METHODS OF APPLYING TAIJI BOXING
by Yang Chengfu
[and 董英傑 Dong Yingjie]
[published by 神州國光社發行 Society for Chinese National Glory, Jan, 1931]
[translation by Paul Brennan, Nov, 2011]
“Descended from Wudang”
Photograph of the late Yang Jianhou
The author, Yang Chengfu
ZHANG SANFENG BOXING LINEAGE
Zhang Sanfeng imparted to Wang Zongyue of Shanxi.
河南─後又傳陳家溝陳長興 楊露禪 李百魁 及子姪輩
Wang taught in Henan province to Chen Changxing of Chen Family Village, who in turn taught Yang Luchan, Li Baikui, and his sons and nephews.
張松溪 王來咸 為浙江東支派惜已失傳
Wang also taught in Zhejiang province to Zhang Songxi and Wang Laixian, but this branch is extinct.
Yang Fukui (Luchan) taught:
- Fenghou, who taught his son, Zhaolin (called Zhenyuan),
- Banhou, who taught many people outside his family,
- Jianhou, who taught his son, Zhaoqing (called Chengfu),
- and many people outside his family.
Students of Yang Chengfu:
Wu Zhenhai (called Huichuan) [photo above]
Tian Zhaolin [photo above]
Dong Yingjie [photo above]
Wang Xudong [photo above]
Xu Daishan [photo above]
Chu Guiting [photo above]
Li Defang [photo above]
Li Chunnian [photo above]
Yang Zhenming [photo above]
Jiang Tingxuan [photo above]
Zhang Qinglin [photo above]
(having learned first from one of Yang’s students [Tian Zhaolin]) Yang Kairu [photo above]
(woman) Pu Yu (along with the second woman below)
(woman) Teng Nanxuan
Guo Yintang [photo above]
(having learned first from one of Yang’s students) Wu Wanlin
(having learned first from one of Yang’s students) Sun Jianying
[Odd that Yan Zhongkui is absent from this list even though he is one of the photographed.]
Students of Tian Zhaolin:
Zheng Zuoping [also in Yang Chengfu’s list]
Yang Kairu [also in Yang Chengfu’s list]
Students of Dong Yingjie:
DIAGRAM OF THE GRAND POLARITY [TAI JI]
THE PASSIVE [YIN] / THE ACTIVE [YANG]
The idea within the Taiji diagram is that passive and active generate each other, hardness and softness assist each other, and the polarities endless transform into each other. Taiji Boxing comes from this, and the pushing hands is the manifestation of this symbol.
ON THE ORIGIN OF TAIJI BOXING
Taiji Boxing was passed down from the Daoist saint, Zhang. He was from Yizhou in Liaodong. The monastic name he was given was Sanfeng. He was born during the end of the Song Dynasty [ending in 1279]. Standing seven feet tall, he had a crane’s build and a pine’s bearing. His face was like the aged moon, with kindness in his eyes and brows. His beard was as long as a halberd and his hair was in a bun atop his head. Regardless of winter or summer he wore the same wide hat of bamboo. He held a Buddhist duster and walked immense distances in a single day.
At the beginning of Emperor Hongwu’s reign , Zhang went to Mt. Grand Harmony in Sichuan to practice asceticism, joining the Temple of Jade Emptiness monastery, and recited the scriptures after just one reading. In the twenty-seventh year of Hongwu’s reign , Zhang traveled again, going to Mt. Wudang in Hubei, and he tirelessly conversed with the villagers about the scriptures.
One day, while reciting passages in his room, an excited sparrow appeared in the courtyard. Because of its zither-like chirping, the saint looked out his window to watch it. The sparrow was in a cypress tree, gazing down eagle-eyed, while on the ground there was a snake coiling and weaving, looking up at the sparrow. The two animals were fighting. The sparrow cried out and flew down, spreading its wings to give flapping strikes. The snake waved its head to slightly dodge, avoiding the sparrow’s wings. The sparrow returned to the tree to express its annoyance for a while then flew down to try again. The snake again wriggled its nimble body to evade, remaining in its coiled shape. It went on like this many times without a strike. Then Zhang came out and the sparrow flew away and the snake slithered off.
The saint was illumined by this incident. The snake’s coiling was like the taiji symbol and used the principle of softness overcoming hardness. From the taiji’s transformations was devised Taiji Boxing. It cultivates essence, energy, and spirit. Movement and stillness wax and wane as in the theory of the Book of Changes. This is the way it comes down to us from long ago and its effectiveness is increasingly proven. In Beijing’s White Cloud Temple there is still an image of the saint which can be reverenced.
AN ANECDOTE ABOUT YANG LUCHAN
When Yang was in Beijing, he was heard of everywhere. Fighters crowded upon each other to visit him. One day, in the midst of seated meditation, suddenly a Buddhist monk arrived. Yang personally went to receive him at the stairs. He saw that the monk’s appearance was imposing and strong and that his height was about six feet. When the monk saluted and spoke his esteem, Yang immediately became humble in response. Then the monk, like a falcon bursting into flight, threw out his fists and flung himself at Yang. Yang slightly hollowed his chest and used his palm to slap the top of the monk’s fist. The monk seemed to receive an electric shock and fell away behind a screen while still in the act of punching. After a while, with a sober expression on his face, he thanked Yang and said, “That was very rude of me.” Yang invited him in anyway and conversed with him. He found out that he was called the Pure Integrity Monk and that he was indeed a tough exponent of Shaolin. The monk asked him questions one after another, just as:
“Just now when I attacked you, I took you by surprise, so why was I still unable to succeed?”
Yang said, “It is called paying attention at every moment.”
“When I attacked you, how is it that you were you so fast?”
Yang said, “It is called issuing power like releasing an arrow.”
“I have traveled to several provinces but not yet met the likes of you. I sincerely ask the secret to Taiji’s nimbleness and quickness.”
Yang said nothing, seeing a swallow fly through his curtain and then lower in arc nearby him. He promptly lifted his hand and scooped it up, then looked over at the monk and said, “This bird is tame and unafraid of people, so why not have some fun with it?”
The way he did this was to put it in his right palm while petting it with his left, then took away his left hand to let it fly away, and the swallow flapped its wings and tried to take off, but he slightly made his palm suddenly vanish and suddenly manifest, and the swallow could not fly away. Every kind of bird must first push with its feet to be able to get into the air, but the swallow had nothing to push against. It gave up, so Yang returned to petting it, then gave it another chance, but again it could not get into the air.
After a third round, the monk was astounded and said, “This skill is magical.”
Yang smiled and said, “What’s so magical about it? Practice Taiji for a long time and the whole body will become so nimble and quick that a feather cannot be added and a fly cannot land. That basically sums it up.”
The monk bowed in admiration and continued to converse with Yang for three more days before finally leaving.
PREFACE [BY DONG YINGJIE]
When I was young and in school, I was interested in martial arts. My grandfather had an old friend, Liu Yingzhou, who was good at Shaolin and was in the north and well known. I went to learn from him, but he told me: “As I am almost seventy, I am not capable. If you want to learn, the Yang family in Guangping have obtained the secret Wudang transmission. Unfortunately in my age I have known it too late and I only understand it superficially, but I recommend the Yang transmission. Go seek to learn from them. I studied for fifteen years, but alas, I am really stupid and I only know the general idea. All of my fellow students, whether elders or juniors, did better than me.”
By now I have learned from teachers everywhere. I traveled to Baoding, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou & Hangzhou, Jiangxi, Shandong, visiting Guangdong, Yunnan, Shaanxi & Shanxi, Hebei, Anhui, Hubei & Hunan, to martial arts masters of each province, every place in the land where there are ancient traces of it, observing ceaselessly the masters of internal and external martial arts. It has made me learn without end. I urge my fellow practitioners to work hard and study without slackening in their devotion. Nowadays I am beginning to understand the deeper subtleties of martial arts, directly due to learning and studying. Now the nation is encouraging martial arts and it is a wonderful thing that my teacher has also produced this book.
– written with delight by Dong Yingjie of Ren county
I urge all my fellow practitioners not to be lazy.
Work at it day after day, month after month, for it is as valuable as gold.
From morning to eve you should constantly practice.
Work at it unceasingly and what you will obtain will be as precious as jade.
PREFACE [BY TIAN ZHAOLIN]
These skills are the greatest treasure of our culture. It is a pity that for so many years they have not been encouraged and many of them have consequently been lost forever. Fortunately nowadays our nation is promoting martial arts as being indispensable, and so I enthusiastically write this preface. Yang Chengfu is now away visiting south so he and other practitioners can study with each other, and the growth and spread of these arts is beginning to be seen. I am overjoyed because I get to participate in this national undertaking and I would like to add my own encouragement. It is too bad I am no scholar, but at least I am certainly enthusiastic.
In boxing, there is an external strength and an internal strength. I am partial to the internal school’s Taiji, which has profound writings but is difficult to discuss. I revere this common saying of my teacher’s: “With lightness there is sensitivity, with sensitivity there is movement, with movement there is adaptation, and with adaptation there is transformation.” I have worked hard learning from him for twenty years but I have been unable to master even one percent of it. Although I firmly believe that with a will there is a way, and so I spend every day in the study of it.
– sincerely written by Tian Zhaolin
GENERAL REMARKS [Part 1]
- This volume is geared toward those who already practice Taiji Boxing but do not yet understand its practical functions. Especially pay attention to the explanations for the main postures and the photos which demonstrate them.
- There is in this volume a scheme to the practical applications, meaning that when two people practice together, they should do them in sequence.
- Every posture is described step by step through the movements all the way to the point where the two people are expressing the techniques upon one another, which is always described in ordinary language, and students are thereby equipped with a detailed reference and have the means to seek the path.
- When two people practice together, they can treat it as something frivolous and progress slowly or they can study seriously. When you have a moment of advantage, you must not be anxious to advance or eager to show off. If you do, it will become dangerous for you as you will both oppose each other with anger.
- Individual techniques will be explained only once and repetitions omitted.
- The photos exhibit in various directions – up, down, forward, back, left right. Their orientations of north, south, east, west are kept constant because the direction of the movements is not.
- In the application models for each posture, only one or two techniques have been compiled. When their situations are explained, the subtlety lies in the movement transitions. To achieve it depends on the good student pondering deeply. With ardent practice over a long period you will naturally obtain the essentials. These are not empty words. It is a realizable goal.
- Each posture is explained in ordinary language so as to make it easy to understand.
- Inevitably there are omissions and errors in the text. When you come across them, forgive.
- This book is Yang Chengfu’s transmission of boxing theory. But fellow practitioners who read through it should by no means take the writing too seriously. You should only lay importance on the theory. If you are finicky about the writing, you will likely make mistakes in your own study of the boxing methods. And so I hope you all will pardon the writing.
- Taiji Boxing is fundamentally related to Wudang’s boxing of internal skill. If you want to refine the body, you can practice Taiji Boxing. This is a gentle skill and is suitable for all, regardless of man or woman, young or old. Whether under six or over sixty, all can learn. The weak can learn it and after several months gradually become stronger.
When beginning to learn the Thirteen Dynamics solo set, it takes about three months to become acquainted with it, about a year to become familiar with it, and about five years to become good at it. After that, the more your practice the more refined it will be. But without the authentic transmission, that will not be the case. Without the authentic transmission, the only result will be a slightly strengthened body. The boxing theory after ten years would still be confusing. How would you know its profound subtleties? If you obtain the authentic transmission, and if the method is trained, you will easily gain a powerful body. Not only will your body be strengthened, you will also have the ability to defend yourself.
Practice in the morning is the most appropriate. After a meal, rest for a half hour or an hour and then you can exercise. If your physique is weak, practice according to your capacity and do not overdo it. After training for a single month, your appetite will increase. It is adequate to do a set every morning and evening two or three times. When practicing in the peak of summer, never wash with cold water or you may spark a fever. In winter, put on clothes right away after finishing your practice to keep yourself from catching cold. After practicing, you must not sit down but should instead walk around for a few minutes to regulate the circulation.
- When training, you must calm your mind and consider your breath. Dispel your thoughts and let nothing distract your intent. Focus your mind on the practice. Taiji’s way of dealing with opponents is very subtle but is not useless. Today most people only train superficially and then quit, or are unable to find a skilled teacher or an enlightened colleague. Do not complain that Taiji cannot be applied nor blame your instructors for a lack of instruction. It is fundamentally related to internal skill and is consistent with Daoism. In the beginning you will be able to learn a couple of postures every day, but you must not be sloppy in what you learn and in haste to learn more. In the beginning it will be somewhat difficult, but after a month the postures will be easier to learn. All beginners after a month or two feel their boxing has improved a lot, then after three or four months will feel they are worse than they used to be and become frustrated. When you get to that point, you absolutely must not slacken, for it is a sign you are making progress. If you were not making progress, you would not be able to notice your postures are not good enough. Everyone has to go through this, so we give you forewarning.
YANG LUCHAN’S [COMMENTARY TO A] PRIMARY TEXT
Once there is any movement, the entire body should be nimble and alert. There especially needs to be connection from movement to movement. The energy should be roused and the spirit should be collected within. Do not allow there to be cracks or gaps anywhere, pits or protrusions anywhere, breaks in the flow anywhere. Starting from the foot, issue through the leg, directing it at the waist, and expressing it at the fingers. From foot through leg through waist, it must be a fully continuous process, and whether advancing or retreating, you will then catch the opportunity and gain the upper hand. If you miss and your body easily falls into disorder, the problem must be in the waist and legs, so look for it there. This is always so, regardless of the direction of the movement, be it up, down, front, back, left, right. And in all of these cases, the problem is a matter of your intent and does not lie outside of you. With an upward comes a downward, with a forward comes a backward, and with a left comes a right. If your intention wants to go upward, then harbor a downward intention, like when you reach down to lift up an object. You thereby add a setback to the opponent’s own intention, thus he cuts his own root and is defeated quickly and certainly. Empty and full must be distinguished clearly. In each part there is a part that is empty and a part that is full. Everywhere it is always like this, an emptiness and a fullness. Throughout the body, as the movement goes from one section to another there is connection. Do not allow the slightest break in the connection.
Long Boxing: it is like a long river flowing into the wide ocean, on and on ceaselessly…
The thirteen dynamics are: warding off, rolling back, pressing, pushing, plucking, rending, elbowing, bumping, advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying in the center. Warding off, rolling back, pressing, pushing, plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping relate to the eight trigrams:
Warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing correspond to ☰, ☷, ☵, and ☲ in the four principle compass directions [meaning simply that these are the primary techniques]. Plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping correspond to ☴, ☳, ☱, and ☶ in the four corner directions [i.e. are the secondary techniques]. Advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying in the center relate to metal, wood, water, fire, and earth – the five elements.
This relates to the theory left to us from Zhang Sanfeng of the Wudang Mountains. He wanted all the heroes in the world to live long and not merely gain skill.
Once there is any movement, the entire body should be nimble and alert. There also needs to be connection from movement to movement.
When practicing the solo set, if you do not use crude effort, you will then be able to be nimble and alert. It must be a single flow throughout.
The energy should be roused and the spirit should be collected within.
When the energy is not stagnant, then it is like the sea breeze blowing on the waves. When the mind is calmed and the spirit is concentrated, this is what it means to be collected within.
Do not allow there to be cracks or gaps anywhere, pits or protrusions anywhere, breaks in the flow anywhere.
When practicing the solo set, you should seek roundness and fullness. It must not be uneven. It should be done slowly and without interruption.
Starting from the foot, issue through the leg, directing it at the waist, and expressing it at the fingers. From foot through leg through waist, it must be a fully continuous process, and you will then catch the opportunity and gain the upper hand.
When practicing, it is necessary for the upper body and lower to coordinate with each other. Power initiates from the heel, goes through the leg to the waist, and from the spine then goes through the arms to the fingers. As long as it is a continuous process through the whole body, then when you apply power, whether advancing or retreating, the power will be immeasurable.
If you miss and your body easily falls into disorder, the problem must be in the waist and legs, so look for it there. This is always so, regardless of the direction of the movement, be it up, down, front, back, left, right. And in all of these cases, the problem is a matter of your intent and does not lie outside of you.
Problems do not come from outside, they all lie with your intent. If your intent is not concentrated, your spirit will not gather, and you will then be unable to catch the opportunity and gain the upper hand.
With an upward comes a downward, with a forward comes a backward, and with a left comes a right. If your intention wants to go upward, then harbor a downward intention, like when you reach down to lift up an object. You thereby add a setback to the opponent’s own intention, thus he cuts his own root and is defeated quickly and certainly.
Once you cross hands with an opponent, first get him to sway like a rootless tree so he stands on his feet unstably, and then he will naturally topple.
Empty and full must be distinguished clearly. In each part there is a part that is empty and a part that is full. Everywhere it is always like this, an emptiness and a fullness.
When dealing with an opponent, let each of your postures be empty in front and full behind, then when you release power the front leg sits and becomes full while the back leg straightens and becomes empty. If you always ensure that empty and full are clearly distinguished, then when you adjust you will naturally be able to do as you please.
Throughout the body, as the movement goes from one section to another there is connection. Do not allow the slightest break in the connection.
Every section of the body should smoothly link to the other, the energy must flow, and the intent should be uninterrupted.
THE TAIJI BOXING THIRTEEN DYNAMICS SOLO SET
 TAIJI BEGINNING POSTURE
 CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
 SINGLE WHIP
 RAISE THE HANDS
 WHITE CRANE SHOWS ITS WINGS
 BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE
 PLAY THE LUTE
 BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE THREE TIMES – LEFT & RIGHT
 PLAY THE LUTE
 ADVANCE, PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH
 SEALING SHUT
 CROSSED HANDS
 CAPTURE THE TIGER AND SEND IT BACK TO ITS MOUNTAIN
 BEWARE THE PUNCH UNDER ELBOW
 RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY – LEFT & RIGHT
 DIAGONAL FLYING POSTURE
 RAISE THE HANDS
 WHITE CRANE SHOWS ITS WINGS
 BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE – LEFT
 NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA
 MOUNTAIN THROUGH THE ARMS
 FLINGING BODY PUNCH
 STEP FORWARD, PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH
 CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
 SINGLE WHIP
 CLOUDING HANDS – LEFT & RIGHT
 SINGLE WHIP
 RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE
 KICK TO THE RIGHT SIDE – LEFT & RIGHT
 LEFT TURN, PRESSING KICK
 BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE – LEFT & RIGHT
 ADVANCE, PLANTING PUNCH
 TURN AROUND, DOUBLE KICK
 COVER THE BODY WITH FIGHTING TIGER POSTURE – LEFT & RIGHT
 TURN AROUND, PRESSING KICK
 DOUBLE WINDS THROUGH THE EARS
 LEFT PRESSING KICK
 TURN AROUND, PRESSING KICK
 STEP FORWARD, PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH
 SEALING SHUT
 CROSSED HANDS
 CAPTURE THE TIGER AND SEND IT BACK TO ITS MOUNTAIN
 DIAGONAL SINGLE WHIP
 WILD HORSE PARTS ITS MANE – LEFT & RIGHT
 STEP FORWARD, CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
 SINGLE WHIP
 MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLE
 STEP FORWARD, CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
 SINGLE WHIP
 CLOUDING HANDS
 SINGLE WHIP, LOW POSTURE
 GOLDEN ROOSTER STANDS ON ONE LEG
 RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY – LEFT & RIGHT
 DIAGONAL FLYING POSTURE
 RAISE THE HANDS
 WHITE CRANE SHOWS ITS WINGS
 BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE
 NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA
 MOUNTAIN THROUGH THE ARMS
 TURN AROUND, WHITE SNAKE FLICKS ITS TONGUE
 STEP FORWARD, PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH
 ADVANCE, CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
 SINGLE WHIP
 CLOUDING HANDS
 SINGLE WHIP
 RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE, CHANGING TO THREADING PALM
 TURN AROUND, CROSSED-BODY KICK
 ADVANCE, PUNCH TO THE CROTCH
 STEP FORWARD, CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
 SINGLE WHIP, LOW POSTURE
 STEP FORWARD WITH BIG DIPPER PUNCH
 STEP BACK TO RIDE THE TIGER
 TURN AROUND, DOUBLE-SLAP SWINGING LOTUS KICK
 BEND THE BOW TO SHOOT THE TIGER
 STEP FORWARD, PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH
 SEALING SHUT
 CROSSED HANDS
 CLOSING TAIJI
The complete seventy-eight posture routine above is comprised of thirty-seven distinct postures.
RULES FOR THE BODY
 Raise the spirit.
 Forcelessly press up your headtop.
 Contain the chest and pull up the back.
 Loosen the shoulders and drop the elbows.
 Energy sinks to the elixir field.
 The hands are at shoulder level.
 The hips are at knee level.
 Tuck in the anus.
