AN OUTLINE OF TAIJI THEORY

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太極拳刀劍桿散手合編 附錄
APPENDIX SECTION from Taiji Compiled: The Boxing, Saber, Sword, Pole, and Sparring
陳炎林
by Chen Yanlin
[published June, 1943]

[translation by Paul Brennan, March, 2013]

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太極拳論
THE TAIJI BOXING TREATISE

一舉動周身俱要輕靈。尤須貫串。氣宜鼓盪。神宜內斂。無使有缺陷處。無使有凸凹處。無使有斷續處。其根在脚。發於腿。主宰於腰。形於手指。由脚而腿而腰。總須完整一氣。向前退後。乃能得機得勢。身便散亂。其病必於腰腿求之。上下前後左右皆然。凡此皆是意。不在外面。有上卽有下。有前則有後。有左則有右。如意要向上。卽寓下意。若將物掀起而加以挫之之意。斯其根自斷。乃壞之速而無疑。虛實宜分清楚。一處有一處虛實。周身節節貫串。無令絲毫間斷耳。
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.
長拳者。如長江大海。滔滔不絕也。掤、捋、擠、按、採、挒、肘、靠。此八卦也。進步、退步、左顧、右盼、中定。此五行也。掤、捋、擠、按。卽乾、坤、坎、離。四正方也。採、挒、肘、靠。卽巽、震、兌、艮。四斜角也。進、退、顧、盼、定。卽金、木、水、火、土、也。合之則為十三勢也。
原注云。此係武當山張三丰祖師遺論。欲天下豪傑延年益壽。不徒作技藝之末也。
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.”

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太極拳經
THE TAIJI BOXING CLASSIC

太極者。無極而生。陰陽之母也。動之則分。靜之則合。無過不及。隨屈就伸。人剛我柔謂之走。我順人背謂之黏。動急則急應。動緩則緩隨。雖變化萬端。而理為一貫。由着熟而漸悟懂勁。由懂勁而階及神明。然非功力之久。不能豁然貫通焉。虛領頂勁。氣沉丹田。不偏不倚。忽隱忽現。左重則左虛。右重則右杳。仰之則彌高。俯之則彌深。進之則愈長。退之則愈促。一羽不能加。蠅蟲不能落。人不知我。我獨知人。英雄所向無敵。蓋皆由此而及也。斯技旁門甚多。雖勢有區別。槪不外乎壯欺弱。慢讓快耳。有力打無力。手慢讓手快。是皆先天自然之能。非關學力而有為也。察四兩撥千斤之句。顯非力勝。觀耄耋能禦衆之形。快何能為。立如平準。活似車輪。偏沉則隨。雙重則滯。每見數年純功。不能運化者。率自為人制。雙重之病未悟耳。欲避此病。須知陰陽相濟。方為懂勁。懂勁後。愈練愈精。默識揣摩。漸至從心所欲。本是捨己從人。多誤舍近求遠。所謂差之毫釐。謬以千里。學者不可不詳辨焉。
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.

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十三勢行功心解
UNDERSTANDING HOW TO PRACTICE THE THIRTEEN DYNAMICS

以心行氣。務令沉着。乃能收斂入骨。以氣運身。務令順遂。乃能便利從心。精神能提得起。則無遲重之虞。所謂頂頭懸也。意氣須換得靈。乃有圓活之妙。所謂變轉虛實也。發勁須沉着鬆淨。專主一方。立身須中正安舒。支撑八面。行氣如九曲珠。無往不利。(氣遍身軀之謂)運勁如百煉鋼。無堅不摧。形如搏兔之鵠。神如捕鼠之貓。靜如山岳。動如江河。蓄勁如開弓。發勁如放箭。曲中求直。蓄而後發。力由脊發。步隨身換。收卽是放。斷而復連。往復須有摺疊。進退須有轉換。極柔軟。然後極堅剛。能呼吸。然後能靈活。氣以直養而無害。勁以曲蓄而有餘。心為令。氣為旗。腰為纛。先求開展。後求緊凑。乃可臻於縝密矣。
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 upright 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.
又曰。彼不動。己不動。彼微動。己先動。勁似鬆非鬆。將展未展。勁斷意不斷。
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.
又曰。先在心。後在身。腹鬆氣沉入骨。神舒體靜。刻刻在心。切記一動無有不動。一靜無有不靜。牽動往來氣貼背。而斂入脊骨。內固精神。外示安逸。邁步如貓行。運勁如抽絲。全身意在精神。不在氣。在氣則滯。有氣者無力。無氣者純剛。氣若車輪。腰如車軸。
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.

