Classic tai chi involves 13 basic tai chi postures which are practiced in different sequences called tai chi forms. These 13 tai chi postures are also known as the 13 powers, 13 entrances or 13 energies. Keep in mind, although tai chi positions can look deceivingly simple, mastering them can be a long-term learning experience that is challenging yet very rewarding.
Tips Before Learning The 13 Tai Chi Poses
Throughout your lifetime your body have become more and more accustomed to the way you move during daily activities whether it’s walking, playing tennis, hiking up a mountain, stretching etc. Tai Chi puts a lot of emphasis on correct posture and body alignment, which at first might feel a little unnatural and weird... but don’t let that discourage you to practice paying more attention to your posture.
Just stay with it and be persistent, good posture will soon prevail with practice over time replacing your old, unhelpful muscle habits of the past.
The First 4 Essences
The main concepts you should learn for obtaining the best Tai Chi postures are considered the 4 Essences:
- Lift the head to raise the spirit
- Lower the shoulders to sink the elbows
- Curve the back and soften the chest
- Loosen the waist and relax the hips
These 4 first four essences of Tai Chi are valuable tips for improving your posture during practice and everyday life. These essences will help you with alignment of the body and controlling your bodies center of gravity as it moves through the motions.
Although these four steps seem easy, it can be overwhelming for some, so it’s not a bad idea to learn one at a time until you feel comfortable adding another one into the equation.
Also keep in mind that Tai Chi takes practice and patience. It can look easy with the slow, fluent, controlled motions but time for your muscles and mind to adapt to the lessons being taught. The key is to be persistent and keep trusting yourself to eventually learn the Tai Chi way, for it’s only a matter of time.
The Classic 13 Tai Chi Postures
7.Chou (elbow strike)
8.Kao (shoulder strike)
10. Tui (retreat)
11. Ku (look left)
12. Pan (look right)
13. Ting (center)
Here’s a demonstration of the basic 13 tai chi positions of Chen style Tai Chi:
Many tai chi traditions divide the 13 main tai chi postures into eight gates or entrances and five steps. The eight gates consist of four primary hands (Press, push, ward off and pull back) and and four corner hands (elbow, shoulder, pull down and split). Concentrating more on movements of the lower body, the five steps consist of advancing and retreating steps, steps to the left and right and achieving balance in the center.
Typically the best way to learn the Tai Chi poses is to be instructed by an experienced teacher. Usually you will begin with the 13 basic postures and evolve from there. Another common tai chi form that is practiced is the 108 postures of the Yang Long Form.
All in all learning the Tai Chi poses and movements will help benefit you in more ways than one... so what are you waiting for? Start learning today!