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Selections from

Master Li Yaxuan’s Tai Chi Notebooks


Edited by Chen Longxiang
Translated from the Chinese by Matthew Miller

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

Master Li Yaxuan recorded these informal notes in his notebooks. After his death, his
daughter Li Mindi and his son-in-law and student, Chen Longxiang, collected and edited the
notes. They published them in their first book, Yang Shi Tai Ji Quan Fa Jing Jie (Essential
Explanations of Yang Style Tai Chi Method). Master Li’s notes are intended for both
beginning and advanced students of Tai Chi. The following is a selection of excerpts. For an
explanation of Chinese terms, please see the glossary at the end of the book.

1. On Practice

Before beginning, first quiet the brain. Let go of all distracting thoughts, relax the body and
mind, and release all tension. Only in this way can you recover that spontaneous and stable
calm which is humanity’s natural state prior to being disturbed by external things. This stable
calm is every person’s in-born source of inspiration. Once you are stable and calm, then you
can begin to practice the form. But while moving, you should still remain stable and
calm. You should not allow this calm stability of body and mind to dissipate just because
you have begun to move. This is important to keep in mind.

The human body is endowed with a natural tendency toward healthy function. The reason
not everyone is healthy is because not everyone exercises their body in order to cultivate this
innate health function. Furthermore, people have become troubled by external things. This
has destroyed their spontaneous health function. Thus, not everyone is healthy. If you want
to achieve health, you must first relax the body and mind. You must quiet the brain in order
to recover the spontaneous nature of the body and mind. After recovering this spontaneity,
you will naturally regain your innate health function. You should not just blindly exercise the
external form (the body). Similarly, you also should not merely cultivate the interior (the
mind) through meditating and nourishing the spirit in the fashion of Buddhist and Taoist
monks. You must give equal weight to movement and stillness. You must cultivate both the
exterior and the interior equally. Only then can you recover your innate health function.

When practicing Tai Chi, it is most important to relax your stance, to stabilize and calm the
mind, to cultivate the power of the brain, to awaken wisdom, to deepen and lengthen the
breathing, to allow the qi to sink to the dan tian. Every time you practice you must remember
these principles. In the course of time you will make the body healthy and heal
illness. During practice, if your movements are sloppy and undisciplined, your qi and mind
will float upward. Thus the body will not receive the profound benefits of Taiji. In
practicing Tai Chi, allowing the qi to sink to the dan tian is very important. But how does
one go about allowing the qi to sink to the dan tian? First one must relax the mind, and then
relax the body. After both the mind and body are relaxed, the mind and qi can spontaneously
sink down to the dan tian. One must not use rigid force to push the qi down to the dan
tian. If one uses rigid force to push the qi down, this will make the entire body
uncomfortable and may even cause illness. This is a very important point that all students
must bear in mind. In addition, you should also pay attention to daily cultivation and mastery
of your spirit as a supplement to your gongfu practice.

When practicing, first relax the entire body, especially the arms. The arms should be like two
ropes fastened to the shoulders, without the slightest bit of tension or strain. Before
beginning, you should wait for a few moments until the body and mind are stable and
calm. Only then should you begin to move. When beginning to move, use a tiny bit of
intention to gently raise the arms. The leverage force of the lower back initiates the
movement, pulling the arms and setting them in motion. Steadily and calmly begin to move,
and throughout the entire form, the four limbs should never move of their own accord
(without the force of the lower back leading and bringing them in tow). Whenever I see
someone practicing Tai Chi without understanding this point, his or her entire body is
awkward, uncoordinated and “floating.” The different parts of their body move
independently in a fragmentary, disorganized fashion, without being rooted in the lower
back. They consider this to be Tai Chi, but this is a grave error. Practicing in this manner,
even after a long time, they will not be able to achieve the flavor (wei) of Tai Chi. This is
regrettable.

When practicing Tai Chi, one must carefully and attentively learn through experience,
seeking to grasp the essential points of the form. After grasping the essential points, practice
constantly and, in less than a few a months, both arms will feel relaxed and heavy, and both
shoulders will ache slightly. This is natural. Afterwards, quan yi will reach the arms. If one
has a competent teacher to give guidance, then one can gradually, bit by bit begin to realize
the principles of Tai Chi. The ling jue feeling of flexibility and agility in one’s body will also
gradually grow stronger. This will not only have an obvious effect in terms of exercising the
body, but also, in terms of fighting application, one’s movements will be skillful. This all
comes from practicing on the foundation of relaxation and softness. One’s practice should
not be undisciplined and superficial.

