Tai Chi Principles

Professor Ji Jian-Cheng – Zhejiang University, China

If you want to master Tai Chi Chuan, you first need to understand ‘Wuji’ (emptiness, formlessness). And, to really comprehend the inner meaning of Tai Chi, you also have to be aware of its philosophy and principles, and practice according to them. Then, after a long period of disciplined training you will finally understand the essence of Tai Chi Chuan.

When learning Tai Chi Chuan, the first thing to do is to practice ‘Tai Chi Gong’. This focuses on the fundamentals of Tai Chi ‘Neigong’ (internal training). It is said that, “to practice Tai Chi we must first start from understanding ‘Wuji’ and with diligent practice will come the realisation of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’”. So, before starting to practice the form, you should first do ‘Tai Chi Gongfa’ (Tai Chi basic principles). For example, practice ‘Tai Chi Zhuanggong’ (standing exercise), and you will gradually experience a feeling of silence and peace in your mind and you will feel as if your body is empty. When you hold your hands out you will feel as though you are holding a balloon; you will forget your legs, they will feel like they are not there. When practicing ‘Tai Chi Gong’ you should feel like you are not breathing, but are still in control of your breath. Allow your breath to be natural, long and deep, use your mind to direct the ‘Qi’ to various parts of your body.When you experience ‘Wuxing’ (formlessness/intangibility), you will slowly feel the energy circulating throughout your body. With long and continual practice you will find that your strength will be greater than before and your ‘Qi’ (‘inner breath and essence’) will increase with every day of practice. These points should help you to get a solid foundation in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.

The Five Stages Of Tai Chi Practice:
The first stage is to learn the Tai Chi form and to master its postures and movements. It does not matter whether the posture is static or moving, you must always keep the following points in mind: Feel as if the crown of the head is being lifted from above; the chin should incline slightly toward the chest; the shoulders should be relaxed and the arms should fall naturally to your sides; the spine should be kept straight with the chest very slightly curving inwards; the hips must be relaxed and the buttocks turned under a little; the hips and shoulders should be in line and the spine vertical to the ground which should produce a natural comfortable feeling. When moving, whether it be back, forward, left, right or turning, all movements must come from the hips, but the hips should not sway from side to side otherwise the body will come out of alignment. Moving forward or backward, you must keep your centre of gravity low and also at a constant height so that the body does not move up and down, etc. At this stage and with gradual training, you should let your arms become ‘lighter’, your legs placed firmly but lightly.

With the second stage of practice, it is important to place your strength in the roots of the feet. Whether moving forward or back, left or right, or turning, one must place the weight on the feet and then ‘deng jiao’ i.e. first press downwards then lift the foot up, as if compressing a spring, to move forward, back, left, right etc. Moreover, when pivoting on the heel the force of the movement must be opposite to the direction the heel is pivoting. This way the hips will follow the movement of the pivoting and the hips will lead the body in its movement. After a long period of practice, the whole body will gradually become relaxed, alive and nimble and the body’s energy will come from the feet and the counter-action of the pivoting movement. Once this second phase has been achieved, one can then place one’s force at the base of the feet. The principles of Tai Chi Chuan say, “the force (jing) comes from the base of the feet to direct the waist”. Note that the waist includes the lower spinal area and can also include the hips.

At the third stage of practice, ‘Fajing’ (expressing energy) is the main objective. According to the expression ‘Rou xing qi, gang luo dian’ when expressing the energy it is very soft until the last moment and then it becomes as hard as iron. When attempting to express one’s energy in each movement of the form, the two feet must ‘deng jiao’ – press into the ground for the energy to come through, as mentioned earlier, like pressing spring to release its energy. For example, when expressing energy in a forward direction, the crown of the head must be as if lifted from above, the waist must be relaxed and the spine ‘tail’ must be inclined slightly forward, whilst the lower spine must be inclined slightly back. The shoulders should be relaxed and the elbows should be facing downward. When you express energy (fajing) all parts of the body must act together and feel like an iron spring being compressed, then at the very last moment your energy can be released, with the body moving in an opposite / back from the direction that ones energy is being expressed. The whole body should feel as though it is being stretched out as if like (five) bows ready to be fired. One bow is at the legs, one at the waist, one at the shoulders, one at the elbows and one bow at the wrist and hands. At this time the eyes must look far outwards in a forward direction so as if to express the explosive energy very far outwards. “Using your mind to express the energy far outwards will in turn let your energy actually be expressed far outwards”. When practising the form, each movement must be performed in this way of using the mind to express the energy far outward.