 The tailbone is centered.
 Inside and outside merge together.
RULES FOR PRACTICE
 Do not forcefully apply power.
 Use the mind to move energy.
 Step like a cat.
 The upper body and lower coordinate with each other.
 The breathing is natural.
 The whole thing is a single thread throughout.
 Changes are in the waist.
 Energy travels to the four limbs.
 Clearly distinguish empty and full.
 Turn with roundness and facility.
TRAINING THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TECHNIQUES:
TAIJI BOXING BEGINNING POSTURE – PREPARATION
This is Taiji Boxing’s opening posture, the shape you assume in preparation for movement. While standing stably, the head should be held erect, drawn in and pressed up, the gaze straight ahead. The chest is slightly hollowed and the back pulled up. There must be no leaning forward or back. The shoulders sink, the elbows slightly sit, and the hands hang with fingers forward and palms down. The waist and hips loosen, and the feet are shoulder width apart. Spirit is now consolidated within and energy is sinking to the elixir field. Let it happen naturally, for you cannot make it happen. I preserve my stillness to await the opponent’s movement. However, people typically are liable to neglect this posture, ignorant in particular that regardless of whatever technique is being practiced or applied, none of them can be disassociated from this one. I hope the reader or student will give it first priority and pay attention to it.
1. CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL – WARD-OFF TECHNIQUE
From Taiji Boxing’s opening posture, if an opponent in front of me uses his left hand to strike my chest, I turn my right foot slightly outward where it is and sit full on it, then lift my left foot a step forward, and bend my knee and sit full on it while my rear leg straightens. My feet are now left full, right empty. At the same time, my left hand lifts until in front of my chest, palm inward, elbow slightly hanging, and I use my wrist to stick to his forearm, using a horizontal energy to ward off forward and upward. I must not stiffen and try to match him. The result of all this is that the opponent’s force will thus finish, and then when I move, his position will naturally destabilize.
2. CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL – ROLLBACK TECHNIQUE
From the previous posture, if an opponent uses his right [left] hand to strike my right ribs, I step forward to the right with my right foot, bending the knee to make that foot full as my left foot becomes empty. At the same time, my body turns to the right, my gaze going forward. My hands at the same time turn over and go forward, right hand in front, palm sideways and inward, left hand behind, palm sideways and downward. My right palm now turns downward and my left palm turns upward, the inside of my right wrist quickly sticks by his elbow at the outer side of his upper arm, and the outside of my left wrist sticks by his elbow at the outer side of his lower arm. My whole body sits on my left leg, my left foot becoming full, my right foot becoming empty, as I roll back to the left in front of my chest. The result is that the opponent’s body will lean to the side.
3. CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL – PRESSING TECHNIQUE
From the previous posture, if the opponent pulls back his arm, I promptly bend my right knee, the foot becoming full, straighten my left leg, the foot becoming empty, and lengthen my torso into the forward advance, my gaze following forward and slightly upward. At the same time, I quickly turn over my right palm upward and inward, and turn over my left palm downward and join it to my right wrist. I take advantage of the moment he pulls his arm back by pressing outward. The result is that the opponent will inevitably stumble away.
4. CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL – PUSHING TECHNIQUE
From the previous posture, if the opponent takes advantage of the momentum and attacks me with a press, I send both my wrists slightly upward with a lifting energy, fingers forward, palms down. I am sinking my shoulders, dropping my elbows, sitting my wrists, hollowing my chest, and my whole body is sitting on my left leg. I quickly use both hands to seal off his forearms and push forward, bending my right knee, making the right foot full, straightening my left leg, making the left foot empty, my torso going forward with the attack, my gaze following forward and slightly upward. The result is that the opponent stumbles back.
5. Application of SINGLE WHIP
From the previous posture, if an opponent attacks me from behind, I gather together the fingers of my right hand to make a “hanging hand”. My right foot stays where it is but turns to the left. My left foot lifts and goes forward, coming down to the left. I bend the knee and sit full, and my right leg straightens, making my right foot empty. While my body turns from the right to the left, my left hand goes inward, passes my face, and extends to the left. Once the palm is outward, it attacks his chest. The result is that the opponent will inevitably lean back and fall away. [As my palm goes to his chest,] the loosening of my shoulders, dropping of my elbows, sitting of my wrists, and my gaze following forward should all be coordinated with each other.
6. Application of RAISE THE HANDS
From the previous posture, if an opponent attacks from my right side, my body turns from the left to the right, my left foot goes along with it and turns to the right, and my right foot lifts and advances a step in front of my left foot, heel touching down, sole lifted. My whole body sits on my left leg, my chest is hollowed, my back is pulled up, my waist is loosened, and my gaze is forward. At the same time, my hands go inward toward each other, lifting and closing in, palms toward each other, right hand forward, left hand behind. The distance between my hands is about seven or eight inches. Once I have lifted until my wrists connect to his elbow and wrist, I must hollow and store in with my posture to await his adjustments. Or I can turn my right palm up and use my left palm to cover my right wrist and apply a pressing technique to send him out, in which case the body method, footwork, and movement is the same as the pressing technique as previously described.
7. Application of WHITE CRANE SHOWS ITS WINGS
From the previous posture, if the opponent from in front of me [on my left] uses both fists to strike, I quickly lift my right foot and step to the forward left, heel touching down, foot slightly turned inward, then my knee slightly bends and I sit full on the leg. My body is going along with my right foot and turning to face squarely to the left, and my left foot shifts to be in front of my right foot, toes touching down. My hands go along with my right foot, my left hand going from the right to the left, up, then down in front of my chest, palm down, while my right hand lowers in accordance with the turn until in front of my belly, palm up. My left hand continues downward to my left side to spread away his right wrist, while my right hand continues upward to my right side to spread away his left wrist. The result is that the opponent’s force is scattered.
8. Application of BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his hand or foot to strike me low from my left side, I sink my body, temporarily putting all my strength into my right leg, my left foot lifts and steps forward, I then bend the knee and sit full, and my right foot becomes empty. At the same time, my left hand lifts inward and comes down to brush aside his hand or foot to the left until my hand is to the outside of my left knee. Also at the same time, my right hand goes along by lowering behind me to my right then arcing up to be beside my ear, palm forward. I sink my shoulders, drop my elbows, sit my wrists, advance with my torso, my gaze following forward, and reach out to push his chest. The result is that the opponent naturally stumbles away.
9. Application of PLAY THE LUTE
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his right hand to strike or push my chest, I hollow my chest, bend my [right] knee and sit full, my left foot lifting slightly to the rear, heel touching down, sole pulled up. My right hand at the same time draws back to coil around under his wrist, and using my wrist to stick to his wrist, I take hold to the inside of his wrist and pluck it down to my right side. My left hand at the same time goes forward and upward from my left to gather in, using my palm near the wrist to stick to his elbow and twist it to the right, or both of my hands can move toward each other. It looks like holding a lute. I now contain my posture to observe how he adjusts.
10. Application of BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE
The movement and application are similar to 8.
11. Application of RIGHT BRUSH KNEE
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his left hand or left foot to strike me from below, I promptly lift my right foot and step forward, then bend the knee and sit full, my body going along with my right foot by twisting to advance forward. My left foot stays where it is and becomes empty, my right hand drawing back inward, then brushing aside his left hand or left foot to the right until my hand is to the outside of my right knee. At the same time, [my left hand] goes behind me to my left then arcs until beside my ear, palm forward, then pushes toward his chest. The result is that the opponent naturally topples. My shoulders, wrists, and gaze are the same as in 8. My body, hands, and feet should all be operating together.
12. LEFT BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE
The movement and application are the same as RIGHT BRUSH KNEE.
13. PLAY THE LUTE
Same as 9.
14. Application of ADVANCE, PARRY, BLOCK, PUNCH
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his right hand to strike me, I promptly shift my left foot slightly back on my left side, my waist twisting to the left. My right foot then lifts and goes forward on my right side, coming down turned outward and I sit full on it, my waist twisting to the right. My hands at the same time go slightly to the left and then arc inward to the right, my right hand drawing back and becoming a fist which sticks to and coils over his wrist, palm up, to either pile upon his wrist or slightly pluck him toward my right flank. While my waist is turning, my left hand returns upward from my rear left, passing my left ear, going forward and inward, and I use my forearm to connect to the inside bend of his elbow and move his arm outward, my palm turned down, fingers slightly hanging over. My left foot is able to advance a step while this is happening, and I bend the knee and sit full as my right fist strikes his chest, my right foot becoming empty. My gaze is forward and my waist advances with the attack. The result is that the opponent is easily made to stumble away. If he takes advantage of the moment I am moving his arm aside and tries to slip his arm over on top of mine, I can quickly flip my hand upward to block it at my wrist.
15. Application of SEALING SHUT
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his left hand to grab my right fist, I promptly send my left hand along the outside of my right elbow to obstruct his left wrist. I open my right fist and draw it back toward my chest until both my palms are inward and making an X shape. At the same time, I hollow my chest and sit my hips, spreading my hands and turning them outward to seal off his elbow and wrist, my left hand touching his wrist, my right hand touching his elbow, and quickly applying a long energy, I push him out. My gaze is forward, my waist advances into the attack, and my left leg has again bent at the knee to sit full while my right leg has straightened and become empty. The result is that the opponent inevitably falls back facing upward.
16. Application of CROSSED HANDS
If an opponent from my right strikes down from above, I quickly turn my body to the right and bring my feet together, lifting my hands from below to join and make an X shape, palms inward, and ward off his arm. If he changes his attack to a push with both hands, I promptly use both my hands to spread his hands outward from the center, my palms either upward or downward. At the same time, my waist and knees slightly loosen and sink. The result is that the opponent’s force will naturally be scattered.
17. Application of CAPTURE THE TIGER AND SEND IT BACK TO ITS MOUNTAIN
From the previous posture, if an opponent from behind me on my right side uses his right hand to strike me from below, or kicks me with his right foot, I promptly turn my body to the right side and step out with my right foot, bending the knee to sit full as my left leg straightens and becomes empty. While my body turns, my right hand brushes aside his hand or foot to the right until beyond my right knee. My left hand at the same time goes forward from my left side, the wrist rotating, to come out with a push to his face. If he then uses his left hand to strike from above, I quickly use my left wrist to coil around from below his left wrist and stick to it. My right hand at the same time lifts in an arc to stick on top of his elbow with my wrist. At the same time, my hands draw back embracing toward my chest on my left side. The result is that the opponent’s stance will naturally be destabilized. It is important for me to loosen my shoulders and sit my elbows. My left foot is now full, my right foot empty.
18. THREE TECHNIQUES WITHIN CAPTURE THE TIGER AND SEND IT BACK TO ITS MOUNTAIN [ROLLBACK, PRESS, PUSH]
19. Application of BEWARE THE PUNCH UNDER ELBOW
From the previous posture, if an opponent from behind me uses his right hand to strike me, I promptly shift my right foot to the left and sit full, my body turning, chest hollowing, back pulling up, headtop pressing up, waist loosening. Before my body has turned to be square to him, my left foot lifts and lowers, heel touching down, sole up to face forward. My hands move along with the turning of my body. My left hand is turning inward, elbow dropping, shoulder loosening, and goes to my left rear in a level arc until I am square to him, and my forearm connects with his forearm. Then from above, my left hand stickily coils around underneath and uses the tiger’s mouth to wrap his elbow, palm inward, and slightly prop it up. My right hand has grasped into a fist and arced to my right ribs, tiger’s mouth upward, and strikes to his flank. My gaze is forward.
20. Application of RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY – LEFT
From the previous posture, the opponent uses his right hand to strike my chest, so I promptly send the inside of my left wrist to the inside of his right elbow, sticking and sinking down in a half circle to brush away outward to the left. The result is that he will inevitably lean to the left. My left foot steps back and I sit full, my head pressing up, shoulders loosening, back pulling up, chest hollowing, and my right foot stays where it is and becomes empty. My right hand at the same time arcs to the right rear and then upward to prepare for the opponent attacking with his left hand.
21. Application of RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY – RIGHT
From the left posture, if the opponent uses his left hand to strike me, I promptly send my right hand forward and slightly downward, using the inside of my wrist to connect with the inside of his elbow and neutralize outward to the right. The methods of body and step are the same as on the left side. When practicing the solo set, you can retreat three steps, five, or seven, so long as your right hand is in front when you stop.
22. Application of DIAGONAL FLYING POSTURE
From the previous posture, if an opponent attacks me above from my right side, I quickly use my right arm to ward off to the outside of his right arm, my right foot at the same time stepping out to my right side. If he presses down my right wrist, I take advantage of the momentum, sinking down and promptly lifting my left hand onto his wrist, palm down, sticking to his wrist with an intention of slightly plucking to my left side. I temporarily sit full on my left foot, then thread my right hand under his right arm and, using the side of my wrist, rend away toward his upper flank, palm inward. My right foot is now full, left foot empty. My gaze follows along with my body’s attack to the right. The result is that the opponent naturally leans and topples away.
23. Application of RAISE THE HANDS (same as before)
24. Application of WHITE GOOSE SHOWS ITS WINGS (same as 7)
25. Application of BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE (same as before)
26. Application of NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA
From the previous posture, if an opponent uses his right hand to pull my right wrist, I promptly bend my right elbow and draw back my wrist, lifting it up, palm to the left, my left foot withdrawing, toes touching down, my right foot sitting full. If he again tries to pluck my wrist down, I promptly loosen my wrist and sink down, my waist sitting and my body leaning forward. My gaze is forward and my left leg remains empty. The result is that the opponent’s force is naturally drained away.
27. Application of FAN THROUGH THE ARMS
From the previous posture, if the opponent now uses his right hand to strike, I quickly lift my right hand up and to the right until beside my right temple, my palm turning outward to prop up his right hand. My left hand at the same time lifts until in front of my chest and, using the palm, thrusts out to brace away his flank. I should be sinking my shoulders, dropping my elbows, sitting my wrists, and loosening my waist. My left leg at the same time steps out forward, bending the knee to sit full, toes forward, right leg straightening and becoming empty. My body is square to the right almost in a horse-riding stance, but my gaze is in the direction of my left hand. The result is that the opponent is naturally rendered incapable of defending.
28. Application of FLINGING BODY PUNCH
From the previous posture, if an opponent from behind me uses his right hand to attack my spine or flank, I promptly lift my right foot and shift it to my right rear, bringing it down with the toes forward and it becomes full. My left toes turn to the right and the foot becomes empty as my body turns to be square to him. My right hand at the same time arcs from above to come down beside my right ribs, grasping into a fist, and using the outside of the wrist, palm upward, to pile upon his wrist. At the same time, my left hand arcs from my left side, withdrawing in front of my chest, and then quickly extends toward him.
29. Application of ADVANCE, PARRY, BLOCK, PUNCH
From the previous posture, if when I have piled onto the opponent’s wrist he forcefully deflects me to my left, my right wrist slightly goes along with it and loosens, and I quickly send my left forearm to connect with the inside bend of his right elbow and move it outward, my elbow slightly up, palm outward, fingers slightly downward. Then I use my right fist to punch straight to his chest, my left foot taking a step forward, the knee bending to sit full, my right foot staying where it is but turning to the right and becoming empty. My gaze is forward and my waist advances with the attack. The result is that the opponent naturally will stumble away.
30. Application of STEP FORWARD, CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL (same as before)
Includes as before the three techniques of rollback, press, and push.
31. Application of SINGLE WHIP (same as before)
32. Application of CLOUDING HANDS – RIGHT
From the previous posture, if the opponent from in front of me on my right side uses his right hand to strike to my chest or flank, I promptly send my right hand down, palm inward, then from the left going upward to the right, turning over and clouding outward until reaching the outside of his wrist or forearm, my palm down, and neutralizing to the right. My left hand at the same time lowers, palm down, and then clouds to the right, my torso twisting along with my right hand. My gaze at the same time goes outward, my right foot moving a step to the right side and sitting full. My left foot slightly shifts to the right and becomes slightly empty. The result is that the opponent’s position naturally falls into disorder.
33. CLOUDING HANDS – LEFT
Same thing in the other direction.
34. Application of SINGLE WHIP (same as before)
35. Application of RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE
From the SINGLE WHIP posture, if the opponent uses his left hand to coil around from under my left wrist to prop it up and deflect it to my right, I then slightly loosen my left wrist, palm up, pile it upon his wrist, and draw it back plucking inward. My left foot at the same time lifts and withdraws, toes touching down, while loosening my waist, hollowing my chest, and my right leg slightly bending at the knee and sitting full. At the same time, my right hand quickly arcs up from behind and goes forward to his face, using my palm to strike him away. My gaze is forward and my back is slightly convex with the intent of reaching forward into the attack.
36. Application of KICK TO THE RIGHT SIDE
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his right hand to connect to my right wrist as I stretch it forward, I then use my right wrist to cover his right wrist, dropping my elbows, sinking my shoulders, and promptly plucking his left arm to my left side. At the same time, my left hand sticks to his left wrist, palm down, with a stealthy extending energy. My left foot at the same time steps out forward to the left side and sits full. My body then advances and my right foot lifts to the left and kicks his right flank with the top of the foot, my hands spreading to the sides. My gaze is in the direction of my right hand’s movement. The result is that the opponent naturally cannot hold out against me.
37. Application of KICK TO THE LEFT SIDE (same as the right)
Same as 37 but with left and right reversed and oriented to the left instead of right. Understanding one side, it is not necessary to repeat it for the other. Regardless of what precedes or follows, the photo is the same thing for both sides. As for the orientation to both sides, you will understand if you think about it.
38. Application of LEFT TURN, PRESSING KICK
From the posture of KICK TO THE LEFT SIDE, if an opponent strikes me from behind with his right hand, I promptly turn my body to the left to be square [with the position of the beginning posture], pressing up my headtop, hollowing my chest, pulling up my back, loosening my waist, my right foot staying where it is but slightly turning to the left and remaining full. My left leg hangs while my body turns, toes down, then kicks out to his chest using the heel, toes up. During the turn, my hands prop up together from below, and during the kick, they spread to the sides, my gaze following forward. The result is that the opponent naturally topples.
39. Application of LEFT BRUSH KNEE (same as before)
40. Application of RIGHT BRUSH KNEE (same as before)
41. Application of ADVANCE, PLANTING PUNCH
When my right hand brushes aside in the previous posture, if the opponent uses his right leg to kick me, I promptly use my left hand to brush aside his leg to my left. My left foot at the same time steps forward and the knee bends to sit full, my right hand grasping into a fist to strike his right knee as my right leg straightens to become empty, my body bending forward but balanced, my chest hollowing, my gaze forward. The result is that the opponent’s stance is naturally destabilized.
42. Application of TURN AROUND, FLINGING BODY PUNCH
From the previous posture, if an opponent uses his right hand to attack me from behind, I quickly turn to my right rear to be square to him. My right hand at the same time lifts and arcs from left to right, bending my elbow and using my wrist to pile upon his wrist, palm up, with a stealthy plucking energy. My left hand at the same time arcs past my chest and, using the heel of the palm, rends away to his face, my left toes slightly turning to the right, my right leg having quickly lifted to the forward right, coming down to sit full, my left leg becoming empty, my gaze following forward.
43. Application of ADVANCE, PARRY, BLOCK, PUNCH
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his right arm to ward off and lift my right wrist, I quickly take advantage of the momentum by sending my left wrist to the inside bend of his right elbow to stick to it and move it outward, my right hand grasping into a fist to thrust to his chest, tiger’s mouth up, my left leg stepping forward, bending at the knee and sitting full, my right leg becoming empty. My gaze is forward and my waist advances with the attack. My upper body, hands, and feet should all act at the same time. The result is that the opponent will easily topple.
44. Application of RIGHT PRESSING KICK
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his left hand to push my right arm out to my left, my right wrist follows the momentum, wraps under his wrist, and rends away from right to left. Then my right foot kicks out toward him. My left foot has slightly turned to the left and sits full, my body turned to be square to my left, my head pressing up, my back pulling up, my gaze following in the direction of my right kick.
45. Application of FIGHTING TIGER POSTURE – LEFT
From the previous posture, if an opponent from my forward [rear] left uses his left hand to strike me, I lower my right foot, step my left foot to my left, bend the knee and sit full, my right foot becoming empty. My body is now almost in a horse-riding stance, square to the left. Both hands at the same time lower and go along with the left turn, my right hand grabbing his left wrist and plucking it down to the left, my left hand becoming a fist and turning over upward from outward on the left to arrive beside my left temple, palm outward, and strike quickly to his head or back. My head is pressing up, my waist is loosening, and my gaze is following in the direction of my left hand.
