Martial Art principle pushhands taiji

Important Points for Progress in Taijiquan

by Wee Kee-Jin

Master Huang was a renowned practitioner, but it was as a teacher that he most stood out. He developed exercises and a systemised training method that recognised the stages of a student’s development.

Physical Mechanisms
When learning Taijiquan we all start with poor posture and awkward actions. So we need to work with big loose movements to free up locked joints and accumulated tensions, with particular attention on uprightness and an awareness of the feet to cultivate greater stability. Initially the body moves as one block, but as the joints and muscles loosen we start to turn from the hips, to lead the waist, to lead the body, to lead the arms. The raising of the arms, instead of lifting, gets motivated from a force below and expressed by the relaxation of the body’s trunk, shoulders and elbows. Then every movement in the upper body becomes a product of the changes from below.

From the beginning the importance of the structure must be emphasised. This is the accuracy and alignment both in posture and later during the transitions, and provides the pathways for the energies to pass through. Like the hose, where either kinking or squeezing can stop the water flowing, in the body locked joints and muscular tension will restrict the energy’s path.

Focusing on the Qi or Yi before the structure is established is of little use, like generating electricity without having the wires to transmit it. Meditation and Qigong also works on the Yi and Qi but without the Pushing hands they do not provide the method to deliver a relaxed force.

Accuracy is not just the details of the positions (the where), or the sequence (the when), but more importantly the process of how you move. Inaccuracies may be made obvious to you in Pushing-hands, but it is in the Form that you train them. If you can’t maintain your alignment when there is no external force affecting you, then it must be impossible if there is.

Alignment refers to a state of central equilibrium, that is being upright and centred both horizontally and vertically. When moving, both left and right need to change evenly, so both knees, hips and shoulders should drop at the same rate, not one side faster than the other.

If students only work on being loose, relaxed and sensitive then their Form will not be grounded (floating Form) and during Pushing-hands they not have a relaxed-force to issue. Even their sticking will only be at a surface level. Therefore you need to include sinking in the Form.

Song is an external and internal process – physically relaxing, and mentally sinking. The relaxation is a physical mechanism involving the releasing of the joints from the feet up. To connect with the ground you must relax the feet and ankles, give at the knees by dropping the hips into their sockets. This will create the space for the body to fall into. The shoulders can then drop closely followed by the lowering of the elbows and wrists. The base, upper body and arm relaxation should happen almost simultaneously to avoid holding-up the sinking.

Internal Mechanisms
All internal mechanisms in Taiji must be cultivated using the Mind (Yi), which consists of two parts – intention and awareness.
When you intend to move you first think of it, then the body acts, in a way that you need to be aware of, otherwise you will not understand the process or the changes. So in every movement you must have the intention first, closely followed by your awareness.

Thinking is only planning. It is the awareness that you use to cultivate the relaxation, the sinking and the rebounding forces – visualise them, and move your awareness to experience them. Initially they may not physically occur in a way that is obvious, but after prolonged practice they will happen as you have visualised.
The Yi directs the Qi, so wherever the awareness is, the energy will be there. Focusing on the Qi itself can actually block, or stagnate it. The flow of the Qi is a product of your directed awareness

Sinking is the continuous flow of sensation from the crown down. To first train we release (as described above) then visualise a cup of warm water being poured at the crown of the head, draining down the body and the legs with a melting feeling, through the feet and into the ground.

In the first stage of training with sinking in the Form, the student learns to sink into posture by getting into position then allowing the sensation to complete, before issuing and moving into the next posture.

After a year or so of sinking into every posture, sinking during transition is introduced. Here the process starts at the moment the insubstantial foot begins to move, whereby the student sinks into the substantial foot and continues uninterrupted by the adjustment of the foot, the turning of the hips, the transfer of weight, and even during the releasing of the force (issuing).

The result of relaxing and sinking is a noticeable increase of pressure in the feet. This is termed grounding, or taking root. It is important to remember that the calmness produces the relaxation, the relaxation produces the sinking, the sinking produces the grounding, the grounding produces the rebounding force. Therefore Jing is a product of Song, and continuous sinking will supply a continuous force.

Tui Shou, is just an extension of the Form. The only difference is an external force motivates your movements. You should move in the same way, with the same awareness as you do in the Form and whatever you are working on in the Form you need to include your Pushing-hands.

Yielding is not to retreat from the force. Nor is to take root to stand against it. To move a moment ahead of a force, is pulling away or disconnecting. To move a moment after, is to resist. It is the fly alighting that sets you in motion, not because the fly lands that you move away. It is the incoming force that creates the movement in you. When you push into a sponge, it isn’t trying to move away from you, it just absorbs your force. When you force is exhausted, the sponge follows you back. This is sticking.

In Taiji Sticking is following someone else’s centre, being connected from your own root through and into another persons, so that two can move as one. It requires listening, sinking, opening, closing and harmonious movements. The process of emptying an incoming force into the ground, and sticking to the base of your partner, requires the same mechanisms as used to sink in the Form.

