Taiji Culture, Philosophy and Technology

On the importance of Power, 功力

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

What is big? Big is something that u can take away from when u need a little. What is little? Little is not something that u can increase anytime u wish.

Thus in Taijigong, the ability to use little force to overcome big force, depends first on having big force. Then you can learn to use this force in little ways. Thus power (gongli, 功力) is of fundamental importance.

Any practice of deep relaxation with qi work will grow gongli, for example long years of Taijiquan movement practice. However, in our traditional Taijigong system, we have dedicated practices called Ding Gong series that grows gongli in a focused and quicker way. Without this, Taijiquan is not very practical as defence until many years down the road.

Still, great power takes time and hard work to acumulate, so all disciples should get going sooner than later!

Only when u have big power, then can u speak of techniques of using small against big.

The greater the power, the more refined are the techniques available to u.

These techniques are to be found, embedded and hidden from view, in the movement forms of Taijiquan, Sword and Sabre.

But when you h ave not accumulated enough power, these techniques remain just ideals and stuff of legends and wuxia dramas. You will have no practical way of grasping them, either in mind or body. Soon, the form becomes opaque to you, and just like every other practitioner you meet, you are just cutting watermelons in the air, year after year.

This is what has happened to mainstream Taijiquan. Without qi, without gongli, everything is just talk, and soon loses meaning.


Momentum in Taijiquan, Taiji Sabre and Taiji Sword

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

以气运身,步随身走 Move the body with the qi, and your feet with the body.

In the beginning stage of taiji, you place a lot of focus on deliberately and consciously fulfilling the physical requirements of Taijiquan in every shape and phrase. These requirements include matters of coordination, flow, unity and dissection of the form. When those have become naturalized and you don’t have to think about them so much when doing them, you shift to 以心行气, mentally engaging with qi to support all the physical practice.

After years of practice, you gradually reach again a level of naturalization, this time not of physical requirments but of the qi activities. Of how the qi takes precendence in executing bodily movements. At this stage, you must allow the qi to move the body, and the body to naturally lead the steps.

In low level Taijiquan, and often in normal walking, we see people lead with the step. That is the leg and foot steps out and then the trunk follows. But in advanced Taijiquan, qi moves the trunk and then the qi and trunk leads the legs naturally. The legs should not ‘think’, should not be deliberate, but should move and change as and when the energy in the form requires them to change. In defense and sparring moments, they change in natural requirement through the interaction with the opponent.

This principle becomes clearer for those of you now learning the Taijigong Xuan Xuan Dao (太极功玄玄刀). Because the sabre or broadsword is the extension of the arm, so when you extend your qi from your arm, both the physical and qi extensions are more pronounced. As always, open the earth gate, build up the qi through the lower sections and on into the trunk. As the qi moves from trunk to the upper sections and then the sabre, it takes over the momentum of the body and draws the legs, in a natural coordination along with it. The result, when practised well, is the unification of body and qi in every moment of defence and attack (完整一气). Not only does this give you great power in dealing with the opponent, but also ensures that you always stay balanced on your feet and cannot be toppled.


Discover your Qi! at Wellness Yogi RESET

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

EVENT: Discover your own Qi in 45 minutes!
by Master Sim Pern Yiau (in English)Sim-Pern-Yiau-198x300

Dear Friends

We invite you to join us and discover your own Qi in 45 minutes at an event on 11 July Saturday at Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.

For more information about the event, please visit the organizer’s website: http://www.wellnessyogi.com

Kindly direct all your enquiries to the organizer, at ing@wellnessyogi.com

If you would like to register and purchase a PASS for the Event, please CLICK HERE

EVENT: Discover your own QI in 45 Minutes! (by Master Sim Pern Yiau)
@ Wellness Yogi Reset
Date: Saturday, 11 July 2015
Time: 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Venue: Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade

Feel Your Own Qi!
It doesn’t take forever to actually feel Qi (bio-energy) in your body. Taiji Qigong wouldn’t have existed for thousands of years if it did. Without Qi-work and the principles of flow, coordination and yin-yang balance, most Taiji have become diluted and nothing more than aimless arm-waving. Join us for an hour where we introduce you to real Taiji where mind, body and Qi comes together in a meaningful way.

