Taijiquan > The Traditional Yang Family Short Form

The Traditional Yang Family Short Form

by Howard Choy

Sifu Howard Choy doing Snake Creeps Down

After doing Yang style Tai Chi Chuan for nearly 35 years, I am experimenting with the idea of reducing the traditional 108 movements (or 85, depending how one counts the movements) as passed down by Yang Cheng-Fu, into 39 movements.

My aim is to maintain the structure and the flavor of the family form without the repetitions. I have modified the form in such a way that every time a repetition comes up, I simply delete it and combine it onto the next one. In this way, I don't change the sequence or the direction of the form much at all! I worked it so the form starts and finishes on the same spot. It now takes me 10-15 minutes to do the 39 movements instead of 20-30 minutes for the long form. I can do the whole form in a space of 8 feet x 5 feet, which fits in most living rooms.

As far as I am aware, Gu Luxing of Shanghai, China, is the only person who has experimented with this idea before and he wrote a booklet on the subject back in the 70's. I don't know why no one is interested in this idea or has tried to promote it before. It seems such a simple and logical way to abbreviate a traditional form without changing its format or bastardising it.

As a way to refine the form and get some feedback on it, I am teaching it to a group of 30-40 beginners on my Saturday morning class to see what the outcome would be. I would like to know how long it would take to teach the form properly for people who have not done Tai Chi Chuan before, and to see whether they can grasp the essence of Yang Tai Chi Chuan readily at the end of their learning process with this form. Also, is it reasonably easy to learn? etc.

I have demonstrated this shorter version to my Chen Style Taijiquan teacher, Chen Xiaowang, a couple of times and his comments were favorable. Master Chen himself has experimented with Chen Style Taijiquan by putting together the 38 Form based on the Xinjia & Laojin Yilu routines. Any constructive comments on my approach to shorten the traditional form from other Tai Chi Chuan practitioners would be appreciated.

Traditional Yang Family Short Form (39 movements)

  1. Tai Chi Beginning
  2. Grasp the bird's tail
  3. Single Whip
  4. Raised Hands
  5. White Crane Spreads its Wings
  6. Brush Knee and Palm Strike
  7. Playing the Pai-Pa
  8. Step up, deflect down, parry and punch
  9. Apparent Closing
  10. Cross Hands
  11. Embrace Tiger to return mountain
  12. Strike under elbow
  13. Repulse Monkey ( 3x )
  14. Diagonal Flying
  15. Needle to the Bottom of the Sea
  16. Fan Through Back
  17. Turn and Strike with Back of Fist to Body
  18. Cloud Hands ( 3x )
  19. Touch High Horse
  20. Left and Right Side Kick
  21. Turn Around and Left Heel Kick
  22. Punch to the Ground
  23. Turn around Right Heel Kick
  24. Strike the Tiger (left and right)
  25. Double Punch to the Ears
  26. Wild Horse Parts Its Mane (left and right)
  27. Fair Lady Works Her Shuttle
  28. Snake Creeps Down
  29. Golden Cock Hands (left and right)
  30. Turn Around, White Snake Sends Out Its Tongue
  31. Palm Thrust
  32. Turn and Cross Kick
  33. Punch To The Groin
  34. Step up and Snake Creeps Down
  35. Seven Stars Punch
  36. Step Back to Ride Tiger
  37. Turn Around Lotus Kick
  38. Bend Bow to Shoot Tiger
  39. Tai Chi Finish.

Tai Chi Chuan is a form of martial Chi Kung. The movements of "Tai Chi Beginning" (shown below), like other movemnets, can be practiced as a separate self defence exercise to increase the awareness of jin (dynamic energy) and Chi flow in the student.

All photos courtesy of my Polish Taijiquan students. My thanks to their efforts and enthusiasm.