Suggested Tai Chi Reading

Tai Chi
Tai Chi

Part 1:

“Inherent distinct method:

At the beginning of life, one’s eyes can see, ears can hear, nose can smell, mouth can taste; colors, sounds, fragrances, and tastes—all are natural perceptions, inherent goodness. The movements of hands and feet, the abilities of the four limbs—all are natural and inherent. When considering this, people become familiar without cause; human nature is close but also distant, lost and confused in the inherent. To restore our inherent, we must seek the root of movement through martial practice and the original source of perception through scholarly understanding. It is by moving that we perceive, and by perceiving that we feel. Without movement, there is no perception; without action, there is no sensation. When movement reaches its extreme, it becomes action; when perception is heightened, it becomes knowledge. The one who knows through action is easily achieved, while the one who perceives through movement is difficult to attain. First, seek to understand your own perceptual movement; once attained, you can understand others. But, first seek to understand others, lest you lose yourself. You must understand this principle, only then can you grasp the essence.”

Part 2:

“Adhere, Stick, Follow, and Accompany:

Adhering is lifting and raising; sticking is lingering and entwining; following is responding to the opponent’s movements; accompanying is adjusting to their actions. To understand the perceptual movement of others, one must master the intricacies of adhering, sticking, following, and accompanying.

Top, Flat, Lost, and Resist:

Top means to emerge and protrude; flat means not reaching; lost means to detach; resist means to be excessively forceful. To understand the flaws in these four aspects, it is due to a lack of understanding of adhering, sticking, following, and accompanying, as well as a lack of comprehension of perceptual movement. In the beginning stages of learning, one must not only be aware of these flaws but also work diligently to eliminate them. The most challenging aspects are adhering, sticking, following, and accompanying, which must not be replaced with top, flat, lost, or resist. This is the challenging part.”

Part 3:

“Dealing with No Illness:

Top, flat, lost, and resist indicate a lack of skill in dealing with the opponent. Therefore, we call it ‘illness.’ Once you lose adhering, sticking, following, and accompanying, how can you perceive movement? If you don’t understand yourself, how can you understand others? ‘Dealing with’ does not mean opposing the opponent with top, flat, lost, or resist. Instead, it means waiting for the opponent with adhering, sticking, following, and accompanying. If you can do this, not only will your responses be without flaws, but your perceptual movement will also naturally develop, allowing you to progress in understanding force.”

“Maintaining the Central Posture (Commonly Known as ‘Zhan Zhuang’):

In the center, the feet have roots,

First understand the correct alignment of the body’s advancement and retreat.

Peng, Lü, Ji, and An are derived from the Four Hands.

It takes effort to grasp their true essence.

The body, form, waist, and crown all have their significance,

Adhere, stick, follow, and accompany with balanced energy and intention.

With the movement of energy, perception comes naturally,

Spirit is the sovereign, bones and flesh are the subjects,

Clearly distinguish the seventy-two transformations,

Naturally integrated in both martial and scholarly arts.

Body, form, waist, and crown:

How can one be without all four?

If one is lacking, it requires constant study.

Stretch and extend the body and form.

Abandoning this truth, where will it lead?

Even after ten or several years, it will remain unclear.

Taiji Circles:

Retreating circles are easy, advancing circles are difficult,

Without departing from the waist and crown from the front and back,

The challenge is in maintaining the central position without leaving it.

Retreat is easy, but advancing requires careful study.

This is not merely a stationary exercise but rather an active practice.

Rely on the body to advance and retreat in conjunction with the shoulders,

Be like water grinding, alternating between urgency and slowness.

Yunlong, Fenghu, and Xiang are fully embodied.

To achieve this, use the Heavenly Circle as a reference,

Gradually, it will become natural.

The Unending Skill of Taiji’s Advancement and Retreat:

Peng, Lü, Ji, and An follow the natural principle,

Where Yin and Yang, water, and fire mutually support one another.

First, understand the Four Hands to grasp the true essence,

Only then can you split, elbow, and lean to make progress.

From these foundations, the Four Corners emerge,

The Thirteen Techniques are ever-enduring.

This is why it is called ‘Long Boxing.’

Allow it to unfold and contract at your will,

But never deviate from Taiji.

Taiji’s Upward and Downward, Named Heaven and Earth:

The Four Hands divide Taiji into Heaven and Earth,

Only by relying on the waist and crown can one harmonize Yin and Yang.

If you wonder how to connect the upper and lower,

Do not worry about the upward and downward not being in harmony.