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打手歌
PLAYING HANDS SONG

掤捋擠按須認眞。
上下相隨人難進。
任他巨力來打吾。
牽動四兩撥千斤。
引進落空合卽出。
沾連黏隨不丢頂。
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.

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乾隆舊鈔本太極拳經歌訣七首
SEVEN SONGS FROM AN OLD HANDWRITTEN COPY OF TAIJI BOXING CLASSICS FROM DURING THE REIGN OF EMPEROR QIANLONG [1736-1796]

歌訣(一)
SONG ONE

順項貫頂兩膀鬆。束烈下氣把襠撑。
胃音開勁兩捶爭。五指抓地上彎弓。
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.

歌訣(二)
SONG TWO

舉動輕靈神內斂。莫教斷續一氣研。
左宜右有虛實處。意上寓下後天還。
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].

歌訣(三)
SONG THREE

拿住丹田鍊內功。哼哈二氣妙無窮。
動分靜合屈伸就。緩應急隨理貫通。
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.

歌訣(四)
SONG FOUR

忽隱忽現進則長。一羽不加至道藏。
手慢手快皆非似。四兩撥千運化良。
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.

歌訣(五)
SONG FIVE

掤捋擠按四方正。採挒肘靠斜角成。
乾坤震兌乃八卦。進退顧盼定五行。
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.

歌訣(六) (卽十三勢歌)
SONG SIX (Known as the THIRTEEN DYNAMICS SONG)

十三總勢莫輕視。命意源頭在腰隙。
變轉虛實須留意。氣遍身軀不少滯。
靜中觸動動猶靜。因敵變化示神奇。
勢勢揆心須用意。得來不覺費工夫。
刻刻留心在腰間。腹內鬆淨氣騰然。
尾閭中正神貫頂。滿身輕利頂頭懸。
仔細留心向推求。屈伸開合聽自由。
入門引路須口授。工夫無息法自修。
若言體用何為準。意氣君來骨肉臣。
想推用意終何在。益壽延年不老春。
歌兮歌兮百卌字。字字眞切義無遺。
若不向此推求去。枉費工夫貽歎息。
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.

歌訣(七)
SONG SEVEN

極柔卽剛極虛靈。運若抽絲處處明。
開展緊凑乃縝密。待機而動如貓行。
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.

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太極拳眞義
THE TRUE MEANING OF TAIJI BOXING

無形無象。忘其有己
全身透空。內外為一
忘物自然。隨心所欲
西山懸磬。海闊天空
虎吼猿鳴。煆煉陰精
泉清水靜。心死神活
翻江鬧海。元氣流動
盡性立命。神定氣足
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.)

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八字歌
SONG OF THE EIGHT TECHNIQUES

掤捋擠按世界稀。十個藝人十不知。
若能輕靈並堅硬。黏隨沾連俱無疑。
採挒肘靠更出奇。行之不用費心思。
果得沾連黏隨字(果能輕靈並堅硬)。得其環中不支離。
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.

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心會論
ON MENTALLY UNDERSTANDING

腰脊為第一之主宰。喉頭為第二之主宰。心地為第三之主宰。
丹田為第一之賓輔。指掌為第二之賓輔。足掌為第三之賓輔。
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.