At the fourth stage, after practicing ‘fajing’ (explosive energy) for a while, it is best to have an experienced teacher test whether your ‘fajing’ technique is correct. The teacher will ‘try’ the students ‘jing’ (energy) to see if the student is in fact using the whole body correctly to express this explosive energy. That is, to verify that the feet are acting like a spring when expressing ones energy, the waist is indeed twisting to transfer the energy, the shoulders are being ‘urged’ forward by the energy, the arms and elbows are being ‘sent’ forward and at the moment the energy reaches the wrist and hands is being expressed into the ‘hard’ energy. If this energy can or not in fact be transmitted through to the teacher’s body will indicate if the student has mastered ‘fajing’ technique and thus this fourth stage. To test this ‘fajing’ is to see if one has mastered Tai Chi Chuan so as to advance to the next levels. If the teacher can feel the students energy being transmitted into his own body, then it means the student has mastered ‘Taiji Neijing’ use and way of expressing the inner energy, then the students Taiji level will elevate to higher levels with each day of practice. But the mastery of ‘Neijing’ is a complex matter and the student must rely on an experienced teacher to correct any faults and to guide the student to the correct execution and understanding of ‘Neijing’.

Stage five is ‘Quixujing’, the training to distinguish solid and emptiness and quietness, the understanding of solid and empty in each movement and the changes involved, and to bring about a quietness and relaxing of the self whilst moving and practicing the form. From the above mentioned five stages of practice all need to rely on correct body movement and expression of power, but with stage five, one needs to use the mind to master the understanding of solid and empty and quietness of ones movements. One must use the mind to direct the form as expressed (in the above four stages). That is the foot as a spring, twisting of the waste, to urge forward the shoulders, to sending out the elbows and arms to express the energy once it has reached the wrists and hands. At the very last stage then, one will be using the mind to express the explosive energy and to direct the form. When performing the Taiji movements, one should have a feeling of resistance around the skin of the whole body like feeling the resistance of water when swimming or moving through water. When you can feel this resistance of air over the body while in motion, then you have improved to a level that, for example, can be used in application or in ‘pushing hands’ so that you will ‘know’ where the opponent’s energy/force is at the moment of contact.

