Some Tai Chi Chuan Classics, The Song of 13 Movements

The Song of 13 Movements- Anonymous

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The thirteen movements should not be viewed lightly.

The life-origin of Tai-Chi is at the waist.

Attention must be paid to the changes of negative and positive,

Energy flows throughout the body without stagnation,

In the stillness contacting any movement, yet quiet and calm remain, **

Only an enemy attack will reveal the wonderful skill.

Pay attention to every movement in order to understand it’s function,

Long years of practice are needed to master the art.

Attention is at the waist all the time.

When the abdomen is relaxed, energy will rise naturally,

When the spine is held straight from the coccyx up, the Spirit moves to the top of the head,

When the head is up as though suspended, the whole body is light and nimble.

Study the movements carefully, giving close attention,

The bending-stretching and opening-closing will be free and understood.

To find the road to the door, one must have personal guidance.

Practice continually, skills will be cultivated naturally.

To the query, “What is the standard of substance and function?”

The Will and Energy are the king, the bones and muscles the followers;

To the inquiry, “what is the purpose of Tai Chi?’

To increase longevity and to rejuvenate.

This is the song of one hundred and forty characters.

Each word is important, naught important omitted.

If one’s study is not based on these words

Then practice is wasted and no one will but sigh with regret.


** This line has two meanings. First, when you are quiet and moving (practicing) you feel some new movement coming to you from within, but this does not disturb your quietness. Second, if someone attacks you when you are practicing quietly, of course you have to defend yourself against the attack; but after this incident, you return to your quietness.

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