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CLICK FOR PDF: T’ai-Shang Kan-Ying P’ien

T’ai-Shang Kan-Ying P’ien
Translated by Teitaro Suzuki and Dr. Paul Carus  L0020673 Chinese manuscript T'ai-shang kan-ying p'ien.



THE Exalted One says:

Curses and blessings do not come through gates, but man himself invites their arrival.

The reward of good and evil is like the shadow accompanying a body, and so it is apparent that heaven and earth are possessed of crime-recording spirits.

According to the lightness or gravity of his transgressions, the sinner’s term of life is reduced. Not only is his term of life reduced, but poverty also strikes him. Often he meets with calamity and misery. His neighbors hate him. Punishments and curses pursue him. Good luck shuns him. Evil stars threaten him; and when his term of life comes to an end, he perishes.

Further, there are the three councilor, spirit-lords of the northern constellation, residing above the heads of the people, recorders of men’s crimes and sins, cutting off terms of from twelve years to a hundred days.

Further, there are the three body-spirits that live within man’s person. Whenever Kêng Shên day comes, they ascend to the heavenly master and inform him of men’s crimes and trespasses.

On the last day of the month the Hearth Spirit, too, does the same.

Of all the offences which men commit, the greater ones cause a loss of twelve years, the smaller ones of a hundred days. These their offences, great as well as small, constitute some hundred affairs, and those who are anxious for life everlasting, should above all avoid them.

Moral Injunctions

The right way leads forward; the wrong way backward.

Do not proceed on an evil path.

Do not sin in secret.

Accumulate virtue, increase merit.

With a compassionate heart turn toward all creatures.

Be faithful, filial, friendly, and brotherly.

First rectify thyself and then convert others.

Take pity on orphans, assist widows; respect the old, be kind to children.

Even the multifarious insects, herbs, and trees should not be injured.

Be grieved at the misfortune of others and rejoice at their good luck.

Assist those in need, and rescue those in danger.

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

Do not call attention to the faults of others, nor boast of your own excellence.

Stay evil and promote goodness.

Renounce much, accept little.

Show endurance in humiliation and bear no grudge.

Receive favors as if surprised.

Extend your help without seeking reward.

Give to others and do not regret or begrudge your liberality.

Blessings of the Good

Those who are thus, are good: people honor them; Heaven’s Reason gives them grace; blessings and abundance follow them; all ill luck keeps away; angel spirits guard them. What ever they undertake will surely succeed, and even to spiritual saintliness they may aspire.

Those who wish to attain heavenly saintliness, should perform one thousand three hundred good deeds, and those who wish to attain to earthly saintliness should perform three hundred good deeds.

A Description of Evil-Doers

Yet there are some people whose behavior is unrighteous.

Their deportment is irrational.

In evil they delight.

With brutality they do harm and damage.

Insidiously they injure the good and the law-abiding.

Stealthily they despise their superiors and parents.
They disregard their seniors and rebel against those whom they serve.

They deceive the uninformed.

They slander their fellow-students.

Liars they are, bearing false witness, deceivers, and hypocrites; malevolent exposers of kith and kin; mischievous and malignant; not humane; cruel and irrational; self-willed. Right and wrong they confound. Their avowals and disavowals are not as they ought to be.

They oppress their subordinates and appropriate their merit.

They cringe to superiors to curry favor.

Insentient to favors received, they remember their hatred and are never satisfied.

They hold in contempt the lives of Heaven’s people.
They agitate and disturb the public order.

They patronize the unscrupulous and do harm to the inoffensive.

They murder men to take their property, or have them ousted to take their places.

They slay the yielding and slaughter those who have surrendered.

They malign the righteous and dispossess the wise.

They molest orphans and wrong widows.

Disregarders of law they are, and bribe takers. They call crooked what is straight, straight what is crooked, and what is light they make heavy.

When witnessing an execution, they aggravate it by harshness. Though they know their mistakes they do not correct them; though they know the good they do not do it.
In their own guilt they implicate others.

They impede and obstruct the professions and crafts.

They vilify and disparage the holy and the Wise.

They ridicule and scorn reason and virtue.

They shoot the flying, chase the running, expose the hiding, surprise nestlings, close up entrance holes, upset nests, injure the pregnant, and break the egg.
They wish others to incur loss.

