Ten Important Points for T’ai-chi Ch’üan

These are excerpted from “oral instructions of Yang Ch’eng-fu*,” from Douglas Wile, compiler and translator, T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions (NY: Sweet Ch’i Press, 1983), pp. 9-14. 


1.      The Energy at the Top of the Head Should Be Light and Sensitive…. No strength should be used….Without this light and sensitive energy at the top of the head, the spirit cannot rise up.

2.      Sink the Chest and Raise the Back…. (T)here is a slight drawing in of the chest allowing the ch’I to sink to the tan-t’ien.  Absolutely avoid expanding the chest….

3.      Relax the Waist.  The waist is the ruler of the body…. Changes in full and empty all come from the rotation of the waist….

4.      Distinguish Full and Empty…. (This) is the first principle in Tai-chi ch’üan.  If the weight of the whole body rests on the right leg, then the right leg is full and the left leg is empty….

5.      Sink the Shoulders and Drop the Elbows.  (T)hey are able to relax and hang downward…. If the elbows are pulled up, then the shoulders cannot sink…

6.      Use the Mind and Not Strength.  (W)e must rely exclusively on mind and not on strength.  In practicing T’ai-chi ch’üan the whole body is relaxed….

7.      Unity of the Upper and Lower Body.  (T)his is what the “Treatise on T’ai-chi ch’üan” means by “The root is in the feet, it is issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the hands.”  From the feet to the legs to the waist there must be a continuous circuit of ch’i.

8.      The Unity of Internal and External.  What T’ai-chi ch’üan trains is the spirit…. The postures are no more than full and empty, opening and closing.  What we mean by opening is not limited to just the hands or feet, but we must have the idea of opening in the mind as well….

9.      Continuity Without Interruption…. From beginning to end there is no interruption.  Everything is complete and continuous, circular and unending….

10.  Seek Stillness in Movement….  (I)n practicing the postures, the slower the better.  When one slows down, then the breath becomes slow and long, the ch’I can sind to the tan-t’ien….


*Yang Ch’eng-fu was the son of Yang Jian Hou, who was a son of Yang Lu Ch’an, founder of Yang style Tai-chi ch’üan.  One of Yang Ch’eng-fu’s students who became a master was Yaxuan Li.  In turn, one of his students who became a master is Mogen Lin.  And in turn, one of his students who became a master is Lily Qin, founder and master teacher of the Tacoma Tai Chi Qigong Wellness Center.  Read about this lineage at http://taichigongfu.com/taichi/ChengfuYang.html.