Taijiquan syllabus

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Learning a martial art

When learning a martial art there are essentially 3 stages:

  1. Physical fitness

  2. Technical skill

  3. Combat

Most students want to do 3 but flounder on 1.
The beginner's syllabus and intermediate are about physical fitness.
The experienced syllabus is about technical skill.

Where do you start?

All students start out as tai chi for health students. The first two grades are non-martial.
Beginners practice:

  1. Qigong exercises

  2. Partner work

  3. Long Yang form (section 1)

  4. Theory & principles

The onus is upon getting fit, strong, supple, coordinated and relaxed.
Good alignment, ergonomics and elementary physics are all introduced.
Students learn how to focus and work with one another in a constructive manner.

Awaken your brain

According to the book The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, the human brain is quite literally akin to a muscle.
The more frequently and consistently your brain works on a given area of skill, the greater its capacity to perform the skill with ease.

Train as much as you can

Taijiquan beginners often have high expectations and a low commitment to practice.
Often the student struggles to meet their own ambitions.
To break this problem, train frequently.
Nothing beats practice.
Time committed to practice during your early stages of development will pay dividends in the long run.


Since an exponent is not adept with taijiquan, they need to do a lot of qigong.
It will provide the necessary health benefits by serving as a stopgap pending higher level taijiquan skill.

Worth reading

Tailored learning   
Strong mental attitude
Home training
The Sword Polisher's Record: The Way of Kung Fu by Adam Hsu


The samurai must maintain his faith in his beliefs, even as the social or political climate shifts and alters. He must be patient, must act in a manner that may at times seem irrational or illogical, must resist the temptations of instant gratification, and must work towards fulfilling what may seem to be an impossible idea.

As a result, the samurai is often something of an outsider, a rebellious figure because he refuses to conform to the habits of the day.

(Takahiro Kitamura)


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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 12 February 2017