But if you separate the elbows, moving them far away,

You’ll be lost in the realms of Heaven and Earth, sighing in regret.

This theory also reveals the patterns of Heaven and Earth,

Using elbows and splits to return to the character ‘人’ (person).

Taiji’s Eight Lines Song:

The Eight Trigrams’ proper corners sing in eight lines,

Number thirteen is not too many.

What if they lack balance and are not even?

You’ll lose your waist and crown, sighing in regret.

Use only two words to continuously speak,

Investigate the relationship between the sovereign, minister, bone, and flesh.

Both internally and externally, the skill never ends,

Teach the child to deal with it, without error.

When dealing with others, act naturally,

Going back and forth between Heaven and Earth.

Only abandon selfishness to avoid deep flaws,

Connect continuously in the upward and downward movements.”

“Taiji’s Explanation of the Unity of Form and Application:

Principle is the embodiment of essence, energy, and spirit.

Essence, energy, and spirit are the embodiment of the body,

And the body is the instrument of the mind.

Strength and force are the tools of the body.

In the heart and body, there is a certain ruler, which is principle.

In essence, energy, and spirit, there is a certain ruler, which is intention and sincerity.

Sincerity is the way of Heaven, and those who embody it follow the path of humanity.

Both are not beyond the realm of thought, occurring in an instant.

To understand the principle of the unity of Heaven and humanity,

One must grasp the flow of the qi like the sun and moon.

With the circulation of intention and energy,

The spirit naturally hides itself; it is subtle and profound.

Only then can one achieve true martial prowess and scholarly excellence,

And ultimately attain the level of a sage.

If one only focuses on the physical and mental aspects for martial practice,

Using it merely for physical strength and force,

It still comes back to the essence of the Way.

Hence, it is not limited to superficial techniques.

Strength comes from the tendons, and squareness comes from the bones.

Just like when holding an object, it requires strength to handle hundreds of pounds,

This is the training of the bones, tendons, skin, and hair, leading to the development of ‘hard power.’

If one relies solely on the entire body’s strength,

It may seem incapable of handling even a few pounds,

As this involves the cultivation of internal strength and energy.

Nevertheless, when achievement is attained,

There are still subtle applications of strength and force,

Reflecting the path of cultivating the body and physical education.”


“Taiji’s Explanation of the Unity of Martial and Literary Arts:

Literary arts pertain to form, while martial arts relate to application.

The essence of literary arts lies in martial skills, and its application lies in spirit, energy, and essence.

It serves as a physical education for martial arts, and martial skills attain literary form, embodied in the mind and body.

On the other hand, martial arts require literary preparation, forming the root of martial practices.

Thus, martial arts are the soft and flexible body exercises of spirit, energy, and essence, while martial application employs rigid and forceful techniques of body strength.

Without literary preparation, the body lacks useful application. Without martial skills, literary aspects become purposeless.

They are interdependent, like a single piece of wood being difficult to support or a lone palm making no sound.

This principle applies not only to physical education and martial arts but to all aspects of life.

Taiji’s Understanding of Jing (Internal Energy):

When one comprehends the internal energy and connects to the divine, literary accomplishment is achieved before confronting the enemy.

Within the body, there are seventy-two states, constantly present.

Yang complements Yin, water and fire are balanced, and the trigrams of Qian and Kun intersect harmoniously, thus preserving the authenticity of life.

Understanding the opponent’s internal energy allows for adaptive changes during observation and listening, attaining the subtleties of curved sincerity, where form and intent harmonize effortlessly, without relying on conscious movement or perception.

At this level of accomplishment, one can venture freely without deliberate use of intent.

Explanation of the Eighty-Five Long Boxing Movements (Taichi Long Quan):

In personal practice, each movement and posture is perfected individually, and after mastery, they are combined to form an unceasing and encompassing sequence, thus named ‘Long Boxing.’

It is crucial to maintain a specific structure in practice, to avoid slipping into slippery boxing or hard boxing.

Never lose the soft and continuous movements of the entire body.

The essence of spirit and intent is fully cultivated through prolonged practice, enabling one to reach any point and overcome any resistance.

In dealing with an opponent, the four hands emerge from the combination of the Eight Gates and Five Steps.

Stand with four hands, grind with four hands, advance and retreat with four hands, mediate with four hands, move up and down with four hands, and embrace the Three Essences with four hands.

Begin the sequence from the bottom, and progress through the Long Boxing, developing wide and expansive movements, refining them to exhibit compact flexibility.

