SHI DIAOMEI ON PUSHING HANDS

運用
ON APPLYING THE ART
施調梅
by Shi Diaomei
[published in Taiwan by the 華新印書館有限公司 Huaxin Publishing Company, June, 1959]

[translation by Paul Brennan, Dec, 2021]

一推手
ONE: PUSHING HANDS

甲縂說
1. General Explanations

或問:嘗聞太極拳,其術宗於黃老,夫黃老之術,旨在不爭,如老子曰:「夫惟不爭,故無尤。」顧拳術,乃與人搏鬥之術也,若曰:不爭,則失其為拳術之用矣,是安可哉?
曰:此正是太極拳特異之處也,拳論曰:「本是捨己從人,多悞舍近圖遠。」本字:即「從本以來」之意,蓋言太極拳之法則,其訣:本來即在捨己從人上下工夫,夫能捨己從人,豈非合乎不爭之旨乎?推手:又稱曰:打手,即練習與人搏鬥之法也,然其示人之訣曰:不丟,不頂,不丟―不與之脫離也,即從人也,不頂―不與之抗拒也,即捨己也,推手而能從人,又能捨己,非深得老氏之旨,決不能創此法則,若信之不疑,習之既久,自然而然乃生綿綿不斷之意,如是推動往來,更生沾連黏隨之勁焉,此勁若生,縱使對方欲施以巨力擊我,亦無能遂其所欲,如欲強為,彼自招愆,我無尤也,故老氏又云:「不爭而善勝,不召而自來。」太極拳,即根乎此理而發明引進落空,四兩撥千斤之術也。
初學推手,彼此各以手臂相貼而推,循環往來,其法:分㝎步,活步二種,㝎步―專練腰腿轉換虛實,手臂不丟不頂,應如「打手歌」所示:將掤捋擠按四法,一一分清,手手做到,不可含糊,初練之時,雖覺生硬,顧此失彼,熟後其巧自生,綿連不斷矣,是名餵手,此為初步基層之練法,為推手之預科耳,餵手而至純熟,乃可進入正式之推手。
〔推手之樁步,亦為川字式,假如左足在前,應向左前方踏出一步,前後兩足尖方向均向前,其左右距離,以肩寬為度,身下蹲,兩膝微屈,全身重點寄於一足,如身向前,則移於前足,身後退,則移於後足,上體中正,鬆腰空胸,氣注小腹,頭正直,頂虛懸,尾閭中正,精神貫頂,脊背弓形,兩臂略彎,向前平舉,手掌前伸,坐腕指尖微屈,分張向上,前手食指,約對鼻準,後手約屈胸前,掌心參差遙對,削肩垂肘,其肩肘腕與胯膝腳三者相合,全身宜靈活無滯。〕
正式推手,有四步工夫,即聽,化,拿,發,是也,其第一步矣。
Someone asked: “I have heard that Taiji Boxing comes from Daoism. The principles of Daoism emphasize non-competition. As Laozi said [Daodejing, chapter 8]: ‘If you do not compete, you will not lose.’ But boxing arts are all about fighting against people. If we say “don’t fight”, doesn’t that contradict what boxing arts are for?”
  I replied that this is indeed the unique characteristic of Taiji Boxing. It says in the Treatise: “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.” This is a fundamental Taiji Boxing principle, to let go of your own ego and pay full attention to what the opponent is doing. If you can let go of yourself and follow the opponent, does this does not conform to the concept of non-competing?
  Pushing hands is also called “hitting hands” for it is a method of practicing fighting with an opponent. However, it exhibits the principle of “neither coming away nor crashing in”. Not coming away means not disconnecting, thus following along with the opponent. Not crashing in means not resisting, thus letting go of your ego. If you can go along with the opponent, you are obviously able to let go of yourself. If you cannot comprehend Laozi’s idea, you will never be able to realize this principle. If you believe in the art, letting no doubts creep in, and practice it over a long period of time, you will naturally develop the quality of continuous flowing movement as you push back and forth with your partner, as well as the energies of sticking, connecting, adhering, and following.
  By developing these energies, even if the opponent wants to attack you with great force, he will not be able to, and if he tries to force something to happen, the result will be his own fault. Laozi also said [DDJ, chapter 73]: “Win without fighting. Receive without demanding.” Based upon this idea are the principles of “draw the opponent in to land on nothing” and “use a mere four ounces of force to deflect his of a thousand pounds”.
  In the beginning of learning pushing hands, both people connect with their arms and push, moving in circles back and forth. There are two methods: fixed step and moving step. Fixed step focuses on training the waist and legs, the alternating of emptiness and fullness, and on the arms neither coming away nor crashing in. As mentioned in the Playing Hands Song, it works the four techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing. Each should be clearly understood and performed with precision. In the beginning, you will feel like you are using a great deal of stiffness, and also that you are overwhelmed by the complexity of the movements, but once you have become familiar with the exercise, its subtleties will emerge and you will flow without pause.
  [This paragraph added in the 1974 edition: The stance for pushing hands is called the “three-line” stance. Step your left foot to the forward left so that your feet are about shoulder width apart, the toes of both feet pointing forward. Your body squats down, both knees slightly bending. The weight shifts onto one foot, your front foot when your body moves forward, your rear foot when your body moves back. Keep your upper body upright, loosen your waist, hollow your chest, and breathe down to your lower abdomen. Keep your head straight, your headtop pulled up as if suspended so that spirit courses through to your headtop, and center your tailbone, curving your spine like a bow. Keep your arms slightly bent and level in front of you, your palms facing forward, wrists sitting, fingers pointing upward, spread and slightly bent, your front forefinger at nose level, your rear hand in front of your chest, the arm bent further than your front arm, your palms spread apart forward and back. Slouch your shoulders and droop your elbows, and then your shoulders will be united with your hips, elbows united with your knees, hands united with your feet. Your whole body should by lively and lack sluggishness.]
  Pushing hands is also known as “feeding hands”. It is the beginning stage, a preparation. Once you have become skillful at feeding hands, you then have access to the real stuff. Standard pushing hands has four stages of training: listening, neutralizing, seizing, issuing.

聽:
LISTENING

非耳聽也,以意揣奪而聽敵意以動機,以手捫索而聽敵手之動向也,以手捫索而聽時,即心解所謂「彼不動,我不動。」聽之而不自作主張,隨彼之緩急而緩急之,即從人之謂也,此聽之前半一段工夫也,以意揣奪而聽時,即心解所謂「彼微動,我先動」是也,微動是機,非意聽不可得,先動是意,非意動不能先,此聽之後半段工夫也,皆本老氏「外其身而身存,後其身而身先」之旨也,意聽,手聽,亦當如老氏所謂「綿綿若存,用之不勤」乃可。
This does not refer to listening with your ears. Use your intention to anticipate the opponent’s action, “listening” for his own intention to move. Use your hand to touch and examine, “listening” for his direction of movement.
  Listening with your hands relates to this saying from Understanding How to Practice: “If he takes no action, I take no action.” Listen for what the opponent is doing and do not simply act on your own. Go along with his speed of movement and match it, “following the opponent”. This is the first half of listening.
  Listening with your intention relates to the next part of the saying: “But once he takes even the slightest action, I have already acted.” The slightest of actions cannot be “heard” without the listening of intention, and to act before him cannot be done without the use of intention. This is the second half of listening.
  Both kinds of listening are like this saying from Laozi [DDJ, chapter 7]: “He puts himself behind others and thus ends up placed in front. He goes away and thus ends up staying.” Listening with your hands and intention is also like another saying from Laozi [DDJ, chapter 6]: “The Way goes on forever, accomplishing without effort.”

化:
NEUTRALIZING

就彼直來之勁,不予抵抗,變實為虛,與之黏隨,是名曰:「化」,當我黏隨之中,剛被柔化,逐漸引之落空,是謂「走化」,即拳論所謂「人剛我柔謂之走」是也,蓋剛與剛遇則相持,名曰「雙重」,拳論謂「雙重則滯」,若剛與柔遇則「偏沉」,拳論謂「偏沉則隨」,隨者:隨其勢而走也,故必須能聽,方能化,是以化為第二層工夫也,當化之時,亦須邊聽邊化,方漸得有無相生之妙趣,老氏曰:「無欲以觀其妙,有欲以觀其徼。」此化法之妙訣也,然而其旨甚微,學者如善自揣摩,則彼此相推,有無相生,前後相隨之際,漸能如拳論所謂「不偏不倚,忽隱忽現,左重則左虛,右重則右杳…………………人不知我,我獨知人矣。」故化較聽為深,且其關鍵在「走」與「引」,走法須潛移默運,故「忽隱」者走也,庶使人捉摸不著,引者敵勁不出,引之使出,故引之前先掤而後引之,即老氏所謂「將欲歙之,必固張之,將欲弱之,必固強之,將欲奪之,必固與之,是謂微明。」誠可為引法之妙訣矣,故「忽現」者引也,若能引其勁入我竅中,則我常處順勢矣。
The opponent attacks with direct force that you can provide no resistance against, so you transform fullness into emptiness by way of adhering and following, thereby neutralizing his force. By means of sticking and following, hardness is neutralized by softness. Gradually learn to draw in until he lands on nothing, and progress to yielding and neutralizing. It says in the Treatise: “He is hard while I am soft – this is yielding.” When hardness meets hardness, there is stalemate, what is called “double pressure”. Treatise: “If you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck.” When hardness is met with softness, this is called “dropping one side”. Treatise: “If you drop one side, you can move.”
  To follow means to go along with his movement and yield to it, and this means that you need to be able to listen in order neutralize. This is why neutralizing is the second level of skill. Neutralizing is half listening, half neutralizing. Gradually you will reach the marvelous condition in which they produce each other. Laozi said [DDJ, chapter 1]: “Free from wanting, you can connect with the mystery underneath. Full of wanting, you will only see the details on the surface.” This is the key to neutralizing.
  It is very subtle indeed. If you are good at contemplation, you will achieve a condition in which here and there push each other away, something and nothing produce each other, and before and after follow each other. You will gradually become able to perform in the way that is described in the Treatise: “There will be no leaning in any direction. Suddenly vanish and then suddenly manifest. If he puts pressure on my left side, my left side empties, or if he puts pressure on my right side, my right side disappears… The opponent does not understand me, only I understand him.”
  Neutralizing is deeper than listening, and the secret to it is to yield and draw in. Yielding has to be sneaky and silent, as in “suddenly vanishing”, keeping the opponent unaware of what you are doing. To draw in means to induce the opponent to send out power. You must first ward-off in front and then draw in to the rear. Laozi said [DDJ, chapter 36]: “To consolidate power, you must first share it. To weaken a kingdom, you must first make it feel that it is stronger. To conquer your enemy, you must first make him your friend. This wisdom is subtle.” This is indeed a magic formula for drawing in. To “suddenly manifest” therefore refers to drawing in. If I can draw his power into my own center, then I will always be in charge of what happens next.

拿:
SEIZING

找敵之勁,遇其將變,先其機,或沉或提,使之欲變不得,欲丟不得,是之謂拿,拿之樞紐,全在腰腿,非手拿也,全在意氣,非用力拿也,拿較化為難,故拿為第三層工夫,老氏曰:「上善若水,居善地,心善淵,事善能,動善時。」此可作拿之妙訣矣,蓋「上善若水」者,「柔」也,故不可以手拿,用手易被敵覺知,手覆於上,須「綿綿若存,用之不勤。」乃可,如用之若勤,則緊張之情畢露矣,當如心解所謂「內固精神,外示安逸。」庶使敵無從察知也,故必沉氣歛神,所謂「心善淵」也,然必得機得勢而後可,所謂「居善地」也,然後以腰腿之鬆勁,隨轉隨按,使敵到處皆不得力,「事善能」也,拿早敵易走化,拿遲機勢易逝,故須不後不先,恰當其時,「動善時」也,拿之要訣,概不外上述數點,然必須聽化已臻入微,乃可得心應手。
To find the opponent’s power, connect with him where he is about to change and act before he does, whether sinking or lifting, causing him to be unable to adjust his position or to cast your hands off of him. This quality is called “seizing”. The key to it lies entirely in the waist and legs, not in the hands, entirely a matter of intention, not a matter of strength. Seizing is more difficult than neutralizing, therefore seizing is the third level of skill.
  Laozi said [DDJ, chapter 8]: “Best to be like water. The most important thing in a home is the location. The most important thing in thought is depth. The most important thing in your endeavors is ability. The most important thing in your actions is timing.” This passage can be treated as the ideal formula for seizing.
  To “be like water” means to use softness. Seizing does not mean grabbing, which would make it easy for the opponent to feel whatever you then try to do. To “seize” means your hands are simply covering and controlling his arms. “The Way goes on forever, accomplishing without effort.” If you are exerting effort, the tightness of your muscles will give you away. It similarly says in How to Practice: “Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease.” This causes the opponent to be incapable of understanding what you are doing.
  You must sink your energy and concentrate your spirit. “The most important thing in thought is depth.”
  You must be in the right position in order to seize. “The most important thing in a home is the location.”
  Loosening your waist and legs, turn your body and push, causing the opponent to have to strength anywhere. “The most important thing in your endeavors is ability.”
  If you seize too early, it will be easy for the opponent to yield and neutralize. If you seize too late, you will end up in the wrong position. Therefore you must not act before or after the moment, but only at the precise moment. “The most important thing in your actions is timing.”
  The secret to seizing is little more than these points. However, your listening and neutralizing need to already be at a high level first in order to seize effectively.

