Sheng Zhen Healing Qigong – Li Jun Feng

Li Jun Feng embodies the spirit of Sheng Zhen, Unconditional Love. As the leading teacher of the International Sheng Zhen Society, he is the moving force behind bringing Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong practices to the world.

Master Li perhaps is best known as having been the headcoach of the world-renowned Beijing Wushu (Martial Arts) Team and National WushuTeam of the People’s Republic of China for over 15 years. Under his leader ship,these teams consistently won first place in both national and international competitions for over 12 years, bringing unprecedented honor to the country and elevating the standards of excellence and quality worldwide.

During those years, Master Li also achieved international fame as a martial arts film actor and director.Today, Master Li serves as advisor to the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong and the Qigong Science Research Association of China. He is based in Austin, Texas USA and travels extensively sharing this wonderful practice throughout the world.


Kuan Yin Standing Qigong Part 1 – Sheng Zhen
Kuan Yin Standing Qigong Part 2 – Sheng Zhen
Sheng Zhen Healing Qigong, Part 1, Movements 1-5
Taiji Shen Gong
Li Jun Fengs daugther Li Jing from wushu doku part 5
Taiji Shen Gong #1 Li Jing
Taiji Shen Gong #2 Li Jing

Yiquan Rumen

Author: Master Yao ChengRong
Translator: J. P. Lau
Translator’s Note: In English, “Yi” means mind or intent, “Quan” means fist or martial art, “Ru” means enter or cross and “Men” means door or threshold. The literal meaning of the phrase “Yiquan Rumen” is “the learning of the rudiments of Yiquan”.

A lot of Yiquan enthusiasts know that Yiquan training involves several categories including Relaxed Standing (Zhan Zhuang), Trial & Feel (Shi Li), Footwork (Jou Bu), Release of Power (Fa Li), Push Hands (Tui Shou), Sparring (San Shou) and Breath Control (Shi Sheng).
However, some are still “wandering outside looking for the door”.

What are the theory and basic principles of Yiquan?

In the mid 1920s, with Xing Yi Quan as foundation and incorporating the essence of numerous other styles into the grand synthesis, martial arts expert Master Wang XiangZhai created Yiquan (a.k.a. Da Cheng Quan).
He rejected the traditional obsessions with intricate forms of pattern and sequences of movement as training method and emphasized the simplicity of essence.
By elevating “Yi” to a central position in martial arts training, he emphasized the supreme importance of the intentional component of the mind.

Master Yao ZhongXun, designated successor of Master Wang XiangZhai, further explained that training of the mind alone is not Yiquan as is not physical practice alone.
The two must be combined.
The essence can only be cultivated by integration of the mind and body.
Visualization or mental imagery must be employed in relaxed standing (Zhan Zhuang) to direct an integrated neuromuscular coordination that results in a whole-body response.
Kinesthetic perception of the internal/external opposing force pairs (Zheng Li) and internal isometrics is developed to seek, sense, experience, cultivate, understand and master the whole-body balanced force (Hun Yuan Li).
This balanced force is always in perfect harmony, having no absolute direction but having the potential to release power explosively in any direction.
It can be cultivated by using mental imagery to direct your neuromuscular coordination practice, seeking movement in stillness and power from not using brute force.
With proper mental visualization, relaxed standing exercises integrates your mind and body into a well-coordinated springy whole-body and allows you to rediscover your innate ability for natural movement.

In any athletic event, speed and force are primary qualities.
These are controlled by your muscular relaxation/tension exchange.
Since muscular activity is controlled by the mind, Yiquan emphasizes that the proper use of relaxation (Song) and tension (Jin) must be both physical and mental.
Only a well-coordinated whole-body can enhance your capacity to react spontaneously and appropriately to any situation.

2. How to use directed mental imagery (visualization) to guide training?

Prior to Zhan Zhuang, relax mentally and physically; enter into a tranquil state with the conscious mind holding no deliberate thought.

Stand erect; feet shoulder width apart; outside edges of feet approximately parallel.

Keep your spine erect and imagine a string pulling the top of your head upwards, tuck-in the chin slightly as if holding a small balloon between it and the neck.
The head and neck should be held erect.
Relax the facial muscles; almost smile.
Direct your eyes to a distant object; imagine looking through a light fog. Lightly touch the teeth together.
Part the mouth slightly.

Allow the tongue to lie naturally; do not be concerned with it touching any particular place in the mouth.
Bend the knees slightly; visualize holding a balloon between your knees.
Imagine applying inward pressure below your knees and outward pressure above your knees.
Relax the lower back filling out the small of the back as if you are sitting on a high stool.

Lift hands up to shoulder level with your hands separated by a distance of two to three fists and about a foot from your chest.
Form a circle with your arms; hands higher than your elbows; palms facing your face.
Prop your elbows out to your sides slightly below the level of the shoulders as if holding balloons in your armpits.
Keep your fingers slightly bent and separated; imagine holding cotton balls between your fingers.
It is important to keep the shoulders down and relaxed.
Imagine holding small fragile balloons in the armpits; lowering your upper arms will crush them; lifting your upper arms will drop them.
This is the basic health posture; adjust your posture whenever necessary until you are absolutely comfortable.
Next, use directed mental imagery to guide your training to “feel for the balanced force” (Mo Jin) while maintaining this posture.

Step 1:
Visualize imaginary springs connecting your fingers from one hand to the other and connecting your wrists to your neck.
Imagine holding a lightweight fragile paper balloon between your arms and chest.
Applying too much force will crush this balloon; not enough force will result in dropping it.
Direct your primary intent to hugging (slightly more closing intent, 70% than spreading open intent, 30%).
Direct these actions with your mind-intent; do not use any brute strength.
Alternatively, you may visualize imaginary supports at your elbows; imagine transferring your weight to these supports without changing your posture.
Now, remove the imaginary supports but maintain your posture without using any unnecessary force.

Keep all joints in a state between total relaxation and tension that allows for gentle and supple movement.
It is a state with alertness and readiness for action without being physically lax, physically collapse or diminished in consciousness.

Step 2:
Visualize standing in waist deep water; imagine the water flows towards you from the front, shift your weight forward to meet the resistance.
But imagine the water immediately pushes from your back; you must immediately shift your weight backwards to meet the resistance.
Alternatively, imagine trapping an ant under each foot.
As the ants attempts to escape towards your toes, gently shift your weight forward to trap them.
Then as they attempt to escape towards your heels, gently shift your weight backwards to trap them.
Thus, you repeat this forward/backward shift to meet resistance and seek movement in stillness to cultivate whole-body force.
Always maintain perfect balance.
Use visualization to induce whole-body movement.

Step 3:
Next, use inherent opposites (Mao Dun) to cultivate opposite force pairs (Zheng Li).
Visualize holding a balloon between your knees, apply inward pressure below your knees and outward pressure above your knees.
Visualize imaginary springs connecting your fingers from one hand to the other and connecting your wrists to your neck.
As you shift your weight backwards, simultaneously pull your knees apart slightly, pull your hands backwards, outwards and upwards slightly; as you shift your weight forwards, simultaneously squeeze your knees together slightly, press your hands forward, downwards and inwards slightly.
Remember always to maintain the vertical opposing force pair between your head and your feet mildly stretching your spine.
Do this “motionless movement” with mental intent with small or no physical movement.
Use directed mental imagery to guide your whole-body neuromuscular coordination, as one part of your body moves, your whole-body must move in unison.

3. Some frequently asked questions?

How to relax in Zhan Zhuang?
Relaxation in Zhan Zhuang is not total and/or pure relaxation.
Strength/force is used to maintain your posture and to cultivate your balanced force through mental visualization induced motionless movement.
Relaxation is emphasized to avoid stiffness in using strength, to achieve a relaxation/tension state that allows for gentle and supple movement with alertness and readiness for action.
Pure relaxation leading to physical laxness and diminished consciousness is to be avoided.

How big or small should the motionless movement be?
During Zhan Zhuang, the magnitude of your body movement must be small enough for you to maintain perfect balance. Absolute stillness will induce stiffness and tenseness; big motion will disturb your balance.
Feel free to adjust your posture whenever necessary to be absolutely comfortable.
Visualization induced small whole-body motion keep your standing “alive”.

How long should I stand; is the longer the better?
There are two goals in Zhang Zhuang: improving health and cultivate the balanced force.
you turn Zhan Zhuang into an endurance practice by seeking only to lengthen your standing time, then you have missed the real meaning; you are doing “dead” standing.
You must use visualization to direct your whole-body neuromuscular coordination to seek movement in stillness, to cultivate the internal opposing force pairs and to master your balanced force.
Always practice with focused concentration and comfortable natural ease.
Breathe naturally; specifically do not pay attention to breathing; do not hold your breath.
Match your physical and mental condition to the length of your training time; do not overstress your abilities.

How do I know if I have “crossed the threshold” (Rumen)?
When you can use visualization to:

direct your neuromuscular coordination practice,

use kinesthetic perception to seek/sense the balance


Every hair is fully alert

‘In the fully energized state, “every hair is fully alert.” The state of relaxed arousal is what is meant by the chinese term “sung.” This is not the drowsy torpor before sleep. It is the release of tension that saps our strength – so that we become alert, clearheaded and full of vigor. Your head is uplifted and your eyes open, while letting go of physical tension in your muscles and organs.’

The Way of Power: Reaching Full Strength in Body and Mind
by Master Lam Kam Chuen
ISBN 1856751988

p. 134

Meditative Mind

The tricks for reaching a deep meditative mind are: do not resist, do not concentrate, do not persist, and most importantly of all, dot not be disturbed emotionally.

In meditation, the more you restrict your mind from wandering, the more it will try to escape your control. It is like trying to force your self to sleep – it just cannot be done. The mind is very stubborn and cannot be pushed. It can, however be led. Like water, the more you push, the more ways it will find to get around you. But if you led it correctly, it will flow smoothly even into the deepest places.

