintained for both hands, then the above stated requirement of moving and stopping all at once can be easily satisfied.

Classic taiji

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.

Martial Art taiji

A Brief Introduction to Sun Style Taijiquan

by Master Sun Jian Yun, Beijing, China and Translated and compiled by Ted W. Knecht

The founding father of Sun Style Taijiquan was Master Sun Fu Quan, also known as Sun Lu Tang. Master Sun was born in Wan Xian district of Hebei Province. Since the time of his youth, Master Sun loved the practice and study of Chinese wushu. Master Sun learned the true essence of Xingyiquan from Li Kui Dan and ? Yun Shen. He studied Baguazhang from Cheng Ting Hua. After many years of training and research his skill level became very profound. Later after learning the above styles, he studied Taijiquan from Hao Wei Zhen. From his years of research and compilation of the techniques of Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, and Taijiquan, Master Sun took the essence of all three styles and combined them into a complete entity which became Sun Style Taijiquan. Sun Style was originally termed Open/Closing Active Step Taijiquan (Kai He Huo Bu Taijiquan). However, to commemorate the founder, the style is often called Sun style Taijiquan.

The essential characteristics of Sun Style Taijiquan consists of the following: advancing mutually follows retreating; advancing must have a follow step, retreating must have a moving back motion; the movements are relaxed, comfortable, rounded, and full; movements follow nature. During practice the feet should be able to differentiate fullness and emptiness. From beginning to end, the movements of the routine must be like flowing water and clouds floating in the sky, continuous without interruption. Within each turn of the body, there is a “opening” and “closing” action. This is why the style is often called Open/Closing Taijiquan.

In the practice of Taijiquan there must be movement within silence. The thoughts must be concentrated and the mind tranquil; only then will the movements be smooth and alive. One should use the mind without the use of external strength to conduct the movements. Because Taijiquan emphasis invigorated energy, the body must be relaxed and open. The use of brute force will cause stagnation of the blood, tendons, and internal energy. During practice the “intent should lead the internal energy and the internal energy should lead the movements of the body”.

In regards to the practice of Taijiquan, Sun Lu Tang often said that his teacher, Master Hao Wei Zhen, would say there were three levels of development in the training of Taijiquan. The following are the three levels often mentioned by Master Sun: “in the initial stages of practice one will feel as if walking on the floor of the ocean. The movements will feel heavy as if all the water was pressing down on the body. The second stage feels as if the feet are not touching the floor bottom, but the body is floating within the water. The movements of Taijiquan will feel more natural at this stage. The third stage is when the body is light and agile where one will feel as if walking on the oceans surface. At this stage achievement in Taijiquan has been obtained”.

This style of Taijiquan is suitable and practical for all types of people. No matter the physical condition, everyone can benefit and enjoy the practice of Sun style Taijiquan.

Master Sun Jian Yun is the daughter of late Master Sun Lu Tang. Even though she is in her 80’s she still practices and teaches Taijiquan in the city of Beijing.


