There are 5 positions or movements, forward, backward, left, right and center.
there are 8 energies, they are ward off, roll back, press, push, pluck, split, elbow, shoulder.
Together these are the 13 postures.
In their use the entire body acts as a single unit, this is key to comprehending their meaning.
The 5 position/directions have classically been given in terms of the 5 elements. The elements can be thought of as cycles and relationships. When we take these elemental attributes then functional relationships between the 5 positions become apparent.
Forward beats/controls backwards
Left beats/controls right
backwards beats/controls center
right beats/controls forward
center beats/controls left
However this in not in terms of footwork, for no part of the body moves independently. Rather these are the keys to neutralization. This pertains to all motion, not mere footwork. The hands, which do not act separately from the body in taijiquan move, or do not, they can never move in a way, or not move in a way, that cannot be thought of in terms of the 5 directions. For example one can employ Peng energy moving forward, back, to the right, or to the left, or hold it without movement.
For example according to these principals Peng (or expansion/pressure) forward is neutralized by Lu (or void/contraction) right.
The 8 energies can be divided into two main sets, the Yang set and the Yin set. I show there here with binary equivalents of the trigrams where yang is 1 and yin is 0.
The yang moves are:
While the Yin moves are:
While the Yin moves are:
It can be seen that only Peng and Lu are totally Yin or Yang.
The idea here is the functional relationships as can be seen by the column view:
111This view allows one to see how the energies encompass a spectrum that together is complete.
And another way to represent the trigrams:
111 110 011 010
000 100 001 101
Here we can see the correlate values of the trigrams as pairs.
This is used in concert with the 5 position/directions.
for example the compliment of press is push. However that provides no information about position and movement relationships, that is to say it lacks direction. However by incorporating the 5 position/directions then we see that press forward is neutralized by push right. Push forward can be neutralized by press right and so on. There is actually no intention involved, only relationships of energy and position, the 5 positions and the 8 energies. This means that the theory, despite being sound, is worthless without practice. Merely knowing does nothing.
Implicitly there is no directionality to the 8 energies. Peng can be done in any direction, so can Lu, so can all of the energies, which are not techniques, but are found in all techniques. Moreover no move can be made which cannot be described by the 13 postures, thus they constitute a complete system that pertains to matching and meeting movement with reciprocal energies. Since this is essentially the relationship between yin and yang, and the art encompasses both at once in terms of comprehension, the art is the system of the mother of yin and yang. The mother of yin and yang is termed Taiji, while the system is termed quan. However the name of taijiquan has been mistranslated to no end as a literal claim that the art is the supreme ultimate fighting system. This betrays a lack of understanding of why it is Taijiquan, a name which has nothing to do with claims of it being the ultimate combat system.
as is said in the classics, up/down, left/right, it is all the same.
In this way the 5 position directions are not strictly those pertaining to a horizontal circle, there is no dictation about this rather the position/directions pertain to the relationship of movements and energies. For example when the opponent moves right, this is on your left, thus left beats/controls right.
The dynamic relationship of positions and energies that is the 13 postures can be understood only through the realization of the 13 postures with the other keys, which are found in the treatise of Chang Sang-feng. The translation I am drawing from was made by Yang Jwing-Ming.
Once in motion, every part of the body is light and agile and must be threaded together.
Qi should be full and stimulated, Shen (Spirit) should be retained internally.
No part should be defective, no part should be deficient or excessive, no part should be disconnected.
The root is at the feet, (Jin is) generated from the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the fingers. From the feet to the legs to the waist must be integrated, and one unified Qi. When moving forward or backward, you can catch the opportunity and gain the superior position.
If you fail to catch the opportunity and gain the superior position, your mind is scattered and your body is disordered. To solve this problem, you must look to the waist and legs.
Up and down, forward and backward, left and right, it's all the same. All of this is done with the Yi (Mind), not externally.
If there is a top, there is a bottom; if there is a front, there is a back; if there is a left, there is a right. If Yi (mind) wants to go upward, this implies considering downward. (This means) if (you) want to lift and defeat an opponent, you must first consider his root. When the opponent's root is broken, he will inevitably be defeated quickly and certainly.
Substantial and insubstantial must be clearly distinguished. Every part (of the body) has a substantial and insubstantial aspect. The entire body and all the joints should be threaded together without the slightest break.
There are many people using the name Taijiquan, however of people practicing taijiquan there are very few.
It is not a form, rather it is the martial system of the mother of yin and yang. It comes from wuji, a lack of intention or posture, for only from wuji is taiji possible. Very few people who practice taiji forms comprehend taiji, or even why it is called taijiquan. Some will surely never get it. Others will never be willing to put the work into the art that is required and instead choose to employ the superficial choreography of taijiquan to facilitate violence, never realizing that they have only the image of the art. Many confuse effectiveness with authenticity, or even confuse authenticity of taiji with form transmissions, never realizing that authenticity of taiji has nothing to do with forms or deadly results, it has to do with the principals of the art itself which make it taijiquan, if it lacks the principals then it is not taiji, no matter what.