The various sets or sequences of movements performed in the practice of Tai Chi are called ‘forms’. Nine forms are taught and practised in our classes. This is the order in which they are taught, except for Chi Gung, which can be practised and gradually memorised from the student’s first lesson. The first aim of Tai Chi practice is to develop flowing movements coupled with a balanced posture.

The Simplified or 24 step Tai Chi form was created in the 1950’s to aid the newcomer to Tai Chi. The movements are mostly taken from the longer Yang form. It provides the beginner with a short set of movements to learn and practice. The gentle appearance of the Tai Chi form belies the leg strength needed to perform the movements properly, however learning this form both familiarises the student with the basic movements and gradually strengthens the legs.

Yang Style
This is the most common style of Tai Chi. (There are actually two major Yang style forms, the Old or Small Yang style and the New or Big Yang style). We practice the New Yang Style. (This is also sometimes called the long or 108-step form).
This form contains the movements learned in the simplified form and a variety of new and more complex ones. Some of the more important movements are repeated a number of times throughout three sections that make up the form.

Chung Hap
The Chung Hap or Five Families form is made up of movements from five Tai Chi styles (Chen, Yang, Ng, Wu and Sun). It provides the student with an insight into the different ways in which some familiar movements are performed in different styles of Tai Chi and some completely new moves to learn.

Chi Gung
Classes begin with the 18-movement Chi Gung form. This comprises a set of movements performed standing rather than moving around. Relaxing the body, focusing the mind on the movements and breathing deeply and gently in harmony with the movements is good preparation for practising Tai Chi and a good way to relax generally.

Pushing Hands
Pushing Hands is practised with a partner. The same feeling of calm relaxation as is required in the forms is adopted here. It is not a competition and respect for one’s partner is essential.
The two people stand facing each other close enough reach each other easily, and take up the standard Tai Chi stance.
As the name implies one person (a) pushes against the back of the other’s wrist with the palm of the hand. The person being pushed (b) yields his/her whole body with the push but without moving the feet. Deflecting the push to the side with a circular motion of the arm and turning the hips (b) then pushes and (a) yields.
The continuous back and forth circular movement allows each partner to explore the use of relaxed contact and yielding, rather than force and blocking, to control. After learning the single-handed exercise there is a two-handed method of pushing hands to learn.
As with the single-handed form this is first practised statically. When this is understood it can be performed while stepping forward and back in harmony with pushing and yielding.

San Sou
San Sou is a sequence of movements performed by two people. Using moves from the forms they attack and defend in turn following a set pattern. This gives the student an insight into how various movements used in Tai Chi forms may be used as self-defence techniques.
Once the sequence can be practised in a flowing manner the same calm relaxed attitude needed to perform Tai Chi forms correctly is necessary for practising San Sou in the right spirit.


Tai Chi sword forms are performed with the same relaxed attitude required of all Tai Chi practice. The Chinese style sword used is a light weapon, which is held with a gentle grip between thumb and forefinger.
Some of the postures and movements will be familiar to the student from the forms already learned.

Chung Hap Sword
Again as in the Chung Hap form the Chung Hap sword form presents the student with familiar moves performed differently and a variety of new moves including some leaps and leaping turns that are more dynamic than anything in the Yang and Simplified sword forms.
Each student practices these movements according to their own level of ability and develops as in all the forms, at their own pace.

Simplified Sword
Like the Simplified Form, Simplified Sword is a relatively short form that enables the student to become familiar with wielding a sword while performing the movements.
Controlling and guiding the sword through the sequence requires focus and balance.

Broad Sword (Dan Dao)
The Broad Sword Form is similar to the Simplified Sword Form. It enables the student to become familiar with wielding a sword while performing the movements.

Yang Sword
The Yang Sword Form is longer and more complex than the Simplified Sword Form. The understanding gained from practising the Simplified Sword is further developed and enhanced through the Yang Sword.

Tai Chi Fan
Tai Chi fan movements are strong and flexible, aggressive and defensive, full of elegance and beauty and the impressive power of martial art. It is both ornamental and artistic.

© Kwong Tam Merseyside School of Tai Chi 2014-7