Chén Wáng Tíng’s Poem
Opening, expanding, contracting and closing skill – the enemies cannot sense us.
Contacting, touching, spiralling and circling skills – they make us feel our enemies’ energy.
Chopping, hitting, pushing and pressing skills are advanced,
Carrying, shifting, horizontal and grabbing skills are hard to defend against.
Hooking, pushing, squeezing and holding skills – everybody knows these.
Flashing, surprising, tricky skills – who can really avoid or defend against them?
Pretending to lose and running away – no one knows who has really lost.
Trick the enemy to come in, then strike back to get victory in the end.
Rolling, holding, grabbing, sweeping skills are stylish.
Horizontal, vertical, chopping and cutting skills are special
Intercepting, forwarding, sealing and barring skills still cannot defend the striking heart elbow.
Wind blows towards the face – we still go forward with Red Cannon Fist strike.
Double kicks to the face, sweep from below – kicking both sides of the face is very powerful.
Intercept the front and block the back – the enemy has no way out.
Pretend to attack the East, but strike the West – we must be familiar with this skill.
Attack from the top while pushing up from the bottom – this skill we need to remember.
Attack forward – defend backward – this skill cannot be slow.
Cover the head – block the face – this skill is ordinary,
Strike the centre of the chest – hit the sides of the body – this skill is rare.
A Sīfú 師父 who does not know the theory of these skills cannot judge who has a high or low level of Kung Fu.
This is the famous poem by Chén Wáng Tíng 陳王廷 and it describes how he created Tàijíquán 太極拳. To create his new style, he combined all his Kung Fu knowledge and created new skills. In particular, the first two paragraphs are talking about Tuī Shǒu 推手 , “Opening, expanding, contracting and closing skill – the enemies cannot sense us. Contacting, touching, spiralling and circling skills – they make us feel our enemies’ energy.”
In Tàijíquán our movements follow the principles of opening and closing, and expanding and contracting. These of opposites, so if we are opening, we can suddenly close so that our enemy does not realise and will lose their balance. The same is true for expanding and contracting.
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