Yang Style Taijiquan

Quotations, Sayings, Wisdom, Poems, Aphorisms, Classics
Principles, Guides, Concepts, Terms, Misc

Research by
Michael P. Garofalo

Yang Style Taijiquan Index     Cloud Hands Taijiquan    

24 Standard Simplified Taijiquan Form, in the Yang Style of Taijiquan   Created in 1956.      

Master Cheng Man-c'hing's 37 Movements Taijiquan Form in the Yang Style of Taijiquan   Created in 1940's. 

Yang Family Taijiquan 108 Movements Long Form.  Taught in the 1920's by Yang Cheng-Fu. 

Rooting     Loosening-Relax     Spiraling     Sensitivity     Standing     Chi Kung

Yang Saber     Yang Sword     Standard 32 Sword

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Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

Cloud Hands Website




Yang Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Quotations, Sayings, Wisdom, Poems, Aphorisms, Classics, Principles
Lore, Notes, Facts, Info, Misc, Practices, Tips, Pitfalls, Terms



Yang Cheng-fu's Ten Important Points

"1.) Head upright to let the shen [spirit of vitality] rise to the top of the head. Don't use li [external strength], or the neck will be stiff and the ch'i [vital life energy] and blood cannot flow through. It is necessary to have a natural and lively feeling. If the spirit cannot reach the headtop, it cannot raise.

2.) Sink the chest and pluck up the back. The chest is depressed naturally inward so that the ch'i can sink to the tan-t'ien [field of elixir]. Don't expand the chest: the ch'i gets stuck there and the body becomes top-heavy. The heel will be too light and can be uprooted. Pluck up the back and the ch'i sticks to the back; depress the chest and you can pluck up the back. Then you can discharge force through the spine. You will be a peerless boxer.

3.) Sung [Relax] the waist. The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can sung the waist, then the two legs will have power and the lower part will be firm and stable. Substantial and insubstantial change, and this is based on the turning of the waist. It is said "the source of the postures lies in the waist. If you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist."

4.) Differentiate between insubstantial and substantial. This is the first principle in T'ai Chi Ch'uan. If the weight of the whole body is resting on the right leg, then the right leg is substantial and the left leg is insubstantial, and vice versa. When you can separate substantial and insubstantial, you can turn lightly without using strength. If you cannot separate, the step is heavy and slow. The stance is not firm and can be easily thrown of balance.

5.) Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. The shoulders will be completely relaxed and open. If you cannot relax and sink, the two shoulders will be raised up and tense. The ch'i will follow them up and the whole body cannot get power. "Drop the elbows" means the elbows go down and relax. If the elbows raise, the shoulders are not able to sink and you cannot discharge people far. The discharge will then be close to the broken force of the external schools.

6.) Use the mind instead of force. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say, "all of this means use I [mind-intent] and not li." In practicing T'ai Chi Ch'uan the whole body relaxes. Don't let one ounce of force remain in the blood vessels, bones, and ligaments to tie yourself up. Then you can be agile and able to change. You will be able to turn freely and easily. Doubting this, how can you increase your power?

The body has meridians like the ground has ditches and trenches. If not obstructed the water can flow. If the meridian is not closed, the ch'i goes through. If the whole body has hard force and it fills up the meridians, the ch'i and the blood stop and the turning is not smooth and agile. Just pull one hair and the whole body is off-balance. If you use I, and not li, then the I goes to a place in the body and the ch'i follows it. The ch'i and the blood circulate. If you do this every day and never stop, after a long time you will have nei chin [real internal strength]. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say, "when you are extremely soft, you become extremely hard and strong." Someone who has extremely good T'ai Chi Ch'uan kung fu has arms like iron wrapped with cotton and the weight is very heavy. As for the external schools, when they use li, they reveal li. When they don't use li, they are too light and floating. There chin is external and locked together. The li of the external schools is easily led and moved, and not too be esteemed.

7.) Coordinate the upper and lower parts of the body. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say "the motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist and manifested through the fingers." Everything acts simultaneously. When the hand, waist and foot move together, the eyes follow. If one part doesn't follow, the whole body is disordered.

8.) Harmonize the internal and external. In the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan the main thing is the shen. Therefore it is said "the spirit is the commander and the body is subordinate." If you can raise the spirit, then the movements will naturally be agile. The postures are not beyond insubstantial and substantial, opening and closing. That which is called open means not only the hands and feet are open, but the mind is also open. That which is called closed means not only the hands and feet are closed, but the mind is also closed. When you can make the inside and outside become one, then it becomes complete.

