Master Wang’s Creative Interpretation and Application of Some Taijiquan Principles in Self-defence
Master Wang makes it a point of emphasis and has set an example to his students of how one should use one’s mind and learn from experience of success and failure after having studied carefully the theories set in the Taijiquan classics, listened earnestly to his teacher’s or anyone else’s interpretations, and watched attentively their ways of applying these principles in practising or combating. The following are a few examples:
(I) There is a principle (a sentence of eight Chinese characters) set in the Taijiquan classics attributed to Wang Zongyue of Ming Dynasty, with a note that it had been handed down by Zhang ‘Sanfeng, a Taoist on the Wudang Mountain in the Song Dynasty. The first half in four characters may be translated into English as “No excess, no insufficiency”, and the generally accepted interpretation is ‐when doing Taijiquan, whether in solo practice or in pushing-hands exercise, or sparring with a partner, or in actual combating, you should use only the very necessary amount of force, not a bit more or less; and any movement you make should be just right in position. But the second half, also in four characters, are explainable in two ways: more generally as “stretch out as your opponent bends in ” , and some would also supply the natural reverse “and contract as your opponent expands”; and less generally as “follow the bending. adhere to (or follow) the stretching.” Which is correct, or more adequate? What is Wang’s opinion?
Basically, Master Wang prefers the second one, but he would add something to it, as summed up from his long years of experience: “follow your opponent’s bending without letting him have any chance to turn to stretching; and adhere to his stretching without giving him any. opportunity to turn to bending, he will then be found in an awkward position ready to be handled easily.”
(2) There is a sentence in a known Taijiquan treatise that may be rendered into English as: If you fail to catch a good opportunity or to gain an advantageous position, your body will be in a state of disorder and the cause of such a fault must be sought from the waist or legs.
Evidently this is a very important teaching, and as there is nothing abstruse with the language, we can just do according to the advice given. But why and how? The general view is that: to a human body the legs form the foundation of every posture taken and the waist acts like the axle of the moving parts, so if there is anything wrong, fundamentally there must first be something wrong with the waist or legs, or both, so the way to correct the fault is by adjusting the waist or legs. So far so good. But what if your waist itself senses some discomfort? Adjust the waist? And what if your legs sense some discomfort? Adjust the legs? Master Wang says no, and advises: if your waist senses some discomfort, forget the waist and adjust the legs; if your legs sense some discomfort, forget the legs and adjust the waist. Try it out yourself and see- if it works.
(3) In the “Chant of Pushing-hands”, there is a sentence with seven Chinese characters, the first four meaning ‐ entice (your opponent) to advance and fall into emptiness (failing to reach his target); the last three, meaning ‐ when all conditions are met, issue energy instantly. The principle is obviously sound and clear, but what are the necessary conditions, and how to catch that very moment instantly? To those who have had some basic knowledge and training in Taijiquan, the first part of the question is not difficult to answer, the following conditions are generally taken as the necessary conditions: your opponent’s slight loss of balance, the moment he gets into an awkward position, and his centre of gravity together with the most effective line through which to attack him all being sensed and located. But the second part presents real difficulty, many may have practised for years and have not yet found a sure way of catching that very right moment. If that is the case and energy is issued at the wrong moment, all the conditions may be instantly changed to your disadvantage. Now let me offer you Master Wang’s simple and reliable way for your reference ‐ The moment your opponent comes into contact with you, you should apply the Taijiquan principle and technique of “adhering, joining, sticking to, and following” to his every move, with no letting go and no resistance, while keeping an acute awareness of what is sensed from the point in touch with ‘ your opponent. Should he refrain from making an initiative, you could expose a point of weakness purposefully and entice him to take advantage of it During the whole course of pushing-hands if a sense of heaviness is felt , at the point of contact with your opponent, do not issue energy or restrain yourself instantly if you are about to issue; but at the moment when that sense of heaviness turns into lightness, lose no time to issue energy. Of course, to be able to catch the very right moment instantly, you must first have developed a keen sense of touch and a quick reaction through years of pushing-hands practice. Nevertheless, Master Wang’s teaching offers a simple to follow rule in judging whether the right moment is there or not. That surely is a thing of importance, and I hope Master Wang’s advice will prove useful to you.
(4) As is generally known, the cardinal principle of Taijiquan is “using the mind (thought), not strength.” Actually, in doing any physical movement, it is impossible not to use strength at all. Thus, in so saying, it is but to emphasize that the art of Taijiquan relies more on the use of one’s mind than strength to overcome an opponent. Such a principle could be more easily apprehended and better appreciated today, for it is common sense now that whatever we do are controlled by our nerve system, with the cerebral cortax of our brain as the control centre. So the really important issue regarding this principle is not why it should be so, but how it should be done.
An answer seems to have been provided in another well known classic entitled “The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures”. However, owing to the terseness and abstruseness of the original text in classical Chinese, it has been interpreted in different ways, such as:
1st – When the mind directs the qi, the mind must be calm, so the qi could permeate the bones. When the qi circulates through the body, the qi must flow freely and naturally, so the qi could be dictated easily and efficiently by the mind;
2nd – when the mind directs the qi, the qi must sink deep and steadily, so as to premeate the bones. When the qi moves the body, the body must be submissive, so as to be dictated easily and efficiently by the mind;
3rd ‐ when the mind directs the qi, the directing must be calm and steady, so the qi could permeate the bones. When the qi circulates through the body, the circulating must be free and natural, so the body could be dictated easily and efficiently by the mind.
There might still be a 4th, 5th . . . From the above, we can see that in studying a Taijiquan doctrine, it is sometimes hard to catch its exact meaning by merely studying the wording in a classic; and in listening to the interpretations offered, there might be big differences of opinion that make it difficult to follow. So do not be disturbed if you find such difficulties and differences. Test what you have learned in your practice and application, sum up your experience of success and failure bit by bit, and form your own opinions one by one as Master Wang has done and advised.
Master Wang is highly praised for his subtle, varified, accurate, and effective movements employed in pushing‐hands practice and in free sparring. He often cites a well known old saying: “How to use one’s kungfu relies totally on one’s mind-intent.” I have particularly asked him about how he uses his mind to direct his movements, and have finally focused on “What to concentrate his mind on and how to shift his points of attention in directing his movements so as to perform a certain posture or to execute a certain combative technique accurately, efficiently, and effortlessly.” The following are the summerized points:
1 ‐ Just before making any movement, think first of uplifting your head lightly and loosening the joints, especially the shoulder ioint and the hip joint. This is a necessary prerequisite to make possible your facing the opponent with an attentive spirit and keeping the limbs in a fully relaxed state, so as to be able to respond quickly to any change and do the stretching or bending to the required extent.
2 ‐ When y0u are doing Taiiiquan in its solo form, you should have in mind a picture of meeting an opponent and that you should use a certain posture or Taiiiquan technique that deemed fit to neutralize his attack or to set him off balance while he is in a certain imagined position. Thus you must first have the knowledge of the combative use of every movement of every posture as told by Master Wang in this book, or by other competent Taiiiquan masters. Only by practising Taiiiquan with such a picture in mind could you have the possibility of making actual use of it in combat.
3‐ Whatever the form and number of movements used in a certain posture, there is a general principle, also a basic requirement, that your arms and legs should move, coordinately, that the shoulder should come into unison with the hipioint, the elbow with the knee, and the hand with the foot. To meet such a requirement, Master Wang’s way is to think of letting the three vital points on y0ur arm meet with or separate from the three corresponding vital points on the leg, those on the right arm in correspondence with those on the left leg and those on the left arm in correspondence with the right leg, one after another in succession in the course of the movement. Let them unite with each other when doing a “closing” movement, and separate from each other when doing an “opening” move‐ ment. All such uniting and separating should be led by the “insubstantial arm” and- one’s mind should chiefly be concentrated on it. The “insubstantial” arm is one on the same side, of your “substantial” leg (one that bears the greater part of your bodyweight). Between the arms and legs, their “insubstantiality and “substantiality” coincide with the opposite party on the other side of the body, i.e. if the right leg is “substantial”, the left arm is “substantial”; in this case the left leg is “insubstantial”, as is the right arm. The three vital points on the arm are: the Jianiing point at the indented part of the shoulder girdle, near the neck; the Quchi point at the outer side of the elbow; and the Laogong point at the centre of palm; the three vital points on the leg‘are: the Huantiao point at the outer side of the hipioint; the Yangling point at the outer side of the knee; and the Yongquan point at the arch of foot. (See Appendix I I I : Diagram of Vital Points Mentioned in this Book) .
Thinking (focusing and shifting your points of attention) in such a manner achieves two things: one is to let the mind direct the movement of the body via the movement of “qi”, since the “qi” moves through a path along which are spread the vital points (as already known and made use of in acupuncture); another is to bring about a unison of the respective parts in a more precise and quicker manner, and to reach a stronger state, since a point on a limb is much finer than a part of the limb, a thought of unison comes quicker than the act of unison, and an external unison actuated by an attentive thought in the mind is stronger than a merely superficial external expression of unison.
4 – As the point of your opponent’s weakness is shown, his being in a disadvantageous position or his slight loss of balance is sensed, and you are to send him off his feet, issue the energy from the bottom up by pressing the heel of your rear foot with a snap against the ground and at the same time think of the palm of the hand that is placed in the rear and is in line with the centre of gravity of your opponent. Do not place your focus of attention on the contacting point (or the fore contacting point, if there are two or more points contacted), nor on the object or the direction your eyes are looking at. Some may raise a question or have a doubt of whether this is in harmony with the general principle “at the instant the mind thinks of something, the eyes should be looking there, and the hands and feet should have reached there.” Still some others may find that on this point Master Wang’s way is even somewhat different from his teacher, Yang Yuting’s. Yes, they are different asMaster Wang has told me, and not without reason. According to Master Wang, in actual application, at the point of issuing energy, your eyes are looking at the direction toward which you are to issue your energy, and you yourself and your opponent should be linked together into one, so the contacting point should not be shifted at all, and therefore needs no more attention. But to enhance the effectiveness or to multiply the forcefulness of your energy sent out upon your opponent, no energy should be sent forth from the contacting point by you, but energy should be sent from bottom up and from the rear end to the foremost end, and that requires your full attention to ensure its being correctly done. And only when you and your opponent have been formed into one at the moment of operation, the energy you are sending out could then reach the target you have set on your opponent’s body instantly.
Try out Master Wang’s way, see if it works, at least he has offered us’something that has made his art of Taiiiquan outstanding in combative use.
Reference: Wu Style Taijiquan by Wang Peisheng & Zeng Weiqi p. 3-8.
EXPLAINING TAIJI PRINCIPLES
attributed to Yang Banhou
[translation by Paul Brennan, Sep, 2013]
 The Eight Gates & Five Steps
 On the Training Method for the Eight Gates & Five Steps
 Our Innate Ability to Distinguish
 Stick, Adhere, Connect, and Follow
 Crashing In, Collapsing, Coming Away, and Resistance
 Fighting Without Mistakes
 Practicing Maintaining the Central Ground in Fighting
 The Body’s Posture – The Waist & Headtop
 Taiji’s Circling
 Taiji’s Skill of Advancing & Retreating Ceaselessly
 Taiji’s Above & Below, or “Sky & Ground”
 Taiji’s Eight Techniques in the Realm of Mankind
 Taiji’s Substance & Application
 Taiji’s Civil & Martial Qualities
 Taiji’s Identifying of Energies
 On the Thirteen Dynamics Long Boxing Set
 Taiji’s Inversion of the Passive & Active Aspects
 The Taiji-ness of the Human Body
 Taiji’s Separation of the Civil & Martial Qualities into Three Accomplishments
 Taiji’s Lesser Accomplishment – Its Martial Quality
 Correctness of Skill in Taiji
 Taiji’s Lightness & Heaviness, Floating & Sinking
 Taiji’s Four Secondary Techniques
 The Proper Alignment of Waist & Headtop in Taiji
 A Taiji Map of the Four Seasons & Five Energies
 The Essence of Blood & Energy in Taiji
 Strength & Energy in Taiji
 Taiji’s Reducing Measurements
 Vessels, Channels, Sinews, and Acupoints in Taiji
 Some of the Terms in Taiji
 Taiji’s Reducing of Measurements in the Context of Controlling, Seizing, Capturing, or Sealing
 Taiji’s Boosting or Dissipating Energy & Strength
(Thirty-Two Sections in Total)
(i) Taiji’s Emptying, Tying Up, Filing, and Kneading
(ii) Before Identifying Energies and After
(iii) Reducing Measurements After Identifying Energies
(iv) The Fingers, Palm, Fist, and Hand in Taiji
(v) On Personal Instruction in the Acupoints that Save or Kill
(vi) What Zhang Sanfeng Inherited
(vii) The Teachings of Zhang Sanfeng
(viii) Zhang Sanfeng on Using Martial Arts to Achieve the Way]
 THE EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS
position / gate:
掤 南 坎
warding off – S / ☵
捋 西 離
rolling back – W / ☲
擠 東 兑
pressing – E / ☱
按 北 震
pushing – N / ☳
採 西北 巽
plucking – NW / ☴
挒 東南 乾
rending – SE / ☰
肘 東北 坤
elbowing – NE / ☷
靠 西南 艮
bumping – SW / ☶
The positions of the eight gates are based on the principle of the passive and active aspects inverting each other, cycling round and round, following each other in their process. All of the four primary techniques [corresponding to the cardinal directions] and four secondary techniques [corresponding to the corner directions] must be understood. Warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing are the four primary techniques. Plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping are the four secondary techniques. The combining of these cardinals and corners thus positions the trigrams.
The body makes its steps according to the five elements, bracing in all directions. The five elements are: advance (fire), retreat (water), step to the left (wood), step to the right (metal), and stay in the center (earth). Advancing and retreating are the steppings of water and fire, left and right are the steppings of metal and wood, and the central earth is the axis for all of them.
Embrace the eight trigrams as you step through the five elements. Techniques plus steps equals eight plus five, amounting to thirteen, naturally expressed as the Thirteen Dynamics, known as the Eight Gates & Five Steps.
 ON THE TRAINING METHOD FOR THE EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS
The eight trigrams and five elements are innate within us. You must first understand that they are based in these four terms: perception, realization, activation, action. [These four terms amount to “moving with awareness”. This is a breakdown of four words – 知, 覺, 運, 動 – which would typically, and especially so for modern Chinese speakers, only be considered as two terms: 知覺 and 運動. To break movement (運動) and awareness (知覺) into their component parts results in: moving = the activation (運) of movement + the act (動) of moving, and awareness = the perception (覺) that something is + the realization (知) of what it is. In short, moving with awareness. This idea is further elaborated upon in the next section, where the purpose of breaking down the two terms into four becomes more clear.]
