Part 1 –The Art (Taijiquan)

“It is wisdom to know others; it is enlightenment to know one’s self”-From the Dao De Jing written by Lao Tzu (6th Century BCE).

Where else to start but with Yang Cheng Fu (1883 – 1936) who modified what he learned from his grandfather, the founder of the Yang Style, Yang Lu-ch’an and his father. Ne devised the Yang Family Forms practised today.

In “The Practical Application of Taijiquan” he advises against:

● Learning the Art to cultivate oneself physically and spiritually but not to defend oneself.

● Learning to defend oneself but not to cultivate oneself.

He describes:

● The soft Taijiquan method as the true Taijiquan method.

If it is soft, where is the hard to balance the soft and maintain Yang/Ying equilibrium?

● The need for the ability to teach the Art of self-cultivation and self defence, as the cultivation and application of both produces complete Taijiquan.

So Taijiquan is about a balance that can be found by exploring the extremities within Soong (softness, relaxation) a mindset that embraces enquiry and completeness shared with those involved with the Sciences.

Part 2 –Taijiquan and the Taijitu

In another section of his book, Yang Cheng Fu wrote about the Taji diagram (the Taijitu featured on the left) explaining that its meaning “is the production of Yin and Yang, the mutual relation between hardness and softness and the changing nature of all things”.

Tai Ji Quan embodies this concept.

Within each expansive (Yang) movement is an element of withdrawal or recoil (Yin). Too much expansion results in a loss of balance and tension. This effect first occurs in the expanding limb and then extends into the whole body. Central equilibrium, soong finally control is lost followed by an awkward recovery or the mildindignity of falling over. Ultimately this excess Yang becomes an excess Yin. On the positive side, if you think this is a paradox, at least it is one that can be considered from a comfortable, horizontal proneness.

The small white blob in the black half and the black blob in the white half of the Taijitu are reminders and a representation of the key concept that in all Yin is a little Yang as well as the potential for Yang. Of course, as we are discussing Taiji, there is also a little Yang in all Yin. So when practising the Art, leave a little in reserve:

● Don’t transfer too much weight from leg to leg so balance and central equilibrium are maintained.

● Don’t strain the waist.

● Do maintain the five bows so the legs and ankles are never locked.

In a nutshell, accept, allow and prepare for the inevitable appearance of the opposite within the boundaries of whatever move you are making so that you can work with and not against the change, helping your expression of the art to be:




●Mindful and


Converting what could be jarring, resistance to apparently opposite movements into relaxed, balanced transformations.

The Tai Ji Classics advise that “when expanding and contracting, one must never depart from Tai Ji”, “the fist is a small Dao and Tai Ji is the great Dao” and “to arrive at emptiness and lightness all arises out of the Taijitu”. The classics have a high regard for the Taijitu and Taijiquan. So close is this relationship that their time-tested principles inspire the practice of the Art and Tai Ji Quan is considered the being the offspring of the Tai Ji Tu.

So we are advised to return to the Taijitu frequently to better understand and enhance the principles and application of Taijiquan. The Yin / Yang balance extending beyond the practice of the Art and expanding to include an appreciation of the Dao.