9.) Move with continuity. As to the external schools, their chin is the Latter Heaven brute chin. Therefore it is finite. There are connections and breaks. During the breaks the old force is exhausted and the new force has not yet been born. At these moments it is very easy for others to take advantage. T'ai Chi Ch'uan uses I and not li. From beginning to end it is continuous and not broken. It is circular and again resumes. It revolves and has no limits. The original Classics say it is "like a great river rolling on unceasingly." and that the circulation of the chin is "drawing silk from a cocoon " They all talk about being connected together.

10.) Move with tranquility [Seek stillness in movement]. The external schools assume jumping about is good and they use all their energy. That is why after practice everyone pants. T'ai Chi Ch'uan uses stillness to control movement. Although one moves, there is also stillness. Therefore in practicing the form, slower is better. If it is slow, the inhalation and exhalation are long and deep and the ch'i sinks to the tan-t'ien. Naturally there is no injurious practice such as engorgement of the blood vessels. The learner should be careful to comprehend it. Then you will get the real meaning."

-  By Yang Cheng-fu (1883 - 1936) as researched by Lee N. Scheele



"Tai Chi Chuan is the art of letting hardness dwell within softness and hiding a needle within cotton; from the point of view of techniques, physiology, and physics, there is considerable philosophy contained within it.  Hence those who would research it need to undergo a definite process of development over a considerable period of time.  Though one may have the instruction of a fine teacher and the criticism of good friends, the one thing which is most important and which one cannot do without is daily personal training.  Without it one can discuss and analyze all day, think and ponder for years, but when one day you encounter an opponent you are like a hole with nothing in it - you are still quite inexpert, lacking the skills (kung fu) borne of daily practice. This is what the ancients meant by "thinking forever is useless, better to practice."  If morning and evening there is never a gap, hot or cold never an exception, so that the moment you think of it you proceed to do your training, then young or old, man or woman, you will alike be rewarded with success."
-  By Yang Cheng Fu, A Talk on Practice 



"The three educational schools are: Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism.  These three schools are the most influential groups that have long dominated Chinese thinking and philosophy.  Each of these three schools focuses on the philosophical development of human nature (i.e. internal mental cultivation) through comprehension and physical health through physical activities (i.e., martial activities).  Moreover, each of these schools believes that the mind is the master of the entire being, and controls our thinking and physical activities.   In order to reach the goal mental or spiritual cultivation and physical health, you must know how to protect and firm you essence (Gu Jing), nourish your Qi (Yang Qi), and raise up your spirit (Ti Shen).  These three things are considered the three treasures of life (San Bao).  Only if you know how to do these things are you then able to have a peaceful, calm, and profound mind to think, ponder and understand.  Moreover, you will be able to perform you physical activities healthily."
-  Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Style, 2001, p.  138



"T'ai Chi Ch'uan bases itself exclusively on gentleness, softness, naturalness and bringing you back to your original nature.  Daily training makes the muscles and bones become softer and more pliable, and it especially causes the breath to become natural.  These are the results of disciplining and refining the ching, ch'i, and shen to the end of your days.  How then can you consider dispensing with your kung or wish to suffer bitterly."
-  Chen Yen-lin, 1932, Cultivating the Ch'i, Translated by Stuart Alve Olson, p. 30.



"A fact sheet on the meaning of the 108 moves in Tai Chi, put out by the Taoist Tai Chi Society in the U.S., states that the 36 major and minor yang channels in the body are the "Celestial Deities" while the yin elements in the body are the "72 Terrestrial Deities." The combined total is 108, a "number divined by Chang San Feng himself" (Chang, an 11th century Taoist monk, is considered the founder of Tai Chi). The statement goes on to say that "the full 108 symbolizes the harmonious balance of yin and yang and therefore lead to health. The union of all yin and yang elements represent the return to the holistic and undifferentiated state of the Tao." The term undifferentiated means there are no distinctions; all is one."


"Yang Chen Fu (1833-1936) exemplifies the highest natural talent and achievement in Tai-Chi since he was entirely self-taught after his father (Yang Chian, 1839-1917) died.  His great example encourages us that even if excellent teachers are hard to find, we can develop by ourselves if we really understand and apply the theories and principles of Tai-Chi Chuan.  The current forms of so-called Yang's Tai-Chi were defined and regulated by him.  Yang's style, which is comfortable, generous, light and stable, has be recognized as the easiest and most popular one."
-   The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan:  Way to Rejuvenation.   By Jou, Tsung Hwa.  p. 46.  



