Comparative Tai Chi Chuan Solo Forms

Originally, Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan had only one solo form. It is now called small-frame solo form. It has a high stance and compact movements. Because of individual practitioners� objectives, it evolved into martial-function solo forms, such as those including application and fundamentals training, and health- maintenance-function solo forms, such as those including relaxation and stress management exercises, etc.

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan has a rich and extensive curriculum. After two hundred years and six generations, the small-frame solo form has developed into the large-frame solo form, the transitional solo form, the medium-frame solo form, the traditional solo form, the application solo form, the chung chuan solo form and many abbreviated forms. Following is a list of five of the condensed solo forms I have choreographed. click here to view all five forms

1. 42 Techniques Application Solo Form (Small Frame Solo Form)
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This application solo form is different from the martial-fundamentals-training form or the slow form. Due to its quickness�swift and powerful movements� there are many practitioners who call it the fast form. Physically, the application solo form is very demanding. One cannot perform it well unless one�s body is in good condition. Therefore, this solo form is not as popular as other, slower forms, which people can practice simply for health maintenance or health improvement.

When one is practicing the application solo form, it is necessary to simulate the martial confrontation. Each movement must have good technique, speed, and power�elements for victory. The application solo form has a high stance and compact movements, so that one can move quickly. All the movements are of a linear nature, without the obvious opening and closing motions as in other forms. Among the many techniques, there are fa jing, hua jing, qi circulation and application. Therefore, when one is practicing this application form, each movement is done with a specific rhythm. When stepping forward, the second foot has to step forward too; when retreating, the second foot has to retreat as well. When one regularly practices this form, one will develop a sense of offensive and defensive rhythm. The application solo form is not the training form done fast.

  1. Beginning Tai Chi Chuan
  2. Left Ward Off
  3. Double Flip
  4. Single Whip
  5. Fist under Elbow
  6. Step Forward, Punch
  7. Retreat Step, Punch Downward
  8. Step Forward, Parry and Punch
  9. Seal Tightly
  10. Cross Hands
  11. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
  12. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  13. Golden Boy Offers Script
  14. Pull Down
  15. Diagonal Flying
  16. Lift Hands
  17. White Crane Spread Wings
  18. Brush Knee, Twist Step
  19. Pick Up Needle in Sea Bottom
  20. Fan Back
  21. Turn Body Chop
  22. Green Dragon Comes Out from Cave
  23. Wave Hands like Clouds
  24. Brush Knee, Twist Step
  25. Lion Turns Head(Nine Palaces Step)
  26. Left Hit Tiger
  27. Swipe Plum Blossom
  28. Left Crouching Tiger
  29. Double Dragon Comes Out from Cave
  30. Right Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg
  31. Hit Ears with Two Fists
  32. Right Foot Kick
  33. Part Wild Horse Mane
  34. Lower Snake Body
  35. Left Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg
  36. Step Forward, Become Seven Stars
  37. Snake Spits poison
  38. Double Lotus Kick
  39. Right Crouching Tiger
  40. Stab Tiger
  41. Cross Hands
  42. Closing Tai Chi Chuan
2. 48 Movements Small Frame Solo Form (Small Circle Solo Form)
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Tai chi chuan is a close-quarters, internal martial art. The movements are so compact that a spectator sees only brief contact between practitioners before one of them is bounced back. The techniques and skills are profound and very difficult to master. The Yang Family members made the training easier by dividing the tai chi chuan solo form into three levels or �frames� so that it is accessible to beginning students.

The small-frame solo form has high stances, compact movements, qi circulation, and close-quarters techniques. It works more on the trunk than on the limbs, emphasizing training the vertebral column or the central nervous system in order to develop natural reflexes. Therefore, it is said that the small-frame solo form appears to have smaller movements outside and larger movements inside the body.

Another characteristic of the small-frame solo form is that it loosens the body by stretching the muscle groups more often. In the beginning, usually the joints are stiff and the limbs are hard. After one has practiced the tai chi chuan solo form for many years, the body will be nimble and energetic, a quality demonstrated both externally and internally. When one has reached this stage, conducting all physical activity is possible without injury to the body, even when responding to a sudden and unexpected martial strike. This is what the Tai Chi Chuan Classics refer to when they say, "First seek out softness. Later, it will become strong." Softness comes from elasticity. When one is truly soft, a soft spiraling power will be developed and all actions will be fueled by this power.

Yet another characteristic is qi circulation. When one practices the solo form slowly and softly, relaxing and stretching the muscle groups, the qi will circulate better, more easily throughout the body. To be soft and relaxed is not enough; the body must have qi to live. When the body is permeated with qi, it is nimble and healthy. This is similar to a tire filled with air: it can support the car's weight and is able to move at the same time.

