BREAKDOWN CHART OF TAIJI BOXING
Taiji Compiled: The Boxing, Saber, Sword, Pole, and Sparring
by Chen Yanlin
[published June, 1943]
[translation by Paul Brennan, March, 2013]
THE TAIJI BOXING TREATISE
Once there is any movement, your entire body should be nimble and alert. There especially needs to be connection from movement to movement. Energy should be roused and 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 your foot, issue through your leg, directing it at your waist, and expressing it at your fingers. From foot through leg through waist, it must be a fully continuous process, and whether advancing or retreating, you will then be able to catch the opportunity and gain the upper hand. If your body easily falls into disorder, the problem must be in your waist and legs, so look for it there. This is always so, regardless of the direction of the movement, be it up, down, forward, 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. Throughout your body, as the movement goes from one section to another there has to be 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, and bumping – which relate to the eight trigrams:
and advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying in the center – which relate to metal, wood, water, fire, and earth: the five elements. 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 correspond to the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. These combined [8+5] are called the Thirteen Dynamics.
An original note says: “This relates to the writings of Zhang Sanfeng of Mt. Wudang. He wanted all the heroes in the world to live long and not merely gain skill.”
THE TAIJI BOXING CLASSIC
Taiji [“grand polarity”] is born of wuji [“nonpolarity”], and is the mother of yin and yang [the passive and active aspects]. When there is movement, passive and active 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 this single principle [of yielding and sticking] 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 your 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 phrase “four ounces moves a thousand pounds”, which is clearly 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.
UNDERSTANDING HOW TO PRACTICE THE THIRTEEN DYNAMICS
Use mind to move the energy. You must get the energy to sink. It is then able to collect in the bones. Use energy to move your body. You must get the energy to be smooth. Your body can then easily obey your mind.
If you can raise your spirit, then you will be without worry of being slow or weighed down. Thus it is said [in the Thirteen Dynamics Song]: “Your whole body will be nimble and your headtop will be pulled up as if suspended.” The mind must perform alternations nimbly, and then you will have the qualities of roundness and liveliness. Thus it is said [also in the Song]: “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 that 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 your body’s adjustments.
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.
First strive to open up, then strive to close up, and from there you will be able to attain a refined subtlety.
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 be relaxed but not relaxed, about to express but not yet expressing. Although the power finishes, the intent of it continues.
It is also said:
First in the mind, then in the body.
With your abdomen relaxed, energy sinks into your bones. Spirit comfortable, body calm – at every moment be mindful of this.
Always remember: 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 sticks to your back and gathers in your spine.
Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease.
Step like a cat and move energy as if drawing silk.
Throughout your body, your 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 your 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.
PLAYING HANDS SONG
Ward-off, rollback, press, and push must be taken seriously.
With coordination between above and below, it is difficult for the opponent to find a way in.
I will let him attack me with as much power as he likes,
for I will tug on his movement with four ounces of force moving 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.
SEVEN SONGS FROM AN OLD HANDWRITTEN COPY OF TAIJI BOXING CLASSICS FROM DURING THE REIGN OF EMPEROR QIANLONG [1736-1796]
Extend your neck and draw up your headtop, your arms both loosening.
Strongly bind energy downward, bracing it upward at your crotch.
Sound it from your gut when you express power, beating with your fists.
While your toes grip the ground, your upper body bends like a bow.
Move lightly and nimbly, spirit gathering within.
Show no interruption in the movement, for it should be continuous.
When your left has to do something, your right also has something to do, for empty and full have their places.
When your upward intention contains a downward, bad habits return [i.e. it brings stiffens to the opponent’s posture].
Focus on your elixir field to smelt internal skill.
Within “heng…” [when inhaling] and “ha!” [when exhaling], there are endless subtleties.
With passive and active dividing in movement and blending in stillness, bend and extend.
Responding slowly to slowness and quickly to quickness, the theory will be realized.
Suddenly appearing and disappearing – the more he advances, the farther away you seem.
When a feather cannot be added to you, you have reached the Way.
The slow being defeated by the fast has no resemblance [to skill that has been trained].
