Taoism and Yin-Yang Theory

The Taoist ideologies and the Yin-Yang theory are the meditative guidance and philophical basis for practicing the Taoist kung-fu at an advanced level, namely Internal Style Kung-fu. In fact, someone who understands Taoism well would not necessarily be a person who undertakes the ways of practicing the Taoist kung-fu, while one who practices Taoist kung-fu and also whose kung-fu has reached an advanced level of Internal Quan (internal style of kung-fu), then surely the person has carried out extensive study on Taoism and bears the ideologies and thoughts in mind at all times, even for a few of advanced practitioners who have never gone through any text of literature on Taoism, it is quite often that their self meditation process strictly stick to the criteria of the Taoist theories and follow the rules of thumb as referenced.

Despite of the situation that among the group of the Tai Chi learners, the majority are westerners and some people of non-Chinese speaking background, however, after receiving personal coaching for a long period of time and the process of self practicing under my direct instruction and demonstration in a way of body language for communication, they have gradually showed their genuine appreciations on the thoughts and understood the nature of Taoism, and eventually they have become one unique model type of Taoist practitioners in meditation practice.

A well understanding on the Taoist philosophies and the Yin-Yang theory is essentially attributable to a serial rational practicing, and the result then would be dual effects of improved health condition and lifted skills in self defense, they are part of heritage wealth handed over by the Chinese ancestors. The key to a success practice depends on the degree of your study and the deep of your self cultivation.

In order to carry on the practicing skills and experiences on health healing and enhancement that have been passed down by my family, and eliminate the possibility that it tends to be lost in our generation in the future, I have put great efforts in my own practice and the community, done extensive research on the literature, and also systematically train and provide direct coaching to a few of selected successors. Because I am very concerned the current situation, there is a trend that Tai Chi Quan is likely becoming a type of soft tai chi exercises, virtually a type of formalized exercises for body stretching-out which is only suitable for daily exercises and performance show which is not of a heritage authentic Tai Chi, and it has been even used as a form of tool for political promotion. Based on the decade long observation in my coaching practice, more than 90 % tai chi quan training practitioners and professional instructors possess very limited understanding on the Taoist theories in the wake of deep political interference in the past few decades in China, they don’t know the system of positive vs. negative, virtually the application of firmness and softness,

Where the key point that I would like to emphasize is that, in order to avoid the pitfall I have mentioned above there is the necessity to train new generation of tai-chi and ba-gua masters. It has been always required for all youth to grasp the real contents embodied in the Chinese Taoist culture when they receive coaching, while the tai-chi exercises needs to follow up the movement techniques in the classical form handed down from ancient times, and also comply with the strict requirements on the form prescribed in the classical literature for inner meditation practice, so as to train them to become a new generation of successors for the Wudan school of kung fu in tai-chi and ba-gua, in virtue of truly qualified instructors.

The effort has been going well that a systematic training program for qualified instructors are being delivered to a dozen of young senior students, part of them have been P/T tai-chi-quan instructors. They have been highly appraised for their great performance at the workshops. And the majority among the learning group is non Chinese, indicating that the aim to promote the meditation heritage elite of Chinese Taoism, the tai-chi and ba-gua.

It is possible to promote kung fu to go all over the world, and the ancestral Taoist kung fu won’t be lost in the wake of the efforts. For this concern I am currently writing and compiling this professional working paper in both English and Chinese versions, the emphasis is the focus on the linkage between theory and real practice, which are intended for those beginners and intermediate learners who hopefully have a few years of practicing experiences on the the tai-chi and ba-gua and lifting their skills to an advanced level. All materials contained herewith are mostly the experiences of my own and the information can be verified with me at any time, which aims to show the facts that the obedience to Taoism has been the legitimacy based on the achievements gained from my own meditation practice and consequential health conditions of my students, the goal of “having a prolonged healthy life and strengthened fitness for self-defense”.

The root of the Taoist kung-fu

Yi Jing (often spelled as I Ching, I Jing, Yi Ching, Yi King, or called the ‘Book of Change’) is an achievement of the research by ancient Taoist meditation practitioners at the time as early as 2000 years ago, Yi Jing is a collective representation of the traditional Chinese folk culture, the contents in Yi Jing covers those areas which are closely related to cosmology, astronomy, geography, self meditation, and affairs of our humanitarian society such as politics, military, education and civil life, etc. whereas the theoretical foundation of Yi Jing is Taoism. Meanwhile, a real application of Taoism then is the Taoist Wu-dan kung-fu which is basically based on the outcomes of Yi Jing and practically used for health maintenance and self meditation in daily life.

The theory of the Eight Diagrams is a major component in the Yi Jing emblem, which has a variety of explanations, Chinese medicine is one of them. The essential elements of qigong that I am practicing and teaching is about the breathing in accordance with the pattern which is described in the Eight Diagrams of Yi Jing. It is a symbol demonstrating the route for energy mobilization and physical respiration, so do the postures and motions in the tai-chi and the ba-gua kung fu.