When first beginning to study Tai Chi, it is difficult to experience the “flavor” of Tai
Chi. But if one is patient and persevering, carefully learning through practice, then after a
period of time one will feel great delight. Then one can practice a hundred times without
growing weary. The more one studies, the richer the flavor becomes. The more one
experiences it, the more interesting it becomes, even to the point where it becomes an
addiction, something one keeps for a lifetime. Thus one will attain life-long health without
consciously striving for it.

In order to improve your form, you must ceaselessly reflect on its principles. Every time you
practice, you must ask yourself: How do I attain xuling qishi? How do I attain a state of
relaxation, softness, sinking-down and stability? How do I attain a continuous, unbroken
flavor? How do I use mind instead of force? How do I consistently maintain a centered and
upright stance? How can my whole body become light and agile with my head as if
suspended from above? How can I achieve jin that penetrates deeply? How can I express
relaxed and calm jin? How can I send out my yi? How do I use nerve movement? How do I
arrive undetected, retreat unperceived, attack without my opponent’s awareness? If you
practice in this manner, you will make much progress.

You must continually ask yourself: when moving, how should I be thinking? What should
my posture be? How can I have shenqi? How can I take action such that "nothing is done
yet nothing is left undone [see wuwei in glossary]," thus achieving a qishi which embraces
the 10,000 things? This is very crucial. If I act in order to achieve some goal, then there will
be a fixed opinion in my mind beforehand. In this way, I’m in danger of “being attentive to
this while forgetting that,” “getting hung up on one thing while neglecting 10,000.” Thus I
can easily be seduced by the showy forceof exterior gongfu, relying on the various tricks and
stratagems of the “hard” martial arts. It is necessary to understand this.

When practicing, you must be steady, calm, peaceful and at ease. The spirit must be
composed and self-possessed. Listen and look inwardly in order to establish the union of
body and mind. This is the proper attitude for practicing Tai Chi. If it is otherwise, although
one outwardly appears to be practicing Tai Chi, in truth of fact, one is not.

The art of Tai Chi is none other than movement and stillness, opening and closing. But
everything must be done on a foundation of steady calm; there should be no agitation,
excitement, rashness or recklessness. Although one is still, there is movement hidden in
stillness. Although one is moving, there is stillness preserved in movement. Movement and
stillness: the two are rooted in each other. This is the principle of Tai Chi.

In terms of exercising the body, everything depends on long, deep breathing. The qi and
blood circulate smoothly and without obstruction, the brain is peaceful and carefree, the mind
and spirit are steady and calm. In terms of fighting application, everything depends on a qishi
of emptiness: sticking and following. When I follow and stick to my opponent, I’ve already
entered into his or her body. All opportunities are spontaneously delivered into my
hands. Then, the moment my spirit and qi make a move, I have already struck like an electric
shock.

When practicing Tai Chi, you must move with your spirit, change position with your qi, lead
with your lower back, attack with your yi. Interior and exterior unified, mind and body
integrated, shen qi permeating and linking together the whole body, the upper and lower body
coordinated. In the course of time, you will cultivate an exceptional ling jue. Using this ling
jue in push hands, you will sense the jin of your opponent. Already knowing the jin of your
opponent, there will be no possibility of error. Flowing with his jin, following its direction,
attending and sticking, you will spontaneously discover the weak points in his body. Seizing
the opportunity to attack, you will never miss.

Train the body in order to secure the jing, train the jing in order to transform it into qi, train
the qi in order to transform it into spirit, train the spirit in order to return to emptiness. These
are the four stages of Tai Chi gongfu. The student should scrupulously comprehend these
stages through personal experience. Only in this way can one train to a level of excellence.

Spontaneous inspiration (lingji) is our body’s most precious treasure. We rely upon this in
dealing with all matters and circumstances, not just in practicing Taiji or push hands. But
spontaneous inspiration comes from the neurons of the brain, so Tai Chi gongfu first and
foremost must be practiced on a foundation of stable calm, in order to nourish the central
nervous system. True stability and calm spontaneously arise after the heart and spirit are
quiet and collected; this is not the forced, superficial calm that comes from simply restraining
one’s movements. If one is merely forcing the body not to move, then one will appear stable
and calm on the surface, but one's heart one will not be calm. In this case, one is not truly
calm -- not at all. This false calm cannot nourish the central nervous system, and cannot
produce a special ling gan (inspiration). This concept is important to understand.