Therefore if someone has not trained the sinking, they could be able to yield and extend a force to weaken it, but an amount of it will still be on them. What’s more they will only be able to stick to the surface of the opponent and not contact into their root.
Neutralising is redirecting an incoming force and later the ability to empty it completely from the body into then ground. With good alignment the first direction learnt for neutralising is horizontal, pivoting about the spinal axis. When opening, closing and sinking can be incorporated, the neutralising also becomes vertical and internal, enabling the incoming forces to be intercepted, and rebound back into your partner.

Closing and opening refers to the space between your hands, arms and body. Letting go from the centre is closing; opening is expanding from the centre. The movement of the outside is a product of the changes inside. Closing needs space to take place, which is what the sinking provides.

Speed and timing must be in relation to one another. If your turn a watch, although the winder turns a gear, and that turns another wheel and so on until the hands move, they all seem to turn together. No wheel turns any faster than the one driving it, they all move at exactly the same speed and at the same time.
Although you turn from your hips, the linking together results in your body parts arriving at different destinations simultaneously.
In Pushing-hands, even with good listening skills and sensitivity, inaccuracies or poor synchronisation will either leave a gap for someone else to come in, or you’ll get stuck by locking yourself up.

Synchronising the changes throughout the Form is an important step in developing your Taiji. This is the natural timing that results when relaxation motivates your movement, sinking and issuing originates from the root below and closing and opening is from the centre within.

When letting the air out of a balloon, all sides contract together and at the same rate. This emptying is even and is called balance which should be within every closing and opening, that is – throughout the whole Form and Pushing-hands. If you are in balance then like a set of scales, the slightest pressure sets you in motion, providing the structure is in place.

Before issuing there is always a point of breaking the root of your partner, which can begin the moment you stick. When developing the ability to issue, the student needs to wait for the sinking to be complete before allowing the force to – bounce back from the root, magnifying it in the legs, directing it with the hips, and passing it through the body and arms to the fingertips (or any other point of contact).

Initially the release of force is triggered by a small push of the substantial foot into the ground. But later this becomes unnecessary as 1% relaxation becomes 1% of sinking, which is 1% of grounding which equals 1% of force. Just as in a spring, where as soon you push against it, a force returns towards you. Remembering that the efficiency of a spring is dependant upon its structure – if too rigid there won’t be any compression, too soft and it will collapse, poor alignment and it will buckle.

The quality of a push is much more important than the quantity of how far that you throw someone. With a good clean push, both of their feet will leave the ground, rather than them just staggering backwards. The power comes from the energies not physical strength so the experience of being issued upon should be light and comfortable not brutal or forceful. If everything is in place from structure through to timing you may be made to fly, but even that is not the point.

Taiji is a process not a result. Exercises, Forms and Pushing-hands are methods for exploring the Principles within all movements. To improve we only need to refine our movements and deepen our understanding of the Principles. However this is an ongoing, continuous process. Ultimately the Form becomes formless, and every action or non-action is in harmony – that is Taijiquan.


Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle pushhands taiji

The Importance of Sequence and Timing to Achieve Synchronization

by Wee Kee-Jin

The Taiji Form regardless of what style, was created as a means to train moving in a synchronized and harmonious Taiji way. During Pushing-hands we extend the practise of synchronized movement to include when being effected by an external force. When we can synchronize all the physical (external) and mental (internal) movements in our daily life, we will no longer be restricted or imprisoned by the Taiji Form, because then the Form will have become formless.

The classics state that; when one part of the body changes every part of the body changes along with it; when one part of the body moves every part of the body moves; the destination might be different but the time of arrival is the same – all parts of the body arriving together.

The key to achieve this principle is synchronization both of the sequence and timing. Being the continuous fine tuning of muscles co-ordinated simultaneously throughout the body.
The physical synchronizing and aligning always begins at the base by releasing the ankles, knees and hips then the shoulders, elbows and wrists. Both upward and downward actions start at the feet, get magnified in the legs and ripple through the body into the arms before being expressed to the finger-tips.

All turning originates from within. There is a line you should imagine running from the crown of the head (niwan) to the tailbone (weilui) that serves as the central axis of the body. From directly above you would see turning as being initiated at the axis about a small circle then expands to the medium circle of the body, then reaching the big circle of the arms.
Although there is a sequence, the movements must be in relation to each other. Any missed timings would effect the whole synchronization.

When stepping forward or backward you need to continue the synchronizing into the substantial foot to create the movement of the insubstantial foot. While the insubstantial foot is stepping, the centre is changing, so the substantial foot adjusts continuously.
Therefore both in the Taiji Form and Pushing-hands all parts of the body synchronize to create a movement and to respond to an incoming force.

To internally synchronize, there first must be physical relaxation and mental calmness. Then the melting sensation of relaxation can flow through the body and legs, into the ground. This is what is called ‘sinking’ and produces ‘grounding’. This downward feeling can then be released and rebound up from the ground through the feet, legs, body and arms, to the fingertips, but only if the body has continued to relax. This generates the force (Jing) and cultivates the ability to deliver it (Fa-jing). Although there is a sequence from the feet to the finger-tips, the timing required is in close relation to each other. After a while the stages overlap until eventually simultaneous, that means at the moment of 1% of relaxation, there is 1% sinking, 1% grounding and 1% rebounding force, which will then continue to 2%, 3% onwards.