46. Application of FIGHTING TIGER POSTURE – RIGHT
From the left posture, if an opponent from behind me on my right uses his right hand to strike me, I promptly lift my right foot and step out to my right side, bending the knee to sit full, almost making a horse-riding stance, my waist twisting forward to the right, my left leg becoming empty. Both hands lower and go along with the right turn, my left hand grabbing his right wrist and plucking it down to the right, my right hand becoming a fist and turning upward from outward on the right to arrive beside my right temple, palm outward, to quickly strike his head or back. My head is pressing up, my waist is loosening, and my gaze is following in the direction of my right hand.
47. Application of TURN AROUND, RIGHT PRESSING KICK (same as before)
48. Application of DOUBLE WINDS THROUGH THE EARS
From the previous posture, if the opponent on my right side uses both fists to strike me, I quickly turn my left toes slightly to the right, the foot remaining full, my right foot hanging with the knee up, toes down, my body turning along with the movement, and quickly the backs of my hands go down from above to pile upon his wrists and spread them away to the sides. With my head pressing up, my waist loosening, my back pulling up, my chest hollowing, both my hands then grasp into fists and come up from below to strike his ears with the tiger’s mouths. My right foot at the same time lowers forward and becomes full, my gaze is forward, my torso has a slight intention of advancing into the attack, and my left foot becomes empty.
49. Application of LEFT PRESSING KICK
From the previous posture, if the opponent strikes to my flank from my left side, I quickly use my left hand to stick to his right arm and rend it away from inward to outward. My left foot at the same time lifts forward to kick his chest or flank, my right hand separating away to my right side. My right foot stays where it is, though slightly shifting, and remains full. My head is pressing up, my back pulling up, and my gaze follows forward.
50. Application of TURN AROUND, PRESSING KICK
Continuing from the previous posture, if an opponent attacks from my left rear, I quickly turn around to the right to face him squarely, my left foot withdrawing to hang while I turn, then coming down to sit full with the toes forward, my right sole being the pivot for the body’s turn. My hands are gathering in until my body is square, then quickly my right hand sticks to his forearm, and goes down from above and rends away to the left. My right foot at the same time lifts and kicks to his chest or flank, my left hand spreading away to the left.
51. ADVANCE, PARRY, BLOCK, PUNCH (same as before)
52. SEALING SHUT (same as before)
53. CROSSED HANDS (same as before)
54. CAPTURE THE TIGER AND SEND IT BACK TO ITS MOUNTAIN (same as before)
Includes its three techniques of rollback, press, and push. (The capture does not mean the rollback.)
55. DIAGONAL SINGLE WHIP (the orientation different from before)
56. Application of WILD HORSE PARTS ITS MANE – RIGHT
From the previous posture, if an opponent from my right side advances with his left foot and strikes with his left hand, I quickly turn my body to the right, draw back my right foot, toes lightly touching down, then use my left hand to tug his left wrist with a slight plucking intention down to my left. At the same time I quickly step forward with my right foot, bend the knee to sit full as my left foot becomes empty, and spread my right wrist away to his armpit, my left hand loosening and spreading aside, my body advancing, my gaze forward. The result is that the opponent will naturally lean to the side and be incapable of stability.
57. Application of WILD HORSE PARTS ITS MANE – LEFT
From the right version of the posture, if the opponent comes from my left side to attack me with his right hand, I use my right hand to tug his right wrist, then advance with my left hand and left foot, the rest the same as on the right side.
58. CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
59. Application of SINGLE WHIP (same as before)
60. Application of MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLE – LEFT
From the SINGLE WHIP posture, if an opponent from behind me on my right side uses his right hand to strike down from above, I promptly turn my body to the right, my right foot lifting and withdrawing in front of my left foot, and I quickly use my right wrist to ward off to the outside of his right wrist. My left foot at the same time advances, bending the knee to sit full as my left [right] foot empties, and I use my left wrist to nimbly ward off upward to the inside of his forearm, my right hand coming away to push to his chest or flank. My head is pressing up, my waist loosening, my chest hollowing, my back pulling up, and my gaze is forward. The result is that the opponent naturally collapses.
61. Application of MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLE – RIGHT
Continuing from the previous posture, if an opponent from behind me on my right uses his right hand to chop down to my head, I promptly turn my left foot slightly inward, my right foot stepping out to my right rear, bending the knee and sitting full while my body twists around to the right rear and my left foot becomes empty. I quickly use my right wrist to stick to the outside of his right arm and ward off upward to the right, my left hand pushing to his right flank. The result is that the opponent naturally topples.
62. MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLE
Same as 60.
63. MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLE
Same as 61.
64. CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL (same as before)
65. SINGLE WHIP
Same as before.
66. CLOUDING HANDS
67. Application of SINGLE WHIP, LOW POSTURE
After the SINGLE WHIP’s left hand has come out, if the opponent uses his right hand to push my left hand outward or forcefully grab it, I promptly squat down to the rear on my right leg, my left hand nimbly wrapping to draw back in front of my chest. Or if he uses his left hand to strike, I can quickly use my left hand to grab his left wrist and pluck down to the left [right] as my right leg and body squat. By tugging on his force, I conserve my own energy.
68. Application of GOLDEN ROOSTER STANDS ON ONE LEG – RIGHT
From the previous posture, if the opponent pulls back his energy, I promptly follow his momentum, my body going forward and drilling upward, my right leg lifting and using the knee to thrust into his belly, my right hand coming forward, bending at the elbow, fingers up, to seal off his left hand. My left foot has become full and stands stably, my head is pressing up, my back pulling up. When my right hand comes forward, it can divert either of his hands and is not restricted to one or the other.
69. Application of GOLDEN ROOSTER STANDS ON ONE LEG – LEFT
From the right posture, if the opponent uses his other hand to strike, my right hand sinks and I quickly lift my left hand to prop up his elbow, lifting my left leg to do as the right has done.
70. RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY (same as before)
71. DIAGONAL FLYING POSTURE (same as before)
72. RAISE THE HANDS (same as before)
73. WHITE CRANE SHOWS ITS WINGS (same as before)
74. BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE (same as before)
75. NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA (same as before)
76. MOUNTAIN THROUGH THE BACK (same as 27)
77. TURN AROUND WITH WHITE SNAKE FLICKS ITS TONGUE
This is the same as the FLINGING BODY PUNCH, except that in the second photo the fist has opened into a palm, the technique now lying in the fingers and palm.
78. PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH (same as before)
79. Application of CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL (same as before)
80. Application of SINGLE WHIP (same as before)
81. Application of CLOUDING HANDS (same as before)
82. Application of SINGLE WHIP (same as before)
83. RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE, CHANGING TO THREADING PALM [no explanation given, and palm name changed to PALM STRIKE TO THE FACE further below]
84. Application of CROSSED-BODY SINGLE-SLAP SWINGING LOTUS KICK (called CROSSED-BODY KICK)
From the previous posture, if an opponent from behind me to my right swings at me with his right hand, I quickly twist around to the right to face him squarely, my left arm turning over and drawing in. Once it and my right arm mirror each other above and below, it quickly reaches to my right rear to stick to the inside of his right wrist and take it outward while I quickly lift my right leg and kick sideways with the top of my foot to his right flank. The result is that the opponent must comply with my foot and stumble away.
85. Application of ADVANCE, PUNCH TO THE CROTCH
Continuing from the previous posture, if the opponent draws back his hand, I quickly lower my right foot, step forward with my left foot, bend the knee and sit full. If he is now using his right foot to kick, I quickly use my left hand to brush it aside beyond my left knee, my right hand quickly grasping into a fist and punching to his belly. My body is slightly leaning and my gaze follows forward.
86. Application of STEP FORWARD, CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL (same as before)
87. Application of SINGLE WHIP, LOW POSTURE (same as before)
88. Application of STEP FORWARD WITH THE BIG DIPPER
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses his right hand to chop down from above, I quickly advance my body forward to the left, crossing my hands together to make a Big Dipper shape, palms inward, warding off toward him, or I can use fists to strike straight forward. My right leg at the same time kicks out with the top of the foot as my left foot becomes full. I am pulling up my back, hollowing my chest, and my head should be pressing up, my gaze forward, and then my body will naturally be stable.
89. Application of STEP BACK TO RIDE THE TIGER
From the previous posture, if the opponent uses both hands together to strike both sides of my head, I promptly send both my wrists to stick to the inside of his wrists, my left hand going out to the lower left, my right hand lifting to my upper right, my palms turning outward. My right foot at the same time comes down to the rear and sits full, my waist sinking down, my left foot slightly lifting, toes touching down. I am pulling up my back, hollowing my chest, and my head is pressing up, my gaze forward.
90. Application of TURN AROUND, DOUBLE-SLAP SWINGING LOTUS KICK (also called SPIN ON THE FOOT, SWINGING LOTUS KICK)
From the previous posture, if an opponent from behind me uses his right hand to strike, I promptly spin my body around on my right sole, my left foot hanging during the turn until it comes down behind my right foot and sits full. My hands go along with the spin of my body until they zero in on his right elbow and wrist, then wrap around to the inside of his wrist and rend away to the left as the top of my right foot quickly kicks his chest or flank. My left foot is full, I am loosening my waist, my head is pressing up, my gaze is in the direction of the opponent, and my right hand then spreads away to the right.
91. Application of BEND THE BOW TO SHOOT THE TIGER
From the previous posture, if the opponent withdraws his body, I promptly stick to his right hand with my right hand, coiling around to the outside of his wrist, making a fist and striking. My left hand at the same time is sinking the bend of his right elbow, while my right foot lowers to the right and sits full, my waist sinking, putting me almost in a horse-riding stance, my left foot becoming empty.
If there are any differences between these solo practice photos and the sparring photos further below, it is because each case comes with the idea that since Taiji is adaptive, you cannot be restricted to a single method.
92. ADVANCE, PARRY, BLOCK, PUNCH (application same as before)
93. SEALING SHUT (application same as before)
94. From SEALING SHUT, make the CROSSED HANDS posture as before, then change to CLOSING POSTURE.
THIRTEEN DYNAMICS SONG
Do not neglect any of the thirteen dynamics,
their command coming from the lower back.
You must pay attention to the alternation of empty and full,
then energy will flow through the whole body without getting stuck anywhere.
In stillness, movement stirs, and then in moving, seem yet to be in stillness,
for the magic lies in making adjustments based on being receptive to the opponent.
In every movement, very deliberately control it by the use of intention,
for once you achieve that, it will all be effortless.
At every moment, pay attention to your waist,
for if there is complete relaxation within the belly, energy is primed.
The tailbone is centered and spirit penetrates to the headtop,
thus the whole body will be nimble and the headtop will be pulled up as if suspended.
Pay careful attention in your practice that you are letting bending and extending, contracting and expanding, happen as the situation requires.
Beginning the training requires personal instruction,
but mastering the art depends on your own unceasing effort.
Whether we are discussing in terms of theory or function, what is the constant?
It is that mind is sovereign and body is subject.
If you think about it, what is emphasizing the use of intention going to lead you to?
To a longer life and a longer youth.
Repeatedly recite the words above,
all of which speak clearly and hence their ideas come through without confusion.
If you pay no heed to those ideas, you will go astray in your training,
and you will find you have wasted your time and be left with only sighs of regret.
1. Same step pushing hands:
Person A and Person B both have their right foot forward. (This is for exercising the four primary techniques.)
2. Opposite step pushing hands:
A has his right foot forward while B has his left foot forward.
3. Lively step pushing hands:
One advances three steps while the other retreats three steps. Remember when advancing to start with the front foot and when retreating to start with the back foot. The hands will still be the same as in the previous versions.
4. Single step pushing hands:
A advances his right foot then his left follows a half step. B retreats his left foot then his right follows a half step. This is the front leading the rear and the rear leading the front. It makes no difference who is going forward or back.
In all of the versions of pushing hands above, the hand method is the same, and it is only the footwork that varies.
[PLAYING HANDS SONG]
Ward-off, rollback, press, and push must be taken seriously.
With coordination between above and below, the opponent will hardly find a way in.
I will let him attack me with as much power as he likes,
for I will tug with four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds.
Guiding him in to land on nothing, I then close on him and send him away.
I stick to him and go along with his movement instead of pulling away or crashing in.
PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPLANATION OF THE PUSHING HANDS EXERCISE
Two people practice together, A [Tian Zhaolin (in black)] and B [Dong Yingjie], first making the “lute” posture on the right side. When their hands meet, it does not matter whose right foot starts forward. Their distance from each other will depend on their bodies, timing, and position. They first connect by crossing hands, then A does a ward off while B does a push. [See photo 1:]
[The text for the next three photos was copied from Chen Weiming’s 1925 Taiji manual. This is the main reason for the discrepancy between left and right, since the photos in Chen’s book are of the opposite hands.]
When A goes along with B’s push, he shrinks away his waist and sits back, using his left [right] wrist to stick on top of B’s elbow, at the same time rolling back with both hands. For the rollback, see photo 2:
B is being rolled back by A, causing his body to incline to the left [right] side so he cannot generate any power, but while B’s right [left] hand goes out along the direction of A’s rollback, he uses his left [right] palm to assist at the bend of his right [left] elbow and presses forward. For the press, see photo 3:
A is being pressed by B, but B cannot generate any power because A hollows his chest and uses his left [right] palm to stick to the back of B’s left [right] hand and neutralize it to the left [right] so B’s press cannot get to him. A’s right [left] hand at the same time pushes on B’s [right] elbow and both hands push forward together. For the push, see photo 4:
[FOR A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION, HERE IS THE] PUSHING HANDS METHOD FOR THE FOUR PRIMARY TECHNIQUES [text copied from Xu Yusheng’s 1921 Taiji manual]
Pushing hands with the four primary techniques is when two people are pushing hands using the four techniques of rollback, press, push, and ward-off, which are aligned with the four cardinal directions, repeating the cycle over and over again, back and forth between the two people. To begin, they stand opposite each other and cross their right hands.
 A bends his knees and sits back, bends his arms so his elbows hang down (making the “lute” posture), his hands grabbing B’s right arm at the elbow and wrist, and he rolls back inward and diagonally downward. [like photo 2, but with left and right reversed]
 B takes advantage of the momentum and bends his right forearm across, making a ninety-degree angle, and presses forward toward A’s chest with his wrists connected, then shifts his left hand to touch the inside of his forearm and assist the power. [like photo 3, left and right reversed]
 Right when B presses with his elbow, A hollows his chest and turns his waist slightly to the left, both hands taking advantage of the momentum and pushing down on B’s left arm. [like photo 4, left and right reversed]
 B then uses his left arm to do a pressing push, bringing it away [from his right arm] in an upward arc to ward off and neutralize A’s pushing force. At the same time, his right arm also coils from below to prop up A’s left elbow and assist the neutralization. [like photo 1, but with roles reversed, left and right still reversed]
 Once B wards off and neutralizes A’s pushing force, he then takes advantage of the momentum and rolls back A’s left arm. [like photo 2, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 A goes along with B’s rollback energy and presses forward. [like photo 3, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 B goes along with A’s pressing energy and pushes down. [like photo 4, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 A then wards off and neutralizes B’s pushing power [like photo 1, left and right reversed] and then rolls back [like photo 2, left and right reversed].
All of this goes round and round without end. This is called the pushing hands method for the four primary techniques.
PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPLANATION OF EACH POSTURE IN THE EXERCISE OF LARGE ROLLBACK
1. Photo of A [Yang Chengfu] doing a ward-off to neutralize B’s attacking energy (A’s forearm is in a ward-off posture, energy filling to his elbow.):
2. Photo of A doing a rollback and intercept (A’s left hand is rolling back and plucking while his right hand is intercepting. Both hands together are doing a rending technique.):
3. Photo of A doing a pluck and a flashing palm strike (A’s left hand is plucking and cutting away while his right hand is flashing out and surprising B.):
4. Photo of A doing a press and bump (A’s left hand supports with a press while he bumps with his right shoulder.):
[FOR A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION, HERE IS THE] PUSHING HANDS METHOD FOR THE FOUR SECONDARY TECHNIQUES (KNOWN AS LARGE ROLLBACK) [also copied from Xu Yusheng’s 1921 book]
Pushing hands with the four secondary techniques, also known as Large Rollback, is when two people are pushing hands using the four techniques of elbow, bump, pluck, and rend, which are aligned with the four corner directions, repeating the cycle over and over again, back and forth between the two people. It compensates for the limitations of the four primary techniques. To begin, they stand opposite each other along a north-south line [A facing south, B facing north] and cross their right hands.
 A steps his right foot diagonally to the northwest, making a stance between a horse-riding stance and a wide T-stance, with his right arm level and bent, his right hand touching B’s right wrist, his left arm bends at the elbow and uses the middle area of the outer forearm bone to roll back B’s right arm diagonally to the northwest. [like photo 2, left and right reversed]
 B then takes advantage of the momentum and steps his left foot across forward [and to the left], moving his right foot to step forward between A’s legs. At the same time, his right arm extends downward, his shoulder going along with A’s rollback energy, and bumps forward into A’s chest with his left hand assisting by touching the inside of his own right arm. Both people are still facing each other, with B looking toward the northeast. [like photo 4, roles reversed]
 A uses his left hand to push down on B’s left wrist and his right hand to push down on B’s left elbow, plucking down. At the same time, his left foot goes from the outside of B’s right foot to step between B’s legs. [like photo 1, roles reversed]
 B goes along with A’s plucking energy and withdraws his right [left] leg to the southwest, making a horse-riding stance, and with his right [left] arm level and bent, his left hand touches A’s left wrist, and his right arm bends at the elbow and uses the middle area of the forearm bone to rollback A’s left arm diagonally to the southwest. [like photo 2, roles reversed]
 A takes advantage of the momentum and steps his right foot forward, moving his left foot to step forward between B’s legs. At the same time, his left arm extends downward, his shoulder going along with B’s rollback energy, and bumps forward into B’s chest, with his right hand assisting by touching the inside of his own left arm. Both people are again facing each other, with A looking toward the southeast. [like photo 4, left and right reversed]
 A’s left arm wants to lift up. B then goes along with A’s lifting energy, his left hand doing a palm strike toward A’s face while his right hand pushes on A’s left shoulder, diagonally rending downward. [like photo 3, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 A goes along with B’s rending energy and withdraws his left foot a step to the northeast, his left hand touching B’s left wrist, his right arm bending at the elbow, and rolls back B’s left arm to the northeast. [like photo 2]
 B takes advantage of the momentum and steps forward with his right foot, moving his left foot to step forward between A’s legs, his left arm going along with A’s rollback energy and using his shoulder to bump forward into A’s chest, his right hand assisting. The direction B is facing is northwest. [like photo 4, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 A uses his right hand to push down on B’s right wrist and his left hand to push down on B’s right elbow, plucking down. At the same time, his right foot goes from the outside of B’s left foot to step between B’s legs. [like photo 1, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 B goes along with A’s plucking energy and withdraws his right foot to the southeast, his right hand touching A’s right wrist, and with his left arm bent at the elbow, rolls back A’s right arm diagonally to the southeast. [like photo 2, roles reversed, left and right reversed]
 A takes advantage of the momentum and steps forward with his left foot, moving his right foot to step forward between A’s legs, his right arm going along with B’s rollback energy, and uses his shoulder to bump forward into B’s chest, his left hand assisting. The direction A is facing is southwest. [like photo 4]
 A’s right arm wants to lift up. B then goes along with A’s lifting energy, his right hand doing a palm strike toward A’s face while his left hand pushes on A’s right shoulder, diagonally rending downward. [like photo 3, roles reversed]
[1 repeating] A retreats his left [right] leg, and with both hands rolls back B’s right arm at the wrist and elbow area. [like photo 2, left and right reversed]
Both people have returned to the posture of crossing their right hands and this whole sequence may continue. This is called the pushing hands method for the four secondary techniques.
THE LARGE TAIJI & THE SMALL TAIJI
The universe is a grand taiji. A human being is a mini taiji. Since the human body is essentially a taiji, it needs to practice a form of boxing that is a taiji. We are born with a nimbleness which later has to be built up all over again, an inborn talent to make use of. The body is like a piece of machinery which gets rusty after protracted disuse, causing the energy and blood to become stagnant, leading to many destructive effects. Thus if you want to refine your body, you must first practice Taiji to get the best results. The method of training Taiji is to use the mind to move energy and not use awkward effort. Keep it pure and natural, the joints feeling very little contortionist strain and the skin receiving no irritation of friction. But without using strength, how can there be strength? By this means: in the practice of Taiji, sink the shoulders and drop the elbows, sinking energy to the elixir field. If energy can get there, it will be a base of operations and from there move into the limbs and throughout the whole body. With the circulation of energy everywhere, energy arrives wherever it is willed. When your training has reached this condition, your strength will be limitless. In this way, not using awkward effort and only using mental movement, effectiveness will be reached. An earlier teacher said: “Extreme softness becomes extreme hardness.” This is the idea.