"The standard Yang set today is Yang Chengfu's final revision of 85 postures, which he demonstrated in his book published in 1936.  Most of the other books published since then, including many Western ones, are either variations or reflections of the author's own personal expression of the set.  ...  One should note that right from its creation, Yang Taijiquan has always been combat-oriented.  Yang Chengfu always emphasized that the set should be practiced with its martial applications in mind.  These applications may be taught through the fast set, individual posture explanations, tui shou (push hands), san shou (fixed-step sparring) and san da (free sparring)."
-  Alex Yeo, "The Complete Yang Taijiquan System, Part 4.", Tai Chi, June 2003, p.45



"The boxing in question in its original form had only three movements, and was thus called Laosandao (Old Three Cuts). It was changed by Mr. Wang Zongyue and increased to 13 forms.  That is one of the main reasons why this boxing has lost its quintessence.  If it is practiced for the purpose of preserving one's health, it will only restrain one's spirit and energy and bring discomfort to the practitioner.  If practiced for actual combat, it will only do harm to the limbs.  Its other functions, if any, are nothing more than idling away the practitioners time and confusing his mind."
-   Wang Xiangzhai, The Tao of Yiquan, p. 98  [Not everyone thinks playing taijiquan is good for you.] 



"First, last, and always the student must relax. Various calisthenics aid him in achieving this.  All rigidity and strength must be emptied from the upper torso and must sink to the very soles of the feet, one of which is always firmly rooted to the ground.  Without proper relaxation the student can never hope to achieve the trueness of the T'ai-chi postures.  The student relaxes completely and breathes as a child - naturally through the nose, the diaphragm being aided by the abdominal rather than the intercostal muscles.  Man's intrinsic energy, the ch'i, should be stored just below the navel.  The mind directs this energy throughout the body according to need.  But the ch'i cannot circulated in an unrelaxed body."
-  Robert W. Smith, Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods, 1974, p. 26.



"Fu Zhongwen uses a number of terms that require additional explanation.  One of these is the term for what is typically called the ending postures of the forms, that is, the terminus point of a given posture such as White Crane Displays Wings.  The term that Fu Zhongwen uses for these ending postures is dingdian, or "fixed points."  In Taijiquan, however, these "fixed points" are not really fixed, and "ending postures" are not really the end of anything.  Fu Zhongwen therefore advises the reader that " as each movement reaches a fixed point (dingdian), one must accomplish what is called "seems to stop, does not stop."  The dingdian, then must be understood to be both the culmination of one sequence as well as the beginning of the next."
Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan  By Fu Zhongwen.  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Blue Snake Books, 2006, p. xix. 



"In the life time of Yang Lu-chan there was no photography or video technology. So we can only surmise and take from the recorded literature and hear-say and create an image of what his form and style was like. In Chen Wei Ming's questions and answers on Taijiquan, he mentions that Yang Lu-chan when performing 'snake creeps down' was reputed to be able to pick up a coin with his mouth, he was so low that it was like sitting on the floor. He was also accredited with being able to use elbow stroke to an opponent's knee. From these records we can gather than Yang Lu-chan's form was rather low.  Also, Yang Ban Hou and Yang Shao Hou when they practised their style was closer to Chen style. One of the Yang family taught the Wu family so we know the Wu style developed from Yang style. How close the many styles are to Yang Lu-chan is difficult to ascertain with the material and information made available."
Professor Li Deyin



"At the higher stages of energy continuation, one will find his movements are now being governed by the movement of his internal energy.  This is the Qi of energy, not breath, to which I refer.  There are essentially three basic ingredients for higher accomplishment: 1.  Mental tranquility and physical relaxation.  2.  Application of the integrated supple strength of the whole body.  3.  Continuity of the internal energy without interruption from movement to movement and moment to moment throughout the entire form."
-  Wu, Ta-yeh, 1989



"The perfect man has no self;
the spiritual man has no achievement;
the sage has no name."
-   Chauang Tzu



"Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight.
- Tao Te Ching (22)

He who stands of tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
- Tao Te Ching (24)

Returning is the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
- Tao Te Ching (40)

What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.
- Tao Te Ching (54)

Stiff and unbending is the principle of death.
Gentle and yielding is the principle of life.
Thus an Army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome."
- Tao Te Ching (76)



What Does "Xu Ling Ding Jin" Mean?

"One of the most vexing phrases in this body of texts appears in Wang Zongyue's "The Taijiquan Treatise."  This is the phrase that I've translated "An intangible and lively energy lifts the crown of the head."  The actual phrase in Chinese is xu ling ding jing Xu means "empty," "void," "abstract," "shapeless," or "insubstantial."  Ling can mean "neck," "collar," "to lead," "to guide," or "to receive."  Ding here means "the crown of the head."  Jin is a word that should be familiar to most Taijiquan practitioners, meaning "energy" or "strength."  To translate this phrase literally in a way that makes sense is seemingly impossible. ...  To demonstrate the difficulties presented in translating the phrase, I've assembled for comparison a number of different renderings:

Yang Jwing-Ming translates xu ling ding jin as:
"An insubstantial energy leads the head upward."

T.T. Liang renders it:
"A light and nimble energy should be preserved on the top of the head."

Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo translates the phrase:
"Effortlessly the jin reaches the headtop."

Douglas Wile translates the phrase variously:
"The energy at the top of the head should be light and sensitive."
"Open the energy at the crown of the head."

Guttmann gives one rendering as,
"... the head is upheld with the intangible spirit."
Elsewhere, he gives it a fairly plausible if incomprehensible literal rendering as a noun phrase:
"Empty dexterity's top energy."

Huang Wen-Shan translates it as:
"The head-top should be emptied, alert, and straight."

Robert Smith's version has it:
"The spirit of vitality reaches to the top of the head."

Jou Tsung Hwa's rendering is similiar:
"The spirit, or shen, reaches the top of the head."

Finally, in one of the freer renderings I've seen, T. Y. Pang renders the phrase:
"The spine and the head are held straight by strength, which is guided by the mind."

As the reader can see, the range of nuance in these diverse translations of this one phrase is considerable.  Virtually all of the readings are interpretive; that is, the four-character phrase as it has been handed down will not yield a dependable reading based on the characters alone.  One can only conclude that this phrase is a remnant of an oral formula whose original structure eludes our knowledge.  Our understanding of it inevitably depends upon the context─ the following phrase about sinking the qi to the dantian─ and upon commentaries of former masters, including Yang Chengfu's elaboration in the first of his "Ten Essentials."  The concept is also linked to differently worded but related phrases appearing in other classics, for example, "the spirit (shen) threads to the crown of the head" (shen guan ding) in the "Song of the Thirteen Postures," and the phrase about "suspending the crown of the head" (ding tou xuan) appearing in both "The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures" and the "Song of the Thirteen Postures." "

Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan  By Fu Zhongwen.  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Blue Snake Books, 2006, p. 182-183







Recommended Reading


Classics of Taijiquan

Drawing Silk: Master's Secrets for Successful Tai Chi Practice.  By Paul B. Gallagher.  Fairview, North Carolina, 2007.  Bibliography, 246 pages.  ISBN: 9781419663123.  Numerous classics and Taoist tales and lore are included in this text.  Originally published in 1988.  VSCL. 

Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan  By Fu Zhongwen.  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, c 1999, 2006.  Bibliography, glossary, 226 pages.  ISBN: 9781583941522.  VSCL.  Detailed descriptions of each movement of the form with many line drawings.  Includes discussion and translations of the Tai Chi Classis.  Fu Zongwen (1919-1994) was a student of Yang Cheng Fu. 

Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters.   Translated by Yang Jwing-ming.   Edited by Yang Jwing-ming and James C. O'Leary.   Selected readings with commentary on Tai Chi Treasures.   Jamaica Plain, MA, YMAA Publications, 1999.  128 pages.  ISBN: 188696971X.  VSCL. 

Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Style.  Translated with commentary by Yang Jwing-ming.  Translations and commentary on Chinese Classics.   Boston, MA, YMAA Publications, 2001.  Index, glossary, 192 pages.   ISBN:  1886969094.  A translation of 49 documents by Yang, Ban-Hou (1837-1892) and by a few other Yang family members.  VSCL.     

Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions.  Translation, commentary and editing by Douglas Wile.  Sweet Chi Press, 8th Edition, 1983.  159 pages.  ISBN: 091205901X.  VSCL. 

The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation.  Translated by Barbara Davis.  Commentary by Chen, Wei-ming.  San Francisco, North Atlantic Books, 2004.  200 pages.  ISBN: 1556434316.  VSCL. 




Beautiful ladies hand: No bends or kinks in wrist, hands and fingers
Upright Body: Spine is always kept upright and not leaning
Relax: This is the key principle. All others hinge on this
Separate the Weight: No even weight distribution. No same dominant hand & foot
Turn the Waist: All movements controlled from the Hips/Waist and powered by the legs"
Soft Answer Tai Chi









Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan.  Bu Fu Zhongwen (1903-1994).  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1999.  Glossary, bibliography, 226 pages.  Translations of many Tai Chi classics are included.  A list of the 85 movement long form and detailed notes and descriptions of each movement are provided.  251 movement analysis illustrations.  Over 76 of the illustrations are traced and drawn from photographs of Yang Cheng-Fu.  Detailed descriptions of the long form, pp. 26-162.  Push hands information.  Yang Tai Chi essentials.  ISBN: 1556433182.  I have found this to be an excellent book!  This book was first published in 1963 in China as "Yang Shi Taijiquan".  An informative introduction and good translation by Louis Swaim.  VSCL.    