Sun Taijiquan

Daitoryu Martial Art

Daito-ryu Aiki-Jujutsu

Daito-ryu Aiki-Jujutsu is an old Jujutsu style presumably founded my Minamoto, Yoshimitsu in the eleventh century. Originally, it was only practised by the highest ranking Samurais in the Takeda family in the Kai fiefdom in northern Japan. Feudal overlord Takeda, Shingen died in 1573, and his kinsman Takeda, Kunitsugu moved to the Aizu fiefdom, where he became Jito – overseer of the fief. Kunitsugu introduced Daitoryu Aikijujutsu at the Aizu fiefdom, where the secret fighting art only was taught to the feudal lords and the highest ranking samurais and ladies in waiting. The feudal system was broken down after 1868 when the Meiji restoration begun. Saigo, Tanomo (1829-1905), the heir to Daito-ryu gave the system to Takeda, Sogaku (1859-1943) and instructed him to pass it on to future generations. Takeda, Sogaku first used the term “Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu” in the beginning of the twentieth century and taught the art of it to many students. Takeda, Sogaku taught Daito-ryu from the beginning of the twentieth century until his death in 1943 two of his best known students were Ueshiba, Morihei, founder of Aikido and Choi, Yong Sul, founder of Hapkido. Other prominent 20th century Daito-ryu masters include Horikawa, Kodo (1894-1980); Takuma, Hisa (1895-1979); Hakaru, Mori (1931-), the current director of the Daitoryu Aikijujutsu Takumakai; Sagawa, Yukiyoshi (1902-); Takeda, Tokimune (1916-1993), son of Takeda, Sogaku; Katsuyuki, Kondo (1945-); and Okamoto, Seigo (1925-), who is often considered the most progressive teacher of Daitoryu Aikijujutsu. Description and Training: The way of teaching Daitoryu comes from Takeda, Sogaku’s students in the same manner as the understanding, feeling and character of the techniques. Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu has four levels of techniques: Shoden (Lowest), Chuden (advanced), Okuden (highest) and Hiden (secret techniques). Shoden The training in Daito-ryu starts with Shoden, where the student learns ukemi (falling and rolling), taisabaki (moving the body), tesabaki and ashisabaki (movements of the hands and feet and legs), defense against grappling, and continues with defense against punches, kicks and weapons, as for instance short and long staffs (tanbo, jo and chobo) and knives and swords (tanto and katana). There are techniques that can be done from standing, sitting or lying positions. The first transmission scroll Hiden Mokuroku describes the first 118 jujutsu techniques from the Shoden level. Chuden These are advanced jujutsu techniques with large soft movements as known from Aikido. The actual aiki training consists of a combination of these techniques and those from Shoden. At this level of training it is allowed to use some amount of force, several steps and large movements. Okuden When doing Okuden all movements should be as small as possible. Breathing, reflexes, circles and timing are used instead of muscles; the techniques are small and fast, and it is not necessary to hold an attacker in order to throw him. The reflexes of the attacker are used against him. He gets a soft shock, similar to an electric shock activating his reflexes, and it becomes easy to manipulate the body of the attacker so it is felt as an extension of one’s own. Hiden These are the secret techniques. The real aiki consists always of soft techniques that only work properly when the whole body and proper breathing is used. The attacker is touched easily, you are as glued to him, and the techniques are so small that even experienced budokas cannot see what is happening. However, the most fascinating part of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu is that it is unnecessary to use physical power for incapacitating the attacker his own force is turned against him.

Reference: Torben Alstrup/Ole Kingston

Classic principle taiji

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.

Classic Energy Martial Art Mindset principle pushhands taiji Waist

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

Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle taiji

Explanations of Neigong (Internal Skill) Principles

Taijiquan practice must be conducted internally and externally, Yin and Yang must melt together into one. If one wants to achieve Internal Skill (Nei Gong) of Taiji, one must first grasp practice methods conforming with Taijiquan principles. Principles and methods of Internal Skill are the only way to cultivate Spirit (Shen), Intent (Yi) and Qi; that’s why practice methods in traditional Taijiquan not only pay attention to movements of body and hands, but even more stress principles and methods of Internal Skill. Under any circumstances they cannot be separated.

    Many students of Taijiquan practice incorrectly – first learn the routine, and only after they are skilled at it they explore the principles; what they do not understand is that through this empty practice without principles their bodies already get used to the incorrect way of practice, stiff, inflexible, with physical strength. Once the students want to explore the principles, the way they move (with stiff and inflexible strength) already becomes habitual and the problems are very difficult to get rid of; and although they practice correctly for a long time later, Internal Strength (Nei Jin) is out of their grasp and there is no way that they can reach deep understanding of high skill levels.

    My teacher handed down a correct method of teaching martial arts – from the beginning both movements and principles are explained clearly, with stress put on using principles to guide the movements correctly. The principles of movements have very explicit guiding meaning, and only by following the correct order of practice handed down by old generations of masters one can quickly enter the correct path and pursue more advanced study.

