Yang Style Tai Chi Postures List

Here is a complete list of postures in the traditional hand form(s) of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan.

Since Taijiquan (太极拳) was first introduced to English speakers as “Tai Chi,” its original Chinese posture names have inspired more than one translation. Some were meant to be literal, others more evocative. The most popular translations are listed here.

Each “posture” consists of one to four distinct movements, sometimes even more.

Various schools use different methods to count postures. For example, “Separation Kicks” contains a kick to the right, then to the left; some teachers identify this sequence as one posture, while others call it two postures. The same traditional form is thereby enumerated as having 81, 85, 88, 103, or 108 postures.

Counting methods used by Fu Family (“85 form”) and the Yang Family (“103 form”) are both shown in the table below.

Many of these postures are repeated during the form, either on the same side, or the opposite side. The number of unique postures is approximately 40.

Due to the length and complexity of this form, it is usually split into three sections. These sections are delimited by the “Cross Hands” posture.

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Fu #
(Yang #)
English
Name
Pinyin
(中文)
1PreparationYùbèi
(预备)
2BeginningQǐ shì
(起式)
3Grasp the Bird’s TailLǎn què wěi
(揽雀尾)
4Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
5Raise Hands and Step ForwardTí shǒu shàng shì
(提手上势)
6White Crane Spreads its WingsBái hè liàng chì
(白鹤亮翅)
7Left Brush Knee and PushZuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù
(左搂膝拗步)
8Play the PipaShǒu huī pípá
(手挥琵琶)
9
(9-11)
Brush Knee and Push (3 times)Lōu xī ǎo bù
(搂膝拗步)
10
(12)
Play the PipaShǒu huī pípá
(手挥琵琶)
11
(13)
Left Brush Knee and PushZuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù
(左搂膝拗步)
12
(14)
Step Forward, Parry, Block, and PunchJìn bù bān lán chuí
(进步搬拦捶)
13
(15)
Apparent ClosingRú fēng shì bì
(如封似闭)
14
(16)
Cross HandsShí zì shǒu
(十字手)
 Second Section 
15
(17)
Embrace Tiger, Return to MountainBào hǔ guī shān
(抱虎归山)
16
(18)
Fist Under ElbowZhǒu dǐ chuí
(肘底捶)
17
(19-21)
Step Back and Repulse Monkey (3 times)Dào niǎn hóu
(倒撵猴)
18
(22)
Diagonal FlyingXié fēi shì
(斜飞式)
19
(23)
Raise Hands and Step ForwardTí shǒu shàng shì
(提手上势)
20
(24)
White Crane Spreads its WingsBái hè liàng chì
(白鹤亮翅)
21
(25)
Left Brush Knee and PushZuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù
(左搂膝拗步)
22
(26)
Needle at Sea BottomHǎi dǐ zhēn
(海底针)
23
(27)
Fan Through BackShàn tōng bèi
(扇通背)
24
(28)
Turn Body, Chop with FistZhuǎn shēn piē shēn chuí
(转身撇身捶)
25
(29)
Step Forward, Parry, Block, and PunchJìn bù bān lán chuí
(进步搬拦捶)
26
(30)
Step Forward, Grasp the Bird’s TailShàng bù lǎn què wěi
(上步揽雀尾)
27
(31)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
28
(32-34)
Cloud Hands (3 times)Yún shǒu
(云手)
29
(35)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
30
(36)
High Pat on HorseGāo tàn mǎ
(高探马)
31
(37)
Right Separation KickYòu fēn jiǎo
(右分脚)
31
(38)
Left Separation KickZuǒ fèn jiǎo
(左分脚)
32
