Fall 2019

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The following is an excerpt from the Yang Family Manuscripts, copied by Shen Chia-Chen.

The meaning of Civil and Martial in Tai Chi

The Civil is the essence and the martial is the function.  When Civil attainments are actively applied through martial arts in the form of vital energy,  chi and spirit, this is called the essence of the Civil.  When Martial attainments are accompanied by the essence of the Civil in the mind and the body, this is called Martial practice.  The Civil and the Martial are also called the art of self-cultivation.

When yielding and repelling are correctly timed, then the root of the essence of the Civil, that is, Martial practice executed according to Civil principal, belongs to the soft essence of the Civil.  When storing and issuing are applied at the appropriate time, then the root of Martial practice, that is, the Civil applied through Martial practice, belongs to the category of hard Martial practice.  Vital energy, chi and spirit and the sinews and bones are the Civil and the Martial.  Hard Martial practice is simply muscular force.  However, to have the Civil without Martial preparation is the essence without the function;  to have the Martial which is not coupled with the Civil is the function without the essence.

A single wooden board cannot support a whole structure; a single hand cannot make a clapping sound.  This is not only true of Civil essence and Martial practice, but of all things in the world.  The Civil is the inner principle and the Martial is the outer technique.  Outer technique without inner principle is simply the brute courage of physical strength.  However, when one is no longer in the prime, bullying an opponent will not work.  Those who possess inner principle without outer technique, who think only of the arts of quietism and know nothing of the practice of martial arts, are lost as soon as they commit the slightest error.  Whether for practical pursuits or simply the way of being a human being, how dare we neglect the two words-Civil and Martial?