About the Instructor
Sim Pern Yiau is a certified 5th Dan Shifu under the Wu Tu Nan Taijigong lineage. This traditional system has its roots in the holistic teachings of the great sage Lao Tze. Shifu Sim has been teaching since 2005. He has students in U.S., Chile, Germany, Norway, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. He researches into traditional Taijigong as well as modern applications for various contexts such as healing and enhancing performance in dance, acting, singing and music performance.

Other than our Taiji class, there are many more Yoga and other Wellness events awaiting you. Make a date today!

Do not underestimate the principle of shang xia xiang sui (上下相随). In the basic stage, this principle means the upper five sections follow and coordinate with the lower five sections in timing and direction. It is mostly a physical principle. Even then, many students do not execute this physical requirement conscientiously.

But at the intermediate level, it means that the qi of the upper sections and lower sections are operating in the same manner, serving the same ends. Observe Taiji kicks for example. If the foot is a heel kick, the hands will be with an erect palm. If a toe kick, the palms will be more down-facing, essentially sending the jing/qi more through the fingers than the laogong (劳工穴).

Observe the moment before the leg is extended into the kick. At this moment, the arms/hands are usually crossed in front of the chest. The arm on the outside will correspond to the kicking leg. That is, if right kick, it will be right arm on the outside.

What these mean is that the upper and lower sections are physically and energetically unified.

Paying careful attention to shang xia xiang sui over years of training and practicing it with zhu zaiyuyao (主宰于腰,control from the waist) and wenhe (吻合,稳合 stable connection) then leads us to advanced unity – wan zheng yi qi (完整一气). At this stage, not only are the upper n lower limbs unified, every point in the body is actually integrated into the whole, even when they are acting in different directions.


Active Taiji for Active Aging

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Taiji for Active Aging 20 May 2015

Active Taiji for Active Ageing by Master Sim

Venue : 3rd Space at China Square Central (Basement beside Cold Storage)
The Long Room
Time : 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Please register with Ms Carol Kuan at u3a.carol@gmail.com.

More information on How to get there :

In just this past year alone, I have known three persons with stage 4 cancers that have got relapses after doing the chemotherapy-radiotherapy route. Two of them opted to do further rounds of chemo and are now dead. One of them, a 31-year old man, died not from his lung tumours but  from the chemo scarring that caused his lungs to collapse.

The survivor has rejected going back to chemo and is doing alternative energy therapies. Her cancer marker has been steadily declining. We are still hoping for the best.

A student of mine who was also a cancer drugs researcher told me that essentially modern medicine has no cure for stage 4 cancer and chemo just serves to prolong life.

I wish more doctors would put that info to their stage 4 patients clearly and in no uncertain terms.

I wish doctors and medical scientists would stop saying something is incurable when all it means is they or science have no cure for it.

Then more people can look for alternatives, and decide for themselves if the destroy-all method of modern cancer treatment is really the best way for them.



New Free Trial Class and Yang Sheng Gong coming up!

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Please note that the Free Trial Class is full and registration is closed. Thank you to one and all.

Free Trial Class & New Yang Sheng Gong Course

Qigong FREE TRIAL Class (Worth $50)
with Master Sim Pern Yiau (in English)

For those who want to join the Full Course straight away, please see end of message for registration process.

What are the Benefits of regular Wu Tu Nan Taiji Qi Gong?

Through the decades, students have reported many health benefits including the following:

  1. Strengthens Immunity System
  2. Deep Relief of Mental and Physical Stresses
  3. Strengthens functions of internal organs including heart, kidneys, liver, stomach, spleen, etc
  4. More energy for work and leisure, less prone to illness and tiredness
  5. Better circulation in Meridian Lines, Blood-circulation, etc
  6. Reducing the side-effects of various Western medication and treatment
  7. Various ailments improved

While we are not doctors and do not promise medical cures (in truth, no doctor can promise cures!), and we are wary of exaggerated claims of wonder cures and miracles, in our long history of teaching we have seen the great benefits of regular practice of proper Taiji Qi Gong in our students health and lives.