In Taiji the ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ originates from the ‘centre’, which is where the ‘tantien’ and the central axis meet. Not only does the opening expand from the centre, but the closing also contracts from there; – both are from the inside outwards.
Once the opening and closing are clear, their timing recombines until simultaneous. Then “when there is opening there is closing, and in closing there is opening”. So that at a moment of closure you also experience being open.

The opening and closing needs to be synchronized with the relaxation, sinking, grounding, and issuing of the relaxed force.
Finally when the external and the internal are in harmony, and the timing and sequence are in relation to each other, total synchronization is achieved. Then when one part of the body changes every part of the body will change along with it, and when one part of the body moves every part of the body will move, and when one part of the body arrives every part will arrive.

Qiqong and Taiji
A commonly asked question when someone is studying Taiji, is whether they should practise Qigong as well. Any exercise that develops the use of your mind to circulate the flow of energy (Qi or Chi) in the body is Qigong. Therefore Taiji is Qigong, however Qigong is not Taiji.

Yin and Yang
The terms of Yin and Yang are frequently used in Taiji, and are often made to sound mystical. Unlike words such as table and chair which refer to specific objects, Yin and Yang are concepts describing opposites that have a relationship to each other; up and down; front and back; internal and external; positive and negative; male and female; dark and light; etc. They are as complementary as they are contrasting. Their existence and combination are actually scientific, not mystical.
The essence of Taiji is simplicity; black and white. It is not necessary to colour it with esoteric descriptions.


Mindset Philosophy principle taiji

Questions and answers with Master Huang

Are there different schools or sects of Tai Ji?
Tai Ji embodies a comprehensive set of knowledge, developed and handed down by our learned predecessor with mystifying principles and profound philosophical learnings. The Tai Ji movements are scientific as the principles are based on scientific fundamentals. Our predecessors developed the art for improving human health, warding off sickness, slowing down the ageing process, achieving longevity and defending oneself. All this benefits mankind and society. Good character formation is promoted. An adherent imbibed with the Dao (or philosophy as a way of life) of Tai Ji would contribute towards proper governance of the country and universal peace. Tai Ji is not a martial art meant for bragging and antagonistic purpuses. A Tai Ji exponent would need to understand the principles and philosophy of Tai Ji. No one should deviate from these principles and philosohpy. The movements can be developedand modified but the principles are eternal. The external forms may differ from person to person but the principles are standart and unvarying. Because of this, there is no basis for differentiation by schools. Instead a spirit of a single family should prevail. Common interest of the art should take precedence over personal interest. An open attitude should emerge, bearing in mind the spirit of the founder and predecessors to propagate the philosophy of Tai Ji thoughout the world so as to improve the health of mankind.

How should we practice Tai Ji in order to reach accuracy?
The gap between accurate and non-accurate achievement is wide. Remember the words of the old master, Wang Tsung Yueh that the body must be naturally and vertically balanced bearing in mind the principles of being relaxed, rounded and awareness of the various parts of the body. During practice of the set movements, one must be careful, concious or alert, observant and must feel where one is moving. Otherwise there is form without substance and deception to people. To achieve accuracy, the principles of Tai Ji must be followed in addition to correct methods of practising. A good master is necessary coupled with one’s own constant research. The art must be learned progressively having to be on firm ground first before advancing to the next step. Personal requirements are also important. One must be determant, confident, persevering and motivated. A secure means of livelihood and having normal environment coupled with single-mindedness, constant learning and practice and clear understanding of the principles throroughly – all this will lead to achievment of accuracy. This is in contrast to those who want to learn fast, who concern themselves with the external forms and who learn to practise sporadically. These hope to learn first and be corrected later not realising that it is worse than having a new person learning from scratch. Others take the principles of Tai Ji lightly or superficially and liken the art to a common exercise, drill or dance. All this has form but no substance. One’s body must be likened to a perfect machine where a wrong spare part will affect the operation of the machine. The founder of Tai Ji has said, “Achieving the Dao is important, acquiring the skill in the art is secondary;not learning my Dao, he is not my student. ” Therefore also important would be honesty and righteousness or a good moral character.