Once you have achieved moving with awareness, then you will be able to identify energies.
Once you can identify energies, then you will be able to be miraculous. But in the beginning of training, you should understand moving with awareness. Although it is innate, it is nevertheless hard to achieve within oneself.
 OUR INNATE ABILITY TO DISTINGUISH
From birth, our eyes can see, ears can hear, nose can smell, mouth can taste. Sights and sounds, smells and tastes – all innate senses. Dance of hands, prance of feet – the abilities of our limbs are all innate forms of movement. Pondering upon this, we find it is our random experience – “Our natures make us the same, but our experiences make us unique.” [Lun Yu, 17.2] – that makes us lose touch with what is innate. If we want to return to our innate qualities, there will be no martial aspect unless we seek the source of movement, and there will be no civil aspect unless we grasp the basis of awareness. With these things, then there will be moving with awareness.
If there is activation and perception, there will be action and realization. If there is no activation or perception, there will be no action or realization. When activation is at its height, action is initiated. When perception is fully lucid, there is realization. Action and realization are the easy part. Activation and perception are tricky.
First strive to move with awareness for yourself, grasping it within your own body, then naturally you will be able to spot it in the opponent. If on the other hand you try to find it in opponents first, you will probably never find it in yourself. You have to be able to understand this concept in order to be able to identify energies.
 STICK, ADHERE, CONNECT, AND FOLLOW
Sticking means to lift up high.
Adhering means to stay and be attached.
Connecting means to let go of yourself and not separate from the opponent.
Following means to follow him wherever he goes.
If you want to move with awareness and yet you do not understand sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, it will be beyond your reach, for it is a very subtle skill.
 CRASHING IN, COLLAPSING, COMING AWAY, AND RESISTANCE
Crashing in means sticking your head out.
Collapsing means not enough pressure.
Coming away means separating.
Resistance means too much pressure.
You should understand that these four mistakes will not merely interfere with sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, but will also prevent you from moving with awareness. When beginning to work with a partner, you must understand and especially prevent these errors. The difficulty in sticking, adhering, connecting, and following is in not allowing yourself to crash in, collapse, come away, or resist. This is not at all easy.
 FIGHTING WITHOUT MISTAKES
Crashing in, collapsing, coming away, and resistance will lose in a fight, and so they are called mistakes. If you neglect sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, you will not be able to achieve moving with awareness. And if you are not aware of yourself, how will you be able to know your opponent? Therefore when fighting, do not use crashing in, collapsing, coming away, or resistance, thereby opposing the opponent, instead use sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, thereby awaiting the opponent. If you can do it in this way, then not only will you be without mistakes, but moving with awareness will be automatically accomplished, and you can then progress to the skill of identifying energies.
 PRACTICING MAINTAINING THE CENTRAL GROUND IN FIGHTING (COMMONLY CALLED STANDING LIKE A POST)
When standing centered, your feet should be rooted.
Start by understanding the four primary techniques, then advancing and retreating.
The four techniques are ward-off, rollback, press, and push.
You have to do a lot of work to get them to be real.
For the body posture, your waist and headtop should both be correct.
When sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, your intention and energy are to be uniform throughout.
Movement and awareness respond to each other.
Mind is sovereign and body is subject.
When you get the degree just right,
you will naturally have both the civil quality and the martial. [i.e. If the “degree” is not right, there is “overcooking” or “undercooking”, in which case too civil would be undercooked and too martial would be overcooked.]
 THE BODY’S POSTURE – THE WAIST & HEADTOP
For your body’s posture, how could your waist and headtop be ignored?
Neglecting either, all your work would be in vain.
Waist and headtop are to be exhaustively studied for your whole life.
When your body’s posture is natural, it will naturally be loosened and comfortable.
If you dismiss this truth, how will you end up
but that after ten years you will still be confused?
 TAIJI’S CIRCLING [as in the circles of the pushing hands exercise]
Circling while retreating is easy, but circling while advancing is difficult,
so do not get sloppy with your waist and headtop when going forward or back.
It is hard to stay in the central position,
so the ease of retreat and difficulty of advance are to be carefully studied.
As this is a matter of movement rather than stance,
stay close to the opponent while advancing or retreating.
Circling can be like a watermill as it speeds up or slows down,
or like the dragon-like clouds or tiger-like winds winding all around.
If you use the sky as a model to help you seek this,
then after a long time it will be expressed instinctively.
 TAIJI’S SKILL OF ADVANCING & RETREATING CEASELESSLY
It is natural to ward off while advancing and roll back while retreating,
since passive and active, like water and fire, exchange roles with each other.
First understand the four primary techniques and get them to be authentic,
then you may move on to plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping,
performing the four secondary techniques on the basis of the primary.
Then there is the Thirteen Postures solo set, which goes on and on ceaselessly,
and hence is called Long Boxing. [“It is like a long river flowing into the wide ocean…”]
You may spread out and gather in as you will,
but by no means allow yourself to stray from the taiji concept.
 TAIJI’S ABOVE & BELOW, OR “SKY & GROUND”
Four techniques divide into above and below, sky and ground:
plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping each having their source [pluck & rend based in sky, elbow & bump based in ground].
When plucking and bumping are coordinated with each other,
there is no worry of above and below coming out of joint.
But if rending and elbowing are not coordinated with each other,
you will lose the relationship between sky and ground and be left with only sighs of regret.
As this explanation is clearly about the realms of sky and ground,
when advancing using elbowing or rending, return to the condition of mankind [i.e. the proper range, the balanced position, man being the middle zone between sky and ground].
 TAIJI’S EIGHT TECHNIQUES IN THE REALM OF MANKIND
This eight technique song concerns the eight trigrams with its four primary and four secondary techniques.
A mere thirteen dynamics is not a lot.
But however many there might be, if their standard is not maintained
and if the position of your waist and headtop is misplaced, you will end up sighing with woe.
The key to their being no division lies in but two words:
the “sovereign” and “subject” roles of the mind and body – ponder them carefully.
Your skill should have no division between internal and external,
and then there will be not any mistakes however many contenders you fight.
What comes out of you during a fight should be natural,
coming from such interactions as between the realms of ground and sky.
When you no longer have a problem with letting go of yourself,
there will never be hesitation as you go upward or downward, forward or back.
 TAIJI’S SUBSTANCE & APPLICATION
Principle is the substance of essence, energy, and spirit. Essence, energy, and spirit are the substance of the body. Body is mind applied. Power is the applying of body. Mind and body have a specific controller: principle. Essence, energy, and spirit also have a specific controller: heartfelt sincerity. Sincerity is the way of nature and to be sincere is the way of mankind, and neither of these ways leaves the mind for an instant.
If you understand the principle that nature and mankind are of the same substance, you will naturally grasp the solar and lunar [i.e. active and passive] flow of energy, that the energy is the flow of intention, and that spirit lies naturally hidden within principle. Then you will obtain the martial and civil aspects, and the qualities of wisdom and spirituality. In order to make use of martial arts as a means to discuss mind and body or to develop power and strength, keep it based in the Way, for this art is not only for developing skill.
Power comes from the sinews. Strength comes from the bones. Looking at it purely physically, one who has great strength is able to carry many hundreds of pounds, but this is an externally showy action of bones and joints, a stiff strength. If on the other hand the power of your whole body is used, it may appear you are unable to lift hardly any weight at all, yet there is an internal robustness of essence and energy, and once you have achieved skill, you will seem to have something more wonderful than one who has the stiff sort of strength. Thus runs the method of physical training for self-cultivation.
 TAIJI’S CIVIL & MARTIAL QUALITIES
The civil quality is the substance. The martial quality is the application. The civil training within the martial application is a matter of the essence, energy, and spirit. It is the physical cultivation. The martial training of the civil substance is a matter of mind and body. It is the martial reality. The civil and martial qualities in the training process are a matter of when to coil and when to release. This is the basis of physical cultivation. The civil and martial qualities in a fighting situation are a matter of when best to store and when best to issue. This is the foundation of martial reality.
It is said that a dose of civil in the martial makes it a softened physical exercise, the sinewy power of essence, energy, and spirit, while adding more martial to the martial would make it a hardened fighting drill, a solid effort of mind and body. The civil quality without the martial quality at the ready would be just application without substance. The martial quality without the civil quality in tandem would be substance without application. Since one piece of wood will not support a whole building, and since you cannot clap your hands with just one hand, this is not just a matter of health and fighting, but is a principle that applies to everything.
The civil quality is the inner principle. The martial quality is the outward skill. Those who have the outward skill but lack the civil principle will be consumed by reckless glory. Discarding the original purpose of the art, they will try to overpower opponents and inevitably lose. Those on the other hand who have the civil principle but lack the outward skill will be distracted by meditative expectation. They will have no idea what to do in a fight, and they will be destroyed the moment it turns chaotic. To apply this art upon an opponent, you must understand both the civil and martial qualities.
 TAIJI’S IDENTIFYING OF ENERGIES
Once you are identifying your own energies, you will be working your way toward something miraculous. Succeed at the civil aspect and then delve into the martial. There are at all times in the body seventy-two channels for passive energy [as well as seventy-two channels for active energy]. When the active aspect is balanced by the passive, water and fire are in a state of mutual benefit, skyness and groundness are at peace with each other, and the genuineness of one’s life essence is preserved.
Once you are identifying the opponent’s energies, in a state of seeing them and hearing them, you are adapting to everything you encounter, and will naturally obtain the subtlety of falseness and trueness [i.e. the manipulating of emptiness and fullness]. The postures will be performed with effortless precision and your movements will be conducted with awareness. Once at this degree of skill, everything you do will be appropriate and you will not have to put thought into what you are doing.
 ON THE THIRTEEN DYNAMICS LONG BOXING SET
In your own training of each posture, once you have learned them all, they are joined together to make a long routine, flowing on and on without interruption, one posture after another, and thus it is called Long Boxing. It is crucial for the set of postures to be performed consistently, otherwise it may after a while turn instead into either “slippery boxing” or “stiff boxing”. You assuredly must not lose your pliability, and the movement of your whole body should be grounded upon mind and spirit. After practicing over a long period of time, you will naturally have a breakthrough and attain everything you have been working toward, and nothing will be strong enough to stand up against you.
When working with a partner, the four techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, and push are the first of the thirteen dynamics to work on. Stand in one place and do the four techniques rolling in circles, then do them advancing and retreating, doing them at a middle height. Then do them higher and lower as well, practicing at all three heights. Starting with the basics, work your way through the solo set. Then begin working with the four techniques, larger gross movements at first, then focusing on the finer details until the skill of extending and contracting is fluent, and you will have ascended through the midway of attainment, and then will continue to the top.
 TAIJI’S INVERSION OF THE PASSIVE & ACTIVE ASPECTS
Examples of the active / passive:
☰ / ☷
sky / ground
sun / moon
fire / water
☲ / ☵
releasing / coiling
exiting / entering
issuing / storing
offense / defense
opening / closing
subject / sovereign
muscle / bone
the practice / the theory
the energy / the principle
body / mind
martial / civil
dedicated to / absorbed in
square / round
exhale / inhale
up / down
advance / retreat
oblique / direct
The inversion principle can be explained with water and fire. Left to their own devices, fire rises and water sinks, but if water is placed above fire then they are in an inverted state. Of course, if not done properly there would be no inverted state, [just a fire put out and some water made into steam,] and so it has to be a situation of water being put in a pot which is then positioned over a fire. When the water in the pot receives the fire’s heat, not only will it not be able to sink away, it will also absorb the fire’s heat and inevitably become warm, and although the fire is rising to the pot, it is stopped there and goes no further. By not allowing the fire to rise freely or the water to sink away, this is water and fire as in After Completion [hexagram 63 – made of water ☵ on top of fire ☲], and is the principle of inversion. If the fire is allowed to rise freely and the water to sink away, the result will of course be that the water and fire will go their separate ways as two entities, and this is water and fire as in Before Completion [hexagram 64 – made of fire ☲ on top of water ☵]. So goes the principle that in separating they become two and in joining they become one, and thus it is said that one becomes two, then two becomes one, which totals three, namely sky, ground, and mankind.
Once you understand this principle of passive and active inverting, then the Way can be discussed. Once you understand that the Way cannot be departed from for a moment, then human beings can be discussed, and it is through human beings that the Way can be glorified. Once you understand that the Way is not far away from human beings, then the universe can be discussed. It is all one entity of sky above, ground below, and mankind in the middle. If you can examine the world, and be one with the shine of the sun and moon, with the grandeur and erosion of the landscape, with the wax and wane of the seasons, with the growth and decay of plants, and come to terms with the favors and frownings of spirits, and understand the rising and declining of human affairs, then can be discussed the larger universe of skyness and groundness, and the smaller universe that is a human being.
To understand the human body and mind, study the awareness and abilities of things in Nature. Then the human awareness and abilities that come from Nature can be discussed. If you do not forget your innate talents, nor your noble energy, constantly nurturing it and never harming it, you will survive indefinitely. And so it is said that a human being is a small universe. The sky represents your nature, the ground represents your life, and your naturalness represents your spirit. If you do not understand this, how will you be a blending of sky and ground to make a third? Unless you express your nature and sustain your life, the work of spiritual enlightenment and transformation has nothing to build on and cannot come to fruition.
 THE TAIJI-NESS OF THE HUMAN BODY
The heart is in charge of the whole body, the body’s taiji [the body’s “grand polarity”, the body’s “1”].
 The eyes are the solar and lunar aspects, the “two polarities”.
 The head represents the sky and the feet represent the ground. The Renzhong acupoint [between lip and nose] represents mankind, along with the Zhongwan acupoint [solar plexus]. The three combined are the “three substances”.
 The four limbs are the “four manifestations”.
 The passive [or more solid organ] correspondences [to the five elements] within the body are: kidneys – water, heart – fire, liver – wood, lungs – metal, spleen – earth. The active [or more bag-like organ] correspondences within the body are: bladder – water, small intestine – fire, gallbladder – wood, large intestine – metal, stomach – earth. The external correspondences are: headtop – fire, jowls and Chengjiang acupoint [below the lower lip] – water, left ear – metal, right ear – wood, both sides of the “life gate” [earth]. Spirit is expressed from the heart. The eyes are the sprouts of the heart [similar to “windows to the soul”]. Essence is expressed from the kidneys. The brain and kidneys are the source of the essence. Energy is expressed from the lungs. The gallbladder energy has its source in the lungs. When the eyes see clearly, the actions of the heart make the spirit flow. When the ears hear clearly, the actions of the brain make the kidneys smooth. As breath goes in and out, what is perceived by the senses of smell and taste are: salty – water, sour – wood, spice [sweet] – earth, bitter – fire, sweet [spice] – metal. And the sounds they produce are: clear – wood, fire – hoarse, congested – metal, breathy – earth, distracted – water. The scent and taste of the air as the lungs pump it in and out, and as the wind (☴) and thunder (☳) of liver and gallbladder produce the five manners of voice, comes and goes as the five fragrances/flavors.