Chen Taijiquan Quotes, Sayings, Lore, Notes, Facts, Info, Misc



"When practicing Taijiquan, the requirements for proper practice are as follows: keep the head erect naturally (as if it were suspended by a string attached to the top of the head), stand naturally upright, relax the shoulders and drop the elbows.  Bring the shoulders slightly forward and lower the waist.   Let the internal energy (qi) descend, and breathe naturally.  With the hips relaxed and the knees bent, round the crotch, i.e., the legs should form a rounded shape.  With solid and empty clearly separated, the upper and lower parts of the body move in harmony with each other, blending hard and soft, fast and slow movements smoothly.  External movements of the body should describe an arc (i.e., should follow circular paths) with the internal energy within the body following a spiral path.  With the waist as an axis, movement of the torso leads the movement of the limbs, with a spiraling or twining type of movement.  Gradually, a type of internal energy is produced which is seemingly soft yet not soft, seeming hard but not hard, and which can easily change between extremely heavy or incredibly light action.  Your movements appear outwardly soft but are inwardly firm, like iron wrapped in cotton.  If in the entire set of movement there are not any breaks in the continuity of movement or any motions that don't follow a smooth circular line, then that is the correct way."
-  Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, Chen Style Taijiquan, Sword and Broadsword, p.64  



"In order to learn Taiji well, the first requirement must be diligence and perseverance.  Taiji classics state: "Without perseverance there can be no gain" and "Learning Taiji is like rowing a boat against the flow of water; if you do not go forward, you will drift back."  In order to glimpse the full wonder of Taiji and to attain a high level of skill, one must possess a will to carry on despite hardships, setbacks, frustration and boredom.  From the beginning, students must be willing to commit themselves to a long-term goal and be patient during the process of achieving that goal.  The process of learning takes time, and the necessary length of time must be allowed to understand the content of the teaching.  One will not succeed if focus is only on the final product."
Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan: The Source of Taiji Boxing, 2002, p. 212 



"The training exercises of Taiji, like those from all the internal martial arts traditions of China, are designed to build gong.  What does it mean to built gong?  Physically, the accumulation of gong refers to constant improvements in balance, coordination, agility, flexibility, sensitivity, and strength or power.  Mentally and spiritually, the accumulation of gong refers to improved awareness and confidence, and constant advancements toward realizing tranquility of heart and mind.  These physical, mental and spiritual improvements are the benefits and purpose of practice.  The priority of accumulating gong (as opposed to martial technique or trickery) is repeatedly emphasized in many of the most famous sayings from the oral tradition of the Chinese internal martial arts."
-   Yang Yang, Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power, 2005, p. 5.



"The Chinese place yin (negative) before yang (positive), because the negative is the Mother of the positive. Therefore, there must be stillness before activity, softness before firmness. In Taijiquan, yin and yang relate to movements such as opening and closing, and qualities such as firm and yielding, fast and slow, hard and soft, expanding and contracting, solid and empty, up and down, etc. In the legs, yin-yang is distinguished by weight distribution that has one leg full; in support of the body while the other leg is empty and capable of instant direction change. The same principle applies to the upper and lower body.  One must balance yin and yang: movements should not be too soft or too hard."
-  Davidine Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan, 2002, p. 13.  



"No school of Chinese martial arts is as well known and popular as Taijiquan.  It is suitable for both the young and the old, not only because Taijiquan possesses special features of stretching, flexing the joints, softly twining, exercising both the inside and the outside, dispelling diseases and prolonging life, but it is also the martial art that best reflects Chinese traditional philosophy.  More and more people from other countries, especially those interested in Chinese culture, are beginning to practice Taijiquan.  Taijiquan is becoming popular all over the world.  Because of this, Taijiquan has no national boundary and is beyond the category of culture, and belongs to people everywhere."
-  Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan



"Essentially, the control of your movements at a more advanced level can be viewed as the evenness of the speed rather than at the same speed.  In Chen style, fast and slow is intermixed.  The force delivering movements (fa jin) requires speed.  But even in this style, there is evenness within all the variations of the speeds.  This evenness contained within different speeds is the key to cultivating elasticity and internal power of your force.  In Yang and Sun styles, most of the movements appear to be at the same speed, but with close examination you can find almost unperceivable differences between parts of the movements."
-  Dr. Paul Lam, "Variation in Speed,"  Tai Chi Health and Lifestyle Newsletter, May 2003



"Exercises are performed singly or with a partner, and contain both slow and fast movements. The system includes: Old Frame First Form, Cannon Fist (Pao Chui), Taiji Single Sword, Taiji Single Saber, Taiji Double Saber, Spring-Autumn Halberd, “Five Tigers Swarming Sheep” Staff (Wu Hu Qun Yang Gun), Three-Opponent Staff, Pear Blossom Spear/White Ape Staff (Li Hua Qiang Jia Bai Yuan Gun), Taiji Sphere, Taiji Ruler (Xing Gong Bang), pole shaking (dou gun zi), the five push-hands techniques of Chen Village, and joint locking and grappling (na fa). The empty-hand forms contain the core principles of Chen Family Taijiquan: silk reeling (chan si jin), leading into emptiness (yin jing lou kong), neutralization (zhou hua), the basic energies, etc. In addition to these skills, weapons are used for building up explosive force (fa li), sensitivity (ling ji), and improving footwork."
-   Mark Chen, Chen Style Taijiquan