Firstly as to the qigong, it is a form of respiration for body movement and physical posture motion which is in a strict accordance to the tracks of Yin Yang emblem, virtually in a pattern of the inescapably intertwined dual cycles, or say a pattern of figure 8. The movement along the twin cycles is also called the movement of “Dual Fish Diagram”, the way reflects the inescapably intertwined duality of starting and finishing aspects for all things in reality, while a realm falls within a certain boundary of the dual cycles in nature. The movement that follows the pattern is of consecutive form being in diminishing at an even speed rate, slow and soft, which encourages a full and complete mobilization of one’s vital energy of human body, shifting from internal to external and from the center to the end of all figures.

When following the track of arc, which is combined with revolving screwed pattern of body movement for respiration, motion of chi (qi) would be very effective for loosening muscles and blood vessels on every part of a body. Because the combination of deep breathing and physical body motion, oxygen supply increases would lead a circulation of arterial blood gas at a full degree, and promote function of every part on a body. This type of effect for oxygen charging motion is very similar to the process of dough preparation, is a type of oxygen charging process for physiotherautic massage, which has a unique strong effect on treatment of chronic diseases and some uncured injuries, especially for senior people, and slow down the degeneration of organic function and enhance the immune capability in prevention against illness and have a direct assistance to the control on balancing of body.

The motion for inner chi and physical movement strictly follows the form of arc virtually a combination of In &Out process of breathing exercise, it is the movement of internal qi (vital energy) through the pathway of the Ren artery (the front) and Du artery (back), or the revolving movement of waist being over knee externally, they all must follow the pathway of twin cycle form as the figure 8 pattern indicates. An example is an interchange form between the forwarding Advance Jungle Step and Void Backward Step, it starts a forwarding revolving cycle and followed by another backward revolving cycle, such as the pathway moving along the figure 8 route, it needs mutual cooperative movements among front and back parts of waist, knees, and feet. As the body is revolving as a knob, it would be very effective for the exercise of muscle on thighs part that is below waist, and great for the therapy of chronic arthrosis.

Once reaching the effectiveness of fat loosing and the agility of waist-crotch obtained for anyone, physical moving action would speed up and stepping would be prompt, then striking stance from opponent would be easily dispelled if the skill is applied efficiently. While hand catching attempt by opponent can be turned away by pushing hands skill moving in an arc route, and straight strike can be hold up by loosing and soft hand skills of Tai Chi, accompanied by arc form of moving foot pace, aggressor would fail to strike and even can not withhold the momentum and loose own balance, this is just a real case of “the power of four Liang strength often can dispel the momentum of a thousand Jin force (weakness has the advantage of strength).

The practice of the Taoist kung-fu is supposedly in accordance to the principles and philosophies of Taoism for meditation, and then it would succeed.

The classical theories of instruction on practice

Chinese culture has a prolonged history, the classical theories on tai chi quan are somehow abstract and not easy to understand for normal people in the modern society, it is even much more difficulty to fully convert these description into English.

All of those classical theories on the practice are composed of some words and phrases with profound meaning or indicative expression, some of them contain idiom or metaphor, while some of them use the words of parabolic description on the postures of animals, while some are expressed in scenery adjectives, some refer to psychologically self consciousness, it is quite often that one word or one phrase would embody one story or one subject with uncountable variations. As to these classical glossaries or jargons, the very first thing is to study the ancient literature and historical adversaria, and grasp a whole picture of the Chinese history with the evolution progression of over thousand years and those renewed influential public events. Upon a real insight into the history, then the understanding of all those contents in the classics on the quan can be complete.

For example, “動之則分 , 靜之則合”(Dong Zhi Ze Fen, Jing Zhi Ze He”,literally “a moving postural stance has a tendency of separation while static postural stance has a tendency of moving”, which are of rich implication, including body posture for action, movement, flow of qi and blood, even striking forms of boxing techniques and withholding forms in combating art for self defense etc., all of these are in a process of conversion between Yin and Yang, negative and positive energy, and indeed a denotation on the law of contradiction.

More, “以我之柔 , 順其勢化之”, (Yi Wo Wei Zhu, Shun Qi Shi Hua Zhi), this sentence also contains general rules of thumb for being as an good citizen in the society, implying that gentleness and courtesy rather than impetuosity and rampage are the good manners for dealing with
any person or handling any matter. So softness is focused when doing movement. And softness is often used to dissolve firmness, virtually weakness can win over strength by taking an advantage of the strength in combating for self defending, that’s the way of “a four Liang force often can dispel the momentum of a thousand Jin power”.

The classical theories on the Tai Chi Quan practices sets the aims for practice that, the proper way to conduct breathing for body movement (vital energy cultivation and qi preservation for fitness) and boxing form for self defending, of which every word has profound meaning, and is closely related to the two aims mentioned above. Over the past decades, because of some intervenes prompted by political force in Mainland China (the origin place of Taoist culture), a majority of tai chi and ba-gua practitioners have not studied those literature relating to the subject of self healing and qigong practicing in the domain of Taoist culture, and with very little knowledge on the classical theories on tai chi and ba-gua, the consequence is that the practice of the tai chi and ba-gua kung fu in China has become a kind of daily exercises for body fitness but not a prestige type of kung fu with nothing of rooted connotation.