 Mouth, eye, nose, tongue, spirit, and intent make the six internal unions by which the six desires will be overcome. Hand, foot, shoulder, knee, elbow, and hip make the six external unions by which the six paths [front, back, left, right, up, down] will be straightened [i.e. moved toward efficiently].
 The seven external apertures are: eye, ear, nose, mouth, anus, urethra, navel. The seven internal emotions, which are governed by the heart, are: joy, rage, worry, obsessiveness, grief, fear, shock. Inside, joy is in the heart, rage is in the liver, worry is in the spleen, grief is in the lungs, fear is in the kidneys, shock is in the gallbladder, obsessiveness is in the small intestine, terror is in the bladder, anxiety is in the stomach, and pensiveness is in the large intestine.
 The internal qualities of the eight trigrams:
☲: S / Wu [noon] / fire / heart meridian
☵: N / Zi [midnight] / water / kidney meridian
☳: E / Mao [dawn] / wood / liver meridian
☱: W / You [sunset] / metal / lung meridian
☰: NW / metal / large intestine / transforming of water
☷: SW / earth / spleen / transforming of earth
☴: SE / wood / gallbladder / transforming of earth
☶: NE / earth / stomach / transforming of fire
 Externally, ☵ is 1, ☷ is 2, ☳ is 3, ☴ is 4, the center is 5, ☰ is 6, ☱ is 7, ☶ is 8, and ☲ is 9. 2 and 4 are the shoulders, 6 and 8 are the feet, at the top is 9, at the bottom is 1, on the left is 3, on the right is 7 [producing a “magic square” in which every line of three numbers – horizontal, vertical, diagonal – adds up to the same number]:
4 9 2
3 5 7
8 1 6
These are the “nine palaces” [eight trigrams plus the center]. The internal quality of the nine palaces is the same.
 The inner and outer [alignment with the ten Celestial Stems (the names of the days of the ancient ten-day week, a poetic microcosm of the agricultural process: 甲 Jia – “Seed”, 乙 Yi – “Sprout”, 丙 Bing – “Shoot”, 丁 Ding – “Ear”, 戊 Wu – “Sickle”, 己 Ji – “Bundle”, 庚 Geng – “Pestle”, 辛 Xin – “Sack”, 壬 Ren – “Haul”, 癸 Gui – “Store”. The pulse of the days is: active, passive, active, passive, the odd-numbered active days intended as being more work-oriented days and the even-numbered passive days intended as being more rest-oriented days. The order is twisted below because the pairings are presented passive/active rather than active/passive.)] runs thus:
Yi: liver and left ribs / transformed by the metal of the lungs
Jia: gallbladder / transforms the earth of the spleen
Ding: heart / transformed by the wood of the gallbladder and liver
Bing: small intestine / transforms the water of the kidneys
Ji: spleen / transformed by the earth of the stomach
Wu: stomach / transforms the fire of the heart, energy coursing through the mountain and valley of back and chest
Xin: lungs and right ribs / transformed by the water of the kidneys
Geng: large intestine / transforms the metal of the lungs
Gui: kidneys and lower body / transformed by the fire of the heart
Ren: bladder / transforms the wood of the liver
These are the internal and external qualities of the ten Celestial Stems.
The twelve Terrestrial Branches also have internal and external qualities [which for some reason are not delved into here. The Terrestrial Branches are the names of the ancient “hours” of the day: 子 Zi (11pm-1am – “Conception” – picture of a baby, representing also the new day beginning at midnight), 丑 Chou (1am-3am – “Curled Up” – in sleep), 寅 Yin (3am-5am – “Contortion” – curled up further in sleep), 卯 Mao (5am-7am – “Shutters Opening” – i.e. dawn), 辰 Chen (7am-9am – “Slight Bowing” – looking down away from the sun above the horizon), 巳 Si (9am-11am – “Deep Bowing” – slouching over in response to rising sun), 午 Wu (11am-1pm – “Oppression” – sun directly above), 未 Wei (1pm-3pm – “Short Shadow” – shadow finally moving off center), 申 Shen (3pm-5pm – “Long Shadow”), 酉 You (5pm-7pm – “Wine Withdrawn” – the wine going back into the bottle, i.e. sunset), 戌 Xu (7pm-9pm – “Depression” – woundingly missing the daylight), 亥 Hai (9pm-11pm – “Bliss” – picture of a man and woman in bed together). As a further side note, since the Celestial Stems describe an agricultural process and the Terrestrial Branches are based on the progress of the sun through the sky, the 天干地支 Celestial Stems and Terrestrial Branches probably should have been called the 地干天支 Terrestrial Stems and Celestial Branches.]
Once you are clear about this theory [that there is a taiji quality of passives and actives inherent in the body], you will then be able to talk of the methods of self-cultivation.
 TAIJI’S SEPARATION OF THE CIVIL & MARTIAL QUALITIES INTO THREE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
As far as the Way goes, without cultivating the self, there is no source from which to obtain it. It is separated into three vehicles for cultivation, “vehicle” meaning accomplishment. The greater vehicle takes you all the way to the top. The lesser vehicle gets you at least to the bottom. The middle vehicle is to succeed via sincerity. The methods are separated into three kinds of cultivation, but are working towards the same accomplishment.
Cultivation of the civil quality is internal. Cultivation of the martial quality is external. Physical training is internal. Martial affairs are external. When the cultivation methods, both internal and external, surface and interior, are merged and achieved together, this is a grand accomplishment, the top.
When one obtains the martial quality by way of the civil training or obtains the civil quality by way of the martial training, this is the middle.
When one knows only the civil training but knows nothing of the martial part of it or focuses on only the martial part of it but does not do the civil training, this is the bottom.
 TAIJI’S LESSER ACCOMPLISHMENT – ITS MARTIAL QUALITY
Taiji’s martial quality is to be outwardly soft while inwardly hard, always seeking softness. By being outwardly soft over a longer and longer period, you will naturally obtain inner hardness, so long as your mind is focused on the softness rather than the hardness. The difficulty lies in containing hardness within and not letting it expose itself, outwardly only engaging the opponent with softness. By using softness to respond to hardness, his hardness is made to dissipate until it is spent.
How is such a skill to be obtained? Once your sticking, adhering, connecting, and following are complete, you will naturally have achieved moving with awareness, and from there you will move on to identifying energies, then gain a miraculous understanding, and ultimately you will have been transformed.
As for the subtlety of four ounces moving a thousand pounds – how could you have such an ability if your skill has not reached a transformative state? Thus it is said that you are to recognize when you are connected to the opponent, and thereby obtain the art of keenly observing and listening.
 CORRECTNESS OF SKILL IN TAIJI
Taiji is round, never abandoning its roundness whether going in or out, up or down, left or right. And Taiji is square, never abandoning its squareness whether going in or out, up or down, left or right. As you roundly exit and enter, or squarely advance and retreat, follow squareness with roundness, and vice versa. Squareness has to do with expanding, roundness with contracting. [Squareness means a directional focus along which you can express your power. Roundness means an all-around buoyancy with which you can receive and neutralize the opponent’s power.]
The main rule is that you be squared and rounded. After all, could there be anything beyond these things? By means of this you will become proficient at the skill. But “gazing up, it grows higher, and drilling in, it gets harder…” [i.e. there is always more to it], so magical it is. When you look upon it at last, it hides again, revealing there is yet more subtlety to it, illumination upon illumination. It generates new features infinitely, rendering you “unable to quit even if there were the desire to do so.” [Lun Yu, 9.11]
 TAIJI’S LIGHTNESS & HEAVINESS, FLOATING & SINKING
– [1a] Both sides fully heavy [“double pressure”] is wrong. It is too full. It is different from sinking.
– [1b] Both sides fully sinking is okay. It has to do with being ready to move. It is different from heaviness.
– [1c] Both sides fully floating [“double vacuum”] is wrong. It is too empty. It is different from lightness.
– [1d] Both sides fully light is okay. It has to do with natural nimbleness. It is different from floating.
– [2a] One side under-light and one side under-heavy is okay. To underdo means one side is stable. Therefore it is okay. Since to underdo is stable, it will not lose squareness and roundness.
– [2b] One side over-light and one side over-heavy is wrong. To overdo means neither side is stable. Therefore it is wrong. Since to overdo is unstable, it will lose squareness and roundness.
– [2c] One side under-floating and one side under-sinking is wrong, for it is not enough.
– [2d] One side over-floating and one side over-sinking [is wrong, for it] is too much.
– [3a] One side under-heavy and one side over-heavy, you will be not only sluggish but also unsquared.
– [3b] One side under-light and one side over-light, you will still be nimble but you will be unrounded.
– [3c] One side under-sinking and one side over-sinking, you will still be balanced but you will be unsquared.
– [3d] One side under-floating and one side over-floating, you will be not only scattered but also unrounded.
Both sides fully light [1d] is not a matter of floating, and thus it is nimbleness. Both sides fully sinking [1b] is not a matter of heaviness, and thus it is alertness. Thus it is said: “The best technique is both light and heavy [2a], half and half, thus you will have a balanced technique.” Anything beyond these three [1b, 1d, 2a] would be wrong.
When your inner naturalness is not obscured, it can be sent outward as purified energy, flowing into your limbs. If you do not exhaustively study these aspects of technique – lightness, heaviness, floating, sinking – it would be like digging a dry well. But if you possess squareness and roundness, then warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing will all be there inside and out down to their smallest detail, and you will have attained a great achievement, and then plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping will also be squared and rounded. And so it is said: “Square but round, round but square.” Going beyond the shape [squareness OR roundness] takes you to the highest level [squareness AND roundness].
 TAIJI’S FOUR SECONDARY TECHNIQUES
The four primary techniques, aligned with the four cardinal compass points, are ward-off, rollback, press, and push. In the beginning, there will be a lack of understanding of the principle that squareness can lead to roundness and that they may alternate. Thus ability will emerge in the four secondary techniques of pluck, rend, elbow, and bump. Due to your outer limbs and inner spirit not maintaining nimbleness of squareness/roundness in the primary techniques, the mistakes of lightness, heaviness, floating, or sinking will start to manifest, and with them the secondary techniques.
For example [3a]: “One side under-heavy and one side over-heavy, you will be not only sluggish but also unsquared.” This situation will naturally lead to the secondary techniques. Or [1a]: “Both sides fully heavy… is too full.” Again the secondaries will emerge. If your technique has many flaws, you will be compelled to use the secondary techniques to make up for them in order to regain a roundness that is centered and a squareness that is squared. Even a beginner can achieve this with the techniques of elbow or bump. But one whose skill has risen to a higher level still has to maintain the techniques of pluck and rend to regain a position that is centered and squared. Therefore the purpose of the four secondary techniques is to troubleshoot the mistakes you make in those moments when your technique is performed contrary to the theory.
 THE PROPER ALIGNMENT OF WAIST & HEADTOP IN TAIJI
Your head is like a centered pole, as in “your headtop is suspended”, and with your hands making the trays to each side, your waist being the platform base, you are “standing like a scale”. Whether you receive the slightest bit of lightness or heaviness, floating or sinking, the tipping of the trays to either side will reveal all to you. With your headtop suspended and waist rooted below, you are connected from tailbone to skullbone.
Standing in a vertical line,
all depends on a horizontal rotation.
My adaptations can catch the smallest change,
and I can distinguish all measurements.
Rotating my waist,
the great flag is waved.
My mind sends the command, the energy carries the directing banners,
and I naturally move with facility.
My whole body is activated
like a toughened arhat warrior.
one will be either early or late.
Joining with the opponent, I send him away,
but it is not necessary for me to try to launch him into the stratosphere.
With an amount of power contained,
I need only express a “ha!” and he goes far enough.
But this is something that must be taught personally
in order for the door to be opened and the view to be seen.
 A TAIJI MAP OF THE FOUR SEASONS & FIVE ENERGIES [meaning the five elements]
春木噓東 ☯ 西呬金秋
S: summer / fire / “he” [scolding]
E: spring / wood / “xu” [shushing] (taiji) W: autumn / metal / “xi” [sighing]
N: winter / water / “chui” [boasting]
Center: earth / “hu-xi” [breathing]
 THE ESSENCE OF BLOOD & ENERGY IN TAIJI
Blood is for nourishment. Energy is for defense. Blood flows through muscles, tissues, and limbs. Energy flows through bones, sinews, and vessels. Healthy sinews and nails are a sign of healthy bone. Healthy scalp hair and body hair is a sign of healthy blood. When the blood is vigorous, the scalp and body hair is lush. When the energy is full, the sinews and nails are robust.
Thus the boldness and strength of the blood and energy when the blood is emphasized manifests outwardly in the robustness of the bones, skin, and hair, while the form and function of the energy and blood when the energy is emphasized manifests inwardly in the robustness of the muscles, sinews, and nails. The energy relies on the blood’s burgeoning or depleting. The blood relies on the energy’s decreasing or increasing. Decreasing then increasing, burgeoning then depleting, the cycle goes on endlessly. Make use of this your whole life and you will never be worn out.
 STRENGTH & ENERGY IN TAIJI
Energy courses through the tissues, limbs, sinews, and vessels. Strength emerges from the blood, muscles, skin, and bones. Therefore a strong person has an outer robustness to their skin and bones, a matter of posture, while an energized person has an inner robustness to their sinews and vessels, a matter of presence. Training the energy and blood with emphasis on the energy will empower the internal. Training the blood and energy with emphasis on the blood will enhance the external.
If you awaken to the functions of these two things, both the energy and the blood, you will naturally come to understand the basis of strength and energy. Understanding what strength and energy are all about, you will naturally be able to distinguish between the using of strength and the moving of energy: the moving of energy will be felt in your sinews and vessels, while the using of strength will be felt in your skin and bones – extremely different things indeed.
 TAIJI’S REDUCING MEASUREMENTS
Work first at training gross movements, then finer details. When the gross movements are obtained, then the finer movements can be talked of. When the finer movements are obtained, then measures of a foot and below can be talked of. When your skill has progressed to the level of a foot, then you can progress to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. This is what is meant by the principle of reducing measurements.
A foot has ten “inches”. An inch has ten tenths. A tenth has ten hairs. These are the measurements. It was long ago said: “Fighting is a matter of measuring.” Understanding the measurements, you can achieve the reducing of measurements. But if you want to understand the measuring, you will not be able to without the deeper teachings.
 VESSELS, CHANNELS, SINEWS, AND ACUPOINTS IN TAIJI
Controlling his vessels, seizing his channels, capturing his sinews, and sealing his acupoints – these four skills are to be worked toward after you are able to measure down from the level of a foot to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. When his vessels are controlled, his blood will not circulate. When his channels are seized, his energy will not move. When his sinews are captured, his body will have no control. When his acupoints are sealed, he will lose consciousness.