    Yang Style Taijiquan emphasizes internal and external practice, every movement and every posture should contain a Method (Shu) within, and the Method must come out of the movements and postures. Movements and Method depend on each other and complement each other. One must not first practice movements and then learn the principles, as well as one must not first learn the principles and then practice movements. The beginner by imitating (the teacher) will first grasp the external movements, but since the principles of Internal Skill (Nei Gong) cannot be seen, it is not easy to understand their essentials. Since on the elementary level Spirit (Shen), Intent (Yi) and Qi are not ready to accept assignments coming from the mind (consciousness), it is impossible to merge movements and Methods in one step. For this reason students should first of all attach importance to the careful study of the principles.

    Every movement and posture of the boxing routine practice should have, as the boxing classics say, “Intent in first place” (Yi Zai Xian), Intention should guide the form from the beginning to the end, one should not practice “empty movements” even for a short moment. For example in the Commencing Form, before the hands raise and the movement is born from utmost stillness, Intention has already started to control the whole body so that all its parts one by one have been adjusted according to the Internal Skill principles.

    When the practice reaches the intermediary level, there are many principles, every movement and posture have one kind of fixed principles, and the principles between two movements may mutually alternate and derive from each other. On the high level the accumulation and changes of principles appear naturally, without thinking. My teacher once said, during routine practice, when movements and Methods are harmoniously combined so that they strictly follow ones Intent, at that moment a subtle and profound (phenomena) may develop. The whole body is transparent and empty, one forgets about oneself and is non-active – this high level starts from learning to soften hands and wrists. Every step and every move should be completely guided by the principles of boxing movements, and only later one can gradually attain the level of complete relaxation, transparency and emptiness.
For this reason all those who want to learn Taijiquan should be warned to seriously explore and understand the principles of boxing movements;for the sake of better explanation (deeper impression), the pictures show both correct and incorrect movements so that Taijiquan practitioner will not go astray.


Concerning “Crown of the head suspended”, boxing manuals say “Emptiness guides propping up strength” (Xu Ling Ding Jin), “Top of the head suspended” (Ding Tou Xuan), “Baihui pushes up” (Baihui Shang Ding), etc.

My teacher never mentioned the above sayings; he only explained secretly transmitted essential “Back of the neck rubs against the collar”. “Rub against” means that back of the neck is relaxed and straight, and is lightly kept close to the collar when slightly turning. During the process when the back of the neck rubs against the collar, cervical vertebra gradually tends to become upright and straight, and the posture of the body will also become centered and upright; when one attains the state when it is centered and upright, in that short moment all of a sudden whole body will get “fixed” – head will be centered, Spirit clear and Qi refreshed, relaxed and comfortable as if nothing existed. The feeling of relaxed head can make one happy and free of worry, and this state of mind will naturally influence the facial expression showing a slight smile; in this way both the inside and outside of the body will be in peaceful, gentle mood. Paying constant attention to slightly rub against the collar with the back of the neck will keep the Ren and Du channels clear of obstructions, and since when Qi flows than blood moves, chronic illnesses of insufficient supply of blood to the brain, neck aches and blocked Yuzhen will be eliminated. 

If one does not correctly understand the relation between relaxed, straight neck and upright head, and does not realize how harmful it is for the postures and the body when head is not upright, then one will allow the head to bend and lift and this may turn into a bad habit.

When chin is withdrawn too much, head bends down, the front of the neck is suppressed, breathing is difficult, blood circulation is not smooth, and as a result one becomes apathetic and dispirited. 

When head is lifted then back of the neck is suppressed, Internal Qi can only circulate between Jiabei and Weilü and cannot pass through Yuzhen. When Three Gates (San Guan) are not opened, then one gets neck and head aches, head swells, which may even result in vertigo.

Only when neck is relaxed and straight, then head is centered and upright, at ease and comfortable, which is a very important part of the (Internal Skill) principles.