They disparage others that achieve merit.

They endanger others to save themselves.

They impoverish others for their own gain.

For worthless things they exchange what is valuable.

For private ends they neglect public duties.

They appropriate the accomplishments of their neighbor and conceal his good qualities. They make known his foibles and expose his secrets. They squander his property and cause divisions in his family.[37] (519-542)

They attack that which is dear to others.

They assist others in doing wrong.

Their unbridled ambition makes for power, and through the degradation of others they seek success.

They destroy the crops and fields of others.

They break up betrothals.

Improperly they have grown rich, and withal they remain vulgar.

Improperly they shirk[38] without shame.

They claim having done acts of favor and disclaim being at fault.

They give away evil in marriage and they sell wrongs.

They sell and buy vainglory.

They conceal and keep a treacherous heart.

They crush that which is excellent in others.

They are careful in hiding their shortcomings.

Being on a high horse they threaten and intimidate.

With unrestrained barbarism they kill and stab.

Recklessly they cut cloth to waste.

Without festive occasions they prepare cattle for food.

They scatter and waste the five cereals.

They trouble and annoy many people.

They break into others’ houses to take their property and valuables.

They misdirect the water and light fires to destroy the people’s homes.

They upset others’ plans so as to prevent their success.

They spoil a worker’s utensils to hamper his efficiency.

When seeing the success and prosperity of others they wish them to run down and fail.

Seeing the wealth of others, they wish them bankrupt and ruined.

They cannot see beauty without cherishing in their hearts thoughts of seduction.

Being indebted to others for goods or property, they wish their creditors to die.

When their requests are not granted they begin to curse and wax hateful.

Seeing their neighbor lose his vantage they gossip of his failure.

Seeing a man imperfect in his bodily features they ridicule him.

Observing the talent and ability of a man worthy of praise, they suppress the truth.

They use charms[43] for the sake of controlling others.

They employ drugs to kill trees.

Ill-humored and angry they are towards teachers and instructors.

They resist and provoke father and elders.

With violence they seize, with violence they demand.

They delight in fraud, they delight in robbery, they make raids and commit depredations to get rich.

By artful tricks they seek promotion.

They reward and punish without justice.

They indulge in comforts and enjoyments without measure.

They harass and tyrannize over their subordinates.

They terrify and threaten to overawe others.

They accuse heaven and find fault with man.

They blame the wind and rail at the rain.

They stir up party strife and law suits.

Unprovoked they join factious associations.

They rely on their wives’ and other women’s gossip.

They disobey the instructions of father and mother.

They take up the new and forget the old.

Their mouth asserts what their heart denies.

Shamelessly greedy they are for wealth.

They deceive their father and their superiors.

They invent and circulate vile talk, traducing and slandering innocent men.

They slander others, yet themselves feign honesty.

They rail at spirits and claim to be right themselves.

They reject a good cause and espouse a wrong cause, spurning what is near, longing for the distant.

They point at heaven and earth to make them witnesses of their mean thoughts.

They even call on bright spirits to make them witness their degrading deeds.

When they ever give charity they regret it afterwards.

They borrow and accept without intention to return.

Beyond their due lot they scheme and contrive.

Above their means they plot and plan.

Their lusty desires exceed all measure.

Their heart is venomous while they show a compassionate face.

With filthy food they feed the poor.

With heresies they mislead others.

They shorten the foot, they narrow the measure, they lighten the scales, they reduce the peck.

They adulterate the genuine, and they seek profit in illegitimate business.

They compel respectable people to become lowly.

They betray and deceive the simple-minded.

They are greedy and covetous without satiety.

They curse and swear to seek vindication.

Indulging in liquor they become rebellious and unruly.

With the members of their own family they are angry and quarrelsome.

As husbands they are neither faithful nor kind.

As wives they are neither gentle nor pliant.

As husbands they are not in harmony with their wives; as wives they are not respectful to their husbands.

As husbands they delight in bragging and conceit.

Always as wives they practice jealousy and suspicion.

As husbands they behave unmannerly toward their wives and children.

As wives they lack propriety to their father-in-law and their mother-in-law.

They make light of the spirit of their ancestor.

They disobey and dislike the commands of their superiors.

They make and do what is not useful.

They harbor and keep a treacherous heart.

