Saturday, April 30, 2011


Translated by Marcus Brinkman O.M.D.

Wu Meng-xia was an adroit practitioner of original Yang family Taiji boxing. He not only studied with the Yang family for many years but also made several trips to teacher Yang Lu-chan’s home in Guangping to study with other family members and students of the late grand-teacher. Wu furthermore studied in the Chen village on several occasions so that he could further understand the original methods taught to Yang Lu-chan and how these teachings varied among the Yang family teachers. Wu was therefore a researcher and scholar who endeavored to preserve the path of our fore bearers in boxing arts.

Below are the writings of teacher Wu Meng-xia and his understanding of Chen family
Taiji and the "Cloud Hands" posture. This information is based upon part of Chen Pingshan’s book (also known as Chen Xin) published in the early 1920’s, teachings imparted to Wu while in the Chen village and teachings from the Yang family. Certainly this is a treasure to repeatedly reference.

Sha Guo-zhen
Heilongjiang, China, 1988

Notation: Wu Meng-xia’s writings are, at times, somewhat obscure. Throughout his
writings he maintained the original information taught to him but helps the reader by further explanation contained in [brackets]

Original Skill of Taiji Boxing by Wu Meng-xia

Practicing boxing resides in the opening posture. As soon as there is rising [hands or the body], there is the birth of posture.

As in “Upward Single Whip” when an adversary approaches from the right side you must initially use your hand to guide it [the adversary’s striking hand]. This guidance by the right hand means you must quickly and first unload its responsibility {burden} onto the right shoulder. To unload onto the right shoulder means that you must first lead upward using the left hand. The hand commands the jing. As the left hand leads upwards the left shoulder relaxes and drops downwardly.The chest moves forward slightly and gathers together to xi xiong {inhale the breath while drawing the chest inwardly}. Move downwardly to the jing of the crotch. The left foot becomes full while the right foot becomes empty.

The shenfa [body method] and shoufa [hand method] move as one [together]. Following this you must first move the right hand to naturally attain the process of the technique. Upon attaining the posture, [the true pulse shall arrive. Without an adversary present the hands move emptily [the hands move empty, that is, not having grasped an adversary]. You should feel that the successive attainment of the process of the technique [posture] [the mechanism of movement] is ongoing. That is, once your hands move you must sense the successive continuation of achieving the posture. The process of arriving at the technique [posture] and once the posture has been attained the sensation of nimbleness should be sensed. Therefore, I say every posture is complete within itself [is all-together and all within the initial rising action]. With the connecting of the bones one must liken this to the joints of bamboo.

Why is it that other postures drop downwardly while this posture tends to float upwardly? To understand this you must very astutely study this concept and process of arriving at the technique [posture]. And,everything [within the body] is in an instant dropping completely, so you must contemplate this before you can achieve [reach] it [the process of movement] without lacking anything. To drop completely from Upward Cloud Hands is called Lower Cloud Hands. When the spirit and qi are full this posture [Cloud Hands]) seems as if it could stop and yet, the process of movement of the lower posture has already moved. Though it,[the process] wants to halt, yet it does not attain halting. So, its wanting to halt is in itself the process of halting. It is also named the “Arising of the Lower Posture” (Raising the Lower Posture). As for not halting the process of movement, the spirit is as if it has not been. Not halted, and yet halted. As for that which has halted, only a single line in the lower posture is to arise. Those in Taiji will understand this concept.

Furthermore, the right forearm is naturally straight, not bent as most assume [an apparent mistake to be avoided, though most do not]. The posture must not be straightened further. Therefore, as the left hand leads upwards the right shoulder relinquishes its burden. The right hand naturally by means of pulling inwardly [leading inwardly], leads the jing [which leads inwardly] while the arms collect [by means of pulling inwardly (leading inwardly) the jing]. Therefore, that which is not bent cannot be straightened. Alas, that which is not straight cannot be bent. These are natural principles and common knowledge. The difficulty is completely in the practice and application of silk cacoon-ing jing. Leading the jing progressively inward and outward, although the left hand rises [leads] upwardly while the right hand leads progressively and gathers inwardly, is the difficulty. The process of movement is also complete within the chest, which faces forward and gathers [links] all together. The jing of the waist moves downwardly while the jing of the crotch [groin area] maintains roundness and openness. The left-foot can now step fully; the right foot raises insubstantially, and the backside of the upper body feels as if it is nimble [alive]. Those who study these teachings to progress in skill should reflect upon these methods.

