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  • The World's Most Popular Tai Chi Form

    (Click here for the full article, including a video.)

    The World's Most Popular Tai Chi Form
    by Sifu Anthony Korahais

    What is the most widely practiced Tai Chi form in the world? Depending on who you ask, the answer would be The 24-Pattern Form, The Peking Form, The Short Form, or The Simplified Form. So which is it? Any of the above, really. All of these names refer to the same Tai Chi form developed in 1956 by the Chinese Sports Committee. Sadly, one of the most elegant forms ever invented also has some of the most awkward names ever conceived.

    The Simplified Form is an accurate, if boring name, and it’s the one that I typically use. I prefer not to call it the 24-Pattern Form because my version has 2 extra patterns that were added by my teacher. (Actually, the original form doesn’t really have 24 patterns either, but more on that later.)

    History of the Form

    Four Tai Chi masters — Chu Guiting, Cai Longyun, Fu Zhongwen, and Zhang Yu — collaborated to develop this form. The goal was to create a shorter version of the Yang Style 108 Pattern Long Form, one that could be taught easily, practiced by the masses, and performed in a relatively short period of time. Considering that they were effectively forced by the Chinese government to create the form, the masters did a surprisingly good job, not just in terms of reaching the government’s goals, but also in producing an amazing legacy.

    It would have been easy for the four masters to create a form that satisfied the government, but was nevertheless missing the essence of Tai Chi. That they didn’t do this is somewhat remarkable considering the longstanding tradition of secrecy among Chinese masters. The final product was a masterpiece. It not only contained powerful techniques for building Qi and internal force, but also all of the footwork, strikes, kicks, throws, and locks that you would need to handle virtually any combat situation. Talk about comprehensive!

    The Essence of Tai Chi

    The essence is there, but that doesn’t mean everyone can see it. For a Tai Chi master, the secrets are easy to see. For anyone else, they’re virtually impossible. Millions of people all around the world practice this form, but few of them know the secrets. Remember that this form was original designed for the masses, so it should be no surprise that most people don’t know the secrets. I’ll quote a famous Tai Chi master on the subject:

    "If there are a million people doing Tai Chi in Tiananmen Square, you can be sure that 999,999 aren’t doing a damn thing."

    When you know the secrets, this form really comes alive! Personally, I love this form for its combination of simplicity and profundity. Unlike the 108-Pattern Long Form, stuff isn’t repeated over and over. The form acts as a succinct, living encyclopedia of the essence of Tai Chi. If I had to pick one form to teach for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

    The List of Traditional Patterns

    Traditionally, there are 24 patterns listed for the form, but this is misleading because some of the patterns contain several movements. For example, Grasping Sparrow’s Tail consists of several movements. Personally, I find it more productive to name each individual movement, and that’s exactly how I do it in my school.

    It’s also traditional to list patterns only once, leaving repeated patterns unlisted. Once again, this gets confusing for students (and me too!), so I prefer to list the patterns as they appear chronologically in the form, whether they are repeated or not. For some of the patterns, I’ve chosen to use alternate traditional names that are, quite frankly, more poetic.

    As I said earlier, my teacher, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, added two patterns to the form — the Elbow Strike, and the Shoulder Strike — so that it would include all of the original 13 techniques of Tai Chi Chuan (a subject for another blog post). Click below for the complete list of the pattern names as it is practiced in my school.
    1. Wuji
    2. Lifting Water
    3. Carrying the Cosmos
    4. Wild Horse Separates Mane
    5. Carrying the Cosmos
    6. Wild Horse Separates Mane
    7. Carrying the Cosmos
    8. Wild Horse Separates Mane
    9. White Crane Spreads Wings
    10. Green Dragon Shoots Pearl (Brush Knee Twist Step)
    11. Green Dragon Shoots Pearl (Brush Knee Twist Step)
    12. Green Dragon Shoots Pearl (Brush Knee Twist Step)
    13. Playing the Lute
    14. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Reverse Reeling Forearms)
    15. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Reverse Reeling Forearms)
    16. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Reverse Reeling Forearms)
    17. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Reverse Reeling Forearms)
    18. Carrying the Cosmos
    19. Immortal Waves Sleeves (Ward Off)
    20. Double Dragons Play with Pearl (Roll Back)
    21. Push Boat According to Current (Press)
    22. Black Tiger Sinks Hips
    23. Open Window Look at Moon (Push)
    24. Fisherman Throwing His Net
    25. Single Whip
    26. Carrying the Cosmos
    27. Immortal Waves Sleeves (Ward Off)
    28. Double Dragons Play with Pearl (Roll Back)
    29. Push Boat According to Current (Press)
    30. Black Tiger Sinks Hips
    31. Open Window Look at Moon (Push)
    32. Fisherman Throwing His Net
    33. Single Whip
    34. Wave Hands in Clouds
    35. Wave Hands in Clouds
    36. Wave Hands in Clouds
    37. Wave Hands in Clouds
    38. Single Whip
    39. White Snake Shoots Venom (High Patting Horse)
    40. White Horse Presents Hoof (Cross-Hands Thrust Kick)
    41. Double Bees Drink Pollen
    42. White Horse Presents Hoof (Cross-Hands Thrust Kick)
    43. Snake Creeps Down
    44. Low Single Whip
    45. Golden Rooster Standing Tall
    46. Snake Creeps Down
    47. Low Single Whip
    48. Golden Rooster Standing Tall
    49. Jade Girl Threads Shuttle (Fair Lady Works Shuttle)
    50. Jade Girl Threads Shuttle (Fair Lady Works Shuttle)
    51. Needle at Sea Bottom
    52. Elbow Strike
    53. Shoulder Strike
    54. Fan Through Back
    55. Reverse Hanging Golden Lotus (Swinging Fist)
    56. Punch Below Sleeves
    57. Like Taming Like Closing (Withdraw and Push)
    58. Cross Hands
    59. Flowing Breeze Swaying Willow
    60. Wuji

    Down the road, I’ll be adding more posts on the amazing martial applications of this form. If you think that this form is too flowery for fighting, wait and see!

    Zenfully yours,
    Sifu Anthony Korahais
    www.FlowingZen.com
    (Click here to learn more about me.)

  • #2
    Thank you, Sihing, for sharing the excellent article.

    Just out of curiosity, pattern name no.22 Black Tiger Sinks Hips.
    Is it the same with Black Bear Sinks Hips?

    Sidai,
    Joko
    开心 好运气
    kai xin... .......hao yunqi... - Sifu's speech, April 2005
    open heart... good chi flow... good luck ...
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Have we not opened up thy heart ...? (The Reading, 94:1)
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Be joyful, ..and share your joy with others -(Anand Krishna)

    Comment


    • #3
      Whoops. Typo! Thank you sidai!
      Sifu Anthony Korahais
      www.FlowingZen.com
      (Click here to learn more about me.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Antonius View Post

        "If there are a million people doing Tai Chi in Tiananmen Square, you can be sure that 999,999 aren’t doing a damn thing."
        Awesome quote and I think it can be applied to many other things apart from Tai Chi. Who are you quoting here out of curiosity?
        from the ♥

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