TAI CHI MARTIAL APPLICATIONS
BY CHEN CHANGXING
Translated by Jarek Szymanski, photos by Jarek Szymanski; © J.Szymanski 1999
This translation comes from Chen Xiaowang’s book “Chen Style Taijiquan Transmitted Through Generations”
In the brackets I either put my own explanations or added certain words for better understanding (if in normal font); or put Pinyin (transliteration) for certain terms (in Italics).
“Important formula says: Hammer (fist) comes from heart (mind). Fist follows Intention, generally one should know himself and the opponent, adapt to changing conditions.
Once heart and Qi emit, four extremities should move, legs rise (move) to a (certain) place, move and turn to a (certain) position, either stick (zhan) and move together (you), connect (lian) and follow (sui), jump (teng) and dodge (shan), turn over (zhe) and leave empty (kong), ward (peng) and roll (lь), push (ji) and press down (na).
Fist strikes within five feet (but) beyond three feet, far do not use elbow, close do not use hand, no matter (if you move) forward, backward, to the left of right, one step one strike, when you meet enemy, catching him is the standard, not showing the shape (of your strike) is the excellence.
Fist method is like military tactics, attack where (he is) not prepared, hit where (he has) no Intention, take advantage of attack and hit, take advantage of hitting and attack, first empty (Xu) and then make solid (Shi), first solid and then make empty, avoid solid and attack empty, take root when you ask for branch, if you meet multiple opponents who suround you, appear strong like a living dragon or tiger, (then) attack one opponent, with a power of big cannon booming straight.
Up, middle and botom should be handled by one Qi, body, hands and legs (move according to) established practise (like) bound by a rope, hand should not rise empty neither fall empty, the sensitivity of the spirit is completely in agility.
The ancients said: good at moving out and coming back, hardness and softness, moving forward and backward, (when he does) not move, (he is) like a mountain, difficult to know as Yin and Yang, limitless like heaven and earth, full and substantial like a granary, vast like four seas, dazzling like three lights, watching the coming force (to find) opportunity, able to estimate advantages and disadvantages of the enemy, awaiting movement (of the opponent) with stillness, handling stillness with movement, (only if the above conditions are met one) can talk about (real) boxing method.
Important formula says: method of borrowing (opponent’s power) is easy, method of advancing is difficult, yet method of advancing is the most principal.
Writings on tactics say: attacking hand should be bold and powerful, do not attack the extremities, facing the opponent take his middle hall (e.g. between the legs), like a tiger grab the upper (part of his body) or grab the lower, similar to eagle or hawk capturing chicken from above; one does not have to hurry in overturning rivers and seas, the most powerfull is Red Phoenix Facing Sun; clouds flow in the light of sun and moon heaven meets earth, (only) when (two) martial arts fight one with the other (one) can see weak and strong sides.
Important formula says: taking a step and entering (one) must advance body, (the movement is) real only if body and hands arrive together, in the method there is a formula about where to get it from, (once) you understand this principle, (you will realize) how miraculous it is.
From ancient times there were methods of dodging (shan), advancing (jin), striking (da) and protecting (gu): what is called dodging, what is called advancing, advancing is dodging, dodging is advancing, there is no need seek it far away. What is called striking, what is called protecting, protecting is striking, striking is protecting, just a hand movement.
The ancients said: heart (mind; is) like gunpowder, hands (are) like bullets. A brainwave (sudden inspiration; and) bird will not escape easily. Body (is) like bowstring, hands like arrows. Bowstring sounds and bird falls down (this) shows miraculous (skill of the archer). Rise hands (fast) like flash of lightning, there is no time (even) to close eyes (when) lightning flashes. Strike the enemy like rapid thunder, there is no time to cover ears when thunder strikes.
Move to the left and come from the right, move to the right and come from the left; hands hit from inside of the heart, (then) fall forward. Strength rises from feet, feet rise just like fire does.
(if you want to) advance the left (you should first) enter right, (if you want to) advance the right (you should first) enter left, taking step heel first touches ground, ten toes should grasp ground, steps should be steady, body should be serious and heavy, (when) moving out withdraw hands, when reaching the opponent (hands should) clench (into) fists, upper and lower Qi should all stop, (in) coming out and entering body should dominate; no deficiency, no shortage, no reaching, no leaving. Fist strikes from heart, hands are hastened by body, one extremity moves (and) one hundred (e.g. all) bones follow; once (you) bend (close), whole body also bends; once (you) extend (open), whole body should also extend; extending should be to the limit, bending should be tight. (it is) like loading a cannon, the tighter it is loaded, the more power the explosion has.
