BY WANG CHUNG-YUEH.It was believed that Wang Chung-Yueh lived in the thirteenth century. There is some thought now that he actually lived in the middle of the eighteenth century. Wang is credited with combining the original thirteen postures into something resembling the present continuous forms of Tai Chi. Wu Yu-seong (1812-80) was given this manual by his brother, who discovered it in a salt shop.Based on the teachings in this manual Wu went on to teach and to form Wu School. Wu made this treatise available to his students.
Tai Chi has evolved from Wu Chi (The Void Terminus). It is the source of activity and inactivity and mother of Yang and Yin.
[According to early Chinese cosmology, in the beginning was the great void, empty and without boundary. Then came the principles of Yang, or activity, and Yin, or inactivity. These in combination formed the Tai Chi.]
In movement the Yin and Yang act independently. In quietude, the two fuse into one. There should be no exceeding or falling short. You stick to your opponent's curve or withdrawal with an extension while yielding to his extension with a bending.
When an opponent's hard force is met with a soft retreat, it is termed "evasion". To stick to a retreating opponents motion is known as "adherence" or adhesion.
Answer fast action with fast action, and slow movement with slow movement. Although there are a myriad of variations, the basic principle remains the same.
From the stage of familiarity with the techniques comes the stage of a gradual understanding of the inner strength, and from the stage of understanding of the inner strength comes state of spiritual illumination. However, without going through prolonged and serious practice, it is impossible to reach ultimate enlightenment.
Keep your neck erect and direct the crown of your head upward as if your head was suspended from above. Keep your spirits raised and you will lose all clumsiness and obtuseness in your movements. Allow your intrinsic energy to sink to the "tan-tien" which is a spot about three inches below the navel.
[The "tan-tien" corresponds to the Yogic chakra located at this point, and in numerous other traditions it is thought to be a centre of power or energy.]
Avoid leaning or inclining your body in any direction. Manifest or conceal your movement so completely that your opponent finds it impossible to detect your intention. ("Know your enemy as well as yourself and you will be invincible" wrote the famous Chinese military strategist Sun Tze.)
Answer a solid intrusion on the left by emptying the left. Likewise, answer an aggressive force on the right by yielding the right. The more your opponent pushes upward or downward against you, the more he feels there is no limit to the emptiness he encounters. The more he advances against you, the more he feels the distance incredibly long. The more he retreats from you, the more he feels dead end desperately close.
Your body should be so light and nimble that a feather could not land on it without being felt, and a fly could not alight on it without setting it in motion.
Your opponent is not able to detect your moves, but you are able to anticipate his. A hero finds himself without a match because he is a master of these principles.
In the field of pugilism there are many schools. Irrespective of the differences among these schools, they all share a belief that the strong overcomes the weak and the fast overtakes slow. However, this situation is due to natural abilities that require no study. Tai Chi is different.
A careful analysis of the case in which "A trigger force of a mere four taels manages to move an object weighing one thousand catties" reveals the truth that it is not always sheer strength that wins. When "an old man was able to defeat a group of youthful attackers" it was demonstrated that speed or numbers alone did not assure victory.
Stand as a poised scale and move like a wheel.
Avoid leaning your body to one side or there is a tendency to fall to that side. Avoid distributing your body weight on both feet or you can easily become a victim of "double weighted-ness", and your movements will be impeded.
Often it has been the case that, even after years of practice, one can still be easily subdued by an opponent. This is because one has not been made to fully realize that fault implied in "double weightedness". To remedy this defect, one must seek to know the principles of Yin and Yang. Under the Yin-Yang theory to adhere is to evade and to evade is to adhere, just as the Yin cannot separate from its complementary part the Yang, and the Yang cannot separate from its complementary part the Yin. It is only in the state in which the Yin and the Yang complement each other harmoniously that there is an understanding of the "inner strength".
After one understands inner strength, more practice will bring more proficiency. If one furthers one's study by silent meditation and thorough analysis, a level will be attained where one can execute all of the movements using only the will.
The basic technique in Tai Chi is to learn to sacrifice yourself in order to follow your opponent. That is, not to initiate action against your opponent but to allow yourself to respond to whatever action your opponent takes. However, students often neglect this truth. How true is the saying: "Deviation at the beginning of just a hair-breadth leads to a divergence of a thousand miles at the end". In the study of this art, therefore, students should be sincere, thoughtful, and yielding.
AN EXPLANATION OF THE THIRTEEN POSTURES
BY WANG CHUNG-YUEH
Move your intrinsic energy with your mind so that it may sink and be gathered into your bones.
Permeate your body with your intrinsic energy in such a way that it may flow smoothly and be able to follow the direction of your mind.
If one's spirit can be lifted, there will be no sluggishness in movement. This is the meaning of "holding up the head straight as if it is suspended from above".
The will and the intrinsic energy must change with alacrity to insure roundness and swiftness in movement. This is termed "the interplay of emptiness and solidness".
To deliver strength one must remain calm and relaxed and allow the center of gravity to sink downward. One must be able to focus this energy in a single direction.
To be able to handle oncoming blows from all sides one must be still, remain centrally poised, well balanced, and expanded.
To circulate the intrinsic energy through the body one must act as if one were passing a thread through a pearl having nine zigzag paths: a slow and even course that leaves no corner untouched.
To develop strength one must act as if one were refining steel a hundred times so that nothing would be too hard for it to penetrate.
Poise your body like a hawk ready to pounce on a rabbit.
Alert your spirit like a cat ready to overtake a mouse.
In quietude be as still as a mountain.
In movement go like the current of a river.
Store strength as if releasing an arrow.
Seek straightness from the curve.
Store strength before releasing it.
Strength is delivered from the back.
Steps are changed in accordance with the change of postures.
To contract is to expand. Movement must be in absolute continuity. Back and forth must have folds and variations, advance and retreat must have turns and changes.
Only when one can be extremely pliable and soft can one be extremely firm and hard.
Only when one truly knows how to inhale and exhale can one move nimbly and smoothly.
Intrinsic energy must be continuously nourished. It can cause no harm.
Inner strength must be conserved in a curved way; then there will be excess to spare.
The mind is the commander; the intrinsic energy the flag; and the waist the banner.
One should first seek to stretch and expand and then seek to tighten and collect, and eventually one will reach a stage in which movements are so perfectly knitted together that one's defenses appear impenetrable.
It is said that if your opponent does not move, you do not move. If he makes the slightest move, you move ahead of him.
The inner strength may seem slack, but it is not. It may seem stretched but it is not. At times it may seem to have ceased, but at no time does it stop, for at all moments the will is active.
It is also said that the mind comes first and the body later. Keep your stomach relaxed and soft and let the intrinsic energy permeate into your bones. Keep your spirit calm and easy and your body quiet. Under no circumstances let these facts slip from your mind.
Bear in mind that when one part of the body moves, all other parts of the body move. When one part of the body comes to a stand-still all other parts of the body come to a stand-still.
In all movements back and forth one must allow the intrinsic energy to adhere to the back and be gathered into the spine.
Internally one must strengthen the spirit. Externally one must exhibit one's genuine calmness.
Walk like a cat. Handle your inner strength as if you were reeling silk threads from a cocoon.
The aim of the whole body is to conserve spirit and not intrinsic energy. If one aims at conserving intrinsic energy the movements will be impeded. Whenever intrinsic energy becomes stagnant there can be no creation of true strength, only sheer hardness. Intrinsic energy is the rim of a wheel; the waist is the hub of the wheel.