I have chosen, particularly, those quotes, researched and practised, by Grandmaster Chen Man Ching. As for my part on the tai chi journey I have no idea how far I have come so for a rule of thumb, lets say, if tai chi is a mile long I do not know how far into the first hundred yards I have travelled. Certainly I know that I have reached the first ten yards, but then, progress should be slow.

In the Classics it states: "don't grasp stay sung ". To further explore the concept of sung imagine the children's game of dunking for apples: a bath full of water with apples floating on the top and the children with their arms behind their backs wait for the word "go". On the command some will thrash around wildly trying to grasp the apples with their teeth but one will wait, eyes and senses focused; soon an apple will float to the waiting teeth.

Ask yourself how many times have you got what you wanted by trying too hard?

To date I have found the Classics a flawless gem and limited only by my understanding of them. So I invite the reader to enjoy the quotes from the Masters and hope they provide food for thought.

"Real Tai Chi Chuan when looked at appears very simple. All of the gong fu, however, is on the inside. The inside is trained so that it will affect the outside. Change occurs from the inside out." Koh Ah Tee (1996) [ii]

"In real Tai Chi Chuan you receive; you don't go out looking." Koh Ah Tee (1996)

"The dantien is where the chi finds its root - the yongquan is where the body finds its root." Koh Ah Tee (1996)

"Tai Chi Chuan, the great ultimate, strengthens the weak, raises the sick, invigorates the debilitated, and encourages the timid" Cheng Man Ching (1947) [iii]

"Soft sinews are a special characteristic of the infant. If people who are not far from death (old people [iv]) are to have any hope of returning to youthfulness, it is only through concentrating on the chi and becoming soft." Cheng Man Ching (1947)

"Use the mind to direct the chi and the chi to mobilise the body." Cheng Man Ching (1947)

"The issuing energy starts in the root travels through the ankle, up to the knee, turned by the waist and manifested through the fingers. Cheng Man Ching (1947)

"Sink the chi raise ching shen (spirit). The classics state that the head must feel that it is suspended from the ceiling by a fine silk thread," Cheng Man Ching (1947)

"All must stay connected; if one part of the body moves all parts must move. If one part of the body is still all parts must be still." Cheng Man Ching (1947)

"Stay sung (relax). When practicing the form you must keep relaxed. In time you will find that it will become part of your physical and mental state." Cheng Man Ching (1947)


If we find time to practice every day we will progress a little bit at a time, not forgetting Sod's law, two steps forward and one step back, so my motto is: nil desperandum.

Ian Cassettari Senior Instructor Grade, Zhong Ding Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Association (UK)

[i] Mostly interpreted as "relaxed"

[ii] Koh Ah Tee (1996) The Inner Way Teachings from the Tai Chi Chuan of Master Cheng Man Ching. Compiled and translated by Nigel Sutton, Perfect Balance Books, Batu Pahat, Malaysia.

[iii] Cheng Man Ching (1947) Cheng Tzu's Thirteen Treaties on T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Various editions and translations.

[iv]Author's addition


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