發:
ISSUING

心解曰:曲中求直,蓄而後發,此合乎老氏之「曲則全,枉則直。」之說也,又曰:「蓄勁如張弓,發勁如放箭。」由是以知勁之為物,必曲而後能蓄,蓄必如張弓之滿而勁乃生,心解所謂「勁以曲蓄而有餘」也,于是撒手勁生,直而且遠,一擲逾丈,非偶然也,易傳曰:「尺蠖之屈以求伸也。」同是理耳,故知不曲不蓄之勁,非勁也,力也,太極拳所不取焉,楊夢祥(即少侯)先生云:「發勁宜直,化勁宜圓,化之不盡,發之不遠。」直者:如箭,圓者如弓也,化不盡者,曲蓄之功未逮也,故發亦不能遠矣,由是言之,聽化拿,皆須含有曲蓄之勁,在練時,雖有層次,有難易,有淺深,在運用時,則聽化拿發四字,皆納諸一小圓圈中,如太極圖之半陰半陽,隨化隨發,夢祥先生所謂「半圈化,半圈打。」吞吐在一霎間,藝高者,幾不見其身手之轉動,而敵已被擊出矣,又心解有「收即是放,放即是收」之語,收放即化打也,拳家恆稱化即是打,打即是化,即本此,夫收放之相即不二者,以其圓也,故能斷而復連,循環為用,所向無敵也。
再發勁:手上發勁者,所謂合掌,或曰:補手,用腰腿發勁者,所謂蹬之於足,發之於腿,運之於腰,寄之於脊,形於手指是也,至於用意氣發勁者,吞吐二字而已,余師田紹先先生懷此絕技,曾親見之。
It says in How to Practice: “Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue.” This conforms to this saying from Laozi [DDJ, chapter 22]: “Incompleteness leads to completeness. Crookedness leads to straightness.” It also says in How to Practice: “Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power like loosing an arrow.” To realize actual power, there must be bending, thus there can be storing. Storing has to be like a fully drawn bow in order for power to be generated. “By storing power in crooked parts, it will be in abundant supply.” Thus it will be no accident when you send out your hand full of power that the opponent is thrown more than ten feet away. The commentary to the Book of Changes says: “The inchworm bends in order to straighten again.” This is the same principle. It has to be understood that without bending and storing, there will be no power or strength, and then it is not Taiji Boxing.
  Yang Mengxiang (Shaohou) said: “Issuing should be straight. Neutralizing should be rounded. If your neutralizing is incomplete, your issuing will not send the opponent very far.” The straightness is like an arrow and the roundness is like a bow. Incomplete neutralizing means that if you have not yet achieved skill in bending and storing, you will not be able to send the opponent far away when issuing. This indicates that listening, neutralizing, and seizing must all contain bending and storing. They are trained in a particular order, an increasing level of difficulty, and an increasing depth of skill.
  When applying listening, neutralizing, seizing, and issuing, they are all contained within a small circle. It is like the taiji circle, half passive, half active, neutralizing and then issuing. Shaohou said: “Making a small circle, half of the circle is neutralization and the other half is issuing.” Absorb and shoot within an instant. Those at a high level show barely any movement of their body and hands, and yet the opponent is already being shot away. It says in How to Practice: “To gather is to release. To release is to gather.” Gathering and releasing means neutralizing and issuing. Masters often say: “To neutralize is to issue. To issue is to neutralize.” This is the same idea. Gathering and releasing are not two things, they are one circle. Therefore you can disconnect and then reconnect by using circles, and this will make you unbeatable.
  When your hands issue power, it is called “joining with palms”. To assist your hands, issuing requires the use of your waist and legs, as it is said: “Pressing down with your foot, power issues through your leg, is directed at your waist, sent through your spine, and expresses at your fingers.” As for using intention to issue power, it comes down to the two actions of “absorb” and “shoot”. My teacher Tian Zhaolin possessed this amazing skill. I saw him demonstrate it myself.

乙分啚畧說
2. Photographic Breakdown of the Movements

推手而用啚說,實為不可能之事,蓋聽化拿發,風雲詭譎,變化無常法,非第不能啚示,即電視亦難傳其神也,況復如心解所謂「內固精神,外示安逸。」純以意氣行之,更無法寫其真而傳其神矣,是故此篇之分啚畧說,專為初學餵手所需,方便為說耳。
Pushing hands is not actually something that can be learned from a book. This is because listening, neutralizing, seizing, and issuing are too ephemeral, constantly changing from one thing to another, and so cannot be demonstrated adequately through photographs. Even film cannot really catch the spirit of those moments. As it says in How to Practice: “Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease.” This reveals that the movement is purely a matter of intention and energy, and thus there is simply no way to put it into words in order to convey the true spirit of it. Therefore the movement descriptions below are only meant to supply the essentials of the basic feeding hands exercise and thus to make it easier to discuss it.

推手開始,甲乙二人南北對立,甲南乙北,甲先出右拳擊乙,乙亦舉右手沾其右腕,而甲乙各以左掌拊其右肘部,成為互掤,如第一啚。(甲乙互掤)
To begin, Person A [on the left in the photos] and Person B [on the right] are facing each other, A in the south, B in the north. A, initiate by striking out toward B with your right fist. B, raise your right hand to connect with A’s right wrist. Then both of you, put your left palm on each other’s right elbow, making the ward-off position. See photo 1 (A & B warding off each other):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 1

甲變按勢向乙,乙黏隨後化作掤勢,如第二啚。(甲按乙掤)
A, switch to pushing B. B, stick to and go along with A’s push, moving to the rear and neutralizing it using your ward-off position. See photo 2 (A pushing, B warding off):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 2

甲復繼續跟進,乙乃先掤而向右捋之,如第三啚。(乙捋甲跟進)
A, continue to push forward. B, switch from your ward-off to going to the right with a rollback. See photo 3 (B rolling back, A continuing forward):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 3

甲跟進順乙捋勢而向乙擠,乙含胸向後鬆化作按勢,如第四啚。(甲擠乙鬆化)
A, continue forward, letting your right arm go along with B’s rollback to the side, and press forward toward him, your left hand touching the inside of your right forearm. B, hollow your chest, loosening and neutralizing to the rear, and get into the push position. See photo 4 (A pressing, B loosening and neutralizing):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 4

乙見甲擠空,隨以腰腿一致之勁,向前按甲,甲見乙按來,以黏隨不頂之勁,向後鬆化,如第五啚。(乙按甲後化)
B, when you feel that A’s press has deflated, then with your waist and legs working in unison, push forward at A. A, when you feel that B’s push is coming, use an energy of adhering to it and following along with it rather than crashing against it, instead loosening and neutralizing to the rear. See photo 5 (B pushing, A backing off and neutralizing):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 5

乙見甲鬆化,仍以沾連不丟之勁跟進,甲提臂掤化,如第六啚。(乙按甲掤)
B, when you feel A’s neutralization, use an energy of sticking to it and connecting with it rather than coming away from it, instead continuing forward as A lifts his arm with a ward-off. See photo 6 (B pushing, A warding off):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 6

甲掤乙仍繼續跟進,甲乃向左捋乙左臂,如第七啚。(乙跟進甲捋)
B, continue to push forward. A, switch from your ward-off to going to the left with a rollback. See photo 7 (A rolling back, B continuing forward):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 7

乙見甲捋,乃順勢以右臂拊於左前臂內部擠甲,甲後化取按勢,如第八啚。(乙擠甲按)
B, when you feel A switch to a rollback, let your left arm go along with it to the side and press forward toward him, your right hand touching the inside of your left forearm. A, hollow your chest, neutralizing to the rear, and get into the push position. See photo 8 (B pressing, A pushing):

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 8

如是周而復始,名曰:餵手,如乙被甲捋,乙若捨擠而向左捋甲之左臂,則互調左右手而餵手矣,此啚片皆右足在前,既可換手,亦可換步,初學由左右各五十手漸增至各百手,再換步亦漸增至百手,如每日不斷練習,一月而後㝎可純熟。
Recycling the movements in this way over and over is called “feeding hands”. To reverse the circle, when A is rolling back B, B abandons his pressing and suddenly rolls back A’s left arm to the left. These photos all show the right foot forward. You can reverse the circle with the same foot still forward, or you can also switch feet. Beginners should do fifty circles in each direction, then gradually work up to a hundred, then switch feet and work up to hundred more. If you practice every single day without a break, you will become skillful at this exercise after a month.

茲再將餵手要領,綜合說明如左:
Presented below are the essentials of the feeding hands exercise:

1.彼此手臂相搭,均須用柔綿之勁,不可用力。
When connecting arms, you both should do so with a soft and flowing energy rather than applying strength.

2.如甲向前進,乙須隨其緩急之勢而後退,乙向前,甲亦如之。
When A goes forward, B has to match his speed in order to retreat. When B goes forward, A has to do likewise.

3.前進後退,皆用腰腿,上下須完整一氣,上體不可俯仰。
Both advancing and retreating involve the use of your waist and legs. Your upper body and lower must function as a single unit. Your upper body must not lean forward or back.

4.沾連主前進迫之勁,黏隨主向後鬆化之勁,皆用意氣,不可用力。
Sticking and connecting is primarily for going forward in pursuit. Adhering and following is primarily for going back and neutralizing. Both involve the use of intention and energy rather than strength.

5.前進時,須鬆胯而實前足,虛後腿,後退時,須坐胯而實後足虛前腿。
When going forward, you must loosen your hips, your front foot filling, rear foot emptying. When going back, you must sit back onto your hips, your rear foot filling, front foot emptying.

6.擠按須含胸而體重落於前足,掤捋須鬆腰而中㝎於後足。
When pressing or pushing, you must hollow your chest and shift your weight onto your front leg. When warding off or rolling back, you must loosen your waist and sit stably onto your rear leg.

7.㝎步推手,有順步,合步之分,順步者:甲出右足,乙出左足,合步者:甲出右足,乙亦出右足,初學以合步為常,熟後,順步亦宜練習。
Fixed step pushing hands divides into opposite foot forward and same foot forward. Opposite foot: A has his right foot forward, B his left foot forward. Same foot: A has his right foot forward, B his right foot also. Beginners usually use same foot. After you become more familiar with the exercise, you can switch to also practicing opposite foot.

8.㝎步熟後,可練活步,活步者:甲進步,乙退步,乙進步,甲退步,進退各以二步為始,以後可不拘步數方向,隨腰轉動行之,縂以沾黏不丟不頂為要耳,活步熟後,可練大捋。
After you have become familiar with fixed step pushing hands, you can move on to practicing moving step pushing hands. Moving step means that A advances and B retreats, then B advances and A retreats. In the beginning, advancing and retreating are each done as two steps, but later you can take as many steps as you please. In the beginning, you also move back and forth in a straight line, but later you can move to any direction, your waist turning as needed. Throughout the exercise, it is necessary to maintain sticking and adhering so that you are neither coming away nor crashing in. Then after you have become familiar at moving step pushing hands, you can move on to the large rollback exercise.