"What makes Chen unique, in my opinion, is that it starts with more of a physical training regimen through forms training. This can be called  houtian/post heaven/body building in nature and it stresses building the body up in ways that Chen style needs. Apsects that are stressed include extending the postures, holding lower stances, spreading the feet wider, going lower in movements to work the dang, working on peng or groundpath, and perhaps using exaggerated fajing and chansijing by some groups in order to get a feel for those requirements. These attributes will often be exaggerated to some extent because doing so allows beginners to get a better feel for them. It's easier to grasp bigger movements than smaller, exaggerated over subtle. This is movement over stillness."
- Chen Style as External, Part III, Formosa Neijia  



"Taijiquan is like a bright mirror -
it reflects our physical and mental weaknesses,
we need to polish it constantly to see our true selves."  



"Chen Zhaokui lists sixteen requirements that must be present throughout each posture:
Eye movement (the direction of the eyes)
The shape of the hands, and how the hand changes as the movement is being performed
Footwork (how to execute changes when stepping)
and ni-chan of the legs
Open and closing of the chest and back  
Rising and falling of the buttocks  
Dantian rotation (waist and lower abdomen) 
Shifting weight (the relationship of substantial and insubstantial) 
Beginning and end points, as well as the transition movements of the upper and lower limbs 
How much strength to us, and where the strength should be concentrated (i.e., where is the attack point) 
Position and direction of posture 
The rise and fall of spiral movement (top and bottom coordination) 
The change in tempo (alternating slow and fast) 
Breathing (coordination of breathing and movement)  
-   It might be helpful to consider each posture from the perspective of the "Sixteen Requirements" set forth by Chen Zhaokui (1928-1981) in his book "Entering the Door of Taijiquan" (Sim and Gaffney 2002: 116)



"Yi lu (the first empty hand form) at the beginner level is mostly done slowly with large motions interrupted by occasional expressions of fast power (Fajing) that comprise less than 20% of the movements, with the overall purpose of teaching the body to move correctly. At the intermediate level it is practiced in very low stances (low frame) with an exploration of clear directional separation in power changes and in speed tempo. The movements become smaller and the changes in directional force become more subtle. At the advanced level the leg strength built at the previous level allows full relaxation and the potential for Fajing in every movement."
Chen Taijiquan, Wikipedia



When you see excellence, you should try to surpass it.
When you see the opposite, examine yourself.
-   Lao Tzu



"No school of Chinese martial arts is as well known and popular as Taijiquan.  It is suitable for both the young and the old, not only because Taijiquan possesses special features of stretching, flexing the joints, softly twining, exercising both the inside and the outside, dispelling diseases and prolonging life, but it is also the martial art that best reflects Chinese traditional philosophy.  More and more people from other countries, especially those interested in Chinese culture, are beginning to practice Taijiquan.  Taijiquan is becoming popular all over the world.  Because of this, Taijiquan has no national boundary and is beyond the category of culture, and belongs to people everywhere."
-  Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan



"The Way begets One;
One begets two;
Two begets three;
Three begets the myriad creatures.

The myriad creatures carry on their backs the yin
And embrace in their arms the yang
And are the blending of the generative forces of the two.

Thus a thing is sometimes added to by being diminished
And diminished by being added to.

What others teach I also teach.
'The violent shall not come to a natural end.
I shall take this as my precept."
-  Laotzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42, Translation by D. C. Lau, 1963



"In practicing taijiquan, the requirements on the different parts of the body are: keeping a straight body; keeping the head and neck erect with mindfulness at the tip of the head as if one is lightly lifted by a string from above; relaxing the shoulders and sinking the elbows; relaxing the chest and waist letting them sink down; relaxing the crotch and bending the knees. When these requirements are met, one's inner energy will naturally sink down to the dan tian. Beginners may not be able to master all these important points instantly. However, in their practice they must try to be accurate in terms of direction, angle, position, and the movements of hands and legs for each posture. At this stage, one need not place too much emphasis on the requirements for different parts of the body, appropriate simplications are acceptable. For example, for the head and upper body, it is required that the head and neck be kept erect, chest and waist be relaxed downward, but in the first level of kung fu, it will be sufficient just to ensure that one's head and body are kept naturally upright and not leaning forward or backward, to the left or right. This is just like learning calligraphy, at the beginning, one need only to make sure that the strokes are correct. Therefore, when practicing taijiquan at the beginning, the body and movements may appear to be stiff; or 'externally solid but internally empty'. One may find oneself doing things like: hard hitting, ramming, sudden uplifting and or sudden collapsing of body or trunk. There may be also be broken or over-exerted force or jin. All these faults are common to beginners. If one is persistent enough and practices seriously everyday, one can normally master the forms within half a year. The inner energy, qi, can gradually be induced to move within the trunk and limbs with refinements in one's movements. One may then achieve the stage of being able to use external movements to channel internal energy'. The first level kung fu thus begins with mastering the postures to gradually being able to detect and understand jin or force."
Seattle School of Chen Style Taijiquan



