The Tai Chi Classics

This side is borrowed from TAI CHI NYTs Homepage, and translated by Knud Erik Andersen.

The Tai Chi Classics

The Song Of The Thirteen Movements

Treatise On Tai Chi Chuan

Principles In Practising The Form And Tui Shou

The Song of Tui Shou

Essential Principles In Tai Chi

Principles For Throwing An Opponent

Five Keywords

Comments To Five Keywords

Four Secret Words




When You begin to move, the whole body have to be light and soft, and the movement have to be flowing. The internal energy must rise and the mind have to be quiet.

There may not be any leak, unevenness or interruption.

The feet are the root, the energy flows up through the legs, are controlled by the waist and comes out through the hands and fingers.

From the feet through the legs towards the waist, there have to be an unbroken flow of chi.

Then it will be possible to get the full control.

Without this control in all movements - up, down, left, right, forward and backward - the body will be disconnected and the mistake have to be find in the waist and the legs.

All these principles are more about the mind, than the body.

When there is up, there have to be down, when there is forward, there have to be backward, and when there is right, there have to be left.

If You want to go up, You have to go down first.

If You at first lift, then push some, it will loose its roots, and will quickly and undoubtedly be destroyed.

You have to distinguish yin from yang. Every movement has its yin and yang.

Yin and yang are in all movements.

There have to be coherent movements in the whole body. Don't allow any stop to be there.

This Classic have been described by several Masters in the old time and it is said that it should have been handed down from Chang San-Feng.

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The thirteen movements shall not be taken lightly.

The energy comes from the center of the body.

Be attentive on the changes of Yin and Yang.

The energy flows through the body without any stop.

If You are being attacked by an opponent, and You remain calm in every movement,

then Your countermove will be wonderful.

Be attentive, to understand the function of every movement.

Long time have to be used, to master the Art.

The attention are always in the center.

When You are relaxed in the abdomen, the energy will rise naturally.

When the spine is straight the spirit will rise to the top of the head.

When the head is raised as if it was held from above, the body will be light and agile.

Study the movements carefully and with attention. Then You will understand bend and stretch, open and close.

To find Your way to the door, You have to have a personal guide.

Continued practise will quite naturally develop Your skills.

To the question "what is the relation between the exterior and the internal?":

The Will and the energy is the King, the bones and the muscles are the ministers.

To the question "what is the purpose with Tai Chi?":

It is to rejuvenate and live longer.

This song consists of 140 characters. Every one of them are important, no one must be left out.

If You practise is not based upon these words, it is wasted and You will only sigh of disappointment.


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Written by Wang Tsung-Yueh


Tai Chi (the beginning of all things) are born out of Wuchi (the infinity), and is the mother of Yin and Yang.

In movement they divide, in stillness they become one.

Avoid to exaggerate or not to do to much.

Expand when the opponent bend and bend when he expand.

When the opponent is hard, then I am soft. This is to yield.

When my opponent wants to yield, I get closer. This is 'to stick'.

When he is fast, I react fast; when he is slow, I react slow.

Even though there are numerous variations, there are only one principle.

Through the mastery of the movements, You will gradually understand the energy.

To understand the energies, You will be able to obtain spiritual enlightenment.

You only obtain this level after a long time of hard practise.

Raise the head and straighten the spine, without leaning, and let the breathing come all the way down to the abdomen (Dan Tien)

If the opponent pushes the left side, You become 'empty' in the left side.

If he pushes the right side, You become 'empty' in the right side.

When You look up it becomes higher and higher.

If You look down it becomes deeper and deeper.

When You move forward it becomes longer and longer.

If You go backward it becomes shorter and shorter.

A feather can not be added, a fly can not land.

My opponent does not know me, but I know him.

Where ever the hero walks, he is incomparable. This is what we are aiming for.

There are many different Martial Arts. But their techniques are all based upon the stronger to overcome the weaker, and the quick to overcome the slow.