When four ounces moves a thousand pounds, you are neutralizing sublimely.
Ward-off, rollback, press, and push are the four cardinal directions [i.e. the four primary techniques].
Pluck, rend, elbow, and bump are the four corner directions [i.e. the four secondary techniques].
They are associated with the eight trigrams – Qian, Kun, [Kan, Li,] and [Sun,] Zhen, Dui, [Gen].
Advance and retreat, stepping left and right, and staying put – these are associated with the five elements.
SONG SIX (Known as the THIRTEEN DYNAMICS SONG)
Do not neglect any of the thirteen dynamics,
their command coming from your lower back.
You must pay attention to the alternation of empty and full,
then energy will flow through your 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 your belly, energy is primed.
Your tailbone is centered and spirit penetrates to your headtop,
thus your whole body will be nimble and your 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.
From extreme softness, extreme hardness comes naturally.
When the movement is like drawing silk, at every point there is clarity.
Through opening up then closing up, you will gain a refined subtlety.
Await the moment, then make your move, stepping like a cat.
THE TRUE MEANING OF TAIJI BOXING
Be formless and shapeless. (i.e. Forget that you are there.)
Let your whole body be full of emptiness. (Inside and out are as one.)
Forget everything and just be natural. (Do whatever you feel like.)
Be like chimes hung in the westerns mountains. [Their sound resonates far.] (The sky’s the limit.)
Have the roar of a tiger and the cry of an ape. (This represents the smelting of your sexual essence [which is to be processed into a potent energy].)
The water is still, but the spring is clear. (Your mind seems dead, but your spirit is alive.)
Divert the river and turn back the sea. (Your vitality is flowing.)
Fulfill your nature and accept your destiny. (Your spirit is stable and your energy is sufficient.)
SONG OF THE EIGHT TECHNIQUES
The techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing are so unique
that out of ten skillful people there are ten who do not understand them.
But if you can perform them with both agility and solidity,
the qualities of sticking, connecting, adhering, and following will then be sure to manifest.
The techniques of plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping are yet more unusual,
and if you execute them unsuccessfully, they will be but wasted ideas.
But if you have obtained the qualities of sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, (dependent on being agile and solid of course)
you will be centered on the target and loathe to veer away.
ON MENTALLY UNDERSTANDING
The lower back is first to command, the throat second to command, solar plexus third to command.
The elixir field is first to obey, palms second to obey, the soles of the feet third to obey.
ON FULLY USING THE BODY
1. When your emotions are stable and your mind is calm, you will naturally be nimble and alert at every point.
2. When energy flows through your whole body, there is a continuousness that cannot be interrupted.
3. When you are never affected by opponents going for your throat, everyone will think of you in heroic terms.
What here is the great achievement? It is that all has been reached, inside and out, in general and in detail.
THE SIXTEEN KEY POINTS
 Pivoting lies with your feet.
 Movement lies with your legs.
 Springiness lies with your knees.
 Liveliness lies with your waist.
 Nimbleness lies with your spine.
 Spirit penetrates to your headtop.
 Flowing lies with your energy.
 Wielding lies with your palms.
 Piercing lies with your fingers.
 Gathering is a matter of your marrow.
 Arriving is a matter of your spirit.
 Concentration depends on your ears.
 Breathing occurs through your nose.
 Breathing operates from your lungs.
 Breath is expressed at your mouth.
 Simplicity depends on your torso.
[sum of all] The issuing of your whole body reaches to every hair.
SONG OF FUNCTION
Be nimble and lively, seeking to identify the opponent’s energies.
Passive and active are meant to exchange with each other, so do not make the error of getting stuck in either.
Once you have got the skill of “four ounces moves a thousand pounds”,
it will be determined by your expanding and contracting, and the rousing of your energy.
FIVE STUDY REMINDERS [These five terms are originally from the “Zhong Yong” – chapter 31 of the Book of Rites]
 Learn abundantly. (Sufficient learning will lead to a great deal of skill.)
 Inquire meticulously. (This does not have to do with querying verbally, but with listening.)
 Ponder wholeheartedly. (Think about the material constantly.)
