Translated by Xianhao Cheng
Taiji Random Ring Formula
By Dr. Xianhao Cheng and Taiji group in Rick’s martial art school
The “Random Ring Formula” has been a secret in martial arts history. In a novel by Jin Yong, the most famous martial arts writer, in the early “Qin Dynasty” of China, a high ranking military officer, trained in southern style taiji, murdered most of his taiji brothers to get the “Random Ring Formula.” Although he felt his martial art level was already very high, he thought he might make significant progress if he could learn the “Random Ring Formula.”
It is not very difficult to get a copy of the “Random Ring Formula” now, however it is not easy to understand. The following is the “Random Ring Formula” and its explanation passed down from Yang, Chenfu and Jiang, Yukun.
Random ring formula is the most difficult to understand; by coordinating the body properly, the application is wonderful.
Trap your opponent into the random rings; four ounces can be applied to overcome a thousand pounds.
Advance steps and hands simultaneously, and seek on side and horizontal directions; the random rings will never come to nothing.
If you want to know the secret of the rings, you will be successful by matching the points that you send out your power with where you expect your opponent to fall down.
Application of taiji techniques is largely based on the variation of circles. Forward or backward, on offense or defense, your motions are all circular like the motion of rings. The “random ring” indicates that the motion of ring is random and it follows no fixed pattern. It can be big or small, in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal plane, and have shape or no shape. An important rule for the formula is that bigger overcomes smaller, diagonal overcomes upright, “no shape” motion overcomes the motion with shape.
The idea of ring motion with no shape may confuse less-experienced taiji practitioners. We know that the motions of taiji are all circular. It can be said that “if motion is not circular it is not taiji”. Once moving, one’s action is within the range of circular power. This circular power should become one’s nature. Therefore, although our hand moves straight forward with no seeming shape, once we touch the opponent, he/she will immediately feel that our power is fueled by a spiral motion. Also, the opponent can feel the spiral motion of his partner when he pushes his partner’s body, but may not see the motion. Because of the spiral function of this power, we may redirect our opponent’s attack and sense the chance to overcome him/her by sticking on the weakness. For instance, A pushes B’s shoulder with both hands. B’s inside spiral motion borrows A’s power from his right hand with B’s left shoulder sinking down, and with B’s right hand sticking on A’s left arm. A’s power can then be transferred to B’s right hand, which may lift A’s left root. Since A’s right side already leans forward into the push, the power working on A’s left side can cause him to spin. It is a typical example of “borrowing the power to hit power” (Fig. 1a and b).
It is true that once your opponent is lured into the range of shapeless rings, he/she may be controlled by a non-seeable spiral motion and loses balance. At this moment we may only need minimal force to overcome our opponent. It has been realized that the so called “four ounces overcome a thousand pounds” actually means using small force against large one. The author still remembers that when he chatted with Master Jiang, Yukun about Yang, Chenfu, Jiang said, “you guys only know how soft he was, but you do not know how powerful he was”. Instead of “four ounces against thousand pounds,” in the martial arts field it says, “build thousand pounds of power, but only use four ounces of energy.” It means that power is important in martial art; however it is best to use minimal power to reach the same result.
Pertaining to the random ring formula, for instance, when your opponent attacks you with a thousand pounds’ power, because you use the technique of spiral circulation, you can let the incoming power slide off its target and let him/her lose balance. Figure 2 shows an example of the application. In Figure 2a, A holds B’s waist tightly and tries to let B lose his balance. However, B traps A into random rings by sinking the left side of his power down to the bubbling well and then lets this power spiral up from the right heel to the right waist. At the same time, B’s arm controls A’s wrist during the spiral motion. At this moment, A’s right hand feels no power, but the left wrist is pressured by B’s arm and waist with an angle he feels very uncomfortable. Then B may shake his waist rapidly to let A lose his balance. The rapid and strong shake of B’s waist and arm can break A’s wrist. This shake will spirally turn for three circles from right to left, left to right and then right to left. That is why this technique is named “Yellow Dragon Triply Shakes Hands”. However, it is nicer if B only spirally pressures on A’s wrist to either side, and A can automatically jump out.