AN ORIGINAL TEXT BY WANG ZONGYUE
Use the mind to move energy. You must get your posture to settle. The energy is then able to collect in the bones. Use energy to move the body. You must get your movement to be smooth. The body can then easily obey the mind. If you can raise your spirit, then you will be without worry of being slow or weighed down. The Thirteen Dynamics Song calls for the whole body to be nimble and the headtop to be pulled up as if suspended. The mind must perform alternations nimbly, and then you will have the qualities of roundness and liveliness. The Thirteen Dynamics Song says to pay attention to the alternation of empty and full. When issuing power, you must sink and relax, concentrating it in one direction. Your posture must be straight and comfortable, bracing in all directions. Move energy as though through a winding-path pearl, penetrating even the smallest nook (meaning the energy is everywhere in the body). Wield power like tempered steel, so strong there is nothing tough enough to stand up against it. The shape is like a falcon capturing a rabbit. The spirit is like a cat pouncing on a mouse. In stillness, be like a mountain, and in movement, be like a river. Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power like loosing an arrow. Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue. Power comes from the spine. Step according to the body’s changes. To gather is to release. Disconnect but stay connected. In the back and forth [of the arms], there must be folding. In the advance and retreat [of the feet], there must be variation. Extreme softness begets extreme hardness. Your ability to be nimble lies in your ability to breathe. By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted. By storing power in crooked parts, it will be in abundant supply. The mind makes the command, the energy is its flag, and the waist is its banner. By seeking first the gross movement and then the finer details, you will be able to attain a refined level.
EXPLANATIONS TO WANG’S TEXT
Use the mind to move energy. You must get your posture to settle. The energy is then able to collect in the bones.
In your daily training of practicing the Thirteen Dynamics solo set, use your mind to get the energy to slowly spread between the bones and muscles. The intent is the guide and the energy follows it. When practicing the solo set, the postures should be settled and comfortable. The mind should have a strong sense of calmness, for if the mind is not calm, there will be no settling. If you cannot have settling, the energy will not collect in the bones, and you will have merely an external strength. When practicing Taiji Boxing, if the energy can collect in the bones, this will be a genuine Taiji strength.
Use energy to move the body. You must get your movement to be smooth. The body can then easily obey the mind.
If you want to get energy to move through the body, it is crucial that the instruction you obtain as to how to do the solo set be precisely correct. Only then is it the boxing passed down from the early teachers. The postures should be smooth in the upper body and lower. There is no forced strength, so the energy can then get through. If the postures are smooth, the mind will command and the hands and feet will obey.
If you can raise your spirit, then you will be without worry of being slow or weighed down. The Thirteen Dynamics Song calls for the whole body to be nimble and the headtop to be pulled up as if suspended.
The spirit is the entire body’s director. Not only is this so in the practice of boxing, but in everything you do. With the spirit quick, there will certainly be no slowness. Therefore when discussing boxing, it is essential that raising the spirit is the first thing to be addressed. If you want to raise your spirit, your head is to be upright and should have an energy of pressing up. This is the natural energy of rising at the “clay-pellet palace” [acupoint at the top of the head]. Once you comprehend this principle, you will have the method of raising the spirit.
The mind must perform alternations nimbly, and then you will have the qualities of roundness and liveliness. The Thirteen Dynamics Song says to pay attention to the alternation of empty and full.
The mind is something that moves between the bones and muscles. When practicing the solo set or playing hands, the experience feels captivating in a way that words are not quite adequate to explain. You must get the mind to course through the whole body. When the mind goes to the left, the body goes to the left, and when the mind goes to the right, the body goes to the right. These are the transformations of empty and full in Taiji. The alternations of the mind are like a flask half full of water: tip it to the left and it floods the left half, or tip it to the right and it floods the right half. If it can be like this, not only will you have obtained the qualities of roundness and liveliness, there will also be pleasure in the movements of your hands and feet. Once in such a condition, if someone were to try to prevent me from practicing, I doubt they would be able to, because I would be aware that my body is having so much fun.
When issuing power, you must sink and relax, concentrating it in one direction.
When facing an opponent, first get him under your control and then attack him along a single direction, namely the direction in which he is inclining. When you issue power – be it through hand, shoulder, or elbow – you should sink down and mentally relax, issuing power in a focused attack at him along a single direction. So long as my power is not dispersed into many directions, it will not be difficult to send him stumbling away more then ten feet.
Your posture must be straight and comfortable, bracing in all directions.
When the head is upright and the tailbone is centered, the body will not lean. In the mind there should be a sense of comfort and an intention of awaiting movement with stillness. The waist and thighs move like a vertical pivot while the arms and hands move like a horizontal wheel. With these two mechanisms roundly turning as you please, you will then be able to equalize in all directions.
Move energy as though through a winding-path pearl, penetrating even the smallest nook.
A winding-path pearl is a pearl with a very twisting pathway threaded through it. The human body is like a sphere and the limbs and bones are all laid out along curves. If you can move energy through the limbs without a single place going untouched, you have achieved moving energy as though through a winding-path pearl.
Wield power like tempered steel, so strong there is nothing tough enough to stand up against it.
“Wield power like tempered steel.” This refers to internal power. It cannot be achieved in a single day. Practicing every day for many months, gradually work at it until it develops. It is like a lump of iron ore smelted and hammered day after day until gradually it is turned into pure steel, which if you then wished to use to make a sword, its edge would be the sharpest of all.
“There is nothing tough enough to can stand up against it.” Taiji practice develops a power that is delicate yet steel-like. It could break a man made of iron. So what defense would your flesh-and-blood opponents have?
The shape is like a falcon capturing a rabbit. The spirit is like a cat pouncing on a mouse.
A falcon is a flying hunter, a bird of prey, used as part of winter hunts. When facing an opponent, my bearing is like a bird of prey, which upon seeing an animal, grabs it. Your eyes should eat the opponent. Once you cross hands, you can capture the opponent in the manner of a falcon capturing an animal. This analogy is not meant to make you cruel toward people. The way it is stated in the writings of previous teachers requires clarification and I hope not to leave you all with uncertainties.
In its talent for catching mice, a cat resembles a tiger. Crouching down and lying into its hind legs, it waits for the mouse. Its whole body and spirit is concentrated on the mouse’s hole. If the mouse comes out, the cat savagely pounces and the mouse is caught. This describes the energy in Taiji of containing your chest and pulling up your back. It is the attitude of a cat pouncing on a mouse. By waiting for the opportunity then issuing, the opponent will be on the receiving end.
In stillness, be like a mountain, and in movement, be like a river.
Once you have worked at it every day over a long period, under your legs there will be a feeling of root and you will stand like a mountain unshakeable by human strength. The river analogy indicates all variety of limitless changes. A single technique changes into five, which then turns into a hundred as it flows on ceaselessly like the length of a river.
Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power like loosing an arrow.
To store means to conceal. Power in Taiji is not apparent but rather is stored inside. When facing an opponent, internal power is like fully drawing a bow but not yet loosing the arrow, or like a leather ball filled with air. When he lays hands on my arms, although they are soft he cannot push them down, which baffles him. While he is busy being confused, he does not know my bow is loaded with an arrow that wants to be set free. I am like a bow and he is like an arrow, for due to the suddenness of the power that comes out, he stumbles away fast as an arrow.
Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue.
Power comes from the spine. Step according to the body’s changes.
To gather is to release and to release is to gather. Disconnect but stay connected.
The explanation of these three expressions is easy to understand. “Within curving, seek to be straightening.” The idea is that after you bend, you are then to extend. “Store and then issue… Power comes from the spine… To gather is to release.” These phrases all mean the same thing, namely that again the spirit is like a cat catching a mouse. With just these few words, the method is spelled out. You should be able to take it from here and realize for yourself.
In the back and forth [of the arms], there must be folding. In the advance and retreat [of the feet], there must be variation.
There are comings and goings when dealing with opponents. Folding means to make a shape in which you bend the elbow and round the arm, turning away his body or hands. This is applied when close and is useless when separated at a distance. When advancing and retreating, you should not maintain the same stance. There must be variation, adapting in response to circumstances.
Extreme softness begets extreme hardness. Your ability to be nimble lies in your ability to breathe.
When practicing the solo set, it should be done with softness. After you have worked at it for a long time, you will be generating internal power hidden within the softness. “Breathe” means that when you inhale you can lift the opponent, making his rear foot leave the ground, then when you exhale, power comes from the spine, issuing with the power of the whole body, and sends the opponent far away. By mastering breathing, your body’s techniques will then be quick and crisp.
By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted. By storing power in crooked parts, it will be in abundant supply.
Practicing Taiji is a method of nurturing energy rather than a project of wielding energy. What is meant by wielding energy? If a person’s training method is impatient, insistent, or angry, the energy will inevitably accumulate in one place and it will be difficult to send an opponent away due to the impeding of it internally. What is nurturing energy? Mengzi said, “I am good at nurturing my noble energy.” By being neither anxious nor impetuous, innate energy will manifest. By calming your mind and restraining your temperament, practicing the boxing will cause essence, energy, and spirit to merge within. By moving energy as though through a winding-path pearl, then even if you have not gained the upper hand, you have kept yourself from corrupting your energy.
When dealing with an opponent, do not let your arms straighten, be able to have coordination between the upper body and lower, and step according to your body’s changes. When your arms are not straightened, there is more power in reserve, and so the opponent will be sent stumbling away that much sooner. This is the meaning of “By storing power in crooked parts, it will be in abundant supply.”
The mind makes the command, the energy is its flag, and the waist is its banner.
Taiji theory is akin to military operations, in which there needs to be command flags to convey orders. Practicing Taiji is the same kind of thing. The mind makes the command, the mind being what moves the energy. If the energy can be equivalent to a flag, then where the intent goes, the energy will arrive. Therefore the mind is like a commander and the energy is like a flag. The waist as the banner means the large flag at the center of the army. The small flags direct movement and the large flags direct stillness. In the boxing techniques, the waist turns like an axle and must not drop or snap the banner.
By seeking first the gross movement and then the finer details, you will be able to attain a refined level.
The meaning of “gross movement” is to make the posture big and to loosen the muscles. When beginning to learn the solo set, first of all strive for the postures to be opened up quite big, which will loosen the sinews and enliven the blood, making it easier to transform weakness into strength.
Once you have become strengthened, examine your outward ability to integrate sinew, bone, and muscle, while inwardly gathering together essence, energy, and spirit. This phase of the process is the “finer details”. Cultivate the inside and outside simultaneously, adding also the alternations between movement and stillness. Going from gross movement to finer details, strengthening the body and perfecting the applications, you will be able to attain a refined level. If it is suggested the idea of this passage is that the postures of the solo set are to practiced big and then small, that is incorrect.
FURTHER ORIGINAL TEXT
It is also said:
If he takes no action, I take no action, but once he takes even the slightest action, I have already acted. The power seems to relax but [the intent of it] has still not relaxed. The power has expressed but [the intent of it] is not finished expressing. The power finishes but the intent of it continues.
It is also said:
First in the mind, then in the body. The abdomen relaxes completely and then energy collects in the bones. The spirit is comfortable and the body is calm. At every moment be mindful, always remembering: if one part moves, every part moves, and if one part is still, every part is still. As the movement leads back and forth, energy stays near the back and gathers in the spine. Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease. Step like a cat and move energy as if drawing silk. Throughout the body, the mind should be on the spirit rather than on the energy, for if you are fixated on the energy, your movement will become sluggish. Whenever the mind is on the energy, there will be no power, whereas if you ignore the energy and let it take care of itself, there will be pure strength. The energy is like a wheel and the waist is like an axle.
EXPLANATIONS TO THE TEXT
First in the mind, then in the body.
When you start learning to spar, you will think about everything you do and probably lose. After you have completed the training, you will not have to think about how to adapt, the body will deal with attacks by spontaneously responding without the mind being involved. The opponent will stumble away and you will not be aware of how you did it. The training starts in the mind and ends in the body. It is like learning to use an abacus, in which you start by thinking through the steps to get your fingers to go where they need to go, then after you get used to the patterns, your fingers fly around by themselves – first in the mind, then in the hand. The boxing theory is the same.
The abdomen relaxes completely and then energy collects in the bones.
Although you get the abdomen to relax, the concentration to do so should not cause energy to be stimulated there, for the energy needs to be taught to go gather in the spine while the rest of the body sinks weightily. Outwardly be like cotton and inwardly be like steel wires, just like the principle of iron within silk.
At every moment be mindful, always remembering: if one part moves, every part moves, and if one part is still, every part is still.
Constantly keep in mind that when one part moves, the whole body moves, and there should not be any part moving by itself. It is like the engine car of a train: all the other cars will move along with it. In Taiji, the moving of energy should be arranged in an orderly way. Yet it should also be lively, in the same way there is no car which is not moving when they are following the engine car. However, while the body moves, the mind wants stillness. Once the mind has any stillness, the whole body becomes still, and although it is stillness, it contains movement ready to start up again. When moving, coordination between the upper body and lower is the most important thing.
As the movement leads back and forth, energy stays near the back and gathers in the spine. Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease.
The movement leading back and forth has to do with the balletic movements of the hands [during the pushing hands exercise]. When energy is drawn back and can stay by the spine, store it and wait for the moment to issue it. When it is drawn back and can be stored in the spine, then you are bolstering spirit. By outwardly displaying a refined ease, then although what you are practicing is martial, you appear civil.
Step like a cat and move energy as if drawing silk.
The Taiji Boxing footwork is like the lightness and nimbleness of a cat’s steps. When practicing the solo set, move the energy like drawing an unbroken thread of silk.
Throughout the body, the mind should be on the spirit rather than on the energy, for if you are fixated on the energy, your movement will become sluggish. Whenever the mind is on the energy, there will be no power, whereas if you ignore the energy and let it take care of itself, there will be pure strength.
In the human body there are three treasures: essence, energy, and spirit. The intent in Taiji is upon the spirit. When the mind is not on the energy, this means you are not thinking about moving the energy around. When the mind is on the energy and you become sluggish, this is because when you are thinking about moving the energy around, too much will accumulate in one area, and then once this has made you sluggish you cannot be nimble. When the mind is on the energy, there will be no power because the energy has been corrupted. If I feel I have no power, the opponent will also sense I have no power. When the energy is ignored, there will be pure strength because in the absence of corrupted energy a continuous power is generated. Wherever your intention thinks, the power will arrive there. When crossing hands with an opponent, it is like leather straps have been hung over his arm. Even though I have not yet applied any force, he feels my hands are as heavy as Mt. Tai. By not applying direct force, a skillful power is generated. Being without corrupted energy is pure strength.
The energy is like a wheel and the waist is like an axle.
The energy throughout the body is like the turning of a wheel. Since the waist controls the whole body, it is like an axle moving. Therefore the adaptations in the boxing occur at the waist.
If he takes no action, I take no action, but once he takes even the slightest action, I have already acted.
When crossing hands with an opponent, I take no action. Instead I wait for the moment when he takes any kind of action and my hands are then on their way before he gets going.
The power seems to relax but [the intent of it] has still not relaxed. The power has expressed but [the intent of it] is not finished expressing. The power finishes but the intent of it continues.
When expressing with the hands in Taiji Boxing, it is described as relaxed but still not relaxed, and that when extending it is not quite extended all the way. When practicing the solo routine, it can be a continuous series of choreographed postures all strung together, but when facing opponents and applying the techniques, there is no choreography to sending opponents away. Thus outwardly my posture will seem to have finished, but my intent will not be even slightly letting up. It is just like when you break a lotus stalk but the tiny fibers in it are still connected. This analogy makes it easy to understand. Yang Chengfu often said: “The power finishes but the intent continues. The stalk is snapped but the fibers are still connected.” This is the idea.
POINTERS TOWARD ENLIGHTENMENT IN TAIJI
- It is wrong to use force and it is wrong not to use force. It is right to have softness containing hardness.
- It is wrong to run away and it is wrong to crash in. It is right to be neither running away nor crashing in.
- It is wrong to stick to him and it is wrong not to stick to him. It is right to be neither joining nor separating.
- It is wrong to be floating and it is wrong to be heavy. It is right to be light and agile, loosened and settled.
- It is wrong to be reckless and it is wrong to be cowardly. It is right to be bold yet aware.
- It is wrong to fight and it is wrong not to fight. It is right to get him to control himself and give up.
GENERAL REMARKS [Part 2]
- In the art of Taiji Boxing, gradually fewer people lay stress on the methods of application, and as yet there is no book concentrating on demonstrating them. Truly this is flawed and hence this volume is based upon this issue. The author’s postures have been provided with the hopes that everyone in the nation may study them together.
- Applying Taiji Boxing skillfully is essentially like writing calligraphy fluently. Although the thirty-seven photos that follow all come with explanation as to their methods, the real understanding nevertheless lies within your own body.
- Within the explanations are established an A person and a B person (A is the defender. B is the attacker.) so that you may follow along clearly as you read through them.
- Following the photos and explanations are pieces on Taiji Boxing theory and origins, as well as anecdotes, to more easily facilitate your studies. However, they are somewhat vague and without direct experience will mean little. Pardon this.
THE TAIJI TREATISE OF WANG ZONGYUE
Taiji is born of wuji, and is the mother of yin and yang. When there is movement, the passive and active aspects become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend. He is hard while I am soft – this is yielding. My energy is smooth while his energy is coarse – this is sticking. If he moves fast, I quickly respond, and if his movement is slow, I leisurely follow. Although there is an endless variety of possible scenarios, there is only one theory throughout.
Once you have engrained these techniques, you will gradually come to identify energies, and then from there you will work your way toward something miraculous. But unless you practice a lot over a long time, you will never have a breakthrough.
Forcelessly press up your headtop. Energy sinks to the elixir field. Neither lean nor slant. Suddenly hide and suddenly appear. When there is pressure on the left, the left empties. When there is pressure on the right, the right disappears. When looking up, it is still higher. When looking down, it is still lower. When advancing, it is even farther. When retreating, it is even nearer. A feather cannot be added and a fly cannot land. The opponent does not understand me, only I understand him. A hero is one who encounters no opposition, and it is through this kind of method that such a condition is achieved.
There are many other schools of boxing arts besides this one. Although the postures are different between them, they generally do not go beyond the strong bullying the weak and the slow yielding to the fast. The strong beating the weak and the slow submitting to the fast are both a matter of inherent natural ability and bear no relation to skill that is learned. Examine the skill of “four ounces moves a thousand pounds”, which is obviously not a victory obtained through strength. Or consider the sight of an old man repelling a group, which could not come from an aggressive speed.
Stand like a scale. Move like a wheel. If you drop one side, you can move. If you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck. We often see one who has practiced hard for many years yet is unable to perform any neutralizations and is generally under the opponent’s control, and the issue here is that this error of double pressure has not yet been understood.
If you want to avoid this error, you must understand that passive and active exchange roles. Once you have this understanding, you will be identifying energies. Once you are identifying energies, then the more you practice, the more efficient your skill will be, and by absorbing through experience and by constantly contemplating, gradually you will reach the point that you can do whatever you want.
The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent. We often make the mistake of ignoring what is right in front of us in favor of something that has nothing to do with our immediate circumstances. For such situations it is said: “Miss by an inch, lose by a mile.” You must understand all this clearly. That is why it has been written down for you.
PHOTOS OF DEALING WITH AN OPPONENT
1. Application of CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL
A [Yang Chengfu] is the defender. B is the attacker. If when the two people are opposing each other, B uses his right fist to strike A’s chest, A lifts both hands from below B’s right forearm, turns outward and upward to go against B’s forearm, and using intention to move energy, pushes outward. At the same time, he steps his right foot forward and presses back with his left foot, sending B away. See the photo:
Within CATCH THE SPARROW BY THE TAIL, this ward-off changes to rollback, press, and push, but these techniques have already been explained in the pushing hands section.
2. Application of SINGLE WHIP
From the previous posture, if B attacks from behind, wheeling his fist from above with the technique of MT. TAI CRUSHES THE HEAD, A then quickly turns around to the left, his left hand propping B’s chest or lower, his left leg bending and right leg pressing straight. At the same time, his right hand changes to a hook to make a sinking energy, which generates the spreading power of the whip, the left hand meeting the opponent and sending him away. See the photo:
3. Application of RAISE THE HANDS
There is more than one way to strike when fighting. If A is in his SINGLE WHIP posture and B does a straight punch with his left fist, A hollows his chest and closes both hands toward the same place, applying them on top of B’s forearm to go forward and downward with a sinking strike, making B fall back and sit on the ground. See the photo:
This is an application of RAISE THE HANDS, but there is another: in addition to raising upward to strike, you could also sink below to strike.