This is about inborn physical ability and have very little to do with what You learn through serious practise. Think about the proverb 'how one ounce deflect one thousand pounds'

Of course it's not only a question of brute strength.

When an old man can defend himself against many opponents, it's obvious that it's not a question about brute strength or speed.

Stand like a weight in balance, move like a spinning wheel.

If You keep the weight on one side, You can follow. If You have the weight on both feet, You will become clumsy (Double-Weighted).

Often we see people, who have been practising Tai Chi for many years, not be able to neutralize an attack and to be defeated by their opponent.

This is because they haven't corrected the mistake of be Double-Weighted.

To avoid this mistake, You must know Yin and Yang.

To stick is to yield, and yield is to stick.

Yin is never without Yang, and Yang is never without Yin.

You will understand the energy, when Yin and Yang works together in practice.

When You understand the energy, You will become better the more You practise.

Little by little You will reach to the point, where the body automatically will follow the mind.

The root to all this, is to forget about Yourself and to follow others.

Many people are looking down upon what's right in front of them, and seeks instead what's far away.

The slightest mistake will bring You thousand of miles of course.

This You have to know, if You want to learn Tai Chi.

Therefor this treatise.

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By Li Yi-yu


It has been said, that if You can lead the opponent toward You, so he lands on nothing, You can deflect one thousand pounds with one ounce.

If You can't lead the opponent toward nothingness, You can not deflect one thousand pounds with one ounce.

The words are simple and precise, but beginners do not understand them.

Here I will add some explaining words, so serious students can get the knowledge required, to become better day by day.

To be able to lead the opponent towards You and let him meet emptiness, You first have to know Yourself and others.

To know Yourself and others, You have to forget about Yourself and follow others.

To forget Yourself and follow others, You first have to have a good timing and good postures.

To have a good timing and good postures, the body have to move as a whole.

To get the body to move as a whole, You have to examine all movements for faults.

To examine all movements for faults, You have to have absolutely attention.

To have absolutely attention, You have to be brilliant and calm.

To be brilliant and calm, the internal energy have to be pushed forward into the bones.

To push the internal energy forward into the bones, You have to have strong legs and relaxed shoulders and the internal energy have to sink into the abdomen.

The energy comes from the feet, up through the legs, gathers in the chest, moved by the the shoulders and are controlled in the waist.

The energy in the upper part of the body moves the arms.

The energy in the lower part of the body moves the legs.

The energies are changed inside the body.

To yield is to close, to release the energy is to open.

In stillness everything is still. Stillness is to close.

To close contains to open.

In movement everything moves.

To move is to open.

To open contains to close.

In contact with the opponent I can turn freely, with good balance and full control.

In this way I can invite my opponent in and divert his force by using one ounce to deflect one hundred pounds.

If You practise daily You will get to know Yourself.

When You practise, then ask Yourself: "Does my whole body follow these principles?"

If not, correct it immediately.

To be able to do this, You have to practise the form slow, not fast.

Doing Tui Shou (Pushing Hands) is to know others.

But You can only know others, by knowing Yourself first.

I am always ready to face my opponent.

Without any resistance I receive his strength and deflect it. The he will surely fall.

If I do not have a good balance and full control, it is because of Double-Weightiness.

To correct this You have to study Yin and Yang and open and close, when You are practising.

This is what's known as knowing Yourself and others, and in one hundred battles You will win one hundred times.

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In Tui Shou, Pang, Li, Ji, An, are always done concentrated and slowly with the whole body in combined.

This will protect You against the opponents attacks.

Let him attack with all his force, only one ounce is needed to deflect one hundred pounds.

Lead the force, which come toward You into emptiness.

Get contact, stick and follow.

Don't lose the contact and don't resist.

It has been said:

"If he doesn't move, I don't move.

If he moves, I move first.

The force look soft, but isn't.

It is ready to be used, but can not be seen.

Even if looks like the force is stopping,

the feeling of continuation remains."


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By Wu Yi-Xiang.


The mind moves the energy calmly and naturally, so it penetrates the bones.