Moreover, when you meditate in this way, you should not concentrate. To much concentration will only generate greater resistance. Instead, simply pay attention. Concentration will make you tired and tense. This will worsen the situation. You should not allow your mind to dwell upon thoughts or problems occurring outside of your body. When you notice that your mind is constantly returning to the same thought patterns, bring it gently back to the center of your spirit. The center of your spirit is located at what is called the third eye, in the center of your forehead. Remember that deep, even breathing can help you achieve and maintain this metal centering.

Above all, never become upset with your self if you have difficulty leading your mind into a deep meditative state. Emotional disturbance will only create more tension in your mind, and further hamper your efforts.

Shaolin White Crane Martial Power and Qigong by Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming
ISBN 1886969353

P. 190

The heart is calm and quiet as still water

Wang Ji Wu

One must always maintain a calm heart even when influenced by the seven emotions; joy, anger, happiness, worry, sadness, fear and surprise. The heart must remain as calm as still water, never allowing any personal desires to stir up a ripple of disturbance. My thoughts are pure, in spirit I seek to forget myself and transcend the common affairs of the world, keeping my life simple and my desires few. With a clear heart, I do not contend with others or make demands upon the world, but rather seek to contribute what I can for the benefit of all, aiding those in need and protecting those in danger.

Without desire one is strong, without desire one is quiet, without desire one may return to what is natural, without desire one returns to the original state. With a heart still like water, from the extreme stillness will spring action, from the void comes that which is alive, yin and yang are in harmony and the qi flows unimpeded. With a heart still like water qi is sufficient and the spirit full. When the qi is sufficient and the spirit is full, the organs functions normally, the blood is nourished, the meridians, nerves, digestion, and circulation are all healthy and the metabolism stimulated. When the factors which prevent aging all are strong, one may prevent illness and live a long healthy life.

Humans are holistic beings which are possessed by of a certain vitality. The spirit and flesh are inseparable and form a complicated entity. The human vitality supports, influences, and is responsive to the person as a whole, while the spirit is the leader and controller, the “commander-in-cheif” of the being as a whole. Under certain circumstances, it can be said that the spirit “pulls at one hair and the whole body follows” or at the slightest stirring of the spirit the whole being responds, and each movement of the spirit has a real effect on the individual. Therefore I put special emphasis on the spirit as the leader, ever strengthening my resolve to cultivate my spirit, maintain calmness of the heart and become as pure as light without a speck of dust. This is akin to the meaning of a Song Dynasty poet who wrote “to understand the highest virtue,” applied to the present time. Better yet, this cultivation of the spirit and the heart will improve the physical constitution of the people, protect their health, and contribute to a long and healthy life.

Xing Yi Nei Gong: Health Maintenance and Internal Strength Development
compiled and edited by Dan Miller and Tim Cartmell

ISBN 0865681740
p. 30-31

Joy of Meditation

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.

Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment.
Breathing out, I know it is a wonderfull moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh The Bloming of a Lotus
ISBN 0807012378

p. 15

Seven Star Pile Standing

NOTE: The following article is based on teachings at a recent Push-hands Seminar conducted by Zhang Yun in Philadelphia. It was edited by Dr. Susan Darley, a student of Zhang Yun for the past five years.

Pile Standing

Zhan Zhuang – Pile standing is the most common training method in traditional Chinese martial arts. Almost every style and group has its own version of this useful practice. Whatever the variation, pile standing involves holding a fixed posture for a period of time. Occasionally, the posture may include a few uncomplicated shifts of position, but usually it requires that the practitioner stand still, like a piling or pole. Because the movements of pile standing are easy and simple compared to many other training methods, pile standing allows practitioners to concentrate more fully on the details of internal training.

Taiji Quan is an internal martial art and one of its primary goals is internal training. The first step in such training is to increase one’s control of the internal components Shen (spirit), Yi (mind) and Qi. Pile standing is a particularly effective way to accomplish this control. Increase in control of the internal components gradually creates feelings that cause subtle adjustments in the body. These internal alterations, in turn, increase one’s energy and abilities.

The process of increasing internal control happens slowly, so much time must be allowed for this practice and the training must be careful and regular. For beginners, practice should occur daily and for a period of at least one hundred days. A given pile stance should be held for as many minutes as the correct flow of mind and Qi can be maintained. Holding a pile stance in this way for 15 to 20 minutes will produce significant gains in the development of basic skills.

In traditional Taiji Quan practice, pile standing is a commonly used training method, especially for beginners, and “Qixing Zhuang” or Seven-Star Pile Standing is the most frequently practiced Wu style Taiji Quan training stance. Careful practice of seven-star pile standing can significantly enhance the development of rooting, internal energy, relaxation, sensitivity, body integration, and control of the internal components.

Seven-Star Pile Standing

Although the original meaning of seven-star is “plough,” the phase in traditional Chinese martial arts usually refers to the seven key acupoints on the body. These points are very important for martial arts practice. They are: the “head star” at Baihui point (on the top of the head); the “shoulder star” at Jianjing point (on the Yang-side shoulder); the “elbow star” at Quchi point (on the elbow of the Yang-side arm); the “hand star” at Laogong point (on the Yang-side palm); the “hip star” at Huantiao point (on the Yang-side hip); the “knee star” at Yanglingquan point (on the knee of the Yang-side leg); and the “foot star” at Yongquan point (on the ball of the Yang-side foot).

In Taiji Quan practice, each side of the body is considered separately. The Yang side is the active and insubstantial (unweighted or empty) side; the Yin side is the quiet and substantial (weighted) side. Each side includes one leg and the opposing arm. The Yin and Yang qualities are exchanged whenever movements involve weight shifts. This changing of Yin and Yang sides is the source of all Taiji skills.

The Yin-side leg is the leg that holds most or all of the body’s weight, while the Yang-side or empty leg bears none or only a relatively small amount of weight. The arm on the side of the body opposite from the Yin leg is considered to be the Yin-side arm and, likewise, the Yang-side arm is on the opposite side of the body from the Yang leg. When, for example, the right leg is weighted, this leg is the Yin or Yin-side leg, and the left leg is the Yang leg. The right arm is the Yang arm, and the left arm is the Yin arm.

Because the Yang side is the active side, the focus of the mind during a stationary posture such as seven-star pile standing is always on this side. In seven-star pile standing, six of the seven stars on which the mind will focus are on the Yang side arm and leg. Baihui, the head star, is also called Ding Pan Xin or “criterion” star. It is of primary importance for maintaining Zhong Ding or central equilibrium. Because it never changes, it is not associated with either side of the body. One of the foremost goals of seven-star pile standing is to increase the smooth, free-flowing movement of the internal components along the seven key points.

Seven-Star Pile Standing Movement Description

The basic movement of seven-star pile standing is the same as the Hold Seven-Star posture in the empty-hand form. This posture is one of the most important in the form. In this posture, a sitting stance is used, which keeps one hundred percent of the weight on one leg. When you hold this posture, if your weight is on the right leg and your left arm is extended in front of your body, you are in a “left posture”; otherwise, you are in a “right posture.” Here, we will just describe the left posture. For the right posture, everything is same except the designation of sides, which should be reversed.

Preparatory Movements

Stand facing forward with your feet parallel. There should be a distance of about the width of one fist (about 4 inches) between your feet. Relax your mind and body. Make your breathing slow, deep and smooth.

Slowly rock from side-to-side letting your feet move as necessary to achieve a comfortable stance. The distance between your feet at this point should be wider than one fist, but the maximum distance should not exceed the distance between the left and right shoulders.

Think about a vertical line connecting the Jianjing point on each shoulder to the Yongquan point on the corresponding foot. Keep your breathing smooth and your body relaxed. Feel as though your body is sinking slightly down. This will create a sense of stability and heaviness. Soon you will feel as though you are starting to become sleepy. From this point on, you should not try to control your breathing in any way; just forget about it and let it occur naturally.

As soon as you notice the sleepiness, focus your mind on the Baihui point at the top of your head to bring your Shen (spirit) up. This will create a sense of alertness. Ideally, you can become so alert that it is possible to feel the air moving along your body. Although you are standing still with your eyes looking forward, this alertness will allow you to be aware of whatever may be going on around you. Do not let your gaze fasten on any particular object but remain relaxed and attentive.

(1) Sinking Down of the Body

From Baihui, bring your mind to the left Jianjing point and let your left shoulder fully relax so that your left arm feels as though it could effortlessly be detached from your body.

Next, focus your mind on the left Quchi point on your left elbow and then move it down to the left Laogong point on your left hand. As your mind moves down to your left hand, you will feel like bending your legs. Follow this feeling and let your body sink down. Your body will feel heavy and your stance will become very stable. In spite of the sensation of heaviness, you should feel as though there is a spring inside your leg that balances the downward push of your body. Your left hand should also feel heavy and as though the palm is reaching downward to touch the floor. At this point, the fingers of both hands should point forward and both palms should face down.

(2) Extension of the Left Arm and Weight-Shift to the Right Leg

Keep your mind on your left hand until you feel as though your left arm wants to move up. Then let the arm move forward and up follow this feeling. Remember that it is always important in Taiji Quan practice to concentrate the mind and then wait until the feeling for a movement exists before you actually execute the movement. As expressed in a classic tenet of Taiji practice, movement always occurs: “First in mind, then in body.”

As your mind continues to focus on the left Laogong point of your left hand, your weight should start to shift to your right leg. Then, bring your mind to the left Quchi point on your left elbow and continue shifting your weight to the right leg as your left arm continues to move up and forward on a slight diagonal to the right.

As your mind moves to the Jianjing point on your left shoulder, your weight should shift completely to your right leg, and your left arm should be extended in front of you with the elbow slightly bent and the left thumb opposite your nose. Throughout the movement of your left arm, you should feel as though your shoulder has been chasing your elbow which, in turn, has been chasing your hand.

