From Ma Yueliang and Chen Zhenming
From the Book The Taijiquan of the Wu Jianquan (1934)
In explaining Taijiquan there are different opinions.
Some say: "Taijiquan is both a method and theory of self cultivation, and an exercise with which one finds stillness in movements. This is known as following the combining of yin and yang which corresponds again to taiji. Taijiquan means to follow a method and theory of boxing which always gathering internally and externally shows no form, like the inseparable yin yang of the taiji."
Others say: "Taijiquan has this name, because each movement orients itself in circles and resembles the taiji diagram. Therefore it is called Taiji."
Both explanations are well-founded.
Particularly the last explanation is completely sufficient. The movements of Taijiquan differ from the complete hardness of Shaolinquan, because their principles are emptiness (xu), stillness (jing) and naturalness (ziran) and in Taijiquan one wins by softness (rou). The following presents an analysis of these qualities.
1) Being empty (xu)
The emptiness of Taijiquan does not have the meaning of nullity, but of insubstantial. The emptiness forms the mental. The mental forms the humanspirit (shen). The spirit is the ruler of the body and is fulfilled of qi. Naturalness (ziran) in the motion leads to lightness and skilfulness.
2) Being still (jing)
In the exercise of Shaolinquan, one must be extreme in the use of great strength. That is not suited to most people. One will again and again be out of breath and at the end one will be completely exhausted. Taijiquan is not like that. With its three aspects of the body, the heart/consciousness (xin) and the intent (yi) it tries to find power in stillness. The more slowly the better. The breath is long and the qi sinks to the dantian. This is an expression of the stillness of the body. When practicing everything must be connected. Whether applied to the eyes, hands, waist or feet, this has to be true from head to foot. No parts should be seperate. This is the expression of the stillness of the heart/consciousness (xin). Use the intent (yi) and not external strength. If there is a movement, also the intent (yi) is immediately there. That is the expression of the stillness of the intent (yi).
3) Being natural (ziran)
The movements of Taijiquan are simply completely natural, like the jin-power reaches up to the top of the head, enlarge the chest downward and lift the upper back, relax the waist and drop the buttocks, sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. These are all physical aspects. They correspond to our natural behaviour.
4) Being soft (rou)
When practicing Taijiquan it is most important to avoid the use of strength. It is of fundamental importance that the whole body is relaxed. The qi and the blood are connected. Natural practicing leads in the long term to internal jin-power. The internal jin-power is very soft. If one meets the opponent, one answers with resistance by following flexibly the strength of the opponent. Thus one finds in softness the character of hardness. In the classical texts it is stated: "Highest softness leads to highest hardness."