II: Important Points For Mastering Tai Chi Chuan
When practicing Tai Chi Chuan, one must use the mind to direct the flow of ‘Qi’. Once the mind has directed the flow of ‘Qi’, then it is the ‘Qi’ that will direct the movement of the body. If one follows this way of practice, then this will invigorate the body’s ‘Jing’ (inner essence – not the same word as ‘explosive energy-Jing’), which will then create more ‘Qi’ in the body which will also stimulate one’s ‘Shen’(spirit). Again, as if feeding and growing off each other, this will increase the ‘Jing’ and therefore more ‘Qi’ and higher levels of ‘Shen’; and like a constant cycle from ‘Jing’ to ‘Qi’ to ‘Shen’ and back to ‘Jing’ again, will help to improve ones well-being and a healthier state of mind. Therefore it is very important to diligently practice and carefully notice in each posture the flow of ‘Qi’ and direction of movement. When you practice Tai Chi Chuan, you must have softness as well as firmness in the form but you cannot be too soft or too hard. Regardless of which posture one is performing, one must adhere to this principle of softness and firmness. If too soft, one will not have enough energy and the ‘Shen’ (spirit) will not be aroused. If too firm, then ones ‘Qi’ will not be able to circulate throughout the body and will become too brittle and will therefore be easily broken. One should not use one’s musclular strength or brute force as if too tense in practice because the flow of ‘Qi’ will be obstructed and the body will feel clumsy. If brute strength is used, then not only will the flow of ‘Qi’ be obstructed but also one will not be able to ‘feel’ the opponent’s energy and thus will not be able to neutralise it. When practising Tai Chi Chuan one should not practice with fury or rage. If so, one will be too brittle/firm and will be easily ‘broken’. Moreover, if one does practices with rage then the ‘Qi’ will be retained in the chest and will feel uncomfortable and this can have detrimental effects on the body and health. Therefore one must be patient with practice and should be relaxed, and after adhering to the principles of Tai Chi Chuan, after a period of diligent training, will reap the rewards. When practicing Tai Chi Chuan, ones shoulders and chest should not be too open, the body should not be too crouched over and the stomach should not be ‘sucked’ in so as the chest is protruding outwards. If one practices in such a way then it is possible that the ‘Qi’ will flow in a reverse way that it should and may not be able to return to the ‘Dantian’ and in turn the ‘Qi’ will rise upward and there will be a feeling of imbalance. With the practise of Tai Chi Chuan one should understand a little about Chinese medicine theory. Therefore when performing Taiji one can understand, for example, where the ’Dantian’ is and where one is directing the ‘Qi’ to and how to bring the ‘Qi’ back to the ‘Dantian’. It is important to note that the ‘Qi’ should always be allowed to return to the ‘Dantian’. Therefore in this way, there is a constant flow from the ‘Dantian’ to all parts of the body and then back to the ‘Dantian’.

When you practice the form, you should not always be thinking of how the movements are used to deal with an opponent (information on applications is given in Professor Ji’ article ‘Tai Chi Applications’ ). Instead, you should be using the ‘Yi’ (mind) and ‘Qi’ to direct the movement. If you are always thinking of how to strike an attacker then your Tai Chi Chuan will not advance to the higher levels of understanding. Therefore, you must be patient with practice and with diligent training and the building up of ‘Jing’, ‘Qi’ and ‘Shen’ eventually you will be able to express explosive energy. When you understand the above points, and with diligent practice, you will be able to improve your inner strength and increase longevity by the cultivation of ‘Jing’, ‘Qi’ and ‘Shen’. Then you will really understand Tai Chi Chuan.

Reference:
Tai Chi Principles chinesemartialarts.eu

Notes on Taiji Practice

by Dong YingJie

Following are some miscellaneous notes from Dong YingJie (Wade: T’ung Ying-chieh, who was, along with Fu ZhongWen, one of Yang Chengfu’s two top disciples) on Taiji practice that were posted to the neijia mailing list in October 1999.

Talking about Taijiquan in lieu of practicing apparently is not restricted to the state of the art here today. Tung Ying Jie advised students several decades ago that, in the beginning, a student should concentrate on listening and learning the correct forms from a competent master before getting too involved in pointless discussions on theory or the philosophy of Taiji. A certain maturity of practice is needed for one to be able to comprehend and discuss principles of the practice. There is no shortcut around long, hard, lonely practice.

“The key point is that you have to learn the real Taijiquan from a good teacher. Without grasping the main points of Taijiquan, its effects, for the most part, will not be better than common physical exercise. Consequently, you will not realize benefits in this most subtle art even though you have been practising it for tens of years. If your method of practice is correct, you can also learn some skills of self defense besides its significant health effects. Some people are skeptical about the martial arts effects of Taijiquan. They think that Taijiquan is of no use in real fighting. This is only because their knowledge about Taijiquan is too superficial and they haven’t got a good teacher to teach them.”

“Taijiquan belongs to the internal school of Chinese martial arts. The strength used in Taijiquan is created by the bones, but the jin (trained strength) is stored in the tendons. The main purpose is to sink the internal qi and consolidate the bones.”

“To loosen the shoulders and drop the elbows means not to concentrate the force at the back of the shoulders. Actually, the strength is transmitted through the upper part of the forearm.”