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週身大用論
ON FULLY USING THE BODY

一要心性與意靜。自然無處不輕靈。二要遍體氣流行。一定繼續不能停。三要喉頭永不拋。問盡天下衆英豪。如詢大功因何得。表裏精粗無不到。
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.

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十六關要論
THE SIXTEEN KEY POINTS

旋之於足。行之於腿。蹤之於膝。活潑於腰。靈通於背。神貫於頂。流行於氣。運之於掌。通之於指。斂之於髓。達之於神。凝之於耳。息之於鼻。呼吸於肺。往來於口。渾噩於身。全體發之於毛。
[1] Pivoting lies with your feet.
[2] Movement lies with your legs.
[3] Springiness lies with your knees.
[4] Liveliness lies with your waist.
[5] Nimbleness lies with your spine.
[6] Spirit penetrates to your headtop.
[7] Flowing lies with your energy.
[8] Wielding lies with your palms.
[9] Piercing lies with your fingers.
[10] Gathering is a matter of your marrow.
[11] Arriving is a matter of your spirit.
[12] Concentration depends on your ears.
[13] Breathing occurs through your nose.
[14] Breathing operates from your lungs.
[15] Breath is expressed at your mouth.
[16] Simplicity depends on your torso.
[sum of all] The issuing of your whole body reaches to every hair.

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功用歌
SONG OF FUNCTION

輕靈活潑求懂勁。陰陽相濟無滯病。
若得四兩撥千斤。開合鼓盪主宰定。
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.

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用功五誌
FIVE STUDY REMINDERS [These five terms are originally from the “Zhong Yong” – chapter 31 of the Book of Rites]

博學。足多功夫
審問。非口問是聽勁
愼思。時時想念
明擺。生生不已
篤行。如天行健
[1] Learn abundantly. (Sufficient learning will lead to a great deal of skill.)
[2] Inquire meticulously. (This does not have to do with querying verbally, but with listening.)
[3] Ponder wholeheartedly. (Think about the material constantly.)
[4] 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].)
[5] 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.]

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五字訣
THE FIVE-WORD FORMULA

一曰心靜。心不靜則不專一。一舉手。前後左右。全無定向。起初舉動。未能由己。要悉心體認。隨人所動。隨屈就伸。不丢不頂。勿自伸縮。彼有力。我亦有力。我力在先。彼無力。我亦有力。我意仍在先。要刻刻留心。挨何處。心要用在何處。須向不丢不頂中討消息。從此做去。一年半載。便能施於身。此全是用意。不是用勁。久之則人為我制。我不為人制矣。二曰身靈。身滯則進退不能自如。故要身靈。舉手不可有呆像。彼之力方礙我皮毛。我之意已入彼骨裏。兩手支撑。一氣貫穿。左重則左虛。而右已去。右重則右虛。而左已去。氣如車輪。週身俱要相隨。有不相隨處。身便散亂。便不得力。其病於腰腿求之。先以心使身。從人不從己。後身能從心。由己仍從人。由己則滯。從人則活。能從人。手上便有分寸。秤彼勁之大小。分厘不錯。權彼來之長短。毫髮無差。前進後退。處處恰合。工彌久而技彌精。三曰氣斂。氣勢散漫。便無含蓄。身易散亂。務使氣斂入骨。呼吸通靈。周身罔間。吸為蓄。呼為發。蓋吸則自然提得起。亦拏得人起。呼則自然沉得下。亦放得人出。此是以意運氣。非以力運氣也。四曰勁整。一身之勁。練成一家。分清虛實。發勁要有根源。勁起於脚根。主宰於腰。形於手指。發於脊背。又要提起全副精神。於彼勁將出未發之際。我勁已接入彼勁。恰好不後不先。如皮燃火。如泉湧出。前進後退。無絲毫散亂。曲中求直。蓄而後發。方能隨手奏效。此謂借力打人。四兩撥千斤也。五曰神聚。上四者俱備。總歸神聚。神聚則一氣鼓鑄。練氣歸神。氣勢騰挪。精神貫注。開合有數。虛實清楚。左虛則右實。右虛則左實。虛非全然無力。氣勢要有騰挪。實非全然占煞。精神要貴貫注。力從人借。氣由脊發。胡能氣由脊發。氣向下沉。由兩肩收入脊骨。注於腰間。此氣之由上而下也。謂之合。由腰形於脊骨。布於兩膊。施於手指。此氣之由下而上也。謂之開。合便是收。開便是放。能懂得開合。便知陰陽。到此地位。工用一日。技精一日。漸至從心所欲。罔不如意矣。
     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.