There are different forms of Tai Ji? Are the principles different?
The founder created the art. But through the years, the forms of Tai Ji have differed:some have 24 basic movements while others have 37; some have 64 set movements and some have 72 while others have 108 movements or even 124. There are long sets and short sets. Movements have been large and expansive and have been small and compact. Some emphasised high postures;others opt for low ones. Some practise slowly;others practise at a faster pace. All this divergence is writter by men. What is important is that the principles remain the same. Different masters with different temperaments have been following the basic principles through the ages. They have engaged in continous research and training. They have reviewed and improved the art until the ultimate objective is achieved where form becomes formless, limbs are no more important, brute force becomes nonexistent and stiffness has given way to being fully relaxed. Character formation has advanced to the stage of “non-self” and of non-resistance so that the whole body is used and hands are no more used as hands. Youthfulness and longevity are attained. It is easy to master correct forms as the Qi and the principles of the art are internally harmonised. Harmonisation is also to be achieved between the upper, middle and lower parts and between the left and the right body. Even though difficult it is relatively easier to master correct forms compared to aquiring skill in the art. This is so as in training or practising there are a number of normally undetectable parts of the body that are difficult to keep under control from the aspects of speed, timing, rhythm and balance. Because of this, skill in the art is difficult to acquire. But then as the founder says, “Understanding one portion of the art would mean being enlightened on all portions or parts. Then all schools and sects become one. ”

Is it better to practise Tai Ji more frequently or less frequently?
There are no extremes in Tai Ji. The essence is in the training method. If the method is not correct, it is no different from ordinary drills with a lot of time spent but relatively little achievement. So it is not a question of practising more or less frequently but practising correctly. That is, the central equilibrium must be vertically maintained. Every movement must be disciplined such that the posture is vertically balanced. The principles remain unchanged:there is straightness in a curve and vice versa. There must be constant learning and practice, understanding the principles and the less obvious points. Mastery of this will produce skill naturally. There is no question, therefore of practising too much or too little but rather of practising correctly.

Is it correct to practise the art fast or to practise it slow?
The earth rotates at a constant and specific rate. Similary, Tai Ji should not be practised too slowly or too fast but should be practised comfortably. The human body must be moved naturally otherwise there would be weaknesses. If the practice is too fast, breathing is affected resulting in uneven respiration, breathlessness and the heart pulsating too fast. If the practice is too slow, the limbs and the joints become stiff. Qi is blocked and is locally stagnant:intent or consciousness is employed but the Qi is not flowing. Internal force and Qi must be synchronised. Internally, there is the harmony of the libido, energy, Qi and spirit while externally, the mind, consciousness (or intent) and body are also harmonised and in turn both the internal and external harmonies are synchronised. Muscles must be relaxed and all parts of the body are naturally without tension. It is not possible therefore to say practising fast is correct or practising slow is correct as this has to be based on the standard or level of achievement of the student. One must practise until the whole body is relaxed and comfortably balanced. Once there is internal and external synchronisation, then the question of slow and fast in practice is unimportant. At this stage, one gets the feeling that the upper portion of the body is like the drifting of clouds and the lower portion is like the flowing of water. Consciousness is continuous and is harmonised with movement. All parts of the body are natural and are unified. There is then no question of being fast or slow.

Is it correct to have either high or low postures in the set movements of Tai Ji?

The art of Tai Ji does not distinguish high and low postures, but is rather based on the idea of four “balances” or equilibriums: 1 balance in the magnitude of the posture or movement such as both sides of the body must have “balanced” amount of spatial displacement when moving; 2 accuracy or precision achieved simultaneously by all parts of the body; 3 bodily balance when moving or turning; 4 steadiness particularly when moving. External and internal balance or harmony must be cultivated where there is no slanting of the central axis of the body. When hind force is invoked, the hind knee being bend will move up or straighten slightly though the height of the body remains unchanged. This is so as consciousness (or intend) and Qi would “close” centrally instead of coming up while the bent knee is used to adjust accordingly. Consciousness is used to lead the muscles in relaxing. Joints, muscles and ligaments must then be loosened, relaxed and “thrown”open but still linked. The body is then erect and comfortable. Consciosness is also used to “move”Tai Ji principles to parts of the body. Having achieved “four balances and eight steadiness,” the question of high and low postures is then answered individually.

How can substantiality and insubstantiality be distinguished between left and right or between top and bottom parts of the body?
The muscles, the skeleton and the nerves are parts of the body system. when practising the movements, the use of consciousness to sink and relax the body is most important. The centre of gravity is moved while perserving the uprightness of the central axis of the body. It is important to focus on steadiness, tranquillity, relaxation and rootedness. The movements propel the external movements in a continuous or uninterrupted fashion. Internal force is gernerated with turning movements. After a long time, the whole body is in balance. When left and right is distinguished, one is substantial and the other insubstantial along the pattern of “cross alignment”. For instance, together with the distinction between top and bottom parts of the body, when the left upper part of the body is substantial, the left lower part is insubstantial and similarywhen the right upper part of the body is substantial, the right lower part is insubstantial. This pattern of cross alignment is used in shifts of the centre of gravity from one leg to the other. This is similar to the “cross-roads”of the nervous system. When moving Qi, therefore, one must separate substantial from insubstantial, move the step without moving the body or moving the body and not the hand. If in moving a step, the body also moves, then it is not separating substantial from insubstantial. If in moving the body, the hand also moves, then the shoulder and the hands are not relaxed. It is important to follow the principles of using consciousness to propel movement. The top and bottom, left and right portions of the body must be coordinated. a rounded grinding stone may move but the centre is not moving. All parts of the body become one system characterised by lightness and agility, roundness and smoothness, even respiration, alternate opening and closing like that of the sea where with movement from one part of the sea, all parts are also moved. The movements are guided by consciousness and are properly regulated like the regular movements of the waves in the sea.

