Traditionally, Tai Chi students would first learn the Laojia Yi Lu (old style, first form). This has around 74 postures (depending on how they are counted) & takes a fair while to learn.
During the 20th century, the 18 posture form (sometimes called the Chen short form) was created from the Laojia in order to cater to people who didn't have the time or commitment to learn the full 74 postures, but still wanted to gain some of the benefits that Tai Chi could offer.
Because its so much shorter, the 18 form is much quicker to learn - the classes I teach take around 20x1 hour sessions to get to the end. There's still a lot of tidying up to do & development of the principles & ideas behind each posture can keep people learning new things for a long time.
It leaves out a lot of the repeats of postures that occur in the Laojia & also excludes some of the more difficult moves.
Audio version of the 18 form:
For anyone who might find it useful, here's an MP3 of me talking through the 18 form:Dave talks through Chen 18 form.mp3
Also, remember the Videos' page.of the 18 form on the '
These are the names of the postures in the 18 Form & a few things to remember for each posture:
Here's the Word version to download: 18 form Word.doc
1 Opening form – open close / ward off left & right - Use the whole body to sink the arms down, keep the centre line in the warding off & keep the elbows sunk
2 Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar – push with shoulder / elbow, open, step forward, close up & stamp foot down
3 Lazy about Tying Coat – circling arms, step crossing wrists, body turning right sweeps out right arm
4 Six Sealing & Four Closing – ward off, roll back, press / push - make a small circle with the navel & let the arms follow
5 Single Whip – make whip, step left, elbow, sweep left arm out, driven by the body
6 White Crane Spreads Wings – hold up left arm while stepping and turning left. Cross wrists stepping right, move into empty stance as body turns right & arms sweep out to spread wings
7 Green Dragon throws out Pearl – wave to left making a circle, turn & push to right through the circle
8 Diagonal Whip – sink, pick up pearl with left hand, open out into diagonal whip
9 Grasp knee & 3 Diagonal steps – pick up & sink back into right empty stance, push palms forward. Step left, right & left as if on a zig-zag
10 Hidden Thrust Punch – cover right fist by holding out left arm, send left elbow back as right punch travels forwards
11 Pat High Horse – turn left, sweeping back left foot & pulling back left hand to navel. Push out with right hand at the end of the move
12 Immortal points the way, Left heel kick & Double hand strike – hit out both palms as kick left
13 Jade Maiden plays with Shuttles – rolling shoulder / turning right 180 degrees. Jump / lift hands, stamp / hands hit down. Right side/heel kick. Step & twist, right hand high. Turn 180 right, weight moving onto right leg
14 Cloud Hands – 3 cloud hands, stepping left - keep attention on body turning & elbows making circles
15 Turn keeping weight on left leg, Double Dragon Push, Right Crescent Kick, roll back low
16 Head on Blows – double push / hit, roll back high
17 Buddha’s Warrior Pounds Mortar – as #2
18 Finish Form / Close
Keep the centre line
Don't let the hands cross the centre line (most of the time!)
Keep the elbows low
Keep the back straight
Keep the head high
Keep the knees over the feet
To move in one direction, generally move in the other direction first - winding the spring
Be aware of where the weight is
When stepping - let the heel touch first
And as if you haven't got enough to remember - RELAX!