二大捋
TWO: LARGE ROLLBACK

甲縂說
1. General Explanations

嘗見有以十三勢中之掤捋擠按配合坎離兌震為四正,以採挒肘靠,配合乾坤巽艮為四隅,復以進退顧盻㝎五步,而配合金木水火土五行,恰為十三數,於是太極拳乃胸懷八卦,足踏五行,而為十三勢之拳名,此八卦五行之說所由來也,顧此說不知始自何人,查王氏原譜,即楊氏之抄本,並無此說,(參看上卷釋名)惟其他拳譜中,頗有拊會此說者,民國二十三年,楊澄甫先生出版之體用全書中,有一段云:「四隅推手,即大捋之方位,向四隅角轉換,與合步推手之四正方向不同,合步推手與大捋一并謂之四正四隅,此即八卦之方位,所謂乾巽坎離震兌艮坤,在推手中,即所謂掤捋擠按,採挒肘靠。」等語,據此大捋原稱四隅推手,以其動步向四隅轉換,與合步推手之直進直退之四正方向不同,故以合步推手為四正,而以大捋為四隅,足證四正四隅之說,係專指邁步之方向,而非以掤等四手配四正,採等四手配四隅也明矣,且太極拳,乃效法乎太極陰陽動靜變化之法則,故開始先一動而分虛實,虛實:即陰陽也,此所謂太極生兩儀也,因虛實之交換而後剛柔相推,變化生焉,於是遂生掤捋擠按四法,所謂陰陽交錯,兩儀生四象也,易窮則變,變則通,手法亦有時而窮,故必再變而通之,乃化生採挒肘靠四法,掤不難化為挒,捋不難變為採,擠亦可變為肘,按亦可化為靠而四法自然而成矣,合之而為八法,所謂四象生八卦也,此即效法太極陰陽交錯而生變化之一例,亦即以此八法為本,有八法乃能變化環生,易有「交易」,「不易」,「簡易」三義,太極拳準此而造全套拳架,各式各勢,自始至終,綿連不斷,周流六虛,隨時在變,隨處在變,奧妙無窮,此乃法變易之義也,四正四隅,八卦之方位也,方位不可變也,故準此而㝎拳路進退轉換之步法,必按四正四隅也,此乃法不易之義也,全套拳架,雖名目繁多,歸納而成十三勢,所謂八法五步,此乃法簡易之義也,明乎此,則掤等八法,基本手法也,合而用之,則法全而用宏,所謂五步者:前進後退左顧右盼中㝎也,而中㝎為步法之基,但中㝎無步,寄於前四步之中,由動而靜,靜而動,以助成前四步之轉變虛實,輕靈而沉穩也,或正出,或斜出,此四正四隅又為邁步之進退轉換,所趨之方向矣,如是:上部以掤等八法,剛柔相濟而變化環生,下部以中㝎為基,進退於八方正隅之間而轉換步法之虛實,中部以腰胯為樞紐,使上下相協,異曲同工,勿論在推手或大捋,皆誠所謂胸懷八卦,足踏五行矣。
練拳必先練拳架者,欲求其身法,手法,步法,三者協調而完整一氣,練久則工架沉穩輕靈,此所謂築基固體,為知己之工夫,迨體功既成,而後言用,即推手,大捋,散手等是也,此為知彼工夫,然練習亦有層次,故先習推手,熟習聽化拿發,先以掤等前四手為主,純熟而後,參用採等四手以通變化,次習大捋,則高來高往,低來低去,掤等八法,皆可隨勢運用,手手皆成搏擊之用,漸奠散手之基,故散手為最後一層工夫焉。
Within the “thirteen dynamics” are warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing – associated with the four trigrams positioned in the cardinal directions – and plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping – associated with the four corner trigrams – as well the five stepping actions of advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying centered – associated with the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. These eight and five combined make thirteen. Therefore Taiji Boxing contains the eight trigrams and the five elements, but has replaced them with martial arts terminology. It is not known who started this Thirteen Dynamics tradition, no clues given in the writings of Wang Zongyue or the Yang family, and within other boxing texts are quite a few overly strained interpretations.
  In 1934, Yang Chengfu published Complete Book of Theory & Application, which contains this passage: “What is called ‘four corner pushing hands’ refers to the directions that the large rollback exercise moves toward, switching back and forth to all four corners, different from the four cardinal directions that same-step pushing hands addresses. Combining the four cardinal directions of pushing hands and the four corner directions of large rollback thus connects the exercises to the directions of all eight trigrams. It is also said that the eight trigrams correspond to the eight techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, pushing, plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping.”
  According to this, large rollback was originally called “four corner pushing hands” because it involves stepping toward the four corners. It is different from same-step pushing hands which merely advances and retreats along a straight line. Therefore same-step pushing hands is associated with the four cardinal directions and large rollback is associated with the four corner directions. This indicates that the use of the terms “four cardinal directions” and “four corner directions” was simply meant to be related to directions of stepping rather than the four primary techniques being associated with the four cardinal directions and the four secondary techniques being associated with the four corner directions.
  Taiji Boxing is based on the taiji concept itself, that of the alternation of passive and active aspects, movement and stillness. Therefore as soon as there is movement, there is distinction between emptiness and fullness, which are equivalent to passive and active. Thus it is said [in the commentary to the Book of Changes]: “The Grand Polarity gives rise to the dual aspects”.
  Emptiness and fullness then alternate, and thus hardness and softness assist each other. Such interactions give rise to the four techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing, due to passive and active rubbing against each other, as it is said: “The dual aspects generate the four manifestations.”
  “When faced with difficulty, adapt to the situation. By adapting, you will easily flow right through.” There are times when the four primary techniques will not work, and then you will have to switch to the four secondary techniques of plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping. It is easy to switch from warding off to rending, from rolling back to plucking, from pressing to elbowing, from pushing to bumping, the four methods creating the other four naturally. The four techniques combined with the other four makes the eight techniques. “The four manifestations generate the eight trigrams.”
  The interaction of passive and active produces change. In the same way, the eight techniques are the foundation and can produce even further changes. There are three kinds of change: a complete switching of conditions, simple adjustments, and no change at all. The entire Taiji boxing set is built upon these principles. With every posture, from beginning to end, flow without pause. It says in the commentary to the Book of Changes: “Change does not stop, but circulates through the six hexagram lines.” To change at any moment and in any part makes your actions endlessly subtle. This is the significance of constant change.
  The four cardinal directions and four corner directions are the directions of the eight trigrams. These directions are unchanging. In accordance with this, the choreography in the boxing set sends the steps toward the eight directions. It is thus an example of something that is unchanging. Although the boxing set is comprised of a multitude of postures, it all amounts to little more than the thirteen dynamics. Therefore the eight techniques and five steps are an example of simple changes. The eight techniques are the basic techniques. But when used in combination, the effect is dramatic.
  The five steps are: advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying centered. To stay stably in one place, or not stepping at all, is the most fundamental type of footwork, because it is the middle point that the other four steps are sent from. When going from movement to stillness or stillness to movement, the step of not stepping, or staying centered, assists the alternation of emptiness and fullness for the other four steps, ensuring they are nimble and yet stable. Whether stepping straight or diagonally, the eight directions are the directions of all advancing and retreating.
  Your upper body performs the eight techniques, hardness and softness complimenting each other, producing further changes. Your lower body starts by standing centered, then advances and retreats to the eight directions, your steps alternating between emptiness and fullness. Your middle body uses your waist and hips as the pivot point, coordinating your upper body and lower body with each other. Whether practicing pushing hands or large rollback, both contain the eight trigrams and five elements.
  To learn the art, you must begin with practicing the boxing set, which teaches you how to integrate body movement, hand techniques, and stepping so that they will all function in unison. After training for a long time, you will have both stability and nimbleness. Practicing the boxing set is the process of building a foundation, developing the skill of knowing yourself better. Once that foundation is completed, you can move on to learning how to actually apply the art, which is trained through pushing hands, large rollback, and sparring. These exercises develop the skill of knowing the opponent.
  This part of the training has stages, starting with pushing hands. Mastering listening, neutralizing, seizing, and issuing requires practicing the four primary techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing. Once you are skillful at the four primary techniques, then move on to practicing large rollback to train the four secondary techniques. Once you can use the eight techniques fluently and from various positions, whether higher or lower, your techniques will be able to be used in fighting, and thereby you have gradually prepared yourself for sparring, which is the final stage of the training.

乙分啚畧說
2. Photographic Breakdown of the Movements

初學大捋:有二種方式:一,動作與方向均固㝎者,二,動作方向均不固㝎者,茲將動作與方向均固㝎之大捋,揷啚舉例,畧說如下:
There are two versions: 1. the movements and directions choreographed, 2. the movements and directions unchoreographed. The one presented below is the choreographed version:

假定甲乙二人對立,甲向南,乙向北,乙先上右步,以右拳擊甲,甲見乙拳擊來,即擧右手隨掤隨沾乙右手腕,先退左步,以左手肱部捋乙右手臂,如第一啚。
Person A [again on the left in the photos] and Person B [on the right] are facing each other, A facing toward the south, B facing toward the north. B, initiate by stepping forward with your right foot and striking out toward A with your right fist. A, raise your right hand to connect with B’s right wrist, retreat your left foot, and use your left forearm to roll back his right arm. See photo 9:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 9

甲再退右步,翻身成為捋式,如第二啚,乙在右拳擊出後,被甲所掤且捋其臂時,隨上左步,向西北隅著地,復上右步與左足相並,如第二啚之乙。
A, retreat your right foot, turn your torso, and roll back. B, go along with A’s rollback by advancing your left foot toward the northwest corner, then advancing your right foot next to your left foot. See photo 10:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 10

俟甲捋將成時,乃橫上右步揷入甲襠內,成丁字形,前弓後直,同時以左掌拊己右肘內部,以右肩靠甲心窩,此時方向,甲因捋乙轉向西,乙因以右肩靠甲,仍向北,如第三啚。
B, once A’s rollback is underway, step your left foot forward to the left side, then step your right foot directly forward under his crotch, your feet forming a T shape, your front leg bending, your rear leg straightening, as you use your right shoulder to bump his chest, your left palm placed at the inside of your right elbow. The orientations are now: A rolling back toward the west, B’s right shoulder bumping into A toward the north. See photo 11:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 11

甲被靠而尚未靠到時,即以左手推拿乙右手臂,同時以右手掌挒乙顏面部,乙在被挒而尚未挒到時,即以右手上掤甲右手,並沾甲右手腕,後退左步,向西南隅著地,如第四啚。
A, before B’s bumping collides with you, use your left hand to push on his right forearm and send your right palm rending away toward his face. B, before A’s rending palm arrives, send your right hand upward to ward off his right hand, connecting at his right wrist, as you retreat your left foot toward the southwest corner. See photo 12:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 12

乙再後退右步,亦向西南隅著地,乃翻身以左肱捋甲右手臂,成為捋式,甲被乙掤住且捋時,即上右步,向西南隅跟進,再上左步向東西隅,如第五啚。
B, then retreat your right foot, also toward the southwest corner, and turn your body to the right as your use your left forearm to roll back A’s right forearm. A, while B wards off and rolls back, advance your right foot toward the southwest corner, then advance your left foot toward the southeast corner. See photo 13:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 13

俟乙成捋式時,復橫上右步,揷入乙襠內,成丁字形,同時用左手拊己右肘內部,以右肩靠乙心窩,此時方向,甲向南,乙向東,如第六啚。
A, before B finishes his rollback, advance your right foot under his crotch, your feet forming a T shape, as your right shoulder bumps into his chest, your left hand placed at the inside of your right elbow. The orientations are now: A moving toward the south, B moving toward the east. See photo 14:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 14

乙在被靠而尚未靠到時,提左足,用身法,腰法,將左足揷入甲襠內,同時雙手按甲左前臂,成為按式,此時方向,甲向南,乙向北,甲在被按時,先橫退右步向西北隅,以鬆按勢,如第七啚。
B, before A’s bumping collides with you, lift your left foot to move around his right foot and advance under his crotch as your hands push on his left forearm. The orientations are now: A moving toward the south, B moving toward the north. A, while you are being pushed, retreat your right foot to the side, toward the northwest corner, to dissolve B’s push. See photo 15:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 15

同時以左手上掤,並沾乙左手腕,再橫退左步向東北隅,復以右前臂捋乙左臂,成為捋式,如第八啚,乙被掤且捋時,橫上右步,向東北隅,再上左步與右足相並,作待機進靠之預備姿勢,如第八啚之乙。
A, use your left hand to ward-off upward and connect to B’s left wrist, then retreat your left foot toward the northeast with the foot sideways as your right forearm rolls back his left arm. B, now that you are being rolled back, step your right foot forward to the right side, toward the northeast, then step your left foot forward next to your right foot, positioning yourself to advance with bumping. See photo 16:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 16

乙俟甲捋將成時,乃將左足揷入甲襠內,成丁字形,同時以右掌拊己左肘內部,以左肩靠甲心窩,此時方向,甲向南,乙向東,如第九啚。
B, with A’s rollback underway, step your left foot directly forward under his crotch, your feet forming a T shape, your front leg bending, your rear leg straightening, as you use your left shoulder to bump his chest, your right palm placed at the inside of your left elbow. The orientations are now: A rolling back toward the south, B’s left shoulder bumping into A toward the east. See photo 17:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 17

甲在被靠而尚未靠到時,即如前式,以右手推拿乙左手臂,同時以左掌挒乙顏面部,乙亦如前在被挒而尚未挒到時,即以左手上掤,並沾甲左手腕,後退右足,再後退左足,翻身以右肱捋甲左手臂,而成捋式,甲被乙掤且捋時,亦如前式要領,先上左步,再上右步向西北隅著地,更上左足靠近右足點地,作待機進靠之準備,如第十啚。
A, before B’s bumping collides with you, use your right hand to push on his left forearm and send your left palm rending away toward his face. B, before A’s rending palm arrives, send your left hand upward to ward off his left hand, connecting at his left wrist, as you retreat your right foot, then retreat your left foot and turn your body to the left as your use your right forearm to roll back A’s left forearm. A, while B wards off and rolls back, advance your left foot toward the northeast corner, then advance your right foot toward the northwest corner, and then advance your left foot next to your right foot in preparation to advance with bumping. See photo 18:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 18

俟乙捋將成時,乃將左足揷入乙襠內,同時以右手拊己左肘內部,以左肩靠乙心窩,如第十一啚。
A, before B finishes his rollback, advance your left foot under his crotch, your feet forming a T shape, as your left shoulder bumps into his chest, your right hand placed at the inside of your left elbow. See photo 19:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 19

乙當被靠而尚未靠到時,仍如前要領,先提右足,以身法,腰法,將右足揷入甲襠內,同時兩手按甲右前臂,甲亦如前法,先橫退左足,右臂上掤,如第十二啚。
B, before A’s bumping collides with you, lift your right foot to move around his left foot and advance under his crotch as your hands push on his right forearm. A, while you are being pushed, retreat your left foot to the side as your right arm wards off upward. See photo 20:

施調梅《運用》(1959) - photo 20

再橫退右足,同時以左手拊乙右手臂而為捋式,乙因甲捋隨上左足,復提右足,俟甲捋將成,乃將右足以橫步揷入甲橫內,同時順勢以左掌拊已右肘內部,以右肩靠甲心窩,此時方向,甲仍轉向西,乙仍向北矣,如是又如第三啚之式循環如上,周而復始。
A, then retreat your right foot as you use your left hand to roll back B’s right forearm. B, go along with A’s rollback by advancing your left foot, then stepping your right foot forward under his crotch as you use your right shoulder to bump his chest, your left palm placed at the inside of your right elbow. The orientations are now: A moving toward the west, B moving toward the north. The position is the same as in photo 11. From this point, the movements recycle over and over.