How could the movements be practised in order that they can be usefully applied?
Take the five loosening(or relaxing) exercises as an illustration. These exercises are based on Tai JI principles. During practice there must be full concentration since any distraction will nullify any effects. Bear in mind the three points of non-mobility:the head which must be locked on to the body, the hands which must not move of its own volition and the soles of the feet which must be still and rooted to the ground. Consciousness(or intend)will lead the Qi along. Steps are made without affecting or moving the body. Turning movements start from the waist and hips with hands propelled from the waist and hips in accordance with the principle that all movements originate from the waist. Principles must be understood and no movements are separated from the principles. Once you make it internally you are also “through” externally. Once you are fully relaxed, you can change according to circumstances and can therefore, neutralise an oncoming force. You would have reached that position of “non-self” where the whole body is the weapon and the hands are no more used as hands. If you are not able to usefully apply your movements then you still have not understood the basics of the five relaxing exercises. If you have not mastered the essentials, then there is no point of talking about application of the movements.

What is the rationale for relaxing the abdomen and withdrawing the coccyx(or tailbone)?
Qi is stored in the Dan Tien as a result of using consciousness to sink the Qi to this point. From here Qi should circulate to the whole body. If Qi just remains in the Dan Tien, then the abdomon will have the sensation of being styffed. Only when Qi circulates throughout the body will the abdomen be relaxed and pliable. After a time, the abdomen will acquire some “bouncy” or”springy” effect and Qi would have been circulating to the whole body. Qi can be occluded or absorbed into the backbone. the Song of the Thirteen Postures says, “If the abdomen is thoroughly relaxed, then the Qi will rise. “So do not just store the Qi in the abdomen otherwise it will simply bloat. Having coccyx withdrawn means there is no protrusion of the buttocks while making sure at the same ime that the hip joints are not”sliding”forward. This must be combined with relaxing the abdomen and both requirements must be met at the same time. Otherwise, there is no rootness while the waist is stiff resulting in vertical imbalance or disequilibrium. It is important to maintain the uprightness of the central axis of the body in order to achieve central equilibrium. A test can be made as follows to see whether all this has been done correctly all along:use one thump to press the abdomen and release the thumb suddenly. There should be a bouncing or springy effect of the abdomen. At the same time, the seat of the buttocks behind should be very soft to the touch.

What is true spirit of Tai Ji?
Good and famous masters of Tai Ji teach the same stuff but students will learn differently. This is because students differ in natural endowment and physical make-up. The real acquisition of the art is not in just mastering the external forms but also in mastering the principles and philosophy. The learner must be a man of reason having learnt, practised and understood the art successfully. He applies those principles and philosophy to his daily life. He will not take unfair advantage or be selfish. He is wholeheartedly devoted to Tai Ji. He shares the founder’s spirit of striving for mankind to be physically and mentally healthy. This would be the true Tai Ji spirit.

How many times must we practice the set movements everyday?
The important principle is moderation. The practising technique must be correct in the first place. Some people say you must practise the whole set of movements ten times a day with one set lasting about 25 minutes. This only focuses on quantity and is wasting Qi and energy. It is contrary to the basic principles of Tai Ji succeeding in only making you sweat and reducing weight. It is not beneficial to the development of the internal force, internal organs or gererally the body internally. Grandmaster Cheng Man Ching has said, “I practise the mobilisation of the internal force and Qi using the 37 basic movements every day. One set of movements lasts only 7 minutes. ” Practising too much or too little is subject to whether it is practised correctly or not. Utilising my experience and following my practising technique, students are encouraged to practise every morning and evening using about 5 minutes to practise a particular movement or posture(dividing each of them into 2 parts)over and over again. Those studens who do so are likely to succeed.

Some students have been learning and practising Tai Ji for several years and are yet unstable. Why is this so?

A lot of students are using wrong learning and practising technique. Students must start with understanding the Dao of philosophy, then the principles, then using the correct method and finally putting in the effort. He must understand the relationship of man and his surroundings or the universe and use the method of Qi to practice. He must be humble and persistent in his practice. Slowly, rootedness will result and the method of practising be understood. Understand the principles and be aware of the less obvious and unnoticeable aspects in slowing acquiring skill. Being rooted and having internal force can never be observed externally. They can be accomplished through correct method. In practising the movement and developing the internal force, the joints of the body must be loosened and yet linked. The whole body is relaxed and is not easily pushed over by an opponent. Substantiality is distinguished from insubstantiality. Aim to be flexible and pliable like a snake whose tail will come in to help if you attack the head, or vice versa or whose tail and head will assist when the centre is attacked. Be responsive to consciousness(or intent), then tranquillity and pliability can be achieved. It is easier to lift off a 200 katies iron rod than to lift up a 100 katies iron chain. This illustrates the principles of throroughly relaxed joints. Students must also understand the application of yin and yang in the movements and push hand exercises. Yin and yang principles are in Tai Ji which encompasses the universe:all movements whether divided according to upper and lower body, right and left, front and back, internal and external must not deviate from the principles of substantiality and insubstantiality. Moving and stillness alternate continously:Yin does not depart from Yang and vice versa. When Yang moves, Yin also moves and vice versa. This principle must be understood when practising the set movements. The body and the character is trained together as is the acquisition of the Dao and the art. Dao is likened to yin while the art or skill is the yang. Yang is evolved from yin at yin’s completion. Being relaxed, stillness and being rooted become yin comonents. Neutralisation of force forms the basic foundation where no strength is used. Stillness is like that of the mountain. No change is seen but it is capable of a lot of changes. The founder has said, “Dao is the basis, art is the consequential”. One must therefore acquire Dao by learning not to resist, for only then will the body learn to be obedient. In attacking and defending, one must understand the method, then acquire insubstantiality and quietude. Only then will the defence be solid. Attacking will also be successful as one is naturally comfortable. In pushing hands exercise, one must learn to achieve non-resistance and stickiness. Having achieved stickiness, then one can achieve the ability to neutralise force. With adequate reserves, the neutrasising ability is applied with an involuntary exertion of internal force.