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撒放密訣
THE TRICK TO RELEASING

一曰擎。擎開彼身借彼力。二曰引。引到身前勁始蓄。三曰鬆。鬆開我勁勿使屈。四曰放。放時腰脚認端的。
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.

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太極拳基本要點
ESSENTIAL FUNDAMENTALS OF TAIJI BOXING

(一)虛領頂勁。(二)眼神注視。(三)含胸拔背。(四)沉肩垂肘。(五)坐腕伸指。(六)身體中正。(七)尾閭收住。(八)鬆腰鬆胯。(九)膝部如鬆非鬆。(十)足掌貼地。(十一)分清虛實。(十二)上下相隨。週身一致。(一動無有不動。一靜無有不靜。)(十三)內外相合。呼吸自然。(當呼者呼。當吸者吸。)(十四)用意不用力。(十五)氣遍週身。分行上下。(貼於脊背。沉於丹田。)(十六)意氣相連。(十七)式式勢順。不拗不背。週身舒適。(十八)式式均匀。(不快不慢)綿綿不斷。(外式如此。意與內勁亦然。)(十九)姿勢無過或不及。當求其中正。(二十)用法含而不露。(二一)動中求靜。(心靜無思無慮。)靜中求動。(內氣運用。)(二二)輕則靈。靈則動。動則變。
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 balanced 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.

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太極拳表解

太極拳表解
BREAKDOWN CHART OF TAIJI BOXING

原理
[Part 1] THEORY:
主旨
[Section 1] MAIN PRINCIPLES
姿勢
[Section 2] POSTURE
鬆淨
[Section 3] LOOSENING COMPLETELY

應用
[Part 2] FUNCTION:
化勁
[Section 1] NEUTRALIZING
發勁
[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]

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太極拳表解 - 原理 - 主旨

主旨
[Part 1, Section 1] MAIN PRINCIPLES

[Principles – 1.1]
以心行氣
“Use mind to move the energy.” [Und]
意到氣亦到
“This means that the energy arrives where the intent goes.” [CWM]
務令沉著,久則內勁增長,但非格外運氣。
“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]
以氣運身
“Use energy to move your body.” [Und]
氣動身亦動
“This means that the body moves when the energy moves.” [CWM]
氣要順遂,則身能便利從心。
“You must get the energy to be smooth. Your body can then easily obey your mind.” [Und]

以心行氣,以氣運身,自能從心所欲,毫無阻滯。俟後天之力化盡,先天之內勁自然增長,由習慣而成自然,則一切意想力,自能支配生理作用。故曰,「勢勢存心揆用意,得來全不費工夫。」又云,「默識揣摩,漸至從心所欲。」
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.” [13]
     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]
心神宜內斂
“Spirit should be collected within.” [Tre]
不論在盤架子或推手時,心神必須專一,萬不可心神散亂;否則氣必散漫,益處毫無,蓋因太極拳之要點,全在一靜字;故曰,「內固精神,外示安逸。」
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]
行氣宜鼓盪 
“Energy should be roused.” [Tre]
此有不許硬壓丹田之意;氣之行走,或沉丹田,或貼脊背,均當徐徐行之。
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]
氣以直養而無害
“By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted.” [Und]
養先天之氣,養氣則順乎自然,故無有窮盡。
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.
非運後天之氣,運氣則流弊甚大,是有窮盡。
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]
週身宜輕靈
“Your entire body should be nimble and alert.” [Tre]

Nimble:
一切動作,固宜純以心意為主;如舉手,雖微微一動,便作一舉,如無意識續示,卽不再進,方謂之眞輕。
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.

