Sparring Hands And Walking Frame Essentials

by Li I Yu - Translated by Ben Lo in the book "The Essence Of T'ai Chi Ch'uan"

Formerly people said: being able to attract into emptiness, you can use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds. Not being able to attract into emptiness, you cannot deflect a thousand pounds. The words are simple, but the meaning complete. The beginner cannot understand it. Here I add some words to explain it. If someone is ambitious to learn this art, he can find some way to enter it and every day he will have improvement.

Desiring to attract into emptiness and use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds, first you must have the correct timing and position. To obtain the correct timing and position, you must first make the body one unit. Desiring to make the body one unit, you must first eliminate hollows and protruberances. To make the whole body without breaks or holes, you must first have the Shen (spirit) and Qi (breath) excited and expanded. If you want the Shen and Qi activated and expanded, you must first raise the spirit (pay attention) and the Shen should not be unfocused. To have your Shen not unfocused, you must first have the Shen and Qi gather and penetrate the bones. Desiring the Shen and Qi to penetrate the bones, you must first strengthen the two thighs and loosen the two shoulders and let the Qi sink down.

The Jing (intrinsic energy) raises from the feet, changes into the legs, is stored in the chest, moved in the shoulders and commanded in the waist. The upper part connects to the two arms and the lower part follows the legs. It changes inside. To gather is to close and to release is to open. If it is quiet, it is completely still. Still means to close. In closing there is opening. If it is moving, everything moves. Moving is open. In opening there is closing. When the body is touched it revolves freely. Thre is nowhere that does not obtain power. Then you can attract to emptiness and use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.

Practicing the form every day is the kung fu (way of practicing) of knowing yourself. When you start to practice, first ask yourself, "Did my whole body follow the previous principles or not?" If one little place didn't follow (them), then correct it immediately. Therefore, in practicing the form we want slowness not speed.

Pushing hands is the kung fu of knowing others. As for movement and stillness, although it is to know others, you must still ask yourself. If you arrange yourself well, when others touch you, you don't move a hair. Follow the opportunity and meet his Jing (intrinsic energy) and let him naturally fall outward. If you feel someplace (in your body) is powerless, it is double weighted and unchanging. You must first seek (the defect) in yin and yang, opening and closing. Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times.