The oldest of the Tai Chi classics by Chang San Feng

The oldest of the Tai Chi classics by Chang San Feng

The oldest of the Tai Chi classics by Chang San Feng

And the Classics say….” How many times have you heard me say that? I seem to say it almost every day to some poor, bored soul. Here’s one written earlier! (Not by me). This may be the oldest of the Taiji classics written around 700 years ago by Chang San Feng.

In motion the whole body should be light and agile,
With all parts of the body linked as if threaded together.

The ch’i [vital life energy] should be excited,
The shen [spirit of vitality] should be internally gathered.

The postures should be without defect,
without hollows or projections from the proper alignment;
in motion the Form should be continuous, without stops and starts.

The chin [intrinsic strength] should be rooted in the feet,
generated from the legs,
controlled by the waist, and manifested through the fingers.

The feet, legs, and waist should act together as an integrated whole,
so that while advancing or withdrawing
one can grasp the opportunity of favourable timing
and advantageous position.

If correct timing and position are not achieved,
the body will become disordered and will not move as an integrated whole;
the correction for this defect must be sought in the legs and waist.

The principle of adjusting the legs and waist applies for moving in all directions;
upward or downward,
advancing or withdrawing,
left or right.

All movements are motivated by I [mind-intention], not external form.

If there is up, there is down;
when advancing, have regard for withdrawing;
when striking left, pay attention to the right.

If the I wants to move upward,
it must simultaneously have intent downward.

Alternating the force of pulling and pushing
severs an opponent’s root
so that he can be defeated quickly and certainly.

Insubstantial and substantial should be clearly differentiated.
At any place where there is insubstantiality,
there must be substantiality;
Every place has both insubstantiality and substantiality.
The whole body should be threaded together
through every joint
without the slightest break.
Chang Ch’uan [Long Boxing] is like a great river
Rolling on unceasingly.
Peng, Lu, Chi, An,
Ts’ai, Lieh, Chou and K’ao
are equated to the Eight Trigrams.
The first four are the cardinal directions;
Ch’ien [South; Heaven],
K’un [North; Earth],
K’an [West; Water], and
Li [East; Fire].

The second four are the four corners:
Sun [Southwest; Wind],
Chen [Northeast; Thunder],
Tui [Southeast; Lake] and
Ken [Northwest; Mountain].

Advance (Chin), Withdraw (T’ui)
Look left (Tso Ku), Look Right (Yu Pan) and
Central Equilibrium (Chung Ting)
are equated to the five elements:
Fire, and

All together these are termed the Thirteen Postures.

A footnote appended to this Classic by Yang Lu-ch’an (1799-1872) reads: This treatise was left by the patriarch Chang San-feng of Wu Tang Mountain, with a desire toward helping able people everywhere achieve longevity, and not merely as a means to martial skill.