The Treaties on Tai Chi Chuan

T’ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void] 
and is the mother of yin and yang. 
In motion T’ai Chi separates; 
in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi.

It is not excessive or deficient; 
it follows a bending, adheres to an extension.

When the opponent is hard and I am soft, 
it is called tsou [yielding].

When I follow the opponent and he becomes backed up, 
it is called nian [sticking].

If the opponent’s movement is quick, 
then quickly respond; 
if his movement is slow, 
then follow slowly.

Although there are innumerable variations, 
the principles that pervades them remain the same.

From familiarity with the correct touch, 
one gradually comprehends chin [intrinsic strength]; 
from the comprehension of chin one can reach wisdom.

Without long practice 
one cannot suddenly understand T’ai Chi.

Effortlessly the chin reaches the headtop.

Let the ch’i [vital life energy] sink to the tan-t’ien [field of elixir].

Don’t lean in any direction; 
suddenly appear, 
suddenly disappear.

Empty the left wherever a pressure appears, 
and similarly the right.

If the opponent raises up, I seem taller; 
if he sinks down, then I seem lower; 
advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long; 
retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.

A feather cannot be placed, 
and a fly cannot alight 
on any part of the body.

The opponent does not know me; 
I alone know him.

To become a peerless boxer results from this.

There are many boxing arts.

Although they use different forms, 
for the most part they don’t go beyond 
the strong dominating the weak, 
and the slow resigning to the swift.

The strong defeating the weak 
and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands 
are all the results of natural abilities 
and not of well-trained techniques.

From the sentence “A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds” 
we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.

The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people, 
how can it be due to swiftness?

Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and 
move like a turning wheel.

Sinking to one side allows movement to flow; 
being double-weighted is sluggish.

Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize, 
and is always controlled by his opponent, 
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.

To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.

To adhere means to yield. 
To yield means to adhere.

Within yin there is yang
Within yang there is yin.

Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.

Understanding this you can say you understand chin
After you understand chin
the more you practice, 
the more skill.

Silently treasure knowledge and turn it over in the mind. 
Gradually you can do as you like.

Fundamentally, it is giving up yourself to follow others. 
Most people mistakenly give up the near to seek the far. 
It is said, “Missing it by a little will lead many miles astray.”

The practitioner must carefully study.

This is the Treatise

Attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh [Wang Zongyue] (18th Century)


Practice: It’s not easy, if it was we’d all be doing it.

Our lives are busy and the constant gaze of society means it’s not even on the horizon of our thought process when we get up in the morning. For some an urge to do it makes a brief apparition before they snuggle in for another five minutes of warmth and rest, there are a select few obsessive compulsives who jump out of bed filled with a an overwhelming desire to practice. For most it’s buried so far behind the myriad of other things they need to do once they’ve had a coffee that it seems irrelevant.

For most of us we need structure and guidance to practice.

Despite much rhetoric, practice in meditation is neither easy or natural, but once it gets hold of us we want it in our lives. Like most forms of activity when we’re doing it we love it and appreciate how much we need it. It’s the doing it that’s hard.

I trained with a lot of people who, if their teacher was in residence, would fight to be the first out of bed to show how diligently they practiced. Their insecurity, form and application told the real story of their day to day, week to week training and development. The internal arts are so full of contradictions it is difficult for a student who has a goal of “improvement” to know what to do. The classics of Chinese Martial and Meditative Arts pave the way to more questions than answers.

You know you’ve cracked it when your art it is part of who you are, part of your essence, a feeling that moves with you, positively supportive. Different for everyone and evolving with time. Wanting but not needing, looking forward to but not feeling pressured, embracing and letting go of inner pressure. I’m guessing it’s nice, but it’s not easy.