Once the principle of relaxed and straight neck is correctly understood, head will be absolutely empty and eyes expression will naturally attain (the state) of looking and not seeing, which will integrate with (the state of) ears listening but not hearing. The feeling of relaxation of the head will make one’s spirit happy and influence the facial expression, showing a slight smile.
One must not misunderstand the eyes expression of “looking and not seeing” as dull staring, like a pond with still water, without movement and changes. Going out and entering of eyes expression (Eye Spirit) is naturally interlinked with the mind and intention, which give rise to the changes of Opening/Closing of expression. When eyes expression is merged into the movements of boxing routine one should only keep the eyes open, when Eye Spirit goes out, it is for sure accompanied by the Spirit entering; entering of Eye Spirit is surely followed by the Spirit going out; only when going out and entering alternate and circulate, one can truly use eye expression in such a way that there is Yin within Yang, Yang within Yin and Yin and Yang are combined together. (Ill.4)

When Eyes Spirit is held back and looks towards the inside, it does not mean that eyelids drop and eyes are closed or one narrows the eyes and does not look ahead; when Eye Spirit is fixed on a point, it is not using strength and straining the eyes. If the Eyes Spirit is not correctly used, then eyes may hurt because of strain, and it is not only not healthy but very harmful.


During boxing practice people often only pay attention to sinking the shoulders and often overlook to empty the armpits. They often incorrectly believe that sinking and dropping is the correct movement of the shoulders. Actually deliberately sinking the shoulders, which are pulled down with strength, may result in the feeling of heavy and tired shoulders.

Concerning empty armpits, the secret method passed down by my teacher is “practicing boxing with two hot steamed buns carried under the armpits”. My teacher used to give an example from a daily life to explain this: when you pick steamed buns from the steaming hot food steamer, the movement and posture at this short moment are vivid explanation of the essentials for empty armpits. At that moment the strength you use to grasp the bun is extremely precise, because you may scald your hand when you grasp the bun too tightly, and drop it when the strength is not sufficient; at the same time it forces you to use your hand in such a way that it is neither too close nor too distant (from the surface of the bun), in a state of holding with just right strength. “Practicing boxing with two hot steamed buns carried under the armpits” in a plain and easy to understand way illustrates that the armpits should be relaxed and at the same time one should combine a very intriguing, slight strength that is both antagonistic and united. When one practices boxing keeping in mind the hot buns kept under the armpits, then Internal Qi in shoulders and arms will pass smoothly and flow swiftly. After a long time of practice the habit will become natural and emptying the armpits will not have to be intentionally conducted.

If one keeps two armpits empty incorrectly, the elbows raise and shoulders becomes stiffened and tensed; the flow of Internal Qi will be obstructed. When armpits are not empty, the arms are kept close to the torso, shoulders can’t relax and hence Internal Qi is suppressed and does not flow.

Excerpts from the book “The True Teachings of Yang Jianhou’s Secret Yang Style Taijiquan” by Wei Shuren



Breath Classic Energy principle pushhands taiji

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

Breath Energy Martial Art principle pushhands taiji

Chen Wei-Ming on Breath To Gahter the Chi

If the chi is dispersed, then it is not stored (accumulated) and is easy to scatter. Let the chi penetrate the spine and the inhalation and exhalation be smooth and unimpeded throughout the entire body. The inhalation closes and gathers, the exhalation opens and discharges. Because the inhalation can naturally raise and also uproot the opponent, the exhalation can naturally sink down and also discharge (fa fang) him. This is by means of the i (mind), not the li (strength) mobilizing the chi (breath).

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: 53

Martial Art Mindset principle pushhands taiji

The Ten Essentials of Taijiquan

Narrated by Yang Cheng Fu
Recorded by Chen Wei Ming

1. Straightening The Head

Stand straight and hold the head and neck naturally erect, with the mind concentrated on the top. Do not strain or be tense; otherwise, the blood and vital energy cannot circulate smoothly.

