When I practice the kung chia (form), there are many aspects that I pay attention to. Sometimes I do form in a softer, meditative state. Other times, I do form in a lower, deeper, more athletic state. However it's done, the point is to keep doing it and not become discouraged. Don't fret over it - just do it - your form will improve over time under the tutelage of a good instructor. Some key elements I always keep in mind:

  • Slow movement is essential to developing fluidity, connectivity (all body parts as one) and balance. The whole form should take 10-15 minutes. Performing multiple continuous rounds is an excellent extended session workout.

  • Don't overly force your pelvis under you. Your torso from your shoulders to your pelvis should be naturally stacked over your center of gravity. Your intent is a heavy presence, anchored through your legs into the Earth. This is the Chinese concept of Sung (natural heaviness)

  • Despite the intent of heaviness from the dantien, your head should feel as if it is suspended with your spine open and flexible.

  • Concentrate on disallowing any part of your body come to rest. All transitions during the form should be smooth and flowing with all body parts constantly in motion. The body only takes a momentary pause at each posture.

  • Never let a part of your body be rigid or limp. Your whole body should be flexible and "ready".

  • Do not shrug the shoulders, they should be lowered. Do not crimp or overextend the shoulder joint. Movements between the shoulder and upper arms should be open and fluid in a natural range of motion.

  • In the CMC form the term "beautiful lady's hand" means that the wrists stay straight and flat.

  • Knees are bent throughout the entire form. Except for a few transitions, there is always a focus to avoid being "double weighted". Laden weight is constantly transferred from one leg to the other.


Ward Off, Right...


Taiji's Signature Posture
Single Whip...
By 1946, Professor Cheng Man Ch'ing had developed his significantly abbreviated, 37-posture version of Yang-style 108-posture form that he learned as a direct student of Yang Cheng-Fu. The CMC form takes only 10-15 minutes to practice instead of the original thirty. He also shortened the reach and modified the footwork and other physical expressions of the individual movements in the form. There is still a wide and continued popularity of Cheng's short form that is recognized by many T'ai Chi Ch'uan schools to the present day.

The 37 postures here are uniquely listed in the order they first appear in the form. The sequence of postures from 3 to 7 (which repeats several times) is collectively known as Grasping the Sparrow's Tail:
  1. Preparation
  2. Beginning
  3. Ward Off, Left
  4. Ward Off, Right
  5. Roll Back
  6. Press
  7. Push
  8. Single Whip
  9. Raise Hands
  10. Shoulder Stroke
  11. White Crane Cools Wings
  12. Brush Knee
  13. Play Guitar
  14. Step Up and Block
  15. Parry and Punch
  16. Withdraw and Push (Close-up)
  17. Crossing Hands
  18. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
  19. Fist Under Elbow
  20. Step Back and Repulse Monkey, Right
  21. Step Back and Repulse Monkey Left
  22. Diagonal Flying
  23. Wave Hands Like Clouds, Left
  24. Wave Hands Like Clouds, Right
  25. Snake Creeps Down
  26. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg, Right
  27. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg, Left
  28. Separation of the Right Foot
  29. Separation of the Left Foot
  30. Turn Body and Kick With Heel
  31. Step Forward and Punch
  32. Jade Lady Weaves Shuttles, Right
  33. Jade Lady Weaves Shuttles, Left
  34. Step Up to Seven Stars
  35. Retreat to Ride Tiger
  36. Turn Body Sweep Lotus Leg
  37. Bend Bow, Shoot Tiger

Snake Creeps Down...
   and the late Tai Chi Grandmaster, Professor Cheng Man Ch'ing


Raise Hands...                          White Crane Cools Wings...                     Parry and Punch...
The actual sequence of the form from the opening to the closing carries the practitioner through a total of 65 steps with repetition in several postures and sequences. Step 18 in the form (the first Crossing Hands) marks the end of the first section of the kung chia. This point represents roughly half of the 37 postures defined in this style of Tai Chi. As such, from a posture standpoint, the first section is known to some as the Short Half. Due to extensive repetition of postures in the second section, the first section of the form takes roughly one-third of the total time needed to conduct the entire form. As such from a timing standpoint, the first section is known to some as the First Third. However you wish to label the sections, here is the entire Cheng Man Ch'ing 37-posture Tai Chi form sequence:

