Taijiquan syllabus

classes     taijiquan     self defence     qigong     tai chi for health     about us     reviews     a-z

Structured learning

Tai chi cannot be approached in a haphazard, piecemeal fashion. There needs to be a framework for learning.
This would be true of any subject: Spanish, cooking, carpentry, music, ballet, massage, accountancy, engineering, botany, computing, rugby...
Beginners start with basic skills and gradually build to a richer, more complex grasp of the subject.
By adhering to a professional approach to learning, taijiquan students can make the most of the class, achieve tangible results and get the best value for their money.


A good taijiquan school will have a tried and tested syllabus in place.
By systematically learning one skill at a time, the student gradually accrues information, gains physical awareness and increases the range and scope of their understanding.
But this does not happen overnight. There is a considerable amount of information to learn. It must be revised, refined, honed and practiced thoroughly.

Just form?

Some tai chi schools advertise a syllabus that only contains form. This is not a traditional syllabus. Taijiquan is a complex Art. It contains a lot more than just form.

Kung fu is thousands of years old and is a highly developed system of martial art. The student who locates a good kung fu school will find the training thorough and challenging. Kung fu skills, which have been refined over centuries, are not learned easily or quickly. The sincere student, however, through hard work and dedication, will not be disappointed with the results.

(Adam Hsu)


1. Beginner (health)

Ba duan jin (8 exercises)
Form posture qigong
Full circle qigong
Moving qigong (15 exercises)
Reeling silk exercises (5 exercises)
Standing post
Standing qigong/3 circle qigong

2. Intermediate (fitness)

Long Yang form (section 1) (regular & mirrored)
Long Yang form (section 2) (regular & mirrored)
Long Yang form (section 3) (regular & mirrored)

4 directions with a partner (no contact)
70/30 stance
Cardio work (2 sets)
Core strength (3 sets)
Crescent moon
Horse stance qigong
High circle qigong
Horse stance
Knife drills
Leg stretches (2 sets)
Martial concepts
Monkey paws
Partner work
Penetrating defences
Psoas exercises
Pushing legs
Qigong development
Qigong on one leg
Qigong revision
Silk arms
Single pushing hands
Small san sau
Square on the inside, round on the outside
Standing post with arms
Stick drills (3 sets)
Stretches & joint work
Tao yin/Taoist Yoga (3 sets)
Yielding basic skills

3. Experienced (technical skills)

Sabre form (regular & mirrored)
Walking stick form (regular & mirrored)
Jian form (regular & mirrored)
2-person cane drill (regular & mirrored)
3-tier wallbag
4 ounces exercise
5 bows
5 bows exercise
5 centres
5 elements stepping
6 balanced pairs
8 powers striking
13 postures
Being hit
Breath meditation
Chin na applications
Countering a knife
Countering punches, kicks & grapples
Countering/pushing peng
Crude fa jing
Da lu
Double pushing hands
Dying ground
Everybody falls
Form applications (section 1)
Form applications (section 2)
Form applications (section 3)
Gravity striking
Holding down the pillow
Improvised weaponry/knife
Long Yang form (round version)
Loose striking
Meditation on body sensations
Meditation on emotions
Moving with kwa
Neigong (1-10)
Neigong (11-20)
Neigong (extras)
Newton’s Laws of Motion
Obvious power (ming jing)
Pushing hands development
Pushing peng exercise

Pushing peng (partnered)
Pushing peng (striking)
Reverse breathing
San da stage 1: freeform application
Shuai jiao applications
Silk arms (jing)
Silk arms (peng)
Single pushing hands (stepping) 
Small san sau (jing)
Small san sau (peng)
Speed striking
Spiral body
Sword drills
Yielding/chin na
Yielding/shuai jiao

4. Advanced (combat)

Pao chui form (regular & mirrored)
5 elements striking
5 pre-emptive methods
60/40 stance
Balance, rhythm, timing
Becoming the centre
Being in the back
Cavity press
Cold jing
Fa jing
First hand/second hand
Heavy bag
Hidden power (an jing)
Large rhythm, small rhythm
Large san sau
Latent movements
Leverage principles (misplacing the bones)
Neigong (21-30)
San da stage 2: freeform combat
Shih (martial advantage)
Silk arms (combat)
Small san sau (combat)
Small stick drills
Wu nien

5. Expert

Bone marrow washing
Cultivating sung
Fa jing (variations)
Form application (cane)
Form application (jian)
Form application (pao chui)
Form application (power)
Form application (sabre)
Form application (walking stick)

Form in self defence
Kinetic pathway
- 20 qualities
- incorporation
Open & close
Pre-natal breathing
Reeling silk
Small circle
Tortoise breathing
Unite upper & lower
Yin body

6. Master

2-person cane drill dismantled
Adapt, change & improvise
Dim-mak (dim-su/incapacitation)
Eastern philosophy
Jian form dismantled
Kinaesthetic awareness
Knife drills dismantled
Large san sau dismantled
Long Yang form dismantled
Martial theory & practice
Neigong dismantled
Pao chui form dismantled
Partner work dismantled
Penetrating defences dismantled
Power generation
Pushing hands (all variations) dismantled
Qigong dismantled
Sabre form dismantled

Silk arms dismantled
Small san sau dismantled
Small stick drills dismantled
Spiritual inquiry
Stick drills dismantled
Striking methods
Sword drills dismantled
Syllabus design
Taijiquan principles
Teaching methods
Walking stick form
Whole-body movement

taijiquan grades

Page created 8 June 1995
Last updated 07 November 2018