2. Correct Position Of Chest And Back

Keep the chest slightly inward, which will enable you to sink your breath to the dan tian (lower belly). Do not protrude your chest, otherwise you will feel uneasy in breathing and somewhat “top heavy”.

Great force can be launched onlly when you keep the vital energy in your lower belly.

3. Relaxation Of Waist

For the human body, the waist is the dominant part. When you relax the waist, your two feet will be strong enough to form a firm base. All the movements depend on the action of the waist, as the saying goes: “Vital force comes from the waist”. Inaccurate movements in taijiquan stem from erroneous actions of the waist.

4. Solid And Empty Stance

It is of primary importance in taijiquan to distinguish between “Xu” (Empty) and “Shi” (Solid). If you shift the weight of the body on to the right leg, then the right leg is solidly planted on the ground and the left leg is in an empty stance. When your weight is on the left leg, then the left leg is firmly planted on the ground and the right leg is in an empty stance. Only in this way can you turn and move your body adroitly and without effort, otherwise you will be slow and clumsy in your movements and not able to remain stable and firm on your feet.

5. Sinking Of Shoulders And Elbows

Keep your shoulder in a natural, relaxed position. If you lift your shoulders, the qi will rise with them and the whole body will be without strength. You should also keep the elbows down, otherwise you will not be able to keep your shoulders relaxed and move your body with ease.

6. Using The Mind Instead Of Force

Among the people who practise taijiquan, it is quite common to hear this comment: “That is entirely using the mind, not force”. In practising taijiquan, the whole body is relaxed, and there is not an iota of stiff or clumsy strength in the veins or joints to hinder the movement of the body. People may ask: How can one increase his strength without exercising force? According to taditional Chinese medicine, there is in the human body a system of pathways called jingluo (or meridian) which link the viscera with different parts of the body, making the human body an integrated whole. If the jingluo is not impeded, then the vital energy will circulate in the body unobstructed. But if the jingluo is filled with stiff strength, the vital energy will not be able to circulate and consequently the body cannot move with ease. One should therefore use the mind instead of force, so that vital energy will follow in the wake of the mind or conciousness and circulate all over the body. Through persistant practice one will be able to have genuine internal force. This is what taijiquan experts call “Lithe in appearance, but powerful in essence”.

A master of Taijiquan has arms which are as strong as steel rods wrapped in cotton with immense power concealed therein. Boxers of the “Outer School” (a branch of wush with emphasis on attack, as opposed to the “Inner School” which places the emphasis on defence) look powerful when they exert force but when they cease to do so, the power no longer exists. So it is merely a kind of superficial force.

7. Coordination Of Upper And Lower Parts

According to the theory of taijiquan, the root is in the feet, the force is launched through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the fingers; the feet, the legs and the waist form a harmonious whole. When the hands, the waist and the legs move, the eyes should follow their movements. This is meant by coordingation of the upper and lower parts. If any part should cease to move, then the movements will be disconnected and fall into disarray.

8. Harmony Between The Internal And External Parts

In practising taijiquan, the focus is on the mind and conciousness. Hence the saying: “The mind is the commander, the body is subservient to it”. With the tranquility of the mind, the movements will be gentle and graceful. As far as the “frame” is concerned, there are only the Xu (empty), shi (solid), kai (open) and he (close). Kai not only means opening the four lims but the mind as well, he means closing the mind along with the four limbs. Perfection is achieved when one unifies the two and harmonizes the internal and external parts into a complete whole.

9. Importance Of Continuity

In the case of the “Outer School” (which emphasizes attack) of boxing, the strength one exerts is still and the movements are not continuous, but are sometimes made off and on, which leaves opening the opponent may take advantage of. In taijiquan, one focuses the attention on the mind instead of force, and the movements from the begenning to the end are continuous and in an endless circle, just “like a river which flows on and on without end” or “like reeling the silk thread off cocoons”.