By controlling certain vessels, he will seem half dead. By seizing certain channels, he will seem fully dead. By capturing certain sinews, his power will be cut off. By sealing the lethal acupoints, he will not survive. Basically, if he is without energy, blood, or spirit, how will he have any control over his body? However, even if you have ability in the skills of control, seize, capture, and seal, these particular effects will not work without specific instruction in them.
 SOME OF THE TERMS IN TAIJI
Applying to either yourself or the opponent: file, knead, punch, strike, push down, rub in, push out, seize, spread, merge, ascend, descend. These twelve terms are all techniques.
Applying to either yourself or the opponent: bending, extending, movement, stillness, rising, falling, quick, leisurely, evade, counter, incite, conclude. These twelve terms apply to your own energy in relation to the opponent’s techniques.
Applying to your own body in relation to the opponent’s stepping: turn, switch, advance, retreat. Applying to your own gaze in relation to the opponent’s techniques: look left, look right, look forward, look behind. These eight terms have to do with your spirit.
These four terms have to with intention and power: disconnecting, connecting, bowing forward, yawning backward. Disconnecting and connecting have to do with your spirit and energy. Bowing forward and yawning back have to do with your hands and feet. The power may disconnect, but the intention does not. If the intention disconnects, the spirit can stay connected. If the power, intention, and spirit disconnect together, there will be bowing forward or yawning back, your hands and feet not touching or landing where they would have. To bow forward is to end up cracking your head. To yawn backward is to end up toppling over. To keep yourself from cracking your head or toppling over, you must disconnect then reconnect. Bowing forward and yawning backward are important things to consider in fighting. At no moment allow there to be in mind, body, hand, or foot a disconnection without reconnecting, and then you will prevent bowing forward or yawning back.
Seeking for the skills of disconnecting and connecting will not work without seeing what is concealed and revealing what is subtle. With concealment and subtlety, it is like you have disconnected but not disconnected. With seeing and revealing, it is like you have connected but not connected. By connecting and disconnecting, disconnecting and connecting, in mind, body, and spirit, you will ultimately be concealing and revealing, and then you will have no worry that you are not sticking, adhering, connecting, and following.
 TAIJI’S REDUCING OF MEASUREMENTS IN THE CONTEXT OF CONTROLLING, SEIZING, CAPTURING, OR SEALING
When in your fighting skill you have obtained the sense of a foot, an inch, a tenth of an inch, and the width of a hair, you can then estimate the opponent. Regardless of any ease you may have with the techniques of controlling, seizing, capturing, and sealing, in order to control his vessels, seize his channels, capture his sinews, and seal his acupoints, you must make estimations of a foot, an inch, a tenth of an inch, and the width of a hair.
To control without estimation, his vessels can be obtained through pushing down. To seize without estimation, his channels can be obtained through rubbing in. To capture without estimation, his sinews can be obtained through pushing out. But as for sealing, without estimation his acupoints cannot be reached, because [to get to his acupoints] you have to work your way down from the level of a foot to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. For these four skills, even if you receive instruction from an expert, you will not be able to master them unless you personally put a lot of work into them over a long period.
 TAIJI’S BOOSTING OR DISSIPATING ENERGY & STRENGTH
There is difficulty in boosting or dissipating your own energy and strength. There is also difficulty in boosting or dissipating the energy and strength of the opponent. When your awareness is insufficient, boost [your energy]. When your movement is overdone, dissipate [your strength]. These are things that are not easy matters when it comes to yourself.
When the opponent has too much energy, boost it. When he has too much strength, dissipate it. By this means, you will win and he will lose. Or you may when he has too much energy, dissipate it, or when he has too much strength, boost it. The principle is the same in either case, and yet to elaborate further: if he has too much [of either], add more so that he is overdoing, or if he has too little [of either], dissipate it further so that in his insufficiency he adds more and again ends up overdoing. Both boosting his energy and dissipating his strength induce him to overdo it. Boosting his energy is called the method of “tying up his energy”. Dissipating his strength is called the method of “emptying his strength”.
[i] TAIJI’S EMPTYING, TYING UP, FILING, AND KNEADING
To empty or tie up by way of filing is different from emptying or tying up by way of kneading. Emptying by way of filing, the opponent’s strength is boxed in. Tying up by way of filing, his energy is interrupted. Emptying by way of kneading, his strength is spread out. Tying up by way of kneading, his energy is boxed in.
If you apply the tying & kneading filing, then his energy and strength will be reversed. If you apply the emptying & kneading filing, then his energy and strength will fail. If you apply the tying & filing kneading, his strength will build up from his energy until his strength is greater than his energy. If you apply the emptying & filing kneading, his energy will build up from his strength, making his energy overloaded and his strength insufficient.
The filing & tying kneading and the kneading & tying filing will both result in his energy getting sealed off by his strength. The filing & emptying kneading and the kneading & emptying filing will both result in his strength being chiseled away by his energy. Basically, methods such as tying up by way of filing or emptying by way of kneading all require that you work your way down from measurements of a foot, to an inch, to a tenth of an inch, to the width of a hair. If not, there will be no occasion of filing or kneading and a flattened out void for emptying or tying, for they will not be gotten from anywhere.
[ii] BEFORE IDENTIFYING ENERGIES AND AFTER
Before you are identifying energies, you will typically be making the mistakes of crashing in, collapsing, coming away, and resistance. Once you are identifying energies, you will perhaps still make the mistakes of disconnecting, connecting, bowing forward, and yawning back. Before you are indentifying energies, it is natural to be making mistakes, but even after you are identifying energies, there are reasons as to why there are still mistakes to be made. When in that vague zone of almost but not quite indentifying energies, there is a lack of precision in disconnecting and connecting, hence there will be mistakes. And then when almost but not quite at the level of the miraculous, bowing forward and yawning back may still not be entirely under control, again resulting in mistakes.
As long as you are not making the mistakes of disconnecting, connecting, bowing forward, or yawning back, you are doing it right, for if your identifying of energies is not genuine, you would not able to prevent such mistakes. What does it mean for it to be genuine? Simply that a sensory foundation must be laid to build it up into a reality. Be aware through observing: there is looking forward, looking behind, looking left, looking right. Be aware through listening: there is rising, falling, quickness, leisure. Be aware through feeling: there is evading, countering, inciting, concluding. Be aware through acting: there is turning, switching, advancing, retreating. In this way, your identifying of energies will be genuine.
You will then be able to reach the level of the miraculous, and this is because there is a foundation, the foundation being the identifying of energies. The subtleties of bending, extending, movement, and stillness are automatically built upon that foundation. Then spreading, merging, ascending, and descending are in turn built upon bending, extending, movement, and stillness. By way of bending and extending, movement and stillness, spread his attack aside when you see him enter, then merge with him as he tries to exit. Descend when you see his attack come in, then ascend as he withdraws.
Once your genuineness in identifying energies reaches all the way to the point of the miraculous, at such a level you will thereafter be mindful in every activity – whether it be walking, sitting, lying down, running, eating, drinking, or even going to the bathroom. By this means, your achievement will go from middling to great.
[iii] REDUCING MEASUREMENTS AFTER IDENTIFYING ENERGIES
If you strive for the reducing of measurements before identifying energies, yours will amount to a small achievement and be but a smattering of martial skill. You will not be able to estimate the opponent even at the level of a foot before you are identifying energies. After you have achieved identifying energies, you will have a miraculous understanding, and you will automatically have the ability to reduce measurements. From there you will then be able to control, seize, capture, and seal.
To understand the theory of vessels, channels, sinews, and acupoints, it is necessary to be clear about which techniques will save or kill. To understand the techniques that will save or kill, it is necessary to be clear about the acupoints for life and death. In the acupoint art, how could you go without knowing them [seeing as not knowing them might result in killing someone by mistake]? To know how to activate the life and death acupoints, it is necessary to be clear about the technique of sealing. Sealing is what determines both life and death.
[iv] THE FINGERS, PALM, FIST, AND HAND IN TAIJI
The “palm” is the area of the hand below the fingers and above the wrist. The “hand” refers to the whole thing up to the fingertips. A “finger” refers to any of the five fingers. A “fist” is when the five fingers are clasped inward to emphasize the back of the hand. Palm techniques are matters of pushing down and pushing out. Finger techniques are matters of seizing, kneading, capturing, and sealing. Hand techniques are matters of filing and rubbing. Fist techniques are matters of striking.
Fist techniques: Parry & Block, Punch to the Crotch, Under the Elbow, Torso-Flung Punch, and beyond these four there is also the Overturned Punch. Palm techniques: Brush the Knee, Exchanging Palms, Single Whip, Through the Back, and beyond these four there is also the Threading Palm. Hand techniques: Clouding Hands, Raising Hand, Seizing Hand, Crossed Hands, and beyond these four there is also the Reversing Hand. Finger techniques: bending, extending, pinching, sealing, and beyond these four there is also estimating, which is also called “reducing measurements” or “seeking acupoints”. The five fingers also have five-fingered functions, operating as a whole hand as well as individual fingers, and so these can be termed as either hand or finger techniques: corkscrewing, planting, curling, or closing inward, and beyond these four hand/finger techniques, there is also “standing alone”.
The forefinger is the impatient finger, sword finger, assisting finger, or sticking finger. The middle finger is the central finger, closing finger, hooking finger, or smearing finger. The ring finger is the completing finger, surrounding finger, exchanging finger, or covering finger. The little finger is the helping finger, healing finger, enticing finger, or hanging finger. Though the names of these techniques are easy to comprehend, they are difficult to apply, even with personal instruction in the deeper methods.
Supplementary palm techniques: Palms Facing Each Other, Push the Mountain, Shoot the Goose, Spreading Wings. Supplementary finger techniques: Sealing Shut, Jab in a Crossed Stance, Bending the Bow, Working the Shuttles. Supplementary hand techniques: Reaching Out to the Horse, Bending the Bow, Capturing the Tiger, Maiden’s Hands, Sitting Tiger Hands. Supplementary fist techniques: Punch Through the Mountain, Punch Under the Leaf, Turning Behind Punch, Momentum-Splitting Punch, Wrap & File Punch.
A further supplementary layer is that your steps are to go along with your body’s changes and are never to perform a step unassociated with the five elements, and thus you will be free from making mistakes. Because of the principle of sticking, connecting, adhering, and following, as well as letting go of yourself to follow the opponent, your body in turn will go along with your stepping, and as long as you remain true to the five elements, there will be such a naturalness to your posture and steps that it will not matter even if you do make some mistakes here and there.
[v] ON PERSONAL INSTRUCTION IN THE ACUPOINTS THAT SAVE OR KILL
There are acupoints that save and acupoints that kill. They cannot be learned without personal instruction. Here are three reasons why: because of how difficult they are to learn, the fact that they are a matter of life and death, and the degree of a person’s talent. There are eight kinds of people not to be taught:
1. the disloyal and unfilial,
2. those who are fundamentally unkind,
3. those with crooked intentions,
4. those who are rude and reckless,
5. those who think themselves superior to others,
6. those who care more about rules than they do about people,
7. those who are fickle,
8. those who will have an easy time picking it up and then just as easily discard it.
It must be understood that these eight people are not to be taught. Criminals of course do not deserve to be considered at all. As for those who may be taught, they are eligible to be given personal instruction in its secrets. There are five kinds who may be taught:
 those who are loyal, filial, and gracious,
 those with a mild temperament,
 those who will hold to the method and not discard it,
 those who will be true to the teacher,
 those who will complete the study as ardent as when they started.
These types will be resolved to complete the study without having doubts and can be shown the whole thing, and what will be given to the pupil is illumination. It goes from those who already know it to those who will know it, the torch being passed down through generations, always by this process. But what a shame it is that of those who know martial arts, some turn out to be criminals.
[vi] WHAT ZHANG SANFENG INHERITED
“The sky and the ground made the world.
Fu Xi was the progenitor of mankind.
He drew the trigrams and declared the Way
for Emperor Yao and Emperor Shun, and for sixteen generations on.
The most mysterious of pinnacles have consented access
to the most dedicated, such as Confucius and Mengzi.
The skill of spirit transmuting the life-force
went down through seventy-two sages to King Wen and King Wu.
“Instruction has come to me
by way of the writings of Xu Xuanping.
The medicine to bring about longevity lies within ourselves,
in the perfection of our original state being revived. [Basically, live every day as though it’s your first, a lesson that could have been learned from pretty much any Daoist poet.]
Your natural self can empower and enlighten.
The truth when expressed can fulfill you in spirit and body.
With countless repetitions, chant of lengthening the springtime.
Heartfelt sincerity will have a real effect.
“The three doctrines [Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism] are not different schools,
for all that each of them discuss is a matter of the Grand Polarity
which runs through everything,
centered and everlasting.
The ancient wisdom is always with us,
constantly inspiring new students to learn.
When water and fire cooperate [as in hexagram 63 – water above, fire below, leading to a heated cooking pot, as opposed to hexagram 64 – fire above, water below, an absence of interaction which produces nothing],
our goals are able to come to fruition.” [The metaphor in this last statement is that ancient knowledge is the fire and the act of learning from it is the water being brought to a boil.]
[vii] THE TEACHINGS OF ZHANG SANFENG
“I understand the idea that the three doctrines are basically the same: they are each a study of life, each take the mind to be controller of the body, and are purposed to maintain mind and body, to bring longevity to essence, energy, and spirit. With essence, energy, and spirit, we can be calmly civil and boldly martial. Calm and bold, civil and martial – as these things are expanded and have a transformative effect, there will come wisdom and spirituality. The earliest discoverers of this found their way into truth and then took it to another level. Later students then imitate what they did in order to achieve their awareness. Such awareness is innate in everyone, but to get at what they were doing, it is nevertheless necessary to follow in their footsteps. Civil and martial are inherent to human ability. The seeing of eyes and hearing of ears are inherently civil while the dancing of hands and prancing of feet are inherently martial, and so both aspects are clearly inherent. Having achieved the layers of civil, martial, wisdom, and spirituality, the forefathers advanced the teaching of self-cultivation by way of physical training, though not by way of martial arts.
