View Full Version : question about the thirteen postures in Taiji

03-13-2001, 04:13 PM
I like to think my theoretical knowledge of TJQ is pretty good and that my understanding is reasonable but I'm really stuck on the thirteen postures

I understand the Eight Gates ok -

the sides : ward off, roll back, press, push
the corners : pull-down, split, elbow and shoulder strike

where I get lost is on the five steps - advance, retreat, look left and gaze right, and Central Equilibrium (stationary). I can never find any really solid information on the five steps - the eight gates are easy enough (although my understanding constantly changes, initially I thought they were individual postures :)) but I can't find what is important to concentrate on with the five steps - there must be some significance to differentiating between look left and gaze right for example.

And yes I understand that they eqate to the five elements but I'm still a bit lost.

Any thoughts from any style appreciated - maybe you have a different perspective...

"A 'superior' martial artist is one who is adept at applying/internalizing the entire philosophy of his system (doctrine, strategy, tactic)." - Scott Sonnon

03-13-2001, 05:57 PM

Good question. This happens to be something I've been working on with several of my students lately. The five 'strategic' directions are the root of all our biomechanical movements. If, for example, we look at the premise "movement is powered by the legs, directed by the waist, and manifested in the exremities/body/limbs" we can see where our power is initiated. Thus, if each movement is powered by the legs, how we shift weight and locomote are the keystones of that equation. By refining our awareness of micromovement in a basic weight shfit (ie: from a stance with most wieght on the rear leg to a stance with most weight forward) we heighten the awareness of our power distribution through structural alignment, decreasing the co-efficient of force needed by any one musclosketetal movement, resulting in movement efficiency, enabling "power development". We must be aware of this in all directions. Being bipedal, we stand upright, and is the case with most Chinese MAs, we with to remain standing (as opposed to purposefully engaging the ground). The five directions offer us a basis to explore our possible directions of locomotion perpendicular to the plane of the earth. Just as the "8 gates" are principles of movement & structure present and possible within each taiji "posture/application", these five directions also serve only as guidelines to explore and understand the potential of efficient motion & power development of the body for martial purposes.

Regards & Happy training,


PS: Nice to see you quoted my bro Scott Sonnon. Feel free to e-mail at: lepp@asia.com