“Always be aware of the incoming force from the opponent during push-hands. You are not practicing for the enjoyment of pushing your opponent out. The main task in push-hands is to keep from exposing your own center of gravity to the opponent, while the opponent’s center of gravity should be controlled by you.”

“You may practice your skill at any time, whether you are walking, resting, sitting, or sleeping. The method is to move the internal qi with the motivation of the mind, and you should have the feeling of the movement. Try to hold a teacup with your hand. Try to find out the differences in the feelings when you are holding it with force and without force.”

“When you have learned the forms well and the fundamental skills of push-hands have been learned, you can start to learn the various skills of using jin. There is adhering jin, following jin, sinking jin, internal jin, raising jin, twisting jin, rubbing jin, touching jin, hand over jin, sticking jin, shaking jin, quivering jin, shooting-an-arrow jin, sudden jin, going-through-the-bone jin, brisk jin, leading-along jin, fa-jin, preserved jin, and so on. All of these should be learned from the comprehension and motion of doing the forms and push-hadns duing a considerable time of practice.”

“The strength is rooted in the feet, launched from the legs, dominated by the waist, and figured out in the fingers. This is the rule of exerting the strength. There are also contra-indications, such as not to bend the knee over the toes, not to stretch the hand over the tip of the nose, and not to raise the hand over the top of the eyebrow. These malpractices undermine the concentration of strength.”

Reference: Notes on Taiji Practice by Dong YingJie nardis.com

The Quintessence of Wu (Yuxiang) Style Taijiquan

by Master Liu Jishun

Wu style Taijiquan has a set of strict requirements regarding its practice. From the external to the internal, each requirement is clearly stated.

The first stage is the practice of external forms starting from the basics. This stage can be further classified into two phases.

1. The movement of the posture, and
2. The torso methods (shenfa)

In Taijiquan, it is considered that knowing the movements of the form indicates the knowledge of the fists, while knowing and understanding the torso methods is Taiji. With these two combined, then it is called Taijiquan.

The second stage is the practice of internal structure, also called the internal energy (neijin), that is the practice of magnificent posture (qishi). The internal energy appears internally and not externally. It also indicates the opening and closing of the mind and qi. This second stage can be further classified into three phases:

1. Separation of the mind and qi; internally there is a feeling of separation between the muscles and the bones.
2. Distinguishing between the mind and qi, that is using the working movements of the separated muscles and bones, to sense the magnitude of the magnificent posture – big or small, long or short, thin or thick, etc. Where the mind reaches, the qi reaches and the energy (jin) reaches. Moving as if not moving; to have then it exist, not to have then it is non-existence; suddenly appears and disappears, this must be clearly distinguished in each and every movement, and finally,
3. the agility in separating the mind and qi, that is the whole body is united as a whole, where the body will automatically follow the mind.

Stage 1: External Posture (waixing)

Phase 1: Movements of the posture, from Commencing Form to the Closing Form there are 96 postures.
1. The hand posture, from the shoulder to the fingers.

Loosening the shoulders: the shoulders must be downwardly loosened. In every movement the shoulders must be naturally loosen. Avoid lifting the shoulders.

Dropping of elbows: the elbows must point downwards. When raising the hand, bend the elbows. When withdrawing the elbows, do not withdraw the elbows until they are behind the body.

Sitting of the wrist: the wrist must not be flat and bend inwardly. The Taijiquan form does not contain any hook-hand movements.

Straightening the palm: the palm must be upwardly straightened and hollow at the center of the palm. Avoid flattening the palm.

The fingers: the five fingers are comfortably stretched open. Avoid straightening the fingers, the fingertips are slightly pointed upwards. Both hands must not cross the middle border, each hand protects half the body.

2. The body posture, in accordance with the principles of starting, connecting, opening, and closing.

“Starting” – The shoulders align with the hips, that is, forming the body posture into the four major directions.

“Connecting” – Stepping forward corresponds with raising the hands. For example, the left leg and the left hand are in front, then the left hip and the left shoulder must be in front, corresponding with each other, the body is slightly sideways, that is forming the body posture into the four sideways (four corners).