At the end of this movement, your right leg should be fully weighted and your right toes, right knee, and nose should be aligned in a vertical line. Your left leg should be completely empty.

(3) Extension of the Right Arm

Now, move your mind from the left to the right Jianjing point and feel your right arm become relaxed. Only when you feel as though your right arm wants to move up, should you let this movement occur.

As your mind moves down to the Quchi point on your right elbow and then to the Laogong point on your right hand, your right arm should continue to move up and forward on a slight diagonal toward the center of your body until your right middle finger touches the crook of your left elbow. Your right thumb should point to Tanzhong point (in the middle of your chest and at the level of your nipples).

(4) Extension of the Left Leg and Upward Turn of the Left Palm

Next, let your mind focus first on the Tangzhong point and then down to Dantian (inside the abdomen about three inches behind the navel). Let your mind remain briefly at Dantian before moving it to the Huiyin point (on the perineum midway between the sexual organs and the anus). Focus your mind next on the Huantiao point on your left hip.

When your mind is focused on your left hip, wait until your left leg seems ready to move of its own accord before letting it begin to extend outward in front of your body.

From the left hip, bring your mind respectively to the Yanglingquan point on your left knee and then to the Yongquan point on your left foot. Your left leg should continue to move forward and when it is fully extended, your body will have assumed a sitting stance with your left heel touching the floor and your toes pointing up.

While your left leg moves forward, your left palm, which had been facing to the right side, should turn up in a counterclockwise direction. It is important when you turn your palm that your left thumb does not move but instead remains opposite your nose, having acted as a pivot point for the upturning palm.

(5) Completion of the Opening Circle of the “Hold Seven-Star” Posture

When your mind is focused on the Yongquan point of your left foot, it will have moved through all of the seven “stars,” three of which – the shoulder, elbow and hand – are on the Yang arm and three of which – the hip, knee and foot – are on the Yang leg. The seventh or “criterion” star is Baihui at the top of the head. To complete the opening circle, you should bring your mind from the left foot star back to Baihui. This insures that your Shen will be up, thereby creating a sense of nimbleness along with the stability that has been achieved through taking the stance.

Having assumed the “seven-star” pile standing, you now begin to move your mind and Qi through as many circuits around the seven key points as possible. Typically, you should try to work your way up to holding the stance and maintaining the circling of mind and Qi for increasing periods of time.

(6) Circling of Mind during Seven-Star Pile Standing

Although pile standing is a stationary practice, all the internal components should be in continuous movement inside your body during the maintenance of the stance. It is in this sense that pile standing is an internal practice. The internal movement of Shen, Yi and Qi will always bring some feeling or tendency toward physical movement. It is said that to intend something will lead or direct the mind, that the mind can then be used to lead Qi and that Qi, in turn, can be used to create the urge to move.

To begin the first small circle of seven-star pile standing, bring your mind from the “head star” Baihui to the right “shoulder star” Jianjing and then to the right “elbow star” Quchi and on to the right “hand star” Laogong. From here, your mind should move, with Qi following, through your right thumb to Tanzhong.

To begin the first big circle, bring your mind from Tanzhong to Dantian and then to the left “hip star” Huantiao, onto left “knee star” Yanglingquan and then to the left “foot star” Yongquan. Your mind should then move immediately from the big toe of your left foot in a large imaginary circular path back to Baihui.

At this point, move your mind straight down from Bahui to the Yongquan point on the bottom of your right foot. Your body will feel heavy and there will be a strong sensation of compression in your right leg. Bring your mind to your extended left palm and imagine that your right foot is resting on that palm so that your left hand is holding up your whole body. This will lead you to feel that your body is sinking down more and more onto your right leg. As this occurs, imagine the force increasing on your left hand as it supports your sinking body.

Maintain this thought until you feel as though your right leg is very hot and as though you cannot hold your body up any longer. Then, let your mind return to Baihui. This will cause you feel more relax and your right leg to become more comfortable. Begin another circuit of your mind through the “head star” acupoints (Fig. 5).

Repeat the circling of your mind as many times as your skill and strength allow. Maintain a sense of physical relaxation and stability while at the same time experiencing internal excitement and springiness. Thus, you will be enhancing your capacity for nimbleness of movement as well as increasing your root.

(7) Closing form

When you feel that you can no longer maintain enough focus to move your mind smoothly through the seven-star circles, it is the time to close your pile standing practice.

As your mind returns to Baihui at the end of the last seven-star circuit, withdraw your left foot back toward your body and place it alongside your right foot with both legs bent. Be careful not to raise your body up as you bring your left leg in.

At the same time, bring your arms back toward your body, letting your hands cross in front of your chest, a little bit higher than your nipples. Your gaze will naturally lower (Fig. 6) and you will be ready for the last mind and Qi circle practice, called Xiao Zhoutian or microcosmic orbit.

Xiao Zhoutian – Microcosmic Orbit

Move your mind to Dantian and then to Huiyin. At the same time, separate your hands slightly so that the tips of your middle fingers touch each other and likewise your index fingers and thumbs. Your nose should be directly above your middle fingers. Slowly start to move your hands down along the centerline of your body and simultaneously begin to straighten your legs so that your body gradually rises up.

As your hands move down, bring your mind to the Mingmen point at the center of your lower back. This point is also known as the first of the “three back gates.” Separate your middle fingers as your hands pass Tanzhong and make sure that your nose is directly above your index fingers.

Continue to push your hands slowly down in front of your body and bring your mind to the Jiaji point at the center of your upper back. As your mind moves up through this second “back gate” and your hands move down in front of the Zhongwan point between Tanzhong and your navel, separate the tips of your index fingers. Your nose should now be directly above your thumbs.

Bring your mind up to the third “back gate”, the Yuzhen point on the back of the head where the head joins the neck. Separate the tips of your thumbs as your hands pass the Shenqie point on your navel. Look forward and let your mind move up and return to the head star Baihui.

Let your hands relax alongside your body with each thumb touching the corresponding thigh and your fingers fanned slightly outward. At this point, your legs should be complete straight and your posture should be comfortably erect.

When your movement has finished, you will feel Qi flowing from Baihui down the front of your face like a gentle waterfall. Move your mind, followed by Qi, down to Dantian and then bring your fingers to rest along the sides of your legs.

Check your breathing. It should be smooth and perfectly calm. You should feel very comfortable and relaxed as you complete seven-star pile standing.


Seven-star pile standing can improve your understanding of both Taiji Quan principle and also the internal sensations that underlie the proper execution of many basic skills. These feelings and understanding will then refine your form practice. Pile standing and form practice can supplement each other. A traditional saying in Taiji Quan is: “One step, one pile,” which means that every movement in the Taiji form can be used as a pile standing practice and also that every movement in the form should be practiced as though it were a pile standing. Although pile standing is very important, for advance study, it should be combined in form practice generally. So that form is usually called Dong Zhuang – “Moving Pile Standing”. In fact Taiji Quan is a dynamic rather than a static expression of skills.

Seven Star Pile Standing ycgf with illustrations

Wang Peisheng 7 Stars

Making Three Dantians Linear

taoist1.jpgThis type of qigong has been passed on by a Taoist priest by the name of Wang Zhenyi. While practising this type of qigong you should concentrate your attention on making the upper, middle and lower dantians linear. When you have made your three dantians linear, you will attain a very special and comfortable feeling and will almost forget everything. Your small and large circulations will automatically be open to qi. This type of qigong can help you recover quickly from fatigue. No mater how tired you are, you can completely recover after practising this qigong for fifteen minutes. You can do this type of qigong while standing, sitting, lying down, or when practising taijiquan or riding a bicycle. This qigong does not require any preparation or special procedure before stopping.

1. Soon after concentrating your mind in your upper dantian, shift your attention to the lower dantian (huiyin acupoint).

2. After getting the feeling of qi in the lower dantian, shift your mind to the middle dantian and arrange it in line with the upper and lower dantians in order to make the three dantians linear. Then imagine the three dantians as three spheres. You should carefully put the sphere of the middle dantian between the two spheres of upper and lower dantians. The middle sphere will slide out if you do it carelessly.

3. When the three dantians have been made linear, you will get a very special feeling and comfortable feeling. You should hold this feeling as long as possible. It can help you return to the “original state”, to cure diseases and promote your health. You should maintain this feeling and eliminate any distractions.

Relax and calming qigong by Wang Peisheng & Chen Guanhua
ISBN 9622381812


Santi Shi or Trinity Pile Standing

by Zhang Yun courtesy of

Santi Shi or Trinity pile standing is the most important and fundamental training in Xingyi Quan practice. It is said that “Santi Shi is the source of all skills.” In traditional training, beginners need to learn Santi Shi and practice it for a long time before they can be taught other skills. Practicing Santi Shi can help practitioners improve their movements and the integration of internal and external components. Stability and rooting can also be increased by this practice, as can relaxation and the control and use of shen, yi, qi and jin. Santi Shi training is emphasized in every Xingyi Quan group and will be presented here as a foundation training for martial arts fighting skills.

Santi Shi practice includes several steps. First, you need to study the Santi Shi movements and stance carefully. Correct movement will facilitate the development of correct feelings, for example feelings of qi flow, at all key acupuncture points throughout your body. It is important to maintain relaxation during Santi Shi training, especially for beginners. Secondly, you should learn to generate jin – trained force and fully express it in your physical movements. As in all internal martial arts training, your practice should be led by your mind. Adherence to the Twenty-Four Key Points (will describe later) will further enhance your training.

At different stages of your training, your mind should be used in different ways. Because the training process takes a long time, you should practice daily and have patience. Beginners may be able to maintain the correct posture for only three to five minutes. When you can stand correctly for about thirty minutes, you will have developed a strong foundation for further progress in your practice. Some ancient masters were known to have required that their students practice Santi Shi for at least one to two hours everyday. Without this discipline and the strength that such practice engendered, it was considered pointless to teach other skills.