 Discriminate clearly. (New things will always continue to come at you [and you should keep yourself from being distracted by things that are not important].)
 Practice sincerely. (It is as though Nature is actively strengthening you.) [Nature is naturally sincere, whereas human beings have to be deliberately sincere. The idea here seems to be that you should develop so much sincerity that you practice out of instinct rather than discipline.]
THE FIVE-WORD FORMULA
1. The mind is CALM. If your mind is not calm, it will not be focused, and each movement of your hands, be it forward or back, left or right, will not be in any definite direction. [Therefore your mind should be calm.] At first your movement will not yet be able to come from yourself, and so you should clear your mind and let your body intuit, going along with the opponent’s movements. Bend and then extend, neither coming away nor crashing in, and do not expand and contract on your own. When the opponent has power, I also have power, but my power beats him to the punch. When he has no power, I also have power [have no power], for it is my intention that beats him to the decision. You should constantly pay attention. Wherever the opponent nears you, your mind should go there. You must neither come away nor crash in, and then you will be able to analyze what is going on. After doing this for about a year or so, it will become natural. This is entirely a matter of using intention and is not a matter of using strength. Over time, you will reach the point in which you can say “he is under my control and I am not under his”.
2. The body is LIVELY. When your body is sluggish, advancing and retreating cannot be done smoothly. Therefore your body should be lively. When moving your hands, there must be nothing resembling hesitation. When the opponent’s force hinders even the hairs on my skin, my intention instantly enters his bones and my hands are bracing him, all as one event. If he puts pressure on my left side, I empty my left side and my right side goes forth, or if he puts pressure on my right side, I empty my right side and my left side goes forth, the energy like a wheel. Your whole body should be coordinated. If there is a lack of coordination anywhere, your body will then be disorganized, and you will then have no power. Seek for the problem in your hips. First use your mind to command your body, and follow the opponent rather than yourself. Later your body will be able to follow your mind, yet this moving from yourself will still depend on following the opponent. If you act from yourself, you will be sluggish. If you follow the opponent, you will be lively. If you can follow the opponent, your hands on him will detect in finer detail, weighing the size of his power and being accurate to the smallest measure, assessing the length of his attack and not being off by the slightest bit, and you will advance and retreat always at the right moment. The more you work at it, the more perfected your skill will be.
3. The energy is COLLECTED. If your energy is scattered, then it will not be stored, and your body will easily fall into disorder. You must cause the energy to collect into your spine. Inhaling and exhaling penetrates and enlivens, influencing every part of your body. Inhaling is storing. Exhaling is releasing. Since with inhaling there is a natural rising, take the opponent up. Since with exhaling there is a natural sinking, send the opponent away. This is the use of intention to move energy, not the use of exertion to force energy.
4. The power is COMPLETE. The power of your whole body is trained to become a single unit, distinguishing clearly between empty and full. To issue power, there should be a source of it. Power starts from your heel, it is directed at your waist, and expresses at your fingers, issuing from your spine. With it there should also be a rousing of all your spirit. When the opponent’s power is about to come out but has not yet issued, my power connects with and invades his instantly, neither late nor early, as if my skin is a burning fire or as if a spring is gushing forth. I advance and retreat without the slightest disorder, and seeking the straight within the curved, I store and then issue. Thus I am able to be effortlessly successful. This is called borrowing his force to hit him with, using four ounces to move a thousand pounds.
5. The spirit is GATHERED. With the four above prepared, finally spirit gathers. Once spirit is gathered, then energy is tempered, and this smelted energy then reinforces spirit. Energy is ready to move and spirit is concentrated. Expand and contract are decisive. Empty and full are distinct. When left is empty, right is full. When right is empty, left is full. Empty does not mean you are in that area completely weak, but that energy should there be ready to move. Full does not mean you are in that area completely stuck, but that spirit should there be concentrated. [It is crucial that changes are within your chest and waist and are not external.] Force is borrowed from the opponent. Energy is issued from your spine. How can energy issue from your spine? It sinks downward, going from your shoulders, gathering in your spine, and concentrates in your waist. This energy going from above to below is called “contracting”. Then it goes from your waist to your spine, spreading to your arms to be applied at your fingers. This energy going from below to above is called “expanding”. Contracting is gathering. Expanding is releasing. When you can understand expanding and contracting, then you will understand passive and active. When you reach this state, then daily work will yield daily refinement, and gradually you will reach the point that you can do whatever you want and everything will happen as you imagine.