“Opening” – similar to the “connecting” formula mentioned above.

“Closing” – The back leg moves to the front, the hand at the back moves to the front and close (i.e., bring the two hands together), the body turns from sideways to the front and the shoulders align with the hips, forming the body posture into four major directions.

3. The footwork, in accordance with the movements o starting, connecting, opening and closing and transform them into substantiality and insubstantiality.

“Starting” – Bend the knee and half-squatting down of the substantial leg, lift the heel and move the insubstantial leg beside the substantial leg.

“Connecting – Stepping forward of the insubstantial leg. Move the insubstantial leg forward forty five degrees, the heel lightly landing on the ground and the sole slightly raised, the knee is slightly bent.

“Opening” – Push forward with the substantial leg, maintain the knee in a slightly bent position (i.e., d o not straighten the insubstantial leg), shift the center of gravity forward and form a bow stance with the insubstantial leg. The landing o the whole insubstantial leg on the ground to form a bow stance must follow the forward shifting of the center of gravity. Imagine the knee is directed upwards.

“Closing” – Moving the back leg and place it beside the front leg. Lift the heel first with the toes touching the ground. When changing direction, pivot whit the heel of the insubstantial leg, the center of gravity still remains in the substantial leg.

3. The spirit of the eyes.

When “starting” and “closing,” the eyes look forward. When “connecting” and “closing,” look to the left when stepping out with the left leg, likewise look to the right when stepping out with the right leg. The eyes must look straight ahead.

4. The head

Keep the head upright. Avoid tilting the head. The neck must be naturally relaxed. Tucking the chin slightly inwards.

5. The waist

The waist must be straightened. Avoid collapsing or sinking the waist, and avoid leaning backwards.

6. The hips

The hips must be straightened. Avoid sloping/slanting the hips. When distinguishing between substantiality and insubstantiality, use the substantial hip to lift the insubstantial hip.

7. The knees

Avoid downward pressing of the knees. Imagine the knee is always directed upwards when squatting down, pushing forward or forming a horse stance.

Phase 2: The essentials of the torso methods

Holding in the chest, stretching the back, keeping the head upright (suspending the head top), suspending the crotch, loosening the shoulders, dropping of elbows, wrapping the crotch, and protecting the upper abdomen.

Keeping the body upright, distinguishing between substantiality and insubstantiality, sinking the qi down to the dantian, attentive spirit and martial spirit.

The eight torso methods and the five essential requirements are mainly concerned with the correctness of the internal adjustments. However for the beginner, the emphasis shall be on the external forms, and slowly grasp and understand the various aspects of Taijiquan step by step.

The eight torso methods and the five essential requirements cannot be put into practice all at once. The thirteen principles should be put into practice only ONE at a time. For example, when practicing Taijiquan, start with the principle of suspending the crotch, followed by keeping the head upright. This is to fulfill the requirement of coordination between the upper and lower parts of the body. Also this requirement is closely related with keeping the body upright and distinguishing between substantiality and insubstantiality.

At the next stage, the emphasis should be on holding in the chest and stretching the back. The key is to practice well the torso method of holding in the chest is the ability to loosen the shoulders. The next stage of practice is followed by dropping of elbows, protecting the upper abdomen and wrapping of crotch. If the eight torso methods are well practiced, then the ability to sink the qi down to the dantian can be expressed. All the symmetrical requirements of above and below, front and rear, left and right, substantiality and insubstantiality, takes time to practice. After persistent practice, all the principles will be balanced, coordinated, and integrated. And when these principles are fully implemented in each and every movement, what is expressed is Taiji.