Making a change to the current situation needs to take at least the great efforts of two generations and decades long. However, everyone who has a basic literacy and has participated either in the tai chi or ba-gua practice firstly should read and learn the literature on the classical instructions on the quan practices, then it would be possible to carry on the complete inheritance of the tai chi and ba-gua kung-fu.

With respect to the study on the classical instruction on the quan practices, any person who intends to fully grasp the contents of Taoist kung-fu for the purposes of health preservation and self defense definitely needs to be familiar with relevant theories. The key factor for a successful meditation practice largely depends on the realization and comprehension of classical instruction on the quan practice, the effect is proportional to the degree of one’s understanding, it has been tested by my own personal experience over the past years. Nevertheless, among my students, students that have studied the theories have gained much more of the kung-fu and reached better results than those who have not carried out the study.

To recognize Yin /Yang and understand Real/ False.

To recognize Yin and Yang as the masculine and feminine elements, and to understand Real or False.

In practicing the Taoist kung-fu, for a satisfactory outcome for prevention from illness and self protection, the first thing is to recognize Yin and Yang, and understand false and real actions.

In classical “Classics of Tai Chi Chuan”, there is a strict requirement on “Yin vs Yang and False vs. Real”, to recognise and follow the rules is a basic principle to practice any type of tai chi chuan. The words of Tai Chi literally refers to a conversion between the states of Yin and Yang, in respect of mind set, thought, body movement, tactic for eye contact, hand technique, stepping technique, combating skill etc. including all the organs of inner body, in-out breathing skill, mobilization of qi and blood, they must follow the rule of conversion between Yin and Yang whatever would it be the case, either individual, and pushing hand exercises between two persons, or a set of combating techniques use, the rule of Yin/Yang and False/Real should be applied in every detail of every move.

Example one: a hand can be a peer of Yin and Yang, the back of a hand that carries the intent when withdrawing backwards is in a state of Yin, vise verse, the palm of a hand that carries the intent when pushing out forwards is a state of Yang.

Example two: then for arms, rotating arm with inward swing moving around a center is in a state of Yin, on the other hand, rotating arm with outward swing moving is in a state of Yang.

Example three: for stepping, backward false stepping with suspended pause leg is in a state of Yin, a bow stance with forward inclined weight centre of a body is in a state of Yang.

Example four: with respect to postural technique, when holding chest in and
have the back lifted with slight back bowing, drawing in abdomen and maintaining a low squat position up to waist, loosing abdomen and sink the condensed qi deeply into the bones “around vertebra behind the solar plexus area”, and keeping mind at the Ming Men acupuncture point, that is the process of In breath being the nature of Yin. When one is continuing to tuck tail bone (coccyx) and lift perineum as vital energy flushing upwards, virtually an insubstantial energy that leads the head upward, central vertebra elongated upward with relaxed exhale, that is the process of Yang.

Example five: for the concentration of mind set, keeping mind at the “Ming Men”, loosing abdomen and sink the condensed qi sunk deeply into the bones “around vertebra behind the solar plexus area”, and keeping mind at the Ming Men acupuncture point, is a state of energy stored up, namely withholding stance, aggregating stance, aggressive stance, and tightened strength, they are all of Yin nature, vise verse, when one tucks tail bone (coccyx) and lift perineum as vital energy flushing upwards (such as strength released as releasing an arrow”, they are also called as starting stance, discharging stance, giving-out stance, open stance, loosening stance
etc., they are all in the state of Yang.

Example six: as the techniques applied for combating, stepping backward for defensive withdrawing is of Yin, while meeting up an attack and take advantage of the momentum is of Yang.

In conclusion, any technique or move in the Taoist kung-fu has the aspects of Yin and Yang, composing of a unity of opposites, sometime one moving action constitutes a process of in and out breath, virtually a unity of Yin and Yang, sometime one movement contains more than two in-out breath taking, virtually multiple conversions of Yin and Yang. When practicing skill reaches an advanced level, it is possible that either Yang can be involved in Yin, or Yin involved in Yang, the true mingled with the false, true or false is not easily tested, that is some techniques basically used in out-breathing process can be used in in-breathing, and vise verse, the attempts make the offender not easily to perceive your next move, which is just an real application of the most advanced techniques used in the widely recognized Wu-dan kung-fu.

All of Yin and Yang converting practices mentioned above should be completed according to the law of a unity of opposites and accompanied by deep breathing for directing the qi flow when practicing a whole set of form.

As long as the rule of “smooth breathing taken with concentrated flow of qi” denotes the combination of breath and movement, the mediation objectives of “healing of mind and preservation of inner energy, intended for health and longevity” and self safe guard surely would be reached.