Our fourth syllabus form is Shi San Tai Bao. Shi San Tai Bao translates to Thirteen Wonders and is a White Crane form that can be found in some Yongchun White Crane Lineages from Fuzhou.
This form is unique, as the name tells us that unlike many external styles of Kung Fu, The White Crane system has the full internal picture, understanding how the internal dynamics create power without the need for Li (muscular strength).
From my experience (and this can and will change as I train, teach and learn more), the Five Ancestor Systems of Southern Shaolin through the influence of Yongchun White Crane, and any good Tai Chi or soft style systems when practised, lead to the same place, the understanding of the Thirteen Wonders.
The Thirteen Wonders as described in the Tai Chi classics are the Eight Trigrams and the Five Elements. Ignoring the five elements, for now, The Eight Trigrams are Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao. The different ways we can use our body to create force without Li (muscular strength). Peng, Lu, Ji and An being the four main directions of force and Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao being the quarter directions between the main hands. Peng (Ward Off), Lu (Roll Back), Ji (Squeeze), An (Press)
Those who train in any Southern style that teaches San Zhan or Sum Chien will have learnt to Float, Swallow, Spit & Sink their opponent’s force.
When using Peng, you are creating fullness and expansion, causing your opponent to lose their root to the ground, causing them to float.
When using Lu, you are emptying your force, and this causes your opponent to feel like they are being swallowed into the area you have emptied.
When using Ji, you are focussing your force into a single point like a strike causing your opponent to feel like they have been hit by a venomous spit that penetrates their structure.
When using An, you are bringing your force above your opponent and pressing it down, causing your opponent to feel pressure above them, causing them to sink.
This should make it clear that the Southern Shaolin systems from Fujian probably through the White Crane system have the complete internal picture and understand how it applies in combat.
As always, the key to understanding this is practice. The external style approach is through understanding the San Zhan or Sum Chien form and the internal style approach is through understanding whatever Tai Chi or Soft form you practice. But in the end, all roads lead to the same summit!