Taijiquan syllabus

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Taijiquan student?

This is the beginning of the real taijiquan training.
Having explored some basic concepts the student is now required to increase their martial focus.
The student's ambition is to cease to act like a tai chi for health student.
They want to become a 'taijiquan student' instead...

Black T-shirt

The student wears a
black T-shirt rather than white.

More qigong

The student learns the last of the qigong exercises in an effort to build strength prior to the advanced syllabus (where neigong and form will replace qigong as the principle source of power).

Taijiquan training

There are many more applications to learn, weapons drills, stretching exercises, combat skills and sections 2 & 3 of the Long Yang form.
The student must also revise and mirror the entire form sequence.
This is a challenging part of the syllabus where home training really makes a difference.

How do you move?

Form reflects the way in which you personally move in taijiquan.
If your form is clumsy, then you are clumsy and that is useless for combat.
Your taijiquan must be fast, sensitive, alert, powerful and lively.
The cat-like grace of taijiquan encourages agile, strong movement, excellent poise, high energy levels and a feeling of vigour.

Invest in form

Students normally underestimate the significance of form.
Bad form = bad taijiquan.
It is that simple.
Your form highlights and determines how you move, how you use your body.
Invest as much time as you can in form practice. The better your form, the easier all aspects of the taijiquan will be to pull off.


In order to use taijiquan effectively in combat, the student must possess a versatile range of applications and diverse combat skills.
There are over 70 new applications to learn at this stage.
They must be performed accurately and effectively against a non-cooperative practice partner.


By expanding the depth and variety of their application, the martial student is furnishing themselves with options.
In actual combat they will have a broad range of possible responses available to them.

Shuai jiao is contingent upon fitness

Taijiquan students may only undertake shuai jiao if they can prove themselves to be fit enough.
We cannot in good conscience (or in keeping with the insurance regulations) offer shuai jiao to students who are physically incapable of performing the required movements.
Although we will assist students in cultivating the necessary degree of fitness, there is no scope for latitude/concessions.
Shuai jiao is physically demanding.
Both the attacker and defender must be supple, flexible, strong and relaxed.

Martial sets

There are three martial sets (san sau) to learn at this point in the syllabus
San sau are predetermined attack and defence sequences in which both students are required to adhere to a set pattern.
The purpose of san sau is to train timing, coordination, range, accuracy, footwork, rhythm, habitual responses, composure and reflexes.
Training begins with the basic pattern, before adding peng, jing and eventually full-power attacks.

The way most people do taijiquan, it's not a martial art. They could never use it the way they're doing it. Everything's in their hands, they just fill in the rest with fantasy talk.

(Paul Gale)


By the time the student has finished the experienced grade they should be well on their way to attaining good combat skills.
Their sense of range, timing, distance, power generation, leverage, balance, stability and mobility will be developed.


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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 10 February 2017