Alert:
如手由低處舉高,處處作無數一舉想,而時時有隨意變化之妙,方謂之眞靈。
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.
初學練架子宜慢,方能時時皆有意識導動作以俱進;且慢則呼吸深長,氣沉丹田,方不致有氣脈僨張之弊。
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]
心為令
“The mind makes the command.” [Und]
如由主帥發令
It is like “the commander issuing orders” [CWM].

[Principles – 3.2]
氣為旗
“The energy is its flag.” [Und]
如表示其令之旗
It is like “the flag which conveys the orders” [CWM].
又氣如車輪
This also relates to: “The energy is like a wheel.” [Und]

[Principles – 3.3]
腰為纛
“The waist is its banner.” [Und]
如大使旗中正不偏
It is like “the large banner that stands straight and does not tip over” [CWM].
又腰如車軸
This also relates to: “The waist is like an axle.” [Und]

腰為一身樞紐,腰動則先天之氣如車輪旋轉,氣徧全身,而不少滯;蓋無處不隨腰運動圓轉。
[summing 3.2&3.3]
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.

心為主帥,身為驅使;精神能提得起,自然舉動輕靈。如手足開時,心意與之俱開,合時心意與之俱合;內外一起,渾然無間,則其動猶靜也。(卽能到虛靜境界)
[summing 3.1-3.3]
“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” [13] (meaning you are able to achieve a state of quietude).

[Principles – 3.4]
動作之與呼吸
Movement & breath:
動作時,當呼者呼,當吸者吸;呼時先天氣下沉,吸時先天氣上升;故曰,「能呼吸,然後能靈活。」
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]
眼神注視
Your gaze watches attentively:
意之所至,眼神灌之;不然,意東視西,有何效用;故曰,「仰之則愈高,俯之則愈深。」
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]

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太極拳表解 - 原理 - 姿勢

姿勢
[Part 1, Section 2] POSTURE


IN GENERAL

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]
由脚而腿而腰而手,宜上下相隨,完整一氣;其貫串一氣處,所謂「運勁如抽絲,邁步如貓行。」進退自然得機得勢。但用意不用力。始終緜緜不斷,週而復始,循環無窮,如長江大河,滔滔不絕,故太極拳亦稱長拳,若有一處不貫串則斷,斷則當舊力已盡,新力未生之際,最易為人所乘;故曰,「無使有凹凸處,無使有斷續處。」有一不動,則必至散亂;如手動而腰腿不動,則手愈有力,身愈散亂,蓋虛實變化,皆由腰轉動;故曰,「命意源頭在腰際。」初學者宜先求開展,使腰腿皆動,無微不至,然皆是意;所謂「內外相合,上下相連。」又謂,「一動無有不動,一靜無有不靜。」如是,則於肢體任何部份,皆無偏重之虞。
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” [13].
     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.


SPECIFICS

手法
METHODS OF THE HANDS

分虛實
Distinguish between empty and full:
出手能分陰陽虛實,則收發均可奏效,人旣不易制己,而己反易使人落空;故曰,「人不知我,我獨知人。」又曰,「陰陽相濟,方為懂勁。」
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]

含摺疊
Contain an element of folding:
卽往復所變之虛實,外看雖似未動,其中已有摺疊。
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].

具圓形
Maintain roundness:
手隨腰腿旋轉,須式式含有圓形,不離太極原則。
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].

步法
FOOTWORK

分虛實
Distinguish between empty and full:
虛步 以能隨意起落為度
An empty step means you are able to lift or lower it as you please.
實步 卽腿彎曲而不伸直
A full step means the leg is bent and not straight.
如全身皆坐在右腿,則右腿為實,左腿為虛,坐左亦然,如是方能轉換輕靈,毫不費力否則邁步重滯,自立不穩,又須作川字步,卽當兩足前後立時,足尖俱宜向前。
“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].

