8 Forms and benefits

Tai Chi Yang Style 8 Form

Originally developed for martial arts purposes in China more than 300 years ago(1). This practice has been used as a traditional exercise to improve fitness, health and longevity(2) for individuals of all ages. Tai chi slow-to-moderate intensity and beneficial effects on strength, flexibility, breathing and balance(3,4,5) make it especially attractive to mature adults.

Several styles of tai chi exist some historic/traditional and some of more recent origin. Today, the yang style is probably the most popular.

Balance of Yin and Yang

In addition to the physical movement and meditational features of its practice, tai chi is intended to cultivate qi (pronounced chee), an internal force or vital energy—the nature of which is not fully understood. According to Chinese medical theory, tai chi movements allow qi to circulate through out the body via channels or meridians. These energy pathways connect organs, joints and muscle groups. Along meridians are points used in tai chi as foci to direct the flow of qi and control body balance mechanisms through the constant interplay of yin and yang.
Yin (inactivity) and yang (activity) are opposite but complementary, forces of nature that need to be in balance for optimal functioning (e.g. male/female, static/moving, active/passive, tension/relaxation or forceful/yielding). The dynamic relationship between yin and yang underpins all movements of tai chi.

Moving meditation

As in all forms of tai chi breathing is important and linked closely with the movements (e.g. inhaling when raising arms and exhaling when pressing arms down). This sinks the qi to the dantian (pronounced dan-tee-ann), or energy center located in the lower abdomen slightly below the navel. Breathing during Tai Chi should be natural, rhythmic and full, but not forced. Breaths should originate from the diaphragm, and the inhale-exhale rhythm should comfortably coordinate with the flow of movements.

So tai chi involves training the mind as well as the body, which is why it is often referred to as “moving meditation” (7).

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Health Benefit of Tai chi 8-form

Basically, tai chi is a series of individual movements or forms, linked together to flow smoothly from one to another. When performed with continuity, these movements involve body and trunk rotation, flexion and extension of the hips and knees, weight shifting, postural control and alignment, with and without arm coordination (6).

The 8 form Tai Chi provides training likely to improve muscle strength through static and moving exercises, while addressing the need to control balance over a dynamically changing base of support. This practice also improves balance by involving interlimb coordination and coordination between lower-extremity and upper-body movements. In addition, the training may increase the balance response repertoires older adults can use in balance-challenging situations.

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Tai Chi can also be performed in a chair by participants who have a problem with standing or who depend on ambulatory supports (i.e.walker, cane or wheelchair). When performed in a seated position, these movements work the full range of motion for the arms, shoulders and torso. For example, individuals with standing difficulty may still benefit by engaging in upper-body-based movements such as curving back arms, which focuses on upper limbs and trunk rotation, and even lower-limb movements, such as lifting legs (similar to that of standing on one leg), which works on hip flexion and stable postural alignment.

Name of Movements / Movement Direction / Health Benefits

Form Movement direction / Number of repetitions Health Benefits
Commencing form: Lift hands Both hands rise to shoulder level Center Stay in the present. Benefits the liver.
Parting Wild Horse’s Mane with Twist
Left then Right Benefits the small and large intestines, gallbladder, stomach and lungs.
Repulse Monkey
Right then left; Benefits the small and large intestines, gallbladder, kidneys and spinal cord.
Brush Knees Left, Twist Steps, Brush Knees Right
Left then Right Benefits the heart, lower digestive tract and stomach disorders.
Golden Rooster stands on one leg 
Left then Right Improve your balance and stretching out
Cross hands and heel kick
Kick right, then kick left Benefits the kidneys and stomach.
Grasp Peacocks Tail: Ward-off, Pull back, Press, Push
Right, then left Benefit the large intestine; they also treat constipation.
Move Hands Like Clouds  云手 Left side leads; two times, then right 2 times Benefits the large intestine, pancreas, spleen and stomach.
Cross hands
Both hands fall to the side, left leg drawn to the right Benefits gastric problems.


1. ChinaSports.“Simplified‘Taijiquan.’” Beijing,China:ForeignLanguagePrinting House,1980

2. Hong,Y.andLu,Y.“PhysicalActivityandHealth Among Older Adults inChina.”JournalofAgingandPhysicalActivity1999;7:247–250

3. Lan,C.;Lai,J.S.;andChen,S.Y.“TaiChi Chuan:AnAncient WisdomonExerciseand HealthPromotion.”SportsMedicine 2002;32:217–224

4. Levandoski,L.J.andLeyshon,G.A.“TaiChi ExerciseandtheElderly.”ClinicalKinesiology 1990;44:39–42

5. Li,J.;Hong,Y.;andChan,K.M.“TaiChi: PhysiologicalCharacteristicsandBeneficial EffectsonHealth.”BritishJournalofSports Medicine2001;35:148–156

6. Swaim, L.; Fu Zhongwen. “MasteringyangstyleTaijiquan.”BerkeleyCA:NorthAtlanticBooks,1999

7. Reid,D.“AcompleteguidetoChi-Gung.” BostonMA:ShambhalaPublications,1998

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