  1. Beginning Tai Chi Chuan
  2. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  3. Single Whip
  4. Play Guitar
  5. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  6. Seal Tightly
  7. Cross Hands
  8. Embrace Tiger, Return To Mountain
  9. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  10. Single Whip
  11. Fist under Elbow
  12. Step Backward and Drive Away Monkey (three times)
  13. Diagonal Flying
  14. Right Hand Ward Off
  15. Lift Hands
  16. White Crane Spreads Wings
  17. Left Brush Knee, Twist Step and Push Right Hand Forward
  18. Pick Up Needle in Sea Bottom
  19. Fan Back
  20. Turn Around, Hit Downward
  21. Retreat Step, Parry and Punch
  22. Part the Wild Horse's Mane
  23. Left Ward Off
  24. Wave Hands like Clouds (seven times)
  25. Single Whip
  26. Right High Pat Horse
  27. Right Foot Side Kick
  28. Left High Pat Horse
  29. Left Foot Side Kick
  30. Fair Lady Works on Shuttles (two times)
  31. Left Ward Off
  32. Right Foot Kick
  33. Left Hit Tiger
  34. Hit Ears with Two Fists
  35. Left Foot Kick
  36. Left Brush Knee, Twist Step And Push Hand (two times)
  37. Step Forward, Punch Downward
  38. Step Forward, Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  39. Single Whip
  40. Lower Snake Body
  41. Step Forward, Become Seven Stars
  42. Retreat To Ride Tiger
  43. Turn Around, Hit the Face
  44. Lotus Kick
  45. Shoot Tiger
  46. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept And Punch
  47. Seal Tightly
  48. Closing Tai Chi Chuan

3. 43 Movements Transitional Frame Solo Form (Middle Frame Solo Form)
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The transitional-frame solo form is based on Yang Kin Hou�s teaching. He recognized that without a good foundation it is very difficult to learn and to master the small-frame solo form, so he wanted to reform it, thus enabling the student to learn and attain martial skill. He began by enlarging and making visible the hidden circular motions, slowing the pace of the fast movements in this small-frame solo form. In addition, to build a stronger martial foundation, he lowered the stance in each movement and, for this same objective, repeated some movements several times. With these changes, the new form had the benefits of improving body condition and martial-arts skill.

Due to the policy of closed transmission, it was not an easy task to make circular motions with the goal of improving martial fundamentals. This new solo form was not well known. It did not become popular until much later when Yang Cheng Fu removed all the added circular motions and variations, further softening and slowing the movements with big opening and closing motions, a higher stance and an open-transmission policy. People today call the original solo form the small-frame solo form (application solo form or the small-circle solo form), Yang Kin Hou's creation the transitional solo form (middle-frame solo form or middle-circle solo form), and Yang Cheng Fu's creation the large-frame solo form (big-circle solo form).
  1. Beginning Tai Chi Chuan
  2. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  3. Single Whip
  4. Play Guitar
  5. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  6. Seal Tightly
  7. Cross Hands
  8. Embrace Tiger, Return To Mountain
  9. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  10. Diagonal Single Whip
  11. Fist under Elbow
  12. Step Backward and Drive Away Monkey (three times)
  13. Diagonal Flying
  14. Lift Hands
  15. White Crane Spreads Wings
  16. Brush Knee, Twist Step and Push Right Hand Forward
  17. Pick Up Needle in Sea Bottom
  18. Fan Back
  19. Turn Around and Chop
  20. Right Part Wild Horse's Mane
  21. Left Ward Off
  22. Wave Hands like Clouds (seven times)
  23. Single Whip
  24. High Pat Horse
  25. Side Kick
  26. Fair Lady Works on Shuttles (two times)
  27. Left Ward Off
  28. Right Kick
  29. Left Hit Tiger
  30. Hit Ears with Two Fists
  31. Left Kick
  32. Brush Knee, Twist Step (two times)
  33. Step Forward, Punch Downward
  34. Step Forward, Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  35. Single Whip
  36. Lower Snake Body
  37. Step Forward To Become Seven Stars
  38. Retreat To Ride Tiger
  39. Turn Around, Lotus Kick
  40. Shoot Tiger
  41. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  42. Seal Tightly
  43. Closing Tai Chi Chuan

4. 43 Movements Large Frame Solo Form (Large Circle Solo Form)
click here to view the form The large frame solo form is based on Yang Cheng Fu�s teaching. Yang Cheng Fu created this form based on his father�s, Yang Chien Hou�s, middle-frame or transitional-frame solo form. Yang Chien Hou realized that it was very difficult for a student to develop martial-arts skill from the small-frame solo form, so he modified the small-frame solo form by enlarging the range of the small-frame solo form�s movements, made the stance lower and included other martial- fundamentals-training objectives.

