The Finesse Between the Elements

The Finesse Between the Elements

What matters between softness and hardness

If we start from moments that begin from an intention, then we are talking about an action that is soft and hard. Then, within a nanosecond, the body instinctively decides what this movement should be, soft or hard.

Is there nothing we can use to make our own decisions? The Daoists have the Taiji practice as an answer. With Taiji, we practice movements that are of pure origin without affecting our physical understanding. On the other hand, we have to take our understanding apart again to optimize and be receptive. Dealing with the two extremes is an art with which one can harmonize with oneself and the universe. It is change that defines every movement and the art of understanding the difference itself.

Nature as a model

Nature consists of the five elements: wood, water, fire, earth, and metal create and destroy each other, as most people already know by reading about the five elements. But how do the five elements in the body interact in Taijiquan?

Orientation on earth, for example, makes you stand like a mountain, unshakable. But to keep the position strong, you also need to define the counterparts in a posture to maintain healthy harmony in your stance. The movement should be based on the clouds, the positions on mountains and forests.

Philosophical aspects of understanding the elements

There is male and female, yin and yang, soft and hard, it has many names, but it is always next to and at the same time at the other end of every answer. At every point where the two face each other, an element emerges from nowhere. The deeper and more purposeful, the more complicated it is to develop something that previously seemed very simple, black and white becoming gray. However, it is essential to understand where this answer came from as the source is the same. This source defines the element to which it belongs. Observing the two opposites leads to a common solution for each question.In the valleys of the deepest emotions of resistance, there is always an intention to move onto a more productive level. There are the intentions of hope and freedom because feelings of happiness and emotions of deeper sadness bind body and mind on one level. The ability to transform the elements at the practitioner’s will is well known in traditional Daoist families. It is also why Daoists seldom commit to any particular emotion. Rigorous Daoists, according to traditional teachings, also avoid smiling or showing emotions at all. In my experience, such strict principles are no longer necessary in today’s world, but it is still important to know the origin.

The path of the least resistance and the most tremendous effort

If the Daoist gets into a situation where his surroundings force situations, this can be offset with the right emotional attitude. Therefore, emotional ties are always limited to the personal environment. Therefore, there are no perfectly versatile Daoists because everyone has the freedom to choose his situation, in which he would like to be, and is thus also ready to draw the consequences and benefits.

The easiest way is the way that everyone is trying to convince you. The path that leads to the greatest wealth is the one who is for the ambitious and for those who want to attract envious people. The path to self-cultivation is the one where others see their unrealized dreams and make fun of you. Realists reject the realistic way of the self. This open contempt for self-realization in our society is timeless. A common mistake is meeting expectations and getting carried away by what others want you to do while ignoring your own views.

Therefore it is very important to find the balance in society and at the same time to be able to realize oneself. The intelligent man expresses his views on the common people, but the wise man leads society and fulfills the simple expectations of others. So what’s the best answer to a question? A counter-question to shake the questioner’s gaze while standing there apparently not knowing.

Master of situations

The wise man is not particularly wise towards others; he is the master of situations and, therefore, becomes unpredictable. Many logicians consider the natural flow of things to avoid surprises in strategy, similar to the chess game between Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi – a historical tale from the time of the Three Kingdoms – the wise Sima Yi forfeits the game. Afterward, the clever Zhuge Liang realizes that Sima Yi would have won.

Even with the famous strategy of the empty fortress, one speaks of mastering situations. The empty fortress strategy uses reverse psychology and obviously shows an empty defense and relaxation. A single guqin musician at the gate comfortably played the tune, and the unprotected fortress made the enemy think that the entire fort was well prepared and that ambushes and traps were set up everywhere. The expression of openness and relaxation gave the opponent the certainty that he would suffer many losses and retreat.

The relations of the elements

The inclusion of the elements with oneself and the emotional attitude is only possible when things have been defined with oneself. This fact also applies to fellow human beings and relationships with others.

In order to make the whole thing more understandable, let’s start with the desired starting situation, which is afflicted with the conditions of other people, so it is necessary to resolve these conditions to achieve the desired situation. And the best way to achieve that goal is to give others the freedom to see for themselves. There are never unaffected situations once people live together.

The universe and the self

What arises from self-love dissolves conflicts in the community. Just as we can trust that nature will follow its laws unchanged, we can trust that people will follow their path if we understand their ambitions.