They curse themselves, they curse others.

They are partial in their hatred and partial in their love.

They step over the well and they step over the hearth. They jump over the food and jump over a person.

They kill the baby and cause abortion of the unborn.

They do many clandestine and wrong deeds.

The last day of the month and the last day of the year they sing and dance.The first day of the month, the first day of the year, they start roaring and scolding.

Facing the north, they snivel and spit; facing the hearth, they sing, hum and weep.

Further, with hearth fire they burn incense, and with filthy fagots they cook their food.

In the night they rise and expose their nakedness.

On the eight festivals of the seasons they execute punishment.

They spit at falling stars and point at the many-colored rainbow.

Irreverently they point at the three

luminaries; intently they gaze at the sun and at the moon.

In the spring they hunt with fire.

Facing the north, they use vile language.

Causelessly they kill tortoises and snakes.

Punishments for Evil-Doers

For all these crimes the councilors of destiny deprive the guilty, according to the lightness or gravity of the offence, of terms from twelve years to a hundred days, and when the lease of life is exhausted they perish.

If at death an unexpiated offence be left, the evil luck will be transferred to children and grandchildren.

Moreover, all those who wrongly seize others’ property may have to compensate for it, with wives or children or other family members, the expiation to be proportionate up to a punishment by death.

If the guilt be not expiated by death, they will suffer by various evils, by water, by fire, by theft, or by robbery, by loss of property, by disease and illness, and by ill repute, to compensate for any unlawful violence of justice. Further, those who unlawfully kill men will in turn have their weapons and arms turned on them; yea, they will kill each other.

A Simile

Those who seize property, are, to use an illustration, like those who relieve their hunger by eating tainted meat, or quench their thirst by drinking poisoned liquor. Though they are not without temporary gratification, death will anon overcome them.

Good and Evil Spirits

If a man’s heart be awakened to the good, though the good be not yet accomplished, good spirits verily are already following him.

If a man’s heart be awakened to evil, though evil be not yet accomplished, evil spirits verily are already following him.


Those who have hitherto done evil deeds should henceforth mend and repent.

If evil be no longer practiced and good deeds done, and if in this way a man continues and continues, he will surely obtain happiness and felicity. He will, indeed, so to speak, transform curses into blessings.


Therefore, blessed is the man who speaketh what is good, who thinketh what is good, who practiceth what is good. If but each single day he would persevere in these three ways of goodness, within three years Heaven will surely shower on him blessings.

Unfortunate is the man who speaketh what is evil, who thinketh what is evil, who practiceth what is evil. If but each single day he would persevere in these three ways of evildoing, within three years Heaven will surely shower on him curses.

Why shall we not be diligent and comply with this?

The Five Levels of Skill in Chen Style Taijiquan

by Chen Xiao Wang translated by Tan Lee-Peng, Ph.D.

Learning taijiquan is in principle similar to educating oneself; progressing from primary to university level, where one gradually gathers more and more knowledge. Without the foundation from primary and secondary education, one will not be able to follow the courses at university level. To learn taijiquan one has to begin from the elementary and gradually progress to the advanced stage, level by level in a systematic manner. If one goes against this principle thinking he could take a quick way out, he will not succeed. The whole progress of learning taijiquan, from the beginning to achieving success consists of five stages or five levels of martial/combat skill (kung fu). There are objective standards for each level of kung fu. The highest is achieved in the fifth level.


The standard and martial skill requirements for each level of kung fu will be described in the following sections. It is hoped that with these, the many taijiquan enthusiasts all over the world will be able to ‘assess’ on their own their current level of attainment. They will then know what they need to learn next and advance further step-by-step.


