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From Taijiquan Xiu Xi Wen Da- by Master Huang Renliang, a student of Zhang Yi who was a student of Wu Huichian, one of the Yang family Heng-Ha generals. If you are interested in this book, you can buy it from Google Books through this link: https://shorturl.at/MhZ1u

Question: How to comprehend “the root is in the feet, it is issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the fingers.” and its relationship with “Li (force) is issued from the spine.”

Answer: The overview requirement for Taijiquan exercises is to form the whole body as one unit. Therefore, every movement requires each part of the entire body to be coordinated. This is “the root is in the feet, it is issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the fingers.” My feet, legs, waist, and hands must be harmonized entirely to become One Qi. The boxing classic states, “Once you move, the whole body must be light and agile, the movements must be Guan Chuan.” The key of this sentence is “Guan Chuan” (to pierce through or string together). So when one trains the forms, the movement of each body part must be harmonized as one unit. One must achieve that the hands move, the feet move, the eyes move, the body moves, one part moves, the entire body moves. At the end of each movement, one must achieve the state that the hands, feet, body, and eyes reach the end of the actions at once.

Zhang Yi, student of Wu Huichuan
Zhang Yi, student of Wu Huichuan

Besides the stepping forward and backward of the feet, and retracting and stretching of the arms, the left and right turning of the waist and Kua, and the movements of Nei Qi, including liftingfallingopening, and closing, glancing to the left and looking to the right of the eyes, collect (Jin) behind and release forward. One must also have the interchanging of the empty and full of both hands and feet. Also, the tongue, lips, and teeth and the internal organs, bone, flesh, skin, and hair must have subtle movements. Only when it is this way can it be called “the whole body is one unit,” having the characteristic of “one part moves, every part moves.” And the achieve requirement of the feet, legs, waist, and hands all succeed in being One Qi.

Training the form is following the above principles, Tui Shou training is also the same. Nei Jin’s storing and releasing, even more, has to be ultimately One Qi. When Fa Jin, it looks as if one is using the hands, but actually, it is their entire body; each part is coordinated to create the action. Whatever the form, push hands, or San Shou, the hands, eyes, body, and stepping should move together; one part moves, every part moves, one part arrives, every part arrives. As it is said, “When one’s hands reach an enemy, but the body doesn’t reach, you cannot get its great effectiveness when hitting. If one’s hand reaches an enemy with the body, he can destroy the enemy as if breaking grass.”

Concerning “Li is issued from the spine.”, this statement is from “Important Explanations for the Accomplishment of the Thirteen Postures (十三勢行功心解)” It said, “Look for the straight within the curved, accumulate then emit. Li is emitted from the spine; steps follow the transformations of the body.” This explains the process of Fa Jin in Taijiquan; first, one must be curved to accumulate Jin, then later stretch and Fa. While bending to collect, one must store his Jin to the spine. When one uses Fa Fang or releasing, Jin will travel from the spine and separate to the shoulders, and then it moves through the two arms to the fingers and hands. Also, one must step forward following the body changing to correspond with the Fa Jin. Only this way can it be called whole body Jin. “Look for the straight within the curved, accumulate then emit” is the process of drawing a bow to shoot an arrow. Drawing the bow is storing Jin, releasing the arrow is Fa Jin. Hollowing the chest and opening the back of the body is drawing the bow; the bowstring is the spine. The Jia Ji point at the middle of the spine is the point that we hold and pull an arrow on the bowstring. When releasing the bowstring, the chest becomes flat, and the back becomes straight, the arrow (Jin) is shot out. Making the arrow’s head shoot out is the point located on the bowstring on the back. That why it’s called “Li is issued from the spine.” The following paragraph also said, “steps follow the transformations of the body.”, this relates to the idea on the feet and legs, waist and body, hands and arms, all the whole body must coordinate the movements. This is “the root is in the feet, it issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the fingers.” from the feet to the legs to the waist, all must be harmonized to be One Qi.

One thought on “How to comprehend “the root is in the feet, it is issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the fingers.” and its relationship with “Li (force) is issued from the spine.”

  1. @liang-chuancheng Liang laoshi: Can you talk about the meaning of guan chuan 貫穿, especially how to practice it? I have been experimenting lately with yi and being deliberate about using it in sequence when I practice. A simple example:
    A) Hang from bai hui, then to yu zhen to jia ji, then open ming men
    B) Hang from bai hui then right to open ming men.

    Doing “A” feels better and more coordinated than “B.” Is guan chuan related to using the yi in a series or sequence?

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