You may only need minimal force to overcome your opponent this way. However, it is not easy to cause an experienced martial artist to lose balance; therefore, depending on the situation, power may also be needed.
It explains the way of releasing “Integral Jin”, while using the “random ring formula.” Based on the way of “Jin” release (Fa Jin), it can be partial or integral. “Partial Jin” means using the “Jin” only from a part of your body, whereas “Integral Jin” indicates the power is from the whole of your body. It says if one wants to release the “Jin” from the whole body, he/she must advance legs and hands at the same time. In taiji push hands, it also says that if you want to advance hands, you need to advance body first; and if you want to advance your body, you must advance your leg first. These are the explanations for releasing your “Integral Jin”. Therefore, in martial arts applications we hear that if leg and hands reach together, you can beat your opponent “like beating a piece of grass” (Da Ren Ru Shong Chao); while if your step cannot follow your hands, even if you hit your opponent, it does not constitute a threat to him. It means to reach best result, you need to co-ordinate the hands motion with the step. Fig.3a and b show how B uses the technique of “Waving Lotus Hands” (Bai Lian Shou) sticking on A, stepping in and pushing.
“ Seeking on side and horizontal directions” imply that that you should find your partner’s weakness on side and transverse section and match your front to attack his side. In this case, your opponent will find it very difficult to keep his balance. It means that during push hands, even though your opponent falls into your random rings, you still need to seek for his transverse section to attack to obtain the best effect. With spiral power, plus the simultaneous advancing in hands and steps, we can then use small force to succeed against a large one, and the attack will not come to nothing. It has been widely used in taiji’s push hands that use cross direction to deflect straight power, and then catch the chance to attack people’s transverse section.
This sentence states the way of “Fa Jin” with random rings. It tells the reader that the “Jin” you send out must be in the direction where you want your opponent to fall down. For instance, once you turn the ring by leading incoming power to your side and slightly turn the ring up and forward, you may occupy the opponent’s side. At the same time, your mind projects the power to about 5 feet to the other side of your opponent and links your push to this point. It can be much easier to push your opponent down to his transverse side than to directly push his front. Figures 4a and 4b show B seeking A’s transverse direction, and matching the power to where he expects his opponent to fall down.
The above explanation from Jiang, Yukun’s note reveals the basic principle of the random ring; however it was still not quite clear to the author as how to form a ring during push hands until he read master Wang, Yongquans’ teaching material. Master Wang was one of Yang, Chenfu’s best indoor students. Nowadays, many good taiji masters in Beijing trace their lineage to him. Please see reference  about master Wang. In Wang’s teaching material it says, “touching your opponent by point instead of area, and both will be inconvenient if by area; if touched with area by chance, change the hands like just touched.” It actually tells the taiji practitioner to lead your opponent’s touch on your tangent line and with the straight line from “Bai Hui” to “Yong Quan” as the axis. With the “peng jin,” your ring will be automatically formed. If your partner pushes you, your slight turn of the ring can let him slide away and lose balance.
The authors demonstrate this case with Figure 5. Figure 5a shows A attacking by pressing on B’s chest. 5b shows B swallowing A’s power by constructing a ring and using A’s power to let him lose balance. Master Wang also mentioned that, in case you and your partner touch with area contact immediately change to have a point touch. For instance, B pushes A with an “An”, and A holds on B’s elbows. This constitutes an area touch (Fig. 6a). In this case A has a certain advantage; however, it is still the stronger who will win. While B immediately changes the hands by rolling down to the inside with the side of his front arms touch on A’s front arm, B forms rings with hyperbolic curves. A’s root can be slightly raised up then by pushing B forward. In addition, A’s front door can be opened. Then B can immediately roll his ring back and move half a step forward. By matching the step and push simultaneously, B can easily push A up.
As the formula states, the enjoyment of random ring’s application is endless. However, the theory of “Random Ring Formula” is rather profound. The authors hope that by the preliminary study on the random ring theory, it will have the effect, as a Chinese idiom says: “tossing a brick to attract a jade.”
 Yang Shi Taiji Quan Shu Zheng (Discuss the Truth of Yang Taiji Quan), By Wang, Yongquan, 1986. People’s Physical Culture Express of China
[This message has been edited by mls_72 (edited 07-14-2008).]