What is Tàijí? It is Xīn and Yì. Xīn and Yì belong to Yīn. From Xīn and Yì, the external Yáng can be manifested. What is external Yáng? It is the body’s movements and reactions. What is Tàijíquán? It is the training methods that regulate the body, regulate the breathing, regulate the Xīn, regulate the Qì, and then regulate the spirit. This is also the Daoist method for nourishing life and searching for enlightenment through the processes of refining the essence and converting it into Qì, refining the Qì and converting it into spirit, refining the spirit and transforming it into emptiness, and finally crushing the emptiness. From these (trainings), aim to reach the final goal of dual cultivation of human nature and life. The dual cultivation of human nature and life means the cultivation of both internal and external. After the internal regulating of the Xīn, Qì, and spirit, then coordinate with regulating of the breathing to harmonize with the external body’s regulating.

太極者,心意也。心意者,陰也。由心意,而外陽顯現矣。外 陽者,身體之動作感應也。太極拳者,由調身、調息、調心、 調氣、而至調神,乃道家煉精化氣、煉氣化神、煉神返虛、粉 碎虛空養生練仙術之法也。由此,而臻性命雙修之目的。性命 雙修乃內外雙修之意也。由內之調心、調氣、調神再配合調息 而外諧和於調身矣。..

In Daoist Nèidān (內丹) (i.e., internal elixir) Qìgōng training, in order to reach the final enlightenment, there are four training procedures: refining the essence and converting it into Qì (Liànjīng Huàqì, 煉精化氣), refining the Qì and converting it into spirit (Liànqì Huàshén, 煉氣化神), refining the spirit and transforming it into emptiness (Liànshén Fǎnxū, 煉神返虛), and finally crushing the emptiness (Fěnsuì Xūkōng, 粉碎虛空). To complete these four training procedures, you must know how to regulate your body, breathing, mind, Qì, and finally spirit. Moreover, you must also know how to ripen the internal cultivation into external physical health and longevity. This kind of cultivation is called “dual cultivation” (Shuāngxiū, 雙修) and includes the cultivation of human nature as well as physical life.

Those who learn Tàijíquán must know these theories. Only then can (they) comprehend the meaning of life and the natural great Dào through Tàijíquán practice. Though the martial side of Tàijíquán is for strengthening the physical body and for defense, the scholarly side of Tàijíquán is for understanding human nature and comprehending the meaning of life. Only if (you) can cultivate these, both internally and externally, can you reach the Dào of balancing physical body and mind, and (also) the dual cultivation of human nature and physical body.

太極拳學者,須知此理,才能由習太極拳而悟人生與自然大道 之理。太極拳之武學,固是強身、防身之術。太極拳之文學, 卻是理性悟命之學。能夠內外兼修,才能達到身心平衡,性命 雙修之養生之道矣。..

Any Tàijíquán practitioner must recognize, understand, and practice this dual cultivation. If you are not searching for the deep meaning of the art, then you will always stay in the shallow places of Tàijíquán. The final goal of practicing Tàijíquán is applying the practice into your life. Your life is Tàijíquán and Tàijíquán is your life.

Qi Primary and Secondary Channels and Vessels

According to the study of Chinese medicine, the human body has twelve primary Qì channels (i.e., Jīng). Among these twelve channels, six of them belong to Yáng while the other six belong to Yīn. These primary Qì channels are like the rivers of the Qì(’s) flow. What are those Yáng primary Qì channels? They are: The Large Intestine Channel of Hand—Yáng Brightness; The Small Intestine Channel of Hand—Greater Yáng; The Triple Burner Channel of Hand—Lesser Yáng; The Stomach Channel of Foot—Yáng Brightness; The Urinary Bladder Channel of Foot—Greater Yáng; and The Gall Bladder Channel of Foot—Lesser Yáng. What are the Yīn primary Qì channels? They are: The Lung Channel of Hand—Greater Yīn; The Heart Channel of Hand—Lesser Yīn; The Pericardium Channel of Hand—Absolute Yīn; The Spleen Channel of Foot—Greater Yīn; The Kidney Channel of Foot—Lesser Yīn; and The Liver Channel of Foot—Absolute Yīn. From these, we can see that (the Qì circulation in) these twelve primary Qì channels follows the limbs up and down. (Among these twelve channels) three Yáng primary Qì channels and three Yīn primary Qì channels reach to the fingers while another three Yáng primary Qì channels and three Yīn primary Qì channels reach to the toes. The other ends of these twelve primary Qì channels connect to the six bowels and six internal organs.

