From the club magazine No. 10, page 9 of the Jianquan Taijiquan Association Shanghai from 30.04.1984
Translated by Martin Boedicker
All styles of Wushu have both, their own peculiarities as well as their own names. This manifests in a special character. How is it with Taijiquan – why it's called Taiji? There are reasons.
Wang Zongyue’s Classic of Taijiquan (Taijiquan jing) describes the meaning clearly:
“Taiji is born out of wuji. It is the origin of movement and stillness and the mother of yin and yang.”
We know from our own deep experience, that this sentence explains the two Chinese characters taiji correctly and through the use of the word taiji it declares that this martial art is based on the principle of yin and yang, stillness and movement. Taijiquan is also called “Long Boxing”. It is stated in the Classic of Taijiquan:
“Long boxing flows continuously like a long river and the sea.”
Taijiquan got this name because this describes the movements of the form well, which are flowing uninterrupted like a long river and the sea.
But how to use yin and yang, stillness and movement while practicing Taijiquan?
When one starts Taijiquan with the “Preparation (yubeishi)”, you have to strive to stand with a still heart-mind (xin). Both hands hang down and the whole body is relaxed. One uses no force and is not thinking. This beginning is a state of wuji [i.e. without polarity].
Then starts the “Taiji Beginning Form (taiji qishi)”. Through the movements of the hands one distinguishes between left and right, as well as inside and outside. The left leg steps out of pingxingbu and the right leg supports the body weight. This dividing course in the movement means that taiji is born from wuji.
The body, the feet and the hands are moved through the middle of the axis of waist and hip. The centre of gravity is shifting to the right foot. Thus the left leg is empty or yin and the right leg full or yang. After this comes “Outline the Sparrows Tail (lanquewei)”. From then on this rule is in force. In all movements, yin and yang, as well as full and empty are differentiated and the movements are performed without any interruption. When one does Taijiquan like this, then one will certainly understand the name “Taijiquan”.
The term “Long Boxing,” as it is stated in the Classic, explains how we practice Taijiquan. It describes the movements of the entire form. One movement follows into the next. This is the rule for all movements and within them is the mutual change between yin and yang, full and empty. Everything is combined into a continuous single movement. In names such as “Cloud Hands (yunshou)” it becomes clear how the movement flows continuously from beginning to end, like a long river and the sea. […]
In fact, taiji is a specific scientific technical term from ancient times. Its meaning includes yin and yang, full and empty, stillness and movement, to advance and to retreat, front and back, top and bottom and left and right. This use is reflected, as is well known, in the taiji graphic. Taiji moves without interruption, forming a harmonious whole. With it one can explain the whole cosmos, physics and also the techniques of Taijiquan. […]
Starting from the name Taijiquan to the knowledge of the fundamental aspects of Taijiquan, one reaches a method for the training of Taijiquan and recognizes the requirements for the practice of Taijiquan. Truth is what is in accordance with the name. Become familiar with this rule and master it fully. Those that study Taijiquan according to this and progress in this way will certainly achieve much.