13 Principles Sonnet Explanation by Wu YuXiang*

打手要言武禹襄
Translated by Chao-Sun Pang

每一動,惟手先著力,隨即鬆開。猶須貫串,不外起承轉合。
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.

始而意動,既而勁動,轉接要一線串成。氣宜鼓蕩,神宜內斂。
If one starts with intention, then Jin (internal power) arrives. This transference needs to be uninterrupted. Qi needs to be vibrant, with Spirit internalized.

無使有缺陷處,無使有凹凸處,無使有斷續處。其根在腳,發於腿,主宰於腰,形於手指。由腳而腿而腰,總須完整一氣。
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.

向前退後,乃得機得勢,有不得機勢處,身便散亂,必至偏倚,其病必於腰腿求之,上下前後左右皆然。
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.

凡此皆是意,不是外面,有上即有下,有前即有後,有左即有右,如意要向上,即寓下意,若物將掀起,而加以挫之之力,斯其根自斷,乃壞之速而無疑。
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.

虛實宜分清楚,一處自有一處虛實,處處總此一虛實;周身節節貫串,勿令絲毫間斷。
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.


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*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.