Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | March 27, 2009

8 powers +5 directions=13 tai chi postures

So, some basic information. All tai chi is based on these 13 postures, or concepts. Very important in the directions category, is zhong ding, or central equilibrium. This is the central rooting and sinking and bringing the mind to the dan tien, and making that area of your body the center of gravity. It’s interesting to note that when a lot of people are learning tai chi, for example, if they have ballet training, they tend to carry their energy high up on the chest, like they are about to float away. Good in ballet, not good in tai chi. Bring the energy down. The other four directions are step forward, step back, look left, look right. Pretty simple.

The eight powers are best exemplified in the “grasp the sparrows tail” move if you know it. But, they are:

1. ward off- the body opens in all the joints and the body expands like a rubber balloon, or a tire filled with air. You make contact with your opponent and offer just about the same amount of resistance as the incoming force. This is where you are “listening” to your opponent, feeling where they are going.

2. Yielding- not giving up, not running away, you join with the incoming force and slightly deflect it and bring it to where its force is voided out. Picture a playground swing coming at you. Side step it, and as it’s going past you, a slight tap will make it go further.

3. press-stepping into your opponent, pressing into him, down.

4. push-after you’ve joined and yielded and your partner is teetering all over the place, use your whole body to push. Remember, when one part of you moves, all parts move. Don’t just use your arms and hands.

5. grab/pull down- best exemplified by the single whip. In the deflection, you hook or grab and then execute one of 108 moves.

6. split or rend- exemplified in slant flying, a toppling throw.

7. elbow- there are successions in the tai chi arsenal. After  a punch is deflected, for example, you can flow into an elbow strike. Don’t use the point of your elbow, it’s really a forearm strike or by the triceps.

8. Bump- a whole body strike with the chest, shoulder, back. When I first learned tai chi, I thought this was the coolest. I wanted to become the master of “kao”, the master of the bump!



  1. my guess is the level of self confidence. The higher it is, the less you would feel the need because you know you can take someone out. Self confidence also shows, we give off a vibe that makes people back off.

  2. I have study the arts averylong time suchas boxing ,wrestling, tae kwon do, united karate, kung fu, tai chi practicing about 8 years the more i have l
    learned the less i have elected to use towards someone.why?

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