The First Level of Kung Fu

In practising taijiquan, the requirements on the different parts of the body are: keeping a straight body; keeping the head and neck erect with mindfulness at the tip of the head as if one is lightly lifted by a string from above; relaxing the shoulders and sinking the elbows; relaxing the chest and waist letting them sink down; relaxing the crotch and bending the knees. When these requirements are met, one’s inner energy will naturally sink down to the dan tian. Beginners may not be able to master all these important points instantly. However, in their practice they must try to be accurate in terms of direction, angle, position, and the movements of hands and legs for each posture. At this stage, one need not place too much emphasis on the requirements for different parts of the body, appropriate simplications are acceptable. For example, for the head and upper body, it is required that the head and neck be kept erect, chest and waist be relaxed downward, but in the first level of kung fu, it will be sufficient just to ensure that one’s head and body are kept naturally upright and not leaning forward or backward, to the left or right. This is just like learning calligraphy, at the beginning, one need only to make sure that the strokes are correct. Therefore, when practising taijiquan at the beginning, the body and movements may appear to be stiff; or ‘externally solid but internally empty’. One may find oneself doing things like: hard hitting, ramming, sudden uplifting and or sudden collapsing of body or trunk. There may be also be broken or over-exerted force or jin. All these faults are common to beginners. If one is persistent enough and practices seriously everyday, one can normally master the forms within half a year. The inner energy, qi, can gradually be induced to move within the trunk and limbs with refinements in one’s movements. One may then achieve the stage of being able to use external movements to channel internal energy’. The first level kung fu thus begins with mastering the postures to gradually being able to detect and understand jin or force.

The martial skill attainable with the first level of kung fu is very limited. This is because at this stage, one’s actions are not well coordinated and systematic. The postures may not be correct. Thus the force or jin produced may be stiff, broken, lax or on the other hand too strong. In practicing the routine, one’s form may appear hollow or angular. As such one can only feel the internal energy but is not able to channel the energy to every part of the body in one go. Consequently, one is not able to harness the force or jin right from the heels, channel it up the legs, and discharge it through command at the waist. On the contrary , the beginners can only produce broken force that ‘surge’ from one section to another section of the body. Therefore the first level kung fu is insufficient for martial application purposes. If one were to test one’s skill on someone who does not know martial arts, to a certain extent they can remain flexible. They may not have mastered the application but by knowing how to mislead his opponent the student may occasionally be able to throw off his opponent. Even then, he may be unable to maintain his own balance. Such a situation is thus termed „the 10% yin and 90% yang; top heavy staff”.

What then exactly is yin and yang? In the context of practising taijiquan, emptiness is Yin, solidity is yang; gentleness or softness is yin, forcefulness or hardness is yang. Yin and yang is the unity of the opposites; either one cannot be left out; yet both can be mutually interchanged and transformed. If we assign a maximum of 100% to measure them, when one in his practice can attain an equal balance of yin and yang, he is said to have achieved 50% yin and 50% yang. This is the highest standard or an indication of success in practicing taijiquan. In the first level of skill in kung fu, it is normal for one to end up with ‘10% yin and 90% yang’. That is, one’s quan or boxing is more hard than soft and there is imbalance in yin and yang. The learner is not able to complement hard with soft and to command the applications with ease. As such, while still at the first level, learners should not be too eager to pursue the application aspect in each posture.

The Second Level of Kung Fu

The level starting from the last stage of the first level when one can feel the movement of internal energy or qi to the early stage of the third level of kung fu is termed as the second level of kung fu. The second level of kung fu involves further reducing shortcomings such as: stiff force/jin produced while practising taijiquan; over- and under-exertion of force as well as movements which are not well coordinated. This is to ensure that the internal energy/qi will move systematically in the body in accordance with the requirements of each movement. Eventually, this should result in smooth flowing of qi in the body and good coordination of internal qi with external movements.