4. Application of WHITE CRANE SHOWS ITS WINGS
From the previous posture, if B has trained himself to have a powerful grip and grabs from above, A then advances to evade B’s hand, then lifts his right forearm to prop up B’s elbow, his body expanding upward and outward with a ward-off energy to send B away. It is like a white crane showing its wings. Whether B grabs with his left hand or right, this technique can be used in response. [See the photo:]
5. Application of BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSSED STANCE – LEFT
If A is in the posture of WHITE CRANE SHOWS IT WINGS and B uses his right hand to strike forward at an angle, A’s left hand comes from the outside, coils around B’s forearm, and brushes it away downward. At the same time, A’s right hand lowers to the rear, turning until the elbow is level and straight, and slaps B’s chest, his left leg bending and his right leg straightening behind. See the photo:
6. Application of BRUSH KNEE IN A CROSS STANCE – RIGHT
If B uses his left hand in a straight strike, A can use his right hand to brush and stick to B’s left forearm as his left hand coils from the elbow, straightens the fingers, and slaps B’s chest as a palm, his right leg bending and his left leg pressing. See the photo:
7. Application of PLAY THE LUTE
If A is in the posture of LEFT BRUSH KNEE and B coils his right hand in from the right side to do a straight punch, A’s right hand follows B’s hand as it coils and straightens, drawing in, covering and sticking to the inside of B’s wrist. At the same time, A’s left hand lures in and props up B’s elbow. A’s fingers should be spread and the palm forcefully prop up B’s forearm, causing B’s front foot to lift and rendering him unable to apply power. A’s right leg sits full, left leg empty. See the photo:
8. Application of PARRY, CATCH, PUNCH
If B closes with a very strong and fast punch, A quickly shrinks away his body slightly to the right side so B’s punch lands on nothing, and his right fist quickly turns from the outside of B’s right fist to be on top of it and sinks it down. This is the principle of a slight pressure subduing a heavy punch. At the same time, A’s left hand stops B’s forearm, and lowering his right fist no further, punches straight to B’s body. Also at the same time, his left foot steps forward and his right leg straightens. See the photo:
9. Application of SEALING SHUT
When A’s right hand strikes B, if B uses his left hand to block, A’s left hand goes forward under his own right forearm to match B’s left wrist and quickly draws his right hand back to then push on the side of B’s left elbow, and pushes forward with both hands. As the left leg bends, the right leg straightens, but its heel must not lift, for the root is in the feet. See the photo:
10. Application of CROSSED HANDS
If B strikes with both fists, A then comes from below with both palms to ward off upward in an X shape, propping up both of B’s hands. See the photo:
11. Application of CAPTURE THE TIGER AND SEND IT BACK TO ITS MOUNTAIN
A is standing. If B comes from the right rear and does a straight strike with his [right] fist, A then turns on his toe and twists his waist, his right hand going to the rear as in the RIGHT BRUSH KNEE posture to brush aside B’s right forearm, causing B’s body to become uncentered. At the same time, he lifts his left hand to slap B away, his right leg bending and his left leg straightening. See the photo:
Another scenario is that B strikes with his left hand, A then using his left hand to respond to it while quickly using his right hand to wrap around and capture B’s torso in the manner of a hero capturing a tiger and sending it back to its mountain. This is the second version.
12. Application of PUNCH UNDER ELBOW
A is standing in the pushing posture. If B’s technique is too sneaky and he gets in a strike with his right fist from A’s left rear and then quickly retreats, A quickly turns to the left and advances a step, his left hand coiling from above to below B’s fist, extending forward to prop up B’s elbow, and uses his right fist to strike B’s right flank. If B quickly retreats, A quickly advances a few steps to be able to strike him. See the photo:
It is slightly different when actually applying it, for then you must not conceal [the punch].
13. Application of RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY
A is standing. If B is using alternating punches, left and right following each other in straight attacks, advancing the right foot with the right punch and the left foot with the left punch, the technique here being advancing with pulling-and-drilling punches, then A uses RETREAT, DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY to upset the technique, retreating with his left foot while his left hand brushes aside B’s right fist, then retreating with his right foot while his right hand brushes aside B’s left fist. As A goes back, it seems to be a rapid retreat of several steps. He can also switch up the posture: when his left hand brushes B’s right fist, he can advance with his right fist to strike B’s chest, or when his right hand brushes B’s left fist, he can use his left palm to strike and make B retreat. See the photo:
14. Application of DIAGONAL FLYING POSTURE
A is standing. If B stands directly in front of him so he cannot advance, he turns sideways to advance with a strike. When A turns, he uses his right arm like a large bird unfurling a wing to ward off diagonally upward under B’s forearm, and upon reaching B’s body, his left leg straightens powerfully while his right leg bends. This technique can be applied with either arm. See the photo:
15. Application of NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA
If B’s hand forcefully grabs A’s right wrist so A cannot escape, A employs NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA, his hand and foot shrinking back, his right hand forcefully going downward, extending his forearm until it is straight to send B’s hand away. The strength of B’s hand will not be sufficient for him to do anything about it. This is NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA:
16. Application of MOUNTAIN THROUGH THE BACK
If B strikes while A is in the posture of NEEDLE UNDER THE SEA, A’s right hand goes up from below to prop up B’s right wrist, and his left hand goes forward from below in a straight push with the palm outward and fingers up, pushing B’s body with his own body sideways. At the same time, A’s right leg advances and bends and his right leg straightens behind. See the photo:
17. Application of FLINGING BODY PUNCH
From the previous posture, if B strikes with his right hand from behind, A quickly turns his toes to the right and his right fist comes down from above to press down on B’s forearm, then extends his left hand to send a palm strike. See the photo:
18: Application of CLOUDING HANDS
If A is in a horse-riding posture and B from in front of him uses his right hand to strike, A uses his right hand to cloud from the left side to the right side (or if B uses his left hand to strike, A uses his left hand to cloud from right to left), guiding B’s attack to land on nothing. Even if B uses a thousand pounds of force, it will be of no use. See the photo:
In practice it is a sideways step, but here the application of it is directly in front.
19. Application of RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE
If B sends out his left fist, A’s left hand from the outside turns over until it is above, then covers B’s left wrist and somewhat pulls it in, while his right palm goes from the outside to extend and strike B’s face. See the photo:
20. Application of KICKING TO THE SIDE
If A is in the posture of RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE and is using both hands to roll back B’s left arm, he quickly lifts his right foot and, using the top of the foot, kicks B’s belly, both hands quickly releasing B’s arm for B to be kicked away. If the technique is done on the left side, it also uses the posture of RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE on the left side and then the left foot is lifted to kick B’s belly. It can be applied on either side. See the photo:
21. Application of TURN TO THE LEFT, PRESSING KICK
If B attacks from the left rear, A turns to the left, lifts and spreads his hands, and lifts his left foot and does a pressing kick toward B. See the photo:
22. Application of ADVANCE, PLANTING PUNCH
If B lifts his foot to kick A’s leg, A advances with his left foot, rolls up his right hand into a fist, and punches B’s shin or the top of his foot, taking care that his left hand is ready for B’s hand above. A’s left leg bends while his right leg is behind. See the photo:
23. Application of TURN AROUND, PRESSING KICK
If B attacks from the rear and quickly retreats, A turns around to observe B’s retreat, then first advances with his left foot, and then quickly lifts his right foot to do a straight kick to B’s chest while his hands spread apart. See the photo:
24. Application of TURN TO THE RIGHT, PRESSING KICK
If B fiercely attacks while A is in a crouching posture, A spreads both hands to counter B’s hand, lifting his right foot to do a straight kick to B’s belly. When you do a pressing kick to someone, you must not use force. See the photo:
Make note that the above kicking techniques are to be performed as single actions, that in each case the hands spread like wings, and that it is necessary for the standing foot to be stable.
25. Application of DOUBLE WINDS THROUGH THE EARS
If B uses both fists to strike from in front, A then hollows his chest and raises both fists, turning them from both sides upward and inward to strike B’s ears, his right leg forward, left leg behind. See the photo:
26. Application of FIGHTING TIGER POSTURE – LEFT & RIGHT
If A and B cross their right hands and A’s left hand covers B’s right wrist and pushes down, he lifts his right fist to strike to B’s head. This is the posture on the right side, A’s right leg bending and left leg straightening. If A’s right hand covers B’s left wrist, he lifts his left fist to strike to B’s head. A’s left leg bending and right leg straightening, this is the posture on the left side. See the photo [of the right side]:
27. Application of WILD HORSE PARTS ITS MANE
A and B stand opposite each other. If B strikes with his right fist, A quickly advances his right foot, and before B’s fist has landed, A’s right wrist lifts to ward off B’s arm, applying power diagonally upward. A’s left leg is straightening behind, and his left hand can follow it to the rear or can press down on B’s right palm. See the photo:
If when A and B face each other, B lifts his left hand to strike, A advances his left foot, and before B’s hand has landed, lifts his left hand to ward off B’s right arm upward and away, his right foot pressing behind, causing B to fall away.
28. Application of MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLES – LEFT
If B strikes with his [left] fist from A’s left forward corner, A quickly adjusts his posture by stepping his left foot forward and propping up B’s forearm with his left hand, striking toward B with his right palm, while his right leg behind presses straight. See the photo:
28. Application of MAIDEN WORKS THE SHUTTLES – RIGHT
Continuing from the previous posture, if B comes from behind A to strike him, A turns around to his right, warding off upward with his right hand while his body turns, connecting below B’s right elbow with a ward-off lifting up, then uses his left palm to push B’s flank, his right leg bending and left leg pressing straight. See the photo:
Although this technique happens four times, the remainder does not need further description.
30. Application of SINGLE WHIP LOW POSTURE, GOLDEN ROOSTER STANDS ON ONE LEG
If B strikes forward while A is in a SINGLE WHIP LOW POSTURE, A lifts his body and raises his left hand forward and upward to prop up B’s arm, his right knee going along with it by bending and crashing into B’s lower abdomen. He stands on his left leg, slightly bent, in the manner of a rooster standing on one leg. Either hand may lift depending on what the opponent does, and you can use either your foot or your knee. [See the photo:]
31. Application of GOLDEN ROOSTER STANDS ON ONE LEG – LEFT
From the previous posture, if B does a straight strike with his left hand, A quickly changes sides, lifting his left hand with the arm bent to block B’s hand upward. At the same time, his left leg lifts and bends at the knee to kick B’s lower abdomen with his toes. See the photo:
This method of application and the method of practice are different [i.e. kick instead of knee].
32. Application of PALM STRIKE TO THE FACE
If A is in the posture of RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE with his left hand covering B’s left wrist, and B uses strength to carry upward, A then withdraws his right hand in front to push down and lead in B’s arm, causing him to lean forward. At the same time, A’s left hand goes upward to thrust directly toward B’s face, his left foot advancing a half step, his right leg straightening behind. See the photo:
33. Application of BRUSH KNEE, PUNCH TO THE CROTCH
If B uses his fist to strike straight forward, or uses his right foot to kick, A can use his left hand to brush it outward past his knee and apply his right fist forward and downward to strike B’s elixir field or energy sea. This is the PUNCH TO THE CROTCH. See the photo:
34. Application of STEP FORWARD WITH THE BIG DIPPER
A uses his right hand to do a straight strike. A uses his left SINGLE WHIP posture to sink down B’s forearm. When B pulls back his hand, A seizes the moment and applies his right hand under his own forearm to strike, stepping forward to punch with a Big Dipper shape, his right foot stepping forward into an empty stance, his left foot full. See the photo:
35. Application of STEP BACK TO RIDE THE TIGER
From the previous posture, both of B’s hands strike in unison from the sides. A withdraws his right foot and sits full on it, his left foot now in an empty stance. At the same time, he spreads both hands to the sides to stop B’s hands. This is the spreading energy of RIDE THE TIGER. See the photo:
36. Application of SPIN AROUND ON THE FOOT, SWINGING LOTUS KICK
If B uses his left fist to strike, A uses both hands, right hand in front and left hand behind, to push on B’s arm and apply a plucking technique to the left side. At the same time, A suddenly swings his right leg up to strike B’s chest, the left leg completely stable. See the photo:
If the opponent strikes from behind, applying this technique is also good.
37. Application of BEND THE BOW TO SHOOT THE TIGER
If B’s right palm strikes with great force, A then uses his right hand to connect with it, at the same time his left palm touching B’s right elbow. He can use lifting energy to stick and lift to the upper right, leading B’s heels to unroot, then uses pushing energy diagonally downward to hit him away. This [the lifting] is exaggerated in the photo:
THE TRICK TO APPLYING TAIJI
“Raise, draw in, relax, and release.” [words from Li Yiyu]
“Spread, cover, match, and engulf.” [from Wu Yuxiang]
Using the above thirty-seven photos, all the applications will have a standard model for you. You must not think their words hollow, and although they are explained clearly, techniques should be few and simple when dealing with opponents, and the directions you turn toward not leave you grasping at shadows. When you are changing endlessly in going along with the situation, one technique can turn into five techniques, and that would be difficult to describe in writing. Fellow practitioners, you must carefully study and ponder over what is essential, that being that you are not to depart from the eight techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, push, pluck, rend, elbow, and bump, nor the five steppings of advance, retreat, left, right, and center.
EXPLANATIONS TO WANG ZONGYUE’S TREATISE
Taiji is born of wuji, and is the mother of yin and yang.
(Pay attention during your practice, for these explanations are not meant merely to be an essay.)
When there is no movement, there is no [wu] polarity [ji]. Once there is movement, there is the Grand [tai] Polarity [ji]. From the state of emptiness, energy is awakened, generating taiji, which then divides into the passive and active aspects [yin / yang]. Thus for practicing Taiji, the first thing to talk about is passive and active, because they cover everything. The way they cause each other and overcome each other is the source of all forms of change. Taiji is originally generated from wuji, then is the mother of yin and yang.
When there is movement, the passive and active aspects become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.
In the practice of Taiji, when the mind moves, it expresses into the limbs. The Grand Polarity [tai ji] generates the two polarities, which lead to the four manifestations, the eight trigrams, and the nine palaces. These correspond to [the eight:] ward-off, rollback, press, push, pluck, rend, elbow, and bump, as well as [the four:] advancing and retreating, stepping left and right, and [the central of the nine:] staying put in the center. When there is stillness, there is return to the wuji state, in which mind and spirit merge, the entire body becomes an emptiness, and you become sensitive to the smallest contact.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.
Be it practicing the solo set or dealing with opponents, neither go too far nor not far enough. Too far means you are going beyond. Not far enough means you are not arriving. In either case, you are becoming uncentered. If the opponent attacks, bend to go along with it and neutralize it. Bending means curving. If the opponent attacks and does not yet want to retreat, I go along with him and then when he retreats I extend. Extending means to send out the hand and issue power. Going too far is the mistake of crashing in. Not going far enough is the mistake of running away. If you cannot comply and bend, you are resisting. If you cannot engage and extend, you are separating. Sincerely take note of these four terms: running away, crashing in, resisting, and separating. If in your practice you can keep yourself from reaching or separating, then you will easily become skillful.
He is hard while I am soft – this is yielding. My energy is smooth while his energy is coarse – this is sticking.
When dealing with an opponent, if his power is hard and determined, I apply softness and pliancy to my hand and drape it over his hard attack. It is like a whip striking something but is actually draping onto his energy, and if he wants to cast it aside it will be very difficult for him to do. Once we contact, it is as though a belt of rubber wraps around him, tying back his capacity to express power or extend his arm. If he applies a lot of force, I then stick to his [right] wrist and sit to the rear, and without breaking contact I draw him toward my chest and turn a half circle to yield and neutralize, then extend my hand toward his left to turn him sideways and cut off his access to his power. With my energy smooth and his energy now coarse, I stick to him and he cannot get away.
In an old anecdote, a rude monk who was skillful with his head came to compete with a man. The man knew the monk’s butting-ram’s-head technique was undefeated and was very afraid of him. But then he saw the monk’s head had just been shaved and suddenly got an idea. He came out of his house using a wet towel. When the monk executed his technique, the man threw the towel over the monk’s head and pulled down, toppling him. This is the principle of softness subduing hardness.
If he moves fast, I quickly respond, and if his movement is slow, I leisurely follow.
You practitioners these days know how to soften and neutralize but you do not know how to quickly respond, and so you will probably have a hard time dealing with opponents from the external school. Quickly means fast. Leisurely means slow. If the opponent attacks slowly, then soften, neutralize, and follow him. This principle makes sense to you all. But if he attacks very fast, what good would softening and neutralizing be? Thus I apply Taiji’s intercepting energy and the principle of “neither after nor before” as a response. What is the intercepting energy? It is like a hiding army suddenly coming out to strike. What does neither after nor before mean? If his hand is on its way but not yet arrived, my hand intercepts his arm before it has straightened, promptly dispelling his attack. This is defeating a frontal assault by way of a frontal assault. “If he moves fast, I quickly respond.” If you do not have the authentic teachings, this cannot be done.
Although there is an endless variety of possible scenarios, there is only one theory throughout.
When facing an opponent, be it either pushing hands or sparring, and regardless of the technique, in each case there are these things:
- large circles, small circles, and half circles,
- the subtleties of passive and active,
- emptiness and fullness in the footwork,
- the passive and active fishes swimming in the taiji symbol,
- the principle of neither pulling away nor crashing in,
- and cycling on and on without pause.
The variations are different, but the Taiji theory is the same.
Once you have engrained these techniques, you will gradually come to identify energies, and then from there you will work your way toward something miraculous. But unless you practice a lot over a long time, you will never have a breakthrough.
By techniques is meant the postures in the solo set. Nowadays you are all focused on getting to identify energies, and as a result you are unable to send opponents away. But the first step is to learn how to do the postures right, then the next step is to practice them until you are proficient at them, and then from there you will slowly learn to identify energies. Mengzi said, “By ignoring what is fundamental and dealing only with superficialities, you can convince yourself an inch of wood is taller than a tall building.” Taking the hint from this quote, first strive with the postures and later come to identifying energies. It will then be an easier step to achieve a miraculous quality, meaning that your boxing skill has become refined.
Having a breakthrough means to realize the boxing’s subtleties. If you can move energy as though through a winding-path pearl, you understand Taiji theory. Unless you train for a long time, developing your proficiency over a long period, how can you achieve this condition?
Forcelessly press up your headtop. Energy sinks to the elixir field. Neither lean nor slant.
“Headtop” means the top of the head. Daoists call this place the “clay pellet palace”, but it is more commonly called the “divine gate”. The strength at the headtop is not to be pressed up with effort, it should instead be done forcelessly, and this will straighten the head. Spirit will rise up but energy must not be allowed to penetrate to the headtop. After practicing for a long time, your eyes will shine and you will be immune to headaches.
The elixir field is just over an inch below the navel. It is the lower abdomen area. All of the body’s vitality is gathered in this place. During practice, it is as though the “energy sea” [a nearby acupoint] is the fountainhead from which energy flows to the extremities. When energy is concentrated at the elixir field, the body and energy do not lean in any direction. If they lean, it is like a vase filled with water and the vase tipping over and the water flowing out. If the elixir field leans, then the energy cannot be gathered there. This explanation of the method Buddhists name after Sariputra [He was a disciple of the Buddha, and hence could be an emblem for a purified or transformed person, one who is becoming a buddha. Or the meaning here could have something to do with legends of gems found in monk’s ashes which were claimed to have been left from inside the monk’s body (perhaps adorning the corpse during cremation or added to the ashes by students to honor their master). The Chinese version of the name is Shelizi, meaning “one who gives everything away”, and is here extended from name to noun to represent either these gems or the process of internally “forging” them, as if meditation produces abdominal gems the way the earth produces diamonds.], and Daoists call it “training the elixir” [or “smelting cinnabar”, another case of an external substance attributed internally]. If you train like this, the energy will be strong and hardy, and if you train for a long time, outwardly you will have a lithe physique while internally your organs will be robust. When energy is abundant, illness will have no way in.
Suddenly hide and suddenly appear. When there is pressure on the left, the left empties. When there is pressure on the right, the right disappears. [Due to the different contexts of “empty” and “disappear”, this section is referring to facing an opponent with your right side forward and left side back.]
To “hide” means to conceal. To “appear” means to reveal. The ways of hiding and appearing when dealing with an opponent seem so subtle as to be magically unpredictable. If the opponent comes in to strike me, I shrink in to suddenly hide, causing the opponent to be unable to make use of his power. If he then withdraws his hand, I follow him with an advance to suddenly appear. Not knowing whether my technique will go up or down, nor how high or how low, there is nothing he can oppose it with.
When practicing Taiji, it is like a little boat in a river: when a person takes a step onto it, it will slightly dip, “suddenly hiding”, and once he steps his other foot in, it will then rise, “suddenly appearing”. It is also like the changes of a dragon, which can ascend and descend: when it descends, it hides and conceals its form, and when it appears, it can ascend into the sky, manifesting as clouds. According to this principle, Taiji can be high or low. To hide and appear is to suddenly be or to suddenly not be.