When practicing Tai Chi, during the preparatory stance (yubei shi), you must steady and quiet
the heart and body. Only after you are truly calm and stable should you begin to move. You
must especially take care that while moving you continue to maintain this steady calm. You
should not allow this calm, stable attitude to dissipate. This is the most important
point. Always keep it in mind.

When moving, use the mind to move qi, use qi to move the body, use the spine of the lower
back to lead your movements and bring the four limbs in tow. Continuous, soft, relaxed and
sinking-down, like drifting clouds and flowing water, like the reeling of raw silk from a
cocoon. Constant and unceasing, like the incessant surging of a great river.

As for breathing, it must be long and deep. Allow your breath to follow the rhythm of your
unhurried movements. Allow your unhurried movements to open and close with the rhythm
of your breath. The breathing must be natural and unforced; this is correct practice. If one is
stable, calm, peaceful and easeful, then one can cultivate the spirit. With long, deep
breathing one can nourish the qi. In the course of time, the spirit and qi will naturally grow
strong and substantial, and the health of the body will also improve. In Tai Chi, “softness”
refers to all parts of the body being evenly balanced, integrated, harmonized and
coordinated. This softness is necessary in all aspects of Tai Chi, both for health and fighting
application. Tai Chi is not about being able to raise the legs exceptionally high, or bend the
waist to a great degree. This type of excessive flexibility lacks linggan and is inappropriate
to the body’s natural physiology. These unnatural movements are merely nice to look at, but
in terms of fighting application are worthless.

In Tai Chi, to have a few soft movements is not enough. Within these movements, one must
achieve a balanced, calm and steady mental state, and a majestic, dignified qishi
(posture). One must practice for a long time and, after building a solid foundation, receive
the direct guidance of a teacher. Through your teacher’s analogies, demonstrations,
descriptions and example, one can slowly come to realize this qishi. It is not something that
can be conveyed in a couple words or described with pen and ink. This type of impressive,
awe-inspiring qishi and calm mental state arises from deep within the body and spirit; it is not
something simply put on for show. Only someone who has received the teachings of a true
Tai Chi master and who has achieved a certain level of gongfu themselves can distinguish
this qishi. Superficial, undisciplined practitioners of Tai Chi cannot recognize it. If they did
see it, they might even think it was incorrect and criticize it, saying that it was too slow, or
that the stance was too wide, or that it was superstitious or deliberately mystifying. Anyone
who has not researched a branch of knowledge may make incorrect comments.

Practicing hard jin (strength) is inferior to practicing gentle jin. Practicing gentle jin is
inferior to practicing relaxed softness. Practicing relaxed softness is inferior to practicing
gentle ling (spirit). Practicing gentle ling is inferior to practicing emptiness. The qishi of
emptiness is the highest level of Tai Chi gongfu. The principal way of practicing it is to use
the mind to move the qi, and use the qi to move the body, thus yi permeates the fingers. After
days and months of practice, jin will spontaneously move through the body unimpeded. Yi
will be able to reach the hands. The four limbs are the outer branches: they must move
freely. The kua is like the chassis of a car: it must be centered and upright. One's mind sends
a command to the spine of the lower back; in turn, the spine of the lower back initiates
movement and brings the four limbs in tow. The spirit and qi must be coordinated, the upper
body and lower body must follow each other to form a single qi, otherwise it is not Tai Chi
gongfu.

A relaxed, soft, sinking, stable posture, like a ship with a weighty load, heavily and steadily
rolling on a river: heavy, yet at the same time, soft and flexible.

Every movement is governed by the yi and brought in tow by the qi, no matter if one is
extending or flexing, opening or closing, collecting or releasing, advancing or retreating,
absorbing or sending out, containing or dispersing -- all are initiated by the traction of yi and
qi. All are lead by the spine of the lower back. This is the difference between Tai Chi and
other martial arts. For example, when executing an opening (as opposed to closing)
movement, it is not only the four limbs which open, but rather the mind, yi, chest and spine
must open first. When executing a closing movement, it is not only the four limbs which
close, but rather the mind, yi, chest and spine must close first. All movements must begin
inside and express outward, thus it is called neigong (inner skill).

