1 Mounted and Foot Archery Illustrated, Liu Qu, 1722 Translated by Scott M. Rodell with Meilu Chen-Rodell, copyright 2012 Notes on translation: There is no perfect translation of a classical text like this. In fact, the notion that there is one to one correlation between words in different languages is a translation fallacy. Also when reading a text such as this, there are often terms or phrases that one may understand perfectly well in the original, that simply cannot be express as succinctly in English as they are in Chinese. And, naturally, every translator comes with his or her own personal perspective. Therefore, every translation, by its very nature, is an interpretation. The translation presented here is based on over four decades of experience in martial arts, including years of full contact combat with weapons, as well as years of bow hunting experience. Many of the ideas recorded in this manual, are reminiscent of training in internal martial arts. One example is the textʼs description of eyeing the target, which has the same flavor as the moment one sights at opening for a cut in free swordplay. In combat, one is joined to the target in a quite different fashion than the way a casual target archer observes his or her target before drawing. When one faces an opponent, who is looking back with the same intentions, one is focused in a different fashion than when there is no opponent. This text reads differently to one that has swam such seas, than for one who has never had their target shoot back with an intent to cause real harm. With any translation there is the question of the style in which to render the work. Some translators endeavor to translate a text into the best English possible. Personally, I prefer to keep the translated text to be as close to and parallel with the original, often terse, Chinese as possible. This may mean that the English version of this translation is less than "prefect" English, but when rendered in this fashion, hopefully it is closer to the original in flavor and thus intent. For those unable to read the original Chinese text, it is strongly suggested that after reading this translation, you also read Stephen Selby's translation of this same text in his book, Chinese Archery.
2 The mounted and foot stance illustrations have thirteen postures. All (techniques) are based on the Capitol's Imperial Body Guard. These all have a relationship to ancient and important principles. These illustrations are for checking (one's technique) to verify it is correct, they are not just for decoration. From the heel to the top of head, not one little bit is not without principle, not one bit is not useful. Carefully observe to understand the spirit of the movement. Move to in front of a mirror, under a light and imitate these movements. Make the whole body like the illustration. Once these principles are set in you, even if you spoke face to face with a knowledgeable person, your learning would be the same.
3 Straighten the Body, Hold the Bow Posture Look at the posture of this man, internally aligned, outwardly straight. He is calm, unhurried and refined. His entire spirit is gathered internally, not shown on the outside; this is a higher-level skill. When it comes to holding the bow, releasing the arrow, he moves gracefully and reserved, but this is of secondary importance. But these movements are very natural and graceful, you must study them.
4 Fixing the Will, Finding the Nock Posture Look at the posture of this man, he is dignified and quiet, his spirit (shen) concentrated as he focuses on the target, his whole person doesn't have a bit of idleness. These are more important points than "embracing the bow, nocking the arrow like plucking a star," which is a new style in the Capitol, which demonstrates gracefulness, but it is also great to study.
5 Raise the Bow, Raise the Breath Posture Notice in this posture, the two hands are not too high, not too low; his ribs are not leaning to one side, not twisted. Open the waist, inhale with the navel. Directly facing the front (target), shoulders level, this is the outer appearance and easy to see, raising the breath (qi) is the most difficult. Look carefully at the navel where he is inhaling, then you will see the wonder of it. At this moment, when raising the breath, cannot be neglected, you must remember this.
6 Link the Hips (He Kua), Draw the String Posture This illustration of posture is taken from the side not the front. Look at the shoulders, elbows, and back, these three place have zu hou jin gongfu (meaning ample, evenly applied strength, i.e the strength being used to draw the bow is equally distributed across the shoulders, elbow and back), at this moment, these three are very important. Concerning the waist (it is) not soft (loose), bottom not protruding, stomach not sticking out, knees not bent, although this is the outward appearance, not where the inner strength is, the structure has to be this way. If not like this, then there will be problems.
7 Adding Strength Evenly Posture (jin) Look at his posture, when he draws the bow to percent, combining qi and strength (li), uniformly add strength (jin) at the chest, stomach, waist, elbow, all together at once. Then both shoulders can open and the back bones can come together, this is the technique (gongfu) before full draw. One needs to carefully study and imitate this posture, then at full draw you will still have strength left. (Note that within the internal martial arts of China, two types of strength are delineated, jin, which comes from the ligaments and bones and is considered "internal" strength and li, which is either general strength of the body or specially strength generated by the muscles).
8 Drawing the Bow to Full Draw This posture is viewed facing the front of his body (side view), so you cannot see how the string is drawn. You should observe him, the chest bone is open, the left and right shoulders and elbows are level and straight like a balance scale,* then the back will come together without doubt. This is the correct full draw posture. The student needs to gradually add skills one by one, then he will definitely achieve wonderful skill. When it comes to the front (bow) hand taking stress, and rear (string) hand returning to its place, the waist and stomach use internal strength (jin), these all help each other. *The term translated as balance scale is heng, literally means to weigh or measure. From an early age, Chinese used a balance scale with two pans to called a du liang heng.
9 Verifying Release Method Posture Look at the posture of this man, the front hand does not move, does not shake. This is the first, most important detail. This is the ancient method, use the back hand to release the arrow, the front hand does not know it's meaning (i.e. does not respond). When it comes to the back palm going out to level (with the shoulder), it is just to ensure that the hand goes absolutely straight. If you use too much strength, then this is a mistake. Both methods are very important and cannot be neglected.
10 Front View of Aiming at Target Accurately (Ren Shun) Look at his posture, the bow is upright and level, sighting straight at the target, not leaning, not inclining, the front and back (hands) in a straight line (to the target). This is an important skill. The rest is the same as other postures.
11 Adding Strength to the Back Elbow (Draw Arm) Posture Look at his posture, the elbows are not loose, the shoulders not hunched, the hands not hanging, this position provides the most strength (jin). Imitate and try to understand his head, chest, back, waist, and bottom posture.
12 Leading the Horse Posture Look at his posture; he reins in the horse, as he enters the course, not nervous, not rushed. When it comes to the arms, waist, knees, feet, all are correct, all these points cannot be neglected.
13 Shooting Level Target Posture Look at his posture, waist turned sideways, bottom not moving, arms extended, and the shoulders loose, at ease, these points are very important. When the bow is fully drawn, it is vertical; the force (weight) is again between the two knees. These points should be observed carefully.
14 Shooting Down at a Ball Posture Look at his posture, his knees are bent, and he's slanting (forward) at the hips, drawing the string, aiming at the target accurately, Manchus practiced this posture repeatedly to make it prefect. It is easy to learn, but the right foot cannot lift from the stirrup, both knees cannot loosen their grip on the top of the saddle. These are important rules.
15 Shooting Completed Rein in Horse Posture Look at his posture, he reins in his horse unhurried, the two arms close to the ribs, the whole body at the same time emphasis strength, not leaning forward nor backward, with each step strength is added. Not only does he have the appearance of seasoned skill (guan jia), but also the horse's four hooves understand (his strength), (so the horse) never makes the mistake of being confused or stumbling.
16 These four horseback archery postures come form the Capitol's Imperial Body Guard imitating the Manchu style, these are the most reliable and easy to use, there is no doubt about this. From my generation, when you go to the Military Testing Ground, if one wants to be the most outstanding, you must keep these in mind. Besides these, there are skills (to know), they are just being very skilled with bow and horse, these you can understand completely yourself, they don't need to be recorded in this book. Kangxi Renshen year, summer.