Gilman Studio On-Line Lessons



Yang Style Long Form

Tai Chi Chuan


This Lesson Contains:

The Thirteen Essential Energies and Movement # 85 – Left Brush Knee


The Thirteen Essential Energies

I received an e-mail from someone following the web lessons. He asked about the Thirteen Essential Energies. I told him I would cover them in the next lesson, so here is a brief discussion on the subject. There are eight basic expressions of energy in Tai Chi practice. Peng (upward and outward, mostly Yang with some Yin), Lu (inward and yielding, mostly yin with some Yang), Ghee (two energies moving in the same direction, very Yang), An (energy moving downward, very Yin), Tsai (combines the two Yin energies of Lu and An), Lieh (combines the two Yang energies of Peng and Ghee, basically two energies moving in opposite directions – (either two forces moving in opposite directions like tearing apart, or two forces moving towards each other, like squeezing), Jou (Elbow stroke), and Kao (shoulder stroke). Each of these energies has a specific optimum time for usage. Peng and Lu are energies used at mostly far range. Ghee and An are mid-range, Jou and Kao are close range.

If you think about it, there are really only a few possibilities for expressing energy. Something can move outward in any direction  – up, down, right, left, forward or backward. Or something can move inward to the same directions.

The eight essential energies are basic outward or inward with variation and combination. Combine this with the five directions (forward, backward, right, left, and central equilibrium and you end up with the Thirteen Essential Energies of Tai Chi Chuan.

I have overly simplified this important discussion. The main reason being that others have written extensively about this. I would recommend B.K Frantzis’s excellent book The Power of Internal Arts as a good guide.


Movement # 85 – Left Brush Knee

This is our final variation for this important movement. I personally love this application. When done well, the opponent goes from a strong attack to flying back in a flash. The opponent grabs with two hands. I break his hold, close him up, and throw him backward and down. The circling of the right arm must be smooth and stay connected to the opponent


Yoshi grabs me from the front with two hands.










I start to break the hold.

Turn the torso to the left and let the right hand turn inward as it moves with the torso. Keep the weight sinking into the right leg.

Focus on the right forearm for joining with the opponent’s arms.

Note: It is hard to see here, but I am breaking the hold by turning left and pressing against Yoshi’s arms with my forearm. I am also starting to wrap my right hand around his right elbow. At this point he is closed up and twisted to his right.





I follow his intention to retreat and get back to center, and add a bit to again lead him off balance, this time to his left.

The stance remains the same.

The right hand makes a large circle (counterclockwise) in front of the body. At this point it is at the right side of the right hip. This circle happens by the waist turning to the right and the right arm first dropping straight down the front of the body, and then continuing to the right. The torso now faces slightly to the right of west.

The left arm rises up to end by the left shoulder with the palm facing to the right. In application, it would be on the opponent’s back.

Focus on the right arm for sticking and leading, and the left palm for placing on the opponent’s back. Yoshi is very off balance again and now starts to retreat back to the right to gain balance.





I step behind Yoshi and continue to follow his energy.

Step ahead with the left heel. Toe faces slightly to the left of west. Don’t add weight yet.

The right hand/arm continues to circle until the hand ends at the right shoulder. The left hand drops a bit to end at chest level with the palm facing inward.

Focus on the right hand/arm for sticking and the left palm for joining with the back of the opponent.

Note: This movement works beautifully as the opponent goes from the aggressor (grabbing me) to the trapped as I follow his energy each time he makes a change. The large circle with the right arm breaks the grab, sticks and leads. Now the palm is on Yoshi’s elbow, ready to push. The left palm on his back seals his retreat.





I finally use some of my stored energy and push him back and down.

Shift the weight onto the left foot, and as you do, turn the torso to end facing slightly to the left of west.

The right hand now extends outward and ends on the right center side of the center of the chest. The left hand moves downward to end by the left side of the left hip, palm facing down.

Focus on the right palm for pushing, and the left palm for pulling inward.

Note: Energetically, this application expresses Lieh Jing. The right hand moves outward while the left hand pulls inward. The pulling in with the left hand makes it very difficult for the opponent to escape.





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