Basic Principle
The inspiration for Santi Shi comes from the Daoist principle that describes the creation of the universe. It states: “Dao generates One, One generates Two, Two generates Three and Three generates all the things of the world.” The Dao originates from xuwu or wuji, the undifferentiated state of the universe. From the Dao, a qi force is generated which initiates change within the universe and produces yin and yang. Thus, although the xuwu state appeared to be empty, it had within it a creative force that could bring order and balance out of chaos.

Taiji is the “One” referred to in the Daoist principle of creation. It describes the state of the universe just after the undifferentiated state of xuwu has become ordered by the emergence of Dao and the movement of qi. The entities of yin and yang are differentiated within Taiji but are not yet fully separated. Yin and yang are the basic attributes of the universe, and the existence of each depends on and is clarified by the existence of the other. Each attribute also contains part of the other within it.

Liangyi, the “Two” in the principle of creation, is the point at which yin and yang become separated into two entities, each with its own attributes. Yin and yang are qualities possessed by all objects in the universe. When yin and yang interact, a new entity is generated. So yin, and yang, and the new entity is called Sancai – the three essentials.

Sancai, or the “Three Essentials,” is the generative point from which all perceptible things derive. Sancai contains within it the three most valuable treasures of the universe: sky, earth and humans. Sky is characterized by the attributes of yang; earth, by the attributes of yin. Humankind is generated from the interaction of sky and earth.

According to Daoist principle, the Sancai can be found within even the smallest units of matter. In every occurrence of Sancai, there are three treasures or Sanbao and in each treasure, there are three more treasures. The sky, for example, a treasure of Sancai, contains the three treasures of sun, moon and stars; the earth contains the three treasures of water, fire and wind; and man contains the three treasures of jin, qi, and shen.

In Xingyi Quan, the trinity or tripartite structure is called Santi or Sanjie. This structure includes three external parts of the body and three internal components. The three body areas defined by Santi or Sanjie are: Shao jie, the tip section which includes the arms and hands; zhong jie, the middle or trunk section which includes the head and torso; and gen jie, the root section which includes the legs and feet.  Consistent with the tripartite principle, each of these three sections can be divided into three smaller sections.  Shao jie includes: a tip section comprised of the hands; a middle section comprised of the elbows; and a root section comprised of the shoulders. Zhong jie includes the head as the tip section, the chest as the middle section, and the waist or stomach as the root section. In Gen jie, the feet are the tip section, the knees are the middle section, and the hips are the root section. The three internal components of Santi or Sanjie are shen, qi and jin.

Santi or Sanjie is the foundation of all skills in Xingyi Quan and the starting point for all change and development. The post standing practice Santi Shi, also commonly called Sancai Shi, is a technique that embodies the tripartite principle. It can be divided into three component parts known as Wuji Shi, Taiji Shi, Liangyi Shi, and Santi Shi. Santi Shi practice incorporates the core concepts of Xingyi Quan and generates all other Xingyi Quan skills.

Sancai Sanbao Santi Sanjie

Movement to Form Standing Posture

Wuji Shi
Wuji Shi – Wuji Standing is a preparatory form that involves simply standing upright. In this form, the body should be relaxed and the mind should be empty. Everything should be quiet, with only a glimmer of intention inside the mind to initiate movement. If you are thinking about something strongly, even about your practice, you are not yet ready to move. You should maintain Wuji Shi until your thoughts have quieted completely.

Movement Description for Wuji Shi:
Stand upright with both feet together. Your arms should rest naturally alongside your thighs with your palms facing in. Hold your body erect and look straight ahead. The tip of your tongue should touch the upper palate behind your teeth. Your chin should be slightly withdrawn.

Focus your mind on the Jianjing points to encourage relaxation of your shoulders and on the Quchi points and Shaohai points to cause your elbows to drop. Then, focus your mind on the Jiaji point to expand the middle of your upper back and straighten your spine. Focusing your mind next on the Tanzhong point and imagining that water is trickling down your breast bone to your navel will cause your chest to withdraw slightly and feel hollow. After using your mind to achieve these effects, forget everything and just experience the comfortable relaxed state of your body and the quietness of your mind. Your shen should be fully alert, and you should feel as though qi were gently impelling your body to begin moving.

Taiji Shi
Taiji Shi –Taiji standing signals the beginning of the form. Your mental intention and the flow of qi will cause change to occur inside your body. It is important in Taiji standing to distinguish between yin and yang. Yin is a substantial quality and represents stillness in your body. Yang is insubstantial and characterizes movement. Although yin and yang are separate and distinct, they should mutually embrace and support each other in all physical processes. Taiji standing creates an inclination to move and to keep the mind quiet. The practitioner should follow these feelings as he begins the form.

Movement Description for Taiji Shi:
All physical movement starts from this point. When you move, you should always keep your body erect. Do not lean in any direction. Focus your mind on the Baihui point on top of your head and imagine that your body is suspended from this point. Turn your right foot on your right heel about forty-five to sixty degrees to the right. Relax your shoulders and drop your elbows. This will cause your hands to feel like moving. Follow this feeling and slowly move both hands in front of your abdomen. Your left hand should be over your right hand, and the pad of your left middle finger should be over the nail of your right middle finger. Look at the nail of your left middle finger.

Relax your hips and knees. This will cause a feeling in your legs of wanting to move. Follow this feeling and slowly bend your knees and lower your body until your knees are over your toes. At the same time, drop your elbows down and slightly back. This will cause your hands to move slightly up. Let your fingers point forward and your palms face the ground while you slowly shift your weight to your right leg.

Liangyi Shi
It is said that Liangyi Shi is generated by the changes in Taiji Shi. These changes result in the separation of yin and yang and end when yin and yang become integrated and generate Santi Shi. Liangyi Shi embodies the dual principles of motion and stillness, rising up and dropping down, stretching out and drawing back, going forth and moving back. Although yin and yang remain separated in Liangyi Shi, they are always in balance. When your body is moving, for example, your heart should be quiet; as your body rises up, your qi should sink down. When yin and yang are balanced and become integrated in the Liangyi posture, Santi Shi arises.

Movement Description for Liangyi Shi:
Imagine using the nail of your right middle finger to hold up your left middle finger. This will cause your left middle finger to move forward. Relax your left shoulder and drop your left elbow. Then, stretch your left hand up and forward. Simultaneously, step forward with your left foot and pull your right hand, which it is in front of your abdomen, back to touch your body tightly.

Look straight ahead and stretch your left hand out until the tip of your index finger is at the level of your nose. Your left palm should face forward. Keep your left elbow slightly bent. Pull your right hand back until the Yuji point on your right wrist touches the Shenqie point on your navel. Your right palm should face down. Step forward about two to three feet with your left foot. Shift about thirty to forty percent of your weight to your left leg. Keep your left knee slightly bent.

Keep your body erect and stable. Imagine that your waist is pushing your shoulders and hips, that your shoulders, in turn, are pushing your elbows, and that your elbows are pushing your hands. Be careful during this sequence that you do not lean forward. Imagine that your hips are pushing your knees, which are then pushing your feet. The movements of your upper and lower body should be fully coordinated. Internal and external components should be integrated. If this posture is done correctly, yin and yang though still separate, become integrated. Physically, Liangyi Shi is a dynamic posture that generates Santi Shi through the integration of yin and yang.

Santi Shi
It is said: Dao came from xuwu, the insubstantial and empty state, and generated qi; then, qi generated yin and yang which became integrated and generated Santi. Finally, Santi generated all things in the world. In Xingyi Quan, Santi Shi is called “the source of all skills.”

When Santi Shi or Trinity Standing is generated from Liangyi Shi, there is no overt physical movement. The Santi Shi posture should be held for at least several minutes. This will help develop strength, particularly in your legs, and will also help train your mind to integrate the different parts of your body.

Although there is no physical movement during Santi Shi, strict attention should be paid to the various postural requirements. It is important to keep your body and head upright, your neck and spine straight and your shoulders and hips level. It is also important not to lean in any direction.

If done correctly, Santi Shi will improve many of your gongfu skills because it will significantly increase your leg strength. To hasten the strengthening of your legs, imagine that you are trying to raise your front knee slightly. This will create a feeling of expansion and a very hot, burning sensation in your back leg.

The internal feelings that develop through Santi Shi are very complex, and so this practice can be very helpful for learning to focus your mind so that it can lead the internal components that direct your physical movements. The mental aspects of Santi Shi training should be developed step-by-step.Changing-Side Form:

When your left hand and left foot are in front during Santi Shi, the posture is called left-side Santi Shi. The opposite situation is referred to as right-side Santi Shi. You should practice equally on both sides.

Movement Description for Changing-side Form:
In left-side Santi Shi, focus your mind on the right Jianjing point to relax your right shoulder and on the left Huantiao point to relax your left hip. Then, imagine moving your tailbone over your left heel. This will cause your weight to shift forward onto your left leg. While your weight is shifting forward, relax your left hip. This will cause your left foot to turn on the heel about forty-five to sixty degrees to the left. At the same time, pull both hands back slightly.

Focus your mind on your left shoulder. This will cause your right hip to relax as your weight shifts to the left. Touch your right foot to the ground in preparation for stepping forward but keep your weight on your left leg.

Focus your mind on your left elbow. This will cause your left arm to drop down and move back until it is in front of your right hand.

Then, focus your mind on your left shoulder. This will relax your left shoulder and cause your right foot to step forward lightly. At the same time, pull your left hand back until it is in front of your stomach with your left palm facing the ground.  The fingers of your left hand should point to the right and forward. The Yuji point on your left wrist should touch the Shenqie point on your navel. At the same time, push your right hand forward until your right index finger lines up with your nose and your right palm faces forward. Shift your weight forward until about thirty to forty percent of your weight is on your right leg. Keep both knees bent slightly. Look straight ahead.

