Essential Principles for Practicing Tai Chi, Some Tai Chi Chuan Classics

Essential Principles for Practicing Tai Chi

Wu Yi Xiang (1812-1880)


The mind moves the Chi calmly and naturally, then the Chi penetrates the bones. The Chi moves the body smoothly and continuously (flexibly and in good coordination) then the body can conveniently follow the mind.

Be freshly animated, then there will be no problem with sluggishness and ponderosity. This means that the spine should be erect as though the head were suspended from a string. The mind and Chi must move flexibly, then roundness and smoothness can be enjoyed. This means there are variations of the positive and negative.

To deliver strength, one must be calm and natural, relaxed and precise-one must aim in one direction.

To stand, one must be calm and comfortable (in good balance)- one must be able to respond to the eight sides.

Move the Tai Chi like a nine-curved perfectly round pearl so that there is no place the Chi does not reach.

Refine your strength like steel that has been refined a hundred times over so that no stiffness remains. Your form should reflect the alertness of a falcon hunting a rabbit and the intense attention of a cat stalking a mouse.

In resting, be as still as a mountain; in moving, be (ever-flowing) as a river. Store strength like a drawing bow. Release strength like shooting an arrow. Seek the straight through the curve. First store, then release. Strength comes from the spine; steps follow bodily changes.

Be extremely soft, then extremely hard. Be able to breathe in order to be flexible. Cultivate the Chi naturally so that there will be no more harm. Store your strength within so that you will always have more than you need.

The mind is the Commander, the Chi is the flag, and the waist is the banner.

In practice, initially make opening and stretching movements; later, be precise. In this way, one’s form will achieve refinement and delicacy.

If he does not move, I do not move. If he moves but slightly, then I move faster. Strength seemingly loses, but does not–about to stretch, yet not stretched. Strength breaks down but the mind does not. First the mind, afterwards the body.

The abdomen is relaxed and the Chi penetrates the bones; the spirit is at ease and the body is quiet, Be totally conscious at every moment. Carefully remember as one part moves, all parts move; as one part is still, all arts are still.

Pull and move, go and come–the Chi touches the back and penetrates the spine. Inwardly steady in spirit, outwardly clam, comfortable and at ease. Step like a cat walking–use strength like pulling silk. As a whole, emphasis is on your Spirit, not on your Chi. If on the Chi, you will be clumsy and lack the true power.

In doing away with Chi, true power comes and Chi still remains.

Chi is like a cartwheel; the waist is like an axle.


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