10. Tranquility In Movement

In the case of the “Outer School” of boxing, the emphasis is on leaping, bouncing, punching and the exertion of force, and so one often gasps for breath after practising. But in taijiquan, the movement is blended with tranquility, and while performing the movements, one maintains tranquility of mind. In practising the “frame”, the slower the movement the better the results. this is because when the movements are slow, one can take deep breath and sink it to the dan tian. It has a soothing effect on the body and the mind.

Learners of taijiquan will get a better understanding of all this through careful study and persistant practice.

Reference: “Yang Style Taijiquan” by Yang Zhen Duo (by courtesy of Peter Lim’s Taijiquan Resource Page

Breath Energy Exercise Martial Art qigong

Embracing the Tree with Chi Condensing and Circulating

1. Stand with the feet shoulder-with apart. Bend the knees, pressing the sacrum down.

2. Position the arms as if they are encircling a tree; hold the thumbs up and relax the fingers, barely permitting them to touch. Relax the chest and hold the head erect.

3. Place the tongue on the palette. Practice abdominal breathing 9 or 18 times. Feel the sexual organs move up and down with the breath.

4. Inhale 10 percent to your navel, keeping the abdomen flat and pressing the diaphragm downward as you pull the sex organs up. Inhale and pull up the left and right side of the anus. Pack and wrap the chi at the kidneys, then collect energy at the navel.

5. Breathe into the lower abdomen, without spiraling. Breathe into the perineum and feel it bulge out.

6. Exhale through the back of the legs and the feet. Feel the palms and and soles breathing.

7. Suck energy from the Earth through K1, Bubbling Springs. “Claw” the ground with toes as you inhale and circle the energy 9 times counterclockwise at the Bubbling Springs (Kidney 1). The spirals on the soles of the feet move in the same direction.

8. Inhale, bringing the energy to the knees. Lock the knees; do not spiral at the knees.

9. Inhale up to the perineum; circle the energy there 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise. Feel the bulge at the perineum.

10. Exhale. Harmonize the breath and be aware of the soles and palms breathing.

11. Inhale and pull up the left and right sides of the anus, packing the back and kidneys.

12. Inhale up to the sacrum. Tilt the sacrum back, packing it. Circle the energy 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise. This will strengthen and activate the sacral pump.

13. Inhale to T11, inflating the kidney area. Press outward at T11, then spiral 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise.

14. Inhale to C7, pushing from from the sternum to tilt C7 back, straightening the curve at the neck.

15. Lock the neck by tucking in the chin. Circle the chi 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise.

16. Inhale to the Jade Pillow (C1), clench the teeth tight, and squeeze the skull and temple bones to strengthen and activate the cranial pump. Circle the energy here 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise.

17. Inhale to crown (pineal gland) and circle 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise. If you cannot go all the way up on one breath you can pass over the Jade Pillow, or you can take an extra breath where needed until your capacity increases.

18. Exhale with the tongue up to the palate.

19. Regulate the breath. Concentrate on the third eye until you feel the chi energy build up there. Bring the energy down to solar plexus and circle 9 times clockwise and 9 times counterclockwise. Bring the chi down to the navel. Stand still and maintain the position.

20. Press the soles to the ground. Discipline your mind to move the energy downward.

21. Feel energy flowing up from the ground. Circulate the energy for as long as you wish.

22. Practice Bone Breathing.

23. Practice the Power Exercise.

24. Stand up and bring the energy to the navel, putting your hands over the navel and bringing the feet together. Relax. Collect the energy in the navel area.

25. When you feel calm, walk around and brush the energy downward.

Reference: Iron Shirt Chi Kung by Mantak Chia

Summary: Embracing the Tree with Chi Condensing and Circulating p. 129-132

Classic Martial Art principle Xingyiquan

The Important Points of Xing Yi Practice

The important points of Xing Yi practice are as follows. The first is setting down the waist; the second is dropping the shoulders; the third is hollowing the chest; the fourth is propping up; the fifth is lifting up; the sixth is making clear crossing and following; the seventh is distinguishing the components of rising, drilling, falling and overturning from one another.