How should a student relate to his teacher?
In the present day, science is very advanced affecting all aspects of human endeavour day by day. This gives rise to stress and keen competition in business having a telling effect on the spirit. This is a common malady. This is why Tai Ji an ancient art, is popular and a common practice. It has no secrets. It is equitable to all as it discriminates against no student. But students often commit errors in practising the art. Students should bear in mind the following pointers:
1 Respect the teacher and accept the philosophy or Dao of the art;
2 Be honest and do not take unfair advantage;
3 Be conscientious and serious, think, observe and feel or being aware during practice;
4 Progress step by step;
5 Be humble and practice constantly;
6 follow all the principles mentioned earlier when practising by themselves.

Reference: Interview with the late master Huang Sheng-Shyan from bao i dao Tai Chi Chuan

Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle taiji

The 10 Guiding Principles of Master T.T. Liang

1. Nobody can be perfect. Take what is good and discard what is bad.

2. If I believe entirely in books, better not read books. If I relay entirely on teachers, better not have teachers.

3. To remove a mountain is easy, but to change a man’s temperament is more difficult.

4. If there is anything wrong with me, I don’t blame others, I only blame myself.

5. If I want to live longer I must learn T’ai Chi and accmoplish it both physically and mentally. To accomplish it mentally is much more difficult.

6. I must learn how to yeild, to be tactful, not to be aggressive; to lose (small loss, small gain – great loss, great gain); not to take advantage of others; to give (the more one gives the more one will have).

7. Life begins at seventy. Everything is beautiful! Health is a better of utmost importance and all the rest is secondary. Now I must find out how to enjoy excellent health in my whole life and discover the way to immortality.

8. Make one thousand friends, but don’t make one enemy.

9. One must practice what one preaches. Otherwise it is empty talk or a bounced check.

10. To conceal the faults of others and praise their good points is the best policy.

Steal My Art: Memoirs of a 100 Year Old T’ai Chi Master, T.T.Liang
by Stuart Alve Olson
ISBN 1556434162

Pages: 125-26

aikido Energy Martial Art Mindset Philosophy pushhands

The Harmony of Yin and Yang

As the Yang energy arises in another it is embraced with your Yin energy and becomes one harmonious energetic interaction. Dualistic thought is lost as one flowing energetic movement is embraced so that it is only one movement and not two. When this is demonstrated it appears as one seamless, graceful flowing movement without any conflict of energy being observed. The Yin completely absorbs the Yang and then leads it on its chosen path. In this way the desire of the one expressing Yang is not interrupted in any way but is encouraged and embraced. It must arise naturally and in so doing cannot be repeated as that would mean putting a movement on top of what was occurring instead of being in harmony with the movement as it is happening. As such it will be different every time.

The feeling of this movement is like falling into a ‘void.’ You are not thrown in the true sense but will find yourself falling into nothingness with no idea of what had just occurred. This is because it arose out of harmonious connected movement without any conflict. As this occurs it creates joy in both people as they experience oneness.

Quote: Aikido Journal, Mark Bilson of July 2006

Breath Chest Energy Foot Head Hip Knee Martial Art Mindset posture principle Shoulder Structure taiji Waist

Master Huang’s 14 Important Points

Master Huang Xingxian1. Calmness
– use Deep Mind (Xin) to calm and balance the energy.

2. Suspend the head
– empty the neck, send intention (Yi) to top of head.

3. The gaze is level
– use peripheral vision to be aware of left and right.

4. Loosen and open the chest
– ensure breastbone and upper-spine vertical, supporting the hollow space between them.

5. Sink the shoulders, drop the elbows
– shoulder-blades slide down the back to sink the shoulders, shoulder muscles loosen to droop the elbows.

6. Sacrum central and vertical
– lift the perineum slightly, draw the coccyx down and forward and loosen the lower back.

7. Loosen the waist and inguinal regions (Kua)
– waist controls the upper-body, inguinal regions are the base of the waist.

