Form (2)
Whole-body movement

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Muscle memory

Form trains muscle memory. Your body becomes familiar with certain ways of moving. These become habit. The habits can then be used martially.

Form follows function

The form movements arise from functionality. You evade an attack, coil the body, store and then release power. Nothing is random, aesthetically motivated or unfocussed.

Every pattern of movement has its nature, meaning and purpose, and must be researched and studied before it can be really understood.

(Yang Jwing-Ming)


Every action arises from intent. By moving the body according to the dictates of the mind, the form flows naturally and freely. The body responds. If there is no purpose, no intent, why even move?

Go deeper

Once the form choreography is accurate and familiar, the real work begins. The choreography is the beginning of your tai chi, not the end of it.
Instead of acquiring a new form, understand the one you have. Explore the body mechanics, how power is being generated, what lessons it is teaching you, and what you can do with it.
Feel it become smooth and subtle as your body grows into the sequence.

Yang style

We offer 5 Yang style taijiquan forms:

  1. Long Yang

  2. Sabre form

  3. Walking stick form

  4. Jian form

  5. Pao chui form

The first form has a fairly slow pace to begin with whilst the other forms are more brisk.

A ladder of skill

Each taijiquan form in our syllabus teaches new skills.
The student gains a foundation for all subsequent forms with the simple-seeming Long Yang form.
From this embryonic sequence the principle movement patterns and applications become evident.

Prove yourself capable

The forms challenge the student continually; drawing upon preceding abilities in order to forge the way ahead.
It is not possible to pick and choose a form simply because you like the idea of it.
Every new form represents a new and demanding task. Adequate skill with those forms that have come before is an absolute must.
Without the requisite skill, injury will ensue.

Slow down

The Long Yang form sequence will take at least 15 minutes to perform; ideally 20 minutes.
Then it must be mirrored.

Do not show off

Tai chi cultivates a taste for naturalness.
Instead of glossy, flamboyant, outward show, the student turns their attention inward.
They begin to notice the small, the seemingly insignificant, and they see the wonder of the ordinary.
This way of looking at things seems most appropriate for a martial art that conceals its power so skilfully.
The art is not ornate.
It is simple, direct, flowing and natural.
Within the slow spirals, curves and gentle steps can be found a grace that is difficult to articulate.

Collecting forms

Tai chi students occasionally seek to collect forms.
This usually stems from boredom and a lack of depth in their understanding.
A good guideline when considering learning a new form is to ask yourself why.
What is the new form teaching you?
Is it augmenting your current range of skills?

Which style?

It does not matter which style of tai chi you practice or which form you train providing it serves as a vehicle for the adequate practice of The Tai Chi Classics.
Style is irrelevant providing you are training:

The taijiquan principles
13 postures
Martially applicable movements
Optimal biomechanical use of the body
A physical embodiment of Taoism

Numbered forms

In the 1950's the People's Republic commissioned the creation of a
simplified tai chi exercise sequence deliberately devoid of martial and unpolitical Taoist influences.
This was
24 step form.
Please note that this was not a system or style of t
ai chi. It was only a form.
Later, more
numbered sport/competition forms were developed.

There is more to tai chi than form

Authentic taijiquan is more than a form; it is a system.
The training methods associated with the Art are extensive and diverse; they teach you how to move, how to strike, take a strike, evade and counter.
Students seek to embody the principles of t
aijiquan as expressed by The Tai Chi Classics.
Competence with form is one thing.
Skill in all areas of tai chi is something else entirely. There is much more to tai chi than form.

Worth reading

8 stages of form
Understanding form
Form pattern
Form applications
Form is movement
Form without function
Free the movement
Square form

8     application      beauty     copy     differences     dynamic     essentials      exaggeration     function     movement     pattern     slow     variations

Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 07 November 2018