The people’s ambitions are elastic like the breath; the vessel expands and contracts like a bellows. The thoughts can seem to grow limitlessly, but in the eye of the beholder, these are limited to the inventor’s ideas. So it is hard to look at the universe and not let your ideas limit you.

Conclusion: Dissolving

There is always the way of heaven, the way of nature, and the way of man. But, unfortunately, the latter is the least relevant to understanding the universe. Therefore, to understand things, one has to start with oneself and understand one’s path. You have to break your habits to look inside yourself and go about things with ease. The simplest representation of oneself is the representation that is expected of everyone. The ultimate path is the one that fulfills man; the term is also known as the heavenly mandate. To do what you are meant to do.

The constant change of the five elements creates a feeling of balance and harmony. However, if you go to the extreme, you will recognize its origin and creation as well as its dissolution.

The Secret to Practicing Daoist Self-Cultivation

The Secret to Practicing Daoist Self-Cultivation

In the west, people often say that they identify with Daoism and self-cultivation. Often, however, these are just personal views that are justified with the argument of Daoist philosophy. Since Daoism is a practical philosophy, most of them are shocked for the first time regarding personal training.

The best is objective self-reflection, unaffected by personal opinions. When it comes to training, it shows who is really training. It was not without reason that Laozi left us the following lines in chapter 56 in the Daodejing:

Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.

Keep your mouth closed.
Guard your senses.
Temper your sharpness.
Simplify your problems.
Mask your brightness.
Be at one with the dust of the earth.
This is a primal union.

He who has achieved this state
Is unconcerned with friends and enemies,
With good and harm, with honor and disgrace.
This, therefore, is the highest state of man.

Our Grand Master Yuan Xiu Gang also has a lot to say (english subtitles included) on this subject:

If you are interested in the authentic Daoist practice, our playlist from Grand Master Yuan Xiu Gang can give you an excellent and realistic impression:

Success is only possible when you are ready for success. You hold back with your own ego and are ready for change. There is no easy path to self-awareness, but one can only benefit from the path.

Dragon & Phoenix – Love Relations in Daoism

Dragon & Phoenix – Love Relations in Daoism

In Chinese culture, dragons symbolize the male and the phoenix symbolizes the female. It is a common understanding that the female is flexible and the male is rigid, the male is strong, and the female is soft. In Daoism, we try to keep in balance with our training to prevent things from becoming uneven. By outweighing the weaknesses of each extreme, one can achieve harmony within.

Ignoring the facts of natural attraction will greatly change oneself and the environment; if one is focused on self-cultivation, it is also natural to attract other people who might be compatible with each other.

Polarization – to Attract the opposite

The most important part of Daoism’s life philosophy is self-cultivation; taking care of oneself is an important part of showing your efforts and honesty. Through self-cultivation, one can attract the outweighing opposite. A male usually takes over the responsibility like a rock in the surf, while the female represents the rebirth of hope and happiness. Together, a couple can achieve the so-called harmonic balance.

The nature of the male is to be strong in the initiative, even though the action might not be initially ideal. The male usually has the resources for building a future. The nature of the female tends to be in a supportive role and often is very good at providing council; also, the male can do the simple task easier that requires a higher amount of resources; the female is usually good at managing and optimizing it.

I think you get the point how both genders have natural roles in bringing out the best of their true potentials and balancing it so that both can perform at their fullest strength. In Daoism, the whole idea is that both can achieve more than one. To attract your balancing another half, a man has to find himself to polarize for the female to know what is needed; this goes both ways for each gender, of course.

Build Supportive – Harmonically Together

It is important to understand what attracts each other in a relationship, find the common source, and understand your partner’s motivation. When there is a common goal – a future that both can identify with – only then it is possible to support each other.

In a relationship, taking into account the personal interest of your partner is very important to understand each other’s needs. Like Yin and Yang, the perspective from the other is always a reflection of the opposite’s needs – realizing this by thinking about the other – naturally, the relationship balances each other’s needs out.

Solving Conflicts – Overcoming Mountains

There has to be a little resistance and a little conflict for a healthy couple to understand each other’s tolerance and the will to support each other. Suppose a couple can overcome mountains; it is less likely to stop in front of a mountain. On the peaks, the tea grows small, but the taste is rich, and the trees usually become older due to its internal strength from the environment and the lack of pests. Putting yourself in a spot where one usually does not want to be but is willing to achieve great things will help in overcoming conflicts in many ways.