依中醫學上之探解,全身計有十二經,中含六陽六陰經,如氣 之河川也。陽經者,手陽明大腸經、手太陽小腸經、手少陽三 焦經、足陽明胃經、足太陽膀胱經、足少陽膽經也。陰經者, 手太陰肺經、手少陰心經、手厥陰心包絡經、足太陰脾經、足 少陰腎經、足厥陰肝經也。由此可知,此十二經順肢體上下而 行,其三陽經、三陰經通達手指,另三陽經、三陰通至腳趾, 而其另一端通達六腑六臟。..

This paragraph describes the twelve primary Qì channels (Shíèrjīng, 十二經) of the human body. If you are interested in learning about the Qì circulatory system in more detail, please refer to the book, The Root on Chinese Qigong, published by YMAA. You can also refer to any Chinese acupuncture or medical book.

In addition, there are countless small Qì channels, which are called Luò, throughout the body. These small Qì channels branch out sideways from the twelve primary Qì channels, and are like the ditches or streams of Qì. From these (small channels), externally the Qì reaches to the skin as Guardian Qì (Wèiqì), while internally the Qì is transported to the bone marrow as Marrow Qì (Suǐqì). In addition, the body has eight vessels which include four Yīn and four Yáng vessels. What are vessels? They are lakes or reservoirs which are used to regulate the Qì’s flow in the rivers and streams. If the Qì in the vessels is strong and abundant, its regulating capability will be strong. If not, its regulating function will be weak. What are the four Yáng vessels? They are: Governing Vessel (Dūmài); Girdle (or Belt) Vessel (Dàimài); Yáng Heel Vessel (Yángqiāomài); and Yáng Linking Vessel (Yángwéimài). What are the four Yīn vessels? They are: Conception Vessel (Rènmài); Thrusting Vessel (Chōngmài); Yīn Heel Vessel (Yīnqiāomài); and Yīn Linking Vessel (Yīnwéimài). Conception, Governing, Thrusting, and Girdle Vessels exist singly, while Yáng Heel, Yáng Linking, Yīn Heel, and Yīn Linking Vessels exist as pairs.

再者,全身有無數之小氣道稱之為絡,由十二經分支旁行而 出,如氣之溝渠也,氣由此外達皮膚以為衛氣,內通骨髓以為 髓氣。除此,全身尚有八脈,四陰四陽也。脈者,湖澤、水壩 也。用以調節河川、溝渠之氣流也。脈中氣強而沛,調節功能 強。反之,則調節功能弱。四陽脈者,督脈、帶脈、陽蹺脈、 陽維脈也。四陰脈者,任脈、衝脈、陰蹺脈、陰維脈也。任、 督、衝、帶四脈存單,而陽蹺、陽維、陰蹺、陰維脈成雙也。..

In addition to the twelve primary Qì channels (i.e., rivers), there are countless small secondary Qì channels (i.e., streams) (Luò, 絡) branching out from the primary Qì channels. In order to maintain smooth and abundant Qì circulation in the primary and secondary channels, the body also has eight vessels that are considered Qì reservoirs and are used to regulate the Qì level in the channels.

The main function of the Conception Vessel is to regulate the Qì flow in the six Yīn primary Qì channels, while the main function of the Governing Vessel is to manage the Qì flow in the six Yáng primary Qì channels. Therefore, when the Qì storage in the Conception and Governing Vessels is abundant and the Qì circulation in these two vessels is smooth, the Qì circulation in the twelve primary Qì channels is strong. Consequently, the physical body can be conditioned from weak to strong.
Those who practice Small Circulation Qìgōng train to maintain the storage of Qì in these two vessels at an abundant level, and also to make the Qì circulation in these two vessels smooth. From this, (we) can see that Small Circulation Qìgōng is the most basic beginning step in training muscle/tendon changing Qìgōng.

任脈主調六陰經之氣,督脈主營六陽經之氣。因之,任督兩脈 存氣強、行順,則十二經之氣流強,物理身體由弱而強健。知 小周天氣功者,行功以沛氣壩,以順任督兩脈氣流之行。由此 可知,小周天者,易筋之最根本、最初步之基礎功法也。..

Of the eight vessels, the Conception and Governing Vessels (Rènmài, Dūmài; 任脈、督脈) are the most important. These two vessels regulate the Qì level of the twelve primary Qì channels. Since these twelve primary Qì channels transport the Qì everywhere in the physical body, when the Qì storage is abundant and the circulation is smooth, the physical body will be strong. In Nèidān Qìgōng practice, a practitioner will learn how to build up Qì and store it in these two vessels, and how to mentally lead the Qì to circulate smoothly in these two vessels. From this, you can see that Small Circulation (Xiǎozhōutiān, 小周天) actually is one of the foundations of Muscle/Tendon Changing Qìgōng.

The above is an excerpt from Taijiquan Theory of Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming, Second Edition, The Root of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, Publication Date April 2023, ISBN: 9781594399022.