Where there is pressure, there is no movement. When dealing with an opponent, how can you do it without movement? If you apply the boxing, you must be lively with your body and agile with your limbs, and then you will be able to face opponents. If an opponent strikes to my left side, I slightly turn to create an emptiness so he cannot succeed. Then when he strikes to my right side, I draw back my right shoulder, causing his fist to attack nothing. My body is quick and lively, and cannot be figured out. And so for pressure on my left, I empty on my left, and for pressure on my right, I disappear on my right.
When looking up, it is still higher. When looking down, it is still lower.
[When referring to the opponent these phrases mean:]
“Looking up” means going upward. “Looking down” means going downward. If the opponent wants to attack me high, I go higher up and he cannot get to me. If he wants to catch me low, I go lower down and induce him to fall from his center.
When referring to yourself these phrases mean:
“Look up still higher” – gaze upward with your eyes and think of sending the opponent up onto a roof. “Look down still lower” – think of sending him down into the ground. Both looking up and looking down in this manner are illustrated by a couple of anecdotes about Yang Banhou:
 One day in July outside a village at a granary in the north, Yang was cooling off on the threshing ground when suddenly a person came up and saluted, saying, “I am looking for the home of Yang Banhou.”
Yang said, “That’s me.”
The man put out his thumb, forefinger, and middle finger in a sudden attack. Yang looked to a thatched roof in the threshing area that was seven feet high, and made an inviting gesture with his hand, saying, “Buddy, you go up there.” Having tossed him on top of it, he then said, “Please come down and hurry to a doctor.”
A villager asked, “How could you throw him up there?”
Yang said it was by “looking up still higher.”
The villager did not know what he was talking about.
 Yang had a student in the north named Luo Wanzi who trained for several years and wanted to test his skill. Yang said, “Do you think I can throw you away to be shaped like a gold ingot?”
Luo laughed and said, “You can try.”
They crossed hands and just as Yang had said, Luo, hands and feet pointed up and hips on the ground, was in the shape of a gold ingot. He did not go into the ground of course, which would be impossible, but his hip was dislocated. Although the doctor was good, there is still a slight limp.
Luo’s boxing became excellent. He is still alive and constantly comments that “looking down still lower” is devastating.
When advancing, it is even farther. When retreating, it is even nearer.
“Farther” has to do with advancing forward. “Nearer” has to do with pressing in. When dealing with an opponent, if you can advance you must not retreat. Extend the hand with a long energy. The longer my technique advances, the longer the energy. If I do not advance, then I shorten the energy. I attack the opponent, and when he retreats, I advance with my body and follow with my step, pressing in close to him so he cannot get away. Not getting away from me, my energy is smooth while his energy becomes coarse, and I can make use of the opportunity. All of these words have to do with the concept of sticking and following.
A feather cannot be added and a fly cannot land.
Once you have worked at it for a long time, your sensitivity will be acute. When there is the smallest contact, you will be aware of it. I will not carry something as light as a feather, and something as small as a fly cannot land on me. When a fly lands inside a glass vase, the surface is too smooth for it to gain any footing, and likewise when I use neutralizing energy, making the fly’s feet slip instead of grip. At this stage you can consider your Taiji skill complete. There is an old anecdote about Yang Banhou to illustrate this:
When practicing in the peak of summer, Yang would often lie down in the shade from a tree to take a rest. One day a breeze took a leaf off and it fell onto his body, but it could not stay on him and slipped off onto the ground.
Yang would often measure his skill by unbuttoning his jacket and lying back on his bed with a handful of yellow grain (i.e. millet) and put a few of the grains on his navel, and then with a shout it seemed the grains had been shot from a pellet bow and flew up to hit the tile-roofed ceiling.
Yang Banhou’s skill could be considered to be at the summit and you all should emulate him.
The opponent does not understand me, only I understand him. A hero is one who encounters no opposition, and it is through this kind of method that such a condition is achieved.
When dealing with an opponent, if you do not come out with predictable postures, you will cause him to have nowhere to get in with his techniques. It is like Zhuge Liang’s strategy of “sometimes attacking, sometimes guarding” so the opponent will be unable to anticipate you. A proverb says, “People don’t know what the medicine in my bottle is when I sell it to them.” The opponent does not know that in the Taiji I practice there are methods of examining him. If upon crossing hands with him I am good at identifying energy, my hands are nimble and sensitive. When he makes the smallest movement with his hand I already know what he is doing, so I go along with his technique to take advantage of it and skillfully send him away. But if he is at a distance from me I apply methods of examining him and use my eyes to know his movement. Sunzi said, “Knowing both self and opponent, you will win every time.” And so “a hero is one who encounters no opposition, and it is through this kind of method that such a condition is achieved”.
There are many other schools of boxing arts besides this one. Although the postures are different between them, they generally do not go beyond the strong bullying the weak and the slow yielding to the fast. The strong beating the weak and the slow submitting to the fast are both a matter of inherent natural ability and bear no relation to skill that is learned.
Despite the variety of boxing arts and that each school’s postures and methods of applying them are different, they are all the same in that they emphasize the hands being fast and the strength being great. In this way of going about it, a person makes use of only what he was born with rather than actually learning something. Each boxing art has its famous exponents and they are many, but none of them possess the refined subtlety of Taiji’s theory.
Examine the skill of “four ounces can move a thousand pounds”, which is obviously nothing to do with abundance of strength.
A wise man [Mengzi – Mengzi, chapter 2a] said: “You can conquer people with force but it doesn’t change their minds.” Learning the art of being able to defeat strength without strength, of defeating speed with slowness, and of using skill to manipulate the opponent, you can indeed cause him to change his mind, and you will feel all the hard work you put into to learning it was worthwhile. By practicing Taiji, you can draw the opponent in to land on nothing, and then even a thousand pounds of force will be useless to him. If you can be nimble, you will then possess the subtlety of landing his attacks on nothing. If you can draw him in to land on nothing, you will then obtain the subtlety of four ounces moving a thousand pounds. To illustrate, here is an old anecdote [about Yang Luchan]:
In the western part of Beijing there was a rich man whose mansion was like a whole town and people nicknamed it “the mini-prefecture of Zhang’s house”. He was a huge fan of martial arts, keeping more than thirty bodyguards in his home, and he also adored learning it himself. So when he heard of the famous practitioner Yang Luchan of Guangping prefecture, he sent his friend Wu Luching to go invite him to the mansion.
When the request had brought Yang to him, Zhang saw he was a thin little man, hardly even five feet tall, with a naive-looking face, and wearing the clothes of commoners. Zhang thus received him with a discourteous manner and gave him a banquet that was by no means grand. Yang took the hint and correspondingly poured his own wine to drink on his own and ignored everyone.
This in turn annoyed Zhang, who then said, “Often have I heard my martial brothers here gossiping about your great reputation, but I wonder if Taiji can actually be used in a fight with anyone.”
Aware that modesty would not convince him otherwise, Yang said, “It is useless in a fight against three kinds of people.”
Zhang asked, “And what are they?”
Yang answered, “People made of bronze, iron, or wood. They’re hard to fight with. But the rest are easy.”
Zhang said, “Well, in my house there’s more than thirty. Teacher Liu is the best among them. His strength can lift five hundred pounds. Could you show us with him?”
Yang replied, “Might as well give it a try.”
Liu fiercely attacked, bearing down on Yang like a mountain, with his fists whooshing like the wind. As Liu closed in, Yang used his right hand to draw in the attack to land on nothing and with his left hand made a slap. Liu stumbled away more than thirty feet.
Zhang saluted, smiling, and said, “You truly have a magical skill.” Then he called for his cooks to start over and give a real banquet, replacing Manchurian dishes for proper Chinese ones, and respected Yang as a master.
Liu had the strength of an ox, but not having skill he could be no opposition. The phrase “obviously nothing to do with abundance of strength” will now make sense.
Or consider the sight of an old man repelling a group, which could not come from an aggressive speed.
Seventy years old, eighty years old – that is an old man. If he can repel a group, this shows he has trained in the boxing. One who does not train, though he be robust of youth, has a hard time dealing with even one or two opponents. A studious person who continues his training until old age without a break will over time have developed a hearty physique and good circulation, and thus that seventy or eighty year old man will be able to repel a crowd. It is like at the battle of Mt. Dingjun, when the old general Huang Zhong said, “Though a man be old, his horse is not old, and even if his horse is old, his saber is not old.” These are very potent words, for when you practice Taiji Boxing, your body may age but your spirit will not age, and you will be able to match a large number. This is the general idea here, and to illustrate, here are a couple of old anecdotes about Yang Jianhou:
One day it had been raining and the sky was starting to clear up. The muddy water in the courtyard had a little path in it that would admit one person to walk along at a time. One of Yang’s disciples, Zhao, stopped in the middle of the path to observe the sky. But he had not noticed that Yang had come out of the house and was walking along the path right behind him, and so Yang felt like playing a prank on him. He extended his right arm and gently pressed down on Zhao’s right shoulder. Zhao felt like a huge roof beam was crushing his shoulder, so his body bent sideways and he sat down out of the dry path. Yang laughed but made no comment and continued along the path.
Another occasion, Yang stood in the middle of the courtyard and, just for fun, told his group of pupils to seize him. There were eight or nine of them and together they swarmed in upon him. They then saw him twist his body a few times and they all went stumbling away eight, nine, ten feet or more. As he was nearly eighty years old then, it makes “an old man repelling a group” no exaggeration.
“Could not come from an aggressive speed” means an uncalculating kind of speed which would be better termed as haste. When speed is rushed and disordered, it is useless. It is not good to lack speed, but speed needs technique for it to be of any use.
Stand like a scale. Move like a wheel.
Standing like a scale means the body stands centered and not leaning. You will then be able to brace in all directions, like you are at the center of the eight trigrams. To move like a wheel means that the energy circles without interruption. An ancient man [Zhuangzi] said: “Occupy the center of the circle to respond without limitations.” With the waist like an axle, the limbs are moved like a wheel. If the waist cannot be an axle, the limbs cannot be turned like a wheel. If you want to get the axle to turn, you can loosen your waist to oil the axle, the slipperier the better. You will learn this through experience and obtain it yourself, so I need not be instructing you here.
If you drop one side, you can move. If you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck.
Building on the wheel analogy, if you use a foot to press down one side of a wheel, it will automatically move with the wheel and slip down off of it. To “have equal pressure on both sides” is, according to this analogy, like the right foot pressing down on the right side of the wheel while the left foot is pressing down on the left side of the wheel. With equal force on both sides the wheel is jammed up and does not move. Now that this principle is quite clear, I need not go into further detail about it.
We often see one who has practiced hard for many years yet is unable to perform any neutralizations and is generally under the opponent’s control, and the issue here is that this error of double pressure has not yet been understood.
The simplest explanations will get you the most.
There were several students who practiced Taiji every day for five years or so but always ended up getting controlled by opponents.
The instructor asked, “You guys have been working at this for five years or so and it could be said that you’ve worked hard, so why do you lose? Please demonstrate the solo set and I’ll take a look.” The instructor saw that they were forcing their stances to be too deep, squeezing their fists too tight, glaring fiercely with their eyes, and clenching their jaws. Although they were strong as oxes, this was preventing their energy from expressing. This manner of training is “double pressure”. The instructor laughed and told them, “You have not understood the error of double pressure.”
Another student then said, “I’ve been working at not using exertion for five years or so, and why can’t I even defeat a ten year old boy?”
So the instructor asked him to demonstrate the solo set too, and saw that he had no strength and was floating like goose feathers, too timid to extend his hands and feet or even fully open his eyes. The instructor laughed and told him, “You are making the error of double vacuum. Just as double pressure is an error, so too is double vacuum.”
Everyone laughed and said, “Sheesh, can we ever get it right?”
If you want to avoid this error,…
This means the error of double pressure, implying also the corresponding error of double vacuum. If you have been wanting to fix these errors, it is finally easy to do so, because this book makes it easier for you to understand them. When reading through the book the first time, it contains so many principles you will not be able to grasp it all in that single reading. So practice every day, reading through the book once a week, and gradually its contents will have a marked effect. If you come across a section of the material that is difficult for you to understand, you can ask a knowledgeable teacher for help in making sense of it.
… you must understand passive and active. In sticking there is yielding and in yielding there is sticking. The active does not depart from the passive and the passive does not depart from the active, for the passive and active exchange roles. Once you have this understanding, you will be identifying energies.
Passive and active means empty and full. It all comes down to: stick and connect, yield and neutralize, and identify the opponent’s energies of attack. Each of these concepts have been explained earlier, so it is not necessary to waffle on about them again here.
Once you are identifying energies, then the more you practice, the more efficient your skill will be, and by absorbing through experience and by constantly contemplating, gradually you will reach the point that you can do whatever you want.
Once you are able to identify the opponent’s attacking energies, make it a part of your daily practice, for the training and the skill that comes from it takes a long time. Constant contemplation means to have your mind on Yang’s applications when practicing the movements. When you are very skilled at them, the techniques will happen as you will them and you will have obtained the ability to do whatever you want.
The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent.
When dealing with an opponent, understand that you should act according to his movements and should not act from yourself. Yang Chengfu often says, “Acting from yourself gets you stuck. Following the opponent keeps you free to move.” If you can follow the opponent, you will then obtain the subtlety of getting his attacks to land on nothing. If you try to act from yourself, you will not even be able to act from yourself. You can only act from yourself in the context of following the opponent. This principle is very true but very subtle, and if you do not achieve this condition through your own practice, I fear it will not be easy to understand. These words are very clear, but it as the Buddhist sutras say, “I say a bull’s head has horns”, indicating obviousness. [The meaning amounts to this: “There is nothing more I can do to demonstrate the truth of the bull’s head having horns than by stating it, and if you cannot then see it to be the case, you are not looking at the bull. Relating to your practice, you will understand the theory if you practice, but if you do not practice, it will not matter how much I explain it.”]
We often make the mistake of ignoring what is right in front of us in favor of something that has nothing to do with our immediate circumstances. For such situations it is said: “Miss by an inch, lose by a mile.” You must understand all this clearly. That is why it has been written down for you.
When dealing with opponents, people often do not make use of what is right in front of them and instead apply techniques that have no relation to what is going on. When you patiently wait for his actions and express power when the moment is right, you are paying close attention to the situation. When your hands are hurrying all over the place up and down in search of a spot to strike him, you are doing something that has nothing to do with the situation. The area in which Taiji techniques operate is maybe the width of a hair and widens to perhaps no bigger than an inch, and so there is not much of a window for miscalculation. If you are wrong by a hair, you might as well be a thousand miles away. Whether practicing the solo set or working with a partner, you must always keep this in mind.
This essay is the essential Taiji Boxing theory passed down from Wang Zongyue.
DISCOURSES ON TAIJI
WAYS OF EXAMINING OPPONENTS
When facing an opponent, the first thing to notice is whether his build is large or small. If large, he is surely very strong, and so I will use skill as the appropriate answer to it. If small, he is surely skillful, and so I will vigorously attack. This is the defeating of weakness by way of strength and the defeating of strength by way of strategy. Whether he is large or small, when his posture is high I should use a low posture, and when his posture is low I should use a high posture. This is the way of high and low, of passive and active.
If you want to see what the opponent is up to, look first at what is going on in his eyes and then at his body and hands. If he wants to use his fists to strike, you will first see his shoulder stick up or see him cock his punch. If he wants to use his foot to kick, his body will first lean to the side. The signs are there with which to be sure of the situation. If you can know ahead of time what he is going to do, how can you lose?
If the opponent crosses hands with me in a pleasant manner, I use softness and neutralize him. But if he glares at me angrily and suddenly charges, his heart is not kind and I will apply power to strike him full on. This is the situation of tit for tat. Looking upon the opponent with no enmity, one who practices Taiji is polite at first and is martial only as a second line of defense.
When dealing with opponents, some opponents are fast and others are slow. If he is slow, I am caused to stick to him and go along with his movement. If he is fast and throws out a flurry of blows, I should stay calm and keep my courage up. Watching for his decisive attack to get near, I focus along one direction or neutralize to either side, then strike back. It is often said: “Be not flustered or hasty, for it is the gentle hand that guides the goat.” It is this Taiji principle: “If he moves fast, I quickly respond, and if his movement is slow, I leisurely follow”.
When dealing with opponents, the methods of opponents will vary. When the opponent comes in, bring your hand up to cross him above and step forward to crowd him below, yielding by sticking and sticking by yielding. If the opponent jumps away and is too wary to come back right away, I switch to a different posture from the solo set and wait for him. I should not pursue his retreat but instead be like a tiger waiting for its chance to pounce on a deer. While he walks at circle’s edge, I am at the center. I hold to steadiness while he holds to restlessness. When his restlessness increases until he wears himself out, I attack him with full stability. He has thus generated the means for me to overcome him, and he now presents no difficulty and I enter through his guard. This is the Grand Polarity [tai ji] generating its two polarities which exponentiate into the four manifestations and the eight trigrams while itself remaining stable and immovable.
The Taiji training method has three levels: sky, mankind, ground. The first step is to practice it until it is smooth, the next step to practice it until it is powerful, the final step to practice it until it is skillful. Begin with the gross movement, then later, the finer details. If you train in this way, you will then be able to apply it.
In this volume, the explanations are often told in a lighthearted manner to help you get to the boxing’s essence. The writing may be crude but the boxing theory is true in its transmission. Although the text is sometimes frivolous, the content is authentic. We do not dare to use exaggerations to deceive you all. By practicing according to this book, you will obtain the method.
There are people who say that teachers of either civic arts or martial arts inevitably keep something back and do not teach everything. I say this is not the case. Regardless of civic or martial, be it friends or students who are learning, there are two things to be said: a long friendship will generate esteem for the teacher, and a student will for his whole life not forget his guru. Regardless of civic or martial, for a teacher not to do his best to pass on his knowledge would be unnatural. It is down to the martial arts practitioners who, having started with putting such a premium on loyalty, go only halfway and then quit. To say in such a case that it is a matter of the teacher being unwilling to teach everything and is keeping something back is a rather odd notion. In regard to Taiji, it is not a matter of the external postures, it lies entirely within the theory of power and energy. Once you have understood the theory, from realization comes the spiritual and the transformative. Then you can say the whole achievement has been attained.
 THE EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS – PART 1
position / gate:
掤 南 坎
warding off – S / ☵
捋 西 離
rolling back – W / ☲
擠 東 兌
pressing – E / ☱
按 北 震
pushing – N / ☳
採 西北 巽
plucking – NW / ☴
挒 東南 乾
rending – SE / ☰
肘 東北 坤
elbowing – NE / ☷
靠 西南 艮
bumping – SW / ☶
[Compared to the eight trigrams displayed earlier, here a different arrangement is being used:
The common factor between the two arrangements is that the four primary techniques are always aligned in the cardinal directions and the four secondary techniques always in the corners, despite being individually assigned to different trigrams. This indicates the techniques are not to be attributed to specific trigrams and unique characteristics interpreted therefrom, but that the use of the trigrams as a symbol is intended only to point out which techniques are primary and secondary. The eight trigrams in this way are not meant as symbols but as a single symbol, a concise compass rather than an elaborate map.]
The positions of the eight gates are based on the principle of the passive and active aspects inverting each other [these active / passive relations being: warding off / pushing, pressing / rolling back, rending / plucking, elbowing / bumping], cycling round and round, following each other in their process. All of the four compass techniques and four corner techniques must be understood. Warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing are the four compass techniques. Plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping are the four corner techniques. Combining compass and corner thus positions the trigrams. The body makes its steps according to the five elements, bracing in all directions. The five elements are: advance (fire), retreat (water), step to the left (wood), step to the right (metal), and stay in the center (earth). Advancing and retreating are the steppings of water and fire, left and right are the steppings of metal and wood, and the central earth is the axis of all of them. Embrace the eight trigrams as you step through the five elements. Techniques plus steps equals eight plus five, amounting to thirteen, and is expressed naturally as the Thirteen Dynamics, known as the Eight Gates & Five Steps.
 THE EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS – PART 2: TRAINING METHOD
The eight trigrams and five elements are innate in us. You must first understand that they are based on moving with awareness. Once you have achieved moving with awareness, then you will be able to identify energies. Once you can identify energies, then you will be able to be miraculous. But in the beginning of training, you should understand moving with awareness. Although it is innate, it is hard to master.
 STICK, ADHERE, CONNECT, FOLLOW
Sticking means to lift up high.
Adhering means to stay and be attached.
Connecting means to let go of yourself and not separate from the opponent.
Following means to follow him wherever he goes.
If you want to move with awareness and yet you do not understand sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, it will be beyond your reach, for it is a very subtle skill.
 CRASHING IN, SHALLOWNESS, RUNNING AWAY, RESISTANCE
Crashing in means sticking your head out.