Research has been done on Taiji against chronic pain, fatigue, diabetes and widely reported, including in The Straits Times. Here are some links:


New York Times
New England Journal or Medicine

Medical News Today
Free Trial Class:


Introduction to our very popular Yang Sheng Gong Course

Thursday 30 April 2015, 7.30 – 9.00pm

Meeting point: Botanic Gardens Green Pavilion (near Botany Centre above Carpark at Tanglin entrance {near Gleneagles Hospital}, See Location Here)

Parking available.

To register, please send email with Name,  and Mobile contact.

Limited to 35 persons.

Find out more here: WuTuNanTaijigong.com

Sign-Up Immediately for

Full Foundation Yang Sheng Gong Course

7 May – 9 July 2015

(10 Thursdays)

Only 20 places available

Venue same as above.

7 May – 9 July 2015 (10 Thursdays)

7.30pm to 9.30pm

Discounts for full-time students and 3rd member of family, please check with me.

For effective teaching, we only take around 20 students for each course. If you have already decided to take the full course, please email admin@Wutunantaijigong.com with your Name and Mobile number. We will then send you a confirmation email with payment details.

Please feel free to circulate.

Best regards to one and all. May good health be with you!


The learning attitude in Tai Chi Gong

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

In the beginning, you should clarify large concepts. The theoretical premises. What is the big direction in Taijiquan and Taijigong? Yin Yang. Power and softness. Following the opponent. Go in the flow. Heaven and Earth. 五行八卦,虚空粉碎Etc.

These help to clarify technical training and the practice of specific principles. In our system, the 39 principles.

Practising without knowing these, as many people do, following their “gurus” and “masters” external forms unthinkingly, they waste years and decades in wishy-washy, diluted practice.

If you start by being clear first the large conceptual/theoretical/philosophical premises and direction, you will find your technical capabilities in Taiji growing. Start with the question, what is Taijiquan about? At the very least, you know what capabilities you are supposed to acquire through the practice, and not merely have a generalised sense of feeling good!

Once you find your abilities and capabilities growing, that will lead you to feel you know the premises and the working principles better and better.

At this stage is the fork in the road.

If you are complacent, thinking that you “know”, then your practice everyday will settle into rote.

It will be merely execution.

But true progress from the beginning levels towards the intermediate and advanced levels, should lead you to feel that you don’t really know that well. That what you theoretically and intellectually knew,  perhaps you don’t really experientially know. That perhaps your concepts and your understanding needs to shift, in the light of practice. Or that the experience of doing it leads you to realise that what you thought you knew, you didn’t really, after all.

That is the difference between 体会 (experiencing) and 知道 (knowing)。

True 体会 has the element of exploring, of tasting anew, of the discovery and the awareness , and most importantly, of a good kind of not knowing. Of being in the unknown. Not taking things for granted. Even if it looks like you are executing the same familiar sequence and exercises every day.

In this way, doors and paths and illuminations appear where you didn’t even suspect exist.

知道 however, leads to mere execution.

So everytime you execute 相随,贯穿,弥深弥长,五行八卦,or any of the other principles and energies that you have learnt, do not just practice as if you are drilling something that you have done for ages. Practice as if you are encountering it for the first time.

This is the condition that separates Taiji exercisers and Taiji practitioners, perpetual beginner’s and those who progress.

If you find the balance between the state of knowledge and not knowing, you will continue to enjoy your Taiji practice til the end of your days!


A teacher like this waste decades

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Recently someone who has been training with another Taiji master for more than 10 years asked if he could join my classes, because the master (whom i know of) has retired and this person is looking for a new group to practice with. To help me understand his level and select an appropriate class for him, i asked him if his Qi feeling was constant, stable and clear. He spoke highly of his master’s level so i expected that somebody who has been practising his methods for over a decade should be experienced in Qi and its aspects.

However the student’s answer was non-committal as if he wasn’t sure what constitutes Qi feelings and usage. He said it comes and goes. I was surprised yet not.

Then he started explaining for his teacher. His teacher had said that students like him are 半路出家 and the implication is that it is only expected that they are not very good. Those Chinese words refer to people who started a particular practice or line of work relatively late in their lives, or who switched to another training or profession from their original training or line of work.

These are the bad excuses of a lousy teacher and lousy practitioner.

You can be “not very good” but you should be not be “not very clear” about your practice. Qi is a fundamental practice element of most Taiji systems, whether you use the term or not. After ten years if you are still unclear about what the practice entails, such as how to systematically work with Qi principles, then how can you ever know if you are good or not?

