Essentials of the practice of the form and push-hands

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Essentials of the practise of the form and pushing hands (走架打手行工要言)

By Li Yi Yu (李亦畬)

People of old said: “being able to attract to emptiness, you can use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds. Not being able to attract to emptiness, you cannot use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds”. The words are simple, but the meaning is complete. The beginner cannot understand it. Here I add some words to explain it. If someone is ambitious to learn this art, he can find some way to enter it and every day he will have some improvement.

If you want to attract to emptiness and deflect a thousand pounds, you must first know yourself and others. If you want to know yourself and others, you must give up yourself and follow others. To give up yourself and follow others, you must first have the correct timing and position. To obtain the correct timing and position, you must first make your body one unit. To make the body one unit, you must first eliminate hollows and protuberances. To make the whole body without breaks or holes, you must first have the shen [spirit] and qi [vital life energy] excited and expanded. If you want the shen and qi activated and expanded, you must first raise the spirit. If you want to raise your spirit, you cannot be unfocused. For the shen to not be unfocused, you must first have the shen and qi gather and penetrate the bones. For the shen and qi to penetrate the bones, you must first strengthen both thighs and loosen both shoulders and let the qi sink down.

The jin [refined force] raises from the feet, changes in the legs, is stored in the chest, moved in the shoulders and commanded in the waist. The upper part connects to both arms and the lower part follows the legs. It changes inside. To gather is to close and to release is to open. If it is quiet, it is completely still. Still means to close. In closing there is opening. If it is moving, everything moves. Moving is opening. In opening there is closing. When the body is touched it revolves freely. There is no place that does not have power. Then you can attract to emptiness and use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.

Practicing the Form every day is the gong fu of knowing yourself. When you start to practice, first ask yourself, “Did my whole body follow the above principles or not?” If one little place did not follow them, then correct it immediately. Therefore, in practicing the form we want slowness not speed.

Push hands is the gong fu of knowing others. As for movement and stillness, although it is to know others, you must still ask yourself. If you arrange yourself well, when others touch you, you don’t move a hair. Follow the opportunity and meet his force and let him fall naturally outward. If you feel someplace in your body that is powerless, it is double-weighted and unchanging. You must seek the defect in yin and yang, opening and closing. Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times.

Sentence by sentence

昔人云:“能引进落空,便能四两拨千斤; 不能引进落空,不能四两拨千斤”。

Xī rén yún:“Néng yǐnjìn luòkōng, biàn néng sì liǎng bō qiān jīn; bùnéng yǐnjìn luòkōng, bùnéng sì liǎng bō qiān jīn”.

People of old said: “being able to attract to emptiness, you can use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds. Not being able to attract to emptiness, you cannot use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds”.

语甚概括,初学未由领悟,予加数语以解之,俾有志斯技者,得所从入,庶日进有功矣。

Yǔ shén gàikuò, chūxué wèi yóu lǐngwù, yǔ jiā shù yǔ yǐ jiě zhī, bǐ yǒuzhì sī jì zhě, de suǒ cóng rù, shù rì jìn yǒu gōng yǐ.

The words are simple, but the meaning is complete. The beginner cannot understand it. Here I add some words to explain it. If someone is ambitious to learn this art, he can find some way to enter it and every day he will have some improvement.

欲要引进落空,四两拨千斤,先要知己知彼。

Yù yào yǐnjìn luòkōng, sì liǎng bō qiān jīn, xiān yào zhījǐzhībǐ.

If you want to attract to emptiness and deflect a thousand pounds, you must first know yourself and others.

欲要知己知彼,先要舍己从人。

Yù yào zhījǐzhībǐ, xiān yào shě jǐ cóng rén.

If you want to know yourself and others, you must give up yourself and follow others.

欲要舍己从人,先要得机得势。

Yù yào shě jǐ cóng rén, xiān yào dé jī déshì.

To give up yourself and follow others, you must first have the correct timing and position.

欲要得机得势,先要周身一家。

Yù yào dé jī déshì, xiān yào zhōushēn yījiā.

To obtain the correct timing and position, you must first make your body one unit.

欲要周身一家,先要周身无有缺陷。

Yù yào zhōushēn yījiā, xiān yào zhōushēn wú yǒu quēxiàn.

To make the body one unit, you must first eliminate hollows and protuberances.

欲要周身无有缺陷,先要神气鼓荡。

Yù yào zhōushēn wú yǒu quēxiàn, xiān yào shénqì gǔ dàng.