After acquiring the first level of kung fu, one should be able to practise with ease according to the preliminary requirements of the movements. The student is able to feel the movement of internal energy. However, the student may not be able to control the flow of qi in the body. There are two reasons for this: firstly, the student has not mastered accurately the specific requirements on each part of the body and their coordination. As an example, if the chest is relaxed downward too much, the waist and back may not be straight, or if the waist is too relaxed then the chest and rear may protrude. As such, one must further strictly ensure that the requirements on each part of the body should be resolved so that they move in unison. This will enable the whole body to close or unite in a coordinated manner (which means coordinated internal and external closing/union. Internal closing implies coordinated union of heart and mind, of internal energy and force, tendons and bones. External closing/union of movements implies coordinated closing of hands with legs, elbows with knees, shoulders with hips). Simultaneously, there should be an equal and opposite closing movement of another part of the body and vice versa. Opening and closing movements come together and complement each other. Secondly, while practising one may find it hard to control different parts of the body all at once. This means one part of the body may move faster than the rest and result in over-exertion of force; or a certain part may move too slowly or without enough force, thus resulting in a under-exertion of force. These two phenomena both contradict the principle of taijiquan. Every movement in Chen style taijiquan is required not to deviate from the principle of the ‘spiralling silk force’ or chan-si jin. According to the Theory of Taijiquan, ‘the chan-si-jin originates from the kidneys and at all times is found in every part of the body’. In the process of learning taijiquan, the spiralling-silk method of movement (ie. the twining and spiralling method of movement) and the spiralling-silk force (ie. the inner force produced from the spiralling-silk method of movement), can be strictly mastered through relaxing shoulders and elbows, chest and waist as well as crotch and knees and using the waist as a pivot to move every part of the body. Starting with rotating the hands anti-clockwise, the hands should lead the elbows which in turn leads the shoulders which then guide the waist (the part of the waist corresponding to that side of the should that is being moved. In actual fact the waist is still the pivot). On the other hand, if the hands rotate in a clockwise direction, the waist should move the shoulders, the shoulders move the elbows, the elbows in turn move the hands. For the upper half of the body, the wrists and arms should appear to be gyrating; whereas for the lower portion of the body the ankle and the thigh should appear to be rotating; as for the trunk, the waist and the back should appear to be turning. Combining the movements of the three parts of the body we should visualise a curve rotating in space. This curve originates from the legs, with the centre at the waist and ends at the fingers. In practising the quan, (or the form), if one feels awkward with a particular movement, one can adjust one’s waist and thigh according to the sequence of flow of the chan-si-jin to achieve coordination. In this way, any error can be corrected. Therefore, while paying attention to the requirement on each part of the body to achieve total co-ordination of the whole body, the mastering of the rhythm of movement of the spiralling-silk method and spiralling silk force is a way of resolving conflicts and self-correction for any mistake in practising taijiquan after attaining the second level of kung fu.

In the first level of kung fu, one begins with learning the forms, and when one is familiar with the forms, the student can feel the movement of internal energy in the body. The student may well be very excited and thus never feel tired or bored. However, in entering the second level of kung fu, the student may feel there is nothing new to learn and at the same time misunderstand certain important points. The student may not have mastered these main points accurately and thus find that their movements are awkward. Or, on the other hand, the student may find that he or she can practise the quan smoothly and express force with much vigour but cannot apply them while doing push-hands. Because of this, one may soon feel bored, lose confidence and may give up altogether. The only way to reach the stage where one can: produce the right amount of force, not too hard and not too soft; can change actions at will; and can turn smoothly with ease, is to be persistent and strictly adhere to principles. One has to train hard in the form so that the body movements are well co-ordinated, and with ‘one single movement can activate movements in every part of the body’ , thus establishing a complete system of movements. There is a common saying, ‘if the principle is not clearly understood, consult a teacher; if the way is not clearly visible, seek the help of friends’. When the principles as well as the methods are clearly understood, with constant practice, success will prevail eventually. The Taijiquan Classics state that, ‘everybody can possess the ultimate, if only one works hard.’ And ‘if only one persists, ultimately one should achieve sudden break through’. Generally, most people can attain the second level of kung fu in about four years. When one reaches the state of being able to experience a smooth flow of qi in the body, one would suddenly understand it (the command of qi) all. When this happens, one would be full of confidence and enthusiasm as one goes on practising. One may even have the strong urge to go on and on and wouldn’t feel like stopping!

At the beginning of the second level kung fu the martial art skill attained is about the same as in the first level kung fu. It is not sufficient for actual application. At the end of the second level kung fu one is nearing attaining the third level kung fu, as such the martial skill acquired may be applicable to a certain extent.

The next section introduces the martial skill that should be attainable half-way through the second level kung fu (so are the third, fourth and fifth levels of kung fu in the subsequent sections. They are discussed with reference to the skill attainable in the half-way stage in each level.)