(39)
Turn Body and Kick with HeelZhuǎn shēn zuǒ dēng jiǎo
(转身左蹬脚)
33
(40-41)
Brush Knee and Push (2 times)Lōu xī ǎo bù
(搂膝拗步)
34
(42)
Step Forward and Punch DownJìn bù zāi chuí
(进步栽锤)
35
(43)
Turn Body, Chop with FistZhuǎn shēn piē shēn chuí
(转身撇身锤)
36
(44)
Step Forward, Parry, Block, and PunchJìn bù bān lán chuí
(进步搬拦锤)
37
(45)
Right Heel KickYòu dēng jiǎo
(右蹬脚)
38
(46)
Left Strike TigerZuǒ dǎ hǔ shì
(左打虎式)
39
(47)
Right Strike TigerYòu dǎ hǔ shì
(右打虎式)
40
(48)
Turn Body, Right Heel KickHuí shēn yòu dēng jiǎo
(回身右蹬脚)
41
(49)
Twin Fists Strike EarsShuāng fēng guàn ěr
(双峰灌耳)
42
(50)
Left Heel KickZuǒ dēng jiǎo
(左蹬脚)
43
(51)
Turn Body, Right Keel KickZhuǎn shēn yòu dēng jiǎo
(转身右蹬脚)
44
(52)
Step Forward, Parry, Block and PunchJìn bù bān lán chuí
(进步搬拦锤)
45
(53)
Apparent ClosingRú fēng shì bì
(如封似闭)
46
(54)
Cross HandsShí zì shǒu
(十字手)
 Third Section 
47
(55)
Embrace Tiger, Return to MountainBào hǔ guī shān
(抱虎归山)
48
(56)
Diagonal Single WhipXié dān biān
(斜单鞭)
49
(57-59)
Part the Wild Horse’s Mane (3 times)Yě mǎ fēn zōng
(野马分鬃)
50
(60)
Grasp the Bird’s TailLǎn què wěi
(揽雀尾)
51
(61)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
52
(62)
Fair Lady Works at ShuttlesYù nǚ chuān suō
(玉女穿梭)
53
(63)
Grasp the Bird’s TailLǎn què wěi
(揽雀尾)
54
(64)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
55
(65-67)
Cloud Hands (3 times)Yún shǒu
(云手)
56
(68)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
57
(69)
Snake Creeps DownXià shì
(下势)
58
(70-71)
Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg (2 times)Jīn jī dú lì
(金鸡独立)
59
(72-74)
Step Back and Repulse Monkey (3 times)Dào niǎn hóu
(倒撵猴)
60
(75)
Diagonal FlyingXié fēi shì
(斜飞式)
61
(76)
Raise Hands and Step ForwardTí shǒu shàng shì
(提手上势)
62
(77)
White Crane Spreads its WingsBái hè liàng chì
(白鹤亮翅)
63
(78)
Left Brush Knee and PushZuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù
(左搂膝拗步)
64
(79)
Needle at Sea BottomHǎi dǐ zhēn
(海底针)
65
(80)
Fan Through BackShàn tōng bèi
(扇通背)
66
(81)
Turn Body, White Snake Darts TongueZhuǎn shēn bái shé tǔ xìn
(转身白蛇吐信)
67
(82)
Step Forward, Parry, Block and PunchJìn bù bān lán chuí
(进步搬拦捶)
68
(83)
Grasp the Bird’s TailShàng bù lǎn què wěi
(上步揽雀尾)
69
(84)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
70
(85-87)
Cloud Hands (3 times)Yún shǒu
(云手)
71
(88)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
72
(89)
High Pat on Horse, Piercing PalmGāo tàn mǎ chuān zhǎng
(高探马穿掌)
73
(90)
Cross KickShí zì tuǐ
(十字腿)
74
(91)
Step Forward and Punch to GroinJìn bù zhǐ dāng chuí
(进步指裆锤)
75
(92)
Grasp the Bird’s TailShàng bù lǎn què wěi
(上步揽雀尾)
76
(93)
Single WhipDān biān
(单鞭)
77
(94)
Snake Creeps DownXià shì
(下势)
78
(95)
Step Forward, Seven StarsShàng bù qī xīng
(上步七星)
79
(96)
Step Back, Ride the TigerTuì bù kuà hǔ
(退步跨虎)
80
(97)
Turn Body, Lotus KickZhuǎn shēn bǎi lián
(转身摆莲)
81
(98)
Bend Bow, Shoot TigerWān gōng shè hǔ
(弯弓射虎)
82
(99)
Step Forward, Parry, Block, and PunchJìn bù bān lán chuí
(进步搬拦锤)
83
(100)
Apparent ClosingRú fēng shì bì
(如封似闭)
84
(101)
Cross HandsShí zì shǒu
(十字手)
85
(102-103)
Closing PostureShōu shì, Huán yuán
(收式 还原)
Notes on the 85/103 Form

