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  • The True Meaning of “Song” in Tai Chi

Tai Chi, is a martial art steeped in tradition. However, sometimes it is riddled with terms that you have never heard before. One such term is "song". Song is to relax and sink. It is frequently misunderstood because song is more than just mere relaxation; it embodies a deeper philosophy and is part of Tai Chi's very essence.

Tai Chi

The Common Misunderstanding

If you are new to Tai Chi, you might interpret song as relaxation or limpness. However, if you become limp without energy in your posture you collapse your structure. Many people practicing Tai Chi today believe they're achieving the desired state of song when they are not. If your arms arms are drooping and body posture compromised it is not song. True song in Tai Chi is about understanding and applying a different kind of energy.

The True Essence of Song

When you try to translate song from its native Chinese, you must accept that some words just defy precise translation. Song is a term that is hard to directly translate. It does mean to relaxm but it also refrs to a method of channeling energy.

For example, Tai Chi masters can display powerful fighting movements while staying relaxed. These movements can be both expansive and strong, unlike the limp version of moves that many beginners mistake for song. A high level of song is shown through a release that allows your body to open up. This release of tension from every limb creates a certain quality or power, known as "pung jing".

When you practice it correctly, song is the art of releasing outward while retaining an inward connection to an empty space. This space is controlled and manipulated by one's intent ("yi"). Song is all about you learning to open and release out, not collapse inwards.

Differentiating Song and Function

To truly grasp this strange concept of song, you must be able distinguish between the external release (song) and the internal grounding.

Song is the initial release, the external opening. Once you can achieve this, you can then find your internal grounding. This is the function that allows you to anchor youself.

Your goal is to establish a balance. This balance is also known as Yin and Yang. Opening (Yin) is differentiated from grounding (Yang). When you have both you create a harmonious system of real Tai Chi.

Song in Application

A demonstration of song's power can be seen in its application in self defense. When your opponent touches your body, you don’t resist with force. Instead, you open their energy, making your body seem heavier and more rooted. This can be done even without a change in physical position.

The true power of song is revealed in the quality you feel upon contact. It’s not about brute strength.

Song is also not even about specific techniques. Rather it is about changing the quality of your energy. This "gin" or energy can be directed and even transferred into your opponent.


Song in Tai Chi is the embodiment of balance, control, and energy direction. It definitely isn’t about being limp or passive. Song is about mastering your energy to such a degree that you can channel it with precision and purpose. Song is the core to Tai Chi’s philosophy of balance and harmony.

Real song will showcase Tai Chi's profound depth and beauty. Understanding song is fundamental for you to truly grasp the essence of Tai Chi.