Achieving coordination of the upper and lower body is the first step in training. Achieving
light ling and continuous softness, this is the middle stage of training. Achieving emptiness,
this is the last stage of study. Light ling is still material, but emptiness is immaterial, thus
there is nothing which does not obey one’s mind’s desire. One can reach a state of great
profundity and excellence.

In the fighting application of Tai Chi, the seemingly miraculous changes and effects of empty
qishi are limitless. If one meets with a hard, forceful attack, one can cause the attacker to
chase winds and grasp at shadows. If one meets with a soft attack, one can transform it into
insubstantiality, cause the attacker to be unable to get a foothold and unable to touch one's
center of gravity.

During the Qing Dynasty, under the reign of the emperor Xian Feng (1851 – 1861), some
people referred to Tai Chi as Spirit Fist. I believe that this name is appropriate. The word
"spirit" (shen) in "Spirit Fist" does not refer to gods and spirits (shen guai) but rather to
nerves (shen jing, literally “spirit channels.”) The name “Spirit Fist” is appropriate because,
first of all, in practicing gongfu one uses yi, spirit and qi rather than using force. Secondly,
when faced with an opponent, one’s movements do not exclusively or primarily depend on
the extension and contraction of muscles, but rather on subtle movement within these “spirit
channels.” One’s changes and applications are artful and marvelous, and contain an
immeasurable element. Hence, this gongfu was called Spirit Fist.

Every time you practice Tai Chi, you must carefully and meticulously experience the refined,
subtle mystery within the gongfu. This refined, subtle mystery is within the inner heart of
thought, not the outer gestures. Thus, in practicing Tai Chi, it is not enough to rely on
repetitive exercise; you must use the power of spontaneous realization (wu). To use the
power of realization, you must be slow and unhurried, stable and calm. If you are not slow,
unhurried, stable and calm, realization will not come. If realization does not come, you will
not be able to discover the flavor of Tai Chi. Students must pay particular attention to this.

When Master Yang Chengfu sent out jin during push hands, the opponent needed only to
glance at the Master’s eyes and his heart would be filled with fright. Within an instant, there
was a feeling that this was a matter of life and death. This comes from the unity of body and
spirit: to be able, within a moment’s breadth, to concentrate the force of the entire body and
send it out. To be able to suddenly attack, in the interval before a thunderclap can arrive at
the ear, not giving someone time to resist, rendering them unable to resist. By always
practicing gongfu with stability, calmness, and unhurried slowness, by ceaselessly collecting
and storing jing, qi and spirit, this miraculous coordination of all parts, both inner and outer,
can work wonders.

If you practice Tai Chi quickly, not only will you be unable to collect the spirit and nourish
the qi, but it will also be difficult to coordinate all parts of the body, both inner and
outer. Hence the jin you send out will not be strong and substantial and your qishi will not be
startling.

The entire body relaxed and open, the upper and lower integrated: these are necessary
conditions of Tai Chi. In my experience, I have found that only if the entire body is relaxed
and open can the qi spontaneously descend. Then, after a period of practice, inner jin will be
spontaneously produced, and the legs will become heavy and stable. This inner jin will not
be spontaneously produced if the movements are not integrated; or if they are integrated but
not relaxed; or if only the shoulders are relaxed but not the lower back, abdomen, kua and
upper back; or if the elbow, wrist and fingers are not relaxed; or if, after practicing, the palms
do not feel swollen and distended. All of this is because one has not received instruction
from a genuine teacher. If not, inner jin will never be produced, and the longer one practices,
the further one will stray from Tai Chi.

Tai Chi gongfu has a philosophy behind it that merits intensive study. Some people who
practice martial arts do not know how to carefully and intensively research gongfu, so they
are unable to make great strides in terms of quality. They just invent a few tricks, work a few
stratagems, and strive for an outwardly attractive form. Their entire body sways and waves,
making much ado about nothing. Cocky and proud as peacocks, they imagine that the
gentleness, softness and "effortlessness" spoken of in Tai Chi are none other than this showy
display. The fact is, they do not know that Tai Chi has a philosophy and that one must
receive the teaching of a master in order to understand it. After practicing incorrectly for
years, their push hands is a jumble of confused resisting and indiscriminate striking, blind
turns and unspontaneous mechanical movements, without any flavor at all. No wonder they
say that Tai Chi must be studied for ten years before the student can "leave the gate" (of the
teacher's house).

