In the practice of Tàijíquán pushing hands, Tàijí circle sticking hands, and Tàijíquán free fighting, etc., (you) must practice until (you) have reached a stage where there is no discrimination of the opponent. This means it is the stage where the opponent is you and you are the opponent—both are one. As a result, you know yourself and you also know your opponent. You are in an active position and the opponent’s action is driven by you. (You are) able to put the opponent in your palms. When there is an intention of moving, you know immediately. When this happens, (you) have reached the stage of fighting with enlightenment. At the beginning, the keys (of training) are in listening, following, attaching, and adhering — four crucial words. If (you) are not able to use these four important keys (skillfully), then (you) will not be able to communicate with the opponent and understand the situation. Afterward, the keys (of training) are on leading, neu- tralizing, coiling, and turning. If (you) cannot apply these four keys (effectively), then the incoming Jìngs will not be neutralized and dissolved (by you) and thus (you) will not be able to control (your) opponent in your palms. If (you) are able to reach the above (eight words), then the techniques such as Cǎi (i.e., pluck), Liè (i.e., split), Zhǒu (i.e., elbow), Kào (i.e., bump), Tī (i.e., kicking), Dǎ (i.e., strik- ing), Shuāi (i.e., wrestling), and Ná (i.e., Chin Ná) can be executed as you wish.

太極拳推手、太極圈纏手、太極拳自由散手等練習須練到敵我 不分。亦即敵即是我,我即是敵之境界。如此,我知我,我亦 知敵,我為主動,敵為我所使。置敵於掌中,稍有動意,即為 我所知。如此可通乎神明。起初,竅在於聽、隨、粘、黏四 字。不能運用此四訣,則無法溝通敵情。之後,竅在於引、 化、纏、轉四字。不能運用此四訣,則來勁無法化解,不能置 敵於掌中。能夠如此,採、e、肘、靠、踢、打、摔、拿等任 我所便。..

Fighting with Enlightenment

When you practice Tàijíquán skills to a high level and have reached the state of “fight of no fight” (i.e., regulating without regulating), then every action is ultimately natural, comfortable, skillful, and effective. This is the stage of “fighting with enlightenment.” In this stage, you know yourself and you also know your opponent. You are the one who controls the entire fighting situation.
The keys to reaching this stage of training are in the eight crucial practices. At the beginning, you must practice listening (i.e., feeling), following, attaching, and adhering until you become proficient. If you can do so, you will be able to communicate with your opponent easily. Only then can you perform the skills of leading, neutralizing, coiling, and turning effectively. In fact, these eight key words are the crucial secrets to executing all of the Tàijíquán fighting techniques successfully.

In the beginning of your training, the focus is on regulating the body, then on regulating the breathing, regulating the Xīn (i.e., emotional mind), regulating the Qì, and then regulating the spirit. Its final stage is to regulate the spirit until no regulating is necessary. This is the stage of regulating without regulating. If (you) really are able to reach this level, your enlightened spirit will be focused on it fully. This is the Dào of reaching enlightenment.

其練習程次,開始在於調身,再於調息、調心、調氣、調神著 手。其最終之境界,在於調神而至調而不調,不調而自調之境 界。果達此境地,神明貫注焉。此乃通乎神明之道。..

Final Stage of Enlightenment

In order to reach the final stage of enlightenment, you must regulate your body, then your breathing, mind, Qì, and finally spirit. Once you are able to reach a stage at which your whole spirit is in the actions without any effort, then you have reached the stage of enlightenment. This is the level of action without action.

Generally speaking, to reach enlightenment is to comprehend the meaning of physical life, to cherish all living things, to know the mandate of heaven, and to fulfill the will of heaven. That means, during the training process of killing and surviving in Tàijíquán practice, to comprehend the reasons for human life, to cherish the value of millions of living things, to search for the rules of heaven Dào, and finally to achieve the great Dào of Heaven and Human Unification. This is the original meaning of Tàijíquán’s creation by the Daoist family in Wǔdāng mountain.

廣義而言,通乎神明者,在悟生理,在惜生靈,在知天命,在 達天意。亦即在練習太極生殺之理中,去悟解人生之道理,去 珍惜萬物生命之可貴,去尋求天道之理,並臻天人合一之大道 也。此乃武當道家創太極拳之本意。..

Tàijíquán was created at the Daoist monasteries on Wǔdāng mountain. The final goal of Daoist spiritual cultivation is to reunite the human spirit with the heaven (i.e., natural) spirit. To reach this goal, first we must comprehend the meaning of our lives, cherish all living things, search for the mandate of nature, and finally fulfill this mandate.

From this, we can see that, though Tàijíquán was created as a martial art, it does not mean to destroy or to kill life. On the contrary, it is the tool for us to understand life. From self-understanding and discipline, we learn how to control ourselves and to appreciate life everywhere. Only then can we have a pure and kind heart to understand nature and its mandate. All of these are the required procedures for the unification of the human and heaven spirits.

The above is an excerpt from Taijiquan Theory of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming: The Root of Taijiquan, 2nd Edition, publication date June 2023, YMAA Publication Center, ISBN: 9781594399022.