16 treasures

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What is a treasure?

  1. A quantity of precious metals, gems, or other valuable objects

  2. A very valuable object

  3. Keep carefully (a valuable or valued item)

  4. Value highly

  5. A collection of precious things

  6. From Greek θησαυρος; thesaurus, meaning "a treasure of the chest"

  7. A concentration of riches, often one which is considered lost or forgotten until being rediscovered

  8. A term of endearment

  9. To consider to be precious

  10. To store or stow in a safe place

The 16 treasures are key skills that underpin the entire system.


The 16 treasures are all neigong; habitual skills that transcend consciousness. But they are very particular skills.


In Wolf Lowenthal's book There Are No Secrets, the author presented a situation in which Cheng Man Ching had asked the students to push hands without using the arms.
The students were using tension. They were forcing a result. Cheng Man Ching wanted the students to push hands in a different way.
However, he was not prepared to explicitly tell the students what to do.

Chinese tradition

Years of fruitless practice bore no result. After Cheng Man Ching's death, the author was watching a video of the master pushing hands when he suddenly saw how to push hands correctly.
In hindsight it seemed obvious. Cheng Man Ching was not keeping secrets. In fact, he was showing the very skill all the time. But his students were just not ready to see it.
Think of the treasures as being like this example.

What are the 16 treasures?

No, we are not simply going to give you the answer. Finding out for yourself will be vastly more rewarding. Any instructor is capable of telling you.
They are the 16 key facets that underpin everything else you do. 16 things that make taijiquan work.

There are no secrets

All of our students are taught the 16 treasures. But only the thoughtful, sensitive students sees them. Without an understanding of their worth, the student may just walk straight past.
Then, what has been learned?

One of the purposes of taoist literature is to help to develop this special sensitivity and responsiveness to master living situations.

(Thomas Cleary) 

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 26 January 2020