"Taijiquan was created over 360 years ago in Chen village (Chenjiagou), Henan province. It combines fighting techniques from General Qi Jiguang's 'The Canons of Boxing' with Chinese medical knowledge, Qigong, and the Daoist philosophy of yin and yang.  Much of today’s Chen teachings are attributed to Grandmaster Chen Fa Ke (17th generation) who died in 1957. The current head of the Chen family is his grandson Chen Xiao Wang (19th generation).  Practicing Chen Taijiquan is very good for health, but it is also a very powerful martial art that involves both external movement and internal training. Every movement contains spiralenergy (Chan Si Jin); the energy starts from your dantian (centre), twists through your waist, muscles, bones and joints to the tips of your fingers. This is what makes Chen Taijiquan both healthy and powerful. In the form sometimes you move quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes in a high posture, sometimes in a low posture – this is one of the principles of Taijiquan, balance of Yin and Yang."
Chen Taijiquan Denmark



"Chen Taiji Quan ( Tai Chi Chuan ) has many varieties that have developed over the years. Some of them are authentic, some of them are bizarre, and some of them are focused on particular areas of development at the expense of other areas. The art integrated techniques of many of the prominent martial arts of Chen Wangting's day. These are techniques that are commonly shared by many martial arts, but the difference is in the method of application and cultivation.  The Chen practice consists of mainly two forms that have been compressed from perhaps seven at some point in the past. The two main sets are first road, Yi Lu, and second road, Er Lu. The first road is sometimes called the negative (Yin) set because it leans more towards internal development and cultivation of internal energy, techniques of yielding, attaching, and changing in relation to opponent's movement. The second road is sometimes called the Yang set as it focuses more on expression of developed internal energy, offensive striking, non attachment and hardness in relation to opponents force and movement. In fact both of these forms cultivate both Yin and Yang elements in regards to martial arts as well as cultivation, but the second (Yi Lu) is often more visibly outwardly aggressive."
Chen Gongfu  



"The technique I have developed to work directly with my Grinch (inner critic) is first to acknowledge its reaction and then ask a question. For example, if my Grinch says, "That was lousy." I reply, "Yes, that's true, it was lousy. And, if there were more smoothness in my body, what would it feel like?" This is what I call the "Yes, ... And, ..." technique." By acknowledging the negative voice, we blend with it. We soften the negative blow by going with it and not resisting. Then we shift our attention by using the conjunction "and." Using "and" affirms that we can simultaneously hold our vision of how we want to perform without excluding our negative assessment. Asking the question leads our attention toward exploring the sensation of what we want to develop instead of fighting against our Grinch. ...
    I do not delve into the content of what the Grinch has to say, but instead I choose to put my attention on the rush of energy in my body. From using the basic practice techniques, we know something about working with energy. When we feel the rush of energy or notice that we are tensing or speeding up, we can stop, focus on our breath, balance our energy field, feel gravity, and evoke our quality. When we stabilize and soften in this way, the energy can begin to self-organize in a way that allows us to deal with the situation more skillfully. ... Pause and feel any sensations that arise. A new perspective on the situation may come with the sensations."
- Wendy Palmer, The Intuitive Body: Aikido as a Clairsentient Practice, 1994, p. 48 



"Centuries later, Chen Wang Ting had been an army officer in Shan Tung Province in 1618, and had become an accomplished martial artist. In 1641, three years before the fall of the Ming dynasty, he became the militia battalion commander of Wen County (cited in Gazetteers of Wen County and Huaiqing County), where it appears that he was exposed to Chang Nai Chou’s Nei Jia Quan (the almost lost Chen 108 Techniques Long Form has many similarities to Chang’s style). When he returned to the Chen village in 1644, according to recent research in China of the very recent discovery of lishi jiapu, or the Li Family Genealogy, Chen took the boxing methods he learned from various sources and began to refine and perfect them with his cousins from the Li family, at the Qianzai Temple, about 30 miles from Chen village.

