Treatise on Tai Chi The Principles of T’ai Chi Ch’uan


1A.  With every movement string all the parts together, keeping the entire body light and nimble.

1B.   In any action, the whole body should be light and agile, or Ching and Lin. One should feel that all of the body’s joints are connected with full linkage.

1C.  Once in motion, every part of the body is light and agile and must be threaded together.

1D.  Whenever one moves, the entire body must be light and lively, and must above all be connected throughout.

1E.  Once you begin to move, the entire body must be light and limber.  Each part of your body should be connected to every other part.

1F.  In motion all parts of the body must be light, nimble, and strung together.

1G.  Move in an agile, balanced, and coordinated manner. Once you decide to move, The parts of the body should act together:
Feeling connected and coordinated,
As balanced as two feathers on a scale,
Strung together like pearls in a necklace,
Agile like a cat,
Lighter than moonbeams,
Mobile as a young monkey.

Master Chang San-Feng’s Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, circa 1300 CE, Part 1


2A.  Calmly stimulate the ch’i, with the Spirit of Vitality concentrated internally.

2B.  Chi should be stirred.  The spirit of vitality, or Shen, should be concentrated          inwards.

2C.  Qi should be full and stimulated, Shen (Spirit) should be retained internally.

2D.  The qi should be excited; the spirit should be gathered within.

2E.  The internal energy should be extended, vibrated like the beat of a drum. The spirit should be condensed in toward the center of your body.

2F.  The ch’i (breath) should be excited, the shen (spirit) should be internally gathered.

2G.  Energize the body and quiet the gathered spirit. Raise up awareness to draw Chi to every nerve, Fill up the body with the strength of the excited Force, Stir and stimulate the Chi from head to toe, Playing the Great Drum of Inner Powers.
Keep the spirit calm within,
Vital forces tamed and quiet,
Riding the Tigress to the Temple,
Gently leading the Great Ox past the Gate;
Condensing the Elixir of Spirit in the Inner Chamber.

Master Chang San-Feng’s Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, circa 1300 CE, Part 2


3A.  Avoid deficiency and excess; avoid projections and hollows; avoid severance and splice.

3B.  Do not show any deficiency, neither concavity nor convexity in movement. Do not show disconnected movement.

3C.  No part should be defective, no part should be deficient or excessive, no part should be disconnected.

3D.  Let there be no hollows or projections; let there be no stops and starts.

3E.  When performing T’ai Chi, it should be perfect; allow no defect.  The form should be smooth with no unevenness, and continuous, allowing no interruptions.

3F.  Let the postures be without breaks or holes, hollows or projections, or discontinuities and continuities of form.

3G.  Move in a continuous, even and smooth manner.
Do not overextend the limbs or sully the forms.
Flow like the Great River
Filling all the holes and hallows,
Unbroken, gathered, full, unstoppable;
Seeking the True Level, finding the Golden Mean,
Neither excessive nor deficient in Yin or Yang;
Holding postures as perfect as the Blue Lotus,
Moving steadily between forms like the White Tiger,
Uniting body and will in the Jade Furnace,
Transcending inner and outer, starting and stopping.

Master Chang San- Feng’s Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, circa 1300 CE, Part 3


4A.  The energy is rooted in the feet, issued through the legs, directed by the waist, and appears in the hands and fingers.  The feet, legs, and waist must act as one unit, so that whether Advancing or Withdrawing you will be able to obtain a superior position and create a good opportunity.

4B.  The Chin is rooted in the feet, bursts out in the legs, is controlled by the waist and functions through the fingers.  From the feet to the legs, legs to the waist, all should be moved as a unit.  By moving as a unit, one can advance or retreat with precise timing and the most advantageous position.

4C.  The root is at the feet, (Jin is) generated from the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the fingers.  From the feet to the legs to the waist must be integrated, and one unified Qi.  When moving forward or backward, you can catch the opportunity and gain the superior position.

4D.  Its root is in the feet, it issuing from the legs, its control from the yao, and its shaping in the fingers.  From the feet, to the legs, and then the yao; there must always be completely one qi.  Only then, in moving forward and backward, can the opportunity and position be gained.

4E.  The internal energy, ch’i, roots at the feet, then transfers through the legs and is controlled from the waist, moving eventually through the back to the arms and fingertips. When transferring the ch’i from your feet to your waist, your body must operate as if all the parts were one; this allows you to move forward and backward freely with control of balance and position.

4F.  The motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the      waist, and manifested through the fingers.  The feet, legs and waist must act together simultaneously, so that while stepping forward or back the timing and position are correct.


5A.   Failure to obtain a superior position and create a good opportunity results from the body being in a state of disorder and confusion.  To correct this disorder, adjust the waist and legs.

5B.  If precise timing and good position are not achieved and the body does not move       as a unit, then the waist and legs need more development.  They may not be strong or flexible enough.