Writings on tactics say: no matter (with no restrictions to; if you) strike (using) lifting (ti), pressing (an), attacking (ji), pounding (chong), arms (bo), elbows (zhou), hips (kua), legs (tui), head (tou), hands (shou), (hit) high (gao), low (di), along (shun), horizontally (heng), with step forward (jinbu), with step backward (tuibu), borrowing Qi (jieqi), stopping Qi (jieqi) as well as with hundreds methods of striking up and down, generally (speaking) (all body should form) one coherent whole (literally – be penetrated by one Qi).
Moving body first take clever (e.g. favourable) place (position), this is called important formula of tactics. Joints of bones should be adjusted (dui), otherwise there is no strength. Hands should grasp with agility, otherwise (situation may) change (unexpectedly) (literally – change will be born). Hands should move (issue) fast, otherwise (they will be) delayed. Be ferocious when striking, otherwise (the strike is) of no benefit. Feet and hands must be alive, otherwise (one will) face danger. Cherish perfectly intentions (cunxin), otherwise (you will be) fooled.
Issuing with body: should be fierce and courageous like raising eagle, (in) rude and brave (fashion), quick-wits and wisdom (should be) linked. Do not fear (and) hesitate; like Guan at Baima, Zhao at Changban (ann.1), awe-inspiring with invincible might, breaking waves, in stillness like a mountain, in movement like a thunder.
Important formula says: make sure to examine the coming movement of the opponent, (how he) kicks with legs and advances with head, strikes with fists and spread (his) arms, step forward with (your) side to the opponent, (first) bend body (then) rise and hit.
When leg arrives (e.g. opponent kicks) lift your knee, if fist arrives move it aside (bo) with elbow, attack horizontally (heng) (if the opponent strikes) straight (shun), ward off (peng) and press down (ya) a horizontal (attack), receive (the attack) coming from the left with (your) right, meet (the attack) coming from the right with (your) left, on long distance use hand, on short distance use elbow, on long distance kick, on short distance add (use) knee.
(if one wants to) get upper hand in fighting, look around and examine the shape of ground (around you), hands must be fast (ji), feet light (qing), examine the (opponent’s) movements like a cat, heart (mind) must be in order and clear, (when) body and hands arrive (at the target) together (this is) the beginning of success, if hands arrive and the body does not (then this is) striking without excellence. If hands arrive and body also arrives (at the same time), then defeating enemy is like smashing a weed.
Writings on tactics say: (those) good at fighting, first look at (the opponent’s) footwork and (only) then strike with hands. High strike throat, low strike groin. Left and right Ribs as well as center (line). (While) advancing striking (on the distance of) one zhang (e.g. 3.33m) is not considered far, striking in close range is within one inch.
Important formula says: practice as if there was enemy in front of you, when facing enemy although there is opponent, (but fight) as if there was nobody. If a hand comes in front of your face do not look at it, if elbow comes in front of your chest do not look at it. When hands rise (qi) feet should fall (luo), when feet fall hands should rise.
Heart (xin; mind) must take the lead, Intention (yi) must conquer the opponent, body must attack him, steps must pass through him, head must look up (yang), chest must be present (xian), waist must be upright (shu), Dantian must must move (yun), (body) from feet to nape must be one coherent whole.
Writings on tactics say: those terrified will never achieve victory. Those who cannot examine situation will never protect (themselves).
Moving first (e.g. before the opponent) is called master, moving later (e.g. after the opponent) is called younger brother, teach to advance do not teach to retreat. Bold but cautious, secrets of movements and applications, everything is simply in one heart (mind). One moves into two energies (qi), transmitts to three joints (jie), appears in four extremitites (shao), unites in five elements (wuxing). Practice all the time, move and transform everyday, it is difficult at the beginning (but) becomes natural after a long time. Philosophy of fist art ends here.”
End of Chen Changxing’s “Important Words on Martial Applications”.
Annotation 1: “Guan at Baima, Zhao at Changban” – this sentence refers to two heores from a popular novel “The Romance of Three Kingdoms” (San Guo Yanyi). Guan Yu with a sudden attack killed alone many enemies and cut off the head of their leader, Yan Liang, at Baima; Zhao Yun (Zhao Zilong) fought alone against many enemies at Changban and rescued Liu Bei’s son. This is the comparison to the spirit one should have while fighting.
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