“When the teachings reached me, I grasped the receive/oppose [counterbalancing] nature of the dancing prancing, in which the passive aspect of the other person’s body is borrowed to build up the active aspect in one’s own. The active aspect is the masculine quality. The passive aspect is the feminine quality. The body has both qualities. While the maleness is active and the femaleness is passive, the femaleness receives the active aspect to counter her own passive aspect [as the maleness receives the passive aspect to counter his own active aspect]. Thereby the active [or passive] returns to its initial state [of being in balance with the other]. The passive feminine aspect within the body means more than a young woman being developed enough to become pregnant. There are countless ways in which a woman may enact counterbalancing, and this is not about the bodies of men and women being somehow corrected. It is said that taking advantage of the skyness and groundness in one’s own body is what makes the counterbalancing of the passive and active aspects. This means that a man may make use of the passive aspect of his masculine side as a way to counter his own feminine quality. [However, this work of balancing the masculine and feminine qualities within oneself] is not as efficient as the self-cultivation of two partners making use of their masculine quality to work at balancing their passive and active aspects [through the constant exchanging of passive and active roles during the pushing hands exercises].
“Seeing as I have placed these teachings into a martial context, martial arts must not be viewed as something trivial, but as a part of physical education, a method of self-cultivation, a practice of life-enhancement, a category of wisdom and spirituality. The work of counterbalancing between two partners is no different in principle from the counterbalancing within your own body, but when working with a partner, it is like counterbalancing between mercury and lead. [In the context of two partners pushing hands, the role of the attacker is solid and heavy, like lead, while the defender is fluid and yielding, like mercury.] When fighting, the four primary techniques are a matter of active opposing passive, while the four secondary techniques are a matter of passive receiving active. The eight trigrams supply the eight techniques. The body and feet stand centered. To advance is to oppose actively. To retreat is to receive passively. To step to the left is to receive actively. To step to the right is to oppose passively. The five elements supply the five steps. Combined, they are the eight techniques and five steps.
“These teachings of mine you may make use of for your entire life and yet never be able to use them up. What I have gained and am passing down is to be taught as a martial art of self-cultivation. As to the method of cultivating the self, it does not matter if it is approached by martial or civil means, for the achievement is the same. The three doctrines, at any of the three levels [greater, middle, lesser], are all inescapably based in the concept of the grand polarity. I wish for the next generation of students to examine the theory in the Book of Changes within themselves and that it be continued by succeeding generations. That would be a good thing.”
[viii] ZHANG SANFENG ON USING MARTIAL ARTS TO ACHIEVE THE WAY
“Before there was the universe, there was the principle which governs the passive and active energies. This governing principle by which the universe exists is the core of the Way, and the way these energies flow is in the manner of complementary opposites. For passive and active to oppose and yet complement each other is a mathematical principle: to be [zeroed out in a half-and-half state of] one part passive and one part active is the Way. ‘The Way that cannot be described is the origin of the universe itself. The Way that can be described is the source of all things within the universe. [Daodejing, chapter 1]’ Before the universe existed, there was merely nothingness, and thus nothing to be described. Once the universe existed, there was finally somethingness, and thus things to be described. Before the universe existed, there awaited the principle of existence. Once the universe came into being, there was then the creative principle.
“Pre-beginning, it was the principle of existence that brought about the balanced passive and active energies. Post-beginning, the creative principle then gave rise to the ways of coming into being: gestation in a womb, hatching from an egg, spontaneous generation from water, and metamorphosis. The Way is the way of neutrality, nourishing all things by being in a balanced position between skyness and groundness. The sky and ground are your greater parents, of the pre-beginning. Your mother and father are your lesser parents, of the post-beginning. When we are born, we are the recipients of the energies of passive and active, of pre-beginning and post-beginning, and on such a basis we begin. When we are born, we are given by our greater parents our life-force and disposition, and are endowed with reason. From our lesser parents come our physical essence, blood, and bones. By the merging of the life-force and body of the pre-beginning and post-beginning, we each then become a person. For us to align with the sky and ground, taking our place as one of the three substances, we cannot ignore our fundamental origin [as a product of both].
“As long as we are able to follow our nature, we will not lose touch with our origin. By not forgetting where we come from, we will not lose touch with where we are headed, for if you want to know where you are going, you must first know where you are coming from. With our origin mapped out, our way ahead is a clear route that will be traversed by way of instinct. We all, whether smart or stupid, worthy or worthless, have an instinctive awareness that will point us to the Way. If we cultivate the Way, we will be able to know our origin and can fulfill our destiny. To know our origin and fulfill our destiny lies in being able to cultivate the self. Thus it is said [in the Da Xue]: ‘From king to commoner, it all comes down to self-cultivation.’ The way to cultivate the self is through instinctive understanding and ability: eyes keenly seeing and ears acutely hearing, hands dancing and feet prancing, martiality and civility. ‘Broaden your understanding by studying things deeply, thereby improving your intellect and smoothing your emotions.’
“Since mind is in charge of body, the intellect should be improved and the emotions smoothed in order for the feet to perform the five steps and the hands to perform the eight techniques. The hands and feet amount to four, and they can be used in such a variety of ways, but instinct is able to retrieve their basic state [of unity]. The eyes see as a union of three [what the left eye sees, what the right eye sees, what both eyes see by triangulating together] and the ears hear along the six paths. The eyes and ears amount to four, but within they function as one, instinct again regaining the basic state. Ears, eyes, hands, and feet – they each are divided into two, making two polarities, but each functioning as a unity, totaling a grand polarity.
“Gathering inward from without, expressing outward from within, all of it in this way can be reached, inside and out, specifically and in general, all understood thoroughly, and we will naturally attain the hoped-for achievements of the worthies and sages, their vision and knowledge, their wisdom and spirituality. This is what they meant by fulfilling one’s nature and facing one’s destiny, taking spirit as far as it will go and thereby causing transformation. The way of both Nature and mankind is sincerity and nothing more.”
– – –
[*Survey of Textual Variations (Wu document left side / Yang document right side):
Harmless character variants:
section 5 – 斷 / 断
7 – 淂 / 得
10 – 淂 / 得
13 – 淂 / 得
15 – 得 / 淂
21 – 顕 / 顯
23 – 缉 / 緝
24 – 憑 / 凴
30 – 顯 / 顕
ii – 淂 / 得 ; 也 / 矣
iv – 淂 / 得
vii – 淂 / 得 ; 淂 / 得 ; 淂 / 得 ; 之 / 者 ; 淂 / 得
Flipped words (one occasion in each document):
24 – 絲毫 / 毫絲
vi – 濟既 / 既濟
Missing words (one occasion in Wu document, seven occasions in Yang document):
1 – 五行者 / 五行
2 – 淂之 / 淂
13 – 淂矣 / 得
19 – 得成 / 得
22 – 半重偏 / 半重偏重
ii – 緣勁 / 勁
iv – 如對掌 / 對掌
vii – 補助身 / 補助
There are also two occasions in Yang document of missing character components:
17 – 悠久 / 攸久
25 – 呬 / 四
As for accidentally added words, there is one occasion in Wu document:
22 – 除除 / 除
In section 30, 於己人 is expanded in Yang document to 於己於人 five times, indicating deliberate addition in Yang document rather than absent-mindedness in this section of Wu document.
Mistaken words (one occasion in Wu document, ten occasions in Yang document):
3 – 知 / 覺
5 – 匾 / 區
18 – 亮 / 毫
23 – 使 / 始
24 – 囟門 / 匃門 ; 云 / 去
32 – 一然 / 亦然
iii – 末 / 未
vi – 戌 / 戍
viii – 壹 / 一 ; 手 / 乎 ]
Reference: EXPLAINING TAIJI PRINCIPLES (TAIJI FA SHUO) with an introduction and pictures of the original manuscript.
Systema Israel youtube.com
Step One: The Push Hands System of Awareness Energy
From the preceding account of the skillful practice of the set, you have arrived at the level of Push hands. Awareness energy is acquired through the practice of Push hands. Two people must practice this together, and this practice is very important. If your Push hands opponent does not have a high level of skill, then you will fall into bad habits. Get the best-qualified Push hands opponent in order to mutually refine and polish this art. Then you will move on to the higher level of the method.
You must practice Push hands in accordance with the sphere of the T’ai Chi boxing books or you should not Push hands. You cannot get this from drawings or photos. If you try to learnPush hands from pictures or an unqualified opponent, you will develop the defect of slipping hands, and the technique will not be effective. The rules for Push hands practice follow:
T’ai Chi theory says that T’ai Chi was born from Wu Chi, and Wu Chi is the mother of Yin and Yang. When there is movement, Yin and Yang separate, and in stillness they recombine. Theory also says that this subtle reasoning is the foundation of T’ai Chi boxing. The idea is to contain stillness inside. If the Ch’i is peaceful and harmonious, then you can distinguish the opponent’s energy. In stillness there is movement, then you can transfer the refined Ch’i to spirit and change the opponent’s energy.
With movement, the Yin and Yang are separated. This is called opening, and it is outward drawing of silk; it is attack. When you are still and the Yin and Yang are combined, this is inward drawing of silk; it is defense. In all of the T’ai Chi movements, don’t forget these two functions. In the use of opening and closing the body, you must implement the achievement of Yin and Yang. Inside you contain empty, solid, receiving, and releasing. One arrives at the level of using tension and relaxation. The two must strive to be corresponding and then you can change in any direction. If you do not fully understand Yin and Yang, regardless of how clever you are, it is of no use in this skill. The T’ai Chi is born of two ideas. Only if you adhere to the above category can you attain the function of Yin and Yang. Never be without this principle.
2. Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow
Boxing theory says that you must utilize the movement of Yin and Yang. Use the opponent’s posture to follow his form, and use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time. Then the light can overcome the heavy. It’s all in the timing. The term “ not arrive” means to get rid of defects. When you “arrive” you have sticking energy.
The term “ not passing” refers to having light energy. To “follow the bent” is moving energy. If you cannot bend, then you have the defect of stiffness. To “follow the stretched” is following energy. If you expand to excess, then there is the defect of resistance. These four uses of energy are only learned through the practice of Push hands. There is no other way to get the actual use. You must complement these skills with the qualities of categories three and four, below.
3. Hard and Soft
Shifting between hard and soft smoothly and easily. T’ai Chi theory says that if an opponent is hard, I am soft. This is called evading. I follow the opponent’s back and it is called adhering. When his strength comes toward me, I respond softly. Soft and hard dwell together. During soft energy you must especially conceal Peng ching. Don’t forget the top of the head, then you can evade. If you are soft without Peng ching and attempt to become hard, the movements will be stiff. This cannot be called evading. If you can change from hard to soft in a smooth and easy manner, you can limit someone who is not smooth and easy. The person is drained of his power. To adhere is to attack; it is hard. Evading is the defense; it is soft.
Evading is called draining energy, and adhering is called replenishing energy. When a man possesses this adhering and evading energy, then he can regulate the opponent’s energy. After the skill of adhering and evading is acquired, the opponent’s energy can be felt or intuited.
4. Quick, Slow, Adhering, and Evading
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that when the movement is quick, then respond quickly. If the movement is slow, then slowly follow. Although you use evading to draw someone in, adhering is used to break the opponent’s root or balance. The opponent’s motion must be followed whether it is fast or slow.
So, if the movement is fast, then respond fast. If the movement is slow, then slowly follow. When you have this achievement of responding with the appropriate speed, the quick and slow support each other. This is the way to feel the opponent’s changes between motion and stillness. Examine these four categories when you practice. If you are not in the habit of using Open, Close, Yin, and Yang to move energy, then you can’t judge the degree of fast and slow motion because you have not learned to distinguish the hard and soft. When you Push hands, also pay attention to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, and the smooth and easy change from soft to hard. How can you expect to correctly use T’ai Chi boxing if you can’t distinguish Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, or if you don’t get the essence of Adhere and Evade?
In order to receive this awareness energy, you must do what is required, which is to Push hands for along period of time and gain deep experience. Afterwards, the real Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow can beborn. This is learning T’ai Chi boxing. You cannot excel without this stage of practice. Although the category of Adhere and Evade has many facets and complications, the principle is as stated. You must Push hands to maturity and gradually comprehend this awareness energy. From this awareness energy you can attain the class of the Gods. To avoid using strength takes a long time, and it is not possible to understand it suddenly. This is to learn Push hands, and the process of learning awareness energy. Study and research the above four steps.
I. Do you have opening and closing energy in all of your movements? Do you have outward and inward drawing of silk?
2. Are Yin and Yang clearly distinguished in all move‐ ments? Are empty and solid clearly distinguished?
3. Do you have fast and slow power in all movements? Can you move between fast and slow smoothly and easily?
Step Two: The Posture and Force of Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that empty and solid energy are also at the top of the head. You must have lightness and dexterity in order to utilize Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow. After achieving lightness, you can know the heavy. The energy of the top of the head is empty and suspended. It is said that the top of the head has Peng ching. This is when the spirit of vitality‘is aroused. Then you won’t have to worry about being slow or heavy, and the changes will benatural and lively.
Boxing theory says that the Ch’i sinks to the Tan T’ien. In order to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, you must have the ability to sink. After sinking is understood, you can overcome opponents and not be overcome. Make the Ch’i sink to the Tan T’ien. This is the power of lower Peng ching. The mind moves the Ch’i, then you must sink and get the Ch’i to penetrate into the bones. Then when you push hands, you won’t just be blown by the Wind.
3. Upright and not leaning
Boxing theory says that to achieve this Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow you must not lean or incline. Your body must have the power of being upright, then you can sustain anattack from any direction. This upright body will provide you with a good position, enabling you to deal with all circumstances. This way a rigid posture won’t be your downfall.
4. Don’t lean on, don’t sink into
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that if you want to Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow it is harmful to lean against an opponent’s body or allow him to lean against you. This is important in learning awareness energy. Also, if the body rises up , then the root is broken. So you draw in the opponent but do not let him lean.
T’ai Chi boxing theory says “suddenly conceal, suddenly manifest.” In order to use Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow, you must have the power of dexterity and liveliness. When you conceal you are soft and light. When you manifest you are hard and sinking. You can interchange soft and hard, lightness and sinking. Your dexterity is rapid. Opponents can’t measure you, yet it is extremely easy to understand their methods.
The above five categories must beunderstood. Relaxation and tension are only focused on one thing at a time. Later, the two I shoulders will each have a different purpose at the same time. If the left is heavy, then the right is light. If the right is heavy, then the left is light. This is the power of dexterity. If the opponent leans back, then you adhere high. If he leans towards you, then stick deep. If the opponent enters, then make the connection long. If he retreats, then closely follow. Attain this power. This is the consciousness of dexterity. A feather cannot be added without the body coming to life. Even a fly landing on the body will set it in motion.
Boxing theory also says that “Men do not know me, I alone know men.” A hero is without peer because of this, because of learning Push hands. Study and research this second step.
I. Does the dexterity rise to the top? Is the t o p suspended? 2. Is the Ch’i sunk to the Tan T’ien?
3. Is the body upright and n o t leaning?
4. Is there the defect of leaning against the opponent?
5. Is there a smooth and easy transfer from hard to soft? From lightness to sinking?
If you have the above categories mastered without defects, then you have the proper posture of Push hands. You can say that you have the spirit of vitality. Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow. Don’t worry if this achievement does not happen right away. Seek out the awareness energy and you can prevail over other systems.