Through this process, one ascends to the intermediate and advanced levels.

Explanation of the Taiji Principle of Reversing Yin and Yang:

Yang represents Qian (Heaven) and the Sun, while Yin represents Kun (Earth) and the Moon.

In practicing boxing, issuing, releasing, discharging, facing, opening, subduing, using, applying, body, martial skills, and standing firm,

Go with, call, rise, advance, and occupy the corners.

Kun represents Earth and the Moon, while Yin stands for being circular, absorbing, lowering, retreating, and being upright.

This principle of reversal can be thoroughly understood when examining the interplay between water and fire.

For instance, when fire is above and water below, if fire can be employed from below and water from above, it is called a reversal.

However, this requires proper methodology; otherwise, it cannot be achieved.

For instance, when water is poured into a tripod and fire is placed on top, the water inside the tripod will be heated by the fire, and not only will it not dampen below, but the hot steam from the water will rise above.

Although the fire is above, when it is separated by the tripod, it reaches an extreme position where it does not consume itself, nor does the wet water leak.

This is known as the principle of harmonizing water and fire.

Thus, it is said: ‘One becomes two, two becomes one, and altogether they form three – Heaven, Earth, and Humanity.’

Understanding this principle of reversing Yin and Yang enables one to comprehend the Dao, and by knowing the Dao, one cannot deviate even for a moment, which then allows one to speak of humanity’s ability to bring forth and propagate the Dao.

By not straying far from the Dao, one can speak of the unity of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity – one is encompassed within them.

If one can observe Heaven and Earth, combine with the brightness of the sun and moon, harmonize with the movements of the five peaks and four waterways, adapt to the changing of the four seasons, and assimilate with the withering and flourishing of vegetation, while also understanding the good and bad fortunes of gods and spirits and knowing the rise and decline of human affairs, then one can speak of Qian (Heaven) and Kun (Earth) as one great Heaven and Earth, and people as a small Heaven and Earth.

Indeed, the human body and mind constitute a small Heaven and Earth, where Heaven represents nature, Earth represents destiny, and humans possess an ethereal spirit.

If one does not understand this, how can one speak of the unity of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity as three entities?

It is only by fully cultivating one’s nature and destiny, and reaching the stage of understanding and transforming one’s spiritual power, that one can come to understand this principle.”


Explanation of the Human Body in Taiji:

In the human body, the heart is the master, the Taiji (ultimate principle). The two eyes represent the sun and moon, symbolizing the two principles. The head represents heaven, and the feet represent earth. The center of the human body, including the central wrists, forms the three essential forces. The four limbs represent the four symbols (trigrams). The kidneys correspond to water, the heart to fire, the liver to wood, and the lungs to metal, all belonging to Yin. The bladder represents wood, the small intestine fire, the gallbladder wood, and the large intestine metal, all representing Yang. This pertains to the internal aspects. The top of the head represents fire, and the bottom represents water. The left ear represents metal, and the right ear represents wood, which are the two “ming men” (life gates). This pertains to the external aspects.

The spirit originates from the heart, and the eyes are its sprouts. The essence comes from the kidneys, with the brain and kidneys being the source of essence. Qi originates from the lungs, and the gallbladder’s qi is the source of the lungs. Clear vision comes from thinking, indicating the flow of the heart’s spirit. Sharp hearing comes from thinking, indicating the smoothness of the kidneys. The nose senses smell, and the mouth regulates inhalation and exhalation. Each element has its taste: water (bitter), wood (sour), earth (pungent), fire (bitter), and metal (sweet). The spoken language reflects the sounds of wood, fire, metal, earth, and water, while the taste of inhalation and exhalation represents the flow of qi, the gate of the lungs, and the wind and thunder of the liver and gallbladder. This pertains to the internal aspects.

The hands, feet, shoulders, knees, elbows, and hips represent the six harmonious joints to regulate the six pathways. This pertains to the external aspects. The eyes, nose, ears, mouth, excretion, and navel are the seven external orifices. Joy, anger, sorrow, thought, grief, fear, and surprise are the seven internal emotions, all centered in the heart. Joy relates to the heart, anger to the liver, sorrow to the spleen, grief to the lungs, fear to the kidneys, and surprise to the gallbladder. This pertains to the internal aspects.