THE TRICK TO RELEASING
1. Raise: I get the opponent’s body to rise up and I borrow his force.
2. Draw in: Once I have drawn him in front of me, my power begins to store.
3. Relax: I relax my power, but I do not allow it to collapse.
4. Release: When I release, it comes from my waist and legs.
ESSENTIAL FUNDAMENTALS OF TAIJI BOXING
1. Forcelessly press up your headtop.
2. Your gaze watches attentively.
3. Contain your chest and pluck up your back.
4. Sink your shoulders and hang your elbows.
5. Settle your wrists and extend your fingers.
6. Your body should be centered and upright.
7. Tuck in your tailbone.
8. Loosen your waist and hips.
9. Your knees should seem to be relaxed but not relaxed.
10. The soles of your feet are to be flush against the ground [except when it is specifically only the tip of the foot or the heel touching down, or of course during kicks].
11. Distinguish clearly between empty and full.
12. Upper body and lower coordinate with each other, your whole body a single unit. (“If one part moves, every part moves, and if one part is still, every part is still.”)
13. Inside and outside merge with each other, your breathing natural. (When you need to exhale, exhale, and when you need to inhale, inhale.)
14. Use intention, not exertion.
15. Energy goes everywhere in your body, branching off above and below (sticking to your spine [when going upward] and sinking to your elixir field [when going downward]).
16. Intention and energy are linked together.
17. Posture after posture should flow smoothly into the next, no awkwardness or feeling of things getting jammed up, your whole body comfortable.
18. The movements should be uniform (neither speeding up nor slowing down), and should be continuous without interruption. (Even if the posture seems to halt externally, the intention and internal power should continue without interruption.)
19. The postures should neither go too far nor not far enough. Seek for them to balanced.
20. When applying techniques, let them be concealed rather than revealed.
21. Within movement, seek stillness (meaning calmness of mind, free of thoughts or worries). Within stillness, seek movement (meaning the energy moving internally).
22. With lightness there is sensitivity, with sensitivity there is movement, and with movement there is adaptation.
BREAKDOWN CHART OF TAIJI BOXING
[Part 1] THEORY:
[Section 1] MAIN PRINCIPLES
[Section 2] POSTURE
[Section 3] LOOSENING COMPLETELY
[Part 2] FUNCTION:
[Section 1] NEUTRALIZING
[Section 2] ISSUING
[Because the chart quotes often from five principal texts above, as well as from Chen Weiming’s 1925 commentary and Yang Chengfu’s Ten Essentials, I will indicate quote sources with these abbreviations:
Taiji Boxing Treatise – Tre
Taiji Boxing Classic – Cla
Understanding How to Practice – Und
Playing Hands Song – PH
Thirteen Dynamics Song – 13
Chen Weiming – CWM
Yang Chengfu – YCF]
[Part 1, Section 1] MAIN PRINCIPLES
[Principles – 1.1]
“Use mind to move the energy.” [Und]
“This means that the energy arrives where the intent goes.” [CWM]
“You must get the energy to sink.” [Und] After a long time, your internal power will increase, and will not inhibit the external movement of energy.
[Principles – 1.2]
“Use energy to move your body.” [Und]
“This means that the body moves when the energy moves.” [CWM]
“You must get the energy to be smooth. Your body can then easily obey your mind.” [Und]
By using mind to move the energy and energy to move your body, everything will naturally “obey your will without your mind at any point being obstructed” [CWM].
Wait for habits of using strength to wear off and for your innate internal power to naturally increase, which will be accomplished through practice. Then when in all things your intent is in charge of strength, you will naturally be able to control physiological actions.
Thus it is said: “In every movement, very deliberately control it by the use of intention, for once you achieve that, it will all be effortless.” 