Santi Shou Shi(Closing Form)

When it becomes difficult to focus your mind on maintaining the correct body positioning and intention, you should stop Santi standing.  Continuing to hold the posture beyond this point can increase your leg strength, but it will not benefit your internal practice. When you are ready to end your standing practice, use the ending form, also called the ending form for trinity standing or, more simply, the closing form. This form will provide a feeling of refreshed completion to your practice.

Movement Description for the Ending Form:

If you have been standing in the left-side posture, relax your left shoulder. This will cause your arms and legs to withdraw. Follow this feeling and withdraw your left foot and left arm. Bring both feet together. When your left hand pulls back, raise your right hand slightly until both hands meet in front of your chest. Then push your hands down slowly in front of your stomach. Keep both knees bent.

Turn your right foot on the heel until your feet are parallel. At the same time, straighten your legs slowly until you are standing upright (fig. 6).  Continue moving both hands down and gradually separate them so that each hand rests along the corresponding thigh as your legs straighten up. Relax your whole body and breathe deeply, smoothly and slowly several times.

Six-direction Force
When you have developed the physical ability to hold the Santi Shi posture correctly, you should begin to train your mind in more detail. Although your body will appear to an outside observer to be motionless during Santi standing, many changes and feelings of movement will be occurring inside your body. It is said of this state that “Outside there is stillness but inside there is movement.”

Typically, six-direction practice is the first step in training your mind during Santi standing. It provides a simple way to focus your mind so that your mind can lead your qi and your internal force. Diligent practice of the six-direction force will stabilize and coordinate all aspects of your external posture. It will also integrate your internal force and develop an internal state of comfort and clarity.

The six-direction force practice is of central importance for the development of jin. In this practice, internal force is developed simultaneously in six directions: forward; backward; leftward; rightward; upward and downward. Often, training in Santi Shi emphasizes force primarily in one direction, but unless one develops the ability to support or express force in all directions, it will be difficult to change and maintain balance during movement, especially when fighting.

Internal force should be expressed in all directions, but for convenience of training, only six directions are delineated. If you can express force in these six basic directions, you can quite easily expand your skill to the release of internal force in all directions. Internal force should follow the flow of qi and fill your body as air fills a ball. When inflated by air, a ball becomes springy and strong, and equal pressure is exerted at every point on its surface. Internal force should similarly affect your body.

The following instructions for six-direction force practice assume that you are in the left Santi Shi posture, that is, your left hand and left foot are in front. Each direction force is described individually.

Upward Force: Focus your mind on Baihui, the acupuncture point at the top of your head. Imagine that it is pushing upward. Imagine, too, that your feet are being inserted into the ground. This will create a reverse direction force that will push your body up. The greater your feeling of your feet’s being inserted into the ground, the more upward power you will feel. Be careful that the force is directed straight upward. It is important that your body always be upright, especially your neck and head.

Downward Force: Focus your mind on the Dantian in the center of your lower abdomen. Think about relaxing every part of your body and about your qi sinking down to the Dantian. This will cause your body to feel heavy and drop slightly. Imagine also that your legs are pushing down into the ground.       

Forward Force: Focus your mind on the Laogong point in the center of your left palm and feel as though your left palm were pushing forward. Feel power coming up from your back foot. Your right rear foot should press down into the ground, and power should feel as though it were flowing up through your right leg to your waist, then through your back, your left arm, and finally out through your left palm. You should feel a forward-pushing force from your back foot, in this case your right foot, all the way up to your front or left hand. At the same time, imagine that your right shoulder is chasing your left hand.

Backward Force: Focus your mind on the Jiaji point in the center of your back and imagine that it is pushing backward. This feeling is often characterized as “leaning on the mountain.” Imagine that your left foot is pressing down into the ground. This will create a feeling that your torso is pushing toward your back. At the same time, imagine that your right hand is pulling something back and then coordinate this feeling with the downward force in your left foot. The integration of the feeling in your right hand with the downward press of your left foot will augment the backward force.

Leftward Force: Focus your mind on the Shangyang point in your right index finger and imagine pointing with this finger to the left side of your body. This will enhance the integration of your right arm and left leg and will create a feeling that your body is twisting to the left. The sense of twisting will generate a feeling of power rotating to the left inside your body.

Rightward Force: Focus your mind on the Shaoshang point in your left thumb and imagine your thumb twisting to the right. This will enhance the integration of your left arm and right leg and create a feeling that your body is twisting to the right. This twisting feeling will generate a force that seems to rotate to the right inside your body.

In the beginning of your practice, you should concentrate on only one of the six directions of force. When you feel comfortable with one direction, proceed to work on the next one. Remember that this training involves using only your mind to lead your practice and to create internal feelings. There is no overt physical movement. Sometimes, a strong, clear feeling inside your body may cause some slight movement. You should neither seek to increase such a feeling nor struggle to stop the involuntary movement. Just maintain a relaxed state and continue with your six-direction training.

When you can practice each direction of force separately with confidence, you can practice pairs of force. First, practice upward and downward forces together; then forward and backward forces and finally leftward and rightward forces. This gradual process is recommended because most practitioners find it difficult to focus on more than one point or direction at a time. When practicing pairs, concentrate on each side of the paired force directions. Initially, change your mental focus slowly and with clear intent from one force in the pair to the other. Eventually, you will be able quickly to switch your mental focus back and forth between the two different directions. Eventually it will come to seem as though you are focusing on the two directions simultaneously. When you can do this routinely, your mind will generate a powerful, clear feeling.

Acquiring this ability takes a great deal of practice, so be patient. With sustained practice over a long period of time, focusing your mind on a pair of directions will seem almost effortless. Then, you can extend your practice to include all three-paired force directions. The goal of such training is to increase your ability to generate or withstand power from any direction instantaneously and without conscious thought.Integration Force

Basically, the six-direction force is an expanding force. He jin or integration force is the other important force that can be cultivated in Santi Shi. It balances your energy, makes you more stable and allows your internal components to be comfortably coordinated. Integration force can also increase your internal power. As with six-direction force, integration force concerns mental intention and physical awareness but does not involve overt physical movement.

Integration force in your arms works to coordinate the use of both arms so that they can work harmoniously together as one. Integration force flows from your back to your arms and hands. To feel this force, first imagine strongly pushing your front hand forward. At the same time, imagine pulling your rear hand backward as though trying to tear a stiff and resistant piece of paper in half. Next, imagine pulling your front hand back and pushing your rear hand forward as though trying to put two heavy things together. Remember that all these “actions” should occur only in your mind. The images should not be accompanied by overt physical movement or by isometric tensing of your muscles.

Integration force in your legs is also a coordinating force. It can help develop rooting. To practice leg integration force, first imagine that your body is sinking down. This will create a feeling that your feet are being inserted deeply into the ground. Your front foot should slant down and forward, and your rear foot should slant down and backward. Next, imagine that you are standing on an icy surface. The surface is so slippery that your feet feel as though they are about to slide apart. Imagine that your front foot is sliding forward and your rear foot is slipping backward. In order to maintain your balance and avoid falling down, you will feel as though you need to use force to bring your feet together. Once again, all of this occurs only in your mind. There should be no overt physical movement and no isometric tensing of your muscles.

Integration force in your arms and legs results in the coordination of your upper and lower body. A simple way to practice integration force is to use three specific points on your arm and a corresponding set of three points on your opposite leg. The three points on your arm are: the Jianjing point on your shoulder; the Quchi point on your elbow; and the Lao Gong point on your hand. The three coordinating points on your opposite-side leg are: the Huantiao point on your hip; the Yanglingquan point on your knee; and the Yongquan point on your foot.

The first step in integration force training is to mentally connect one arm with the leg on the opposite side of your body. Focus first on the Laogong point of your left hand and then expand this thought to the Yongquan point on your right foot. Then, focus your mind on the Quchi point on your left elbow and connect that thought to the Yanglingquan point on your right knee. Next, focus your mind on the Jianjing point on your left shoulder and make a connection in your mind to the Huantiao point on your right hip.

Then, shift your mental focus to the other Jianjing point, that is, the Jianjing point on your right shoulder and connect it to the Huantiao point on your left hip. Continue by focusing next on the Quchi point on your right elbow and connect it to the Yanglingquan point on your left knee. Complete this part of your practice by focusing on the Lao Gong point on your right hand and connecting it to the Yongquan point on your left foot. Repeat these six steps until all the connections feel natural.

In the second part of integration force practice, you should try to coordinate the feelings in both arms with the feelings in both legs, at each of the three sets of points. This integration training is commonly called bao or “holding and embracing.” In bao practice, you should focus your mind first on both left and right Laogong points and then connect the feelings at these points to those at your right and left Yongquan points. Then, mentally focus on both left and right Quchi points and make connections to your right and left Yang Ling Quan points. Thirdly, focus on both left and right Jianjing points and connect them to your right and left Huantiao points. Next, focus on your right and left Jianjing points and connect them to your left and right Huantiao points. The fifth step is to focus on your right and left Quchi points and connect them to your left and right Yanglingquan points, and the sixth step is to focus on both right and left Laogong points and connect them to your left and right Yongquan points. Repeat these steps until the paired connections feel natural at each set of points.

Integration force practice will strengthen your qi, increase your mental control and concentrate your shen. The physical training of movement in your arms and legs will gradually cause internal changes. This is what is meant by the traditional adage that “outside training leads to inside training.” As training improves sufficiently, the internal and external can be integrated. At this point, you can reduce your concentration on external movement and focus more on training the internal components. Gradually, your internal feelings will grow stronger, and any internal change will automatically cause an external change. At high levels of mastery, it is possible to focus exclusively on shen because everything else, that is, mind (yi), qi, jin and physical movements, will follow naturally. With this ability, you will have fully achieved the integration force.Twenty-Four Key Points

For more detailed practice of Santi Shi, one should keep in mind and conform with the Twenty-Four Key Points in order to achieve high level skill.