5C.  If you fail to catch the opportunity and gain the superior position, your mind is scattered and your body is disordered.  To solve this problem, you must look to the waist and legs.

5D.  Where the opportunity and position have not been gained, the body is scattered and disordered.  This error must be sought in the yao and the legs.

5E.  Failure to do this causes loss of control of the entire body system.  The only cure for such a problem is an examination of the stance.

5F.  If the timing and position are not correct, the body becomes disordered, and the defect must be sought in the legs and waist.


6A.   Likewise, upward and downward, forward and backward, leftward and rightward – all these are to be directed by the Mind-Intent and are not to be expressed externally.

6B.  This often shows when moving up or down, backwards or forwards, left or right.  Use internal consciousness, not external forms.

6C.  Up and down, forward and backward, left and right, it’s all the same. All of this is done with the Yi (Mind), not externally.

6D.  Upward, downward, forward, backward, left and right are all thus.  In all of these cases, it is yi, and not from extremities.

6E.  Application of these principles promotes the flowing T’ai Chi movement in any direction; forward, backward, right side, and left side.  In all of this, you must emphasize the use of the mind in controlling your movements, rather than the mere use of external muscles.

6F.  Up or down, front or back, left or right, are all the same.  These are all i (mind) and not external.


7A.   If there is above, there must be below.  If there is Advancing, there must be Withdrawing.  If there is left, there must be right. If the initial intent is upward, you must first have downward intent.  If you want to lift something upward, you must first have the intent of pushing downward. Then the root will be severed, it will be immediately and certainly toppled.

7B.  Where there is something up, there must be something down.  Where there is something forwards, there must be something backwards.  Where there is something left, there must be something right.  If one intends to move up, one must simultaneously show a contrary tendency (downwards), just as one who wishes to pull a tree up pushes downwards first to loosen the roots, so that it can be easily uprooted.

7C.  If there is a top, there is a bottom; if there is a front, there is a back; if there is a left, here is a right.  If Yi (mind) wants to go upward, this implies considering downward.  (This means) if (you) want to lift and defeat an opponent, you must first consider his root.  When the opponent’s root is broken, he will inevitably be
defeated quickly and certainly.

7D.  There is up, and therefore there is down, there is forward, and therefore there is backward; there is left, and therefore there is right.  If one intends to move upward, the send the yi downward.  If one wants to lift something up, then a ‘break’ must be added.  In this way, the opponent will sever his own root, ruining him quickly; no doubt about it.

7E.  You should also follow the T’ai Chi principle of opposites: when you move upward, the mind must be aware of down; when moving forward, the mind also thinks
of moving back; when shifting to the left side, the mind should simultaneously notice the right side – so that if the mind is going up, it is also going down.  Such principles relate to T’ai Chi movement in the same way that uprooting an object, and thereby destroying its foundation, will make the object fall sooner.

7F.  If there is up, there is down; if there is forward, then there is backward; if there is        left, then there is right.  If the i wants to move up, it contains at the same time the downward idea.  By alternating the force of pulling and pushing, the root is severed and the object is quickly toppled, without a doubt.


8A.   Clearly discriminate the Substantial and Insubstantial.  There is an aspect of Substantial and Insubstantial in every part of the body.  Considered in their entirety all things have this nature.

8B.  One must distinguish substantiality from insubstantiality. Where there is substantiality, there must be insubstantiality.  In all ways, one has to distinguish one from the other.

8C.  Substantial and insubstantial must be clearly distinguished.  Every part (of the body) has a substantial and insubstantial aspect.  The entire body and all the joints should be threaded together without the slightest break.

8D.  Empty and full should be divided clearly.  Each point (in your body) in this way has empty and full.  Every point always is empty and full.  The whole body, in every joint, is strung together; do not let it be even the slightest bit broken.

8E.  Besides clearly separating the positive and negative from one another, you should also clearly locate the substantial and insubstantial.  When the entire body is integrated with all parts connected together, it becomes a vast connection of positive and negative energy units.  Each positive and negative unit of energy should be connected to every other unit and permit no interruption among them.

8F.  Insubstantial and substantial should be clearly differentiated. One place has insubstantiality and substantiality; every place has the same insubstantiality and substantiality. All part of the body are strung together without the slightest break.


9A.  Chang Ch’uan (Long Boxing) is like a long river or great ocean rolling on without interruption.

9B.  Long Chuan, like a great river, flows unceasingly.

9C.  What is Long Fist?  (It is) like a long river and a large ocean, rolling ceaselessly.

9D.  Long Boxing is like the Long River and the Great Sea, an unceasing torrent.

9E.  In Long Forms your body should move like the rhythmic flow of water on a river or like the rolling waves of the ocean.

9F.  Ch’ang Ch’uan (T’ai Chi Ch’uan) is like a great river rolling on unceasingly.



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