The heavenly stem Bing corresponds to the liver’s left rib, transforming into metal and connecting to the lungs. The heavenly stem Ding corresponds to the gallbladder, transforming into earth and connecting to the spleen. The heavenly stem Wu corresponds to the heart, transforming into wood and connecting to the gallbladder. The heavenly stem Ji corresponds to the small intestine, transforming into water and connecting to the kidneys. The heavenly stem Ji corresponds to the spleen, transforming into wood and connecting to the stomach. The heavenly stem Wu corresponds to the stomach, transforming into fire and connecting to the heart. The back and front of the body correspond to mountains and marshes, connecting with qi. The heavenly stem Xin corresponds to the right lung, transforming into water and connecting to the kidneys. The heavenly stem Geng corresponds to the large intestine, transforming into metal and connecting to the lungs. The heavenly stem Gui corresponds to the kidneys’ lower part, transforming into fire and connecting to the heart. The heavenly stem Ren corresponds to the bladder, transforming into wood and connecting to the liver. This pertains to the internal and external aspects of the ten heavenly stems. The twelve earthly branches are similar to this in the internal and external aspects.

Understanding this principle allows one to discuss the path of self-cultivation.

Explanation of Taiji’s Three Aspects of Martial and Literary Arts:

The term “Dao” doesn’t solely pertain to self-cultivation. It can be divided into three different methods of cultivation. “Cheng” refers to completion or success. The highest level is “Shang Cheng” (great completion), followed by “Xia Cheng” (small completion), and “Zhong Cheng” (complete sincerity). These methods are divided into three parts, with “Cheng Gong” (accomplishment) being one of them. Literary arts are cultivated internally, while martial arts are trained externally. Physical education corresponds to the internal aspect, while martial skills correspond to the external aspect. Success is achieved through the combination of internal and external aspects, which is the “Shang Cheng” level. One can also attain “Zhong Cheng” by obtaining martial skills through literary arts, or vice versa. However, those who solely focus on literary arts or martial skills may only reach the “Xia Cheng” level.

Explanation of Taiji’s Martial Skill and Application:

Taiji’s martial skills involve soft and flexible external movements combined with inner firmness and strength. By seeking flexibility externally, one eventually attains inner strength and firmness. This is not achieved through deliberate force but rather by cultivating inner softness. The challenge lies in containing the inner firmness without expressing it externally. One must remain soft when facing opponents, employing softness to deal with firmness, causing the opponent’s firmness to vanish. How is this accomplished? It requires sticking, adhering, connecting, and following to naturally acquire the ability to apply knowledge and awareness. This is known as “D

ong Jin” (understanding energy). At this point, the spirit becomes clear and understanding, capable of sensing both the subtle and the obvious. It becomes more and more refined, never-ending and unstoppable, unstoppable like arrows soaring to the sky. Through this practice, one attains extreme softness, which results in extreme strength. Nothing can withstand such force.

Explanation of Taiji’s Correct Practice:

Taiji represents the ultimate principle, encompassing everything, without departing from this principle in any aspect – internal, external, left, right, up, or down. Taiji signifies the square, which is also all-encompassing and all-inclusive in every aspect. The interaction of Taiji’s square and round principles is unending, making it difficult to deviate from the realm of Taiji. To progress beyond this point, one needs to maintain the square and round principles, focusing on proper posture and precise movements to achieve the utmost accuracy. One must apply the concept of a wheel within a wheel, with the heart controlling the movement of the energy flag, enabling it to follow one’s intention. When the entire body is light and agile, like a diamond arhat, it becomes responsive and adaptive, whether the situation requires speed or slowness. The essence of this practice lies in maintaining a perfect balance, achieving utmost accuracy with every slight movement and variation. Gradually, one attains the level of supreme perfection. Therefore, it is said, “The four corners lead to square and round.” When one truly understands the concept of square and round, it goes beyond the appearance of forms and reaches the realm of the ultimate hand.

Explanation of Taiji’s Four Corners:

The four corners refer to the four directions, namely Peng (ward off), Lu (rollback), Ji (press), and An (push). Without understanding these directions, how can one comprehend the concept of roundness? The principles of square and round are endlessly repeated, so how can one escape the realm of the four corners? For instance, if one focuses on partial heaviness or partial lightness, it results in stiffness and deviation. Such hands manifest as a crooked elbow or an inclined lean, representing the hands of the four corners. If someone has hands that include many flaws, they must use the hands of the four corners as a support and then return to the grand center and utmost correctness later on. As one progresses in skill, even if they attain an advanced level, they should still utilize the hands of the four corners. Due to the lack of correct practice, flaws emerge and need to be corrected.

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