Setting down the waist means lifting up the coccyx to raise the Qi of Yang; this belongs to the principle of the Du 1) channel. Dropping the shoulders means draw back strength with two shoulders. Hollowing the chest means to open the chest for circulating the Qi and allowing the Qi of Yin to go down; this belongs to the principle of Ren channel. Propping up means to prop up the head, the tongue, and the hands. Lifting up means to lift up the anus. Crossing means beginning; following means falling; rising means drilling; falling means turning over. Beginning is crossing and falling is following. Rising is the beginning of crossing and drilling is the end of crossing. Falling is the beginning of following and turning over is the end of following.

The head is drilling when it is propping up and it is turning over when it is contracting. The hand is drilling when it is beginning and it is turning over when it is falling. The foot is drilling when it is rising and turning over when it is falling. The crossing is concealed when beginning and crossing ; the following is concealed when falling and following. Rising is going and falling is biting; but really both rising and falling are biting. To bite in rising and falling is just like the turning of the waves. However, as the rising, drilling, falling, and over turning change to and fro, the elbow should always be close to the heart. All stated above are the important points of Xing Yi boxing. Understanding these important points means to find out the proper entrance of Xing Yi boxing.

1) The DU channel is one of the eight special channels. Its route is from the central point between the anus and the genitals through the central line of the back and across that of the head to the upper teeth.

Reference: Xing Yi Quan Xue The study of Form-Mind Boxing by Sun Lu Tang
ISBN: 0865681856

P. 79

Energy Martial Art posture principle pushhands Structure taiji Waist

Waves of Movement

Author: Patrik Kelly (by courtesy of

All fluids move in waves. Energy moves through fluids either as a transfer of mass with a stored momentum, or as a wave of elastic displacement that leaves the medium undisturbed once it has passed. Stored momentum gives a more external force and elastic displacement a more internal one. Different types of waves appear when we move. Forward and backward waves are generated from the hips moving horizontally slightly ahead of the rest of the body. Moving the body in horizontal curves produces waves in all horizontal directions. Twisting waves are produced by turning the hips slightly ahead of the rest of the body. Twisting waves wind along lines of elastic connection between the points of application of force and the ground. Vertical waves appear when the hips lift and sink before the upper-body. Adding this vertical dimension produces waves of compression and expansion up and down the body, which power the lifting and lowering of the arms. Smooth continuous waves that ripple and interact throughout the body in a complex and natural manner are a final result of the simultaneous interaction of these three types of waves.

Learning to produce and regulate these waves requires an intelligently designed series of steps leading from the simple to the complex. Any section of the body can be trained to move ahead of the rest of the body, creating a simple two-part wave. Later, several of these two-part waves can be assembled to create more complex wave patterns. Two part twisting waves are formed when the pelvis begins to rotate and the upper-body and arms follow. Two-part vertical waves are generated by sinking the lower half of the body before the upper half producing waves of compression and expansion centred in the pelvis. Somewhat controversial, but supported by experience and logic, is the advancing and retreating of the lower-body before the upper when two-part forward and back waves appear. Basic three part waves appear when the lower-body leads the upper-body which then leads the arm – where the arm is taken to extend from the fingertips to the lowest point of the shoulder-blade.

One, two, three or more part waves can also appear in any section of the body. A three part arm wave involving moving first the shoulder then the elbow and finally the wrist, is used to transmit waves of power from the upper-body to the hand. From this it is a simple step conceptually to produce a sequence of movement from the sole of the foot to the finger tips, with a slight delay at every joint as the muscles, tendons and ligaments stretch. The arms and legs can also twist in unison with the waist so that the force spirals as it travels. The sense of this twisting can be given when you visualise a hand moving over the surface of a ball. Then the palm and forearm rotate as they move, to maintain contact with the surface of the ball.

Reference: Quote from Daoist Principles in Practice by Patrik Kelly