Push-hands and practising taijiquan are inseparable. Whatever shortcomings one has in his quan form will show up as weaknesses during push-hands and thus giving the opponent an opportunity to take advantage of them. Because of this, in practising taijiquan every part of one’s body must be well coordinated with the rest, there shouldn’t be any unnecessary movement. Push-hands requires warding-off, grabbing, squeezing and pressing to be carried out so precisely, so that the upper and lower bodies move in co-ordination and it is thus difficult for opponents to attack[. As the saying goes: ‘No matter how great is the force on me, I should mobilise four ounces of strength to deflect one thousand pounds of force’. The second level of kung fu aims at achieving smooth flowing of qi in the body by correcting the postures so as to reach the stage when qi should penetrate the whole body passing through every joint as if it (qi) is sequentially linked. However, the process of adjusting the postures involves making unnecessary or unco-ordinated movements. Therefore, at this stage, one is unable to apply the martial skill at will during push-hands. The opponent will concentrate on looking for these weaknesses or he or she may win by surprising one into committing all the errors like over-exerting, collapsing, throwing-off and confronting of force. During push-hands, the opponent’s advance will not allow one to have time to adjust one’s movements. The opponent will make use of one’s weak point to attack so that one will lose balance or will be forced to step back to ward off the advancing force. Nevertheless, if the opponent advances with less force and in a slower manner, there may be time or opportunity to make adjustments and one may be able to ward off the attack in a more satisfactory manner. Drawing from the above discussion, for the second level kung fu, whether one is attacking or blocking-off an attack, much effort is needed. Very often, it will be an advantage to make the first move, the one who moves last will be at an disadvantage. At this level, one is unable to ‘forget’ oneself but ‘play along with’ the opponent (ie. not to attack but to yield to the opponent’s movement); unable to grasp an opportunity to respond to change. One may be able to move and ward off an attack but may easily commit errors like throwing-off or collapsing and over-exerting or confronting [the?] force. Because of these, during push-hands, one cannot move according to the sequence of warding-off, grabbing, pressing and pushing down. A person with this level of skill is described as ‘20% yin, 80% yang: an undisciplined new hand.’

The Third Level Kung Fu

‘If you wish to do well in your quan (or form), you must practice to make your circle smaller.’ The steps in practising Chen-style taijiquan involve progressing from mastering big circle to medium circle and from medium circle to small circle. The word ‘circle’ here does not mean the path/trail resulting from movements of the limbs but rather the smooth flowing of the internal energy of qi. In this respect, the third level kung fu is a stage in which one shall begin with big circle and end with medium circle (in the circulation of qi).

The Tiajiquan Classic mentioned that ‘yi and qi are more superior than the forms’ meaning that while practising taijiquan one should place emphasis on using yi (consciousness). In the first level of kung fu, one’s mind and concentration are mainly on learning and mastering of the external forms of taijiquan. While in the second level of kung fu, one should concentrate on detecting conflicts/unco-ordination of limbs and body and of internal and external movements. One should adjust body and forms to ensure a smooth flow of the internal energy. When progressing into the third level kung fu, one should already have the internal energy flowing smoothly: what is required is yi and not brute force. The movements should be light but not ‘floating’, heavy but not clumsy. This implies that the movements should appear to be soft but the internal force is actually strong/sturdy, or there is strong force implied in the soft movements, and the whole body should be well-coordinated and there should not be any irregular movements. However, one should not just pay attention to the movement of qi in the body and neglect the external actions. Otherwise, one would appear to be in a daze and as a result, the flow of internal qi may not only be obstructed but may be dispersed. Therefore, as stated in the Taijiquan Classics, ‘attention should be on the spirit and not just qi, with too much emphasis on qi there will be stagnation (of qi)’.

One may have mastered the external forms between the first and second level kung fu, but he may not have attained co-ordination of the external with internal movements. Sometimes, due to stiffness or stagnation of the actions, full breathing-in is not possible. On the other hand, without proper co-ordination of the internal and external movements, it is not possible to empty one’s breath completely. Thus, when practising quan one should breath[e] naturally. After entering into the third level kung fu, there is better co-ordination of internal and external movements. As such generally the actions can be synchronized with breathing quite precisely. However, it is necessary to consciously synchronize breathing with movements for some finer, more complicated and swifter actions. This is to further ensure co-ordination of breathing and actions so that it gradually comes on naturally.

