Connection in Taijiquan

April 16th, 2008

A diagram from Kuo Lien-Ying’s T’ai Chi Boxing Chronicle. The diagram connects several of taijiquan‘s significant energies, or jins, representing the nature of each jin with an expressive curve.


For example, the serpentine curve between Open and Close represents Folding: “Folding transitions are connected without interruption. Folding is done with the hands, revolving is done with the legs. Folding brings the opponent’s movements to the extremity; thus you fold when you receive. It lengthens energy and is never intermittent or broken off.

“If you intend to move upward, then first fold from below. If you intend to move to the left, then the folding must start from the right. This way the energies are mutually connected. Also, a firm grasp of this drawing of silk exists, so one never receives straight, directly, or rigidly. This contains the idea of the hands working together in accordance with the steps. Regardless of whether you enter forward or retreat backward, the steps must follow the turning of the body to the left or right. Never enter straight or retreat rigidly. The energy inside the legs is stable and sinks without being intermittent or broken off. Boxing chronicles say that the forward and returning motions must have folding; enter and retreat must have revolving” (p103).

4 Responses to “Connection in Taijiquan”

  1. Loretta D Says:

    This is a very interesting visual to show those energies at work. Thanks for sharing!

  2. PolyMathicus Says:

    In medieval tournaments there was an interesting fixture: the Moor. It was a revolving statue of wood, depicting a man with a shield in one hand and a whip in the other. The moment you hit the shield with your spear, the Moor rotates around his “spine” and hits you with his whip, and the entire motion is due to your own energy.

    That is the pair of receiving and giving!

    Be like that Moor, and the Power is yours.



  3. Loretta Donnelly Says:

    This kind of reminds me of the old-style Chinese bagua dummy that rotates, or can be locked. If your timing is off and you whack an arms hard, YOU get whacked if you are “in the way!”

    -Loretta D.

  4. PolyMathicus Says:

    Dear Loretta,

    it is precisely the same thing! The medieval Moor served the same exact purpose: to gauge the timing of the cavalier.

    At any rate, the metaphor gives us, I believe, a rigorous insight into the Mastery of the Art: one needs to be like that dummy, totally flexible but centered around the spine, the vertical axis.

    In REAL taiji there is, as it were, no independent motion (*). All power is quite simply the result of redirecting opponent’s aggressivity back to its source.

    There is no fight: whoever generates conflict will pay dearly, by the very force he/she set in motion.


    (*) a note for practicioners: the fact that there is NO independent motion is something that should guide the correct execution of the so-called “forms”. One must understand and feel which external actions set the form in motion at a given point in time.

    This goes back to a fundamental point of the Yang family: practice the solo form as if there were real opponents fighting you.

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