The major characteristic of the large-frame solo form is its large circular motion. Its function is to open all the body joints by stretching the ligaments and tendons, a common objective for all Chinese martial arts, so that a practitioner is able to execute the strike quickly and powerfully in combat.

Practicing the large-frame solo form serves two functions. It opens the joints by stretching the ligaments and tendons, thus improving practitioner�s martial fundamentals and power. The large motions also improve blood circulation, thereby bettering one�s health. It is a perfect solo form for improving the condition of one�s body. Therefore, the large-frame solo form is also known as the beginner�s form.
  1. Beginning Tai Chi Chuan
  2. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  3. Single Whip
  4. Play Guitar
  5. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  6. Seal Tightly
  7. Cross Hands
  8. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
  9. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  10. Diagonal Single Whip
  11. Fist under Elbow
  12. Step Backward and Drive Away Monkey (three times)
  13. Diagonal Flying
  14. Lift Hands
  15. White Crane Spreads Wings
  16. Brush Knee, Twist Step and Push Right Hand Forward
  17. Pick Up Needle in Sea Bottom
  18. Fan Back
  19. Turn Around and Chop
  20. Right Part the Wild Horse's Mane
  21. Left Ward Off
  22. Wave Hands like Clouds (seven times)
  23. Single Whip
  24. High Pat Horse
  25. Side Kick
  26. Fair Lady Works on Shuttles (two times)
  27. Left Ward Off
  28. Right Kick
  29. Left Hit Tiger
  30. Hit Ears with Two Fists
  31. Left Kick
  32. Brush Knee, Twist Step (two times)
  33. Step Forward, Punch Downward
  34. Step Forward. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  35. Single Whip
  36. Lower Snake Body
  37. Step Forward To Become Seven Stars
  38. Retreat To Ride Tiger
  39. Turn Around, Lotus Kick
  40. Shoot Tiger
  41. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  42. Seal Tightly
  43. Closing Tai Chi Chuan

5. 42 Movements Medium Frame Solo Form (Medium Circle Solo Form)
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The medium-frame solo form is based on Yeung Sau Chung�s teaching. Yeung Sau Chung created this medium-frame solo form based on his father�s, Yang Cheng Fu�s, large-frame solo form. Yeung Sau Chung said that the large-frame solo form reaches out too far and is too loose. Therefore, it is difficult to focus and concentrate on discharging power. Accordingly, he refined the movements to have the hands positioned closer to the body, so it is easier to mobilize the power to discharge.

Since the medium-frame solo form is based on the large-frame solo form, it shares many characteristics of the large-frame form created by Yang Cheng Fu. Today, many people mistake this medium-frame form for the large-frame solo form of Yang Cheng Fu. When compared to the large-frame solo form, the obvious distinctive characteristic lies in the execution of the movements. The medium- frame solo form has more square components than the large-frame solo form, which has more round components. The hands are not positioned as high, low or as far away from the body as in the large-frame solo form. It is often said among experienced tai chi chuan practitioners that round components are for qi circulation and square components are for power delivery.

The second characteristic is excellent posture alignment. The body�s weight is well supported in every position. All the postures are balanced, and clearly distinguish between empty and full. Every posture looks comfortable and powerful.

The third characteristic is the degree of waist rotation. The medium-frame solo form has the waist rotating not as much as in the large-frame solo form, which stretches the tendons and ligaments and is not as compact as the small-frame solo form, which stretches the muscle groups. It is at the middle between these two solo forms and has the functions of both of them.
  1. Beginning Tai Chi Chuan
  2. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  3. Single Whip
  4. High Pat Horse
  5. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  6. Seal Tightly
  7. Cross Hands
  8. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
  9. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  10. Fist under Elbow
  11. Step Backward and Drive Away Monkey (three times)
  12. Diagonal Flying
  13. Lift Hands
  14. White Crane Spreads Wings
  15. Brush Knee, Twist Step and Push Right Hand Forward
  16. Pick Up Needle in Sea Bottom
  17. Fan Back
  18. Turn Around and Chop
  19. Right Part the Wild Horse's Mane
  20. Left Ward Off
  21. Wave Hands like Clouds (seven times)
  22. Single Whip
  23. High Pat Horse
  24. Side Kick
  25. Fair Lady Works on Shuttles (two times)
  26. Left Ward Off
  27. Right Foot Kick
  28. Left Hit Tiger
  29. Hit Ears with Two Fists
  30. Left Foot Kick
  31. Brush Knee, Twist Step (two times)
  32. Step Forward, Punch Downward
  33. Step Forward, Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  34. Single Whip
  35. Lower Snake Body
  36. Step Forward To Become Seven Stars
  37. Retreat To Ride Tiger
  38. Turn Around, Lotus Kick
  39. Shoot Tiger
  40. Step Forward, Parry, Intercept and Punch
  41. Seal Tightly
  42. Closing Tai Chi Chuan