是為動作與方向均固㝎之大捋也,縂之進者為三步而成靠,退者為二步而成捋,甲用挒,一周之間,始終用挒,乙用按,一周之間,始終用按,一周既畢,二周開始,甲乙如欲互換挒按亦可。
The above text describes choreographed large rollback, the movements and orientations already established. Advance three steps to perform bumping. Retreat two steps to perform rolling back. A performs rending and will do all of the rending. B performs pushing and will do all of the pushing. When one cycle ends, another one begins. With a new cycle, A and B can switch rending and pushing roles if they wish.

茲再將大捋動作要領,綜合說明如次:
Presented below are the essentials of large rollback:

一,大捋原稱四隅推手,故邁步不論進退,均應向四隅落步,四隅者,即東北,西北,東南,西南也。
1. The large rollback exercise was originally called “four corners pushing hands” because all the stepping, whether advancing or retreating, is toward the corners. The four corner directions are northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest.

二,邁步須鬆腰胯,舉足下步,須輕鬆靈活。
2. When stepping, you must loosen your waist and hips. When lifting and lowering your foot, there must be lightness and nimbleness.

三,凡用靠上體須保持中正,以腰胯一致之鬆勁靠之。
3. To perform bumping, your upper body has to stay upright and your waist and hips must loosen.

四,凡用捋,兩手沾敵腕臂,須畧帶沉勁,使敵步履失其輕靈,當我捋敵時,視敵來勢,可變為採,或沾敵臂可變為挒,如捋敵右臂時,我左掌可順勢挒其頸項部,捋左臂時,則反是。
4. When performing the rollback, both of your hands stick to the opponent’s wrist and elbow. Your hands must have a slight energy of dragging and sinking, causing his footwork to lose nimbleness. When rolling back the opponent, he will counterattack with bumping, and in response to that you can switch to plucking or to pushing on his arm and rending. If rolling back his right arm, your left hand will rend to his neck, and if rolling back his left arm, your right hand will rend.

五,被靠者,須含胸,鬆腰胯,挒面時,一手推拿其靠方之臂,以防其用肘也。
5. When being bumped, you must hollow your chest and loosen your hips. While sending a rending palm toward the opponent’s face, your other hand is pushing on his bumping arm in order to prevent him from applying elbowing.

六,如用按,敵上掤時,我以沾連之勁,邁步跟進,使敵處於背勢。
6. When pushing with both hands on the opponent’s forearm and he wards off upward, use the energies of sticking and connecting, then step forward, thus causing him to back off.

七,凡靠捋甲乙均有,或左或右,隨勢互換。
7. Both A and B perform bumping and rolling back, and switching sides to perform them to both the left and right.

八,甲據西南,則乙據東北,此為固㝎大捋所依據之方向。
8. On orientation: if A is facing toward the southwest, B will be facing toward the northeast. This of course is only the case in the choreographed version.

二,動作與方向,均可不固㝎之大捋
On unchoreographed large rollback:

此項大捋,既云均可不固㝎,是則無法用啚說明矣,若仍用啚,則與固㝎者,有何別乎,但就一般慣例,對於初學,練習此類大捋,於不固㝎中,先不妨畧示一二處固㝎,俾初學得從此入手,否則漫無限制,將成亂打之局,茲畧說其要領如左:
This kind of large rollback is a little too unstructured to demonstrate with photos. If photos were used, it would imply too much of a stable pattern and seem no different from the choreographed version. It is actually quite common for beginners to jump into this version. Unchoreographed large rollback has some partial choreography in order for beginners to have a way to get into it. Without a few such restrictions to start with, it would just be a mess. Below are presented a few essentials of it:

一,無論固㝎與不固㝎,學者均不能離太極拳基本要點,即所謂「虛靈頂勁」,「含胸拔背」,「沉肩墜肘」,「塌腰鬆胯」,「尾閭中正」以及腰腿完整一氣,用意不用力,「注目凝神,等,在大捋中為最重要之法則。
1. Whether the choreographed or unchoreographed version, do not depart from fundamental Taiji Boxing principles: forcelessly rouse your headtop, hollow your chest and round your back, sink your shoulders and droop your elbows, settle your waist and loosen your hips, center your tailbone, make your waist and legs function as a single unit, use intention rather than exertion, and focus your gaze. These are the most important principles in the large rollback exercise.

二,出手必須沾住敵手,蓋聽勁為打手之不二法門,兩手上下左右均須協調,所謂手分陰陽是也,如是乃能互相䘙護,使敵無𨻶可乘。
2. When sending out your hands, you must stick to the opponent’s hands in order to use listening energy. Your hands have to work in coordination with each other, whether moving above or below, left or right, one hand in a passive role, the other in an active role. As long as your hands are protecting each other, the opponent will find no gap to take advantage of.

三,初學不固㝎大捋,左右靠捋仍與固㝎者同,惟挒按則不固㝎,可隨機應用,方向亦然,東西南北,均可,縂之:被挒後退二步,翻身為捋,則變方向,被按則橫退二步為捋,不變方向,但變與不變,祗求勢順,任何一方均可。
3. When learning unchoreographed large rollback, to go to the left and right with rolling back and bumping is still the same, but rending and pushing is now an unfixed pattern, to be applied as you please and toward whatever direction. It is always the case that when being attacked with rending, you will retreat two steps and perform rollback, turning your body and thus changing direction, and that when being pushed, you will retreat two steps sideways, not turning your body and thus not changing direction. Whether changing or not changing direction, seek to do whatever flows, regardless of whatever direction you are facing.

四,純熟以後,祗須步法不亂,得機得勢,前進後退,隨化隨發,掤等八法,任何一式,咸可應用,隨機變化,奧妙無窮,是在學者善自領悟耳。
4. Once you have become skillful at the exercise, your stepping should be precise, placing you in the right position at the right time. While advancing and retreating, you are neutralizing and issuing. You should be able to apply the eight hand techniques from any position, adapting with limitless subtlety. You will come to understand this through your own experience of the exercise.

三散手
THREE: SPARRING

按徐哲東氏考信錄中云:「陳氏祗得王宗岳之口授,其拳架仍是舊有者化出,去其不合,刪其繁重耳。」此說頗近情理,蓋陳氏世代習拳,自無庸另造新架,但就其原有拳架中選其精到者,以太極之理化之可矣,此其一,王氏所傳拳譜,亦無拳架,祗有十三勢,可見一切拳架,但以十三勢而運用之足矣,此其二,衡以太極拳理,「以柔化剛。」為其基本原則,其他一切原理法則,皆從此四字中出來,是無須固㝎之拳架,此其三,按黃百家所云:當年三丰祖師,本精於少林,嗣以內功之理翻之,遂成內家拳,足證其本無固有之拳架矣,此其四,然則吾人所習之拳架,不論其是否出於當年陳氏之老架或新架,若能運用所習之拳理與法則,則手手皆能實用,散手者,將所習之拳架,隨意拆散而應用之耳,故於推手及大捋純熟以後,已能隨化隨發,即可在推手中間應用散手,對方亦可就其當時之情勢,予以還擊,惟仍須沾連黏隨,步隨身換,不離拳架法則,〔太極拳之用著,雖無異於他拳,惟專尚自然之勢,不尚剛疾,不假勉強,〕如此日積月累,自能變化百出,妙用無窮,如對奕然,可以局局出新,拳論云:「由著熟而漸能懂勁,由懂勁而階及神明。」練拳至最後未能再練散手,即不能達到神明這段境界矣,但專以健身為目的者,則又當別論,如有志於發揚國粹,提倡國術之同志,是宜三致意焉,〔然欲求著熟,必先致力於一勢一著,詳究其致用之法,於推手中實際試驗,漸至勢勢能用,著著皆熟,乃入懂勁之域矣。〕在一般拳譜中,間亦見有揷啚編㝎對打之套子者,於此依式練習,自無不可,惟不宜拘泥成法,塞自悟門,〔是以,無定法,則無以入門,守定法,則難期神化,依法而不為法所囿,斯則太極拳之正軌也。〕故與其按式演練,徒具形式,反不如在推手及大捋中串揷下功,並隨時熟研拳論及行工心解等所示之原理法則,潛心體會,默識揣摩,亦自然漸能融會貫通,從心所欲也,〔及至身心合一,全身皆具著勢,斯臻上乘,階及神明矣。
According to Xu Zhedong [Xu Zhen] in his Examining the Reliability of Taiji Boxing Texts: “The Chen family only received Wang Zongyue’s oral instructions, which is why they only remember the Playing Hands Song. As for his other writings, either they were not given to the Chen family or had not yet been written, we cannot know for sure. Because Wang based his boxing set on that of the Chen family, he did not need to create one from scratch. However, he adjusted the original set to the point that it looks divergent from that of the Chen family, eliminating the more strenuous movements, adding some things, modifying others.”
  First of all, this explanation seems very reasonable. The Chen family had been practicing their boxing art through the generations and thus had no need of new boxing sets from other sources. Their original set was comprised of very precise techniques, upon which Taiji principles were then able to evolve. Second, Wang Zongyue’s writings do not address the boxing set, only the thirteen dynamics. It is material that is clearly relevant to the boxing set, but discussing only the thirteen dynamics and how to use them is sufficient. Third, examining Taiji Boxing theory, it is “using softness to neutralize hardness” that is the fundamental principle. All the other principles come from this one. Therefore a choreographed boxing set is surely not even necessary. Fourth, according to Huang Baijia: “Zhang Sanfeng was a Shaolin expert, but he turned the art on its head and thereby created the internal school.” This indicates that the original material in the art was not the boxing set.
  Whatever version of the boxing set you practice, regardless of whether it is derived from the old frame or new frame Chen Style, if you can apply the training and the principles, then your techniques will all have practical function. Sparring is made of the techniques you practice in the boxing set, applied in any order you wish. After you have mastered pushing hands and large rollback, you will be able to neutralize and issue as you please. While in the midst of pushing hands, you can switch to free sparring. The opponent can of course respond to the situation by counterattacking, and so you must continue to use sticking, connecting, adhering, and following, adjust your foot position according to the changes of your body’s position, and not depart from the principles you trained in the boxing set.
  [This text added in the 1974 edition: Taiji Boxing techniques are no different from those of other styles, but there is a focus on performing them with more naturalness rather than emphasizing hardness and speed, not depending on forcing things to happen.] Practicing in this way over days and months, you will naturally be able to transform in countless and endlessly subtle ways. If you devote all of your energy to the training, you will then be able to transcend the patterns you have learned and act unpredictably. As it says in the Treatise: “Once you have ingrained these techniques, you will gradually come to identify energies, and then from there you will work your way toward something miraculous.” In the final stage of the training, if you do not frequently practice sparring, you will not be able to achieve a level of being miraculous.
  If health is your only goal, you are going in a different direction. But if your goal is also to carry on our national culture by encouraging colleagues to practice our boxing arts, then you should keep doing it. [1974: To train the techniques, you must devote yourself to practicing each of the postures in the boxing set, making a detailed study of their applications. Pushing hands is a practical test of application. Gradually you will be able to use each posture and become skillful in each technique, and then you will enter the stage of identifying energies.]
  Within ordinary boxing manuals, there are often photos of applications. You can certainly practice according to such demonstrations. However, you should not treat these presentations of applications as being definitive, you need to experiment with applications for yourself. [1974: Without choreographed patterns, it is difficult to learn the basics. But without moving on from choreographed patterns, it is difficult to progress to a high level. The correct path is to act in accordance with the methods but not become constrained by them.] For example, the pushing technique is practiced as a formal posture, not quite performed the same way as in pushing hands and large rollback.
  Constantly study the principles in the classics, experiencing them in your practice, contemplating them even when not practicing, and eventually you will be able to have a breakthrough, and from then on do as you please. [1974: Your mind and body will then be functioning as one, and you will be in possession of all the techniques as though they are an instinctive part of you. At that point, you have attained the highest level, in which the things you do will seem to be miraculous.]

四勁之運用
FOUR: APPLYING THE ENERGIES

一般拳術家有剛勁柔勁之說,在太極拳縂稱「內勁」,因此勁以意氣為君,從綿綿不斷中生出剛柔兼具之勁耳,祗因在當時運用此勁之時機變化無常,隨時不同,故有所謂「沾黏勁」,「借勁」,「接勁」,「化勁」,「走勁」,「引勁」,「拿勁」,「提勁」等之分別,更有所謂「開勁」,「合勁」,「沉勁」,「截勁」,「入勁」,「捲勁」,「抖擻勁」,「凌虛勁」等之不同,無非皆從其運用上分類稱名而已,在初學先練沾黏二勁:
Ordinary boxing arts talk of “hard power” and “soft power”. Everything in Taiji Boxing is categorized as “internal” energies, meaning they are driven by intention. Within continuous flow of movement, both hard power and soft power are produced. When using these energies, they are endlessly changing from one to another, switching at any moment. Among the energies are sticking, adhering, borrowing, catching, neutralizing, yielding, drawing in, seizing, and lifting. There are also opening, closing, sinking, interrupting, penetrating, wrapping, shaking, and traversing emptiness. Among all of these energies, beginners should first learn sticking and adhering.

「沾」―
[1] STICKING

是沾住敵人之手臂,或輕或重,縂以不使丟脫,由練習推手而得,意主前進。
Stick to the opponent’s arm, whether lightly or heavily, without coming away. This quality is obtained only through practicing pushing hands. It has an intention of moving forward.

「黏」―
[2] ADHERING

是黏住敵人之手臂,或輕或重,縂以不頂為原則,亦由推手而得,意主後鬆。
Adhere to the opponent’s arm, whether lightly or heavily, without crashing in. This quality is also obtained only through practicing pushing hands. It has an intention of loosening to the rear.

