Natural Way T'ai Chi School

Li I Yu

Song of the Essence and Application of T'ai chi Ch'uan

How wonderful is t'ai chi ch'uan,
Whose movements follow nature!
Continuous like a jade bracelet,
Every movement expresses the t'ai chi symbol.
The whole body is filled with one unbroken ch'i;
Above and below are without imbalance.
Place the feet with cat steps,
Moving the ch'i like coiling silk.
In movement, everything moves;
In stillness, all is still.
Above, the crown of the head is suspended,
And below the ch'i sinks to the tan-t'ien.
Drape the shoulders and sink the elbows;
Raise the back and relax the chest.
When the wei lu is naturally vertical,
The body feels relaxed and the ch'i lively.
Use the mind and not strength,
Turning the body with the waist.
Everything rises from the root in the feet,
While legs and waist are perfectly aligned.
Energy issues from the spine,
Reaching the arms and fingertips.
Stretch the sinews and draw out the bones;
Relax the wrists and spread the fingertips.
There is a slight feeling of swelling in the fingers,
For whereever the ch'i goes there is a manifestation in the body.
All of this is a function of the mind,
And has nothing to do with brute force.
When full and emply are clearly distinguished,
Hard and soft follow the changing situation.
Yin and yang must complement each other,
As moving back and forth we shift and change.
The ch'i is aroused with changing power relationship,
And the spirit is held within.
Movement arises from stillness.
The spirit leads the ch'i in its movement,
And the palm and wrist are connected to the waist.
Our steps adapt to the changing situation,
And hands and eyes conform to conditions.
Speed or slowness follow the opponent's movement;
With the weight on one side our movements will not be tardy.
Without either losing contact or grappling,
Every posture must anticipate the opponent.
After drawing the opponent in and neutralizing his energy,
We issue power like a bubbling well.
Let the strongest aggressor attack us,
While four ounces deflect a thousand pounds.