And also: “By absorbing through experience and by constantly contemplating, gradually you will reach the point that you can do whatever you want.” [Cla]
[Principles – 2.1]
“Spirit should be collected within.” [Tre]
Whether you are working on the solo set or the pushing hands, your spirit must be concentrated and never in disarray. Otherwise your energy will be scattered and completely useless. This is because the key to Taiji Boxing lies entirely in the word “quietude”. Thus it is said: “Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease.” [Und]
[Principles – 2.2]
“Energy should be roused.” [Tre]
This has to do with not allowing an intention of exerting a stiff pressure upon your elixir field. The movement of energy, whether sinking to your elixir field or sticking along your spine, should always be a gentle flow.
[Principles – 2.3]
“By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted.” [Und]
It “is a matter of nurturing the energy you were born with… for in nurturing energy you are going along with what is natural” [CWM], and you will thereby have no limits.
It is not a matter of “wielding the energy of habits… for exercises of wielding energy are big frauds” [CWM], and you would in such cases have limits.
[Principles – 2.4]
“Your entire body should be nimble and alert.” [Tre]
In every movement, your mind must be entirely in charge. If you are raising a hand, it starts out as a subtle movement, then builds up to be a raising. If it continues from that point without your reasserting the notion of raising, it is then authentic nimbleness.
If you are raising a hand from below without at any point thinking of it as a raising, only constantly having the subtlety of adapting to your intent, it is then authentic alertness.
When beginning to learn the solo set, it should be done slowly. That way you will always be able to guide the movement with awareness, and thereby you will progress. “When it is slow, your breath will be deep and long, energy will sink to your elixir field, and there will naturally be no excessive rise in heart-rate.” [YCF]
[Principles – 3.1]
“The mind makes the command.” [Und]
It is like “the commander issuing orders” [CWM].
[Principles – 3.2]
“The energy is its flag.” [Und]
It is like “the flag which conveys the orders” [CWM].
This also relates to: “The energy is like a wheel.” [Und]
[Principles – 3.3]
“The waist is its banner.” [Und]
It is like “the large banner that stands straight and does not tip over” [CWM].
This also relates to: “The waist is like an axle.” [Und]
Your waist is your body’s pivot point. When your waist moves, innate energy turns like a wheel, reaching everywhere in your body and not getting stuck anywhere. There is no part that does not go along with the movements and turns of your waist.
“Your spirit is the general and your body is the army.” [quoting from an earlier version of Understanding How to Practice]
“If your spirit can be lifted, naturally the movement will be nimble… Expansion is not only a matter of hands and feet. The intention also expands. Contraction is not only a matter of hands and feet. The intention also contracts. If you can merge inside and outside into a single unit, there will be entirely no distinction between them” [YCF], and thereby “in moving, seem yet to be in stillness”  (meaning you are able to achieve a state of quietude).
[Principles – 3.4]
Movement & breath:
During the movements, when you need to exhale, exhale, and when you need to inhale, inhale. During exhalation, innate energy sinks down. During inhalation, innate energy rises up. Thus it is said: “Your ability to be nimble lies in your ability to breathe.” [Und]
[Principles – 3.5]
Your gaze watches attentively:
Wherever your intent goes, your gaze pours into that place. If not, then your technique will think east but look west – useless. Thus it is said: “When looking up, it is still higher. When looking down, it is still lower.” [Cla]
[Part 1, Section 2] POSTURE
根於脚 發於腿 主宰於腰 形於手指
“Starting from your foot, issue through your leg, directing it at your waist, and expressing it at your fingers.” [Tre]
From foot, through leg, to waist, then hand, upper body and lower should coordinate with each other
and be integrated into a single unit, connected by a single energy. And so it is said: “Step like a cat and move energy as if drawing silk.” [Und]
Advance and retreat naturally, obtaining both position and opportunity, but do so by way of intention rather than exertion.
“From beginning to end, it is continuous without interruption, recycling endlessly” [YCF], and it is “like a long river flowing into the wide ocean, on and on ceaselessly” [Tre]. Hence Taiji Boxing is also known as Long Boxing.