The energy moves the body easily and flowing, then the body can follow the mind.

Be lively and alert, then Your movements will not be clumsy and heavy.

Keep the spine straight as if the head was hanging from a string.

The mind and the energy have to circulate freely, then the movement will become round and smooth.

This means You changes between Yin and Yang.

To release the force You have to be calm, relaxed and precise.

You have to focus in one direction.

To be firm You have to calm and in good balance, and be able to react in the eight directions.

Move the energy in a perfectly round spiral, so there will be no place it doesn't reach.

Refine Your force like steel, which has been folded thousand of times, so there remain no stiffness.

You have to radiate the same alertness as a falcon, chasing a rabbit, and the intense attention, like a cat watching a mouse.

In stillness, be calm as a mountain.

In movement, move like a great river.

Gather the force, like binding a bow, release it like releasing the arrow.

Seek the straight in the round.

Gather the force before releasing it.

The strength comes from the spine.

The steps follows the changes of the body.

When You walk forward and backward, You have to change and turn.

At first be extremely soft, then extremely hard.

Breath relaxed and flexible.

Gather the energy naturally so You don't get any injury.

Save the energy inside the body, so You always have more than you need.

The mind gives the order, the energy is the flag and the body is the banner.

In the beginning when You practise, You have to make big open movements, latter on You can be more precis.

It's in this manner You refine Your movements.

If he doesn't move, I don't move.

If he moves, I move quicker.

The movement looks soft, but isn't.

It looks straight, but isn't.

The body can get tired, but not the mind.

First the mind then the body.

The breathing is relaxed and the energy penetrates the bones.

The mind is light and the body still.

Be totally attentive in all movements.

Remember when one part of the body moves, the whole body moves.

In pull and push, forward and backward, the energy comes from the spine.

Internally brilliant, externally calm and pleasant.

Walk like a cat and use the force as if You are drawing silk from a pupa.

Generally You focus on the mind, not the energy.

If You focus on the energy, You will become clumsy and lack real strength.

If You use the mind there will be energy, and the energy will be like a wheel, where the body is the axle.

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By Li Yi-Yu


Lift him up by using his force.

Be flexible.

Let him come closer, but save Your strength.

The gather his.

Relax, don't block Your energy.

Be calm.

Release, have Your attention in Your waist and legs.


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If the mind is not still, it can not be completely attentive. The hands, which can be used everywhere, will not be in control.

So the mind have to be still.

In the beginning You can not control Your movements. Be calm in Your mind and learn to feel and get control, by following the movements without any breaks, without resistance and without being prejudiced in how the movements should be like

If my opponent have great force, then I have too.

If I can control my force, then he lose his.

If I don't have great physical strength, then I control with my will.

Be attentive at all time. Wherever he touches You, Your mind must be.

Don't try to escape his force, nor go against it.

By practising this for six or twelve months, You can learn how to use this in Your movements.

All this is about will not strength.

If You practise it for a long time You will be able to control others, but they can not control You.



If the body is clumsy, You will not be able to freely moving forward and backward. So the body have to be mobile.

The movements should not be sluggish.

When his force reach Your skin, Your will has already penetrated his bones.

The movement in Your two hands are being co-ordinated by one energy.

If Your weight is on the left side; empty it, and Your right side will already be moving forward.

If Your weight is on the right side; empty it, and Your left side will already be moving forward.

The energy moves like a wheel; The whole body has to be a unified whole.

If You make one movement, which is not gathered, the body will be unstable and the movement will not be effective.

The faults are mostly in the waist and the legs.

Use the mind to move the body.

If You follow others, and not Yourself, then the body will follow the mind.

Even though You are in control of Your own movements, You still have to follow Your opponents movements.

Prejudiced movements will make You clumsy, if You follow the opponents movements, it will make You more mobile. When You follow Your opponent, Your hand will undoubtedly be able to measure and weigh the strength of his movements. You will be able to judge the length of his attack.