Step Three: Seeking Awareness Energy in Push Hands
T’ai Chi boxing theory says that in order to seek out awareness energy, the body must stand like a scale. The top of the head is the top of the scale. The two hands at the left and right are the weighing plates. The two shoulders linked together form the scale’s horizontal beam. The waist is the scale’s root and the sacrum is the base of the upright post, threaded from the sacrum to the top of the head in a straight line. When the body stands like a scale, it can weigh the opponent’s energy‐whether it is great or small, light or heavy, rising or sinking. Everything is manifested in this scale. This is called the light and heavy method of awareness energy.
2. Neutralizing energy
T’ai Chi boxing theory says be lively like a wheel. Seek awareness energy. Although the body is like a scale, the wheel still needs to be installed. You need to think of measuring an opponent yet not being measured. You must measure and follow. The Ch’i must move the wheel. The waist is the axle, the two shoulders joined together wait, and the wheel moves horizontally side to side. The wheel moves in an erect position. One touch from any direction and it turns. This is how to get the measurement. This is called the directional method of awareness energy.
3. Pulling and attracting
T’ai Chi boxingtheory says to sink to one side and follow. If your body is double-weighted, then it is impeded. Use awareness energy to know the opponent’s direction – whether it is coming or going, or whether it is light or heavy, and to what degree. If you can do this, then you have the method of awareness energy. The body stands like a scale, not leaning. Also, it is lively like a wheel.
If the opponent adds strength in any direction, then you feel the sinking of your weight on one side in the direction of the movement. This is to “sacrifice yourself to follow the opponent.” If the energy comes in, then the wheel revolves and you can draw in the opponent. If the energy goes away from you, then pull and four ounces can topple a thousand pounds. This pulling energy is very important in learning Push hands. The parent of pulling energy is the power of sinking on one side. If the opponent adds strength, you must adjust the sinking on that side. Then the body can revolve. This action of the wheel is hidden in the sinking of one side of your body. This hidden and uneven sinking can be to the left, right, up, down, front, or back, and the wheel will drag as it revolves. If you try to form the wheel at the left, right, front, or back with equal weight on both feet, you will have the defect of double-weightedness. Equal weight will impede the wheel and the body won’t be able to move. If you lean past the balance point, the wheel will be toppled. You can measure another’s energy level by this sinking on one side. Note that this is a hidden leaning.
The above three categories comprise the method of awareness energy. The body must be like a scale and a wheel simultaneously. The pulling action lends impetus to the movements. Boxing classics say that you may study for many years to gain this awareness and power, but if you have not corrected the defect of double‐weightedness, you still cannot prevail over an opponent. To avoid this defect you must know Yin and Yang as well as the dexterity, solidity, lightness, and sinking, and the theory of reversal. You also must know how to adhere and evade. The hard and soft changes must be smooth and easy. When you have mastered these flowing changes, then adhering is evading and evading is adhering. Yin does not leave Yang, and Yang does not leave Yin. Evading and adhering are actually one response. Yin and Yang are combined. This is called awareness energy. When awareness energy is understood, the more you practice, the more refined you become. Gradually you can do what you intend.
Learn the steps of Push hands and study the following:
I. Does the scale feel the strength and weakness of the opponent? Can you distinguish it inside?
2. Outside, you have the wheel’s rubber band; inside, is the degree of Ch’i enough?
3. When pulling, does it follow your intentions? Is it lively when changing from light to sinking?
4. Is your mental concentration good? Is dexterity never awkward or forced?
If you can answer yes to the above and fulfill the requirements of high-quality T’ai Chi, then you have the achievement of awareness energy. From this you can be sure of success. When this energy is understood, the body can follow in any direction that is required. You can strike without effort. From awareness energy alone it becomes possible to “sacrifice yourself to follow others.”
When following others, you are in control, but if you follow blindly it has no effect.When following there must be a fixed spot to follow. Following can’t be effected without knowledge. Respond from the nearest point to yourself and adhere. After you adhere to this point you turn and there is no escape for the opponent. Then follow, and regardless of how the opponent changes, adhere to this point’s center of gravity. Follow one point not two . Follow closely, because if you do your body can become a lever. Then it is easy to get the opportunity and position of boxing. If one point is followed, then you won’t grasp at shadows and miss the opponent. This is to seek awareness energy. This is understood from paying proper attention to adhere and evade. Most men can’t function close in. T’ai Chi boxing theory says the foundation of this boxing method is to sacrifice yourself to follow the opponent. This is the ultimate conclusion of the T’ai Chi boxing theory. Learn to respond with extreme attention and focus. When you practice ask yourself questions and discern the answers.
For reference, the study of the above three steps is for Push hands. Study and research these main points as the foundation of this exercise. It is imperative that you know Adhere, Stick, Connect, and Follow without the defect of leaning or inclining. If you fall short in any way, the movements are less than skillful.
Reference: The Tai Chi Boxing Chronicle by Kuo Lien-Ying p. 33 – 42
Sam F.S. Chin talks about the Philosophy of his “I Liq Chuan” system
Reference: I Liq Chuan
with Robert Peng
Kidney Regulation Exercise
Functions: Regulates the blood and of the Kidney Channel, nourishes the kidneys, strengthens Yang (vital function), and invigorates primordial energy. Methods
1. Taking Black Qi. Assume a standing, sitting, or lying posture and relax. Place the tongue against the palate and expel distractions. Tap the upper and lower teeth together 36 times, and stir the resulting saliva with the tongue. After tapping, swallow the saliva in three segments sending each one down to the Dantian. Imagine the color black. Inhale it nasally and fill the mouth with it. Send it slowly to the kidneys during expiration. Repeat this 6–12 times. Resume starting posture to complete exercise.
2. Rubbing the Abdomen and “Chui.” Stand or sit, place one hand against the lower abdomen, and inhale slowly. Utter “Chui” when exhaling and stroke the lower abdomen with the palm simultaneously. Repeat this for 10 or 20 respiratory cycles.
3. Strengthening the Kidney and Guiding Qi. Stand erect, make hollow fists and apply them against the soft parts at the sides of the waist (the kidney area). Turn the waist counterclockwise and clockwise for 6 times in each direction.
4. Rubbing the Renal Regions. Stand or sit, put the two hands on the sides of the waist, and then rub the entire area 36 times while concentrating the mind on the waist.
The Kidney Regulation Exercise is used for health preservation and for the prevention and treatment of pain along the spinal column, tinnitus, deafness, frequent urination, aversion to cold, and coldness or dampness of the genitals. It is also used to treat nephritis, neurosis, and cystitis. Those with kidney deficiency may practice Taking Black Qi. Rubbing the Abdomen and “Chui” may be practiced by those with dampness and itching of the genitals due to dampness and heat of the lower Jiao (Xiajiao lower portion of the body cavity). The exercise can be performed with emphasis on Strengthening the Kidney and Guiding Qi to treat syndromes of both deficiency and excess types. For the middle aged and older people, frequent practice of Rubbing the Kidney will help to invigorate Yang and strengthen the kidneys. Strengthening the Kidney and Guiding Qi and Rubbing the Kidney are also suitable for those with deficiency of Kidney Yang manifested by pain and weakness of the waist, spermatorrhea and impotence.
Points for Attention
Practice the exercise once in the morning and once in the evening or up to 4 times a day. Lead a balanced life with moderate sexual activity. Young people should avoid masturbation so as to cure seminal or involuntary emission.
Reference: Qigong for Treating Common Ailments: The Essential Guide to Self Healing by Xu Xiangcai p. 44 – 45
Byron Zhang shows Tai Chi’s Song Kong Yuan Man (Relax, empty, full & rounded).
Bai Yuzhan said, “The path of inner refinement is extremely simple and easy; just get the fire of the heart to descend into the elixir field. The elixir field is the chamber of water, while the heart is fire. When fire enters water, then water and fire mix and true yang is produced. Therefore people Call them heart and genitals,not water and fire.”
The realized man Zhengyang said, “Getting the fire of the heart to descend is the South Star shifting to the position of the North Star.”
Shi Xingling said, “Gather in your spirit back into your energy and the alchemical process will naturally take place.”
Liu Haizhan said, “I have realized the principle of long life – intense yang subdues intense yin.”
Xu Jingyang said, “I will disclose my family way to you – the sun shifts into the light of the moon.”
Master Wang Chongyang said, “When you begin to build the foundation, first take the spirit in the upper opening and sink it into the lower opening, in the cavern of energy. Mind and breath keeping together causes pure attention to be ever aware. Alternating exhalation and inhalation come and go in the furnace of creation; after a long time this becomes thoroughly familiar, and fire will naturally erupt from below the navel, a tiger will emerge from the water. Without even trying to return to central balance, you spontaneously revert to central balance.
“When you first watch over the opening, turning your attention around to gaze within, it is a black pearl, like the dark side of the moon. Steadily illumined by the fire of mind following the wind of respiration, the blackness spontane- ously produces white, fire erupts in water, and warm energy circulates in the cavern of energy. This is the initial movement of true yang, producing being from nonbeing.”
He also said, “The forging and refining of wind and fire must be applied to pure yang to activate the yang energy. This is all a matter of discovering and consciously nurturing the basic spirit, a point of empty nothingness, storing it down in the cavern of energy. This is called sending it back to the earth and it pot sealing tightly.”
“With the ethereal spiritual light of essence of the basic spirit within, be like a turtle hiding, like a snake hibernating; do not forget, do not force, as if present yet as if absent. Eventually exhalation and inhalation will join, spirit and energy will embrace, the mystic pass will naturally open, and the seed of realization will be produced.”
Reference: Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body translated by Thomas Cleary p. 115
How to start Qi movement or how to guide the physical body by Qi are the basic qualities and fundamental basis for the Health Qigong exerciser. Therefore, in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue, the exerciser is required to start Qi movement at the very beginning of the ready posture. The same requirement appears also in Health Qigong·Shi Er Duan Jin. In its first Routine “Gongli Function”, it is clearly defined that “calm the heart can purify the brain and keep one’s body and soul in good condition, thereby the mind and Qi shall be combined as one, and the Qi movement shall be started.” In another word, all the methods of Health Qigong require the exerciser to start the Qi movement at the very beginning of the exercise. So how to start Qi movement is the key point to exercise Health Qigong, and it is an important task that should be broke through with great efforts.
Seek a Breakthrough on Theory
Start Qi Movement so that the Health Qigong exercise shall be started. Without starting the Qi movement, the exerciser shall fail to start his health Qigong exercise. The start of Qi movement symbolizes the power of the exerciser’s inner Qi. It means the production of the inner Qi; it can be compared to the very moment when an engine is started. After that moment, the “engine” shall be kept in the working state. To the same sense, as soon as the exerciser’s inner (Cinnabar Field) “Qi” is started, his inner “Qi” shall keep producing; and the moment when the “Qi” is started is defined as the start of Qi movement. It is the necessary route that any exerciser who wants to enhance his Health Qigong cannot make a bypass. Strictly speaking, exercise before the inner Qi is felt is not Qigong exercise in the real sense; or in another word, the exerciser has not master the essence of Health Qigong exercise yet. Vivid gestures without the flow of Qi inside the body are nothing but “parrots” which cannot be taken as the real Qigong exercise, and the exerciser shall stay as a layman in the front door of the palace of Health Qigong. The only way to get the door opened is to learn to start the Qi movement, or the Health Qigong exercise shall stay on the movements of physical body instead of the exercise of “Qi”.
Start Qi Movement so that the Qi shall flow. “Qi movement” appears frequently in the Health Qigong literary materials. It appears for ten times in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue, and also several times in 200 Q&A on Health Qigong. To put it in an easy way, “Qi movement” means the flow and movement of Qi; to be more precisely, the Qi movement is the flowing up and down, as well as the opening and closing of Qi. In Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue, the flow of Qi in the movement of “guiding the Qi in Cinnabar Field up to the chest” shall be felt different for the exerciser before and after the starting of Qi movement. Only when the Qi movement is started, can the exerciser feel naturally the flow of Qi. It is impossible to feel the Qi’s flow unless the Qi movement is started. Therefore, without the feelings of flow of the inner Qi, “External movement guide inner flow” is nothing but an empty talk; because the “inner flow” here is referred to the movement of Qi in the body.
Start Qi Movement so that the Qi shall be conveyed back to the Cinnabar Field. It is impossible for the exerciser to convey his Qi back into the Cinnabar Field without starting the Qi movement. If the Qi movement is not started, then the exerciser shall fail in feeling the inner Qi, so he shall not know where the Qi is going. If the exerciser doesn’t know where the Qi is going, how could he convey it back to the Cinnabar Field? Therefore, an exerciser who fails to feel his inner Qi shall neither feel where it is conveyed to when he finishes the Qigong exercise. Or it can be put into this way that, where should one put the grains without knowing the location of the storehouse? Cinnabar Field is the storehouse where the inner Qi is stored. So if one is to convey his Qi back into the Cinnabar Field, he should firstly find the right place-the Cinnabar Field, the “storehouse of Qi”- to start the movement of Qi.
Start Qi Movement so that the Qi in the body shall flow as a whole. If the Qi movement is not started in Health Qigong exercise, the exerciser’s Qi in the body shall fail to flow as a whole. A general Qi (the experience of feeling the Qi as a whole) is a kind of feeling achieved after the start of the Qi movement that followed by a flow exercise of Qi. A general Qi takes its first step by the start of the Qi movement. In another word, if the exerciser can feel the start of Qi movement through the whole process of forming the earnestness to exercise Health Qigong and performing all the movements, his inner Qi is sufficient enough. Then the feelings of the movement of Qi shall be much clearer, and the state of “Qi flowing all over the body” shall gradually appear. Under this circumstance when his body is feeling “great”, the exerciser’s Health Qigong exercise is naturally transformed from a passive attitude of “have-to-exercise” to an active one of “want-to-exercise”. Thereby, a good Health Qigong exercising state with a general Qi shall be achieved.
“A small spark can burn the whole grassland.” The “spark” is the start of the Qi movement, while the “grassland” is the general Qi. The start of the Qi movement is the introductory certificate of the Health Qigong exercise. So it is necessary for the exerciser to improve his theoretical background I’ve discussed in the previous parts, and pay attention to these matters in Qigong exercise.
Seek a Breakthrough in Practice
The start of Qi movement is a practical process, and the Cinnabar Field is the most important part to do it. So the Cinnabar Field shall be the focus in Health Qigong exercise.