Shallowness means not enough pressure.
Running away means separating.
Resistance means too much pressure.
You should understand the errors that these four terms describe. Not only will they interrupt sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, they will also prevent you from moving with awareness. When beginning to work with a partner, you must understand these words and understand these errors. The difficulty of sticking, adhering, connecting, and following is in preventing crashing in, shallowness, running away, and resistance. This is not easy.
 FIGHTING WITHOUT MISTAKES
Crashing in, shallowness, running away, and resistance will lose in a fight, and so they are called mistakes. Without sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, how can you achieve moving with awareness? If you do not know yourself, how can you know your opponent? Therefore when fighting, do not use crashing in, shallowness, running away, or resistance, use sticking, adhering, connecting, and following. Then not only will you be without mistakes, but moving with awareness will be automatically achieved and you can progress to the skill of identifying energies.
 PRACTICING MAINTAINING THE CENTRAL GROUND IN FIGHTING
When standing centered, the feet should be rooted.
Start by understanding the four core techniques, then advancing and retreating.
The four techniques are ward-off, rollback, press, and push.
You have to do a lot work to get them to be real.
For the body’s posture, the waist and headtop should both be correct.
When sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, the intention and energy are to be uniform throughout.
Movement and awareness answer each other.
Mind is sovereign and body is subject.
When you get the degree just right,
you will naturally have both the civil and martial. [i.e. If the “degree” is not right, there is “overcooking” or “undercooking”, in which case too civil would be undercooked and too martial would be overcooked.]
 THE BODY’S POSTURE – THE WAIST & HEADTOP
For your body’s posture, how could your waist and headtop be ignored?
To neglect either would make all your work be in vain.
Waist and headtop are to be exhaustively studied for your whole life.
When your body’s posture is natural, it will naturally be extended and comfortable.
If you dismiss this truth, how will you end up
but that after ten years you will still be confused?
 TAIJI’S CIRCLING [as in the circles of the pushing hands exercise]
Circling while retreating is easy, but circling while advancing is difficult,
so do not get sloppy with your waist and headtop when going forward or back.
It is hard to stay in the central position,
so the ease of retreat and difficulty of advance are to be carefully studied.
As this is a matter of movement rather than stance,
stay close to the opponent while advancing or retreating.
It can be like a watermill as it speeds up or slows down,
or like the dragon-like clouds or tiger-like winds winding all around.
If you use the example of the sky to help you seek this,
after a long time it will be natural.
 IN TAIJI, ABOVE & BELOW ARE CALLED SKY & GROUND
Four techniques divide into above and below, sky and ground:
plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping each having their source [pluck & rend based in sky, elbow & bump based in ground].
When plucking and bumping are coordinated with each other,
there is no worry of above and below coming out of joint.
But if rending and elbowing are not coordinated with each other,
you will lose the relationship between sky and ground and be left with sighs of regret.
As this explanation is clearly about the realms of sky and ground,
when advancing using elbowing or rending, return to the position of mankind [i.e. the proper range, the balanced position, man being the middle zone between sky and ground].
 THE LONG BOXING OF THE THIRTEEN DYNAMICS OF EIGHT GATES & FIVE STEPS
In your own training of each posture, once you have learned them all, they are joined together to make a long routine, flowing on and on without interruption, one posture after another, and thus it is called Long Boxing. If you do not obtain a consistent energy, it may after a while turn instead into either “slippery boxing” or “stiff boxing”. You assuredly must not lose your pliability, the whole body returning to its foundation of mind and spirit. After practicing over a long time, you will naturally have a breakthrough and attain everything you have been working toward, and nothing will be strong enough to stand up against you.
When working with a partner, the four techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, and push are the first thing to work on that comes from the thirteen dynamics. Stand in one place and do the four techniques rolling in circles, then do them advancing and retreating, doing them at a middle height. Then do them higher and lower as well, practicing at all three heights. Start from the bottom, working your way through the solo set. Then begin working with the four techniques, open and expanded at first, then focusing on the finer details until the skill of extending and contracting is fluent, and you will have ascended through the midway of attainment, and then will continue to the top, having a hardness even though soft.
 INVERSION OF THE PASSIVE & ACTIVE ASPECTS
Examples of the active / passive:
the Creative ☰ / the Receptive ☷
sky / ground
sun / moon
fire / water
the Clinging ☲ / the Abysmal ☵
releasing / wrapping
exiting / entering
issuing / storing
offense / defense
opening / closing
subject / sovereign
muscle / bone
the practice / the theory
the machinery itself / the operating principle
body / mind
martial / civil
dedicated to / absorbed in
square / round
exhale / inhale
up / down
advance / retreat
oblique / direct
The principle of inversion can be explained with water and fire. Left to their own devices, fire rises and water sinks, but if water is placed above fire then they are in an inverted state. Of course, if not done properly there would be no inverted state, [just a fire put out and some water made into steam,] and so it has to be a situation of water being put in a pot and then placed over a fire. When the water in the pot receives the fire’s heat, not only will it not be able to sink away, it will also absorb the fire’s heat and inevitably become warm, and although the fire is rising to the pot, it is stopped there and goes no further. By not allowing the fire to rise freely or the water to sink away, this is water and fire as in the hexagram After Completion [made of water ☵ on top of fire ☲], and is the principle of inversion. If the fire is allowed to rise freely and the water to sink away, the result will of course be that the water and fire will go their separate ways as two entities, and this is water and fire as in the hexagram Before Completion [made of fire ☲ on top of water ☵]. So goes the principle that in separating they become two and in joining they become one, and thus it is said that one becomes two, then two becomes one, which totals three, namely sky, ground, and mankind.
Once you understand this principle of passive and active inverting, then the Way can be discussed. Once you understand the Way cannot be departed from for a moment, then human beings can be discussed, and it is through human beings that the Way can be glorified. Once you understand that the Way is not far away from human beings, then the universe can be discussed. It is all one entity of sky above, ground below, and mankind in the middle. If you can examine the world, and be one with the shine of the sun and moon, with the grandeur and erosion of the landscape, with the cycling of the seasons, with the growth and decay of plants, and be illumined to the favors and frownings of spirits, and know the rise and fall of human affairs, then can be discussed the larger universe made of polarities and the smaller universe that is a human being. To understand the human body and mind, study the awareness and abilities of things in Nature. Then the human awareness and abilities that come from Nature can be discussed. If you do not forget your innate talents, nor your vast energy, constantly nurturing it and never harming it, you will survive indefinitely. And so it is said that a human being is a small universe. The sky represents your nature, the ground represents your life, and your naturalness represents your spirit. If you do not understand this, how will you be a blending of sky and ground to make a third? Unless you express your nature and sustain your life, the work of spiritual enlightenment and transformation has nothing to build on and cannot come to fruition.
 THE SEPARATION OF CIVIL & MARTIAL INTO THREE ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN TAIJI
As far as the Way goes, without cultivating the self, there is no source from which to obtain it. It is separated into three vehicles for cultivation, “vehicle” meaning accomplishment. The higher vehicle takes you to the top. The lower vehicle gets you to the bottom. The middle vehicle is to succeed via sincerity. The methods are separated into three kinds of cultivation, though the accomplishments are the same.
Civil cultivation is internal. Martial cultivation is external. Physical training is internal. Martial affairs are external. When the cultivation methods, the skills of internal and external, surface and interior, are merged, this is a grand accomplishment, the top.
When one obtains the martial through the civil training or obtains the civil through the martial training, this is the middle.
When one knows only the civil training but knows nothing of the martial part of it or focuses on only the martial part of it but does not do the civil training, this is the bottom.
 TAIJI’S LIGHTNESS & HEAVINESS, FLOATING & SINKING
[1a] Both sides fully heavy [“double pressure”] is wrong. It is too full. It is different from sinking.
[1b] Both sides fully sinking is okay. It has to do with being ready to move. It is different from heaviness.
[1c] Both sides fully floating [“double vacuum”] is wrong. It is too empty. It is different from lightness.
[1d] Both sides fully light is okay. It has to do with natural nimbleness. It is different from floating.
[2a] One side under-light and one side under-heavy is okay. To underdo means one side is stable. Therefore it is okay. Since to underdo is stable, it will not lose squareness and roundness. [Squareness means a directional focus along which you can express your power. Roundness means an all-around buoyancy with which you can receive and neutralize the opponent’s power. See the explanations to these sentences: “When issuing power, you must sink and relax, concentrating it in one direction. Your posture must be straight and comfortable, bracing in all directions.”]
[2b] One side over-light and one side over-heavy is wrong. To overdo means neither side is stable. Therefore it is wrong. Since to overdo is unstable, it will lose squareness and roundness.
[2c] One side under-floating and one side under-sinking is wrong, for it is not enough.
[2d] One side over-floating and one side over-sinking [is wrong, for it] is too much.
[3a] One side under-heavy and one side over-heavy, you will be not only sluggish but also unsquared.
[3b] One side under-light and one side over-light, you will still be nimble but you will be unrounded.
[3c] One side under-sinking and one side over-sinking, you will still be balanced but you will be unsquared.
[3d] One side under-floating and one side over-floating, you will be not only scattered but also unrounded.
Both sides fully light [1d] is not a matter of floating, and thus it is nimbleness. Both sides fully sinking [1b] is not a matter of heaviness, and thus it is alertness. Thus it is said, “The best technique is both light and heavy [2a], half and half, thus you will have a balanced technique.” Anything beyond these three [1b, 1d, 2a] are all wrong.
When your inner naturalness is not obscured, it can be directed outwardly with clarity, flowing into the limbs. If you do not exhaustively study these four aspects of technique – lightness, heaviness, floating, sinking – it would be like digging a dry well. But if you possess squareness and roundness, then warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing will all be there inside and out down to their smallest detail, and you will have attained a great achievement, and then plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping will also not depart from squareness and roundness. And so it is said, “Square but round, round but square.” Going beyond the shape [squareness OR roundness] takes you to the highest level [squareness AND roundness].
 THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BLOOD & ENERGY IN TAIJI
Blood is for nourishment. Energy is for defense. Blood flows through muscles, tissues, and limbs. Energy flows through bones, sinews, and vessels. Healthy sinews are a sign of healthy bone. Healthy hair is a sign of healthy blood. When the blood is vigorous, the hair is plentiful. When the energy is full, the sinews are strong. Thus the blood and energy’s boldness and strength manifest outwardly in the robustness of the bones, hair, and skin, while the energy and blood’s form and function manifest inwardly in the robustness of the muscles and sinews. The energy relies on the blood’s burgeoning or depleting. The blood relies on the energy’s decreasing or increasing. Decreasing then increasing, burgeoning then depleting, it cycles round and round. Make use of this your whole life and you will never be worn out.
 TAIJI’S REDUCING MEASUREMENTS
Work first at training gross movements, then finer details. When the gross movements are obtained, then the finer movements can be talked of. When the finer movements are obtained, then measures of a foot and below can be talked of. When your skill has progressed to the level of a foot, then you can progress to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. This is what is meant by the principle of reducing measurements. A foot has ten “inches”. An inch has ten tenths. A tenth has ten hairs. These are the measurements. It was long ago said, “Fighting is a matter of measuring.” Understanding the measurements, you can achieve the reducing of measurements. But if you want to understand measuring, it must be meticulously taught, and then you will be able to measure down to a tenth and down to a hair. Herein lies the skill of attacking acupoints.
A STORY OF THE ORIGIN OF TAIJI SPEAR
Zhang Sanfeng was training in Daoism in the Wudang Mountains. During his quietude, he sat in meditation, training his spirit to return to its primordial state. During his activity, he wandered in the mountains. Each morning Zhang went to a quiet place at the mountain summit to gather in the essential energy of the universe and manipulate it through his breathing. One day Zhang suddenly saw a light to the west where clouds were being parted by mountain peaks. It dazzled and danced. He went toward it but lost sight of it, then found it was coming from a cave by a brook. When he got to the cave opening, he suddenly perceived that inside there were two golden snakes with flashing eyes coming at him. Zhang waved his duster and, with the sunlight better able to penetrate through the clearer air, he saw that they were actually two spears about seven and a half feet in length. What they were made of was not quite rattan and not quite wood, for they were resilient against the cutting of blades, and they could seem either soft or hard. In the cave something else gleamed. He went in to get a better look and what he found was a book in a single volume called Taiji Sticking Spear. It was meant to be shared with everyone, so he delved into its theory and contemplated its subtleties. The text of the book was all poetry and its ingenuities would be obscure to most of us, but Zhang studied every word until it made sense to him, and he turned it into a routine of postures so that everyone can train it by way of his exercises.
Taiji’s thirteen sticky spear techniques are:
[1-4] four sparring techniques
[5-8] four sticking techniques,
[9-12] four disarming techniques,
 and one exercise of coiling.
It is a training method for two people and includes the application and essentials for each posture.
Each technique transforms through a number of postures. In time, each of them will be specific and clear. The solo training exercises have been passed down by Zhang to later generations for the everlasting benefit of everyone.
Names of the four sparring techniques:
1. MONSTROUS SNAKE BORES THROUGH TO THE NEST
2. WHITE CRANE PECKS WITH ITS HEAD
3. HAWK CAPTURES THE SPARROW
4. SWALLOW FLIES THROUGH THE CURTAIN
Descriptions of the four sparring techniques:
1. In spreading open the center with a stab, it is like a monstrous snake.
2. The white crane shaking its head is a diagonal stab to the shoulder.
3. The hawk capturing the sparrow is a stab to the leg.
4. The swallow flying to the nest is an upward stab to the face.
EXPLANATION OF PHOTO 1
A’s [Tian Zhaolin (in black)] beginning posture is facing east, standing straight, in a posture of casting a net. Both hands lift the spear, left hand in front, right hand behind, spear slanted downward. While facing the opponent to his left, he emphasizes raising his whole body’s spirit, forcelessly rousing strength at his headtop, and sinking energy to his elixir field. He lifts his spear with both hands until it is level and, using intention to move energy, he stabs to B’s solar plexus, both arms extending until they are in the appropriate condition of straight but not straight, his feet following along with the movement, his body at a diagonal facing the southeast. See the photo.
B’s [Dong Yingjie] beginning posture is facing west, standing straight, in the same posture of casting a net. When A’s attack comes near his belly, B lifts up his spear tip slightly to the northwest, his right foot slightly retreating a half step, his spear going along with his body and drawing back. [See the photo:]
EXPLANATION OF PHOTO 2
When B’s spear draws back, A’s goes beneath it, coils half a taiji circle, and does a straight stab to B’s arm. His foot at the same time steps forward but he must not destabilize his body. [See the photo.]
B quickly draws back and retreats, his left arm going outward, his body twisting to store power, his spear tip going diagonally upward to the southwest, vertically deflecting away to avoid A’s spear blade. See the photo:
EXPLANATION OF PHOTO 3
When B deflects outward, A changes his posture, stabbing toward B’s foot from above. See the photo.
When A stabs toward his foot, B quickly draws his foot back, his spear going along with A’s spear, going inward to deflect it away, his spear tip extending downward diagonally. See the photo:
EXPLANATION OF PHOTO 4
A then stabs to B’s face, his feet stepping forward, both hands acting together to assist the spear’s power. See the photo.
When B sees A’s stab coming, he retreats, turning his body sideways to store power, and uses both hands to make the spear tip stand diagonally upward, drawing back. See the photo:
From the above spear techniques, once A has done his four stabs, B then can advance and attack with the same four stabs that A used while A changes to retreating and performing the same deflections that B has done, and A and B go continuously back and forth with the four sparring techniques.
Drilling these methods daily over a long period, one’s spear technique will become quick.
When your spear stabs, my spear pulls. When your spear does not move, my spear stabs. When your spear attacks like an arrow, my spear deflects like a lightning bolt. When your spear is doing the technique of GOLDEN ROOSTER FRANTICALLY NODS ITS HEAD, my spear does BRUSHING ASIDE THE GRASS TO SEEK THE SNAKE to render your technique ineffective.
STICKING SPEAR – EXPLANATION OF PART 1
In the beginning posture, A facing east and B facing west, they stand opposite each other holding their spears in the same posture of fishermen casting their nets as with the sparring techniques. The stabbing methods are the same as with the sparring techniques [though in a slightly different order]. As before, raise the spirit, forcelessly press up your headtop, and the spearhead should stab nimbly and lively. After a while you may ignore your own spear and adjust according to the opponent’s, your spear’s coiling movements going along with his posture, continuously connected.
A first lifts his spear and stabs to B’s chest, advancing a step.
B then lifts his spear and sticks, maintaining contact while retreating a step, his spear going up diagonally, both hands going along with the movement of body and step toward the rear, sticking while drawing back. See the photo:
EXPLANATION OF PART 2
When B’s spear draws back, A steps forward, sticking and coiling, and stabs straight to B’s leg.
When B sees the attack from A’s spear, he shrinks away his body and retreats, going along with the attack downward and leading it away outward, maintaining contact. The strength of it has to be continuously soft in order to stick and follow. See the photo (Both spears are diagonally downward.):
EXPLANATION OF PART 3
When B leads A’s spear outward, A steps forward and stabs up toward B’s shoulder. The spearhead should be used gently. See the photo.
B goes along with A’s spear without losing contact and retreats, gently deflecting A’s spear away so the blade lands on nothing. See the photo (B’s blade is upward.):
EXPLANATION OF PART 4
A’s spear goes from below and turns inward, and he steps forward and stabs directly forward to B’s throat without the spears losing contact. See the photo.
B goes along with A’s spear, and without losing contact even slightly, quickly retreats and twists his body, both hands drawing back with a rollback energy, deflecting A’s blade so it lands on nothing. See the photo:
After these four sticking stabs, B, without breaking contact, steps forward and does the same four stabs that A did while A retreats in the same manner that B did. See the previous photos [reversing roles].
EXPLANATION OF TAIJI’S PLUCKING SPEAR
To begin, A and B face each other with their left foot forward, spears diagonal. B first lifts his spear and does a straight stab to A’s chest. When A sees the stab coming, he quickly uses his spear as in a rollback technique and plucks downward. For the body’s method, there should be a unified energy, and if A is centered he can make B’s spear fall to the ground. This is the plucking spear technique. See the photo:
EXPLANATION OF TAIJI’S RENDING SPEAR
B does a diagonal stab to A’s leg. A then sends his spear diagonally downward, his left leg bending forward and his right leg pressing straight to assist his hands [In the photo he withdraws his left leg to stand on his right, which makes more sense.], the hands assisting the spear by fiercely rending outward. This can rip B’s spear out of his hands and send it flying many feet away. This is the rending spear technique. See the photo:
EXPLANATION OF TAIJI’S FLINGING SPEAR
B does a straight stab to A’s shoulder. A’s spear lifts and draws in, sticking close to B’s spear with his front hand. His body props up outward, both feet pushing the ground, and both hands go forward, outward, diagonally upward, to fling away. This technique can connect to the opponent, lead his spear, and fling it many feet away. This is not just a matter of body and hand. When the energy can be roused like a gushing fountain, then it will work. See the photo:
EXPLANATION OF TAIJI’S SHOVELING SPEAR
B does a straight stab to A’s throat. A then slightly leans, both hands warding off forward and upward with the spear, shoveling ever upward, and both feet have to be pushing the ground. This can fling B away many paces backwards. How can this be if the opponent weighs two hundred pounds? This is not some supernatural skill. After a long time at it you will naturally come to know that anyone can train it until it is a reality and that these are not exaggerations. [See the photo:]
These four techniques are for both partner practice and solo practice. When practicing them, partners can do them in any order or one posture at a time, and in solo practice as well they do not need to be linked. After finishing the twelve techniques, there is also a coiling spear method:
TAIJI’S COILING SPEAR METHOD – LEFT & RIGHT
B performing the coiling spear:
B applying the coiling spear:
EXPLANATION OF THE COILING SPEAR
This technique is still more nimble and subtle. Within it there are countless changes returning to a single principle – coiling the spear. Laymen observing it will see it as but a single method, not understanding that it contains the eight trigrams and five elements. The sparring techniques can be applied within it, as well as the sticking and disarming techniques. Understanding the eight trigrams and five elements of the thirteen dynamics spear, the realms of sky and ground are contained within it. The training should be natural and the application should be nimble. When you let go of your plans and simply respond to the opponent, you can be sticky. When advancing and retreating, the upper body and lower coordinate with each other. Never breaking contact, the coiling method is continuous like a long river. The eyes look to the horizon. Within the abdomen, it is as fully relaxed as the ocean. When the hands and feet coordinate with each other, you can advance and retreat. When the waist moves like a wheel’s axle, the energy can be roused. By shrinking the chest and pulling up the back, the body is containing inwardly. By using energy and focusing your intent, the spear technique is hard and strong. Attain hardness by attaining softness. Fellow practitioners, pay meticulous attention.
