Home Page  |   Taijiquan (T'ai Chi)  |  Yang style  |   Other Styles  |   Check Your Shopping Basket

Qi Journal
Current Issue
Available by direct subscription or in health & speciality shops, Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores.
Current Issue:
Spring 2016.
Online Articles:


Index to selected free Online Articles from the journal.



Our Community:


Calendar of Events:

Schedule your vacations now, so you don't miss these important events.


Listing of Professionals:

Looking for teachers, clinics and schools?


Return to Home Page

(4 pages total)

Page 4 - Various Styles of Taijiquan: Which One is For Me

The origin of the Lee style with its home base in England is not as clear as others since there are little or no other records other than the book by Chee Soo. Since the stances of these styles are high, it may take longer to strengthen the knee and thighs to gain postural stability. The intricate movements have to be precise because of the small circles, small steps, and little or no extension of the extremities. The movements appear buoyant and light. Practitioners will not have as much freedom of movement as the other categories. To do these styles correctly, one needs more mental discipline than doing other styles. Because of this, these might be the best styles for stress management.

Summarizing the above, I consider that category 1 is like 4-foot waves with occasionally white caps for the beginning surfers. Category 2 is for majority of us who belly surf in gentle rolling waves giving just enough challenge to stay afloat on the board. Category 3 represents ripples in a pond where poetic movement dominates.

Category 4 includes the unique fast form of Yang Xia Hao (1862-1930) and the fast Yang form consists of 73 moves which is finished in just three minutes, a fast pace when compared to 20-30 minutes for performing other styles. The sequence is similar to that of Yang and Wu but without the postures of "striking the temples" and "retreat to beat the tiger". Executions of several postures differ from the standard Yang style. For example, "brush knee and push" and "grasping the bird´s tail" involve light and fast skipping steps. The movements are small and tight... with leaps, jumps, and deep knee bends at times. The pace is fast but one does not visualize the use of force. It is very difficult to learn this fast form and one is fortunate to find a qualified instructor.

One may also encounter a kind of Taijiquan called "Fong quan", literally translated as "square fist". It is called square because it is an antonym to circularity in Chinese. Each move is broken down into steps. The movements are discontinuous and seemingly robotic, therefore ´square" instead of circular or spiral movements as Taijiquan should be. It is actually a method of teaching and it is especially effective for a large class. It is not a style and this teaching method can be used for any style of Taijiquan.

How can those who are inexperienced in Taijiquan distinguish which style is which? The telltale signs are usually the postures of "single whip" as shown by the author in the accompanying photos. However, the "single whip" pose is not the only indicative character for different styles.

This article merely provides an introduction to beginners who are looking for an instructor. When one seeks for a Taijiquan instructor, one should ask what style is being taught first and then give it a try. If one style, or an instructor, is not compatible with your expectations... do not give up. Try another style and/or another instructor. One should not hesitate to ask how long the instructor(s) has been doing Taijiquan. Your instructor should have at least 5 years experience. And avoid those who tell you that his or her style is the best or the original (how can anything be original when Taijiquan began hundreds years ago when there were no video?). Avoid also those who tell you "I know all there is to know". A Chinese instructor is not necessarily better than a non-Chinese person.


Wolf, SL, X Huiman, NG Barnhart, E McNeely, C Coogler, T. Xu & the Atlanta FICSIT group. "Reducing frailty and falls in older persons: an investigation of Tai Chi & computerized balance training". Journal of American Geriatric Society, 44: 489-497, 1996.

Wolf, SL, C. Coogler, and T. Xu. "Exploring the basis for Tai Chi Chuan as a therapeutic exercise approach". Archive of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 78:885-892, 1997. (There are also many related articles and websites)

Tai Chi Ch´uan, Sophia Delza, State University of New York Press, 1985.

Treatise on Taijiquan, Wang Jungyu (of Qing Dynasty), annotated by Sheun Su, Dajan Publisher, Taipei, Taiwan, 1996 (in Chinese).

Tao of Taijiquan, Jou Jung Hwa, Tai Chi Foundation, Piscataway, NJ, 1980.

Initiation to Chen Taijiquan, Sung Tin Lung Ji, Yehquan Publishers, Taipei, Taiwan, 1983. (in Chinese).

Chinese Zhaubao Taijiquan, Show Jung Fu, National Sinwah Book Co., People´s Republic of China, 1997 (in Chinese).

The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, Wong Kiew Kit, Element books Limited, Boston, 1996.

In Depth Study of Taijiquan, Wu Too Nan, annotated by Ma Yao Qing, Juxianquan Ltd., Hong Kong, 1994 (in Chinese).

A Genuine Taijiquan Master-Wu Too Nan, Yue Ji Juan, Juxianquan Ltd., Hong Kong, 1994 (in Chinese).

Lee, Harold H. "A meeting with the famous Wu Too Nan", T´ai Ch´i, 23:#5, (October), 1999.

The Art of Taoist Tai Chi Chuan, Moy Lin Shin, Taoist Society of Canada, 1990.

Taiji Sisansee, Ligia Chavirria, Costa Rica, ca 1995 (video VHS, in Spanish and personal observation).

Tai Chi Chuan for Health, Taipei Video Production (video VHS, in Chinese), no date given.

Woo Taijiquan, Hao Xao Yu, Taipan Publisher, Hong Kong, 1977 (in Chinese).

Shyun Taijiquan, Shyun Jan Yun, People´s Physical Education Publisher, People´s Republic of China, 1957 (in Chinese).

The Chinese Art of Tai Chi Chuan, Che Soo, The Aquarian Press, Great Britain, 1984.

The author was a professor of biology at the University of Toledo where he also taught Taijiquan on and off campus. He now resides in CA and teaches Taijiquan at the Tzu-Chi Foundation in Irvine, CA.

©2000 Qi Journal

Prev Page--   • 1   • 2   • 3   4

Return to Article Index

Related Items
Catalog Specials
by John Loupos

Google this site 


Index of Online Articles

Acupuncture  |  Herbs & Diet  |  Taijiquan/Internal Arts  |  Qi Journal  |  Qigong & Meditation  |  Culture & Philosophy  |  Feng Shui |  Qi Catalog