These researchers (Yuan Quanfu; Li Xiangyi; Li Bing; Qu Jian) examined very ancient Li family . Ming historian Wang Xingya of Zhengzhou University spent a year tracing and studying the origin and the authenticity of the Li Family Genealogy. He concludes that “the Li Family Genealogy was edited by the tenth generation Li Yuanshan in 1716, and is taken from eye witness accounts.” According to the Li Family Genealogy, the early patriarchs of Li, Chen (Chen Bu), and three other families became sworn brothers on their migration from Shanxi in the fourteenth century. This event took place in the Qianzai Temple of Tang Village in Boai County, which is about 30 miles away from the present Chen Village. By the ninth generation, the Li patriarchs Zhong and Xin, and their inter-marriage cousin Chen Wangting again swore themselves to be brothers like their forefathers, and took the abbot Bogong Wudao as their master at the Taiji Gate of Qianzai Temple. The contents of the papers day that Chen and the Li brothers created taiji yangshen gong, or "the art of Taiji Cultivating Life," and practiced and transmitted wuji yangshen gong, or "the art of Wuji Cultivating Life," shisanshi tongbei gong , or "the Thirteen Postures Boxing." "The art of Wuji Cultivating Life" and "the Thirteen Postures Boxing" had been created by the Qianzai Temple priest Shi Li (614-741), or Li Daozi, according to stone tablets at the temple, who well studied the Three Teachings, Qianjin yifang: "Revised Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold;" daoyin: "guiding and pulling"; and tunai: "expelling the old breath and drawing the new."

It is said that various martial art postures (from nearby Shaolin and other sources, such as the Chang Nai Chou’s Nei Jia Quan, from the neighboring Wen county) were combined with classic Chinese internal health theories of passages of blood, air flow, and energy. This new art eventually became known as Chen family boxing. By the 1700's, Chen Wang Ting's style had developed into the Five Routines of Pao Chuoi and Hong Quan, a 32- and a 108-posture Tai Ji form, and one Duan Da (short strike) form. Over time many of these forms were said to have been lost. By the end of the century, the art had been passed to Chen Chang Xing, 14 th generation, who united and simplified the various routines. It is said by some that Chen Chang Xing re-introduced Nei Jia Quan into his Chen family art via teachings from Wang Zong Yue and Jian Fa. According to an interview (by Yuan Quan Fu) with Li Libing, the present eighteenth generation of Li family, Wang Zong Yue came from Shanxi, and lived in the Tang village as a schoolteacher for five or six years. There, Wang studied martial arts with Li Helin, who was born in 1721, the twelfth generation of the Li Family. (Chen Chang Xing was also the teacher of Yang Lu-chan, originator of Yang Tai Ji Quan. What is very interesting is that the Chen linage, Yang Lu Chan, and Wu Yu Xiang and his brothers, ALL had learned Shaolin Hong Quan in their youth. Many of the ideas and movements seen in Yang style, but not obvious in Chen style, can be found in Hong Quan forms, especially the Xiao Hong Quan form. The concept and movements of Tai Ji Quan’s Push Hands are also found in the Step Forward Push Palms postures in Xiao Hong Quan, along with the Fair Lady Works at Shuttles movement.)

Much talk surrounds the form found in the Ming imperial general Qi Ji Quan's (1528-1587) famous book, Classic of Pugilism (Tang Hao), as being a source for the moves in Chen Tai Ji Quan. Qi claimed to have collected and surveyed about sixteen both ancient and contemporary boxing styles, and synthesized them into a thirty two-posture form intended for troop training. Tang Hao and Gu liuxin listed twenty-nine postures from Qi's Classic of Pugilism that can be found in the Chen Family forms, along with the language paralleling that in the Classic. Other researchers say that the form shown in Qi's book was an actual Tai Tzu Quan form, not a synthesis of styles."
-   The Hidden Song Taizu Chang Quan Roots of Chen Taiji.  By Salvatore Canzonieri.  Shaolin Kung Fu Magazine, January/February, 2007, Article #30. 



"1.  Develop your ability to maintain your vertical centerline as an axis from the Bai Hui downwards through the perineum.  
2.  Develop your ability to always move fluidly from your center.  
3.  Maintain your root so that you do not bounce up.
4.  Allow  your spirit and intention to manifest within each movement.
5.  Develop your Ting Jing skill in order to listen and perceive what needs to be perceived.  
6.  Always strive to integrate the different parts of your body, as well as the different parts of your self.
7.  Always attend to stregthening the weakest part.
8.  Breath naturally.
9.  Like water, seek the most natural path.  Employ the least amount of force necessary for any given action.
10.  When issuing force forward, root down to the back and draw in the front.  When receiving for from the front, root to the front and ground down to the back.  
11.  Remember that both life and T'ai Chi are temporary gifts.  Celebrate them accordingly."
-   John Loupos, Inside Tai Chi, p. 181






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