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Warm-Up: The First 17 Moves

(Opening to Appear to Close Entrance (and Cross Hands))

1. Opening of Tai Chi
2. Left Grasp Bird's Tail
3. Grasp Bird's Tail
4. Single Whip
5. Step Up and Raise Hands
6. White Stork Spreads Wings
7. Brush Knee (left)
8. Strum the Pei Pa
9. Brush Knee and Twist Step (left)
10. Brush Knee and Twist Step (right)
11. Brush Knee (left)
12. Strum the Pei Pa
13. Brush Knee and Twist Step (left)
14. Chop with Fist
15. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch
16. Appear to Close Entrance
17. Cross Hands

A Tang Pei Pa
(or Pipa)
"pay, Pa")
First Carry Tiger, Diagonal "Single Whip," and Fist Under Elbow
18. Carry Tiger to Mountain
19. Whip Out Diagonally
20. Fist Under Elbow
Monkey Pats Pony (5)
21. Go Back to Ward Off Monkey (left)
22. Go Back to Ward Off Monkey (right)
23. Go Back to Ward Off Monkey (left)
24. Flying at a Slant
25. Step Up and Raise Hands
26. White Stork Spreads Wings
27. Brush Knee (left)
28. Push Needle to Sea Bottom
29. Fan Penetrates through the Back
30. Turn and Chop with Fist
31. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch
32. Step Up to Grasp Bird's Tail
33. Single Whip
34. Move Hands Like Clouds (five times)
35. Single Whip
36. Reach Up to Pat Horse
37. Separate Foot to Right
38. Separate Foot to Left
39. Turn and Kick
40. Brush Knee and Twist Step (left)
41. Brush Knee and Twist Step (right)
42. Step Up and Punch
43. Turn and Chop with Fist
44. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch
45. Right Foot Kick
46. Hit Tiger at Left
47. Hit Tiger at Right
48. Right Foot Kick
49. Strike Ears with Fists
50. Left Foot Kick
51. Turn and Kick
52. Chop with Fist
53. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch
54. Appear to Close Entrance
55. Cross Hands
Horsies Stomp Chicken
56. Carry Tiger to Mountain
57. Whip Out Horizontally
58. Parting Wild Horse's Mane (right)
59. Parting Wild Horse's Mane (left)
60. Parting Wild Horse's Mane (right)
61. Parting Wild Horse's Mane (left)
62. Parting Wild Horse's Mane (right)
63. Left Grasp Bird's Tail
64. Step Up to Grasp Bird's Tail
65. Single Whip
66. Fair Lady Works Shuttles (left)
67. Fair Lady Works Shuttles (right)
68. Fair Lady Works Shuttles (left)
69. Fair Lady Works Shuttles (right)
70. Left Grasp Bird's Tail
71. Step Up to Grasp Bird's Tail
72. Single Whip
73. Move Hands Like Clouds (seven times)
74. Single Whip
75. Creeping Low Like a Snake
76. Golden Cock Stands on One Leg (left)
77. Golden Cock Stands on One Leg (right)
Monkey Pats Pony (3)
78. Go Back to Ward Off Monkey (left)
79. Go Back to Ward Off Monkey (right AND left)!
80. Flying at a Slant
81. Step Up and Raise Hands
82. White Stork Spreads Wings
83. Brush Knee (left)
84. Push Needle to Sea Bottom
85. Fan Penetrates through the Back
86. White Snake Turns and Puts Out Tongue
87. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch
88. Step Up to Grasp Bird's Tail
89. Single Whip
90. Move Hands Like Clouds (three times)
91. Single Whip
92. Reach Up to Pat Horse

The Grand Finale (Final 16 Moves)
93. Cross Hands to Penetrate
94. Turn and Kick
95. Chop with Fist
96. Brush Knee and Punch
97. Step Up to Grasp Bird's Tail
98. Single Whip
99. Creeping Low Like a Snake
100. Step Up to Seven Stars
101. Retreat to Ride Tiger
102. Turn Around to Sweep Lotus
103. Draw Bow to Shoot Tiger
104. Chop with Fist
105. Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch
106. Appear to Close Entrance
107. Cross Hands
108. Closing of Tai Chi

