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tai chi styles

tai chi styles contents


One of the biggest difficulties for newcomers to tai chi is that there seems to be a lot of different tai chi styles and forms.

And its true there are a lot of choices to be made.

The main differences between the different taiji styles are in the speed and pace of performance and the way the body holds the poses in terms of posture and intent.

The oldest tai chi chuan styles are Chen style with coiling moves and fast transitions in speed between slow and very fast together with stamping moves and explosive releases of power and Yang style with evenly paced flowing moves.

Yang style is probably the most common style in the west followed by Chen style - based on the sheer number of people taking classes and buying training videos of the st.

We'd just like to mention that we have yet to meet any group of 4 or more tai chi folk - also called players - that totally agree on what defines a style - whether the modern versions are real styles or not.

You're just going to have to make your own mind up. tai chi, tai chi, tai chi chuan, taiji - so good they named it more than twice ......

Family styles

Family styles were once the sole property of a single family who only taught the style to people in the family household - no outsiders were usually  involved.

At some point the Chen family taught their style to an outsider called Yang who eventually left the Chen household  to return home where he modified the style he had been taught and created the yang style.

Nowadays when people refer to the family style they tend to mean the original or classic style as practiced by the first families.

There are five major styles of Taijiquan, each named after the Chinese family that teaches it:

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You also find variations from the family style where individual taiji masters or experts modify the form for specific purposes.

Probably the clearest example of this is Cheng Man-ching who created the 37 short form from the Yang family style.

Even today to can find lots of variations of the main tai chi styles that are not so common - where individual masters have changed the form to save, time or space or even to emphasise particular healing or martial outcomes.

modern styles:

As well as the traditional tai chi styles modern styles are being created all the time. Often they are created from a single traditional style or sometimes elements from several styles are blended together.

Again there are a variety of reasons for creating the form Compact Tai Chi was created for people with access to a limited amount of floor space.

Tai Chi for Arthritis was created from Sun and Yang styles to ease the pressure on joints and encourage mobility.

We've only tried a few 'modern' forms and we have no hesitation in recommending both of them.

Dr Keith Jeffery's Easy tai chi©- it comes on dvd  - great fun and we love it. If you want to see for yourself go to

We've also tried ChiFusion© Level 1 which is an online course teaching all the fundamental tai chi principles weight shifting, balance and rooting through a qigong form called the eight Brocades (also called the 8 Treasures). Al offers a free mini course to let you see what it is all about so you have nothing to loose If you want to see what this looks like go to Sign up for free sample lessons



competition styles

The first competition style was created by  Chinese Sports Committee wushu teachers in 1956 by simplifying and modifying the traditional yang form.  The new form was called the simplified 24 form .

This standardize version enabled competition and judging rules to be created.

In 1976 the Combined 48 Forms that were created by simplifying and combining some features of the classical forms from Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun styles.

The Chinese Sports Committee went on to develop sets to represent the four major tai chi styles as well as combined forms.


Videos of the main styles

Chen style

Chen Tai Chi New Frame and Old Frame by Master Chen Xili

Yang style

Tai Chi 24-form

Sun style

Sun taiji 73 mouvements

Wu/Hao style

Wu Style 13 Form Tai Chi Chuan