If at any point there is no coursing through, there is interruption, it will then be the case that “old force is spent and new force is not yet initiated… the easiest moment for an opponent to take advantage of” [YCF]. Thus it is said: “Do not allow there to be cracks or gaps anywhere, pits or protrusions anywhere, breaks in the flow anywhere.” [Tre]
If there is one part that is not moving, you will be thrown into disorder. If your hands are moving but “your hips are not moving, your hands will use that much more effort, causing your body to fall that much further into disorder” [CWM].
“The transformations between empty and full all come from the turning of your waist” [YCF],
as it is said, the “command coming from your lower back” .
In the beginning, you should “first strive to open up, which gets your hips to be always moving when there is even the slightest action” [CWM], but always by way of intention. And so it is said that “upper body and lower coordinate with each other. Inside and out join with each other” [YCF]. And also: “If one part moves, every part moves, and if one part is still, every part is still.” [Und]
In this way, then there will never be any worry about any part of your body being overly emphasized.
METHODS OF THE HANDS
Distinguish between empty and full:
When expressing with your hands, if you are able to distinguish between passive and active, empty and full, then you will be successful whether gathering or issuing, the opponent will not have an easy time controlling you, but you will however have an easy time causing the opponent to be off balance. Thus it is said: “The opponent does not understand me, only I understand him.” As well as: “Passive and active exchange roles. Once you have this understanding, you will be identifying energies.” [Cla]
Contain an element of folding:
During the switchings of emptiness and fullness when moving back and forth, although you do not appear to be moving externally, the process of folding up is already underway within [i.e. your energy is becoming coiled up and ready to spring out].
Your hands move along with the turning of your hips, and the shape of their movement must stay rounded with every posture. Do not depart from the taiji principle [i.e. do not cease to imitate the roundness of the taiji symbol].
Distinguish between empty and full:
An empty step means you are able to lift or lower it as you please.
A full step means the leg is bent and not straight.
“If the weight is on your right leg, your right leg is full and your left leg is empty. If the weight is on your left leg, your left leg is full and your right leg is empty. If you can distinguish empty and full from each other, movements will be light and nimble, not at all strenuous. If they cannot be distinguished, your steps will be heavy and sluggish, and your stance will naturally be unstable.” [YCF]
Also, you must make the “three-line stance”, meaning that when you are standing with your feet one forward and the other behind, the toes of both should be pointing forward [with an imaginary third line running between them in the same direction].
There is alternation:
“When advancing and retreating, there must be variation in the footwork. Even in retreat there is still advance.” [CWM]
Contain your chest:
“Your chest is slightly shrugged inward, causing energy to sink to your elixir field. If your chest sticks out, then energy will swarm to your chest area, resulting in your upper body being heavy and your lower body being light, and your heels will easily float up.” [YCF]
Pluck up your back:
This causes energy to stick to your back, where it is stored in wait for the best opportunity.
Settle your wrists:
This causes the internal power to sink stably rather than float and drift.
Extend your fingers:
This causes the internal power to issue smoothly rather than getting stuck.
“Forcelessly press up your headtop” [Cla]:
“The appearance of your head is upright and spirit penetrates to your headtop.” [YCF] – This is what is meant by pressing up your headtop. “There must be an intention of being forceless and natural… You must not use effort.” [YCF]
Another way to say it is “headtop will be pulled up as if suspended” , your headtop as though it is suspended in midair. At the same time, you should have your mouth closed and touch your tongue to the upper palate. Never grind your teeth or glare with your eyes.
“Your tailbone is centered” :
Your tailbone should be centered. Otherwise the positioning of your spine will be affected and it will be difficult for your spirit to rise up.
The posture should be correctly balanced.
Your whole body should be completely loosened (explained in next section).
Spirit should be full and internal power abundant.
“I will be as stable as Mt. Tai.” [CWM]
[Part 1, Section 3] LOOSENING COMPLETELY
On loosening your arms:
Sink your shoulders:
Get your shoulders to “loosen and hang down”, which helps energy to sink. Otherwise “they will end up lifting, then energy will also follow them upward, and your whole body will have no strength” [YCF].
