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Basics of tai chi: the 8 techniques

Tai Chi, also known as Tai Chi Chuan, is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines slow, deliberate movements with deep breathing and meditation. It’s widely practiced for its health benefits, including improved balance, flexibility, and mental clarity. Understanding the basic techniques is essential for beginners who want to get the most out of their Tai Chi practice. Here, we’ll explore the eight fundamental techniques of Tai Chi.

Basics of Tai Chi: The 8 Techniques

1. Ward Off (Peng)

Ward Off is a defensive move that focuses on redirecting an opponent’s force. It involves raising the arms and creating a circular, expansive movement. This technique helps in maintaining balance and developing inner strength.


2. Roll Back (Lu)

Roll Back involves shifting the weight to the back leg while the arms guide the opponent’s force away. This technique teaches practitioners how to absorb and neutralize incoming energy, promoting relaxation and fluidity.

3. Press (Ji)

Press is a forward movement where the practitioner uses both hands to push forward. This technique emphasizes coordinated power and teaches how to apply force effectively. It also strengthens the core and enhances stability.


4. Push (An)

Push is a gentle, forward thrust with both hands. Unlike the Press, the Push is softer and focuses on extending the energy outward smoothly. This technique helps improve control and precision in movements.

5. Pull Down (Cai)

Pull Down involves a quick, downward tug to unbalance an opponent. It’s a grappling technique that requires timing and coordination. Practicing Pull Down helps in understanding leverage and improving reflexes.


6. Split (Lie)

Split is a twisting motion that uses the body’s torque to separate or divert an opponent’s force. This technique enhances flexibility and teaches how to generate power from the core through rotational movements.

7. Elbow Strike (Zhou)

Elbow Strike uses the elbow as a striking tool in close-range combat. This technique emphasizes the use of short-range power and helps in developing awareness of body mechanics and effective self-defense.


8. Shoulder Strike (Kao)

Shoulder Strike involves using the shoulder to bump or push an opponent. It’s a close-contact technique that teaches how to use body weight and momentum to generate force. Practicing Shoulder Strike helps in understanding the importance of full-body coordination.


The eight basic techniques of Tai Chi—Ward Off, Roll Back, Press, Push, Pull Down, Split, Elbow Strike, and Shoulder Strike—form the foundation of this ancient practice. By mastering these techniques, practitioners can improve their physical health, mental clarity, and overall well-being. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner, focusing on these basics will enhance your Tai Chi journey.



1. How long does it take to learn the basic techniques of Tai Chi? Learning the basics can take a few months with regular practice. Mastery of the techniques, however, can take years.

2. Can anyone practice Tai Chi? Yes, Tai Chi is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It’s a low-impact exercise that can be adapted to individual needs.


3. How often should I practice Tai Chi to see benefits? Practicing Tai Chi at least three times a week can help you see significant health benefits.

4. Do I need any special equipment to practice Tai Chi? No special equipment is needed. Comfortable clothing and a flat, open space are sufficient for practicing Tai Chi.


5. Can Tai Chi help with stress reduction? Yes, the meditative aspects of Tai Chi can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.



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