Consider Master Yang Luchan, who, when he was teaching Tai Chi in Beijing, was called
"Yang Without (Worthy) Adversaries." Or Master Yang Banhou who sparred with a famous
martial artist Mr. Liu. These examples all demonstrate that Tai Chi can be excellently
applied in combat, and that one must indeed study ten years before "leaving the gate." Why
is it said "One must study Tai Chi for ten years before leaving the gate"? Because there are
many who have not received the guidance of a true Tai Chi teacher, yet who have a
foundation in other forms of martial arts. They think that they can leaf through this book and
add Tai Chi to their repertoire. This is presumptuous and arrogant, "making a cart behind
closed doors" (shutting oneself from the outside world and acting blindly), and difficult to
accomplish successfully. The fault does not lie with Tai Chi itself, but rather with the student
who fails to choose a teacher carefully.

When practicing Tai Chi, the spirit qi is collected inward and stored in the bones. The spirit
qi of xuling spreads out and fills the whole body. It is light when lightness is needed, heavy
when heaviness is needed. When light, it is as if there was nothing there. When heavy, it is
as grounded and settled as Mount Tai. This is known as the miraculous application of
xuling. But xuling must begin from a solid place; lightness and swiftness must start with
stability and sinking down. Through long hours of practice, one can begin to acquire true
lightness, swiftness and xuling. If a beginner tries to explain "lightness and swiftness," the
result will inevitably be utter confusion. If a novice tries to speak of xuling, the result will
inevitably be shallow and useless. Therefore, "one must study Tai Chi for ten years before
leaving the gate." Moreover, even if one were to study for ten years, but fail to receive the
teachings of a true master, one could spend an entire lifetime without leaving the gate.

Tai Chi is the gongfu of "not doing but leaving nothing undone (wu wei wu bu wei)." In
attacking, it is incomparably empty and miraculous. It encompasses ten thousand
manifestations (every possible variation). No matter how the opponent comes at me, I have
this xuling qi. I can freely adapt to changing circumstances. There is no moment when I am
not exactly in the right place. You should not concentrate on learning individual tricks and
moves, or else you will invariably "pay attention to one thing while neglecting 10,000." If
you attain the one, the ten thousand will follow. If you want to use individual tricks and
moves, even if you have a thousand or even ten thousand such moves, you will always be
limited. Thus a wise person does not seek them.

Spirit intention held within in order to store calm and nourish the mind and body. The way of
jin begins with collecting and storing. In everything you do, you must not forget to remain
relaxed and calm. Only then can inspiration and wisdom grow.

Always keep in mind that "unsheathed swords and drawn bows" and “gnashing teeth and
glaring eyes” are states of tension. Do not mistakenly think that if one is not tense during
martial arts practice one will not be effective when a (combat) situation arises. Do you not
know that practicing Tai Chi should be the art of storing spirit and nourishing qi, to the point
where spirit and qi are full and substantial and spontaneously effective when a situation
arises? If one practices with "sword unsheathed and bow drawn," making an outward display
of one's spirit qi, the spirit qi will be expended. How can it then one day be full and
substantial? In application, how can one's movements achieve surprise?
Above, there is the spirit of xuling. In the middle, there is the jin of the lower spine. Below,
there is the qi of the dantian. These three are united. The interior and exterior are
integrated. Hence one's every move is appropriate. Nevertheless, all of this must be sought
in spontaneity. Nothing should be sought partially, in isolation. If you focus on sinking the
qi, then the qi will stagnate. If you focus on lifting the spirit, then the spirit will become
awkward. This is not the great way and art of spontaneous nature.

Xu ling ding jin means that after the posture is centered and upright, stable and comfortable,
the qi of xuling naturally rises upward. It does not mean pushing the crown of the head
upward with rigid force. If one pushes upward with rigid force, then one will be erect and
stiff without xuling, which is the greatest taboo in Tai Chi.