此二勁,為太極拳之「基本內勁」,如鳥之雙翼,車之兩輪,缺一而其用不全,故必須互相調協,曲盡其沾黏之妙,使敵一著我手,如被吸住,全身皆不得力,而我先由手臂漸及肩背至於周身,均能沾黏,且能沾黏敵之任何部份,方稱沾黏工夫已練得到家矣,此勁既生,乃能借能化,能引能拿矣,故沾後必須能連,黏後必須能隨,始能有此效用。
These first two are the most fundamental of Taiji Boxing’s internal energies. They are like the two wings of a bird or the two wheels of a cart. Lack one and the other becomes inefficient. Therefore they must be used in conjunction with each other. The marvel of sticking and adhering is that it causes the opponent as soon as he touches my hand to feel as though he is being drawn in, his whole body unable to express any strength.
  Start with training it in your forearms, then gradually develop it in your shoulders, your back, and then your whole body. Once you are able to stick and adhere with any part of your body, you will be able to stick and adhere to any part of the opponent’s, and then it can be said that you have mastered sticking and adhering. Once you have these energies, you will be able to use the energies of borrowing, neutralizing, drawing in, and seizing. Once you are able to stick, you must also learn to connect, and once you are able to adhere, you must also learn to follow, and then you will be able to use these two energies effectively.

「借」―
[3] BORROWING

是借敵之勁而順勢出吾之勁,如敵向我猛按,我先黏隨而後順其勢採之,敵若向後扯,我借其後扯之勢而放之,能借勁,小力可以挫大力,故善於借勁者,對方任何部份,皆可借之,而自己任何部份,皆能放之。
This is a matter of borrowing the opponent’s power and then seizing the opportunity to send out your own. If he pushes you fiercely, first adhere and follow, then go along with his energy and pluck him down. If he pulls away, you can borrow his energy of backing off to suddenly shoot him away. If you can use borrowing energy, then you can use a small force to defeat a large force. One who is good at using borrowing energy can borrow power from any part of the opponent’s body and issue power from any part of his own.

「化」―
[4] NEUTRALIZING:

分化敵勁,使變其方向,並令其成背勢,由沾黏勁與走勁而成。
Neutralizing the opponent’s power causes it to change direction, which induces him to back off. Neutralizing is the product of sticking and yielding.

「走」―
[5] YIELDING

直來之勁,不予抵抗,住後退,所謂「左重則左虛,右重則右杳」是也,加以沾黏,則成化勁,故又稱為走化,以此二勁恆相濟不離耳。
Direct force should not be resisted, but retreated from. As it says in the classics: “If he puts pressure on my left side, my left side empties, or if he puts pressure on my right side, my right side disappears.” With the addition of sticking and adhering, this produces neutralization, and thus this situation is also described as “yielding and neutralizing”. These two energies should always assist each other and never depart from one another.

「引」―
[6] DRAWING IN

敵勁不出,引之使出,所用之勁為引勁,故必先掤而後能引,仍須繼之以沾黏走化之勁,方能引之入我竅中,引者:有誘引敵人深入之意,于是或提或拿,隨我所欲矣,故引勁較走化為難。
Before the opponent is ready to send out power, drawing in induces him to do so already. You must first ward off and then draw in to the rear. It is necessary to continue to use the energies of sticking, adhering, yielding, and neutralizing in order to be able to draw him in. Starting from lifting or seizing, the intention is to lure the opponent into a position of overcommitting. Drawing in is more difficult that yielding and neutralizing.

「提」―
[7] LIFTING

提而起之,使其足跟浮起,全不得力也,故必先引之入竅,乃能借其勁上提,但提時自己足部須取穩實,丹田氣下鬆,用腰腿勁提之。
Lifting causes the opponent’s heels to rise up, thereby taking away his ability to apply strength. First draw him in so that you can send his energy upward. When lifting, make sure to keep your own feet steady, sink energy down to your elixir field, and drive the action with power from your waist and legs.

「拿」―
[8] SEIZING

拿法已詳見前說推手中,祗要懂得勁路,隨時可拿。
Seizing has already been explained in the pushing hands introduction. You only have to be able to identify energies and then you can seize at any time.

「接」―
[9] CATCHING

亦屬於借勁之一種,較借更難耳,敵勁將到,鬆腰一接即發之,如接球然,順其勢下沉一接,起身拋之,其中含一極小圓圈而發之,歌訣云:「妙處全憑能借力,當場著意莫輕拿」,蓋能接能借,即不用拿也。
This is similar to borrowing, but more difficult. When the opponent’s power is about to arrive, loosen your waist, catch it, and then issue. It is like catching a ball, going along with its energy and redirecting it downward, then lifting your body to throw it away again. Contain the movement within a very small circle and then issue. A song says: “Its subtlety is entirely based on borrowing the opponent’s power, and so when the decisive moment comes, do not merely give in to grappling with him.” If you can catch or borrow his power, you will not need to apply seizing.

以上皆屬蓄而未發之勁,故又稱陰勁,其他如「入勁」,「截勁」,「沉勁」,「開勁」,「合勁」,「捲勁」,「抖擻勁」,「凌虛勁」等,皆屬發勁,故又稱斷勁,或曰:陽勁,茲再分別畧說如左:
The energies above involve storing before issuing and thus they are considered passive energies. The other energies – penetrating, interrupting, sinking, opening, closing, wrapping, shaking, and traversing emptiness – all involve issuing and thus they are considered active energies or “severing” energies. They are explained below:

「入勁」―
[10] PENETRATING

又稱「鑽勁」,拳訣「入勁如鑽錘」,用指或拳如錐鑽之前進,極為猛厲,故藝高者,不濫用也。
This is also called “drilling”. It has been said: “Penetrating energy feels like a drilling punch.” Your fist or fingers go forward like a drill. This is very fierce, and so high level practitioners do not use it rashly.

「截勁」―
[11] INTERRUPTING

此勁有「弧線」「直線」二種,用弧線發者,乘敵勁落空時,而未及變化之際,隨即對其中心發之,用直線發者,敵來擊我,不及變化,則用直截之勁發之,敵一碰即被跌出,故又稱碰勁。
There are two kinds: curved line, straight line. Issuing along a curved line takes advantage of the moment in which the opponent’s attack lands on nothing and he has not yet adjusted his position to compensate, issuing in that moment toward his center. Issuing along a straight line involves a situation in which the opponent attacks me and I have no time to adjust, and so I issue with direct interrupting energy, colliding into him so that he topples away, and thus it is also known as “colliding” energy.

「沉勁」―
[12] SINKING

兩肩及胯下鬆,氣往下沉而發之勁,敵臂受沉勁,而使全身麻震,故沉與重不同,重力呆,沉力活,是以雙重為病而雙沉不為病也,又雙輕不進於浮,是謂真輕,雙沉不進於重,是謂離虛,具此二種為最佳。
Your shoulders and hips loosen downward. Energy sinks and then power issues. When the opponent’s arm receives sinking energy, it causes his whole body to become numb and trembling. Sinking is not really the same as heaviness. Heaviness leads to sluggishness, whereas sinking leads to liveliness. Although it is an error to have “double heaviness”, double sinking is not. Double lightness does not mean floating, and thus it is true lightness. Double sinking does not mean heaviness, and thus it is true fullness. It is best to have both of these qualities.

「開勁」―
[13] OPENING

向兩面化開之謂,乃太極拳之方勁,含有掤意,開勁發人,須開後即發,勿失機會,當敵被我化開,乘其收回時,一合即出,故開後必合,雙分,單分,時候要合得上,雙分者,見敵已攻入我內圈,一含胸,即將兩手揷入敵之內圈,隨即向兩面開展,單分者,一手分,一手即發,再開時須用腰腿勁,加以意氣,所謂開至恰到好處時,正我順人背時也。
This involves spreading apart to both sides. It is a square energy and contains an intention of warding off. When spreading apart to shoot the opponent away, you have to open first and then issue right away so as not to lose your chance. Once you have spread apart his hands, take advantage of the moment he withdraws by closing inward and shooting him away. Therefore after opening, you must close.
  There is double spreading and single spreading. In the case of double spreading, when the opponent’s attack makes it through past your guard, hollow your chest and send your hands in past his guard, then immediately spread his hands apart to both sides. In the case of single spreading, one hand spreads and the other issues. When opening, you must use power from your waist and legs, also adding spirit. Once you have opened to the right amount, follow the opponent as he backs off.

「合勁」―
[14] CLOSING

開之反面就是合,開是方勁,合是圓勁,開為陽,合為陰,凡發勁時多含此意,因其將周身之氣,合而發向敵之焦點,故須全身鬆開,欭其勢方整。
Opening is the opposite of closing. Opening is a square energy, whereas closing is a rounded energy. Opening is an active energy, whereas closing is a passive energy. When issuing, it often contains an intention of closing, using the energy of your whole body to close in on the target and then issue. Therefore you must loosen your whole body to first square your position.

「捲勁」―
[15] WRAPPING:

其勢用曲,其勁是直,先以五指按敵,捲而成拳以擊之,此勁甚猛,可以擊傷人之內臟,初學者可不必深究。
Its movement involves bending, but its energy is straight. Start with your fingers pushing the opponent, then your hand wraps into a fist and strikes through. This energy is very fierce, capable of injuring an opponent’s internal organs, and so it is not for the use of beginners.

「抖擻勁」―
[16] SHAKING

乃全身各部均可發擊之極短極速之勁,非到功純神化之境,不能發生此勁,故非練習可得而致之又稱:
Issue with your whole body, every part in unison, using energy that is very short and fast. Unless you have achieved a purely spiritual level, you will not be able to produce this energy, therefore you must practice a great deal more to obtain it. This energy is also known as “traversing emptiness”.

「凌虛勁」―
[17] TRAVERSING EMPTINESS

名異而勁同,僅須口中一「哈」,對方即雙足離地而起。
Same energy as shaking, just with a different name and with the addition of a vocalized “ha!” which causes the opponent’s feet to leave the ground.

以上皆為發勁之一,初學發勁:第一當先知勁路,敵從此去,我從彼來,恰合其時而相值,不後不先,敵雖欲變勢,已不可得,此時發之,則無不中,其次須掀動其根根被拔動,未有不應手而跌出之者,再次拿其呆實處而發之,或伺其𨻶,擊其虛處,亦未有不倒者,或以手引其力出而以掌發之,縂之先使敵意散亂,引出其焦點而發之,則所謂十拿九穩矣。
The energies above involve issuing. When beginning to learn issuing, you first have to understand the path that power will travel along. Go along with power that the opponent sends out to you, matching his timing, acting neither after nor before. Then even if he wants to adjust his position, it will be too late, and so by issuing at that moment, you will be sure to be on target.
  The next stage is to get him to lift his heels. Once his heels have been lifted, he is sure to topple. The final stage is to seize him where he has become stiff in his movement and wait the perfect moment to issue. Attack him where he is empty and he will again be sure to topple. Or you may use your hand to draw out his power and then switch to issuing with your palm. In all cases, first cause the opponent’s intention to be in disorder, diverting his focus, and then issue. In this way, you will be sure to succeed.

五田師口授心要
FIVE: ORAL TEACHINGS FROM TIAN ZHAOLIN

此為昔年與田師隨談隨錄之筆記,除已散見於各篇者外,尚有未錄入各篇者,茲并錄之於左,詞句未加潤飾,次序亦照當時所錄之先後,以保留當年坐談之真實情狀耳。
(These are notes that I have taken from discussions with Master Tian over the years, ideas that I have not mentioned in other pieces of text. What follows are his phrases as he said them, without any embellishment from me, and in the order in which I originally wrote them down, statements that he actually made while we sat and talked.)

1.與敵沾手時,無論何處,對敵中心,即可用截勁打去。
When touching hands with the opponent, no matter where the contact point is, aim toward his center, and then you can use interrupting energy to knock him away.

2.腿有明腿,有暗腿,亦謂之黑腿,須手足相隨。
Among the kicking techniques are “obvious kicks” and “hidden kicks”, or “covert kicks”. The actions of your hands must correspond to those of your feet.

3.敵拿我之手臂,以圓圈化之,須變動步法。
When the opponent seizes your arm, use roundness to neutralize it. You must also change the position of your feet.

4.掤捋擠按,每手中有五個勁,所謂借化入截沉是也。
The four primary techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, and push each contain five kinds of energy: borrow, neutralize, penetrate, interrupt, and sink.

5.抎手有陽手,有陰手,又謂之偷手。
CLOUDING HANDS involves an active hand and a passive hand, which is also called a “stealth hand”.

6.圓圈以尾脊骨為根本。
Roundness begins at the tailbone.

7.化勁:或以大圓圈化之,或以小圓圈化之。
Neutralizing sometimes uses a large circle to neutralize, sometimes a small one.

8.「截勁」有弧線,有直線,「入勁」如鑽錘,「借勁」引彼之勁,仍還其身。
Interrupting energy can be applied along either a curve or a straight line. Penetrating energy feels like a drilling punch. Borrowing energy lures in the opponent’s power and sends it back to his body.

9.拿人必須拿其活節處,如腕肘肩等是也。
To seize the opponent, seize his joints, such as wrist, elbow, shoulder, and so on.

10.敵拿我臂肘,即以臂,肘付其心掤之。
When the opponent seizes your elbow, promptly send your elbow warding off toward his solar plexus.

11.「野馬分鬃」,有搓球之意。
WILD HORSE SENDS ITS MANE SIDE TO SIDE contains an intention of turning a ball over.

