What are the Different Types of Tai Chi Steps?

L. Jablonsky

Anyone can perform the movements and forms of the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi. Each of the forms, also called "steps" resembles the movements of different animals. Practicing these Tai Chi steps may help improve a person's posture and health.

Tai Chi steps may improve both posture and overall health.
Tai Chi steps may improve both posture and overall health.

Tai Chi, a shortened reference for Tai Chi Chuan, has its roots in martial arts and Taoism in China. Various translations of Tai Chi Chuan include "supreme ultimate fist" and "internal martial art." These terms encapsulate the goals and graceful movements of the ancient art. Tai Chi steps focus on the balance of the yin and the yang, which are the opposing natures within the body. A perfect balance of the ying and yang aids permits qi, the life force, to flow throughout the entire body.

Tai Chi steps focus on the balance of the yin and the yang.
Tai Chi steps focus on the balance of the yin and the yang.

People can perform the graceful movements of Tai Chi steps for different reasons. The exercises can be beneficial for masters of the martial arts. People who meditate may also find inner peace through Tai Chi, as the balance and attention needed for the slow, careful steps requires all of a person's attention. There are many possible benefits of Tai Chi, including reducing anxiety issues, lowering blood pressure, improving posture and balance, and easing chronic pain.

There are different forms or steps in Tai Chi, and many of their names describe the movements of animals. For example, some of the forms are called "Pat High on Horse" and "Stand on One Leg to Mount Tiger." Other movements include kicks and other arm movements. Each of the movements should flow into the next one, and people practicing them should attempt to perform the set of Tai Chi steps continuously.

People who wish to perform Tai Chi should perfect the basic movements first. A Tai Chi instructor should teach these basic Tai Chi steps before leading the group into the more complicated forms. These basic steps include hand movements and techniques, stances, leg techniques and body forms. For example, the Tai Chi stances include the cross-legged stance, the semi-horse stance, and the side bow step. Hand techniques include stroking, pushing, chopping, and sweeping movements.

A person performing these Tai Chi steps should adhere to a few basic principles of the ancient art. The intricate set of movements requires intense concentration. In order to achieve perfect balance, the person should try to maintain the perfect eye technique without wavering. The person should also be mindful of the ying and the yang, combining opposing forces and creating a balance. For instance, while the person's feet should be firmly rooted on the floor, the arm movements should remain light and fluid.

Tai Chi may help lower blood pressure.
Tai Chi may help lower blood pressure.

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Discussion Comments


@Reminiscence, I really want to learn beginners' tai chi, but it's not easy to find classes in my area. I found a tai chi video at a local sports store that was fairly easy to follow, and I've seen a few tai chi videos online. Still, I think tai chi is something you need to learn from a live instructor if at all possible. It's like having a yoga instructor check your form to make sure you're doing the steps right.


I do a very simplified version of tai chi every morning, and one of the things I learned was how to shift my weight from one foot to the other. It's not like taking a regular step like walking. All of the weight first goes to the back foot, then the front foot touches the ground as lightly as possible. I sometimes take two or three rocking steps before putting all of my weight on the front foot. Before doing any other movement, I balance my weight equally on both feet.

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