Movement, action, knowing, and feeling in Yang Banhou’s taijiquan manual.

Yun, dong, zhi, jue, lai xiang ying.
Movement, action, knowledge, and feeling arise in compliance with each other.

This is my first post about taijiquan on this blog and in this post I wish to discuss this important principle from the taijiquan training manual “Explaining taijiquan,” by Yang Banhou.

First, there are four central qualities disucssed here, those being 運yun: to move 動dong: to act, to move 知zhi: knowledge, to know, 覺jue: to feel, to envision.
Note that two qualities invoke the body and two invoke the mind. 運動 yun and dong in modern Chinese refers to sportive activities, but in classical Chinese, these two should be clearly made into two ideas. The first 運 yun, should be inferred as movement itself, like a boat riding on the waves, or a rock rolling down a hill. 動 dong in this case refers to the action of moving, so I interpret this to mean that there are two parts of movement, one passive and natural and the other active and inititated. 知zhi, refers to knowledge while 覺jue, refers to feeling, or becoming aware of something. Together they make up the latent knowledge of something and the process by which is able to be acted on.
Wang Yangming, the confucian sage said that knowledge without an according action is not real knowledge. That is to say, after something is genuinely known and understood, it will have been acted upon properly.
Together 運動知覺 yun, dong, zhi and jue all make up movement and they all must be used together in order to achieve the correct function of the movement. In the case of taijiquan players, that might be to execute a movement which recruits the full capacity of body, mind, spirit, and action, or to know when is the appropriate time to move in sync with an opponent in push hands combat.
來lai means to come or to arrive 相xiang means to reflect 應 ying means to echo or comply with. Taken together, it means that those four qualities of movement, action, knowing and feeling should all be present in each other at the same time. A simpler way to understand this is that the body and mind must be in harmony during movement. The body both has an internal impetus to move and an external manifestation, a deep knowing of the body and the impetus to manifest movement from the feeling that emerges when the mind commands the body to move.

On a deeper level, this phrase is a practical application of the concept of the middle harmony (中和), in which the centre of creation is empty, but all things which emerge from it also never leave the harmony of the empty centre. You might want to take some time to ponder this.

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