It is also troubling that he says when he looks at his seniors, probably some of whom have been training Taiji since young and are not 半路出家, they talk alot of what Taiji can achieve but they cannot demonstrate any of it. It remains the stuff of legends to them.

I suspect his master is the type that goes “Dont ask me to explain so much about the inner workings of Taiji. It is deep and abstract. Keep at the form and one day you will understand.”

Teachers like this waste decades of a practitioner’s life.

However, so-called “masters” like these are everywhere because students’s generally don’t know better. The level of practice and teaching has generally sunken so low that students are amazed because they see someone practising gracefully at an old age. Which is a nice thing that Taiji gives us but you can get grace in old age practising many things and not only Taiji. It doesn’t make you a Taiji master. What characterises a Taiji master is his advanced ability to manage Qi in the Yin Yang way. Called 养,蓄,运,使 , which can be generally translated as grow, accumulate, flow/distribute and use.

When my father Sim Pooh Ho became Master Wu Tu Nan’s disciple, he was already 30 and has been training Shaolin external Martial Arts since 6 years old.

The great Yang Lu Chan also started relatively late and yet became a legend.

Our lineage is full of practitioners of every level including Instructors, Senior Instructors , Junior Masters and Senior Masters, and these people have started from ages ranging from 8 to 60.

Taiji lead us to mastery of the body and our energies in intelligent, efficient ways that are not dependent on youth or muscular strength. Because of this Taiji is least dependent on having to start at a young age, unlike most other physical systems.

More importantly, Taiji helps us to understand and transform our bad habits and unwise ways of using the body and energies, habits and ways accumulated from the earlier parts of our lives. Giving 半路出家  as a reason for a student’s lack of progress despite long practice is merely the excuse of a lazy teacher and lousy practitioner, and is unfairly putting blame on the student. In my opinion the harm done is immeasurable.

I have recently started allowing some disciple-students to take Basic Tui Shou exams (which means 1st to 3rd Dan). They will pair up with their Juniors, most of whom have started training 1 or 2 years later than them. The Juniors play aggressors.

The Juniors have to be either the same weight (give and take a few kilos) or heavier than them.

Across all of them, the following pattern arises.

First round with their Juniors, the Seniors will often win right away. Upon the word “go”, the Juniors will either be pinned or be sent flying into the padded walls within a second. However, i tell them that is because the Juniors are taken by surprise, and have no prior experience of the sudden explosive power their Seniors can exert from a seemingly relaxed state.

So to ensure a true measure of ability, i tell them to go at it again.

This time the Junior is not fooled by the Senior’s initial relaxed state and thus prepares their Jing (power) to fight back. The more unskilled ones will harden their stances and muscles in preparation.

In this second round the Seniors often fail to overcome the aggressors. Often they are visibly taken aback by the sudden difficulty of overcoming someone whom a moment ago they threw with ease. This makes them lose confidence and pressure builds. The Juniors will start to remember their training and do everything in their ability to avoid being defeated. Often it ends in a long stalemate. In a few cases – when the Junior is much heavier or bigger than the Senior – the examinee was actually defeated.

At this point i find myself sharing this observation with them. In terms of technique and power, the Juniors cannot touch them. But skill in Taiji means that during great and sudden pressure, you are still able to stay relaxed, calm, sensing the opponent, which then allows the trained techniques, acquired power and naturally correct responses to surface in a split moment . These are the qualities that disappear when they face the sudden ferocity of their Juniors’ attacks. The Juniors feel no pressure because it is not them who are undergoing the exams. Being more relaxed their power surfaces more. It is not that the Juniors won them, because they are actually nowhere near in skills or power.  It is the Seniors who lost.

After giving them this observation , i let them have a go at it the third round. You then see the marked difference. For those who could let go of the pressure, relax and “listen” to the opponent rather than fearing or trying to force a win, they suddenly find themselves easily overpowering the opponent who a moment ago felt too strong. It was most satisfying to see this happening for a lady disciple whose “aggressor” was 15kg more than her, and for a male disciple whose slim built proved deceptive.

What this means is that in Taiji, we are our own real opponents.

Here’s wishing all disciples and Taiji enthusiasts a good journey of personal growth and discovery!