3. “Grasp the Bird’s Tail” refers to the sequence of Wardoff, Rollback, Press and Push. This posture is also translated as “Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail.”
4. The “whip” in “Single Whip” evokes a long pole or yoke carried across the shoulders and back; not a flexible leather whip.
5. Also translated as “Lift Hands Upward.”
7. “Brush Knee and Push” is more literally translated as “Brush Knee Twist Step.”
8. The “pipa” is a Chinese musical instrument, similar to a guitar or a lute. Also translated as “Hands Strum the Lute”.
12. Also translated as “Advance Step, Deflect, Parry and Punch.”
13. Also translated as “Like Sealing, As If Closing.” This evokes “sealing” a door with an “X” made of tamper-evident tape, e.g. police tape.
18. Also translated as “Flying Obliquely.”
24. Also translated as “Turn Body and Strike.”
30. Also translated as “High Mounted Scout.” This evokes an infantry scout on horseback, looking down on a battlefield from elevation, using one hand to keep the sun out of his eyes while holding reins with the other.
41. Also translated as “Twin Peaks Strike Ears.”
52. The “shuttle” in “Fair Lady Works at Shuttles” refers to the traditional fabric weaving tool. Also translated as, “Jade Maiden Threads Shuttle.”
57. Also translated as “Squatting Single Whip.”
73. Also translated as “Cross-Shaped Legs.” “Cross” here refers to 十, the Chinese ideogram for the number 10.
78. “Seven stars” evokes the Big Dipper, and also the extremities used for striking.
79. Also translated as “Retreat Astride Tiger.”
80. Also translated as “Turn Body, Sweep Lotus.”

Tai Chi Demonstration Video

This video shows the Yang form in the forward direction, so that you can face the screen as you practice.

See also: Grasp the Bird’s Tail

Fu Zhongwen Video

Master Fu Zhongwen began learning Yang family Tai Chi when he was just nine years old. Fu worked tirelessly to perfect his teacher’s skills, repeating the form more than ten times each day. Among Yang Chengfu’s disciples, Fu is recognized as a faithful inheritor and peerless exemplar of the art. Here is a short clip of his performance.

Demonstration by Fu Zhongwen’s assistant instructor, Xie Bingcan:

Other Form Variations

Steelyard 27 Form

24 Form

Also known as the Simplified Form, or the Beijing Form.

Although the 24 Form uses the same movement names as the traditional Yang style form, many of the positions have been deliberately adjusted from earlier standards.

#Posture / Movement
1Beginning
2Part the Wild Horse’s Mane (3 times)
3White Crane Spreads its Wings
4Brush Knee and Push (3 times)
5Play the Pipa
6Step Back and Repulse Monkey (4 times)
7Grasp the Bird’s Tail (Left)
8Grasp the Bird’s Tail (Right)
9Single Whip
10Cloud Hands (5 times)
11Single Whip
12High Pat on Horse
13Right Heel Kick
14Twin Fists Strike Ears
15Left Heel Kick
16Snake Creeps Down; Golden Rooster Left
17Snake Creeps Down; Golden Rooster Right
18Fair Lady Works at Shuttles (2 times)
19Needle at Sea Bottom
20Fan Through Back
21Turn Body; Parry, Block and Punch
22Apparent Closing
23Cross Hands
24Closing
24 Forms Taijiquan, by Xie Bingcan

37 Form

This variation was created and popularized by Cheng Man-ch’ing (郑曼青). Here the number 37 refers to the number of postures in the form, and does not count the repetitions at all.

Posture / Movement
Preparation / Commencement
Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail
Single Whip
Raise Arms
White Crane Spreads Wings
Brush Knee, Twist Step
Play Guitar
Brush Knee, Twist Step
Advance, Deflect, Parry and Punch
Withdraw and Push
Cross Hands
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
Diagonal Single Whip
Fist Under Elbow
Step Back and Repulse Monkey
Diagonal Flying
Wave Hands Like Clouds
Single Whip
Snake Creeps Down
Golden Cock Stands on One Leg
Separate Legs
Turn and Kick with Heel
Brush Knee, Twist Step
Advance and Plant Fist
Rise Up and Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail
Single Whip
Fair Lady Weaves Shuttles
Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail
Single Whip
Snake Creeps Down
Step Up, Seven Stars
Step Back to Ride the Tiger
Turn Around, Sweep Lotus
Bend Bow Shoot Tiger
Advance, Deflect, Parry and Punch
Withdraw and Push
Cross Hands
Conclusion

60 Form

This variation was created by William C.C. Chen. In his own words, “I modified Professor Cheng’s short form, because during my first decade teaching, I was often asked by my students about the missing parts of the Yang-style long form… compared to versions generally taught, my 60 movements are slightly higher in stance and smaller in step.”

88 Sparring Form

Taiji Sanshou Duida 太極散手對打

This two-person applications form was taught by Tian Zhaolin, and documented by Chen Yanlin.

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