When discussing the various Tai Chi postures and Tai Chi movements (also referred to as Tai Chi poses or gestures)
the very first Tai Chi posture to understand and establish is the Wuji stance. By understanding this Tai Chi
posture properly you will develop a good foundation to then learn all the other Tai Chi postures.
Wu Chi Tai Chi Posture
Step #1: Start with the feet
As always, the very, very first thing to do is get your feet correct and in the Wuji Tai Chi Posture we establish what is
called the basic Horse stance where the feet are parallel, shoulder width apart.
Tai Chi Posture Horse Stance
Also make certain the weight is directly center of the feet. This means the weight is centered directly down through
the Yong Quan Point (Bubbling Spring, K 1) on the feet.
Bubbling Spring Point or K1
As I emphasized on the Learn Tai Chi Online For Free page, any deviations from this principle of keeping the weight
centered in the feet and you will destroy your posture higher up in the body. If your weight drifts to the inside or
outside of the feet, or too far forward or back, then your knees won't be aligned properly and neither will your hips
which may lead to joint damage over the long term.
So please, keep your weight centered in the middle of the feet.
Step #2: Sit into the legs
In many Tai Chi classes you will hear the instruction tuck the tail bone under, meaning you deliberately pivot the
pelvis forward trying to flatten out the lower back.
In no uncertain terms I am saying, DONT DO THAT!
The forced over-extension of the lower back muscles by doing this alignment wrong can be detrimental. There is
more involved behind the idea of tucking the tailbone that I will cover at a later stage.
So instead of saying tucking the tailbone under, I ask my students to sit into the legs. Align your hips and torso
as if you were sitting in a poised position on a chair.
Slouched vs Poised vs Forced
And then simply bend the knees so that the knees are over your toes and your weight is in the center of the feet.
You should feel poised, not slouched or forced.
Step #3: Float the spine
Running again with the idea of being poised, we allow our spine to extend naturally upwards. Imagine each vertebra
floating above the one below, extending upwards all the way through the neck up to the top of the head and
extending to the sky. A common instruction is to feel like a golden thread is holding up the crown of the head.
Please do not hold the spine with any forced posture, we want our spine to breathe and this will be inhibited if you
force or slouch the alignment of the spine.
Step #4: Relax the shoulders and sink the elbows
Now there can be some Tai Chi teachers out there that encourage a sort of hunched shoulder posture, this can be a
contrived or artificial understanding of the natural Tai Chi posture.
Simply maintain the poised alignment of the spine and let the shoulders relax. If done correctly the shoulders will
round out a bit but make sure it is not slouching. The Tai Chi Song Gong exercises are specifically aimed at
loosening the shoulders up properly.
Step #5: Touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth
Gently touch the tongue to the top of the mouth, this connects the Governing and Conception meridian channels in
the body. Please be soft with this, don't make it a forced or contrived connection.
Step #6: Integrate the body
The three external coordinations of the body are:
Wrists connected with ankles
Elbows connected with knees
Shoulders connected with hips
These coordinations occur both in a linear and in a diagonal fashion. For example in one sense we are connecting
left wrist with left ankle etc. but we are also identifying with the connection between the left wrist and right ankle
When I say "connect" I am merely saying that we make a mental connection between these points. These
coordinations will become more prominent or self-evident as you learn the Tai Chi Chuan form.
Step #7: Regulate the breathing
Our breathing is one of the Three Regulations (the other two are regulating the body and regulating the mind).
For now just make your breathing be naturally full without forcing it. Try and be mindfully aware of the rise and fall,
the expansion and contraction of your breathing. In Taoist inner alchemy practice this is called following the breath.

Tai Chi & Taoism

The cosmographic 'tai-chi'.
There exists a long history of movement and exercise systems which are associated with Taoism. In some sense
one can see elements of all of these as contributing to the climate from which Tai Chi emerged.
Lao Tsu, the founder of Taoism, wrote:

Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight.
-- Tao Te Ching (22)
He who stands of tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
-- Tao Te Ching (24)
Returning is the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
-- Tao Te Ching (40)
What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.
-- Tao Te Ching (54)
Stiff and unbending is the principle of death.
Gentle and yielding is the principle of life.
Thus an Army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.
-- Tao Te Ching (76)

