A look at some of the subtler aspects of the Taoist qi gung exercises, and the way the internal subtleties of each one inform the other two.



A Look at Sanshou

The Sanshou Exercise is the highest level of structured practice in the Yang Curriculum. Although it resembles simply another version of the myriad of two-person fighting forms found in so many other martial arts, and is eagerly embraced by many martial artists as an addition to their repertoire of such “fight dances,” it is different in one very important respect. Each exchange in its eighty-eight movements is completely consistent with the so-called civil aspect of the art, which means that each is derivable from the mutual adherence of the players, adherence defined by a continuous evolution of literal taiji relationships between the combatants.  In other words, there is a level of perception present that has no relation whatsoever to fighting. The creation of taijis is perceived by the players as a continuous contact of constant pressure, spread over a line or surface between them, hence the name adherence. The fact that such behavior gives rise to elegant classical martial relationships is one of the most appealing mysteries of the art.



Continuing the “Taijiquan With Partners Gone” series., I explain the best way to approach isolation and study of the external movements of the arms as found in the solo form.



We examine the internal changes of the arms by learning to do them independently of any changes in the waist, and the real meaning of “whole body movement.”



Taijiquan is all about practice with a partner, and the more variety in those partners, the more complete is our learning. But the nationwide lockdown of all group activity has made that principle practice of our art ill-advised, even dangerous during this Coronavirus outbreak. In these weeks ahead, we need to try to get as much out of the solo form as we can, and hopefully to return to our traditional practice even better equipped than ever. This is the first of a series of lectures designed to stimulate as much fruitful solo practice as possible, by pointing out those “mediations” that elevate the form beyond a simple “low-impact” dance to a real foundation for advanced study.


Chansijing, the “silk-reeling” employment of the musculature that is always referenced by the term “internal” (internal strength, internal force, internal movement, etc.), is a critical facet of the Yang Style of Taijiquan. In a previous talk, the different movements of the arms were explored, covering the basic changes of yin, yang, peng and an. Now this principle and terminology is extended to the legs, this extension the source of the phrase from the Classics: “whole body movement,” meaning, of course, whole body internal movement. In the traditional Shaolin-type styles of the Orient, Internal movements of the arms were usually paired with rigid, powerfully rooted positions of the legs, with rapid “broken” transitions connecting them. Taijiquan represented the replacement of these rigid positions with continuous “winding” changes, causing Taijiquan to be referred to as “continuous, not broken.”

Basic Chansijing of the Arms

Beginning a series on the chansijing or “silk-reeling” movements of the body, this initial lecture demonstrates the basic principle with the four “internal” changes of the arms, yang, yin, peng, and an. Future lectures will cover the movements of the legs and the integration of such internal changes into the solo form.

The 8 Fundamentals of Taijiquan

A brief outline of the structural fundamentals of Taijiquan. These are the eight critical areas of study that are needed for the full realization of its true classical form. It is the neglect or misunderstanding of one or more of these vital practices that has seriously hampered the development of this great fighting art in the modern world.