Taijiquan fitness

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The term 'intermediate' literally means in-between. They are neither beginner nor a martial artist.
Intermediate students are not experienced not are they experts.
It should take the average student about 2 years to complete the intermediate syllabus.

Black T-shirt

Intermediate students wear a black T-shirt

Physical fitness

The intermediate syllabus is mainly about physical fitness, learning the Long Yang form pattern and commencing martial training:

  1. Cardio work (2 sets)

  2. Cat-stepping

  3. Core strength (3 sets)

  4. Horse stance

  5. Leg stretches (2 sets)

  6. Long Yang form (sections 2 & 3) (regular & mirrored)

  7. Massage

  8. Psoas exercises

  9. Qigong development

  10. Stretches & joint work

  11. Tao yin/Taoist Yoga (3 sets)

Martial introduction

The student's responsibility is to practice the Art frequently enough for the
muscle memory to remember what to do. This takes time and patience.
Without a strong foundation a taijiquan student is not going to get very far:

  1. Knife drills (intro)

  2. Martial concepts

  3. Penetrating defences

  4. Silk arms

  5. Small san sau

  6. Stick drills (3 sets)

  7. Theory & principles

These topics provide the adequate, necessary groundwork for later practice.

Your responsibility

Only you can gain skill at taijiquan and become a taijiquan student. If this is not happening, do not look outside of yourself for the answer. Who binds you? Who is stopping you?
That's right; you are. Look to your own practice, attitude and commitment.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.



This is the beginning of the real taijiquan training. Having explored some basic concepts the student is now required to increase their martial focus.
The student's ambition is to cease to act like a tai chi for health student. They want to become a 'taijiquan student' instead...

Black T-shirt (fitness)

Intermediate students wear a
black T-shirt rather than white.

More qigong

The student learns the last of the qigong exercises in an effort to build strength prior to the experienced syllabus (where neigong and form will replace qigong as the principle source of power).

Basic taijiquan training

There are many new things to learn - weapons drills, stretching exercises, combat skills and sections 2 & 3 of the Long Yang form. The student must also revise and
mirror the entire form sequence.
This is a challenging part of the syllabus where home training really makes a difference.

How do you move?

Form reflects the way in which you personally move in taijiquan. If your form is clumsy, then you are clumsy and that is useless for combat.
Your taijiquan must be fast, sensitive, alert, powerful and lively. The cat-like grace of taijiquan encourages agile, strong movement, excellent poise, high energy levels and a feeling of vigour.

Invest in form

Students normally underestimate the significance of form. Bad form = bad taijiquan. It is that simple.
Your form highlights and determines how you move, how you use your body. Invest as much time as you can in form practice. The better your form, the easier all aspects of the taijiquan will be to pull off.

Martial sets

There are three martial sets (san sau) to learn at this point in the syllabus. San sau are predetermined attack and defence sequences in which both students are required to adhere to a set pattern.
The purpose of san sau is to train timing, coordination, range, accuracy, footwork, rhythm, habitual responses, composure and reflexes.
Training begins with the basic pattern, before adding peng, jing and eventually full-power attacks.

The way most people do taijiquan, it's not a martial art. They could never use it the way they're doing it. Everything's in their hands, they just fill in the rest with fantasy talk.

(Paul Gale)


By the time the student has finished the second part of the intermediate grade they should be well on their way to attaining good combat skills.
Their sense of range, timing, distance, power generation, leverage, balance, stability and mobility will be developed.


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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 07 November 2018