Chapter 13: Oral Secrets, #10


10th saying: Apply throughout the form. Essential to be Level, Upright, Even, Uniform.

The four words “level, upright, even, uniform”
(can seem) most commonplace,
but (they are) most difficult to achieve.

平正方能安舒  。
Only with “level, upright” (can you be) comfortable and easy (an shu)
(then you) can support the 8 directions.

Only with “even, uniform” (can you be) strung-together.
And without gaps (breaks) at any point!

This is close to sayings from the boxing manuals (quan lun):
“The rule is to be level and balanced”,
And “The movement is like pulling silk”

Not conforming to these four characters, your practice will not advance your skill (gong)



  • Level, Upright, Even, Uniform”: This is one of those four character sayings which means one thing as a whole and where each word contributes to the full meaning. (See breath words for another example.) I’ve chosen to interpret the four characters separately. They can also be treated as a pair of compound words: pingzheng and junyun. As a compound, pingzheng means straight, flat, even and junyun means even, well distributed, homogenous. Individually:

    • ping is level, flat, smooth, calm, tranquil

    • zheng is upright, vertical, straight, centered, correct, proper

    • jun is even, consistent, equal

    • yun is uniform, symmetrical, even

  • Only with “level, upright” (can you be) comfortable and easy (an shu)”:  安an is peaceful, tranquil, and calm.  舒 shu is stretching, unfolding, smooth, easy, and leisurely. An shu are two of the 8 secret words.

  • Only with “even, uniform” (can you be) strung-together.” 貫串 guanchuan : strung together, threaded as one. guan means pierce or string together (like a string of money). chuan means cluster or string together. The compound guanchuan appears many times in the writings, notably in the opening lines of the Zhang Sanfeng classic: “In motion, the entire body must be qing ling and most important, strung together (guanchuan).”

  • “The rule is to be level and balanced”: this quote is from the taijiquan treatise (lun). “level and balanced” is 平準 ping zhun. Ping is the same “level” in the oral saying itself.  This time, ping is paired with 準 zhun. Some translators treat this as a compound describing a balance scale or a carpenter's level. I haven’t found any reason to do that and so have left it as two words: level and balanced. The first word 立 li means the rule or the standard as well as “to stand or be erect”. Many translators render this phrase as “Stand like a balance” or “stand erect and balanced”.

  • The movement is like pulling silk”: This phrase is almost a quote from the Mental Elucidation of the 13 Postures. The actual phrase is yùn jin rú chōu sī. Here, Zheng slightly misquotes it as yùndòng rú chōu sī (dong in place of jin). Yun is move, transport, apply. As a compound yundong means motion, movement, sports or exercise. So Zheng’s (mis)quote is “The movement is like pulling silk”. The original quote is “Move the jin like pulling silk”. Note that “pulling silk” (chou si) is not the same as Chen style’s “reeling silk” (chan si).


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Translation Copyright (c) 2013 by Lee Fife
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Zheng-zi 13 Chapters, Translation by Lee Fife is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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