Re: Martin and Louis, could either of you explain what the Five Elements/Phases have to do with Zhou, or why "above" and "below" are singled out? Also, what are the "six jins" that are referred to?
Those are good questions, and honestly, I don’t know the answers. The wuxing wording seems almost like a perfunctory bow to traditional cosmology, but no hint is given to how it applies to zhou. Yang Jwing-Ming, by the way, aims for a more generalized way of translating wuxing in this document’s sentence 方法有五行: “Its methods have five possibilities.” (Tai Chi Secrets of the Wu Style, p. 19) In a way, that kind of demystifies it and plausibly makes wuxing merely a trope for “adaptability” and for making the technique fit the context. One could argue that’s always been the point of wuxing analogical thinking. For reference, Wile translates that line: “Our method must be reckoned by the Five Elements.” (T’ai-chi Touchstones, p. 34) As to the lines about “above and below,” and “six jins,” I’m baffled as to the meaning.
I see that Martin asked some questions about the phrase 開花捶 on another forum, and received some good answers. Someone pointed out that 開花 does in fact appear in a couple of early taijiquan documents by Li Yiyu as a counter when the opponent has neutralized one’s application of zhou (see Wile, Lost T’ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch’ing Dynasty, pp. 52, 54 / 131, 132; Yang Jwing-Ming, Tai Chi Secrets of the Wu and Li Styles, pp. 78-79, 87-88). Someone also made the point that chui 捶, while it can be a fist, really applies to the action involved rather than literally a fist. For example, in the Yang form, Turn Body and Strike, zhou comes into play as you turn following Fan Through Back, then zhou is followed by a back fist, or even by an open back-hand strike. Doug Woolidge, by the way, translates 開花捶 as ‘“blossoming flower” pound’ (Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan, p. 127).
The big question for me remains, who was Tán Mèngxián 譚夢賢?