  1. Preparation
  2. Beginning
  3. Ward Off, Left
  4. Ward Off, Right
  5. Roll Back
  6. Press
  7. Push
  8. Single Whip
  9. Raise Hands
  10. Shoulder Stroke
  11. White Crane Cools Wings
  12. Brush Knee, Left
  13. Play Guitar
  14. Brush Knee, Left
  15. Step Up and Block
  16. Parry and Punch
  17. Withdraw and Push (or Close-up)
  18. Crossing Hands (...end of first section)
  19. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
  20. Roll Back
  21. Press
  22. Push
  23. Single Whip
  24. Fist Under Elbow
  25. Repulse Monkey, Right
  26. Repulse Monkey Left
  27. Repulse Monkey, Right
  28. Diagonal Flying
  29. Cloud Hands, Left
  30. Cloud Hands, Right
  31. Cloud Hands, Left
  32. Single Whip
  33. Snake Creeps Down
  1. Golden Pheasant Stands on One Leg, Right
  2. Golden Pheasant Stands on One Leg, Left
  3. Separation of the Right Foot
  4. Separation of the Left Foot
  5. Turn Body and Kick With Heel
  6. Brush Knee, Left
  7. Brush Knee, Right
  8. Step Forward and Punch
  9. Ward Off, Right
  10. Roll Back
  11. Press
  12. Push
  13. Single Whip
  14. Fair Lady Weaves Shuttle, Right (NE corner)
  15. Fair Lady Weaves Shuttle, Left (NW corner)
  16. Fair Lady Weaves Shuttle, Right (SW corner)
  17. Fair Lady Weaves Shuttle, Left (SE corner)
  18. Ward Off, Left
  19. Ward Off, Right
  20. Roll Back
  21. Press
  22. Push
  23. Single Whip
  24. Snake Creeps Down
  25. Step Up to Seven Stars
  26. Retreat to Ride Tiger
  27. Turn Body and Sweep Lotus Leg
  28. Bend Bow Shoot Tiger
  29. Step Up and Block
  30. Parry and Punch
  31. Withdraw and Push (or Close-up)
  32. Crossing Hands (…close of form)


Accepting Taiji, Cheng Man Ch'ing MENS Advanced Form GOLD MEDAL from   Master William C. Phillips


International Kuoshu Championship Tournament with my Taiji Kung Fu Sifu,    Sifu Michael R. Pekor


With Tai Chi friends...   Sifu David Lillie, Sifu Avi Schneier, Sifu Jimi Leporati


Glossary / Terms:
Left, Right  :   Tso, Yu
Preparation  :   Yu Pei Shih
Beginning  :   Chi Shih
Grasp the Sparrows Tail  :   Lan Chueh Wei
Ward Off, (left,right)  :   Peng (Tso,Yu)
Roll Back  :   Lu
Press  :   Chi
Push  :   An
Single Whip  :   Tan Pien
Raise Hands  :   Ti Shou
Shoulder Stroke  :   Kao
White Crane Cools Wings  :   Pai Hao Liang Chih
Brush Knee (left,right)  :   (Tso,Yu) Lou Hsih Yao Pu
Step Up and Block  :   Chin Pu
Parry and Punch  :   Pan Lan Chui
Withdraw and Push  :   Ju Feng Szu Pi
Crossing Hands  :   Shih Tzu Shou
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain  :   Pao Hu Kuei Shan
(Diagonal) Single Whip  :   (Hseih) Tan Pien
Fist Under Elbow  :   Chou Ti Kan Chui
Repulse Monkey, (left,right)  :   Tao Nien Hou (Tso,Yu)
Diagonal Flying  :   Hseih Fei Shih
Wave Hands Like Clouds (left,right)  :   Yun Shou (Tso,Yu)
Snake Creeps Down  :   Tan Pien Hsia Shih
Golden Rooster Stands  :   Chin Chi Tu Li Shih
Separate Hands & Kick  :   Fen Chio
Step Forward and Punch  :   Chin Pu Tsai Chui
Fair Lady Weaves Shuttles  :   Nu Ch'uan Suo
Step Up to Seven Stars  :   Shang Pu Chi Hsing
Retreat to Ride Tiger  :   Tui Pu Kua Hu
Turn & Sweep Lotus Kick  :   Chuan Shen Pai Lien Tui
Bend Bow, Shoot Tiger  :   Wan Kung She Hu
End Tai Chi  :   Ho Tai Chi


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