Tai Chi


Many people who approach tai chi are interested for the health benefits (the link is to an article in the May 2009 Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter, updated in 2015).  The Mayo Clinic also summarizes the evidence about tai chi.  Most say more research is a good idea, for example this NEJM report on tai chi and fibromyalgia,  and this study of Parkinson's patients. 


The 16 Form

There are many forms, or sets of postures, in tai chi.  For example, “The 16 Form” is a creation of my teacher, Lily Qin.  Here is a list of the 16 postures, with and here is a list with little pictures to help you visualize each posture. tai 

Another beginning form is the Yang Style Ten Form, here shared by EverydayTaichi.org. 


The 24 Form

If you travel around the world you will most likely see the standard (sometimes called simplified) Tai Chi 24 form.  Here is a list of the 24 postures.  Courtesy of Michael P. Garofalo, here is a detailed description of the 24 form, along with figure drawings for each posture. 

·      Maku should be watched by all beginners.  Try to look like this.  He teaches in the Los Angeles area.  Here is another of his videos. 

·      Here is the form filmed from behind, easier for following along.  The front view of the same person is here.  

·      This gem from Youtube is billed as a world champion—learn a lot by comparing her to the others. 

·      Here is the form gracefully and athletically performed.  (Note: this person is a Cirque du Soleil level athlete, and no one in our class bends that low or kicks that high.  But it is something to see.) 


The 108 Form

The Yang Family Long Form, often called "the 108," is performed here by Master Xie Bingcan, who teaches in Redmond, WA.  He is the real deal.  Part two is here, and part three is here.  For those of you who use the Fu Jhongwen book, noted below, Master Xie has been described as his student performing the form closest to the way Master Fu did it.

Here is a list of the 108 postures. 

Here is an audio guide through parts 1 and 2 of the 108 form (part 1 is mostly brush knee, part two has needle-at-sea-bottom and ends with wave-hands-like-clouds). 


Here is Xia Yu Rong, who teaches in Singapore, doing most of the form, first here, and then here.   

Here is a person on Youtube, Milton McGriff, doing a pretty good job on the long form, photographed from behind.  Here is part one, then part two, then part three.

The 108 should be learned slow.  But one way to test your stability, execution, focus, etc., is to try it relatively fast.  Here is an example, performed by Chen Qiong. 


The Yang Family 54 Sword Form

·      Here is the guy in the courtyard (Li Guang Qi).  

·      Here is Master Xie Bingcan, the newer video in front of the garage. 

·      Here is Peter Tam-Hoy.  Imitate any or all of these three and you can't go wrong. 

·      Here is a list of the 54 postures in the sword form. 




Here are “Ten Important Points for Tai Chi.”  The list is also referred to at the “Ten Essentials.”  Beginning and advanced students should refer to this often.  

The “ten important points” link is excerpted from a very good book:  Douglas Wile, compiler and translator, T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions (NY: Sweet Ch’i Press, 1983), ISBN = 0-912059-01-x. 

Another very good book, with the Ten Essentials, tai chi classics, and detailed descriptions of each posture in the long form, is Fu Zhongwen, Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan, translated by Louis Swaim (Berkeley: Blue Snake Books, 2006), ISBN-13 = 978-1-58394-152-2.

An interesting book is Wolf Lowenthal, There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing and his Tai Chi Chuan (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1991), ISBN 1-55643-112-0. 

For those who want a DVD to support their learning the Standard Form, the best I have seen is Simplified Tai Chi Chuan With Applications, from Master Liang, Shou-Yu. 

Tai Chi involves many visualizations, which are extensively described in Martin Mellish, A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook (Singing Dragon Publications, 2010), ISBN 978-1848190290. 



People interested in some other tai chi practices are invited to check out the Tai Chi Qigong Wellness Center, in Tacoma.  They have a Facebook page, too.  The current schedule is found here.  (If you sign up for one class, you can go to any of them.)  There are classes for beginning, experienced, and for those with extensive experience.  Over the years instruction has included a sword form, A Buddha or Cha'an form, Bagua, Dalu, other forms of push hands, and cane.


And, for those interested, here are links to some amazing and weird tai chi things. 



Thank you, 

Sid Olufs


last updated February, 2019.


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