Cloud Hands, here, is an example of how to attain skill through the process of movement and cacoon-ing of jing common to all postures and movements. Each posture and movement has its neijing (internal jing). That [the neijing] of the “Cloud Hands” action is as follows:
The qi of the dantian is found at 1.5 fen (inches) below the navel. Fen and parts are interchanged, yet are separate in meaning. As the dantian becomes full the qi can reach everywhere. Upwardly and downwardly must not be inverted. The xinqi (heart qi)guides [leads and raises] the dantian 6 parts to the heart. That is, as soon as the heart’s qi draws upwardly it raises the dantian 6 parts to arrive at the heart. Again, one part and two puffs (2 inhalations and 2 exhalations [the two puffs are exhalations] move the qi into position.
Now, three fen (parts) move upward to the right shoulder. All is from within the shoulder bone and penetrates (transverses) to the left and right fingers. The shoulder bone is that which adheres to the white pillar [spinal column] that which is shenzhu [Body Column] (GV-12] . When it is within the bone it is called the Zhongqi (Central Qi). It forms within the sinew and skin [flesh] and is named Chansijin (Silk Caccoon-ing Jin).
The additional four parts each contain two breaths. Hence, two parts move to the left buttocks, while 2 parts move to the right buttocks.
To explain and clarify the neijin of Cloud Hands is important. So, I offer this further clarification of the section above. Fen related to the dantian is measurement of 1.5 fen below the navel. However fen also refers to the term “parts”. That is, the dantian is divided into ten parts:
6 parts rise upward to the heart, when it divides from the heart-
3 parts to the right shoulder, 3 parts to the left shoulder. And, 2 parts descend to the left buttock and 2 parts to the right buttock.
Parts refer to the qi contained in the dantian. The concept of parts and the separation of parts is a rare treasure seldom discussed and seldom known. In each posture the concept of fen and parts is applied. In Cloud Hands, for example, you are at the very edge of moving, yet have not begun moving this action.
This is still the preparation of Cloud Hands. Chen village speaks of 60% qi upward; 40% qi in the lower region. This 60:40 does not concern weight distribution of which the Yang family speaks. Such difference must be realized.
To continue from 4 parts separated and divided equally to the right and left buttocks.
Everything [qi and process] is within the bones and thereby penetrates to the toes. The heel [the area on the backside of the foot] first drops [touches] upon the ground, while the front of the palm of the foot must feel nimble and alive. When the toes touch the ground they touch downward as if upon a dot [a single point]. You must use gongli (strength),but nimbly. This is not brutish force that most will use. When they, [the toes, heel, palm of the foot] must move, then they shall move. The toes, the shin [bone] and the calf all must use this refined measurement of gongli.
The left and right “cloud hands” all move it [qi] by means of correct direction of flow.
Firstly, move upwards (guide upwardly) the left hand. Second, lower (drop) the right
hand. Then, the right hand from the lower right collects (gathers) to the front of the chest.
The left hand from above moves backward twisting a half turn. As the right hand [coming from the chest] moves upwardly and turns toward the rightward direction, the left hand moves downwardly and collects (gathers) to the chest’s front. The left and right hands do
not halt. As one [hand] goes, the other comes. The left and right continually circle (orbit)and pass from one to the other. Likened to the movement of the sun and the moon. As the sun goes [sets/lowers] the moon comes [rises/ascends]. As the moon goes [sets/ lowers] the sun comes [rises/ascends]. Hence, one hand only manages half of the body. The left hand moves to the left, the left foot in accordance with the left hand (steps) to the left, the left foot in accordance with the left hand [steps] to the left. The left steps slightly larger (than a normal step), purely using a horizontal movement forwardly. That is to say, advance forward by using a purely horizontal movement. Large, whether hand or foot
action, does not attain largeness of the rotating (pivoting) of the right hand by hand movement alone. “Large” means slightly larger than a normal stepping action or hand movement.
Large stepping [elongated] is only different than that of foot walking (stepping). The right hand moves toward the right; the right foot also (from the left) steps to the right. We have now changed directions in cloud hands.
The body moves (advances) to the left along the lateral (horizontally). The right footsteps (though not small in portion) gradually availing itself of moving [advancing] forwards.
[Meaning: move left bit by bit] Therefore, rightward stepping must comply [be
respectful] to leftward stepping. [Meaning: literally one foot must yield to the other; one is lesser, and one is greater] The small [of stepping or of hand gestures] does not attain (reach) smallness. [Meaning: Small is not compressed; large is not expansive].
Cloud hands has no fixed number (repetitions) Because of the land nowadays we must
halt at one point. [Meaning: Land is now sectioned off and we must limit the number of movements in a single direction] Generally one would not surpass a distance of stepping to the left or right beyond 3 or 4 steps.

1 comment:

  1. After 4 years of studying this treatise I finally got it.... Thanks so much for publishing this translation...