Fist Under Elbow

This is a list of postures in the traditional form of Yang style Taijiquan.

Since Taijiquan was first introduced to English speakers as “Tai Chi,” many of the original Chinese posture names have generated more than one translation. Some were meant to be literal, others more evocative. The most popular translations are given here.

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

This sequence is counted differently by various schools. For example, “Separation Kicks” contains a kick to the right, then to the left; some teachers call this one posture, others two postures. The same form is thereby identified as containing 85, 103, and 108 postures. Counting methods used by Fu Zhongwen (“85 form”) and the Yang Family (“103 form”) are both included below.

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Fu # Posture in English Chinese Pinyin Yang #
1 Preparation 预备 Yùbèi 1
2 Beginning 起式 Qǐ shì 2
3 Grasp the Bird’s Tail 揽雀尾 Lǎn què wěi 3
4 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 4
5 Raise Hands and Step Forward 提手上势 Tí shǒu shàng shì 5
6 White Crane Spreads its Wings 白鹤亮翅 Bái hè liàng chì 6
7 Left Brush Knee and Push 左搂膝拗步 Zuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù 7
8 Play the Pipa 手挥琵琶 Shǒu huī pípá 8
9 Brush Knee and Push (3 times) 搂膝拗步 Lōu xī ǎo bù 9-11
10 Play the Pipa 手挥琵琶 Shǒu huī pípá 12
11 Left Brush Knee and Push 左搂膝拗步 Zuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù 13
12 Step Forward, Parry, Block, and Punch 进步搬拦捶 Jìn bù bān lán chuí 14
13 Apparent Closing 如封似闭 Rú fēng shì bì 15
14 Cross Hands 十字手 Shí zì shǒu 16
17 Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain 抱虎归山 Bào hǔ guī shān 15
16 Fist Under Elbow 肘底捶 Zhǒu dǐ chuí 18
17 Step Back and Repulse Monkey (3 times) 倒撵猴 Dào niǎn hóu 19-21
18 Diagonal Flying 斜飞式 Xié fēi shì 22
19 Raise Hands and Step Forward 提手上势 Tí shǒu shàng shì 23
20 White Crane Spreads its Wings 白鹤亮翅 Bái hè liàng chì 24
21 Left Brush Knee and Push 左搂膝拗步 Zuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù 25
22 Needle at Sea Bottom 海底针 Hǎi dǐ zhēn 26
23 Fan Through Back 扇通背 Shàn tōng bèi 27
24 Turn Body, Chop with Fist 转身撇身捶 Zhuǎn shēn piē shēn chuí 28
25 Step Forward, Parry, Block, and Punch 进步搬拦捶 Jìn bù bān lán chuí 29
26 Step Forward, Grasp the Bird’s Tail 上步揽雀尾 Shàng bù lǎn què wěi 30
27 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 31
28 Cloud Hands (3 times) 云手 Yún shǒu 32-34
29 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 35
30 High Pat on Horse 高探马 Gāo tàn mǎ 36
31 Right Separation Kick 右分脚 Yòu fēn jiǎo 37
31 Left Separation Kick 左分脚 Zuǒ fèn jiǎo 38
32 Turn Body and Kick with Heel 转身左蹬脚 Zhuǎn shēn zuǒ dēng jiǎo 39
33 Brush Knee and Push (2 times) 搂膝拗步 Lōu xī ǎo bù 40-41
34 Step Forward and Punch Down 进步栽锤 Jìn bù zāi chuí 42
35 Turn Body, Chop with Fist 转身撇身锤 Zhuǎn shēn piē shēn chuí 43
36 Step Forward, Parry, Block, and Punch 进步搬拦锤 Jìn bù bān lán chuí 44
37 Right Heel Kick 右蹬脚 Yòu dēng jiǎo 45
38 Left Strike Tiger 左打虎式 Zuǒ dǎ hǔ shì 46
39 Right Strike Tiger 右打虎式 Yòu dǎ hǔ shì 47