If there arises a conflict, it mostly would be because the other half cannot trust the common spirit within the relationship. Letting go of personal interest, the own ego, and working towards what is needed together, for your partner, and reaching what both wish for, will help to achieve common trust.

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The Beginning of the Journey

The Beginning of the Journey

Without knowing what is behind the mountains, the expectation of finding a new higher mountain is high. This is the reason for hiking, whoever understands this will enjoy it.

The beginning for every Daoist is the direct focus on the goal. You only really learn what interests you, so the goal should get interesting. If we have health problems that we want to deal with, then we are interested in them and not looking for alternatives. If we want to improve more, it is good to be interested and enjoy what can be improved next.

Sometimes it is not possible to take a straight path to climb the mountain. Instead, we look for a suitable path and keep getting closer to the top. Those who are not lazy will be rewarded.

Constant Awareness

When the river flows into a lake, the water suddenly becomes very quiet because it was very loud. In old mountain lakes you hardly hear anything, it is almost unnaturally quiet. Because of the eternal force that acts on this place, the water comes to rest. It is only a matter of time before water creates a place where absolute calm reigns.

Time accelerates for the flow and thus the attention is reduced. Time doesn’t seem to matter in front of the calm lake. Like water in a lake, our attention can develop when the flow of breath calms down.

From the Void to Endless Things

The seasons in the mountains are unpredictable. Only the locals can tell if it will rain today. It is an awareness of all living beings that live with the nature of the mountains. Precisely because the mountains are full of contrasts, every living finding its center. Hence, we can achieve any form of awareness we want as long as we remain in our nature.

How to Understand DaoDeJing – Chapter 70 & 78

How to Understand DaoDeJing – Chapter 70 & 78

These two chapters are important for understanding the master’s ambition. It is a common mistake to question what is not understood under the rule of heaven. The experience or so the Jade that is described in chapter 70 is why and how the master chose this path for his students to follow.

Let’s get started with chapter 70:

Talking is easy and it is not sufficient to comprehend the meaning, hence they do not know me.

Understanding the deeper meaning of life philosophy with chapter 78:

I hope these chapters gave you a better understanding of what problems may occur when you follow the Daoist path. The Dao De Jing is important literature for every Wudang student, yet without self-reflection and without practice the context is useless. With dedication and awareness, one can follow the path of nature.

Daoism – Old vs New Methods

Daoism – Old vs New Methods

I experienced that many westerns think different about Daoism or have a different idea of what Daoism should be. Here I want to address some of the common misunderstandings westerners mostly have about Daoism.

The Long Path of Masters Acceptance

It was common during the old times that a future apprentice has to prove himself first. The personality of the potential student was checked during this time and if he accomplished this lifestyle over three to twelve years – depending on the master – he was generally accepted as a student. The general idea was: What are twelve years compared to the treasure you can use during your whole life? The Chinese understanding was that experience had to earned and carefully chosen.

Let’s talk about the hurdles:

For testing the tolerance of the student it was common practice that the master would tell the student to clean this clothing and every time the student returned with the clean clothes he was deliberately dragging it through the mud again. Depending on how quickly the student would return with new clean clothing, knowingly that he would have to clean them again, was carefully perceived by the master and judged his ability to be diligent and tolerant – the foundation for students of the internal arts.

When a potential student could not find quietness, he was usually locked in a dark cellar with no light. An older Gong Fu brother would bring food and water frequently. The potential student was only released when he became totally quiet, which usually happened after 3 to 5 days, sometimes maybe longer. When people have no perception of the day and night cycle and find themselves in a closed environment which never changes, it is possible for the student to find total peace after going through his own problems. If a student could not accept his situation, he usually became crazy and then he would be thrown out of the school, never being able to join the school again.

The master would often beat his students till they could accept his teachings, the punishment was very strict and immediately executed. It was common that the master would attack his student psychologically to see how much they could endure.

How students became independent

The students were carefully chosen because they were the assurance of the Master, who took care of his daily tasks. It was customary to follow Master for many years until the Master gave the disciple permission to build his own life. Normally, the Master took care of the disciple in every possible way, facilitating his path in the direction he could see that his life would develop.

Differences Today

Today the master is often perceived to be some kind of entertainer who should try to give comfort to his student. It is the complete opposite – potential students should appeal to the master – not the other way around. A good master never appeals to his students, he is very strict and takes care of their future without the student realizing.