Hang your elbows:
Have an intention of “loosening your elbows to drop them downward”, without which “your shoulders cannot sink”, and which “would be more like the interrupted power of external styles” [YCF].
Your fingers when extended should be comfortable, and when grasping into a fist must be loose. Everywhere in your body should conform to an intention of being natural. When your hands express a forward push, there is an intention in the palms of slightly sticking out, which helps to draw forth the internal power, but do not use effort to do so.
On loosening your waist:
When your waist loosens, energy naturally sinks, and “then your feet will have strength and your stance will be stable” [YCF]. When the transition between empty and full in your limbs is not working, it entirely depends on the turning and appropriate sinking of your waist in order to remedy the situation. With heightened sensitivity, turning will be easy. When squatting your torso down, make sure your butt is not sticking out.
On loosening your hips:
This is to compensate for any insufficiency of loosening your waist. Sometimes despite your waist being completely loosened, it still does not feel quite right when turning, and thus it will not work without the simultaneous loosening of your hips to assist.
On loosening your whole body:
When your “whole body loosens”, you will then be able to sink, thereby preventing even “the slightest bit of clumsy effort… tying you up in knots, and then you can be nimble and adaptable, rounded and unhindered” [YCF].
Once your whole body is completely loosened, you are in a state of using intention rather than exertion, and “then wherever your intention goes, energy will arrive” [YCF]. Where your energy arrives, your body is moved by it. When it is thus, energy and blood will flow throughout your body without getting stuck anywhere. And so it is said: “The mind must perform alternations nimbly, and then you will have the qualities of roundness and liveliness.” 
If you want to be sinking, you must loosen completely. Thus it is said: “Sink rather than float – in stillness, be like a mountain. Flow ceaselessly – in movement, be like a river.” [CWM]
[Part 2, Section 1] NEUTRALIZING
Taiji Boxing thoroughly emphasizes energy being externally soft and internally hard. Extending and withdrawing are like iron and silk. Sometimes be hard as iron, sometimes soft as silk. To distinguish them: softness is the emptiness, hardness is the fullness. This entirely has to do with your stability in the face of an incoming attack.
“When he is full, I am empty. When he is empty, I am full. Fullness suddenly transforms to become emptiness. Emptiness suddenly transforms to become fullness.” [CWM] Such reversals are limitless.
“He does not understand what I am doing but I can understand him” [Cla], and because I am an unfathomable enigma to him, it will “naturally lead him into being disordered. Once he is in disorder, I am free to issue power… and thereby I always win.” [CWM]
If you wish to come to terms with its wonders, you must clearly understand the principle of neutralizing. As for the terms “sticking” and “yielding”: yielding neutralizes the opponent, sticking controls him. Both are to be applied together.
This means not coming away, not separating. When fighting, you must stick to the opponent’s energy, dealing with him by way of the concepts of sticking, adhering, connecting, and following. It is not just your hands, every part of your body has to be able to stick to his energy. “My speed depends on his. When it does not come from myself, I am automatically able to stick and connect continuously.” [CWM]
By sensing his energy, the result is my energy being smooth while his energy is coarse. As it is said: “If he moves fast, I quickly respond, and if his movement is slow, I leisurely follow.” [Cla]
It is necessary to completely loosen your arms and keep them from expressing the slightest bit of awkward effort, for only then will you be able to skillfully merge with the opponent and move along with him. Otherwise when you meet the opponent’s energy, you will easily end up with no hope of re-enlivening [your arms]. If you are using effort, you will be taking pleasure in acting from yourself, and it will be difficult to let go of your ego and follow along with what he is doing. Beginners are forbidden to be impatient, for it is after working with energy for a long time that it will naturally have the quality of “seeming to be relaxed but not relaxed, about to express but not yet expressing” [Und].
