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Five Word Formula By Li I Yu

Translated by Ben Lo Et Al in the book "The Essence Of T'ai Chi Ch'uan


The mind should be calm. If it is not, one cannot concentrate, and when the arm is raised, (whether) forward or back, left or right, it is completely without certain direction. Therefore it is necessary to maintain a calm mind. In beginning to move, you cannot control (it) by yourself. The entire mind must (also) experience and comprehend the movements of the opponent. Accordingly, when (the movement) bends, it then straightens, without disconnecting or resisting. Do not extend or retreat by yourself. If my opponent has li (strength), I also have li, but my li is previous (in exact anticipation of his). If the opponent does not have li, I am also without it (li), but my mind is still previous. It is necessary to be continually mindful; to whatever part (of the body) is touched the mind should go. You must discover the information by non-discrimination and non-resistance. Follow this method, and in one year, or a half-year, you will instinctively find it in your body. All of this means use i (mind), not jing (internal force). After a long time the opponent wilI be controlled by me and I will not be controlled by him.


If the body is clumsy, then in advancing or retreating it cannot be free; therefore it must be agile. Once you raise your arm, you cannot appear clumsy. The moment the force of the opponent touches my skin and hair, my mind is already penetrating his bones. When holding up the arms the qi (breath) is threaded together continuously. When the left side is heavy, it then empties, and the right side is already countering. When the right is heavy, it empties, and the left is already countering. The qi is like a wheel, and the whole body must mutually coordinate. If there is any uncoordinated place, the body becomes disordered and weak. The defect is to be found in the waist and legs. First the mind is used to order the body. Follow the opponent and not yourself (your own inclination). Later your body can follow your mind, and you can control yourself and still follow the opponent. When you only follow yourself, you are clumsy, but when you follow (coordinate with) the opponent, you are lively. When you can follow your opponent, then your hands can distinguish and weigh accurately the amount of his force, and measure the distance of his approach with no mistake. Advancing and retreating everywhere (the coordination) is perfect. After studying for a long time, your technique will become skillful.

To Gather the Qi

If the qi is dispersed, then it is not stored (accumulated) and is easy to scatter. Let the qi penetrate the spine and the inhalation and exhalation be smooth and unimpeded throughout the entire body. The inhalation closes and gathers, the exhalation opens and discharges. Because the inhalation can naturally raise and also uproot the opponent, the exhalation can naturally sink down and also discharge (fa fang) him. This is by means of the i (mind), not the li (strength) mobilizing the qi (breath).

The Complete Jing

The jing of the (whole) body, through practice becomes one unit. Distinguish clearly between substantial and insubstantial. To fa jing (discharge) it is necessary to have root. The jing starts from the foot, is commanded by the waist, and manifested in the fingers, and discharge through the spine and back. One must completely raise the spirit (pay attention) at the moment when the opponent's jing is just about to manifest, but has not yet been released. My jing has then already met his (jing), not late not early. It is like using a leather (tinder) to start a fire, or like a fountain gushing forth. (In) going forward or stepping back, there is not even the slightest disorder. In the curve seek the straight, store, then discharge; then you are able to follow your hands and achieve a beneficial result. This is called borrowing force to strike the opponent or using four ounces to deflect thousand pounds.

Shen Concentrated

Having the above four, then you can return to concentrated spirit: if the spirit is concentrated, then it is (continuous and) uninterrupted, and the practice of qi (breath) returns to the shen (spirit). The manifestation of qi moves with agility. (When) the spirit is concentrated opening and closing occur appropriately and the differentiation of substantial and insubstantial is clear. If left is insubstantial, the right is substantial, and vice versa. Insubstantial does not mean completely without strength. The manifestation of the qi must be agile Substantial does not mean completely limited. The spirit must be completely concentrated. It is important to be completely in the mind (heart) and waist, and not outside.

Not being outside or separated, force is borrowed from the opponent, and the ch'i is released from the spine. How can the qi discharge from the spine? It sinks downward from the two shoulders, gathers to the spine, and pours to the waist. This is qi from up to down and is called "closed". From the waist the qi mobilizes the spine, spreads to the two arms and flows to fingers. This is qi from down to up and is called "opened". Closed is gathering, and opened is discharging When you know opening and closing, then you know ,yin and ~ang. Reaching this level your skill will progress with the days and you can do as you wish.



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