The Twenty-Four Key Points come from Ba Zi Ge – the Eight Word Song, which is one of most important traditional formulations in Xingyi Quan. One should be mindful always of these essentials throughout one’s practice. Before one can apply all these considerations in one’s moving practice, one should learn and practice them well in Santi Shi – a stationary posture.

The eight words of Ba Zi Ge are: ding, kou, yuan, min, bao, chui, qu, and ting.

Most people believe the “Eight Word Song” was written by Master Li Luo Neng. It should be used in everywhere in Xingyi Quan. It is very important for all movements. Sometimes people refer to it as the “twenty-four key points in Santi Shi” because each of the eight character/words includes three points, resulting in a total of twenty-four ideas.

Xingyi masters traditionally introduce the Twenty-Four Key Points when students start to practice Santi Shi which is the first focus in traditional training.

The Twenty-Four Key Points include some internal and external ideas. Even so-called external points, actually should be done internally, i.e., using internal components to lead external training. Some of these ideas look similar on the outside, but are different inside. Some of these ideas may appear to be opposites, however they describe how to balance these points in practice. One should practice and then try to understand all of them in detail.

Because Santi Shi is a stationary practice, students may find it easier to learn and feel each point in the right way. When every point can be done well in Santi Shi, finally all points should be applied to all moving skills.

Below is Some Explanation of Twenty-Four Key Points:

Ding means go against, push forward or upward slowly but hard, withstand, support, or stand up.

* Head (back of skull) should be ding (pushes up), like it wants to fly up and smash the sky. This will cause one’s qi to ascend along the back to the upper Dantian, which is on the point which inside between eyebrows and underneath Baihui point.

* Palms should be ding (pushing outside or around), as if trying to push down a big mountain. This will cause one’s qi and internal force to extend to the tip of hands and feet.

* Tongue should be ding (pushes up to gums behind incisors), like a lion wants to swallow an elephant. This will cause one’s qi to sink to Dantian.

Kou means withhold, suppress, restrain, hold, keep, control, lock up, or button up.

* Both shoulders should be kou (held a little bit forward), like they can withhold something on chest. This will make one’s chest comfortable and qi can go to elbows with internal force.

* Back of palms and feet should be kou (suppressed), like hands can grip or lock up something and feet can grip or lock up on the earth. This will make one’s hands really strong and one’s steps really stable.

* Teeth should be kou (suppressed), like gritting teeth. This will make all your bones and muscles are tighten back.

Yuan means circular, round, smooth, or flexible.

* Back should be yuan (round), as if internal force pushes the body forward. This will keep one’s tailbone in the center of body and make one’s shen rise to the top of head.

* Chest should be yuan (round), like chest take sunken slightly. It will make both elbows stronger and breathing smoother.

* Tiger mouth (the area between thumb and forefinger) should be yuan (round), hands should open like eagle talons. This will train one’s binding and controlling force.

Min means quick, nimble, agile, sharp, acute alert, or sensitive.

* Heart should be min (nimble and quick), like an angry cat that wants to catch a mouse. This will make one’s mind alert and sensitive, increasing the nimbleness of one’s movement.

* Eyes should be min (sharp), like a hungry eagle seeking to catch a rabbit. This will train one to capture the best chance (timing) in combat.

* Hands should be min (quick), like a starving tiger wants to spring on a goat. This will train one how to move just before one’s opponent moves.

Bao means hold, carry in arms, or embrace.

* Dantian should be bao (embrace), like holding qi in Dantian and never to be destroyed. This will train one how to concentrate, collect, and use one’s qi.

* Xin qi – qi of heart (mind and shen) should be bao (kept quiet), holding the mind and shen in a constant and concentrated and relaxed state. This will train one never to be nervous and never to be confused in combat.

* Both sides of the chest should be bao (held in), like carrying something in the chest. This will train how to use one’s qi to protect one’s body.

Chui means droop, hang down, or vertical.

* Qi should be chui (sink down), like always move qi back to Dantian. This will make one’s body stable like a mountain.

* Both shoulders should be chui (sink and relax), as if using shoulders to chase elbows. This will make one’s arms become longer and more agile. Qi can move to arms and hands smoothly.

* Both elbows should chui (drop down), as though the qi can move in the inside of one’s arms. This will make both sides of one’s chest stronger and train side-to-side force.

Qu means curve, bent, crook, or winding.

* Arms (elbows) should be qu (curved), like a crescent moon. This will make one’s internal force in the arms become stronger and like a bow.

* Legs (knees) should be qu (bent), like a crescent moon. This will make one’s internal force in the legs become more springy and thicker.

* Wrists should be qu (curved), like a crescent moon. This will make one’s internal force concentrate in the hands, capable of moving forward and backward continually, freely and smoothly.

Ting means press onward, upright, erect, stiff, or straight.

* Neck should be ting (upright), the chin should be tucked back slightly. This will enable one’s qi to rise to the Baihui smoothly.

* Spine and waist should be ting (erect), like keeping straight. This will make one’s internal force move smoothly, extending through the arms and legs freely, and also exciting one’s qi to permeate every part of one’s body.

* Kneecap should be ting (stiff), like making stronger. This will make one’s qi comfortable, extend one’s shen, and deepen one’s rooting.There are a lot of things on which one should focus during practice, but no one can do these all at one time. It is important to note that one cannot fight while focusing on these points either. One should only practice one of them at one time. So, one should practice one idea until it becomes ingrained, so that one does it naturally without focusing on it. Then one can move to the next practice point.

One should practice until all points become ingrained, i.e., one can apply all of them naturally without thinking. When this is achieved, one will experience a totally different feeling. Only when one reaches this level, can one say one has really mastered these points.

From the above description of Santi Shi, one can understand why people traditionally refer to it as the source of all skills. This practice establishes a good foundation for Xingyi Quan training. From internal and external practice, each of the twenty-four key points is trained and the benefits of this training can then be applied everywhere in one’s movements and applications. How well one can perform internal skills will determine how high a level one can reach in Xingyi Quan. Thus, Santi Shi skill is emphasized greatly.

Santi Shi – Trinity Pile Standing
With pictures demonstrated by Lu Shengli

4 ounces deflects a 1000 pounds

Please see the October issue of Tai Chi Magazine for an article about Master Dong Bin and his theories on “4 ounces deflects a 1000 pounds“ and other Taiji classic principles.

Translated by Mr. Wang Ming Bo and Rose Oliver
Story by Rose Oliver

One of the most famous places in Shanghai is People’s Square. It is considered the heart of Shanghai and from where every other place is measured in distance.

At the centre of People’s Square is a very famous landmark, the Shanghai Museum – a very beautiful and modern building dedicated to the exhibition of many of China’s ancient treasures.

And here just behind the museum, in a small alcove by a fountain, meet many dedicated and serious practitioners of Taiji Quan with a combined age of several centuries.

However, both young and old alike are drawn to this centre of Shanghai to study and play with the heart of their group – Master Dong Bin.

Master Dong, who is now over 85 years old, is a very sweet, old man, who at first sight looks nothing like the image of a great Taiji master. Many of those around him look strong and powerful, in complete contrast to his slight frame and stature, but he is the heart that binds us all together with his kindness, generosity of spirit, knowledge, expertise and love.

In Chinese, the word for museum is: “Bo Wu Guan.” “Bo” can be used to describe somebody who knows many things as in Doctor of Science etc, and “Wu” means many objects from everyday life. So literally the word “bo wu guan” means a large centre of knowledge, home to many objects of beauty taken from life.

This in a nutshell also very aptly describes Master Dong Bin.

I first met him in 2004, when I was introduced to him by my “Shixiong” (elder brother) Mr. Wang Ming Bo.

I had heard a lot about him already, as he was my then current teacher/shixiong’s (Mr Wang Zhi Qiang’s) teacher. (Also known to his friends as “Dr. Wang because of his interest and research into traditional Chinese medicine, although he isn’t a qualified practitioning doctor).

I had been told that his skill was of a very high level and for some reason I had a mental image of a powerful, big man. So when we arrived I looked around for someone who would fit my idea. But as I looked, I couldn’t quite pick out who it could be, until my Shixiong pointed to a small, wizened old gentleman, sitting on the ground. He stood up as we approached, and I felt amazement as I realized that this was Master Dong himself and then a sudden feeling of pleasure when the realization hit me that of course this was exactly the kind of person who would be a Taiji master. The last person you could imagine.

Master Dong welcomed me and after hearing that I was studying with his student “Dr” Wang, asked me to perform the first third of the Yang style form that I was studying.

I proceeded to do so, after which Master Dong said to me with a slight smile, “Do you want to hear politeness or the truth?”

Of course I replied that I would prefer the truth, whereupon he told me, in a kind and gentle manner in his broken English, “All is mistake”!

He went onto explain that there wasn’t even one correct thing about my form, and demonstrated for me what the movements should look like and why, so that I could understand what the functions of the movements really were and why my body in the form that I played couldn’t possibly make the movements work.

He also told me about how the body should feel when it’s performing and described the relationship required between the waist, the body movements, the energy and the intention (Yi).

Master Dong said nowadays many students, Western and Chinese alike, have unfortunately lost the real purpose behind the movements as well as the correct intention, as he said many of the “old” teachers have already passed away and there are fewer and fewer people who have caught the essence of Taiji, or understand the individual postures.

Many of these original postures were created at a time when people always worked with their hands and bodies, before machines and automation and when modern accessories like electric weaving machines, carpentry equipment, construction equipment etc, were not invented or employed. Thus, these “applications” within the form were all taken from everyday life and work, so their real “secrets” were tied to the knowledge of how to work, use or play these particular instruments.

Take for example, “Yu Nu Chuan Suo” or “Fair Lady Weaves the Shuttles”.

