13 Principles Sonnet Explanation by Wu YuXiang*

Translated by Chao-Sun Pang

In each move, the hand initiates firmly and immediately becomes open and spacious. The opening needs to be continuous, but not beyond the scope of initiate, engaged, transform and converge.

If one starts with intention, then Jin (internal power) arrives. This transference needs to be uninterrupted. Qi needs to be vibrant, with Spirit internalized.

Let there be no deficiency, neither lopsided nor intermittent. Rooted at the feet, expressed in the leg, directed by the waist and formed in the finger; from feet to leg to waist, without interruption.

Advancing or retreating depend on opportunity and timing. If the opportunity and the timing are not right, the body is scattered and off-center. The problem can be found in the waist or the legs, or both. Up, down, front, back, left or right, the correction is the same.

Everything is intention; nothing is external. If there is up, there is down; if there is front there is back; if there is left there is right. If the intention wants to rise, there must also be downward intention. If one needs to pry something up, there first needs to be a downward force. It is inevitable that the root will quickly sever itself.

Insubstantial and substantial need to be clearly distinguished. Every place has its own insubstantiality and substantiality. Insubstantial and substantial exist everywhere. Energy permeates and penetrates all segments of the body. Do not let it be interrupted.

*This is one of Wu’s written explanations of the 13 Principles Practice Sonnet by Wang ZongYue. He wrote a total of four different explanations, this being the most famous one. The first two stanzas have often been modified and mistakenly attributed to Zhang SanFeng (張三豐), a Taoist who lived in the 13th century. Wang ZongYue was more of a mystical figure that some claim is a student of Zhang SanFeng in the 13th century or lived in the 15th Century. Some historian even claim that Wang is actually a pen name of Wu.