太極是甚麼 What is Taiji



我們練太極拳首先要知道太極是甚麼,因為太極拳就是根據太極的哲理而創造的。知拳而不知其道理只會學得一個空殼,很難攀上高水平。太極的道理一直給人一種神秘的感覺,差不多每個中國人都認識太極圖,但知道其中含意只佔很少比例。王宗岳用了十多個字便把太極說完了,他說:“太極者,無極而生,動靜之機,陰陽之母,動之則分,靜之則合。” 在王宗岳的年代,每個讀過一點書的人都會接觸到太極,陰陽的道理,就如現代MP3、Karaoke這些事物,也不用多費言語去解釋了。但這十多個字對現代人來說,是很艱深的學問。在這裡,我用一些現代詞語把太極說說,希望使讀者明白太極與拳的關係。

To practice Taijiquan we must first understand what Taiji is, because Taijiquan was created according to the philosophies and principles of Taiji. Knowing the martial skill (quan) yet being ignorant about its meaning, one will end up with only an empty shell and find it very difficult to reach a high level. For the longest time, people have found the principles of Taiji to be mysterious. Just about all Chinese recognize the Taiji symbol, but merely a small fraction actually understand its underlying meaning. Wang Zhongyue used only a dozen or so Chinese characters to describe Taiji. He stated, “Taiji, it comes from Wuji. It is the impulse behind movement and quietude, and is the mother of yin-yang. In movement it divides and in stillness it conjoins.” During Wang’s time period, every literate person would have been exposed to Taiji and yin-yang theories. It is almost like talking about MP3 and Karaoke nowadays; there is no need for further wordy explanation. However, for modern people, these dozen or so characters are indeed difficult and profound. Here, I will discuss Taiji using current terms and hope that readers will understand the connection between Taiji and “quan.”


無極”之境界誰也沒見過,是祖宗們用逆反推理推出來的。近年,西方哲學方面有人提出“混沌”學說,內容也是按此方向伸延。我的理解,無極是世界剛剛形成之初的狀態,存在的物質還是一團緊聚的氣體,就像陽光蒸發地上的一灘水一樣。如把蒸發的水氣用玻璃罩罩著,我們會看見水氣在罩內翻騰,滾動。這是立體的動,其中有高有低、有左右、橫豎的對蕩流動。無極就是提供玻璃罩與水,這已提供了足夠動能的原素,所以是太極之母。太極是提供玻璃罩罩著水的環境,陽光的熱量便是因緣巧合,而致產生能量的立體流動。太極因此提供了動與靜的契機,當受到外來的干擾,如陽光的熱量,太極內部的環境便會動起來,這種滾動的情況是立體的動,有上升,有下降,有左走,有右走,其中的動都是相因互果,既對立但又連在一起,這便是陰陽,也是其特性。這種情況很難有全面的詞彙可以形容其中的動態,用點、線、面、體或八門勁等詞彙都不全面,最好的辦法是自己看看這自然現象才會心領神會。既是自然,當然是自然而然、這便是道。

No one has ever witnessed the realm of “Wuji.” It is something that was inferred/deduced by our ancestors. Recently, the theory of chaotic has appeared in western philosophy which attempts to explore this phenomenon. According to my understanding, “Wuji” is the state which existed at the very beginning of the creation of the universe when all matter was still at a highly condensed gaseous state. It is similar to vapor produced when a puddle of water is evaporated by the sun’s ray. If one puts a glass jar over it, one can see the steam roiling inside the jar. This is movement in three dimensions, which contains the counter motions of high/low, left/right, and vertical/horizontal. Wuji is like the combination of the glass jar and water; it contains all the necessary elements for movement, so it is the “mother of taiji.” The Taiji state is the condition generated inside the glass jar. With the heat from the sun being the chance presence, a three-dimensional movement of energy is produced. Taiji therefore provides the driving force or impulse for movement and stillness. In the presence of external interference, e.g., the sun’s heat, movements will take place inside taiji’s internal environment. This churning motion is three-dimensional in nature and contains the action of raising, sinking, moving left, and moving right. These movements are the cause and effect of each other - they oppose each other yet they are connected. This is the so-called “yin-yang,” and is also its property. This condition cannot be fully described in common terms. Words such as point, line, plane, three-dimension, eight-gate jin, are all hardly adequate. The best way to fully comprehend this is to witness the natural phenomenon first hand. Since this is related to “Nature,” it must therefore be natural. This is the “Dao.”