Master Dong explained that in the past many women or young girls, usually stayed in the house not going outside to work like farm hands etc, so that their skin would be almost white like jade (Yu), as it was not tanned by being out in the sun. They would work at weaving cloth and clothes.

These women would be soft and very gentle and unused to heavy manual work. So, naturally their touch would be light and very sensitive as they plucked or threaded the wool or silk and not grab or grasp at the threads in a “strong grip”. They would also be so familiar with the movement of threading, that the action would be entirely natural and smooth, without the need for conscious thought when doing the movements and therefore completely relaxed without the need for strength.

Thus, a practitioner must keep this mentality in mind when executing this movement and not try to use force or strength in the application against an opponent, as this is not real Taiji.

He went onto add that this doesn’t mean that you are weak or cannot use the application against a strong opponent, but that your own hands and energy must be light and relaxed, reading and listening to what the opponent is doing, but without giving him the opportunity to “hear” what you are going to do through heavy-handedness.

Plus your own action must be honed by familiarity, so that you can execute the movement with ease.

Master Dong began his own studies in Taiji Quan when he was about 13 years old.

He was born in the countryside in Ningbo, (which is a coastal city not far from Shanghai), to a poor family; and at the age of 13, he came alone to Shanghai to study carpentry.

This was also when the Japanese were occupying Shanghai, at around the time of the 2nd World War, and it was a period of great chaos and confusion, as well as being one of unpredictability.

He took an exam to enter work as an assistant in a small shop and began working, but because of the situation in Shanghai at that time, business was extremely unstable and prices were constantly rising. Consequently, many shops were forced to close down, and if you could sell goods, the money raised was not enough to buy new merchandise, as inflation was rampant.

Because of these circumstances, many shops didn’t open their doors until much later in the day, so Master Dong often had free time in the morning in which to go to the local “French” park to watch others practicing.

He saw many old people in the park playing Taiji, who although obviously very advanced in years, looked very young and supple when they played Taiji and he admired them very much.

This led him to start practicing Taiji, as he felt that it would be a good way to protect his health and keep from getting ill, which would have been a disaster in those days.

At first he watched from a long distance away and tried to imitate their movements; he was afraid to come closer as he never knew from day to day how much time he would have to play in the park and didn’t want to embarrass himself or inconvenience a teacher, but more importantly he had no money, so was worried about affording any fees that might be charged.

However, one teacher Mr. Chen, who worked for the same company as Master Dong and who was also from Ningbo, was not worried about collecting money for his teaching, and after observing Master Dong over a long period of time and seeing that he was very serious, offered to teach him.

Mr. Chen’s speciality was a particular style of Shaolin kicking form, and he began by teaching him some very basic Shaolin movements, namely 4 kinds of kicks.

Master Dong though, felt that his stamina was insufficient for this kind of training and asked Mr. Chen if he could learn Taiji instead. Master Dong believed that because Taiji was performed slowly, it would therefore not be tiring! Thus, he commenced learning Taiji.

On his way to the park, he would also see another master Tian Zuo Ling, who practiced Tong Bei Quan (like the style practiced by Master Wu Mao Gui). Most other people didn’t dare to challenge him, but one day Master Dong saw another practitioner dressed in white practicing alone very closeby Mr. Tian.

Intrigued, Master Dong stayed to watch, and when the opportunity arose he asked the man what he was playing and why Mr. Tian didn’t object to his proximity. He also commented on the difference in his style to others. The man (Mr. Xia Ming Zhang) laughed, and in a Ningbo accent asked Master Dong to demonstrate his Taiji. After doing just “Lan Que Wei” (Stroke the Bird’s Tail) he laughed again, and said that it was all wrong and of no use.

Master Dong questioned him as to why it was of no use, to which he was invited to push Mr. Xia.

Dong pushed at him with all his strength but couldn’t move him, but when the roles were reversed Dong fell to the ground.

He immediately asked to study with Mr. Xia, but Xia replied he could only give him advice on a few movements, like Single Whip (Dan Bian) and “Luo Lu” or circles made with the hands and waist in three different planes, to train how to change the hand position correctly in order to dissipate incoming force and strike simultaneously, but without using strength.

Mr. Xia who was a student of Mr. Dong Shi Zuo, told Dong Bin to practice these two movements for a month and then after that they would see.

Dong Bin did so, and to this day feels that Mr. Xia put him on the road to learning the real essence of Taiji, as well as giving him the opening to meet and study with Master Dong Shi Zuo, student of Mr. Dong Ying Jie.

Dong Bin says that everyone has their own destiny, and often fate gives us chances to change our lives or meet new people when the time is right for us to do so, and this is how Dong Bin feels about his meeting with such great masters as Dong Shi Zuo and Mr. Ye Huan Zi (also a student of Dong Ying Jie) came about.

Dong Bin got the chance to begin training from Dong Shi Zuo through another friend Wu Zhen Pei, who also studied with a student of Mr. Dong’s.

Dong Bin and Wu went to the school building where Dong Shi Zuo taught Taiji after leaving church on Sundays.

They peeked in the windows to watch the classes in secret, as neither had been given an introduction.

The students would practice 200 or so different basic training exercises together, after which they would play the form. This they did, not in the traditional way that we usually see groups playing, that is one person in front and others following behind, but they would face each other and be at diagonals from each other. This way the teacher could walk between them and be able to see their mistakes more easily and comprehensibly from the different angles they stood at.

Following form practice they’d then push hands. During this, Mr. Dong would allow the students to strike his face, but surprisingly the students would be bounced away by Mr. Dong’s face or knocked down!

Dong Bin was very impressed and perplexed at how this could be, and so went to watch Mr. Dong secretly for over six months.

Again fate took a hand when the school where Mr. Dong taught posted a notice to say that all students wishing to study Taiji had to supply a photo and address.

Dong Bin desperately wanted to register, but was worried about whether he’d be accepted and the assistant went to enquire if he could enroll. Dong Shi Zuo told the assistant that as it was the same man who’d been peeping in at the windows for the last six months, he was welcome to start training!

So, Dong Bin again thanked the forces that gave him this lucky chance.

He said that Mr. Dong was extremely kind and sympathetic to Dong Bin’s financial situation and whenever they all went out with some of the bosses and people in high positions; which happened quite frequently, as Mr Dong was an extremely highly respected martial artist, he often invited Dong Bin to accompany them. Dong Bin says he now feels very embarrassed to think back that his teacher never let him pay for a meal!

At these meals, Dong says, most of the “real” teaching took place. They would discuss Wushu principles and their own understanding of them and occasionally put them into practice too. When eating (and drinking) people often open up and freely discuss many “secrets” that they wouldn’t normally talk about in class.

Mr. Ye Huan Zi, who was Mr. Dong’s Shixiong, kept in close contact with Mr. Dong and they often shared information, as well as students.

Dong Bin got to meet him because of circumstances where he and another student were practicing “Kong Jing” or Empty or Invisible Force.

They started experimenting with this and pretended to “grab” the spiritual force of somebody walking past and use it to “hurl” at the other as they pushed hands, which each felt made the other seem very powerful.

Mr. Ye heard about this through mutual contacts and worried that they were going down a wrong path and misunderstanding the essence of the practice of Taiji jing (energy or essence) invited them to his home.

Dong Bin entered the house and saw an oldish, slender man dressed in white casual clothes sitting on the floor. He looked nothing like what Dong Bin had expected or what a great master might look like.

Dong Bin said underneath his garb he was a very sweet and humble man, without any pretensions, and in fact a very great man who knew some wonderful information but was unchanged by the wealth of knowing it. Dong Bin said he immediately felt like a young child with his favourite uncle.

Mr. Ye was very modest, saying that here they didn’t practice; they just played Taiji for fun.

Often Dong said the students would practice “jumping”.

They would stand in front of a mirror or wall and reach their hands out in an “An” or “Push” posture, and then lean backwards, but to keep themselves from leaning back too far and to remain straight and keep in their original posture, would jump backwards and stamp their foot down to regain their equilibrium.

The idea was to “borrow” the energy from the reflection or the wall, and most important was that the body should stay relaxed to let the qi flow evenly through.

This training method was to make sure that the practitioner should right their central equilibrium when an opponent’s incoming force threatened to upset their balance or to help dissipate their force. Dong Bin said that this also increased sensitivity or “Ting Jing”.

This jumping is a vital part of Taiji study, and something often overlooked by practitioners as both a way to protect oneself from being thrown or knocked down by incoming force and as a way to reconfigure your own structure to put you back into a correct posture again, so as to be able to deliver a counter attack of your own.

Many people when they’re struck or pushed just tilt at the waist or wobble. They appear not to move their feet, so feel that the opponent hasn’t really “beaten” them, but in fact Dong says the opponent’s force has actually entered their body, and they are unable to feel the force coming in or be able to ground it through the feet by jumping.

Jumping he says, lets you allow the force to pass through you, rather like electricity passing through an object without letting it stay in the body as an electric shock.

Many people view this jumping or stamping of the feet as phony or false, but Dong Bin says that it’s a very important aspect of learning Gongfu.

Over the years Dong Bin continued to study with both Dong Shi Zuo and Ye Huan Zi.

At Mr. Dong’s, he says he also acted as the “protector” for students pushing hands with the teacher.

Dong would “catch” those sent flying backwards by the teacher, but he had to try and remain soft and relaxed and anticipate just the exact amount of effort necessary to help “right” them.

As there were both male and female students, large and small, being pushed around, Dong would also have to be sensitive to holding or touching the students appropriately and not allow them to fall down and injure themselves, so this he feels also helped to develop his “Ting Jing” or listening sensitivity.

Mr Dong also told him that a very important aspect of learning is to constantly check ones own practice.

Dong says you must always question why you are doing something, or why something isn’t working.