Where is the Cinnabar Field located？ The location of the Cinnabar Field shall be felt only when the Qi movement is started. It is important to familiar with the location of the Cinnabar Field, and it is necessary to keep its position in mind in exercise. The location of the Cinnabar Field varies in the four Methods of Health Qigong: in Yi Jin Jing, it is located at Qi Hai Acupoint that is “an inch and a half below the navel”; in Wu Qin Xi, it is located at “the center of the abdomen below the navel”; in Liu Zi Jue, it is at the right point of the navel, or the Shen Que Point; while in Ba Duan Jin, its ready position of “rotating the two arms outward and holding them in front of the bell to form an arc and keep them at the same level of the navel” indicates that the Cinnabar Field is located at the navel too. In accordance with From “Turning the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve heart fire” to “Raising the Heels and drop seven times to eliminate illness”-the Exercising keys and requirements of the Last Four Forms of Health Qigong ·Ba Duan Jin, (Health Qigong, Journal, 2006(6)), its ending posture is described as “bend over the two arms and fold the Lao Gong Points of the two palms; the left palm kept within, pointing the Guan Yuan Point and folded on the belly, and concentrate ideation in Cinnabar Field (Omphaloskepsis)”. So the Cinnabar Field in this method is clearly defined to be at the Guan Yuan Point. While in 200 Q&A on Health Qigong (Page 9): “The lower Cinnabar Field is located at the abdomen below the navel, it is a part among the relevant Points including Shen Que Point, Guan Yuan Point, Qi Hai Point and Ming Men Point. Generally speaking, Cinnabar Field is particularly referred to the lower Cinnabar Field. ” So where is the Cinnabar Field actually located? My answer is: “Each of the position mentioned above is the right position of an Cinnabar Field.” Then why there are so many Cinnabar Fields in Health Qigong? My explanation includes three reasons as following: firstly, it is a respect and heritage of the traditional methods; secondly, the variations of the Cinnabar Fields don’t influence the start of the Qi movement; thirdly, as soon as the Qi movement is started and the inner Qi is get ready, the Point that comes into the exerciser’s mind shall be the Cinnabar Field. That is to say: “where there is Qi, there is the key; while without Qi, there’s only vague.” After the Qi movement is started, it will be easier and clearer to define the location of the Cinnabar Field.
What the Cinnabar Field looks like？ Only when the Qi movement is started, then can the exerciser truly feel the Cinnabar Field. The Cinnabar Field is a region without clear boundary. Our ancestors believed that there were “ever-young pill” inside our body, so it was unnecessary to search for the recipes from the outside world; and the part where the “magic pills” are created is in the Cinnabar Field. The metaphors “Storehouse” “Engine” in the previous part and the “Air Pump” in the following part of the essay are employed to define what the Cinnabar Field looks like. In fact, there’s no need to define how the Cinnabar Field looks like, because if the Qi movement cannot be started, it is useless to define it. The veil of the Cinnabar Field can be uncovered only when the Qi movement is started.
What is the function of the Cinnabar Field？ This is two of my personal feelings about the Cinnabar Field: (1) The Cinnabar Field is the position to start the Qi movement, the source of the inner Qi, and the motive power of the Qi to flow and cycle in the body. (2) The heart is a “Blood Pump” which sends the blood to every part of the body in full cycle with its regular beat and release; while the Cinnabar Field can be considered as an “Air Pump” which sends Qi to every corner of the body in full cycle with a regular opening and close. The exerciser should continually enhance the function of the “Air Pump”, so that the effect of Health Qigong exercise shall be improved.
Omphaloskepsis is a common method to start Qi Movement. All the methods of Health Qigong emphasize the importance of the Cinnabar Field in which the inner Qi is produce by starting the Qi movement. Take the formulas of the Four Methods as examples: both the ready and ending postures of Wu Qin Xi contain the “Omphaloskepsis”; the ready posture of Ba Duan Jin contains the same phrase, while in its ending posture, the exerciser is required to “Hold back Qi to Cinnabar Field.” In the ready posture of Liu Zi Jue “Dial withdraw the palm”, the palm is withdrew to the navel, the “navel” here and in the ending posture “crumple the navel” are both referred to the Cinnabar Fields. There is “Shen Bu Wai Chi” in the ready posture of Yi Jin Jing, which means to keep Omphaloskepsis; and there are also three “Hold upward, lead downward” in its ending posture, “lead downward” here means guide the Qi down to the Cinnabar Field, or hold back Qi to Cinnabar Field. It is obvious to see that even though there is difference in the formulas, all the Four Methods emphasize the importance of the Omphaloskepsis. It is the foundation of Health Qigong exercise, and it is a convenient and quick way to start the Qi movement.
Seek a Breakthrough on Key Points
There are various ways to start the Qi movement, just like the old saying goes, “Every road leads to Rome.” However, if the exerciser wants to get into the exercising state, it is necessary for him to grasp the key points. Since the subject’s feelings may vary, the key point to start the Qi movement shall also different from person to person. I will analyze it with my personal feelings as following. Start from Liu Zi Jue, I feel that:
The emphasis of Liu Zi Jue on the exercise of Qi is beneficial to start the Qi movement. One can easily tell, Qi or body, which is the focus of the Four Methods of Health Qigong through the content of their syllabus: the first characteristic of Yi Jin Jing reads “The movements are relaxing, and shall be helpful to stretch the body and relax the bones.”, and its first exercising requirement is to “relax the mind, and combine the body and soul as one.” The second characteristic of Wu Qin Xi reads that “stretch the body and exercise the joints”, and the third one reads that “External movement shall guide inner flow, and the body shall be relaxed and the mind refreshed.” Its exercising requirements are arranged in the order of “body, soul, mind and Qi.” As for Ba Duan Jin, its third characteristic is that “The body and soul are combined, and the Qi is interacted.” In the first exercising requirement of Yi Jin Jing “Relax the mind and combine the body and soul”, it is clearly defined that: “The regulation of the body is the main focus of the exercise.” It is obvious to see from the previous examples that the three Methods all emphasize the combination of the body and soul, and put the exercise of body at the first place. But it is another way around in Liu Zi Jue, which puts the exercise of Qi at the first place. The second characteristic of Liu Zi Jue reads as “Guide with breath, exercise both body and soul”, and its second exercising requirement reads that “Combine the mind with Qi (breath) and body.” So Liu Zi Jue takes exercise of Qi as its focus.
The emphasis of Liu Zi Jue on the importance of the Cinnabar Fieldis is beneficial to start the Qi movement. The requirement of “Taking the navel as the center” in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue is actually defining the navel as its Cinnabar Field. Then where is place the “exercise Qi” takes place in Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue? Where to “start Qi movement”? Where to “gathering Qi”? Where the Qi shall be guided to? The answer for all these questions is the Cinnabar Field. All the movements of Liu Zi Jue take the Cinnabar Field as their focus, and even its inverse abdominal breath is released from the Cinnabar Field. Therefore, if the exerciser can thoroughly grasp the methods of Liu Zi Jue, he shall start the Qi movement soon at the Cinnabar Field.
The emphasis of Liu Zi Jue on the regulation of breath is beneficial to start the Qi movement. Liu Zi Jue is a beneficial exercise to exercise one’s inner Qi (including the start of Qi movement and the flow of Qi), and an exerciser which takes the Cinnabar Field as its core, the breath regulation as its emphasis and the inverse abdominal breathing as the major methods. Liu Zi Jue particularly emphasizes the importance of the Cinnabar Field which offers the best position to start the Qi movement; it also pays close attention to the inverse abdominal breath, which provides the start of Qi movement with a convenient method. I conclude “three magic” of Liu Zi Jue as following: the Cinnabar Field is the magic place, the inverse abdominal breath the magic weapon to exercise Qi, and the inner Qi as its magic fruit.
The practice reveals the truth that, the exerciser should take the key points, so that he shall get a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the Health Qigong. In accordance with my personal experience, I believe that HU Exercise in Liu Zi Jue is much easier to start the Qi movement. I will explain with details in the following part. Firstly, the movements of HU Exercise are the simplest. The movements of HU Exercise look simple on the surface with only an opening and close. Nevertheless, the greatest doctrine is usually expressed in the simplest way. “The laws are valued in its accuracy, and Gong in its delicacy.” The laws of Health Qigong exercise emphasize the accurate quality instead of the quantity, so the exercising methods are considered to be the simpler the better. Therefore this simplest movement with only an opening and close is an Exercise that shall achieve unexpected result. Its opening and close is actually a grand one that takes the Cinnabar Field as its center, both bodily and mentally. Secondly, HU Exercise is the most convenient to be coordinated and regulated. Since it is the simplest exercise, it is the most convenient to be regulated in the breath and the pilot movements. The opening and close of one pilot movement in HU Exercise is coordinated by the opening and close of an inverse abdominal breath, so it is comfortable to exercise it. The exerciser shall meet the requirement of Health Qigong·Liu Zi Jue saying that “The opening and close of the movement should be coordinated by the breath of inner Qi”. With a close regulation and coordination of the opening and close of the abdomen’s breath with the pilot movements, the exerciser shall make a breakthrough in the length and the quantity of breath, and so meet the requirement of Liu Zi Jue to “breathe slowly and lightly.” Therefore, the exerciser should make a breakthrough on HU Exercise to start the Qi movement, and make it the foundation exercise of other methods. Thirdly, HU Exercise is most concentrating exercise. Since its movements are simple, and the breath is much convenient to coordinate with them. Consequently, the exerciser’s mind shall be easier to concentrate, and his thought shall be more sensible to feel the Cinnabar Field. It tends to be much easier for the exerciser to feel the movement of the Cinnabar Field in this calm and sensible state, which does a favor for him to make a breakthrough in the starting of Qi movement. I once experienced in the exercise that, when I breathed directly from the Cinnabar Field, a complete flow of Qi was formed and flowing between the open mouth and the Cinnabar Field. So I believe that the HU Exercise is the best exercise to make a breakthrough in starting the Qi movement.
In conclusion, I’ve discussed in the previous part all the personal feelings I experienced through years of Health Qigong exercise. I am showing them in the hope of offering other exercisers some useful suggestions in starting the Qi movement. To fulfill this goal, besides years of exercise, one should also keep the Omphaloskepsis in the daily life. It is an efficient exercise to start the Qi movement if one always keeps Omphaloskepsis in mind. As long as one sticks to concentrating his mind on the Cinnabar Field, one shall make a breakthrough in the starting of Qi movement naturally, and make a success in Health Qigong exercise.
Reference: My Opinions on How to Start Qi Movement jsqg.sport.org.cn
Translated by Harold Roth
One The vital essence of all things: It is this that brings them to life. It generates the five grains below And becomes the constellated stars above. When flowing amid the heavens and the earth We call it ghostly and numinous. When stored within the chests of human beings, We call them sages. Two Therefore this vital energy is: Bright! - as if ascending from the heavens; Dark! - as if entering an abyss; Vast! - as if dwelling in an ocean; Lofty! - as if dwelling on a mountain peak. Therefore this vital energy Cannot be halted by force, Yet can be secured by inner power [Te]. Cannot be summoned by speech, Yet can be welcomed by awareness. Reverently hold onto it and do not lose it: This is called "developing inner power." When inner power develops and wisdom emerges, The myriad things will, to the last one, be grasped. Three All the forms of the mind Are naturally infused and filled with it [the vital essence], Are naturally generated and developed [because of] it. It is lost Inevitably because of sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire, and profit-seeking. If you are able to cast off sorrow, happiness, joy, anger, desire and profit-seeking, Your mind will just revert to equanimity. The true condition of the mind Is that it finds calmness beneficial and, by it, attains repose. Do not disturb it, do not disrupt it And harmony will naturally develop. Four Clear! as though right by your side. Vague! as though it will not be attained. Indescribable! as though beyond the limitless. The test of this is not far off: Daily we make use of its inner power. The Way is what infuses the body, Yet people are unable to fix it in place. It goes forth but does not return, It comes back but does not stay. Silent! none can hear its sound. Suddenly stopping! it abides within the mind. Obscure! we do not see its form. Surging forth! it arises with us. We do not see its form, We do not hear its sound, Yet we can perceive an order to its accomplishments. We call it "the Way." Five The Way has no fixed position; It abides within the excellent mind. When the mind is tranquil and the vital breath is regular, The Way can thereby be halted. That Way is not distant from us; When people attain it they are sustained That Way is not separated from us; When people accord with it they are harmonious. Therefore: Concentrated! as though you could be roped together with it. Indiscernible! as though beyond all locations. The true state of that Way: How could it be conceived of and pronounced upon? Cultivate your mind, make your thoughts tranquil, And the Way can thereby be attained. Six As for the Way: It is what the mouth cannot speak of, The eyes cannot see, And the ears cannot hear. It is that with which we cultivate the mind and align the body. When people lose it they die; When people gain it they flourish. When endeavours lose it they fail; When they gain it they succeed. The Way never has a root or trunk, It never has leaves or flowers. The myriad things are generated by it; The myriad things are completed by it. We designate it "the Way." Seven For the heavens, the ruling principle is to be aligned. For the earth, the ruling principle is to be level. For human beings the ruling principle is to be tranquil. Spring, autumn, winter and summer are the seasons of the heavens. Mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys are the resources of the earth. Pleasure and anger, accepting and rejecting are the devices of human beings. Therefore, the sage: Alters with the seasons but doesn't transform, Shifts with things but doesn't change places with them. Eight If you can be aligned and be tranquil, Only then can you be stable. With a stable mind at your core, With the eyes and ears acute and clear, And with the four limbs firm and fixed, You can thereby make a lodging place for the vital essence. The vital essence: it is the essence of the vital energy. When the vital energy is guided, it [the vital essence] is generated, But when it is generated, there is thought, When there is thought, there is knowledge, But when there is knowledge, then you must stop. Whenever the forms of the mind have excessive knowledge, You loose your vitality. Nine Those who can transform even a single thing, call them "numinous"; Those who can alter even a single situation, call them "wise." But to transform without expending vital energy; to alter without expending wisdom: Only exemplary persons who hold fast to the One are able to do this. Hold fast to the One; do not loose it, And you will be able to master the myriad things. Exemplary persons act upon things, And are not acted upon by them, Because they grasp the guiding principle of the One. Ten With a well-ordered mind within you, Well-ordered words issue forth from your mouth, And well-ordered tasks are imposed on others. Then all under heaven will be well-ordered. "When one word is grasped, All under the heavens will submit. When one word is fixed, All under heavens will listen." It is this [word "Way"] to which the saying refers. Eleven When your body is not aligned, The inner power will not come. When you are not tranquil within, Your mind will not be ordered. Align your body, assist the inner power, Then it will gradually come on its own. Twelve The numinous [mind]: no one knows its limit; It intuitively knows the myriad things. Hold it within you, do not let it waver. To not disrupt your senses with external things, To not disrupt your mind with your senses: This is called "grasping it within you." Thirteen There is a numinous [mind] naturally residing within; One moment it goes, the next it comes, And no one is able to conceive of it. If you loose it you are inevitably disordered; If you attain it you are inevitably well ordered. Diligently clean out its lodging place And its vital essence will naturally arrive. Still your attempts to imagine and conceive of it. Relax your efforts to reflect on and control it. Be reverent and diligent And its vital essence will naturally stabilize. Grasp it and don't let go Then the eyes and ears won't overflow And the mind will have nothing else to seek. When a properly aligned mind resides within you, The myriad things will be seen