If when practicing you use intent to move energy, then after training for a long time, your spear shaft will seem to have an electric current, and when dealing with an opponent you will then easily know what his attack will be. Neither running away nor crashing in, stick, yield, and neutralize, and you will attain marvels.
AN ANECDOTE ABOUT [THE SPEAR SKILL OF] YANG LUCHAN
Yang Luchan obtained the secret teachings, and since then his disposition has been mild and his conduct toward others has been considerate. When there was extra money in the house, he was generous with it in helping his friends. One day a friend asked Yang to lend him a hundred silver coins to cover his expenses and said the loan would be repaid by the next year.
Yang felt in the mood for a practical joke and said, “If you borrow my money, consent to one thing. Grasp my spear with both hands and I will make you rise up onto my roof tiles. If you are not standing stably, you can take the money without having to repay it.”
The friend agreed, but on the condition that Yang actually pulled it off. Yang, using intention to move energy, gave his spear a shake and the friend rose up onto the roof. The man was amazed and stood there the way a simpleton leans forward. Yang laughed, calling for a step ladder to be brought.
The friend came down and said, “Well, that was quite a surprise.”
Yang laughed and said, “Just a bit of fun.” Then he gave him the hundred coins. The friend was delighted and went on his way.
AN ANECDOTE ABOUT [THE SPEAR SKILL OF] YANG JIANHOU
Long ago in Xi’an there was a high official called Ji Si. He was obsessed with boxing arts and wanted to learn. Hearing that the Yang family had obtained the secret teachings, he went to Beijing and invited Yang Jianhou for a stay in his house. In just over a month, he learned a smattering of boxing methods and the subtleties of spear and sword techniques. During that time the main topic they discussed was winning by means of stillness and overcoming by way of yielding. Yang Jianhou consequently became increasingly well-known.
At that time, in Shaanxi there was a Big Saber Wang who was known as The Guest of Hong’s Inn. He could lift five hundred pounds and travel a hundred miles in a single day. He was superb with the big saber and great with the large spear. His skill was the best in Shaanxi and he taught over five hundred students. He heard Ji Si talk of Yang but could not believe him, so he went to Yang and challenged him to a match.
Yang refused and said, “Teacher Wang, as you have trained so hard for such a long time, I am no match for you.”
Wang accused him of being afraid and insisted upon a match, also saying, “I have long heard of Taiji Boxing. Can Taiji Spear be of any use?”
Yang could not keep from smiling at this and nodded that it was. Then he took up his spear and they went to face each other in the courtyard.
Wang made a powerful stab toward Yang’s chest. Yang turned his body sideways, performing a rollback technique. Wang covered Yang’s spear and then pressed down. Yang again led him into emptiness, so Wang pulled his spear back. Yang took advantage of Wang’s withdrawing momentum and applied the shoveling spear technique. Wang found himself surprised and lost control of his spear, which suddenly pointed up like a stick of incense and cut his face, and he stumbled away six or seven steps and fell on his back. He got up and apologized, saying, “Now and forever I know of your magical ability.”
He threw out all he had learned and then learned from Yang, training for a long time without slackening. He had met someone better and was able to learn from him without being jealous, thus proving himself worthy to be called a hero.
SOLO PRACTICE METHODS
Fellow practitioners, good martial arts lay stress on health. The ideal time to practice is every morning. Before the sun rises, find a clean place where you can get lots of fresh air so you can clear any bad air from your lungs. Calm your mind and cease your worries.
Both hands hold the spear. Any direction is fine – north, south, east, west, whatever. The left hand is in front, right hand behind. The legs are in a horse-riding stance.
1. Using intention to gather energy, the right hand sends the spear in a straight thrust forward and diagonally upward. The front leg bends to make a bow stance. The right leg straightens, but the heel must not lift.
2. Give the spear a closing energy and draw it back to cover downward.
The body principles are: sit down but lift the headtop and pull the crotch up. This is the strength training in Taiji. Do two hundred reps with the right hand, then switch and do two hundred reps with the left hand. When both hands have equal power, the body is developing uniformly.
Find a lush forest to practice this in every day. Get into a horse-riding stance. Both hands hold the spear. Making contact against a tree, do a hundred stabs, then also swish up and down a hundred times. Practice with each hand. You must not use an abrasive energy but a sticking energy. After training for a long time, the tree’s branches can be made to shake.
When the solo practice and partner practice have been trained to familiarity, there are also variations and various secret methods, such as:
 THREE SPINS AND NINE FLOURISHES and GOLDEN ROOSTER FRANTICALLY NODS ITS HEAD (the body forward and behind having a closing energy),
 TURNING-STANCE SPEAR, which when facing an opponent is sure to win (creating victory from a bad position),
 CHASE THE BOAT WITH EIGHT STRIDES and SURVIVAL-SEEKING CONTINUOUS SPEAR (toes touching down),
 BRUSHING ASIDE THE GRASS TO SEEK THE SNAKE (going side to side with both arms),
 SNOW FALLS THEN PEARS BLOSSOM (which is not easy to practice),
 FLOOD DRAGON SWINGS ITS TAIL TO SWEEP THE GROUND (aimed at the ankle),
 EMPEROR CRUSHES THE HEADTOP (the spear going from above to below),
 and CIRCLING AS YOU PLEASE (doing whatever you want).
Beyond the thirteen techniques, there are these eight, and with hard work over a long period you will naturally obtain them.
Since the time of the first emperors, warriors throughout history relied first of all upon the spear. Therefore the spear is the ancestor of long-bladed weapons as the sword is the ancestor of short-bladed weapons. If you train in martial arts, the spear and sword must be learned. The spear tips were made of bronze or iron. They have had many names since ancient times. The lengths have varied from eight or nine feet to ten feet, except the Taiji spear which is seven and a half feet, although nowadays people use spears of seven feet. The method of the spear is to suddenly raise and suddenly lower, suddenly gather and suddenly release, to shoot like an arrow and retract like a string. Truly it has the marvels of appearing like a spirit and disappearing like a ghost, and the subtlety of an immortal’s incomprehensibility. When the spear is very lively, it is as supple as a snake dancing. Sometimes it is just like the fluttering of pear blossoms or snowflakes. Truly it is the essence of our culture and a treasure to be transmitted through the generations.
鎗分採 挒 靠 去 捋 擲
The spear techniques divide into: plucking, rending, crowding, sending away, rolling back, and flinging.
Someone wishing to learn boxing arts asked me, “Are the internal styles good or are the external styles good?”
I said, “All martial arts passed down from experts long ago are good, and all that really matters is whether or not you are obtaining what was passed down.”
He then asked, “Is Wudang Boxing good or is Shaolin Boxing good?”
I said, “If you want to learn Wudang, try Taiji, and if you want to learn Shaolin, Shaolin will do. One can learn whatever one thinks is good.”
Someone else asked me, “How many years does it take to be good at Taiji?”
I said, “When you train in boxing arts, you must not think of how long it will take. A teacher will teach the same stuff to everyone, but everyone is of a different disposition. Some get it in a couple of years or even a few months, while others still don’t get it even after decades. To be good at boxing, it doesn’t matter how big you are or how old you are, only how smart you are. I’ve been working at it for fifteen years now, but I’m quite often driven to seek second opinions from other teachers.”
The Yang family transmission of Taiji Boxing is genuine.
The key to learning boxing arts:
If you take it and the teacher seriously, of course you will obtain the real stuff. But if you are going to look down on it and the teacher, why bother with it anyway?
An anecdote about Yang Luchan:
When Yang Luchan was in Beijing, a boxer who specialized in attacking acupoints heard about him and wanted to have a match with him to test his skill. Luchan quickly took up the man’s wrist and applied a method of arresting the tendons so he could not point his fingers, then hoisted his front foot off the ground and told him: “Don’t look down on your talents. Think of all your years of hard training. Without them your body would now be broken.” The man quite esteemed him thereafter.
Wang Zongyue taught in the eastern part of Zhejiang and in Henan. In Zhejiang it disappeared long ago, but in Henan it was passed on to Yang Luchan from the Chen family. In the fifty years from then to now, most who know Taiji Boxing got it through the Yang family. Also it is said, “In Yongnian county, is there only the Yang family?” Although there are good boxers there, they were taught by the dozen students of Yang Banhou. Thus all who practice Taiji Boxing have been assisted by Yang Luchan.
In previous days in Beijing there was a strong practitioner of Piercing Kicks who had practiced kicking and tumbling skills for twelve years. He had a bout with Yang Banhou. When he attacked, he struck with his fist above and kicked with his foot below. Banhou was amused by him and neutralized him with the technique of DRIVING AWAY THE MONKEY – LEFT & RIGHT, but without retreating, then turned his body sideways and first applied RISING UP AND REACHING OUT TO THE HORSE to draw in both of the man’s hands, then applied SEALING SHUT, making his opponent fall down more than ten feet away. The man got up and said, “Mr. Yang, you truly have a magical skill.”
It is said that Taiji is useless. In the days when Beijing was the place where fighters from everywhere in the land congregated, people nicknamed Yang Banhou as “Yang the Invincible”. If you say you cannot cast opponents away, it is because you yourself have to keep working at it until you can, and you are not in a position to say that Taiji Boxing is useless.
You should not fear powerful opponents. If you think internal skill cannot defeat great strength, why would you be practicing this boxing art? If you can guide his thousand pounds of force to land on nothing, it can do nothing to you.
董英傑傳拳秘法 練功 操練
用太極要知 天時 地理 人和
Dong Yingjie’s transmission of the secret to training boxing skills:
When applying Taiji, you should be aware of time, environment, and society.
Time: When facing an opponent, do not face east in the morning, south at noon, or west in the evening, because you should not be looking toward the sun’s glare.
Environment: When facing an opponent, first observe the immediate ground, taking note of whether it is wide or narrow, tall or low, and it is best to possess the low ground.
Society: Although it is a dispute, you should still be polite and not find reason to abandon your sense of honor.
Beware the opponent’s making feints.
The civil & martial in Taiji:
In Taiji, if you can cultivate your health but cannot fight with opponents, you have achieved the civil aspect, or if you can fight with opponents but do not know how to cultivate your health, you have achieved the martial aspect. The way of softness in Taiji is the true method of application in Taiji, for while it can teach people how to cultivate their health, it is also supplies the ability to deal with opponents. Build both health and self-defense simultaneously, for it is both the civil and martial aspects that make for complete Taiji.
In the practice of Taiji, there are methods of both silent meditation to nurture the spirit and movement exercises to improve the circulation.
One’s strength or weakness depends on one’s circulation. As Yang Chengfu’s boxing is unfurled and comfortable, it is superior for loosening the sinews and invigorating the circulation. If your body is weak, practice Yang’s boxing art and the effects will be great.
Previously for many decades everyone had a low regard for the martial and a high regard for the literary. If they would have taken half the effort they put into reading and put it toward practicing martial arts, they would surely have transformed their weakness into strength. Nowadays the nation encourages martial arts and everyone is engaged in physical education. Their minds have opened to it. At this rate, martial arts will go on forever. From now on, everyone will see it as important.
Possessing this book of Taiji Boxing certifies you. Within its covers can be written your name. It is like Yang is teaching you personally. For those who have this book, he is always doing his best to give guidance, always happy to instruct.
Nowadays there are so many versions of Taiji Boxing and people have a hard time distinguishing which is authentic. Here is how you can know: no matter whose lineage it is, if it can be both supple and solid, and if it can loosen the sinews and invigorate the blood, it is real. You can also test them in terms of the civil and martial aspects. Examine his arms. If the skin is soft and the bones and flesh are heavy, it is real. That is the way you can tell according to the civil aspect. As for application, if he can apply Taiji techniques without his postures falling into disorder and discard opponents in a leisurely way, it is real. That is the way you can tell according to the martial aspect. If he uses effort and strikes in a chaotic manner, he can win only by getting lucky. That version is certainly false and worthless. See, you easily can recognize Taiji Boxing.
There are these skills in Taiji Boxing:
- Tearing the Sinews & Breaking the Bones
- Striking Acupoints
- Passive & Active Hands
- Five-Elements Hands
- Marrow-Penetrating Punch
- Heart-Removing Punch
- Spying-the-Tiger Elbow
- Too-Close-to-the-Mountain Bumping
- Mandarin-Duck Kicks
- Saber Palm & Sword Finger
- Slyly Seizing Hands
- Bypassing the Mountain to Strike the Ox
(This last one does not have anything to do actually striking an ox. The meaning of the phrase is to cause internal damage with no external sign.)
Taiji Boxing is an internal style of boxing. It is commonly called Internal Skill Boxing. Within the variety of schools of boxing arts, the internal styles of boxing are the most devastating. If you successfully learn this art, you absolutely must maintain a quality of mercy and must not rashly use deadly techniques to strike opponents. Do not dishonor what has been passed down from previous teachers.
The Taiji boxing art is the national fashion. People who study boxing arts nowadays all think practicing Taiji Boxing is the best choice. Yet students all have their own agenda, and if your aim is to exercise your body, you will get that far no matter who your teacher is, whereas if you want to learn methods of application, it will not work without a qualified teacher.
Practicing Taiji Boxing can transform weakness into strength. It truly has the effect of reversing age into youthfulness. But if you want to succeed at it quickly:
- sincerely forbid yourself smoking, alcohol, and sex, and be determined in your restraint,
- maintain a daily schedule,
- and any hobbies that diminish your vitality must not be engaged in often.
The boxing arts that we have now all began with the two main branches of Wudang and Shaolin, which are still so different from each other. One feature that is the same between them is that they have each branched off into many further styles, but to suggest they were united as a single art would really be more than we can say. If we narrow the discussion to Taiji Boxing, most versions have come down through Yang Luchan’s transmission, which has nowadays split into branches east and west. Each says it is the best and beginners have a hard time being able to tell. I also say mine is best, but ultimately which one is? The best thing to do is to make yourself aware of the postural differences between them. Some say their version is more powerful while others say their version is more sneaky. It makes no difference, for Taiji Boxing theory cannot be split into different branches. Although if you do not obtain the real transmission, you will not understand this.
There are two ways to learn the boxing: work with friends your own age or do obeisance to a teacher for instruction. As long as you have perseverance, you can learn it successfully in either case.
In boxing arts, what is taught or not taught is entirely up to the student rather than the teacher. The reason is simply this:
Everyone these days understands that Taiji is worthwhile and they have a mind to learn it, but they worry the teacher might not have the real stuff and before they have even made it through the door, they are already doubting a third of it. And so even if a teacher wants to pass it down, how would he be able to? Most students only go halfway and quit anyway, then only think to blame their teacher for not teaching and never imagine a need to examine their own neglect of learning. Yes, for those of you who claim your teacher did not teach you, this is an admonishment. It is like Liu Bei wanting to hire Zhuge Liang before asking if he was willing to leave his mountain or not. Liu Bei invited him, then pressed him a second time, and a third time. If Zhuge Liang really did not want to leave, what could Liu Bei have done to obtain his services? This is what students are like. I am hoping that fellow practitioners who are spreading Taiji Boxing will consider this point.
Learning something well requires putting some heart into it.
When you gain something from a book and it changes you, do not hold it up as something coming from your own experience. Give credit where credit is due and please do not disrespect the author and the pains he took to write for your sake.
Yang Chengfu will teach boxing to anyone and teaches everyone the same. So why do some turn out better than others? Because everyone has a different nature, a different degree of intelligence, a different capacity to understand the principles. Also because Taiji theory is rather deep and takes more than one lesson to grasp. Since progress is a step-by-step process, Yang teaches in a step-by-step manner. If you only go halfway and quit before learning the essence of it, to proclaim that the teacher does not have the real stuff is truly an absurd assertion. If you put hardly any time or work into it and then demand it pay off with glittering results, you simply do not understand. By gradually and continuously advancing in your learning, there will not be a notion of neglect in the teaching.
Yang Chengfu one day felt like surprising us while demonstrating applications. Having crossed hands with Wang Baohuan [see list of Yang’s students], Yang applied the pushing technique and Wang stumbled away more than thirty feet. It was indeed a wondrous sight. In Yang’s method of application, when crossing hands with an opponent, the opponent’s feet seem to find no footing, which compromises his ability to stand. Take a look at Yang and you will see his face is completely calm and yet his hands and feet have tremendous dexterity and agility. He only has to lift a hand and the opponent will stumble away fast as an arrow. Yang’s boxing skill is really amazing. Everyone strongly admires him.
Taiji is fundamentally an internal boxing style. If you are doing the postures correctly and understand the internal principles, it qualifies as Taiji Boxing. If you are not doing the postures correctly and do not understand the internal principles, then although it may look like Taiji, it is no better than an external style.
It is certain that boxing methods from ancient times have not been passed down faithfully. People may move on from their teachers, but if as time passes they are still able to remember what their teachers have passed down, it is certain the true transmission will survive.
To practice Taiji Boxing, learning the applications is crucial. Even if you are someone who is only doing it to exercise your body, you still need to learn the applications, because if you do not learn the applications, you will get bored with it, like most of those who stick with it only halfway and then quit, with the ironic outcome that you will also have abandoned your body’s chance to be developed by the exercise. If you learn the applications, it is not for the purpose of fighting, but so that you may investigate the subtleties of the theory with your fellow students:
You attack me, I neutralize it. I attack you, you adapt. There is a ceaseless flow of all sorts of transformations manifesting endlessly…
When you understand that within Taiji Boxing there are countless transformations, the joys of moving your hands and feet in this way will become more intriguing by the day, a constant and addictive pleasure. Then after years of practice, the body will be strong and robust. Thus building up the body requires learning the applications. And of course it is even more important if you do also have it in mind to deal with opponents. Therefore to practice Taiji Boxing, it is essential to learn the applications in order to get it right.
Practicing Taiji Boxing:
- promotes martial arts,
- transforms weakness into strength,
- develops the physique,
- and adds years to your life.
The Thirteen Dynamics solo set in the first half of this book has seventy-eight postures [in total] and ninety-four photos [fifty-eight distinct photos, one hundred twenty-two in total, leaving “ninety-four” to make no sense at all]. My fellow practitioners, when you begin learning the boxing, you can learn by referring to the explanations for each photo. By learning in this way, you will immediately understand the function of each posture. This book is great.
The thirty-seven application photos in the second half of this book all depict methods of practicing [the postures in the solo set] with a partner.
When any of you train in boxing arts, be it Wudang or Shaolin, after you have succeeded in it, be sure not to forget about other people and become presumptuously proud. It is often said that “there’s always somebody better” and “after every skilled person you meet, there’s another one”. This truth is simply the way of things.
In boxing arts as a whole since ancient times, wealth has not been considered to be important. Honor is the priority. It is enough to give a teacher a few hundred bucks, but even when there is no offering of money, the teacher is equally pleased. What is constant is a sense of comaraderie.
Confucius said, “When several of us are engaged in the same thing, I am certain to have a teacher.” He also said, “In a town of only ten homes, there is sure to be sincerity.” All students of Taiji are my teachers, for you are the friends I discuss it with. This is entirely a matter of personal realization.
There is a saying: “An effort will succeed in a dozen encounters.” (This is reasonable.)
My saying is this: “One skillful moment defeats a thousand pounds.” (This isn’t bad either.)
The original manuals had explanations dispersed among the contents rather arbitrarily. In this book they are divided up in a balanced way and correspondingly placed. In learning boxing arts, when you grasp the concepts, that is nothing insignificant, and so the explanations of ideas throughout really should not be allowed to get in the way of your understanding.
I have heard it said that if you want to gain an extraordinary treasure, it will require extraordinary work, and if you seek to do extraordinary work, you need to have an extraordinarily capable and knowledgeable guide. Long ago, there was the jade disc owned by the state of Zhao, but without Bian He, we would not have been able to know of such a treasure, and although there was the Thousand-Mile Horse, without Bo Le to point it out, we would never have heard of its talents.
The world is vast and its gems are many. But when we see people incapable of grasping the wealth of knowledge a teacher has to share, what a pity it is. Those who wish to seek this treasure nowadays seem to fear that it is invisible, for instance when a student of physical education does not study our cultural treasure but instead exchanges all his money and goes to Europe or America to study it. How is that not a case of abandoning what is near to seek what is far? And so if you do not understand our cultural treasure, do not find fault in it.
Nowadays I plan to strengthen my nation, and nowadays you all plan to train in physical education. If we wish to obtain our cultural treasure, I advise all of you to practice Taiji Boxing. By practicing Taiji, the body and spirit will be equalized and express powerfully, it will extend your life and youthfulness, and there are so many skills contained within it, including the ability to defend yourself and fend off opponents. The benefits of this boxing art are too numerous to write down. After you have practiced you will automatically gain them. Taiji Boxing can be deemed an extraordinary treasure. Not all other boxing arts can be described so, and I hope my comrades will pardon me for saying it.