太極分兩儀,可以說太極就是由陰陽兩儀所組成。在太極圖中的陰陽兩儀,我們稱之為陰陽魚,因為黑色的陰儀中有一點白,而白色的陽儀有一點黑,就如魚的眼睛。其實這裡的含意是陰中有陽,陽中有陰,兩者絕對不能分離。在太極圖的圓圈內,陰可以擴大佔據圓圈的百份之九十九,但絕不能將陽迫出圈外。當陰不能再進時其力即盡,也就是陽擴大的開始。所以陰陽學說中便有陰極陽生,陽極陰生之說。在自然現象中黑夜與黎明的轉換就是個好的例子。陰陽既然有別,其中便有分界,這條界就是“中”,而這個中是可以隨陰陽的大小而改變的。一個太極是由陰、陽、中組合而成的,我們稱之為「含三為一」。

Taiji is divided into two poles (nianyi), which is to say that it consists of the two opposites of yin and yang. In the context of the taiji symbol, nianyi is referred to as the “yin-yang fish” because there is a white dot within the black yin pole, and a black dot within the white yang pole, much like the eye of a fish. In fact, the real meaning is that there is yang within yin and vice versa, and the two cannot be separated. Within the circle of the taiji symbol, yin can expand to occupy 99% of the area but can never completely displace yang outside. When yin cannot advance any more, its energy is spent, and then it is the beginning from which yang expands. So in the philosophy of yin-yang, there is the idea of yang arising from the extreme of yin, and yin arising from the extreme of yang. In nature, the transition from night to dawn is a good example. Since yin and yang are different, there must be a boundary between the two; it is called the “center.” This center can change according the relative magnitude of yin and yang. So, taiji is constructed from yin, yang, and the center. We call this “three elements within one (han san wei yi).”


練太極拳首先要將自己身體分陰陽,初步的分辨是頭是陽、腳是陰,胸是陰、背是陽,左為陽、右為陰,雙手抱圓時外是陽,內是陰。練拳時要左右、上下、前後相對相隨。舉個例子說:左面縮小,右面便放大;胸往內收,背便放大,這跟玻璃罩內氣體流動情況是完全一樣的。太極拳的身法如虛領頂勁、氣沉丹田、涵胸拔背、鬆胯擴膝等便是按此道理而制定的。這是最基本的太極道理應用在太極拳上。進一步是身體各部分陰陽,越細越好,直至身體處處都是陰陽,功夫便進超凡入聖的階段。

To practace taijiquan, one starts by dividing one’s body into yin and yang. The initial differentiation is that head is yang and legs are yin, chest is yin, back is yang, left is yang, and right is yin. When two hands form a circle, the outside is yang and the inside is yin. During practice, left/right, up/down, forward/backward must be countered and follow each other. For example, when the left side contracts, the right side then expands; when the chest withdraws, then the back expands – which is exactly what happens with the movements of steam inside the glass jar. Body requirements in taijiquan, such as gently lift the upward energy (xū lǐng dǐng jìn) and sink the qi to dantain (qì chén dān tián), hollow the chest and round the back (hán xiōng bá bè), and relax the kua and spread out the knees, are all established because of this principle. This is the application of the most basic taiji principles to taijiquan. The next step is to further divide the different body parts into yin and yang, the finer the better, until yin-yang exists everywhere in the entire body. This is kung fu skill at the consummate level.


By 陳少華

Translated by Dominic Chan

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