8. Breathe deeply
– breathe in, ribs expand, diaphragm sinks, abdomen in.
– breathe out, ribs relax, diaphragm rises, abdomen out.

9. Three harmonies, internal and external
– internal: Spirit (Shen) with Intention (Yi), Intention with subtle energy (Qi), subtle energy with body energy (Jing).
– external: shoulders and inguinal regions, elbows and knees, hands and feet.

10. Hands follow the body
– use the trunk to yield and neutralise, the hands to follow to protect the trunk and to prepare to attack.

11. Steps respond to body movements
– change the steps to support body movement.
– hands are like swinging doors; whether you win or loose depends on your steps.

12. Differentiate empty (Yin) and full (Yang)
– meet fullness with emptiness and emptiness with fullness.

13. Smoothness and continuity
– one thing moves, all things move.
– co-ordinate upper-body with lower-body.
– Deep Mind (Xin) and Intention (Yi) determine the speed of the movements.
– use Intention (Yi) to naturally harmonise the breath with the movements.

14. Use Deep Mind Intention (Yi), not insensitive strength
– relax the body, use Deep Mind Intention, then the senses and feelings will be very responsive.

Reference: Relax, Deep Mind Taiji Basics Patrick Kelly 2. ed. New Zealand 2004
ISBN: 0-476-00425-x

Red.: The book is rare to find. Patrik Kelly is a student of the late Master Huang Xingxian a famous student of the renowned Taiji master Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-Ching).

Master Huang’s 20 Important Points by Wee Kee Jin

Classic Energy Martial Art Mindset principle taiji

Chen Wei-Ming on Calm

The mind should be calm. If it is not, one cannot concentrate, and when the arm is raised, (whether) forward or backward or back, left or right, it is completely without certain direction. Therefore it is necessary to maintain a calm mind. In beginning to move, you cannot control (it) by your self. The entire mind must (also) experience and comprehend the movements of the opponent. Accordingly, when (the movement) bends, it straightens, without disconnecting or resisting. Do not extend or retreat by yourself. If my opponent has li (strength), I also have li, but my li is previous (in exact anticipation of his). If the opponent does not have li, I am also without it (li), but my mind is still previous. It is necessary to be continually mindful; to whatever part (of the body) is touched the mind should go. You must discover the information by non-discrimination and non-resistance. Follow the method, and in one year, or half a year, you will instictively find it in your body. All of this means use i (mind), not chin (internal force). After a long time the opponent will be controlled by me and I will not be controlled by him.

Red: from Five Character Secret

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

Page: 51

Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle pushhands Structure taiji

Jeijin – receiving energy

According to Huang Sheng-Shyan, the difference between taiji and other martial arts, is that taiji can ultimately develop jeijin (receiving energy), where yielding, neutralizing and discharging, all happen simultaneously. There is hardly any physical movement, and no mental intention at all, everything happens spontaneously and naturally.

The practitioner is in a state of absolute central equilibrium, the posture is totally connected and relaxed with the feet deeply rooted. The mind is calm and as still as a mountain. By being totally connected, connected and relaxed the body become an empty void. When an external force contacts, the body does not resist it, the force just passes through until it hits the ground and rebounds back throwing the opponent. Similar to pile driving during construction work, the deeper the pile is driven into the earth, the higher the hammer rebounds.

Achieving jeijin (receiving energy) indicates attaining shenming (taiji enlightment), at which point (sparring) techniques becomes irrelevant.

Taijiquan Wuwei, Kee-Jin Wee Oct 2003
ISBN: 0473097818

Page: 64

Exercise principle qigong Shoulder

The way to relax your shoulders

With your feet shoulder width apart,
slowly raise your arms as if lifting a ball.
Breathe in with the upward movement.
Turn your arms outwards and gently
lower them back to the start, breathing out.
Don’t hunch your shoulders or stiffen your arms.
Make at least 30 complete circles with your arms.

The Way of Power: Reaching Full Strength in Body and Mind Lam Kam Chuen Gaia Books Ltd 2003

Page: 11

Red.: This wonderful exercise is normally used as a warm-up exercise before Zhan Zhuang (Standing Pole Exercises) together with 2 others exercises for the hips and knees. This basic exercise is done to relax, loosen and free up the energy passage for the shoulders. The shoulders are one of the 2 big roadblocks that prohibit energy to travel freely to the limbs, the other being the hip.

Classic Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle yiquan

Wang Xiangzhai’s directions in verse for Dachengquan

Extremely subtle and profound,
Boxing theory is not to be taken lightly.
At the beginning of history martial art was of paramount importance;
And it was there that science of learning has its root.
Its essence has largely been lost, having been distorted to a sheer absurdity.
This Boxing is based on spirit and mind,
Merits of all schools are included in it.
Most earnestly I advocate the rejuvenation of shadow boxing,
With a view restoring it to its original essence.
In doing so I devote myself to the exploration of theory,
While considering the combat techniques as only secondary.

