Introduction

Taijiquan (also spelled T'ai Chi Ch'uan in the older Wade Giles romanization method) was developed as an exercise form several hundred years ago in China based on earlier and much older traditions of the martial arts. It has often been described as a kind of "meditation in motion", and appears light and dance-like to many observers.

Currently, millions of people worldwide practice Taijiquan in some form every day to promote general health and well-being. Taijiquan is not a strength training or cardio-vascular exercise, but faithful practice will definitely enhance flexibility, balance, and strength in the joints. As such, it is well-suited for people of all ages.

There are many, often fanciful histories of the different styles of Taijiquan available in bookstores or online. This article provides a very good historical and cultural background on the tradition, for those of you who are interested.


The philosophical and cultural environment of Taijiquan is strongly influenced by the traditions of Taoism. In fact, the ancient Taoist Yin-Yang symbol (shown at left) is used in all of the classic Taijiquan literature as an essential representation of concepts behind the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. For more reading on this aspect of Taijiquan, try this article.

If you would like more information or have questions about classes, please feel free to contact me via email.

My Teachers

I originally studied Yang style Taijiquan while I was in graduate school under Wu Ta-Yeh, and his wife Wu Teng Shu-Hsien. The Wu family (shown below practicing "Push Hands") studied with Tung Hu-Ling, son of Tung Ying-Chieh, principal student of Yang Cheng-Fu, and also the grandfather of my current teacher, Alex Dong (Tung).

My current teacher, Alex Dong, carries on the 4th generation of his family tradition, including traditional Yang style hand forms, sword and saber, Hao style, and Tung family forms in New York City and in instructional tours worldwide.

Yang Cheng-Fu Tung Hu-Ling Wu Tah-Yeh and Wu Teng Shu-Hsien Alex Dong

Yang Style Taijiquan - The Long Form

The Yang style form of Taijiquan was originally taught in 3 parts with 108 postures or positions (some count them as 103 or 105). Many of the positions are repeated, and so it isn't surprising that several shortened forms have been developed, which minimize the repetition. The Chinese government has even invented some shortened forms that are widely used for judged competitions and for physical education instruction in the schools. In my opinion, these are NOT good forms for beginning adult students - the extra repetition in the original tradition is very helpful in the learning process.

A student who practices daily can expect to learn the basic movements in about 6 - 12 months time. However, learning never really ends. The more you bring to it over the years, the more benefit you will derive.

The Taijiquan long form is often taught along with a practice known as "Push Hands", where two participants try to use the principles they have learned in the practice of the form to demonstrate a practical understanding of how to throw an opponent off balance with the application of minimal force ("a force of one ounce - properly applied - can deflect a force of 1000 pounds").

Taijiquan also inherits and extends centuries of martial applications of sword, staff, and other weapons.

Both Push Hands and weapons training can be extremely useful for students to develop greater depth in their understanding of the principles of Taijiquan as they study the forms regimen.

Videos

In my experience, it is not possible to learn Taijiquan by watching a video - regardless of the quality of the instructor or the production values of the video. However, if you are studying the form with an instructor, but have forgotten the sequence of moves or some aspects of a transition, a video can help get you back on track.

The following links show my own attempts at demonstration videos. I have broken the videos into the three "parts" or "paragraphs", as they are sometimes called.

I have also included a video with some tips and suggestions about warm-up exercises, which are essential to regular practice in good health.

For all of these videos, you can adjust the video quality and speed by clicking the gear icon in the lower right corner. You can also double-click the image to play it directly from YouTube, which will then allow you to go to full screen mode from there. Note however, this takes you off of my page, but you can later navigate back.

Full Form in one video

Full Form


Breakouts into the 3 parts

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


The following link shows some exercises that we use in class for warming up. I highly recommend that you watch this and adapt its recommendations in your own practice sessions.

Warming Up for Taijiquan Practice

Warm-up


An Open Invitation
I have studied Taiji for over 42 years - it is a special part of my life. I hope you will enjoy learning and be inspired to make room for it your own life as well.

Currently, I hold classes Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings in the Plainsboro Public Library, as well as other locations in the Princeton/Plainsboro area. For details on classes or any other questions you might have, please feel free to contact me via email.

I know you will find the other students to be friendly and welcoming to all.   

Todd Tieger

(last updated 10/5/2017)