A practitioner of Tai Chi gongfu on the one hand practices under the guidance of his teacher,
and on the other hand goes to the writings of the three great Tai Chi teachers and Master
Wang Zongyue for inspiration. In practicing, one should not dabble in the theories of
external martial arts; otherwise one will be led astray. Tai Chi cannot be practiced
simultaneously with external martial arts. If so, then one will make vain efforts. Tai Chi is a
relaxed, supple jin, emitted without a sound. Although the one who is struck has no outward
bruise or wound, the jin has already penetrated the interior of the body. As for the tense, hard
jin (of external martial arts), it creates a slight sound when emitted. Although the one who is
struck has an outward bruise or wound, the interior of the body has not been penetrated.

There are those who claim that Tai Chi cannot be applied in combat if it is not mixed with
other martial arts. It is clear that such persons have not received the teachings of Tai Chi and
do not understand the principle of Taiji.

In the practice of Tai Chi, the most important skillis clearing and settling the mind. But the
art of clearing and settling must begin with quietness. Only after achieving absolute quiet can
the muddy waters of the mind settle and become clear. Once the mind is settled, only then
can liang zhi (intuitive knowledge) arise. Following intuitive knowledge, one can become
aware. This and only this awareness is accurate awareness.
The reason for clearing and settling the mind is so that one may recover a state of a mind
without thought, a state of body without action, a mind and body of wuwei. After wuwei,
one's heart nature becomes bright; after one's heart nature becomes bright, perception arises
naturally and spontaneously. This is what the Confucians referred to as liang zhi (intuitive,
innate knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil). Liang zhi is discovered only after
achieving absolute quiet; it is not found in the ceaseless chatter of thoughts and ideas. A
mind rigid with thoughts is like a wall without a door: to go in or out one must break one's
way through. It is also like a ground overgrown with brambles: there is no path to walk and
one must beat one's way through. Training in this way, it is inevitable that the more one
practices the further one strays from Tai Chi. The student must know this.
Nourishing emptiness and cultivating wisdom, ones realize the dao of Tai Chi. Using this
dao for self-defense, one can protect oneself against insults and attacks. Using this dao in
managing one's affairs, one can clearly distinguish right and wrong. Using this dao to
nourish the body, one can live a long life.
Gongfu is none other than the training of three things: spirit, qi and body. Of these, training
the spirit is the most important. Training the qi comes second, and training the body is only
the first step. What is spirit? The entire body has a qishi of xuling, one's movements are
unfathomable, one's changes are light and swift. Spirit does not involve gnashing teeth and
glaring eyes. What is qi? The breathing is deep and steady. Qi does not consist in blue veins
and sinews popping out, forced breathing. What is action? Stable, quiet, calm and easy, the
movements are light and swift. Action does not consist in striking dowels (hitting sand bags,
beating over the whole body, nor is it hitting the arms against each other, pinching the
fingers, pounding the belly and other techniques for numbing the nerves.
Training the spirit is not separate from training the qi and training the body, nevertheless such
training primarily focuses on the spirit. Training the qi also involves spirit and body, but the
spiritual emphasis is less. Training the body also involves qi and spirit, but it knows nothing
of the magical effects of the spirit.

Five errors to be avoided in the practice of Tai Chi

1) Careless selection of a teacher. Straying onto erroneous paths. Allowing mistakes to


become habits such that, even if one day one comes upon the true tradition, it is difficult to
correct one's errors.

2) Not having firm faith in one's teacher. Not practicing what the teacher instructs. Trying
to be clever and having scattered thinking. Following different trains of thought to the point
where one's mind is chaotic and hidden problems emerge in great numbers, sometimes
concealed, sometimes obvious. This problem is the most difficult to correct.

3) Having bad personal habits such as smoking, gambling, and sexual


overindulgence. Thus, the body's three treasures of jing, qi, shen are dissipated, the body
becomes burned out, and the mind is befuddled and unable to awaken to the beauty of the
dao.
4) Having previously practiced the hard forms of external martial arts, such as holding the
breath and exerting force, gnashing the teeth and glaring with the eyes, inflating the abdomen
like a bellows, striking all over one's body. In this way, the body's most precious nervous
system is beaten to death so that one is numb, without a trace of inspiration and unable to
practice Tai Chi gongfu
.
5) Without having entered deeply into the art, one leaves one's teacher too early, trying to
impress others with one's skill, and ending up being seduced by external forms of martial arts,
thus going astray and being unable to rectify one's way.
Through any of the above errors, one will be unable to realize the true path.