Martial Art posture principle pushhands Structure taiji

Chen Wei-Ming on Agility

If the body is clumsy, then in advancing or retreating it cannot be free; therefore it most be agile. Once you raise your arm, you cannot appear clumsy. The moment the force of the opponent touches my skin and hair, my mind is already penetrating his bones. When holding up the arms, the chi (breath) is threaded together continuously. When the left side is heavy, it empties, and the right side is already countering. The chi is like a wheel, and the whole body must naturally coordinate. If there is any uncoordinated place, the body becomes disordered and weak. The defect is to be found in the waist and legs. First the mind is used to order the body. Follow the opponent and not your self (your own inclination). Later your body can follow your mind, and you can control your self and still follow the opponent. When you can follow your opponent, then your hands can distinguish and weigh accurately the amount of his force, and measure the distance of his approach with no mistake. Advancing and retreating, everywhere (the coordination) is perfect. After studying for a long time, your technique will become skillful.

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

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

Page: 52

Breath Energy Exercise Martial Art principle qigong yiquan

The Mighty Warrior Exercise

(Ichuan, Dachengquan, Yiquan, exercise, qiqong, chikung, breathing, energy)

The Mighty Warrior Exercise Stand with the feet about double shoulder-width apart and toes pointing ahead. Bend the knees while lowering the body to stand in a horse-riding posture. Raise the arms sideways to form each an angle of about 60 degrees with the torso, the palms facing the ground and fingers apart. Keep the torso upright, lower abdomen loosened, chest held in, and the eyes looking into to the far distance with restrained concentration. Stand still for some time.

Move the arms upwards to shoulder height, and straighten the legs. Press downwards with the palms while bending the knees back into the horse-riding position. Repeat the procedure. The arm movements resemble those of an eagle’s wings, hence the exercise is also known as the Spread Eagle exercise. Repeat for no more than 360 times at a time.

Regular practice of this exercise will cause the vital energy to penetrate every part of the body and finally form a unique strength. Once this is required, with some simple instructions, one will be able perform wonders assisted by the control of breathing, such as cleaving a rock with one palm, hitting a stone tablet with the head, breaking an iron chain with deep breathing, letting a car running over the body. What he will be able to achieve the will be diametrically different from that put on by those sham kung fu masters under the name of controlled breathing.

by Wang Xuanjie
Hai Feng Publishing Co. May 1988
ISBN: 9622381111

Page: 78

Breath Energy Martial Art principle pushhands taiji Waist

Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures

by Wu Yu-hsiang (Wu Yuxian) (1812 – 1880)
sometimes attributed to Wang Chung-yueh
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

The hsin [mind-and-heart] mobilizes the ch’i [vital life energy].

Make the ch’i sink calmly;
then the ch’i gathers and permeates the bones.

The ch’i mobilizes the body.
Make it move smoothly, so that it may easily follows the hsin.

The I [mind-intention] and ch’i must interchange agilely,
then there is an excellence of roundness and smoothness.

This is called “the interplay of insubstantial and substantial.”

The hsin is the commander, the ch’i the flag, and the waist the banner.

The waist is like the axle and the ch’i is like the wheel.

Energy Martial Art principle taiji

Four Character Secret Transmission

Spread. To spread means that we mobilize our chi spread it over our opponents energy and prevent him from moving.

Cover. To cover means that we use our chi to cover our opponents thrust.

Check. To check means that we use chi to check our opponents thrust, ascertain his aim and evade it.

Swallow. To swallow means that we use chi to swallow everything and neutralize.

These four character transmission represents what has no form and no sound. Without the ability to interpret energy and training to the highest perfection, they cannot be understood. We are speaking here exclusively of chi. Only if one correctly cultivates the chi and does not damage it, can one project it to the limbs. The effect of this on the limbs cannot be described in words.

(attributed to Wu Yü-hsiang)

Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions by Douglas Wile
Sweet Chi Press, April 1989
ISBN: 091205901X

Page: 27

Energy Martial Art principle pushhands taiji

Grasp Sparrows’s Tail is like two men sawing

This is the push-hands sequence of Wardoff, Rollback, Press and Push. The action is that of sawing. When you saw, the force at both sides should be equal; then the action is smooth. If one side tries to change the force, the saw’s teeth will bind. If my partner binds the saw, then even if I were to use force I would not be able to draw it back. Only if I push it will saw smoothly as before. This has two meanings for the push-hands of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. The first is to give up oneself to follow others. In following the opponent’s tendency you can learn the marvelous application of hua chin (neutralization) and tsou chin (yielding). Second, “If others move slightly, I move first.” This refers to the situation wherein my opponent uses force to push me and I obviate his attack by pulling back first. If the opponent uses pull I preclude this by pushing first.
The principle in the example of pulling the saw brings great clarity. Through it, I suddenly comprehended how to practice the idea, “if others move slightly, I move first.” If I am familiar with this, then the push-hands is controlled by me and not by my opponents. The rest is obvious.

( Red.: It’s said; “If the other does not move, I do not move. If the other has the slightest movement, I move ahead” proverb taken from the Taiji Classic “The understanding of the Thirteen Postures” )

Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan
by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, Martin Inn
North Atlantic Books,U.S., May 1985
ISBN: 0938190458

Pages: 90-91