To make the whole body without breaks or holes, you must first have the shen [spirit] and qi [vital life energy] excited and expanded.

欲要神气鼓荡,先要提起精神。

Yù yào shénqì gǔ dàng, xiān yào tíqǐ jīngshén.

If you want the shen and qi activated and expanded, you must first raise the spirit.

欲要提起精神,先要神不外散。

Yù yào tíqǐ jīngshén, xiān yào shén bù wài sàn.

If you want to raise your spirit, you cannot be unfocused.

欲要神不外散,先要神气收敛入骨。

Yù yào shén bù wài sàn, xiān yào shénqì shōuliǎn rùgǔ.

For the shen to not be unfocused, you must first have the shen and qi gather and penetrate the bones.

欲要神气收敛入骨,先要两股前节有力,两肩松开,气向下沉。

Yù yào shénqì shōuliǎn rùgǔ, xiān yào liǎng gǔ qián jié yǒulì.

For the shen and qi to penetrate the bones, you must first strengthen both thighs and loosen both shoulders and let the qi sink down.

劲起于脚根,变换在腿,含蓄在胸,运动在两肩,主宰在腰,上与两膊相系,下与两腿相随,劲由内换。

Jìn qǐ yú jiǎogēn, biànhuàn zài tuǐ, hánxù zài xiōng, yùndòng zài liǎng jiān, zhǔzǎi zài yāo, shàng yǔ liǎng bo xiāng xì, xià yǔ liǎng tuǐ xiāng suí, jìn yóu nèi huàn.

The jin [refined force] raises from the feet, changes in the legs, is stored in the chest, moved in the shoulders and commanded in the waist. The upper part connects to both arms and the lower part follows the legs. It changes inside.

收便是合,放即是开。静则俱静,静是合,合中寓开。

Shōu biàn shì hé, fàng jí shì kāi. Jìng zé jù jìng, jìng shì hé, hé zhōng yù kāi.

To gather is to close and to release is to open. If it is quiet, it is completely still. Still means to close. In closing there is opening.

动则俱动,动是开,开中寓合。

Dòng zé jù dòng, dòng shì kāi, kāi zhōng yù hé.

If it is moving, everything moves. Moving is opening. In opening there is closing.

触之则旋转自如,无不得力,才能引进落空,四两拨千斤。

Chù zhī zé xuánzhuǎn zìrú, wú bù dé lì, cáinéng yǐnjìn luòkōng, sì liǎng bō qiān jīn.

When the body is touched it revolves freely. There is no place that does not have power. Then you can attract to emptiness and use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.

平日走架是知己工夫。

Píngrì zǒu jià shì zhījǐ gōngfū.

Practising the Form every day is the gong fu of knowing yourself

一动势问先问自已周身合上数项杏? 少有不合,即速改换。

Yīdòng shì wèn xiān wèn zìyǐ zhōushēn hé shàng shù xiàng xìng? Shǎo yǒu bùhé, jí sù gǎihuàn.

When you start to practice, first ask yourself, “Did my whole body follow the above principles or not?” If one little place did not follow them, then correct it immediately.

走架所以要慢不要快,打手是知人功夫,动静固是知人,仍是问己。

Zǒu jià suǒyǐ yào màn bùyào kuài, dǎshǒu shì zhīrén gōngfu, dòngjìng gù shì zhīrén, réng shì wèn jǐ.

Therefore, in practising the form we want slowness not speed. Push hands is the gong fu of knowing others. As for movement and stillness, although it is to know others, you must still ask yourself.

自己安排得好,人一挨我,我不动彼丝毫,趁势而入,接定彼劲,彼自跌出。

Zìjǐ ānpái dé hǎo, rén yī āi wǒ, wǒ bù dòng bǐ sīháo, chènshì ér rù, jiē dìng bǐ jìn, bǐ zì diē chū.

If you arrange yourself well, when others touch you, you don’t move a hair. Follow the opportunity and meet his force and let him fall naturally outward.

如自己有不得力处,便是双重未化,要于阴阳开合中求之。

Rú zìjǐ yǒu bù dé lì chù, biàn shì shuāngzhòng wèi huà, yào yú yīnyáng kāi hé zhōng qiú zhī.

If you feel someplace in your body that is powerless, it is double-weighted and unchanging. You must seek the defect in yin and yang, opening and closing.

所谓“知己知彼,百战百胜”也。

Suǒwèi “zhījǐzhībǐ, bǎi zhàn bǎishèng” yě.

Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times.