12.「捲勁」,須先以五指按人之心,即捲成拳用入勁,進退步宜略騰起,不可直移。
When using wrapping energy, start with your fingers pushing on the opponent’s chest, then your hand wraps into a fist and applies penetrating energy. Advancing and retreating your steps both involve the foot slightly lifting, not just shifting forward or back in straight lines.

13.捋之中小圈即可放之,按之中有開有合,開合須手足相應。
Within the rollback technique, you make a small circle, at the conclusion of which you can release power. Within the pushing technique, your hands perform closing and opening, coordinated with the weight shifting in your legs.

14.推手時,前後步略騰起。
While pushing hands, slightly rise when stepping forward or back.

15.小架以落步為實,起步為虛。
In the small frame, the foot becomes full when it comes down and empty when it lifts up.

16.採人不可兩邊分,稍採若敵足跟起時,即進打之。
When plucking the opponent, your hands should pull down on one side rather than splitting off to both sides. Once your pluck causes his heels to lift, immediately go forward with an attack.

17.攬雀尾,以左手沾人之拳,右足隨進,右手虛擊,若人一動即放之。
The technique of CATCH THE SPARROW goes like this: your left hand sticks to the opponent’s attacking fist, your right foot advances, and your right hand goes out with a fake attack. Once he reacts in the slightest way, issue power immediately.

18.敵撅我何處,即隨之,以小圈化之。
When the opponent tries to break my arm, I go along with his movement and make a corkscrew spiral with my arm to neutralize it.

19.見勁速出,須氣沉丹田。
When you notice power suddenly emerging from the opponent, you must sink energy to your elixir field.

20.用勁如拋物。
Wield power like tossing an object.

21.隨屈就伸,人屈則隨其屈以放之,人伸則就其伸以放之。
It is said: “Follow his bending, stick to his extending.” When the opponent bends, follow his bending in order to shoot him away. When he extends, stick to his extending in order to shoot him away.

22.放人時,臂要直,不宜屈,勁在兩譬如九曲珠,旋轉自如,放人時即成一大珠。
When shooting away an opponent, your arms should straighten and not bend. The energy moves through your arms as though through a winding-path pearl, curving naturally. When issuing, your arms form a shape like a single large pearl.

23.散手亦須黏隨。
Even in sparring, there has to be sticking and following.

24.靠肘拳往下有入地之意,眼往上望即出矣。
When bumping, your elbow and fist have an intention of going into the ground, though your gaze goes forward.

25.右手擠,進右步,左手擠,進左步,如不進步,須將臂捋直對其後肩擠之。
When pressing with your right hand, advance with your right foot. When pressing with your left hand, advance with your left foot. If you perform pressing without an advancing step, you must do a rollback to the opponent’s arm to straighten it and draw it across, then press on the back of his shoulder.

26.按以順步為得勢。
When pushing, do it with the same hand and same foot forward in order to be in the best position.

27.人捋我肘,即全付之,隨之以靠,或與之而化囘,須腰腿靈活。
If the opponent rolls back your elbow, go along with his movement and bump right into him, or neutralize and withdraw, which requires liveliness in your hips.

28.人靠我,隨鬆腰腿,按之以擠,或鬆腰按其肩拿住,然後放勁,放勁須腰腿相隨,人捋過去,仍可搬肘。
When the opponent attacks you with bumping, loosen your waist and legs, push down on his arm, and then press forward. Or loosen your waist, push down on his shoulder, seize his arm, and then shoot him away, your waist and legs moving in coordination with your arms. If he slips out of your rollback, you can still deflect his elbow.

29.以退為進者,似退而步已進也,步進然後能拿人。
To use retreat as advance means that you seem to be backing off but are actually sneaking a foot forward. Having stepped in, you are then able to seize the opponent.

30.人擠按我,非坐腰胯不能化。
If you do not settle into your waist and hips when the opponent presses or pushes you, you will not be able to neutralize it.

31.人擠我,撤前步,易手擠之。
When the opponent presses you, withdraw your front foot, and then it will be easy to turn the tables and press him.

32.人擠我,吾右手在彼左手之外,即托其肘,囘翻放之,轉腰即可,左手亦然。
When the opponent attacks with the pressing technique, place your right hand to the outside of his left forearm (or your left hand to the outside of his right forearm), propping up his elbow, and draw him in and then shoot him away, your hips turning to accommodate the movement.

33.化皆著手略鬆勁,囘身轉腰,一捋帶握,敵臂在下我臂在上乃利,彼如上翻,即向下一沉。
Neutralizing always involves slightly loosening your hands, withdrawing your torso, and turning your waist. Rolling back leads in by grabbing the opponent’s arm, ideally with his arm underneath and your other forearm placed on top, so that if he tries to rise up, you can sink him back down.

34.沾在何處,即何處沉勁。
Where to stick? To the same place you would apply sinking energy.

35.注意推手時,丟不過膝,過即不拿。
While pushing hands, do not reach farther than your knee, for you will not be able to seize the opponent if you do that.

36.水上採葫蘆,是一個勁,直管前進,是一個勁,輕提前進,是一個勁,沉拿是一個勁。
One kind of energy is like a gourd floating on moving water. Another kind of energy is like something is going forward straight through a tube. Yet another energy is lifting & advancing. Still another is sinking & seizing.

37.在發之先須有拿,在拿之先須有引,在引之先須有化,在化之先須有掤。
Before you issue power to shoot the opponent away, you must first seize him. Before you seize him, you must first draw him in. Before you draw him in, you must first neutralize his attack. Before you neutralize, you must first ward-off to meet his attack.

38.化勁:須順人之勢,快慢要相合,過快敵勁易生中變,太慢仍不能化去。
To neutralize the opponent’s power, you must go along with his movement. There must be a balance of fast and slow. Too hasty, you will cause him to change unpredictably. Too sluggish, it will be difficult to deflect his attack.

39.化得好,才有發勁機會,機到即放,其勁要整,要沉著。
Once you have neutralized sufficiently, you will then have the opportunity to issue power. Once the opportunity is there, release immediately. The power should be complete, and that comes from being calm.

40.攻人全在得機得勢,機未至,不當攻。
Attacking the opponent depends entirely on timing and position. If the opportunity is not yet there, it would not be appropriate to attack.

41.掤勁極為重要,靠勁先要化得合法,靠時要快,要有一㝎目標。
Ward-off energy is of prime importance. As for bumping energy, you first have to neutralize to get into the right position. Bumping should be fast and have a specific target.

42.發勁沉且長而震動全身者,其勁剛柔具備,所謂陰陽相濟者也。
When issuing power, it should be heavy, reach far, and be a vibration throughout your entire body. It should contain both hardness and softness, just like the principle of the passive and active aspects complementing each other.

前哲遺著節錄
EXCERPTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF FORMER MASTERS

一楊澄甫先生之遺著
One: Posthumous Writings of Yang Chengfu

按先生於二十三年著有體用全書一部,頗為完備,此書或尚存在,茲篇係另選先生所演講之一篇記錄,及拳術十要兩種,最便初學之閱讀。
(In 1934, Yang Chengfu published Complete Book of Theory & Application. Due to its “completeness”, that book will probably have a continued notoriety. However, the piece below is instead somebody’s written recording of a lecture Yang gave. Taken together with his famous “Ten Essentials of the Art”, these two pieces are very convenient for the study of beginners.)

太極拳之練習談
DISCUSSION ON PRACTICING TAIJI BOXING

中國之拳術,雖派別繁多,要知皆寓有哲理之技術,歷來古人窮畢生之精力,而不能盡其玄妙者,在在皆是,雖然,學者若費一日之功力,即得有一日之成效,日積月累,水到渠成,非若歐西之由徑賽等技,一說即明,略示便會,無精深玄妙之研究也。
Although China’s boxing arts are numerous, it should be understood that they all contain techniques imbued with philosophy. People of previous generations devoted their entire lives to the training and yet could never find the end of the art. One day of training gives you one day’s result. It is only if you keep at it day after day and month after month that you will succeed. It is not like the track & field training of the West, in which a single explanation makes everything clear and a simple demonstration makes everything obvious, lacking any need for a deeper study into profound mysteries.

太極拳,乃柔中寓剛,棉裏藏針之藝術,于技術上,生理上,力學上,有相當之哲理存焉,故研究此道者,須經過一㝎之程序,與相當之時日,雖然良師之指導,好友之切磋,固不可少,而最緊要者,是在逐日自身之鍛練,否則談論終日,思慕經年,一朝交手,空洞無物,依然是門外漢者,未有逐日工夫,古人所謂,終思無益,不如學也,若能晨昏無間,寒暑不易,一經動念,即舉摹練,無論老幼男女,及其成功則一也。
Taiji Boxing is hardness contained within softness, a needle hidden within cotton. Its techniques and its adherence to physiological and mechanical principles amount to a philosophy. Those who learn this art have to go through a process which will take some time. Even with instruction from good teachers and assistance from good friends, which are indispensable, the most important thing is to commit to daily solo practice.
  Otherwise you may be able to discuss the art all day long, praising it year after year, but once you cross hands with an opponent, you have nothing of substance within you, still no better than a layman, totally lacking in skill. An ancient person said [Confucius, Lun Yu, 15.31]: “I have tried going all day without food, all night without sleep, spending that time instead in meditation. I got nothing out of it. Better to spend one’s time actually studying something.” If you can practice every morning and evening without exception, even during the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer, then as soon you start moving, you will be developing yourself. In this way, regardless of old or young, man or woman, all can succeed.

近來研究太極拳者,由北而南,自黃河流域至揚子江流域,之江流域,今及珠江流域,同志日增,不禁為國術前途喜,然同志中,專心苦練,誠心向學,將來不可限量者,固不乏人,但普通不免入於兩途,一則天才即俱,年力又強,舉一反三,穎悟出群,惜乎稍有小成,便是滿足,遽邇中輟,未能大受,其次急求速效,忽略而成,未經一載,拳,劍,刀,槍皆已學全,雖能依樣葫蘆,而實際未得此中三昧,一經考究其方向動作,上下內外,皆未合度,如欲改正,則式式皆須修改,且朝經改正,而夕已忘卻,故常聞人曰,習拳容易改拳難,此語之來,皆由速成而致此,如此輩者,以誤傳誤,必致自誤誤人,最為技術前途憂者也。
Recently students of Taiji Boxing have been coming south past the Yellow River down to the areas of the Yangzte River basin and now also to the Pearl River basin [i.e. from Beijing to Shanghai and Hong Kong]. With colleagues increasing in number by the day, the future of our martial arts appears to be bright. It seems there will be no lack of practitioners who are focused, hardworking, and sincere about learning the art, but ordinary students fall unavoidably into two categories:
  Firstly there are those with natural talent, lots of strength, and higher than average intelligence, able to intuit several steps further from a single explanation. Unfortunately, once they have reached a small level of achievement, they become satisfied with what they have accomplished so far and suddenly give up halfway, making themselves unable to gain the grand results that were available to them.
  Then there are those who are in a hurry for quick results, who neglect to fully digest each part of the process, who after not even a year have rushed through the boxing set, sword set, saber set, and spear exercises. Though they can demonstrate the movements mechanically, they have not actually achieved any kind of mastery, and as soon as you look closely at their movements and positioning, it is clear that everything is a little bit off, above and below, internally and externally. They require corrections for every single posture. But the corrections they receive during the day, they have already forgotten by evening. I have often heard it said: “Boxing arts are easy to learn, difficult to correct.” These words are always referring to students who learn too quickly and end up in this situation. Such people pass on their errors and end up corrupting the art not only for themselves but for others as well, which makes me worry for the future of the art.

太極拳開始,先練拳架,所謂拳架者,即照拳譜上各式名稱,一式一式由師指授,學者息心靜氣,默記揣摩,而照行之,謂之練架子,此時學者分內外上下之注意,屬于內者,即所謂用意不用力,下則氣沉丹田,上則虛靈頂勁,屬于外者,周身輕靈,節節貫串,由腳而腿而腰,沉肩曲肘等是也,初學之時,先此數句,朝夕揣摩,而體會之,一式一手,總須仔細推求,舉動練習,務求正確,習練既純,再求二式,于是逐漸而至于習完,如是則毋事改正,日久亦不致變更要領也。
When beginning to learn the art, start with the boxing set, posture by posture, including the name of each posture, in accordance with the instructions of the teacher. Clear your mind in order to memorize, contemplate, and properly perform what you are learning. When practicing the set, pay attention to the distinctions between internal and external, above and below. What is meant by “internal” is to “use intention rather than exertion”, to below “sink energy down to your elixir field”, to above “forcelessly press up your headtop”. What is meant by “external” is to keep your whole body nimble, to move your joints sequentially – “from foot to leg to waist”, to sink your shoulders and bend your elbows.
  In the beginning, these principles need to be contemplated day and night in order to be truly understood. With each technique, each posture, delve into it in detail. Strive to perform each movement with precision. It is only once you have become skillful at a posture that you should move on to learning the next one, and thereby very gradually learn the whole set. In this way, you will not compromise the art, learning the material over a long period of time without ending up corrupting the principles.

習練運行時,周身骨節,均須鬆開自然,其一口腹不可閉氣,其二四肢腰腿,不可起強勁,此二句,學內家拳者,類能道之,但一舉動,一轉身,或踢腿擺腰,其氣喘矣,其身搖矣,其病皆由閉氣與起強勁也。
When practicing the movements, all of the joints of your body must be loose and natural. You must not hold your breath and you must not move your limbs with any strain. These two points are thoroughly understood by students of internal styles of boxing arts. With every movement, turn of the waist, or kick, if you are short of breath or your body wobbles, the error lies always with holding the breath and straining the limbs.