The Invisible Mother – Dao De Jing Chapter 6

The Invisible Mother – Dao De Jing Chapter 6

Dao De Jing, chapter 6

谷神不死 是謂玄牝

“The valley spirit does not die, it is called the invisible mother.”

玄牝之門 是謂天地根

“The gate of the invisible mother is the root of heaven and earth.”

綿綿若存 用之不勤

“Formless but appears to exist, use it and it never depletes.”

Master Yuan Xiu Gang explains:

In September 2019 we have a seminar with Yuan Xiu Gang in Vienna! Register if you want to learn more about Daoism!

Top 6 Rules for a Traditional Wudang School

Top 6 Rules for a Traditional Wudang School

Traditional schools build character and improve the individual. It is the tradition which keeps everybody oriented and on the right path.

Master Ziji explains:

Sry for the audio desync at the end! It could not be fixed in post.

Here is the Link to the Yuan Xiu Gang seminar!

Many common things in a western society build upon seeking acceptance and assurance from one another. In the Daoist philosophy we solve this ourselves and inspire people to do the same, it is the power that is each of us given once we focus our energy.

The Windbox – Dao De Jing Chapter 5

The Windbox – Dao De Jing Chapter 5

Our school interviewed Master Yuan Xiu Gang about complex topics of the Dao De Jing and other Daoist doctrines. Before we show you the video we want to clarify a few things:

  • The philosophical explanation of the Daoist text is pointless without practice. It is a life philosophy and therefore people should live inspired by the Daoist doctrines.
  • The context of the Dao De Jing is always an interpretation, it is easier to follow the practice of your master.
  • There are many versions of the Dao De Jing in Chinese and to clearly speak of it is perhaps not possible. English translations are even further away from the context and this is one of the reasons why the interview is solely in Chinese.

The Interview

We held the interview completely in Chinese and then constructed a translation with our translator who is a native speaker and Coach in our academy and follower of the Daoist doctrines for many years. If one does not understand the historical and philosophical background or does not practice self-cultivation, then even for Chinese native speakers it is not possible to fully comprehend the context.

Therefore we can say that together with the participation of our professional group we can hereby present you the clip with the most accurate possible translation and interpretation from our Daoist Grandmaster Yuan Xiu Gang.

Dao De Jing, chapter 5

天地之間 其猶橐籥乎

“Between heaven and earth, is like the bellow of a wind box.”

虛而不屈 動則愈出

“Empty yet does not collapse, the more it is moved, the more it comes out.”

多言數窮 不如守中

“Speaking too much leads to calamities. Better to just hold the center.”

This concludes the answer to the first question! Read more Dao De Jing Chapters in our forum here!

Yuan Xiu Gang Taiji Seminar in Vienna

Yuan Xiu Gang Taiji Seminar in Vienna

The grandmaster of our academy is coming to visit us in Vienna! During 20th-22th September 2019, he will hold a seminar focusing on the Wudang Taiji and Daoist philosophy.


Grandmaster Yuan Xiu Gang leads an elite school in Wudangshan and highly regards strict training schedule, self-discipline, and Daoist practice. You can read more about Yuan Xiu Gang’s background and his school in Wudang.


The life improvements of the Wudang San Feng methods can help everybody in all ages to personally develop in self-understanding oneself physically and mentally. While nature is self-explaining and rather simple, the problems people have in their everyday-lives are often hard to overcome. The understanding of the Dao is important for people who follow nature, and so this workshop aims to develop the method and understanding of Daoism.


Taiji is the principle of Yin and Yang and originates from the Daoist understanding of nature. Grandmaster Yuan Xiu Gang will explain techniques and methods and how to practically use them.

Daodejing refers to the wisdom of Laozi and the foundation of Daoist understanding. The practice is the most important part of our Daoist philosophy, and Grandmaster Yuan Xiu Gang is aiming to make specific aspects in the Daodejing clear for our western understanding.

Schedule 20.09 – 22.09

  • The first training session will start at 20.09.2019 Friday evening at 18:00 – 20:00.
  • Saturday will consist of a morning class between 9:00 – 11:00 and an afternoon class between 13:00 and 15:00.
  • Sunday will have the same schedule as Saturday.


This seminar is practically two days and a half and conveys a comprehensive understanding of Taiji and Daoist culture.

The seminar has room for a maximum of 15 participants.

Price: 350 Euro

Requirements: Taiji or Daoist clothing

For participating please contact us in the form below: