One of Zhang San Feng’s first students, or followers, was a man named Wang Zong Yu. Master Wang lived in Tai-Gu County in the province of Shan Xi and most certainly encountered Master Zhang at the Jing-Tai Taoist Temple where Zhang was studying under the Daoist Huo Long.
Although he, Wang Zong Yu, was an important Tai Chi Chuan disciple and teacher, he is perhaps best known in the Tai Chi Chuan community for some Hand Written Manuscripts found in the back of a Salt Shop in Beijing, China in the ‘1850s. This manuscript contains many of the most Notable Tai Chi proverbs that are used today in the teaching of Tai Chi and especially Tai Chi Chuan.
Attributed to Wang Zongyue
The "Taijiquan Treatise" is thought to be one of the most important writings in all of taijiquan. It is the second of the seminal Taijiquan Classics. The hand written text is said to have been found stored in the back room of a Wuyang salt shop in the 1850s. The following entry and its annotations have been taken from some of the best translations and commentaries made on the original texts.
1. Taiji is born from Wuji. It is the mother of Yin and Yang.
In movement Taiji separates; in stillness Yin and Yang reunite and return to Wuji.
The Chinese term Wuji 無極 "limitless; infinite" is a compound of wu 無 "without; no; not have; there is not; nothing, nothingness" and ji 極 "ridgepole; roof ridge; highest/utmost point; extreme; earth's pole; reach the end; attain; exhaust".
2. No excess, or inadequacies [In the postures and movements of taijiquan].
If your opponent extends out, then yield (withdraw). Adhere to his every movement.
3. When an opponent uses hard force, softly yield to it.
4. If he backs up in a retreat, follow closely.
5. If the opponent's movement is fast, react quickly.
If his movement is slow, then follow him slowly.
Although there are endless possible variations, there is only this one principle.
6. Through experiencing the sensations of martial arts movements done correctly, one gradually comprehends "internal strength" (Jin).
7. From the comprehension of "internal strength" one can reach spiritual enlightenment.
8. Without constant diligent practice there can be no sudden understanding.
9. Without effort internal strength [jin] rises to the top of the head. Vital life energy [qi] sinks to the lower abdomen (dantian).
10. Do not incline or lean.
11. Conceal suddenly. Reveal suddenly.
12. If left is heavy, then become empty. If right is heavy, then vanish.
13. If the opponent pushes upward against you, then become taller. If he pushes downward, then become lower.
14. If he advances, you seem further away. If he retreats, you seem even closer.
15. A feather cannot be placed. A fly cannot alight.
16. My opponent cannot detect my moves, but I can anticipate his. [Cheng Man Ching].
17. If you master these techniques, you will become an invincible hero.
18. There are many other styles of martial arts. Most believe the strong will defeat the weak, or the fast will defeat the slow.
19. From the words "four ounces of force deflects a thousand pounds" we understand victory does not come from superior strength alone.
20. Observe an old person defeating a group of youthful attackers. How can that be due to swiftness?
21. Stand like a balanced scale and move like a turning wheel.
22. Sinking weight to one side allows movement to flow.
Double weighting (shuangzhong) [i.e., weight spread equally onto both feet] leads to stagnation.
23. After years of practice if someone is unable to neutralize an opponent, or is controlled by the opponent, the fault is caused by not having fully understood the concept of double weighting.
24. To avoid this fault [of being double weighted and/or being disconnected to your opponent as in being "double" with him] you must understand the dynamic interactions of yin and yang.
25. To adhere [sticking to] is to yield [move away]. To yield is to adhere.
26. Yin is not separate from Yang; Yang is not separate from Yin.
Yin and Yang complete each other.
27. Understanding this, you will understand Internal Strength ("Jin" - muscular strength and inner qi). Then with practice comes more skill.
28. With silent contemplation one can reach the stage where one's actions absolutely follow the mind. [Da Liu 107].
29. The foundation [of taijiquan] is giving up yourself, in order to follow the other person.
30. Many mistakenly give up the near to seek the far.
English Pinyin Wades Giles Simplified Traditional
31. A discrepancy by just the measurement of a hair-breadth, and the opportunity is lost by a thousand miles.
32. All these things are to study and know if you wish to be successful with your practice.
(Complied by J. Parker)