一,摹練時,頭部不可偏側與俯仰,所謂要頂頭懸,若有物頂於頭上之意,切忌硬直,所謂懸字意義也,目光雖然向前平視,有時當隨身法而轉移,其視線雖屬空虛,亦為變化中一重要之動作,而補身法手法之不足也,其口似開非開,似閉非閉,口呼鼻吸,任其自然,(按口呼一居,與田師所授不同,)如舌下生津,當隨時嚥入,勿吐棄之。
1. When practicing, your head must not loll forward or back. Your headtop should be “pulled up as if suspended”. If you imagine you are balancing something on your head, you might force your head to be upright, which is why the idea of being suspended from above is used instead. Although your gaze is forward, it follows along with the turnings of your body. Although you are not actually looking at anything, your gaze is an essential part of the changes of movement, assisting your body and hands. Your mouth seems to be open but not open, closed but not closed. Keeping your breathing natural, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth (a point which differs from the teachings of Tian Zhaolin). As your tongue generates saliva, swallow it down and do not spit it out.

二,身軀宜中正而不倚,脊樑與尾閭,宜垂直而不偏,但遇開合變化時,有含胸拔背,沉肩轉腰之活用,初學時亟須注意,否則日久難改,必流于板滯,工夫雖深,難以得益致用矣。
2. Your body should be upright and not leaning in any direction. Your spine and tailbone should be vertical and not inclining in any direction. However, contained within the alternations of opening and closing, there is the hollowing of the chest and rounding of the back, as well as the flexibility of sinking the shoulders and turning the waist. These are things which beginners must pay attention to, otherwise bad habits will become difficult to correct and you will end up stuck in a state of stiffness. Under those circumstances, even if you develop a deep level of skill, it will be difficult to gain any practical use out of it.

三,兩臂骨節均須鬆開,肩應下垂,肘應下曲,掌宜微伸,手尖微曲,以意運臂,以氣貫指,日積月累,內勁通靈,其玄妙自生矣。
3. Your forearms should be loose, shoulders hanging down, elbows drooping, palms slightly stretching, fingers slightly bent. Use intention to move your arms. Send energy coursing through to your fingertips. Building up over the days and months, you will eventually be full of internal power and a mysterious quality will naturally develop.

四,兩腿宜分虛實,起落猶如貓行,體重移於左者,則左實,而右腳謂之虛,若移于右,則右實而左腳謂之虛,所謂虛者非空,其勢仍未斷,而留有伸縮變化之餘意存焉,所謂實者,確實而已,非用勁過分,用力過猛之謂,故腿曲至伸直為準,逾此謂之過勁,身軀前撲,即失中正姿勢,敵得乘機進攻矣。
4. Your legs divide into one empty and the other full, and rise and lower like the steps of a cat. When the weight shifts onto your left leg, your left leg is full, right foot empty. When the weight shifts onto your right leg, your right leg is full, left foot empty. Emptiness does not mean that it is becoming totally insubstantial. Movement must not cease completely and you must maintain an intention of alternating between extending and contracting. Fullness simply means substantial, not using undue strength or fierceness. Your leg will go from bent to straight, but if you make it too straight, you are using too much strength. If your body leans forward, you are liable to lose your balance, and then the opponent will have an opportunity to attack.

五,腳掌應分踢腿,(譜上左右分腳或寫左右翅腳)與蹬腿二式(此亦與田師所授稍異,)踢腿時則注意腳尖,蹬腿時則注意全掌,意到而氣到,氣到而勁自到,但腿節均須鬆開而平穩出之,此時最易起強勁,身軀波折而不穩,發腿亦無力矣。
5. The position of the sole of the foot should be divided into snapping kicks (i.e. the kicks to the side, sometimes written as “winging kicks”) and pressing kicks (which also is slightly different from the teachings of Tian Zhaolin). When doing a snapping kick, focus on the tip of the foot. When doing a pressing kick, focus on the entire sole of the foot. Where intention arrives, energy arrives. Where energy arrives, power arrives. The joints of your legs must loosen and the kick must go out with stability. It will then be easy to generate power. But if your body wobbles unstably, the kick will have no power at all.

太極拳之程序,先練拳架,(屬于徒手)如太極拳,太極長拳,其次單手推挽,原地推手,活步推手,大捋,散手,再次則器械,如太極劍,太極刀,太極槍(十三槍)等是也。
The Taiji Boxing training sequence:
  1. Learn the boxing sets – Taiji Boxing and Taiji Long Boxing.
  2. Learn pushing hands – single hand and double hand, fixed step and moving step, then the large rollback exercise, and sparring.
  3. Then learn weapons – Taiji Sword, Taiji Saber, and Taiji Spear (i.e. Thirteen Dynamics Spear).

練拳時間,每日起床後兩遍,若晨起無暇,則睡前兩遍,一日之中,應練七八次,至少晨昏各一遍,但醉後,飽食後,皆宜避忌。
When practicing the boxing set, run through it twice every morning after you get up. If you have no time in the morning, then run through it twice each evening before going to bed. Over the course of a day, you should practice the set seven or eight times, but at least once in the morning and evening. Do not practice after drinking alcohol or eating too much.

練習地點,以庭園與廳堂,能通空氣,多光線者,皆為相宜,但忌直射之烈風,與有陰濕霉氣之場所耳,因身體一經運動,呼吸㝎然深長,故烈風與霉氣,如深入腹中,有害于肺臟,易致疾病也。
Your practice location ought to be something like a flower garden or courtyard in order to get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Avoid standing directly in strong wind. Avoid also places with a damp and musty smell. Once you are moving and your breath deepens, windy or musty air will enter your lungs and can easily cause illness.

練習之服裝,以寬大之中服短裝,與闊頭之布鞋為佳,練習經時,如遇出汗,切忌脫衣裸體,或行冷水揩抺,否則未有不罹疾病也。
The proper clothes for practice are loose-fitting jacket and pants, as well as shoes that are not too tight. If you are sweating after practicing, do not remove your clothes and stand around with your skin exposed to a breeze, nor wipe yourself down with cold water, otherwise you are sure to make yourself ill.

太極拳術十要
TEN ESSENTIALS OF THE TAIJI BOXING ART

按十要法則,乃選拳論心解等所示之要领,摘其要旨十則,先生釋其要義,誠初學最宜熟誦默記于心者也。
(These ten essential principles were selected from among the main points of various writings, Yang picking what he considered the top ten. They are very suitable for beginners to learn and memorize.)

一,虛靈頂勁
1. Forcelessly press up your headtop.

頂勁者,頭容正直,神貫於頂也,不可用力,用力則項強,氣血不能流通,須有虛靈自然之意,非有虛靈頂勁,則精神不能提起也。
By “press up your headtop” is indicated that the appearance of your head is upright and spirit penetrates to your headtop. You must not use exertion. If you use exertion, your neck will be straining, and energy and blood will be unable to flow through. There must be an intention of being forceless and natural. If you do not have this quality of forcelessly pressing up your headtop, then spirit cannot be raised.

二,含胸拔背
2. Contain your chest and pluck up your back.

涵胸者胸略內涵,使氣沉于丹田也,胸忌挺出,挺出則氣擁胸際,上重下輕,腳跟易於浮起,拔背者,氣貼于背也,能含胸則自能拔背,能拔背則能力由脊發,所向無敵也。
To “contain your chest” means your chest is slightly shrugged inward, causing energy to sink to your elixir field. Your chest must not stick out. If it 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. To “pluck up your back” means energy sticks to your back. If you can contain your chest, then you will automatically be able to pluck up your back. If you can pluck up your back, then you can issue power from your spine and be invincible.

三,鬆腰
3. Loosen your waist.

腰為一身之主宰,能鬆腰然後兩足有力,下盤穩固,虛實變化皆由腰轉動,故曰:命意源頭在腰際,有不得力必于腰腿求之也。
The waist is the controller of the whole body. If you can loosen your waist, then your feet will have strength, and your stance will be stable. The transformations between empty and full all come from the turning of your waist. Thus it is said [in the Thirteen Dynamics Song] that the “command comes from your lower back”, and if you do not have the advantage, the problem “must be in the waist and legs, so look for it there”.

四,分虛實
4. Distinguish between empty and full.

太極拳以分虛實為第一義,如全身皆坐在右腿,則右腿為實,左腿為虛,全身坐在左腿,則左腿為實,右腿為虛,虛實能分,而後轉動輕靈,毫不費力,如不能分,則步重滯,自立不穩,而易為人所牽動。
In the Taiji boxing art, distinguishing empty and full is of prime importance. 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, your stance will naturally be unstable, and it will be easy for an opponent to pull you off-balance.

五,沉肩墜肘
5. Sink your shoulders and drop your elbows.

沉肩者,肩鬆開下垂也,若不能鬆垂,兩肩端起,則氣亦隨之而上,全身皆不得力,墜肘者,肘往下鬆墜之意,肘若懸起,則肩不能沉,放人不遠,近于外家之斷勁矣。
To “sink your shoulders” means your shoulders loosen and hang down. If they cannot loosen and hang, they will end up lifting, then energy will also follow them upward, and your whole body will have no strength. To “drop your elbows” means an intention of loosening your elbows to drop them downward. If your elbows are lifted up, your shoulders cannot sink, and you will not send the opponent far. It would be more like the interrupted power of external styles.

六,用意不用力
6. Use intention rather than exertion.

拳論云:此全是用意不用力,練太極拳須全身鬆開,不使有分毫之拙勁,以留滯于筋骨血脉之間,以自束縛,然後能輕靈變化圓轉自如,或疑不用力何以能長力?蓋人身之有經絡,如地之有溝洫,溝洫不塞而水行,經絡不閉而氣通,如渾身僵勁充滿經絡,氣血停滯,轉動不靈,牽一髮而全身動矣,若不用力而用意,意之所至,氣即至焉,如是氣血流注,日日貫輸,周流全身,無時停滯,久久練習,則得真正內勁,即太極拳論中所云:極柔軟然後能極堅剛也,太極功夫純熟之人,臂膊如棉裹鉄,分量極沉,練外家拳者,用力則顯,有力不用力時,則甚輕浮,可見其力乃外勁浮面之勁也,外家之力最易引勁,不足尚也。
A Taiji essay [Li Yiyu’s Five-Word Formula says: “This is entirely a matter of using intention, not exertion.” When practicing Taiji Boxing, your whole body should be loosened. If you do not allow there to be the slightest bit of clumsy effort clogging up the spaces between your muscles and bones, vessels and meridians, and which would tie you up in knots, then you can be nimble and adaptable, rounded and unhindered. You may ask: “If one does not exert oneself, how can one get stronger?” A person’s body has energy channels like irrigation canals. When a canal is unblocked, the water can move, and when the channels are not closed off, energy can flow. If your whole body is stiff, it is as though the channels have been filled in, and thus the energy and blood become stagnant, the movement becomes awkward, and your whole body will be affected by but the tug of a hair. If you use intention instead of exertion, then wherever your intention goes, energy will arrive. If energy and blood are flowing, constantly coursing through, circulating through your whole body without a moment of stagnation, then after practicing for a long time, you will obtain genuine internal power. Another Taiji essay [Understanding How to Practice] says: “Extreme softness begets extreme hardness.” One who is skilled in Taiji has arms like silk wrapped around iron and they feel very heavy. When practitioners of external styles use exertion, it is obvious they are exerting themselves, and when they do not use exertion, they are very light and floating. It can be seen that their strength is an external and superficial strength. The strength of external styles is the easiest to take advantage of, therefore do not esteem it.

七,上下相隨
7. Your upper body and lower coordinate with each other.

上下相隨者,即拳論中所云:其根在腳,發於腿,主宰于腰,形于手指,由腳而腿而腰,總須完整一氣也,手動,足動,腰動,眼神亦隨之動,以是方可謂之上下相隨,有一不動,則散亂矣。
The meaning of this is stated in the classics thus: “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.” Your hands move, your waist moves, your feet move, and even your gaze also goes along with the movement. If it is like this, then you can say your upper body and lower are coordinating with each other, but if there is one part that is not moving with all the rest, then you are in disorder.

八,內外相合
8. Inside and outside merge with each other.

太極拳所練在神,故云:神為主帥,身為軀使,精神能提得起,自然舉動輕靈,架子不外虛實開合,所謂開者,不但手足開,心意亦與之俱開,所謂合者,不但手足合,心意亦與之俱合,能內外合為一氣,則渾然無間矣。
Taiji training is all about the spirit. Therefore it is said [in an earlier version of How to Practice]: “Your spirit is the general and your body is the army.” If your spirit can be lifted, naturally the movement will be nimble. There is nothing more to the solo set than emptiness and fullness, and expansion and contraction. 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.

九,相連不斷
9. The movements are linked together without interruption.

外家拳術,其勁乃後天之拙勁,故有起有止,有續有斷,舊力已盡,新力未生,此時最易為人所乘,太極拳用意不用力,自始至終,綿綿不斷,周而復始,循環無窮,原論所謂如長江大河,滔滔不絕,又曰:運勁如抽絲,皆言其貫串一氣也。
In external styles of boxing arts, their strength is only the clumsy strength of acquired habit. Therefore there is a start and a stop, a continuing and an interrupting. It is when old force is spent and new force is not yet initiated that is the easiest moment for an opponent to take advantage of. Taiji uses intention, not exertion, and so from beginning to end, it is continuous without interruption, recycling endlessly. A primary text says: “It is like a long river flowing into the wide ocean, on and on ceaselessly.” It is also said [in How to Practice]: “Move energy as if drawing silk.” These words describe a continuous flow throughout.

