I’m writing specifically in response to some of the issues raised about the meaning of “double-weighting” (shuangzhong) in Audi’s initial post. I hope to clarify one statement Audi made, that “it is usually discussed in terms of the amount of weight carried on each foot.” I believe shuangzhong does indeed have to do with weight, but not specifically or exclusively with weight distribution in the legs. I do not think that the “chong” variant meaning “repeated” applies here. The term shuangchong is normally adjectival, used generally for abstract notions: “twofold proposal,” or “double standard.” Shuangzhong as used in taijiquan is more of a noun phrase. Zhong can also refer to pressure, including pressure sensed from an opponent. The classic document in which shuangzhong appears uses the character zhong elsewhere as “weight” or “pressure”: “When the left feels weight (zhong), then the left empties. When the right feels weight, then the right is gone.” Moreover, the balance scale imagery immediately preceding the usage of shuangzhong pretty clearly contextualizes it.
I thought I’d share a rough translation of the entry for “shuangzhong” from the recently published Dictionary of Essential Selected Taijiquan Terms (Jingxuan taijiquan cidian, pub’d. 1999, Renmin tiyu chubanshe). I found this in a Chinese bookshop last spring; I wish I’d had it years ago. I don’t post this as a definitive answer, but more to access otherwise inaccessible sources, and to demonstrate that the meaning of shuangzhong is not unanimously understood by Chinese martial arts researchers. Shuangzhong is another example of the rich polysemy and productive vagueness of the Chinese language. This entry also includes a Yang Chengfu quote from his Taijiquan shiyongfa, a book that is nearly impossible to find.
Double-weighting (shuangzhong): a technical term in taijiquan. In Wang Zhongyue’s “Taijiquan Treatise” it says: “Sink to one side, then follow. If double-weighted, then one will stagnate.” It also says: “whenever we see those who for several years have perfected their skill, yet are unable to employ this neutralization and are generally overpowered by others, this is merely from not having come to understand the fault of double-weighting.” This clearly establishes ‘double weighting’ as a flaw, and gives rise to wide-ranging attention among martial artists. The connotation of double-weighting is not uniformly understood among the various experts, and may be summarized by means of the following major formulations:
1. Zhong indicates the deployment of any given part of the body; “shuangzhong” indicates that in the two hands or the two feet there is not a differentiation of empty and solid—yin and yang are not clear.
2. The hands and feet are mutually conditional aspects of yin and yang; “shuangzhong” is therefore the hands and feet on the same side of the body being simultaneously in a condition of solid or empty.
3. “Shuang” (“paired, “doubled”) refers to the two aspects of form and intent (xing, yi liang bu fen); “shuangzhong” would indicate a condition in which intent and its associated form are both solid.
4. “Shuang” refers to the pairing of the opponent and me, “shuangzhong” indicates that when the opponent is solid I am solid; when the opponent is empty I am empty; thereby forfeiting the fundamental principal of “using softness to subdue hardness” [and allowing] a condition of stiffness and brute force.
Double-weighting is both a fault in tuishou and a fault in form practice. In Yang Chengfu’s book, _Applications of Taijiquan_ (Taijiquan shiyongfa), there is a vivid description with respect to double-weighting: “Please be observant of performances of the Thirteen Postures. If you see in their training method “riding the horse,” “seating the crotch,” “clenching fists,” “fierce stares,” “gnashing of teeth,” “strength like an ox,” and yet no qi has ventured to emerge, this is double-weighted training method.”