Tai Chi exercises and techniques, by their very nature, can greatly help any practitioner in their quest to work on themselves. The exercises and techniques help Taijiquan practitioners to leave behind the stress of everyday life, to free themselves from electronic media for a certain period of time, and to recharge their batteries for better mastering everyday challenges

Like all martial arts and combat sports, Tai Chi Chuan is excellent for strengthening the body and mind. In the following article we present basic styles and exercises of shadow boxing.

In 30 seconds the most important:

  • The training exercises & techniques of Tai Chi are based on forms consisting of different images
  • Tai Chi Chuan exercises depend on the style and school. There are 6 major styles in total.
  • When learning Taijiquan, one should start with the 13 basic elementary movements.
Tai Chi: Das komplette Trainingsbuch
  • Kalweit, Karsten (Author)

Tai Chi Forms & Meaning

The center of practice in Taijiquan is represented by different forms. These are sequences of movements that are strung together. Individual forms function as a basic exercise. Trainers fight against an imaginary opponent.

  • A form consists of different images. These carry different names, which reflect the respective movements in the wording. Characteristic for the forms are for example the “heel kick right” as well as the “simple whip”.
  • In addition, there is also the poetic representation of the images. These include “the white crane spreading its wings” as well as “dividing the mane of the wild horse”.
  • However, the majority of the forms owe their name to the number of their images. Accordingly, the Beijing form is also called the 24-picture form. Whereas the Yang style long form consists of 108 images.

Thus, the duration of the execution of a form depends on its number of images. It varies from a few minutes to 1.5 hours. In addition, the speed of the practitioners also determines the duration.

Important Tai Chi Exercises

Exercises of Tai Chi Chuan depend on the particular style and the school in which it is taught.


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  • However, there are basic fundamental exercises. These consist of single movements, standing meditations, breathing and standing exercises. They function as principles, which serve the learning of Taijiquan.
  • In addition, there are also defense exercises worth knowing, which are also composed of leverage techniques. They are characterized by a low risk of injury and serve as defensive techniques. However, only advanced students perform these.
  • Tai Chi Chuan also includes partner exercises. Tuishou means “pushing hands” and is one of the best known partner exercises. The partners face each other head-on and touch each other’s arms or hands. The aim of this exercise is to force the opponent to give up. Dalü is the name of another partner exercise, which is also used in competitions and as a defensive exercise. it presented basics that build on each other. Partner exercises most closely illustrate the characteristic movement sequences of a martial art. They thus illustrate why shadow boxing deserves its place in the world of numerous martial arts.

The six great styles of Taijiquan

In Tai Chi there are six different styles, which now enjoy an international spread.

Chen style is one of the six known styles of Taijiquan. The forms and schools of this style include lines of tradition called “small stance” and “close posture”. They go back to Chén Yǒuběn. Chén Chángxīng, on the other hand, added the “large stance” and “a wide and expansive posture” to this style. Moreover, the introduction of the “great stance” called Dajia followed in 1976. In addition, Chén Zhàopī and Chén Fākē introduced the distinction between an “old” and a “new posture”.

  • Yáng Lòuchán and Yáng Chéngfǔ founded the Yang style. The “small” and “large” stances take an important role in this style.
  • Wǔ Yǔxiāng is considered to be the founder of the “Old Wu-Hao style.”
  • Wu Ch’uan-yu developed the new Wu style.
  • Sūn Lùtáng brought the Sun style into being.
  • Hé Zhàoyuán is the founder of the He style.
Tai Chi Übungen

The 13 basic elementary movements of Taijiquan

The 13 elementary basic movements consist of a mix of movement sequences as well as directions.

Ba MenBa Men, whose translation is eight gates, symbolizes the handling of forces. This basic movement represents the handling of one’s own power and that towards a partner.
PengPeng usually stands for defensive techniques. Here, the trainees imagine they are a fisherman who is standing in a boat and casting his net. Even though Peng may sound simple at first glance, interested Taijiquan practitioners discover how difficult it is to establish a firm connection with the soles of the feet on a floating and at the same time rocking boat. Movements based on this initial position are directed forward and go from the inside to the outside.
Lü stands for pulling, but without grasping. The exercise is done by stepping forward.
JiJi in turn stands for pushing and follows Lü without any gaps.
AnAn stands for pushing or shoving and is done by means of a straight forward movement.
CaiCai stands for pulling or tearing, which is done in the downward direction.
LieLie symbolizes a separating or splitting. The practitioners perform Peng with one half of their body and Cai and Lü with the other. Thus, two different forces act simultaneously in opposite directions.
ZhouZhou represents elbow strikes. Kao, on the other hand, is an exercise that reproduces shoulder thrusts.

However, the explained eight techniques are supplemented by five directions. They form the prerequisites for an effective use of the techniques. The five directions, also called steps, are composed of the following terms:

QuianjingQuianjing represents walking forward
HoutuiHoutui symbolizes stepping back
ZuoguZuogu means turning the gaze to the left
YoupanYoupan represents looking in the right direction
ZhongdingZhongding is the rendering of standing in a center

The 5 elements – Qigong exercises & meaning

Both under the name Qigong of the 5 phases of change and under the 5 elements of harmony, the 5 elements Qigong exercise is known. They originate from Daoist teachings and act as helpful explanations of the classical processes of change in nature and human existence.


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According to the ancient Chinese system, the earth is at the center of events. Thereby it moves the four other phases on two axes, which are at right angles to each other. On the vertical plane, water is at the bottom in the form of a great yin. On the top, on the other hand, lies fire and is represented by a large yang. On the horizontal plane, wood is on the left as a small yang, whereas metal is on the right in the form of a small yin.

Since the earth represents as a connecting element to the other matters, it is located in the center. Wood symbolizes birth and growth, a new beginning, morning, spring and the east. In addition, the direction of movement of wood is upward. Fire, in turn, serves to represent the phases of life such as education or development. Furthermore, it symbolizes noon, summer and the south. The direction of movement goes outward.

Earth represents being an adult, a certain maturity, the afternoon and late summer. Metal, in turn, acts as a representation of post-ripeness as well as harvest. It also symbolizes the evening, autumn and west. Its direction of movement is inward. Water represents the situation of enjoying the harvest, old age and night. Moreover, it represents the winter and the north. Its direction of movement is downward.

Update: 2023-06-09 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API