十,動中求靜
10. Within movement, seek stillness.

外家拳術,以跳擲為能,用盡氣力,故練習之後,無不喘氣者,太極拳以靜御動,雖動猶靜,故練架子愈慢愈好,慢則呼吸深長,氣沉丹田,自無血脉僨張之弊,學者細心體會,庶可得其意焉。
External styles of boxing arts look upon jumping and posing as ability. Practitioners spend all of their energy, and therefore after practicing are always panting for breath. Taiji uses stillness to control movement, and although moving, seems yet to be in stillness. Therefore when practicing the solo set, the slower the better. 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. Students who are attentive and realize through experience will all get the idea.

二李亦畬先生遺著
Two: Posthumous Writings of Li Yiyu

按先生學於武禹襄先生,盡通其術,此乃先生自著之手寫本也,除小序已見上卷另文,茲不具錄外,餘悉照錄,以窺全豹。
(Li Yiyu learned the art from Wu Yuxiang. Having thoroughly mastered it, he then produced a handwritten manuscript about it. Apart from a brief preface, he also contributed several other writings within that document, texts which are far more informative than his preface, and which grant us a wonderful glimpse into the secrets of the art.)

一,五字訣
THE FIVE-WORD FORMULA

一心靜
1. The mind is CALM.

心不靜則不專,一舉手,前後左右,全無㝎向,故心要靜,起初舉動未能由已,要悉心體認,隨人所動,隨屈就伸,不丟不頂,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,須向不丟不頂中討消息,從此做去,日積月累,便能施之於身,此全是用意,不是用勁,久之則人為我制,我不為人制矣。
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 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 a natural part of you. 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”.

二、身靈
2. The body is LIVELY.

身滯則進退不能自如,故要身靈,舉手不可有呆像,彼之力方覺侵我皮毛,我之意已入彼骨裡,兩手支撑,一氣貫串,左重則左虛,而右已去,右重則右虛,而左已去,氣如車輪,周身俱要相隨,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,後使身能從心,由己仍從人,由己則滯,從人則活,能從人,手上便有分寸,量彼勁之大小,分釐不錯,權彼來之長短,毫髮無差,前進後退,處處恰心,工彌久而技弥精。
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.

三、氣歛
3. The energy is COLLECTED.

氣勢散漫,便無含蓄,身易散亂,務使氣歛入脊骨,呼吸通靈,周身罔間,吸為合為蓄,呼為開為發,蓋吸則自然提得起,亦拿得人起,呼則自然沉得下,亦放得人出,此是以意運氣,非以力使氣也。
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 contracting and storing. Exhaling is expanding and 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.

四、勁整
4. The power is COMPLETE.

一身之勁,練成一家,分清虛實,發勁要有根源,勁起腳根,主于腰間,形于手指,發于脊背,又要提起全副精神,于彼勁將出未發之際,我勁已接入彼勁,恰好不後不先,如皮燃火,如泉涌出,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。
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” or “using four ounces to move a thousand pounds”.

五、神聚
5. The spirit is GATHERED.

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,開合有致,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,精神要贵貫注,緊要全在胸中腰間,運用不在外面,力從人借,氣由脊發,胡能氣由脊發,氣向下沉,由兩肩收于脊骨,注于腰間,此氣之由上而下也,謂之合,由腰形于脊骨,布于兩膊,施于手指,此氣由下而上也,謂之開,合便是收,開即是放,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。
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. Expanding and contracting are decisive. Emptiness and fullness 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.

二、撒放密訣
THE TRICK TO RELEASING

擎引鬆放四字
Raise, draw in, relax, and release.
擎開彼勁借彼力(中有靈字)
引到身前勁始蓄(中有歛字)
鬆開我勁勿使屈(中有靜字)
放時腰腳認端的(中有整字)
I get the opponent’s body to rise up and I borrow his force. (This has to do with “lively”.)
Once I have drawn him in front of me, my power begins to store. (This has to do with “collected”.)
I relax my power, but I do not allow it to collapse. (This has to do with “calm”.)
When I release, it comes from my waist and legs. (This has to do with “complete”.)

三、走架打手行工要言
ESSENTIALS IN PRACTICING THE SOLO SET & PLAYING HANDS

昔人云:能引進落空,便能四兩撥千斤,不能引進落空,便不能四兩撥千斤,語甚該括,初學末由领悟,予加數語以解之,俾有志斯技者,得所從入,庶日進有功矣,欲要引進落空,四兩撥千斤,先要知己知彼,欲要知己知彼,先要捨己從人,欲要舍己從人,先要得機得勢,欲要得機得勢,先要周身一家,欲要周身一家,先要周身無有缺陷,欲要周身無有缺陷,先要神氣鼓盪,欲要神氣鼓盪,先要提起精神,欲要提起精神,先要神不外散,欲要神不外散,先要神氣收歛入骨,欲要神氣收歛入骨,先要兩股前節有力,兩肩鬆開,氣向下沉,勁起於腳根,变換在腿,含蓄在胸,運動在兩肩,主宰在腰,上與兩膊相系,下與兩腿相隨,勁由內換,收便是合,放即是開,靜則俱靜,靜是合,合中寓開,動則俱動,動是開,開中寓合,觸之則旋轉自如,無不得力,才能引進落空,四兩撥千斤,平日走架是知己工夫,一動勢,先问自己周身合上數項否?少有不合,即速改換,走架所以要慢不要快,打手是知人工夫,動靜固是知人,仍是问己,自己安排得好,人一挨我,我不動彼絲毫,趁勢而入,接㝎彼勁,彼自跌出,如自己有不力處,便是雙重未化,要于陰陽開合求之,所謂知己知彼,百戰百勝也。
Someone long ago said: “If you can draw the opponent in to land on nothing, you can then use four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds. If you cannot draw the opponent in to land on nothing, you cannot use four ounces to move a thousand pounds.” These words are probably too vague for a beginner to understand. I will explain further so that those who want this skill are in a position to begin and then after much regular training get to possess it:
  – If you want to [10] draw the opponent into emptiness and use four ounces to move a thousand pounds, you must first [9] know both yourself and the opponent.
  – If you want to know both yourself and the opponent, you must first [8] let go of your plans and just respond to the opponent.
  – If you want to let go of your plans and just respond to the opponent, you must first [7] be in the right place at the right time.
  – If you want to be in the right place at the right time, you must first [6] get your whole body to behave as one unit.
  – If you want to get your whole body to behave as one unit, you must first [5] get your whole body to be without cracks or gaps.
  – If you want to get your whole body to be without cracks or gaps, you must first [4] get your spirit and energy to be ready.
  – If you want your spirit and energy to be ready, you must first [3] rouse your spirit rather than letting it be distracted.
  – If you want to keep your spirit from being distracted, you must first [2] get your spirit and energy to gather and collect in your spine.
  – If you want to get your spirit and energy to gather and collect in your spine, you must first [1] get the front of your thighs to have strength, get your shoulders to loosen, and get your energy to sink downward.
  Power starts from your heel, is transferred through your leg, stored in your chest, moved at your shoulders, and controlled at your waist. In your upper body, your arms are connected with each other. In your lower body, your legs are coordinated with each other. Power is transferred from within. Gathering is contracting. Releasing is expanding. When becoming still, everything becomes still. Stillness refers to contracting. When contraction finishes, there will be expansion. When there is movement, everything moves. Movement refers to expanding. When expansion finishes, there will be contraction. Then when there is contact, you can turn smoothly and will be strong everywhere. You will then be able to draw the opponent in to land on nothing and use four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds.
  Whenever you practice the solo set, it is the practice of knowing yourself. Before moving through the postures, make sure your whole body is in accord with the principles as stated above. When the slightest part is off, immediately adjust it. To facilitate this, the set should be done slowly rather than quickly.
  Playing hands is then the practice of knowing the opponent. His movement and stillness must be firmly comprehended. Still examine yourself as well. If I am in good order myself, then when the opponent comes near me, I do not need to act upon him at all, but take advantage of his momentum to find a way in. Connecting firmly to his power, I let him cause himself to fall out. If you do not have a strong position, this is simply a case of double pressure rather than neutralization, and you should seek within passive and active, or contracting and expanding, to fix it. It is said: “Knowing both yourself and your opponent, in a hundred battles you will have a hundred victories.”

三孫祿堂先生之遺著
Three: Posthumous Writings of Sun Lutang

按先生早年於形意,八卦,太極,均深入堂奧,著作亦甚富,惜倉卒來台,行李過簡書籍未能携帶,僅於故紙堆中,獲得先生一紙談話之記錄而已,茲特轉錄於此,藉以保存先生之餘緒,并供同道之觀讀耳。
(Sun Lutang had a profound understanding of Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji, and wrote many books about them. Unfortunately, when I came to Taiwan, my luggage was too small to fit all my books, leaving me with only enough space for a few old books and a pile of old papers. The only writings of Sun that I managed to bring were these notes from a lecture he gave. I present them here to preserve these extra teachings of Sun and to supply fellow enthusiasts with unique material for study.)

太極拳姿勢動作要領談
ESSENTIALS OF TAIJI BOXING POSTURES & MOVEMENTS

太極拳有幾種不同之架子,各式名稱亦有不同,但其拳理則一,要領則同,太極拳之姿勢動作,有一定之要领,亦各有其一定之意義,學者必須按照要领練習,茲將其要领分述如下:
Although there are different versions of the practice set, with a few of the postures being giving variant names, the principles of the art are the same. Taiji Boxing’s postures and movements all have specific requirements and each has a specific meaning. You must practice in accordance with these requirements. The requirements of the art are presented briefly below:

頭―
Head:

要有上頂之意,但不可用力,頂頭則頭正直,精神貫注。
Your head should have an intention of pressing up, but must not do so with exertion. By pressing your head up, the headtop is made upright and spirit is concentrated.

口―
Mouth:

要虛合,舌頂上顎,用鼻呼吸,并要勻細。
Your mouth should be gently closed, tongue touching your upper palate. Breathe through your nose, and the breath should be even and fine.

肩―
Shoulders:

兩肩要鬆開,并往下垂,切忌聳肩,如肩聳起,則氣向上涌。
Your shoulders should loosen and hang down. They should on no account be lifting, which would cause your energy to rise upward.

肘―
Elbows:

兩肘要往下墜,肘墜則肩垂,腹內之氣就能下沉丹田,肘墜則臂曲,此即所謂曲中求直,蓄而後發。
Your elbows should drop down. If your elbows are dropped, then your shoulders will hang, and the energy within your belly will then be able to sink to your elixir field. With your elbows dropped, your arms will be bent. This has to do with: “Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue.”

手―
Hands:

五指鬆開,(不要并攏)并要塌腕,按塌腕,即田師稱謂坐腕。
Your fingers are to be loose (i.e. should not be held together) and your wrists should sink (or what Tian Zhaolin phrased as “your wrists should settle”).

胸―
Chest:

要虛涵不可挺出,涵胸則氣沉,挺胸則氣涌,氣涌於上,則上重下輕,腳跟漂浮,拳家所忌。
Your chest should be contained and must not stick out. When your chest is contained, energy sinks, but if your chest sticks out, energy will rise up. If energy rises, then you will be heavy above and light below, and your heels will float up, which is something to be avoided in boxing arts.

腰―
Waist:

練拳時,須塌腰,因腰為全身之主,左轉右旋,向前退後,全仗腰勁貫串。
When practicing the set, it is necessary to settle your waist, because the waist is the controller of the whole body. In turning left or right, and in advancing or retreating, by way of complete reliance on your waist there will be power coursing through.

腿―
Legs:

兩腿要屈不要直,要分虛實,(按田師小架子,兩腿亦皆屈也。)(體重放在一条腿上)否則動作不靈活。
Your legs should be bent and should not be straight. (Tian Zhaolin similarly said of the small frame of the boxing set that both legs should be bent.) There should be distinction between empty and full (i.e. the weight placed onto one leg at a time), otherwise the movement will not be nimble.

氣―
Energy:

所謂氣沉丹田(臍下三寸處),即是深呼吸之意,在太極拳中具有極重要之意義,但不可用力往下壓氣,應任其自然。
It is said that “energy sinks to your elixir field” (three inches below the navel), which signifies deep breathing. Deep breathing is always a very important idea in Taiji Boxing, but you must not forcefully press the energy down and should instead let it happen naturally.

動與靜―
Movement & Stillness:

修道人的靜坐法,是靜中求動,太極拳則動中求靜,練拳時,心要靜,精神集中,如此動作方能圓活。
In Daoist meditation methods, we seek movement within stillness, but in Taiji Boxing we seek stillness within movement. When practicing the set, your mind should be calm and your spirit focused, and thereby the movements can be nimble.

意與力―
Intention & Exertion:

太極拳之特点,是用意不用力,因太極拳是要用活力,要極柔軟而極堅剛,極沉重而極靈活,意到力到,活力自生,若用拙力,則遲滯不靈,力浮於外,不合乎內家拳之要求矣。
A characteristic of Taiji Boxing is the use of intention rather than exertion. Because Taiji Boxing seeks to use a lively strength, you should seek for both extreme softness and extreme hardness, for both extreme heaviness and extreme nimbleness. Where intention goes, power goes, and a lively strength is naturally generated. If you instead use an awkward exertion, it will be sluggish and ineffective, strength only on the outer surface, and this is incompatible with the requirements of internal boxing arts.

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