有轉換
There is alternation:
進退必須變換步法,故雖退仍是進。
“When advancing and retreating, there must be variation in the footwork. Even in retreat there is still advance.” [CWM]

軀幹
TRUNK

含胸
Contain your chest:
胸略內涵,使氣沉丹田,否則氣擁胸際,上重下輕,脚跟易浮。
“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]

拔背
Pluck up your back:
使氣貼於背,有蓄機待勢之功。
This causes energy to stick to your back, where it is stored in wait for the best opportunity.

坐腕
Settle your wrists:
使內勁穩沉,不致浮飄。
This causes the internal power to sink stably rather than float and drift.

伸指
Extend your fingers:
使內勁發出舒暢,不致滯留。
This causes the internal power to issue smoothly rather than getting stuck.

中樞
CENTRAL PIVOT

虛領頂勁
“Forcelessly press up your headtop” [Cla]:
頭容正直,神貫於頂,謂之頂勁;須有虛靈自然之意,不可用力。一名「頭頂懸,」謂頭頂如懸空中,同時宜閉口,舌抵上腭,忌咬牙努目。
“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” [13], 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.

尾閭中正
“Your tailbone is centered” [13]:
尾閭宜中正,否則脊柱先受影響,精神亦難於上達。
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.

立身
STANCE:

中正
Upright:
由於中樞姿勢之正確。
The posture should be correctly balanced.

安舒
Comfortable:
由於週身鬆淨。(詳後)
Your whole body should be completely loosened (explained in next section).

圓滿
Complete:
由於精神飽滿,內勁充足。
Spirit should be full and internal power abundant.

穩如泰山
“I will be as stable as Mt. Tai.” [CWM]

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太極拳表解 - 原理 - 鬆淨

鬆淨
[Part 1, Section 3] LOOSENING COMPLETELY

兩臂鬆
On loosening your arms:
沉肩
Sink your shoulders:
使兩肩鬆開下垂,以為沉氣之助;否則兩肩端起,氣亦隨上,全身皆不得力。
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].
垂肘
Hang your elbows:
使兩肘有往下鬆垂之意;否則肩不能沉,近於外家之斷勁。手指亦宜舒展,握拳須鬆,庶符全身悉任自然之旨。又手掌表示前推時,手心微有突意,為引伸內勁之助,但勿用力。
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.

腰鬆
On loosening your waist:
腰鬆則氣自合沉,能使兩足有力,下盤穩固;上下肢之虛實變化有不得力處,全恃腰部轉動下宜,以資補救;且感覺靈敏,轉動便利。蹲身時,注意垂臀,忌外突。
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.

胯鬆
On loosening your hips:
補鬆腰之不足,有時腰雖鬆淨,轉動仍覺不甚合宜;則非同時復鬆胯,以資補救不可。
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.

全身鬆
On loosening your whole body:
全身鬆開,方能沉著,因是不致有分毫拙勁留滯以自縛束,自能輕靈變化,圓轉自如。
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].

週身無處不鬆淨,卽在用意而不用力,意之所至,氣卽至焉;氣之所至,身卽動焉;如是則氣血流注全身,毫無停滯;所謂「意氣須換得靈,乃有圓活之趣。」且欲沉著,必須鬆淨;故曰,「沉重不浮,靜如山岳;周流不息,動若山河。」
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.” [13]
     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]

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太極拳表解 - 應用 - 化勁

化勁
[Part 2, Section 1] NEUTRALIZING

太極拳全尚外柔內堅之勁,具伸縮性,如鐵似綿,有時堅如鐵,有時柔似綿;其柔虛堅實之分,全視來勢而定;彼實則我虛,彼虛則我實,實者忽虛,虛者忽實,反復無端;彼不知我,我能知彼,使人莫測高深,自然散亂,則吾發勁,無不勝者。欲探其妙,須明瞭化勁之法。曰「黏,」曰「走;」走以化敵,黏以制敵,二者交相為用焉。
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.

