Master Fu Yuan Ni's 12 Principles or Stages

In response to a query about fundamental principles Master Ni gave 4 ‘lectures’ between August 28 and September 17, 1990. He broke his 12 principles into Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced and separated his lectures accordingly. So they could be called 12 stages. This was the last he mentioned it.


Beginning Intermediate Advanced
1. Light 5. Relaxation 9. Substantial & Insubstantial
2. Slow 6. Flexibility 10. Breathing
3. Constant Speed 7. Integration 11. Consciousness
4. Circles 8. Continuous 12. Non-action, Wu-wei


Four Beginning Principles

1. Light vs. Hard: Be as light as a feather without losing control. The footsteps are so light that there is no sound when doing the movements - like cat's paws. Along with light comes soft, yielding, yin.


2. Slow vs. Fast: Move slowly in order to be careful and gain control of the movements; soft, slow, and deliberate.


3. Constant Speed: Don't speed up or slow down. Maintain a continuous even speed.


4. Circles (Round the Ball): All movements are based on circles. The beginner should be aware of this at all times and should curve and arch his movements, accordingly. The arms are never straight but always slightly curved in order to round and hold the ball. Later on the circles, by means of the waist, revolve the internal organs also. Hands revolve following the waist revolving around the body. The Moon revolves around the Earth which circles around itself and revolves about the Sun. In such a way should the material reflect the spiritual.


Four Intermediate Principles

5. Relaxation: No tension anywhere. This state is hard to reach for the beginner because he is in the inherently tense state of learning the movements. So once the movements are learned concentrate on relaxing. Be like the willow tree ready to bend under the wind.

6. Agility (Flexibility): By varying the weight from substantial to insubstantial one achieves a flexibility to move in any direction easily and instantly.

       Further on flexibility: The idea of flexibility is mutually exclusive with the idea of going real low for although going really low exhibits flexibility it doesn't allow for flexibility, because so much energy is invested in the deep movements, that moving from substantial to insubstantial is clumsy and awkward, at best. So at all times be aware of the ability to shift from one position to the next. Flexibility of movement is more important than flexible joints although the one follows the other.


7. Unitability (Integration): Everything connects here. The eyes follow the finger tips, which follows the nose tip, which follows the toe tips. All these movements are linked to the waist. Thus internal and external are linked and everything is united.

       However along with the uniting of inner & outer comes the idea of sincerity, a very big idea. Without sincerity, meditation is disturbed. If the inner is disturbed then the outer is likewise distracted.

       So in an unusual way distraction and sincerity are opposites. For sincerity leads to peace because there are no rough edges from tricky thoughts. The luminous egg is smooth; there is no guilt or guile to catch up the revolving chi in concentric circles of a shallow vortex. Guilt disturbs the thoughts which disturbs the peace. Avoid guilt by right action, by sincerity in actions as well as in your daily life. This is where the integration of daily life and Tai Chi comes in. A guileless life leaves no residue and therefore does not disturb the movements through distractions.


8. Unceasing (Continuous): no interrupt, no breaks, continuous motion, unceasing. Slow and steady wins the race never losing any ground. The analogy used is unceasing like the Great River, always pressing never yielding or giving up.


Four Advanced Principles

9. Substantial vs. Insubstantial: The weight distribution is critical and intentional – always circling so as to not be thrown off balance.


10. Breathing: The breathing should determine the movements and not vice versa. This is difficult in a group because everyone breathes at a different pace. Breathe in as one pulls up: breathe out as one pushes out.


11. Consciousness (vs. Oblivion): Awareness of vision, breath, and continuous movement. This is the opposite of the next principle which is unconscious Being.


12. Wu-wei (Non-action in the midst of action): Movements mastered there is no more awareness of technique – no thoughts to interrupt action or breath – just the effortless, unadulterated flow of movement - natural, spontaneous, light, and empty. Attaining the Tao, one becomes like water flowing downstream.