There is a constant need for research and self-analysis. In order to understand the principles one must keep asking questions:

Why is it called Taiji, why are the movements so slow, why should you use Yi (intention) not Li (strength), why should one appear to yield to or to flow with the opponent instead of resisting him, why shouldn’t one be self-centered when one is practicing, why in push hands does this action not work, why was I uprooted?…. to name but a few.

In Taiji, he said, you should always see yourself as “the weak” and not use your innate body strength to defend yourself. Only by following this principle can you truly master the idea of “Si liang bo qian jing”, or “4 ounces deflects a 1000 pounds”, or the idea of “If the opponent doesn’t move, then I don’t move, but if he moves then I move first.” One can never become one with the opponent or master Taiji’s requirements, if you think you are the strong one.

Every person has physical strength and it is both unavoidable and natural to want to defend yourself using this. However if you want to learn Taiji, you must follow a different way.

If you see yourself as “the weak”, how can you still aimlessly defend yourself with strength? The two concepts are contradictory.

One must attempt to reduce one’s physical strength to “zero”, and reach a state of “emptiness” or “Wu wo!” This literally means “No me!” This way allows an opponent to grasp nothingness or no physical entity or strength and the more he tries the more off balance he will become.

Master Dong embodies this concept, and constantly stresses to his students to forget themselves and their muscular or structural strength.

In push hands he says, this concept of “No me” forms part of the essence of “Four ounces deflects 1000 pounds.”

Here when an opponent strikes or attempts to grab you, you must be able to remain in this state of emptiness, or “No me”; this way his complete physical force is exposed and allowed to manifest, in contrast, he finds nothing in you to grasp or manipulate as you are “empty”. Once his physical force is completely spent without you manifesting your own strength, you can “dissipate” or “Hua” his force using the minimum of effort on your part and taking full advantage of his weakened state.

To reach this level though, requires a long period of time in practicing being empty and of forgetting the self.

This is a mental state that the practitioner must learn to achieve and one of Master Dong’s long term students, Mr. Ren Gang, has achieved this level through constant practice and through his own research into Buddhism, which teaches one to forget the self.

Pushing with him, one feels that one touches nothing, but what is returned to you is like a fierce wave that literally blows you off your feet and gives one a very frightening feeling, as well as a sense of being winded deep within!

Master Dong also advised that one way you can teach yourself to not resist the opponent’s force, is to imagine that you are an egg.

He said that as the person touches you, you think of your own arms and body as being as fragile as an eggshell. You mustn’t let the opponent rest or lean his force on you or push back against him as this will break your shell. This idea that you are so fragile and delicate lets you foster a sensation that your body is empty and teaches you not to resist force.

At first one may feel that one becomes “diu” or lost and weak, but over time one can begin to be aware of the natural energy force (Shen qi) that surrounds our own bodies and which we should maintain through awareness and relaxation.

Master Dong talks a lot about the correct intention or “Yi”, and says that the lack of the correct Yi is one of the main problems in today’s practice of Taiji.

The movements of the hands in Taiji superficially look separate and disconnected, but in fact these moves are a continuous flow of interconnected movements governed by the waist and “Yi” or intention.

For example, if the hand first moves forwards and outwards and then backwards and inwards, as in “white snake sticks out its tongue”; it might at first appear that these are two movements.

But actually, when the hand is drawn back inwards towards the body, your yi still remains outwards, forwards and surrounding you, filling the empty spaces between you and your opponent.

In this case the movement of the hand going back outwards again is a natural extension of the first movement and NOT a separate one.

The application is to mimic the fast and constant flicking out of a snake’s tongue, which tastes the air and the surroundings such as you are tasting/striking the opponent continuously without pause or loss of contact with the “prey”.

Therefore, each movement in Taiji is as a natural consequence of all the others. They are interconnected and cannot be separated, just as the “o” cannot be separated from the “k” in the word “ok”.

Your physical body can sometimes pause between movements or even appear to stop according to the situation you are in, but your intention must never stop or break.

This is called “mian mian bu duan” in Chinese.

When one sees Master Dong performing the form, you can clearly see this principle in evidence; his movements flow smoothly but it is his “yi” that is continuous and one can see the individual applications become faultlessly woven together in a constant, smooth flow.

Master Dong also talked about the “Dan Tian” in Taiji and push hands practice.

Many people separate the Dan Tian into an entity below the navel and restrict its movements to this one centre, as is often the case in Wu Style Taiji.

But he says in Yang Style Taiji we should think of the whole body as the Dan Tian and not just within the body itself.

The energy or spiritual and energetic force surrounding the body or “Shen qi” is also part of the Dan Tian.

If we only think of the Dan Tian as a small part of our abdomen, then we cannot utilize the full potential of our own body and the energy around us. We minimize our own force and create tension in the mind and body.

When executing the movements, we should be aware of our connection between the earth and the sky and make use of the full force of our intention.

When the opponent pushes us, we should think of ourselves as the sky. This is the “Xu Ling Ding Jing” (or the energetic force that connects our body to above). This makes the opponent feel that I am too big to push, bigger even than a mountain, because the sky is all around, so my intention is enormous.

But when I strike, then I am the earth, “Qi Chen Dan Tian” (the energy sinks to the Dan Tian). The opponent will feel that my force is irresistible, like the earth coming at him to force him away.

Master Dong clearly demonstrates this by crouching right down onto the ground with his face on the floor, and allows you to grasp his arm behind his back to help keep him in that posture.

He then smoothly and effortlessly stands up – sending you flying away.

I have seen him do this with strong, young men too, not just myself, and he says that the secret is his intention (Yi).

He doesn’t think about the opponent’s force grasping him, if he did he would certainly not be able to move with someone very strong holding him down. Instead he imagines their force becoming diffused with the space around and through him so that he doesn’t “feel” their pressure anymore, then he “forgets” the opponent and imagines his “Yi” shooting up into the sky as he gets up. He never focuses on the opponent’s strength.

Dong says that practitioners usually limit their own power because of their inability to either understand or use their intention correctly, rather than because of mistakes with their structure. (Although he says of course beginners do need to work on their structures too).

He said one needs a teacher to nurture this understanding and to help the student to cultivate their own potential. Somewhat like a parent raising a child in the rights and wrongs of what to do and the whys.

Certainly when is teaching the form, he constantly describes the correct feeling or intention behind the movements, in addition to occasionally acting as “dummy” for you to try out the applications, so that the students can get a real sensation of what they are doing, not just have a rudimentary idea about which way the hand points or where the weight is.

The most important movements, Dong says, are actually the linking moves, the ones in between the postures. Many people just concentrate on the end posture, for example in

“Lou Xi Ao Bu” or “Brush Knee”. But this is where the application has already finished and the energy spent and applied. The journey of how you get to this position is most important; this is what makes the application work.

In Master Dong’s form, which mirrors that of Dong Ying Jie, there are many circular and spiraling movements, or hidden applications, just as in the late Master Wang Hao Da’s form there were lots of small “Fa Jing” or “issuing” movements. Dong says these are the important steps to dissipating the opponent’s force and putting him into a weakened position whereby you can strike him, without them the form’s applications become useless.

That is why in many cases people’s form and push hands skill seem to have no correlation, because they cannot use their form in push hands practice and rely more on strength or “tricks” to catch someone off balance.

If the middle of the application is missing, then the energy of the movement is incorrect and although the end posture looks good in a photo, it cannot be used.

He said in the past, masters like Dong Ying Jie, Dong Shi Zuo and Ye Huan Zi, paid great attention to these linking moves, and never simplified the form. Through simplification, the real essence is lost, and without this one cannot perform real Taiji.

These linking moves are all about “Lu Shun Mao” or “stroking the fur the right way”.

Just as one would stroke a cat’s fur the right way to make it feel comfortable, we should treat the opponent the same way. We don’t use force or resistance against him, that way he is unaware of our attentions, and he just feels “helped” into the position we want, then we can either strike effortlessly or simply brush him aside.

In Taiji, there is never the intention of a blocking movement, always this smooth stroking aside or away of the incoming force, and there is never a cessation of our strikes/movements, just a continuous flow of defence, attack and counter-attacking moves.

With Master Dong, one feels that one is with a living encyclopedia of martial arts.

I have been studying with him for over two years, and I feel the same excitement when I see him now, as when I first met him.

He has a timeless, magic quality about him, and despite his years and hardships, (he endured many years of hard labour during the cultural revolution for his love of martial arts) he has a true heart and a love for his fellow beings, especially the serious student who is prepared to “eat bitter”.

He respects those who sincerely want to learn the essence of Taiji Quan, and even though my studying with him caused both he and myself a great deal of heartache and unpleasantness, (when his student Dr Wang, who was angry that I was studying from him, tried his best to put a stop to it) he refused to give into the pressure; saying that if a student loves Taiji and seriously wants to learn, a teacher should help them. Teaching and studying is not about money, it’s about the mutual love and respect both have for the art, and the effort, endurance and sacrifice that a student is prepared to make.

He has been exceedingly generous and kind to me as to many others; treating us as members of his family and welcoming us to his home.

He sincerely hopes that those who love Taiji as much as he does, can truly get a helping hand along the way, just as his teachers helped him.

He said that fate played a hand in his meeting and studying with such great teachers of the past, and I too, feel that it was fate that brought me to this “heart” of Shanghai, and gave me the chance to study with one of the last of their kind.

A truly great person and teacher, somebody who maintains the same integrity, generosity of spirit and love for their art as the masters of the past, and someone who is a teacher of life not just martial arts.

To all Master Dong’s students he is an example of how to behave and conduct oneself, of valuing kindness and sharing, not fame and money, and of searching for the truth inside Taiji, not being content with superficial appearances.

To me he is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and someone for whom I will always be eternally grateful to have the privilege of knowing, let alone studying with.

And for all his suffering and hardships in life, he really does embody the concept of “No me”: true humility and calmness of spirit.

He is a teacher, a friend, a role model and inspiration; a genuine Chinese treasure.

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