in their proper perspective. Fourteen The Way fills the entire world. It is everywhere that people are, But people are unable to understand this. When you are released by this one word: You reach up to the heavens above; You stretch down to the earth below; You pervade the nine inhabited regions. What does it mean to be released by it? The answer resides in the calmness of the mind. When your mind is well-ordered, your senses are well-ordered. When your mind is calm, your senses are calmed. What makes them well-ordered is the mind; What makes them calm is the mind. By means of the mind you store the mind: Within the mind there is yet another mind. That mind within the mind: it is an awareness that precedes words. Only after there is awareness does it take shape; Only after it takes shape it there a word. Only after there is a word is it implemented; Only after it is implemented is there order. Without order, you will always be chaotic. If chaotic, you die. Fifteen For those who preserve and naturally generate vital essence On the outside a calmness will flourish. Stored inside, we take it to be the well-spring. Floodlike, it harmonizes and equalizes And we take it to be the fount of the vital energy. When the fount is not dried up, The four limbs are firm. When the spring is not drained, Vital energy freely circulates through the nine apertures. You can then exhaust the heavens and the earth And spread over the four seas. When you have no delusions within you, Externally there will be no disasters. Those who keep their minds unimpaired within, Externally keep their bodies unimpaired, Who do not encounter heavenly disasters Or meet with harm at the hands of others, Call them Sages. Sixteen If people can be aligned and tranquil, Their skin will be ample and smooth, Their eyes and ears will be acute and clear, Their muscles will be supple and their bones will be strong, They will then be able to hold up the Great Circle [of the heavens] And tread firmly over the Great Square [of the earth]. They will mirror things with great purity. And they will perceive things with great clarity. Reverently be aware [of the Way] and do not waver, And you will daily renew your inner power, Thoroughly understand all under the heavens, And exhaust everything within the Four Directions. To reverently bring forth the effulgence [of the Way]: This is called "inward attainment." If you do this but fail to return to it, This will cause a wavering in your vitality. Seventeen For all [to practice] this Way: You must coil, you must contract, You must uncoil, you must expand, You must be firm, you must be regular [in this practice]. Hold fast to this excellent [practice]; do not let go of it. Chase away the excessive; abandon the trivial. And when you reach its ultimate limit You will return to the Way and the inner power. Eighteen When there is a mind that is unimpaired within you, It cannot be hidden. It will be known in your countenance, And seen in your skin colour. If with this good flow of vital energy you encounter others, They will be kinder to you than your own brethren. But if with a bad flow of vital energy you encounter others, They will harm you with their weapons. [This is because] the wordless pronouncement Is more rapid than the drumming of thunder. The perceptible form of the mind's vital energy Is brighter than the sun and moon, And more apparent than the concern of parents. Rewards are not sufficient to encourage the good; Punishments are not sufficient to discourage the bad. Yet once this flow of vital energy is achieved, All under heaven will submit. And once the mind is made stable, All under heaven will listen. Nineteen By concentrating your vital breath as if numinous, The myriad things will all be contained within you. Can you concentrate? Can you unite with them? Can you not resort to divining by tortoise or milfoil Yet know bad and good fortune? Can you stop? Can you cease? Can you not seek it in others, Yet attain it within yourself? You think and think about it And think still further about it. You think, yet still cannot penetrate it. While the ghostly and numinous will penetrate it, It is not due to the power of the ghostly and numinous, But to the utmost refinement of your essential vital breath. When the four limbs are aligned And the blood and vital breath are tranquil, Unify your awareness, concentrate your mind, Then your eyes and ears will not be over-stimulated. And even the far-off will seem close at hand. Twenty Deep thinking generates knowledge. Idleness and carelessness generate worry. Cruelty and arrogance generate resentment. Worry and grief generate illness. When illness reaches a distressing degree, you die. When you think about something and don't let got of it, Internally you will be distressed, externally you will be weak. Do not plan things out in advance Or else your vitality will cede its dwelling. In eating, it is best not to fill up; In thinking, it is best not to overdo. Limit these to the appropriate degree And you will naturally reach it [vitality]. Twenty-one As for the life of all human beings: The heavens brings forth their vital essence, The earth brings forth their bodies. These two combine to make a person. When they are in harmony there is vitality; When they are not in harmony there is no vitality. If we examine the Way of harmonizing them, Its essentials are not visible, Its signs are not numerous. Just let a balanced and aligned [breathing] fill your chest And it will swirl and blend with your mind, This confers longevity. When joy and anger are not limited, You should make a plan [to limit them]. Restrict the five sense-desires; Cast away these dual misfortunes. Be not joyous, be not angry, Just let a balanced and aligned [breathing] fill your chest. Twenty-two As for the vitality of all human beings: It inevitably occurs because of balanced and aligned [breathing]. The reason for its loss Is inevitably pleasure and anger, worry and anxiety. Therefore, to bring your anger to a halt, there is nothing better than poetry; To cast off worry there is nothing better than music; To limit music there is nothing better than rites; To hold onto the rites there is nothing better than reverence; To hold onto reverence there is nothing better than tranquility. When you are inwardly tranquil and outwardly reverent You are able to return to your innate nature And this nature will become greatly stable. Twenty-three For all the Way of eating is that: Overfilling yourself with food will impair your vital energy And cause your body to deteriorate. Over-restricting your consumption causes the bones to wither And the blood to congeal. The mean between overfilling and over-restricting: This is called "harmonious completion." It is where the vital essence lodges And knowledge is generated. When hunger and fullness lose their proper balance, You make a plan to correct this. When full, move quickly; When hungry, neglect your thoughts; When old, forget worry. If when full you don't move quickly, Vital energy will not circulate to your limbs. If when hungry you don't neglect your thoughts of food, When you finally eat you will not stop. If when old you don't forget your worries, The fount of your vital energy will rapidly drain out. Twenty-four When you enlarge your mind and let go of it, When you relax your vital breath and expand it, When your body is calm and unmoving: And you maintain the One and discard the myriad disturbances, You will see profit and not be enticed by it, You will see harm and not be frightened by it. Relaxed and unwound, yet acutely sensitive, In solitude you delight in your own person. This is called "revolving the vital breath": Your thoughts and deeds seem heavenly. Twenty-five The vitality of all people Inevitably comes from their peace of mind. When anxious, you loose this guiding thread; When angry, you lose this basic point. When you are anxious or sad, pleased or angry, The Way has no place to settle. Love and desire: still them! Folly and disturbance: correct them! Do not push it! do not pull it! Good fortune will naturally return to you, And that Way will naturally come to you So you can rely on and take counsel from it. If you are tranquil then you will attain it; If you are agitated then you will lose it. Twenty-six That mysterious vital energy within the mind: One moment it arrives, the next it departs. So fine, there is nothing within it; So vast, there is nothing outside it. We lose it Because of the harm caused by mental agitation. When the mind can hold on to tranquility, The Way will become naturally stabilized. For people who have attained the Way It permeates their pores and saturates their hair. Within their chest, they remain unvanquished. [Follow] this Way of restricting sense-desires And the myriad things will not cause you harm.
Book: Harold D. Roth Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism
Si Hongyu and Guo Kai
Health Qigong is a special sport. One of its unique features is the simultaneous body and mind regulation. Body regulation means the regulation of the physiological state and mind regulation means the regulation of psychological state. By practicing Health Qigong, we can adjust the physiological and psychological states which have gone out of balance due to various causes. Both the mental state and physical state are carried by the human body. They interact as both cause and effect and complement each other. The mental and physical imbalances and problems of man can be solved by co-regulation of the mental and physical states. Everybody has two properties, namely the natural property and social property. As a part of the nature, man is governed by the natural rules and will inevitably be subject to the threats of pathogens such as wind, cold, heat, and damp and go through a process of life, illness, aging, and death. As a part of the society, man is restricted by the conditions of the age he is in and will inevitably experience sorrow, happiness, unity, and departure. All these natural and social conditions will more or less influence the mental and physical states of everyone. Failure to make proper adjustments will result in damages to peoples’ health and longevity and prevent them from “living to the full span of life”. And Health Qigong exercise bears the feature of co-regulation of both the physical and mental states on the basis of the three elements of “body regulation, breath regulation, and mind regulation”.
Firstly, Health Qigong is a traditional sport of our nation with body movements, respiration regulation, and mental regulation as the major forms of exercise. Therefore Health Qigong is featured by co-regulation of both the mental and physical states: This is because physical regulation starts from essence cultivation and will go through a process covering saliva accumulation, essence generation, conversion of essence into Qi, and conversion of Qi into spirit, while mental regulation mainly involves spirit cultivation in which all concentration is focused on mental activities. Specifically, the physical regulation of Health Qigong is mainly represented by limb movements and focused on regulation of the physiological state of the practicer; and it will certainly assist mental regulation. The mental regulation of Health Qigong is mainly embodied in the moral cultivation and its health-preserving mechanism. It sheds light on self-inspiration and regulates people’s mental, as well as physical functions. Therefore we should not consider them as opposites, because the mental and physical states are united in the human body and have interactions. Every movement of Health Qigong has its mechanism and functions. And these mechanism and functions cannot be fully utilized unless under the guidance of a good mental state. Therefore importance should always be attached to the regulation of mental state before, during, and after the practice of Health Qigong. During the practice, there are some specific requirements in addition to the movement norms: The practicer is required to eliminate distracting thoughts, concentrate the mind, relax the entire body, turn a deaf ear to the external things, and adhere to vacancy and quietness. From this we can see that during the exercise, mental regulation is always the dominant role. Mental regulation has two aspects in Health Qigong. One of them is the regulation of mental state during exercise or, in other words, the conscious control of the body. Internal consciousness is used to turn disorderly and scattered mental activities into regular and focused mental activities in order to regulate Qi. The other is the regulation of mental state in social practice. In other words we should attach importance to the cultivation of morality, which is a necessary condition for maintaining a stable state of life. This is because the moral cultivation involves eliminating and reducing the interference by the Seven Emotions. And the Seven Emotions are factors that disturb the “body, Qi, and spirit” of the practicer. Therefore moral cultivation should be considered a precondition for health preservation. These two aspects of mental regulation depend on each other because the application of mind is restricted by the society and subject to the social and moral influences. Therefore moral cultivation is a part of mental regulation, a prerequisite for the correct and efficient application of the mind, a serenity-accomplishing process used to eliminate distracting thoughts, seek truth, and achieve Anatman, and one of the embodiments of the mental regulation of Health Qigong.
Secondly, the fact that Health Qigong exercise is meant to “increase life span, mental power, and morality” has further shown its feature of co-regulation of mental and physical states. Since the ancient times, practicers of Health Qigong have not only sought physical health and longevity, but also pursued and exhibited high morality and spiritual self-improvement. Health Qigong has been created by learning from the Yin and Yang and hardness and softness of the heaven and earth. Proper adherence to the exercise can be considered a “benevolent” behavior. According to etymology, “benevolence” means “kindness” just as “righteousness” and “goodness”. Practicers are seeking health and longevity. And health and longevity come from “benevolence”. “Moral cultivation and fulfillment of promises are called benevolence”. (Li Ji: Qu Li) Therefore Health Qigong can be considered as a benevolent behavior that leads to health and longevity. And “benevolence” belongs to “morality”. Therefore the mental state is used to determine and realize self-value and thus perform the co-regulation of mental and physical states in Health Qigong.
Secondly, the fact that Health Qigong exercise is meant for “approach-based benevolence” has further shown its feature of co-regulation of mental and physical states. Since health and longevity is a “self-benevolence”, Health Qigong is an “approach-based benevolence”, because the results of “approach-based benevolence” can meet the practicers’ demand for health and longevity. “Benevolence” belongs to “morality”. The achievement in the exercise is directly related to morality. Many regiment schools give the first priority to the cultivation of morality and lay special emphasis on making achievements of Health Qigong with morality. It was said in ancient times that “Achievement originates from virtue and virtue is the mother of achievement”. And “exercise without moral cultivation will definitely lead to evil possession” warns us that exercisers should “straighten the heart before exercising the body”. Straightening the heart exactly means cultivate morality. This is why Confucius pointed out in The Great Learning that: “wealth embellishes your house and morality embellishes your body. A person with a large heart tends to grow plump.” Zhu Xi construed it as: “wealth embellishes your house and morality embellishes your body because when you are free of dirty ideas, your mind will be open and commodious and your body will be always healthy. This is why morality embellishes your body.” How to elevate “morality”? Confucius’ “doing good” theory is based on self-communion, self-control, and self-behavior. In other words the moral cultivation of the subject itself is used to break the spiritual shackles and achieve ideal personalities. This means that moral cultivation is done by the subject itself. The motive for moral cultivation comes from the real human mind. It is an effort driven by the human awareness. Therefore the reason that some practicers fail to understand the gist of Health Qigong is probably related to the degree of conscious efforts. Whatever the reason, Health Qigong itself can cultivate “morality” by co-regulating the mental and physical states. It is just that some practicers haven’t grasped its core and obtained the real benefits. To sum up, long-term, correct practice of “approach-based benevolence” of Health Qigong can be used as a “Tao-upholding” process which naturally leads to “establishment of morality”. Therefore “upholding Tao can establish morality, and established morality can define Tao”. This is quite good evidence. Certainly, only constant, long-term, and continuous habitual adherence to this practice can cultivate morality. Just as Aristotle said: “the properties of morality are results of habit.” Since long-term, correct practice of “approach-based benevolence” of Health Qigong can cultivate morality, it will naturally regulate the mental state.
In a stressful society, people usually need to play multiple social roles. Work, life, and many other things are wearing everyone and the complicated interpersonal communications frequently befuddle us. In such times, we will be desperately in need of relaxation of the body and massage of the mind in order to reinvigorate ourselves and fulfill what we are supposed to do. Perhaps Health Qigong exercise is exactly what you want, because Health Qigong regulates both the mental and physical states. You may be unable to practice it all the time. But as long as you always keep an eye on the cultivation of your own morality anywhere and anytime in your daily life and embed the practice of Health Qigong in your daily life, you can still keep your spirit serene and free of fickleness and keep your mind straight and free of prejudice. This is another way of Health Qigong exercise which just lays more emphasis on the regulation of mental state.
Reference: Origin and Development of Qi-Promoting Techniques jsqg.sport.org.cn