In order to coordinate the upper and lower limbs with the trunk of the body, one should give emphasis on their interrelationships. Also, to master the skills of Taijiquan, one must pass through the so-called “storing” stage. “Storing” means to store up or save up, without causing the external forms and the torso methods to become desultory and uncoordinated. The key is the integration of the five bows. In Wu style Taijiquan, the upper and lower limbs and the trunk of the body are considered as the five bows:

Two bows of the lower limbs with the legs and hips as the tips of the bow, the knees as the handle of the bow.
Two bows of the upper limbs with the shoulders as the tips of the bow, the elbows as the handle of the bow.
The bow at the trunk with the lowest vertebra and the lumbar vertebra (where the shoulders meet the spine as the tips of the bow, the waist as the handle of the bow.
The word “storing” means the interrelation between the handles of the five bows. In other words, always concentrate on keeping the elbows down, imagine the knees are always directed upwards, and combine them with the torso methods of loosening the shoulders, protecting the upper abdomen, etc. store the four handles of the above and below at the waist in order to form the body as a fully stretched bow. This fully stretched bow then uses the waist as the handle of the bow, the knees and the elbows as the tips of the bow. Thus the upper and lower limbs, and the trunk of the body must operate as a unit in order to complete the whole process of “storing” up of energy.
If the energy (jin) can be stored, it can also be released. This requirement must be fully understood in the first stage of practice. hence practitioners must concentrate on this.

Once the “storing” word is fully understood and practiced, then the movements will have the expression of coordinating between the upper and lower limbs. At this level, one can then practice the four character words as starting in the “withdraw-release secret formula” – “holding up,” “luring,” “loosening”, and “releasing.”

To “store” well requires a good execution of “luring.” The “luring” process must attract a big piece, that is, lure the opponent’s to the front, and store the energy.

If the energy can be stored, it can also be released. One must release the energy in a straight line. When releasing the energy, practice the “straight-energy release” first, followed by the practice of “horizontal energy release,” the so-called “one straight-two horizontal.”

Stage 2: Internal Posture (neixing)

Stage two involves the practice of internal posture, known as “internal energy.”

Internal posture indicates the internal movement. First it requires the cultivation of qi in order to have the energy change internally. This also illustrates the adjustment needed between the mind and qi, which is the key towards the magnificent postures of Taijiquan.

The first phase is the separation of the mind and the qi, namely the “opening” character.

Sink the qi downwards, and raise the spirit upwards. The qi follows the movements of the muscles and sink downwards while the spirit follows the skeletal system and rises upwards. When practicing Taijiquan, the feeling of separation between the muscles and the bones must be felt.

Sinking the qi downwards is closing, and so is inhaling.

Raising the spirit upwards is opening, and so is exhaling.

Within opening there is closing, within closing there is opening, within inhalation there is exhalation; within inhalation there is exhalation; these are all interdependent. This is in accordance with the practice guidelines of “The mind and qi server as the primary role, while the muscles and bones (i.e., body) is secondary,” which is the true essence of Taijiquan practice.

The second phase is distinguishing between the mind and qi, namely the “clear” character. The magnitude of the magnificent posture – big or small, long or short, thick or thin, etc. can be adjusted at will, and accomplish the skill of “action is born of non action” and “suddenly appears and disappears.”

At this level, the “threading” character must be added. That is all of the body’s joints are linked together, with the feeling of “directing the qi like treading a pearl with nine bends without hindrance.” And in push hands one can express the effect of “where the mind reaches, the qi reaches and the energy (jin) reaches.”

The third and final phase is the agility in separating of the mind and qi, namely the “agility” character. At this level, one can fully express the skill of “arousing the spirit of postures,” and the “flowing of qi within the body without hindrance,” with the body united as a whole.

According to the ultimate skill of Taijiquan, the expression of whole body as Taiji is always present regardless of whether practicing the form, pushing hands, rising, walking, sinking, sleeping, etc.

The above is just a brief introduction to Wu style Taijiquan and its guidelines for practice.

Reference: http://www.nardis.com/%7Etwchan/wustyle.html

Chen Wei-Ming on Calm

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

Red: from Five Character Secret

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

Page: 51

Four Character Secret Transmission

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

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

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

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

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

(attributed to Wu Yü-hsiang)

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

Page: 27

Grasp Sparrows’s Tail is like two men sawing

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

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

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

Pages: 90-91