Wu Tai Chi 108 Slow Form

Your Feedback is Welcome
Contact Stephen

posture picture

Enjoy These Lessons?

paypal image

Wu Tai Chi Stepping

by Stephen Procter


tai chi image

Learning to move in a balanced way with good alignment is an important part of tai chi, to learn to do this you must study what it means to feel balanced. Start by standing with your feet side by side, weight evenly balanced, then shift your weight onto your left leg and step your right foot forward. Make sure that your legs are the same width as your shoulders sideways and from front to back. All your weight should be on your front bent leg straightening your back leg as you do so. To check your balance shift forward and back between the two and feel the stability within it. Getting to know the feeling of a balanced stance is important, part of learning this feeling can be done by purposely making the stance wrong. Check your stance width and purposely make it too shallow, as if you were on one ski, now rock forward and back and feel the balance, then rock from side to side and feel how unbalanced it is

Adjust your stance so that from front to back and side to side, the stance is the same width, forming a square. Now test your balance rocking side to side and front to back feeling the stability of your stance, the feeling should be like that of a large bell sitting on the ground. Because of its wide base and narrow top a bell is very hard to push over. Shift all your weight into your front leg until your back leg is straight and has no weight on it. Practice so that you become sensitive to what it feels like to be both balanced and unbalanced until the sensitivity is at the stage that, as it is said in the classics "if even a feather is added" you will be sensitive to it "lke a poised scale"

Learning to Step

tai chi image

Step your back leg up beside your front leg in a zigzag pattern then step it forward and back to shoulder width apart. The zigzag pattern of stepping is very similar to the pattern of stitching in a sewing machine. This type of stepping is designed to control the centre of your balance when you move. Maintaining your central balance throughout the whole of the movement and not just the beginning and end is essential to tai chi. The zigzag stepping does this by shifting your weight onto your supporting leg as you move the back leg to step forward. The same is true but in reverse for stepping backwards.

tai chi image

In Wu style tai chi our posture is slanting, slanting means that when our weight is forward and our back leg straight that our body is following the same line as the back leg. When shifting backwards onto the back leg your body maintains that same slanting posture causing a V between the front leg and the upper body. It is important not to have your posture totally upright as this will cause your upper and lower body to be separate, which leaves you vulnerable to being off balance an unable to dissolve incoming force into the ground. This in itself is a detailed mechanic that I will leave until another time to explain.


Posture 9. Brush Knee


9. Brush Knee - left side
9a. Brush Knee - sink back, circle left hand, no step left side
9b. Brush Knee - right side
9c. Brush Knee - left side

This section of the form contains four Brush Knees, three with steps, the second one is stationary and uses shifting. To begin complete the last posture White Crane Cools it’s Wing, you will end with your weight even between both legs and both arms raised with palms facing your face. Shift your weight onto your left leg, when your right leg has no weight on it turn on your right toe. Shift your weight onto your right leg, turn on left toe and step to left for the first Brush Knee.
Left hand brushes over the left knee, right and circles and pushes forward as in these photos. Left palm facing down, right palm facing forward.

The second Brush Knee does not contain a step, you stay stationary for this posture. Start by sinking back into you right leg, as you do this circle your left arm upwards in front of you, passing in front of the right hand. Once it has passed the right hand you shift forward onto your left leg again, left hand circling back down to brush again over the left knee. You then step forward for two more steps, right leg forward, the left, using the stepping methods discussed above. Remember to change your hands as you step, you can tell the proper position of your hands by mirroring he leg that is forward. Notice that the name of the posture is Brush Knee, this refers to the hands brushing over the knee, so left leg forward means left hand brushes over the left knee, right leg forward means that the right hand brushes over the right knee. The other hand then stays high and presses forward.


Tai Chi Detailed Explanation Lesson 4

Brush Knee Movement 1 to 4


Posture 10. Hands Play Guitar


10. Brush Knee - turn right, middle, shift forward, step up

The Hands Play Guitar posture in this part of the form is different in some ways then practiced earlier. This posture involves the technique of turning the centre of the body to face 45 degrees. The skill of turning to 45 degrees is important to understand and can be studied while practicing this posture and tested and refined during Pushing Hands.
In this diagram the circle at the bottom of the angle represents the centre our body. The aim while turnng from the centre is make this turn more and more internal, that is to learn to turn from inside of this angle instead of the outside. Notice that as you move further down the angle towards the centre that the turn becomes smaller / tighter yet the turn is still travelling along a 45 degrees path. This must be studied to be understood properly, it is mentioned here to point you towards the correct path.

This posture starts in the fourth Brush Knee posture which is a left Brush Knee, weight shifted forward, left hand brushing over the left knee. Now shift your weight back into your right leg, circling your left hand up to your centre to form Hands Play Guitar posture as studied earlier, right fingers touching left wrist. Turn your arms to the right by turning your waist, to a 45 degrees angle. Palms at this stage are still facing the sides as in Hands Play Guitar Posture.

Now turn your palms over right palm facing up, left facing down and shift your weight forward as you turn your waist back to face the front. When your hands reach the centre of your body step up, feet shoulder width apart, side by side.


Video of Complete Movements for Lesson 4

Brush knee, Hands Play Guitar Five repetitions of these movements from the Wu 108 Slow form, filmed from front and back view to help my students to learn the movements.


Continue next lesson - Lesson 5

© Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved

This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you