Tai Ji Quan

The Wu/Cheng Hand Form

The Unique Movements

Once we have a complete sequence identified, perhaps the simplest question to consider is how many unique movements are there in the form, and what is the frequency of their occurrence? To make the most sense of this, it is useful to abstract away all the variations: thus, Brush Knee Twist Step is considered the same whether it is done diagonally or not; Parry Punch is the same whether the punch is down or under, and so forth. The following list shows the unique moves listed in order of frequency, with the most common listed first:

  1. San Ti (16)

  2. Brush Knee Twist Step (13)

  3. Single Whip (11)

  4. High Pat the Horse (9)

  5. Grasping Bird's Tail (8)

  6. Parry and Punch (6)
  7. Step Back Repulse Monkey (6)
  8. Cloud Hands (6)
  9. Parting the Wild Horses Mane (6)

  10. Swing the Fist (5)

  11. Raise Hands and Step Up (4)
  12. Hammer Fist (4)
  13. Turn the Body (4)
  14. Kick Out in a Curve (4)
  15. Fair Lady Works the Shuttles (4)

  16. Flying Oblique (3)
  17. White Crane Flaps Its Wings (3)
  18. Slap the Face (3)

  19. Wuji (2)
  20. Ready Stance (2)
  21. As If Shutting a Door (2)
  22. Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain (2)
  23. Cross Hands (2)
  24. Needle at Sea Bottom (2)
  25. Fan Through the Back (2)
  26. Turn and Pedal (2)
  27. Golden Cockerel Stands on One Leg (2)
  28. Snake Creeps Down (2)

  29. Beginning Taiji (1)
  30. Strum the Lute (1)
  31. Fist Under Elbow (1)
  32. Step Back to Strike the Tiger (1)
  33. Twist the Body and Kick (1)
  34. Box the Ears (1)
  35. White Snake Spits Out Its Tongue (1)
  36. Single Sweep the Lotus (1)
  37. Double Sweep the Lotus (1)
  38. Step Up to Seven Stars (1)
  39. Step Back to Ride the Tiger (1)
  40. Draw the Bow to Shoot the Tiger (1)
  41. Concluding Taiji (1)

Thus there are 41 unique moves identified, with San Ti the most common by a fair margin, followed by Brush Knee Twist Step. These are the two basic stances trained in the foundation practice, being simple examples of rear-weighted and front-weighted stances respectively.

It is also interesting to note that a third of the form is made up of repetitions of only the four most frequent movements, and over half the form is made up of repetitions of only the nine most frequent movements. Whilst this should not be seen as diminishing the importance of the other movements, it does make it clear that the basic structure of the sequence is held together by a small number of basic movements.