40 Turn Body, Right Heel Kick 回身右蹬脚 Huí shēn yòu dēng jiǎo 48
41 Twin Fists Strike Ears 双峰灌耳 Shuāng fēng guàn ěr 49
42 Left Heel Kick 左蹬脚 Zuǒ dēng jiǎo 50
43 Turn Body, Right Keel Kick 转身右蹬脚 Zhuǎn shēn yòu dēng jiǎo 51
44 Step Forward, Parry, Block and Punch 进步搬拦锤 Jìn bù bān lán chuí 52
45 Apparent Closing 如封似闭 Rú fēng shì bì 53
46 Cross Hands 十字手 Shí zì shǒu 54
47 Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain 抱虎归山 Bào hǔ guī shān 55
48 Diagonal Single Whip 斜单鞭 Xié dān biān 56
49 Part the Wild Horse’s Mane (3 times) 野马分鬃 Yě mǎ fēn zōng 57-59
50 Grasp the Bird’s Tail 揽雀尾 Lǎn què wěi 60
51 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 61
52 Fair Lady Works at Shuttles 玉女穿梭 Yù nǚ chuān suō 62
53 Grasp the Bird’s Tail 揽雀尾 Lǎn què wěi 63
54 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 64
55 Cloud Hands (3 times) 云手 Yún shǒu 65-67
56 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 68
57 Snake Creeps Down 下势 Xià shì 69
58 Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg (2 times) 金鸡独立 Jīn jī dú lì 70-71
59 Step Back and Repulse Monkey (3 times) 倒撵猴 Dào niǎn hóu 72-74
60 Diagonal Flying 斜飞式 Xié fēi shì 75
61 Raise Hands and Step Forward 提手上势 Tí shǒu shàng shì 76
62 White Crane Spreads its Wings 白鹤亮翅 Bái hè liàng chì 77
63 Left Brush Knee and Push 左搂膝拗步 Zuǒ lōu xī ǎo bù 78
64 Needle at Sea Bottom 海底针 Hǎi dǐ zhēn 79
65 Fan Through Back 扇通背 Shàn tōng bèi 80
66 Turn Body, White Snake Darts Tongue 转身白蛇吐信 Zhuǎn shēn bái shé tǔ xìn 81
67 Step Forward, Parry, Block and Punch 进步搬拦捶 Jìn bù bān lán chuí 82
68 Grasp the Bird’s Tail 上步揽雀尾 Shàng bù lǎn què wěi 83
69 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 84
70 Cloud Hands (3 times) 云手 Yún shǒu 85-87
71 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 88
72 High Pat on Horse, Piercing Palm 高探马穿掌 Gāo tàn mǎ chuān zhǎng 89
73 Cross Kick 十字腿 Shí zì tuǐ 90
74 Step Forward and Punch to Groin 进步指裆锤 Jìn bù zhǐ dāng chuí 91
75 Grasp the Bird’s Tail 上步揽雀尾 Shàng bù lǎn què wěi 92
76 Single Whip 单鞭 Dān biān 93
77 Snake Creeps Down 下势 Xià shì 94
78 Step Forward, Seven Stars 上步七星 Shàng bù qī xīng 95
79 Step Back, Ride the Tiger 退步跨虎 Tuì bù kuà hǔ 96
80 Turn Body, Lotus Kick 转身摆莲 Zhuǎn shēn bǎi lián 97
81 Bend Bow, Shoot Tiger 弯弓射虎 Wān gōng shè hǔ 98
82 Step Forward, Parry, Block, and Punch 进步搬拦锤 Jìn bù bān lán chuí 99
83 Apparent Closing 如封似闭 Rú fēng shì bì 100
84 Cross Hands 十字手 Shí zì shǒu 101
85 Closing Posture 收式 还原 Shōu shì, Huán yuán 102-103

Fu Zhongwen Tai Chi Video

Notes

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.”
18. Also translated as “Flying Obliquely.”
24. Also translated as “Turn Body and Strike.”
30. Also translated as “High Mounted Scout.” This evokes a 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.
79. Also translated as “Retreat Astride Tiger.”
80. Also translated as “Turn Body, Sweep Lotus.”

The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan


Yang Chengfu’s classic book contains a photo of each posture, and descriptions of the transitional movements between these postures.