黏勁
Sticking:
卽「不丢。」不丢者,不離之謂。交手時,須黏住彼勁,卽在沾黏連隨處應付之;不但兩手,須全身各處均能黏住彼勁,我之緩急,但隨彼之緩急而為緩急,自然黏連不斷,感覺彼勁,而收我順人背之效;所謂「動急則急應,動緩則緩隨」也。惟必須兩臂鬆淨,不使有絲毫拙力,方能巧合相隨;否則一遇彼勁,便無復活之望,且有力則喜自作主張,難以處處捨己從人,初學者戒性急,久之用勁自有似鬆非鬆,將展未展之意,便能隨意應付,百無一失。
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].

走勁
Yielding:
卽「不頂。」不頂者,不抵抗之謂。與彼黏手時,不論左右手,一覺有重意,與彼黏處卽變為虛,鬆一處而偏沉之;稍覺雙重,卽速偏沉。蓋彼之動作必有一方向,吾但隨其方向而去,不稍抵抗,使彼處處落空,毫不得力;所謂「左重則左虛,右重則右杳」也。初學者非大勁不走,是尚有抵抗之意;若相持不下,則力大者勝。故曰,「偏沉則隨,雙重則滯。」技之精者,感覺異常靈敏,稍觸卽知,有「一羽不能加,一蠅不能落」之妙。練不頂法,首在用腰,腰有不足時,方可濟之以胯,或以步。
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.

「黏勁」與「走勁」合而用之,則曰「化勁。」走主退,黏主進,進退相濟不離,方為「入門。」進言之,由黏而聽,由聽而懂,由懂而走,由走而化;蓋用走勁能使彼重心傾斜不穩,用黏勁能使彼不能由不穩復歸於穩。因不丢不頂,彼之重心穩定與否,皆由我主之;彼之弱點,我皆能知之,總須以靜待動,隨彼之動而動;所謂「彼不動,己不動,彼微動,己先動。」是也。若用純剛之勁,則逆而不順;不順,則無由走。不走,則無由化。
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.

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太極拳表解 - 應用 - 發勁

發勁
[Part 2, Section 2] ISSUING

引勁
Drawing in:
由化勁用逆來順受之法,引入彀中,然後從而制之;彼屈則我伸,彼伸則我屈,虛實應付,毫厘不爽,忽隱忽現,變化不測。以勁之動作俱作圓形,一圜之中卽含有無數走黏;隨機應變。純恃感覺。其要則不外一「順」字。我順彼背,則彼雖有千斤之力,亦無所用,故有「四兩撥千斤」之句。能引,遂後能拿,能發。故有「引進落空合卽出」之句。
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]

拿勁
Seizing:
引後能拿,則人身無主裁,氣難行走。拿人須拿活節,如腕、肘、肩、等處;拿之樞紐,全在腰腿;拿之主使,全在意氣;欲能發人,必先知拿人,不能拿,卽不能發,故拿較發為重要。
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. The engine of seizing is entirely in your waist and legs. The driver of seizing is entirely a matter of your intention and energy. If you want to shoot an opponent away, you must first know how to seize him. Since you will not be able to shoot him way if you cannot seize him, seizing is therefore a higher priority than issuing.

能引,能拿,遂後能發;發之不佳,多由引之不合,或拿之不準;故引拿與發甚有莫大關係。而發之機勢、方向、時間,亦頗重要;若機勢確當,方向不誤,時間適合,則發人猶如彈丸脫手,無往不利。其法:掤、捋、擠、按、採、挒、肘、靠等,式式能發人;其用:掌、拳、肘、合腕、肩、腰、胯、膝、脚,處處能擊人;其勁:開、合、提、沉、長、截、捲、鑽、冷、斷、寸、分、各勁咸能攻人;總之,隨屈就伸,逆來順應;乘人之勢,借人之力,變化無窮;其理則一,得一,則萬事畢。
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]

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