When You move forward and backward, it will be perfect. The more You practise, the more You will develop Your art.



If the energy isn't being integrated, it will have no substance and the body will become unstable.

That is why You have to gather the energy and make it penetrate Your spine. Without any interruption the breath has to be connected with the movements of the body

Inhalation is to closed and gather, expiration is to open and release.

When You breathe in, You will be able to, in a naturally way, to raise the energy and in this manner hold and control the opponent.

When You breathe out, You will, in a naturally way, be able to lower the energy and in this way throw the opponent away.

This means, to use Your will to move the energy, and not use brute force.



Through Your practise You have to make Your strength as one big family.

You have to be able to distinguish between true and false (Yin and Yang).

To be able to use the strength, You have to base it in Your root.

The strength comes up from the root of the foot, is controlled by the waist, flows in the spine, and takes form in the hands.

You also have to be brilliant. When Your opponent is about to use his power, Yours has already penetrated his.

Not to early, not to late.

As a spark which set fire to a piece of paper, or like water gushes from a spring.

When You move forward and backward, there must not be the slightest stagger.

Seek the straight in the round.

First gather the energy, then release; then Your hands will be strong.

This is what is meant by: Attack the opponent with his own force and deflect one hundred pounds with one ounce.



The four previous key words contains what's called the unity of the mind.

With the unity of the mind Your energy will be gathered and strong.

A energy like this will give a strong spirit and will make the mind calm and fully attended.

That is why You have to know about open and closing, and be able to distinguish true from false (Yin and Yang).

When one side is empty, the other have to be full.

Empty doesn't mean completely without power, Your energy have to be whole and lively.

Full doesn't mean completely full, the mind is calm and attended.

It is very important that every change in the movements comes from inside the chest and the waist, not from the outside.

You borrow power from Your opponent. The energy are released from the spine.

How can the energy be released from the spine?

The energy sinks down, passes through the arms and shoulders, and are gathered in the waist.

This is to reduce the energy, to close.

The energy goes from the waist through the spine and are spread to the arms and fingers, this is to increase the energy, to open.

To close is to retreat, to open is to release.

To know open and close is to know Yin and Yang.

When You reach this level, every days practise will become progress in Your ability.

Little by little You will be able to follow Your minds wishes.

Nothing can go against Your will.

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It's not known for certain, who began to teach Tai Chi Chuan.

All the refined and profound items is mentioned in Wang Zhongyues scripts. Latter on the Chen family from Chenjiagou began to practise Tai Chi Chuan.

There were only few from every generation, who became to master the art. Mr. Yang from my native town was very fond of the art and went to Chenjiagou to learn it.

He spended more than ten years in practising Tai Chi Chuan and in the end he mastered the art. He went back to our town, to teach those who was interested in martial art.

My uncle, Wu Yixiang, learned Tai Chi Chuan and was very fond of it.

But he didn't really learn much from Yang, probably because Yang wouldn't teach all he knew.

It was known, that one called Chen Qingping in the village Chaobaozhong, was master of Tai Chi Chuan.

Latter when my uncle was on a business trip to Henan, he made a detour to pay Chen Qingping a visit. He stayed with him and practised Tai Chi Chuan for about one month and in that time he was able to understand the essence of Tai Chi Chuan and he was almost able to master the art.

In 1853, when I was about twenty one years old, I began to practise Tai Chi Chuan with my uncle Wu Yixiang.

He was a good teacher, but I was not a bright student. Twenty odd years has passed since then, and I understand so little. I am certain, there is much more to learn.

To be absolutely sure, that I will never forget, what I have learned, I have written this down, I understand namely:

Five key words.

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By Wu Yi Xiang.


MI - Spread. To spread Chi in the body and to spread Chi all over the opponent.


KAI - Covering. To cover is to use my Chi to hide the purpose for his attack.


DUI - Against. My Chi meets his and matches his attack precisely.


TUN - Absorb. To use my Chi to receive and change his power completely.

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© 1998 Knud Erik Andersen