This means not crashing in, not resisting. When sticking to the opponent’s hands, whether left hand or right, once you perceive he has an intent of applying pressure, switch to emptiness in that place, loosening the area and dropping it away. “If you slightly sense double pressure is happening, promptly drop one side… Since his movements will be in some direction, I just go along with him in the same direction and send him away along it instead of even slightly resisting against his direction.” [CWM]
This causes him to “fall into emptiness” in all respects [both missing the target and losing his balance], rendering his power useless. “When there is pressure on the left, the left empties. When there is pressure on the right, the right disappears.” [Cla]
Beginners are neither powerful nor yielding, and thus have it in mind to resist. With this kind of stubbornness, the strongest one will win. Thus it is said: “If you drop one side, you can move. If you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck.” [Cla]
“Once your skill is refined… and your awareness and sensitivity are extreme, the slightest contact will tell you everything about the opponent.” [CWM]
This is the marvel of “A feather cannot be added and a fly cannot land” [Cla].
When practicing the principle of not crashing in, start by using your waist, and if your waist is insufficient, you can switch to your hips, or take a step.
When sticking and yielding are applied together, it is called neutralizing. Yielding is a retreat. Sticking is an advance. When advancing and retreating are assisting each other rather than either being overly emphasized, then you have made it through the first step of the training. When we say “advance”, it means to go from sticking to listening, from listening to identifying, from identifying to yielding, from yielding to neutralizing.
By yielding, I can cause the opponent’s center of balance to lean and destabilize. By sticking, I can cause him to be unable to return from instability to stability. By neither coming away nor crashing in, his stability or instability is entirely up to me, for I am always able to know the weak points of his structure.
You must always await his movement with stillness, then move according to his movement. “If he takes no action, I take no action, but once he takes even the slightest action, I have already acted.” [Und]
If you use energy which is entirely hard, then it will be coarse rather than smooth. If it is not smooth, it is not based on yielding. If there is no yielding, it has nothing to do with neutralizing.
[Part 2, Section 2] ISSUING
Continuing from neutralizing, apply the principle of receiving his coarse attack with a smooth energy.
Draw him into a trap, then take control of him. “When he bends, I extend. When he extends, I bend… Respond with emptiness or fullness without at all mistaking which one fits where.” [CWM]
“Suddenly hide and suddenly appear” [Cla] so that “your changes are unpredictable”. [CWM]
The movement of the energy is always round, and the center of the circle contains endless yieldings and stickings. Responding according to circumstances is entirely a matter of sensitivity, the key being smoothness: “My energy is smooth while his energy is coarse.” [Cla]
Thus even if he uses a great amount of force, there is nothing he can do with it. Hence it is said: “I will tug on his movement with four ounces of force moving his of a thousand pounds.” [PH]
If you can draw in, you will then be able to seize, and can then issue. Hence it is said: “Guiding him in to land on nothing, I then close on him and send him away.” [PH]
After drawing in, you can then seize [which here means controlling rather than grabbing], thereby disorienting the opponent’s body and making it difficult for his energy to move. To seize the opponent, you must “seize” his most active joints, such as his wrist, elbow, shoulder, and so on. To control his center, you must control his hips. To control his decisions, you must control his intent. If you want to shoot an opponent away, you must first know how to seize him. Since if you cannot seize him, you will not be able to shoot him away, seizing is therefore a higher priority than issuing.
Once you can draw in and seize, you can issue. But if your issuing is not good, it is usually because your drawing in lacks connection or your seizing lacks precision. Therefore drawing in and issuing are of the utmost concern when issuing. However, the position, direction, and timing are also very important. If it comes from the right position, goes in the right direction, and happens at the right moment, then when shooting an opponent away it will be like firing a bullet from your hand and will always be successful.
Its techniques are: ward-off, rollback, press, push, pluck, rend, elbow, or bump. You can shoot an opponent away with any posture.
Its weapons are: palm, fist, elbow, wrist, shoulder, waist, hip, knee, or foot. You can attack an opponent using any part.
Its energies are: expand, contract, lift, sink, extend, check, roll, drill, freeze, break, condense, spread, etc. You can attack an opponent with any energy.
Under all circumstances, “comply and bend, then engage and extend” [Cla], and although the opponent attacks with a coarse energy, counter with a smooth energy. By taking advantage of his momentum and making use of his power, there is no limit to your adaptability. Its principle is oneness. “Obtaining the One, all things are accomplished.” [Zhuangzi, chapter 12]