From Zhou Huasong
From the Club Journal of the Jianquan Taijiquan Association Shanghai
Translated by Freya and Martin Boedicker
The martial arts are divided into internal and external styles. Taijiquan belongs to the internal styles. If one learns Taijiquan, one may not separate from its roots. Primarily this means that one may not turn away from the actual goal:
Taijiquan is an internal martial art.
It calls itself also martial art of the internal exercise, where it is important to practice qi. This qi is however not the one that can be found in outside nature, but it is the consciousness, which flows activated by the movements of the martial art through the nervous system. Look for stillness in the movements. In the movement find stillness. The whole body follows the movements of the consciousness in accordance with the physical laws of the cosmos. Implemented by the five internal organs [heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidneys] and the six hollow organs [stomach, gallbladder, sanjiao, bladder, large intestine and small intestine].
If the consciousness fills all functional activities of the body, then this lets the whole body become a unit. The blood circulation and the nervous system move like the stars - an eternal cycle. If something moves, there is nothing that does not move. If there is something still, there is nothing that is not still. In the whole body there is the mutual creation of yin and yang. If one actually follows that goal and the principles of Taijiquan, converts them into practice and proceeds step by step, then one will arrive from practicing the foundation (ti) to the practicing of the application (yong).
For the method of the foundation one finds explanations mainly in the texts The Taijiquan Classic and The Taijiquan Treatise. For the exercise of the application in Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Basic Movements, the Song of the Thirteen Basic Movements and the Song of the Striking Hands. The method of our Taijiquan is obtained by the words and the example of the old masters. But one can completely naturally experience the correctness of the theory of the Classic and the Treatise on his own by industrious learning, intensive deepening and untiring practice.
About the practicing of the foundation:
In the Taijiquan Classic it is stated:
"Taiji is born out of wuji. It is the origin of movement and stillness and the mother of yin and yang."
This says clearly that Taijiquan is a martial art, that emphasise the mutual transformation of yin and yang, as well as stillness and movement. One tries to strike the other one not by the use of raw strength on the outside, but by the movement qi in the body inside.
If one practices the form, it is, like already described, the process of outside movements of the martial art, but special value becomes on the effect qi, whether inside or outside. One cannot only pay attention simply to the outside form. First of all it must be, like it is said in the Treatise:
"It is exerted through the legs, controlled by the waist (yao) and expressed by the hands and the fingers. From the feet to the legs and then the waist - it is always completely and unbroken. In advancing forward and retreating backward, one can gain the opportunity and the strategic advantage (shi). If you not gain the opportunity and the strategic advantage, your body will be unorganised and confused. This mistake must certainly be sought in the waist or the legs. Up or down, forward or backward, left or right, it is generally like that. This is all connected to the intention (yi) and not to something external.”
About the practicing of the application:
Taijiquan is a martial art and the ability of fighting is an inseparable component. The expression of this ability lies in the thirteen basic movements: peng, lü, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou, kao, to advance, to retreat, to look left, to look right, stability. The stability, which is called also central equilibrium (zhongding), is of highest importance. The other twelve basic movements need all central equilibrium. After that follows the demand of the change of empty (xu) and full (shi), as well as yin and yang. In the Song of the Thirteen Basic Movements it is stated:
"The thirteen basic movements - none of them should be treated lightly. It is known: the source (the thirteen basic movements) is the waist (yao). You must pay attention to the interchange between empty and full. The qi flows through the body without hindrance. In stillness one encounters movement, in movement one encounters stillness. According with one’s opponent the transformation seems to be miraculous. Keep each movement in your heart/consciousness (xin) and consider its purpose. It will come - even though one will not notices - through time and ceaseless practice (gongfu)."
This shows clearly the way of fighting in Taijiquan and how one can reach it by hard training of the thirteen basic movements.
Whether one practices the foundation or the application, from the beginning to the end Taijiquan is based in summary on the large principle of the mutual creation of yin and yang, empty and full, as well as stillness and movement. If we learn Taijiquan, we should also not separate from the following principle:
"You may ask, what are the criteria of foundation and application? Intention (yi) and qi as the rulers - bones and flesh as a the servants. Become aware of the ultimate purpose. To prolong life. To extend the years. Eternal spring."
The ancestors gave us the following teachings:
"It is to be wished that the heroes of this world use it to prolong their lives and not only for martial arts."
In the martial art Taijiquan the techniques and the internal strength (de) must be considered in the same way. That means that Taijiquan is simply the noble idea of the ideal of harmony.