There are some interesting inspirations for the movement philosophy of Tai Chi within the writings of Chuang
Tzu, for example:
"The pure man of old slept without dreams and woke without anxiety. He ate without indulging in sweet tastes
and breathed deep breaths. The pure man draws breaths from the depths of his heels, the multitude only from
their throats."
"[The sage] would not lean forward or backward to accomodate [things]. This is called tranquility on
disturbance, (which means) that it is especially in the midst of disturbance that tranquility becomes
Talisman of the Jade Lady.
This approach is reflected in the entire movement philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan. There is, moreover, a long
tradition of Taoist monks practicing exercises. Some of these were referred to as tai-yin or Taoist Breathing.
Exactly what these were and what their origins were is obscure but they are mentioned in Chinese chronicles as
early as 122 B.C.
Then in the sixth century A.D. Bodihdharma (called Ta Mo in Chinese) came to the Shao-Lin Monastery and,
seeing that the monks were in poor physical condition from too much meditation and too little excersize,
introduced his Eighteen Form Lohan Exercise. This approach gave rise to the Wei Chia or 'outer-extrinsic'
forms of exercise.
Later in the fifteenth century A.D. the purported founder of Tai Chi Chuan, the monk Chang San-feng, was
honoured by the Emperor Ying- tsung with the title of chen-jen, or 'spiritual man who has attained the Tao and
is no longer ruled by what he sees, hears or feels.' This indicates that already at this time there was a close
association between the philosophy of Taoism and the practice of Tai Chi.
In the Ming dynasty (14th to 17th centuries), Wang Yang-ming a leading philosopher preached a philosophy
which was a mixture of Taoism and Ch'an Buddhism which had certain associations with movement systems.
In any event the principles of yielding, softness, centeredness, slowness, balance, suppleness and rootedness are
all elements of Taoist philosophy that Tai Chi has drawn upon in its understanding of movement, both in
relation to health and also in its martial applications. One can see these influences (of softness and
effortlessness) in the names of certain movements in the Tai Chi Form, such as:
Cloud Hands
Wind Rolls the Lotus Leaves
Brush Dust Against the Wind
Push the Boat with the Current
Winds Sweeps the Plum Blossoms
Moreover the contemplation and appreciation nature, which are central features of Taoist thought seem to have
been reflected in the genesis of many Tai Chi movements such as:
White Crane Spreads Wings
Snake Creeps Down
Repulse Monkey
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
White Snake Sticks Out its Tongue
Grasp Sparrow's Tail
Golden Cock Sands on One Leg
Swallow Skims the Water
Bird Flies into Forest
Lion Shakes it's Head
Tiger Hugs its Head
Wild Horse Leaps the Ravine
White Ape Devotes Fruit
Yellow Bee Returns to Nest
The story comes to us that Chang San-feng watched a fight between a bird and a snake and in this event saw
how the soft and yielding could overcome the hard and inflexible. Particularly significant here is the reference
to the White Crane (The Manchurian Crane, Grus japonensis), with its red crest an important symbol for Taoist
Certain features of Taoist alchemy and talismanic symbolism have also penetrated the Tai Chi forms. As part of
their contemplation of nature the Taoists observed the heavens and were keen students of astronomy and
astrology. Movements of the Tai Chi Form such as :
Step Up to Seven Stars
Embrace the Moon
Biggest Star in the Great Dipper
Encase the Moon in Three Rings
The Smallest Star in the Big Dipper
Meteor Runs After Moon
Heavenly Steed Soars Across the Sky
Meditating Under the Protection of the Big Dipper.
Reflect this Taoist astrological concern.
Symbolism was a potent force in Taoist thinking. Taoist magic diagrams were regarded as potent talismans
having great command over spiritual forces. They invoked the harmonizing influence of yin-yang and Eternal
Change; the Divine Order of Heaven, Earth and Mankind; and the workings of the Universe through the
principal of the Five Elements. These were symbolized by the Five Sacred Mountains (Taishan, Hengshan
[Hunan], Songshan, Huashan and Hengshan [Hopei]), central places of Taoist development and pilgrimage.
Thus it is no surprise to find that the symbolism of names has, in important ways, infiltrated the forms of Tai
Chi. There was a numerological component to this symbolism as well. The number '5' has a special mystical
significance to Taoists (and to Chinese in general). There are the symbolic five mountains, five elements, five
colours, five planets, five virtues, five emotions, five directions, etc. all of which have a mystic significance.
Hence we see five Repulse Monkeys or Five Cloud Hands in the Tai Chi form. There are many instances where
the numbers '1', '3', '5' and '7' figure prominently in the structure of Tai Chi.