The third level of kung fu basically involves mastering the internal and external requirements of Chen-style taijiquan and rhythm of exercise as well as the ability to correct oneself. One should also be able to command the actions with more ease and should also ha[ve] more internal energy (qi). At this level, it is necessary to further understand the combat skill implicit in each quan form and its application. For this, one has to practise push-hands, check on the forms, the quality and quantity of the internal force and expression of the force as well as dissolving of force. If one’s quan form can withstand confrontational push-hands then one must have mastered the important points of the form. He would gain more confidence if he continues to work hard. He may then step up his exercise routine and add in some complementary practice like practising with the long staff, sword or broad sword; spear and pole as well as practising fa jin i.e. expression of explosive force on its own. With two years continuous practise in this manner, generally one should be able to attain the fourth level of kung fu.

With the third level of kung fu, although there is smooth flow of internal qi and the actions are better coordinated, but the internal qi is weaker and the coordination between muscle movements and the functioning of the internal organs is not sufficiently established. While practising alone without external disturbances, one may be able to achieve internal and external coordination. During confrontational push-hand[s] and combat, if the advancing force is softer and slower, one may be able to go along with the attacker and change one’s actions accordingly; grab any opportunity to lead the opponent into a disadvantageous situation[; or] avoid the opponent’s firm move but attack when there is any weakness, manoeuvring with ease. However, once encountering a stronger opponent, the student may feel that his peng jin, i.e. blocking force, is insufficient, and there is a feeling that one’s form is being pressed and about to collapse (this may destroy the unfailing position which is supposed to be never-leaning and never-declining but with all round support), and cannot manoeuvre at will. The student may not achieve what the Taijiquan Classics describe as ‘striking with the hands without them being seen, once they are visible, it is impossible to manipulate’. Even in leading-in and expelling-out the opponent, one [may] feel stiff and much effort is required. As such the skill at this stage is described as ‘30% yin, 70% yang, still on the hard side.’

The Fourth Level Kung Fu

Progressing from the stage with medium circle to that with small circle is required of the fourth level kung fu. This is the stage nearing success and thus is of high level of kung fu. One should have mastered the effective method of training, be able to grasp the important points in the movements; be able to understand the martial/combat skill implicit in each movement; to have smooth flow of the internal energy or qi; and the co-ordination of actions with breathing. However, during practice, each step and each movement of hands should be carried out with a confronting opponent in mind, that is to say, one has to assume that he is surrounded by enemies. For each posture and each form, each part of the body must move in a linked and continuous manner so that the whole body moves in unison. ‘Movements of the upper and lower body are related and there should be a continuous flow of qi with the control being at the waist.’ So that when practising quan, one should carry it out ‘as if there is an opponent although no-one is around’. When actually confronted, one should be brave but cautious, behaving ‘as if there is no-one around though there is someone there.’

The training content (like quan and weapons) is similar to that in third level of kung fu. With perseverance, generally the fifth level kung fu can be reached in three years. In terms of martial skill the fourth level differs much from the third level kung fu. The third level kung fu aims at dissolving the opponent’s force and to get[ting] rid of conflicts in one’s own actions. This is to enable oneself to play the active role and forcing the opponent to be passive. The fourth level kung fu enables one to dissolve as well as express force. This is because at that level, one would have sufficient internal jin, flexible change in yi and qi and a consolidated system of the body movements. As such, during push-hands, the opponent’s attack does not pose a big threat. On contact with the opponent, one can immediately change one’s action and thus disolve the on-coming force with ease, exhibiting the special characteristics of going along with the movements of the opponent but yet changing one’s own actions all the time to counteract the opponent’s action, exerting the right force, adjusting internally, predicting the opponent’s intention, subduing one’s own actions, expressing precise force and hitting the target accurately. Therefore, a person attaining this level of kung fu is described as ‘40% yin, 60% yang; akin to a good practitioner.’

The Fifth Level Kung Fu

The fifth level kung fu is the stage in which one moves from commanding small circle to commanding invisible circle, from mastering the form to executing the form invisibly. According to the Taijiquan Classics, ‘with the continuous smooth flowing of qi, with the cosmic qi moving one’s natural internal qi, moving from a fixed form to invisibility, one realises how wonderful nature is.’ At the fifth level, the actions should be flexible and smooth, and there should be sufficient internal jin. However, it is still necessary to strive for the best. There is the need to work hard day by day until the body is very flexible and adaptable to multi-faceted changes. There should be changes internally alternating between the substantial and insubstantial but these should be invisible externally. Only until then that the fifth level kung fu is achieved.

As regarding the martial skill, at this level the gang (hard) should complement the rou (soft), it (the form) should be relaxed, dynamic, springy and lively. Every move and every motionless instant is in accordance with taiji principle, as are the movements of the whole body. This means that every part of the body should be very sensitive and quick to react when the need arises. So much so that every part of the body can act as a fist to attack whenever is in contact with the opponent’s body. There should also be constant interchange between expressing and conserving of force and the stance should be firm as though supported from all sides.

Therefore the description for this level of kung fu is that it is the ‘only one that plays with 50% yin and 50% yang, without any bias towards yin or yang, and the person who can do this is termed a good master. A good master makes every move according to the taiji principles which demands that every move be invisible.’


After completing the fifth level kung fu a strong relationship has been established between the co-ordination of the mind, contraction and relaxation of the muscles, movements of the muscles and functioning of the internal organs. Even when encountering a sudden attack such co-ordination will not be hampered as one should be flexible to change. Even then, one should continue to pursue further so as to achieve greater heights.


Development in science is beyond boundary, so is practising taijiquan: one could never exhaust all its beauty and benefits in one’s life time.





Qi emission can affect living things

The professor began to introduce the affect of transmitting chi energy to other living things.  He explained: „We humans have thoughts, so when chi energy is transmitted from one person to another, it’s not always clear how much it is a result of psychological factors.  So, in order to isolate that factor, we will carry out the following experiment, involving animals and plants.”

 The professor introduced an experiment that involved treating cultures with external chi energy to control bacteria.  They did on the spot checks to prove that the culture treated by chi energy contained no living bacteria, in other words the chi energy projected onto them had killed the bacteria. 

After that, the Lotus Qigong famous Master Zhao Puti demonstrated his ability to make flower buds bloom instantaneously.  Some assistants had brought flowers in pots with unopened buds, master Zhao used his palm to project his energy onto them.  Suddenly the buds opened in fast motion one after the other before the audience’s very eyes.  Within a few seconds they all bloomed.  Everybody was very impressed and clapped in amazement.  The lab was filled with beautiful floral fragrances.  (The Great Masters of Qigong-Ke Yunlu)

Chi energy can influence not only humans, animals and all other living things, but it can also influence non-living things.  Professor Xia explained: „If anybody had any doubts with regard to the effects of chi energy when it comes to living things and their possible conscious reaction, the following experiment should eliminate that.  We’re going to use laser spectrometers and other technical devices to compare objective measures of various non-living substances before and after being exposed to chi energy.  And now please, welcome on stage a famous Qigong master – Yao Jue!”

As soon as the professor mentioned his name, a loud applause came from the audience. The atmosphere was full of excitement. 

After they calmed down, the professor explained the experiment.  Master Yao Jue was about to perform an experiment to change the molecular structure of water.  To make it legitimate, the preparation of the whole experiment was very strict.  In front of everyone, they took a water sample and did all the necessary measurements.  Then they took the sample back and locked it up in a separate room.  Master Yao who was in a separate room himself, was about to project chi energy to the sample that was in the other room.  To prevent the master from walking through the wall (known as Ban Yun technique in Qigong), they had an assistant monitoring his every move.

After he finished projecting chi energy, he was held there until the scientists took the sample from the other room and used a very precise, special American device – SPEX 1403 type laser spectrometer to examine the sample.  The audience held their breath and waited in anticipation as the researchers examined the sample.  After a few minutes, the device processed the complicated numbers and on the computer monitor the results came through in the shape of a bell curve.  Compared to the curve on the graph that appeared before the demonstration, which was fairly flat, it clearly indicated that the molecular structure of the water had changed. 

It’s amazing that without even touching the water, Qigong masters have the ability to change the molecular structure of it.  Knowing that more than 65% of our body is made up of water, it helps us understand how Qigong masters are able to treat people’s diseases.  It can also help us understand how water, food and other objects that are energised by masters can be used to treat disease.  (This type of energising practice is quite common in China amongst Qigong masters).

The next experiment was even more amazing.  Master Yao Jue used his energy to create a chemical reaction between hydrogen and carbon monoxide under normal air pressure of 1 bar and in room temperature (20°C) which would normally require not only the assistance of catalysts but also air pressure of 20-30 bars and the temperature of about 300°C.