Taichi Chuan for health and self-development

Written by © Ewald Berkers

Benefits of doing Taichi, and how to learn it. A collection of videos to study the Taichi form, and recommended books.

Taichi Chuan is a martial art, that many people do mostly for health and self-development, rather than for fighting. The series of movements that is the basis of Taichi (the "form"), is usually performed in a slow and relaxed manner. The slowness helps focussing on the movements, and ones body. The relaxed way helps energy to flow.

In the videos below, you can see how the Taichi form goes.

To help the focus on the body, and to perform the movements optimally, in Taichi one focuses on the point in the body that is the Dantian, in the lower part of the belly. This also helps the flow of energy.

Taichi can help you develop more relaxation and grounding. Doing it regularly develops a good sense of balance. At old age, that can help prevent you from falling, which might break your hip. The relaxation makes it easier to feel yourself, it helps become more calm and secure, and it can increase your health. It also helps developing awareness of what goes on in your body.

Cheng Man-Ching's Taichi form

A shorter than usual Taichi form was developed by Cheng Man-Ching. Traditionally, the Taichi form would take over 20 minutes to perform. He made a shorter version, that takes about a third of that time. That makes it easier to learn, while still most of the movements are in it.

Cheng Man-Ching's Taichi form is referred to as the "37 forms" or the "37 postures". Some of the videos below show old films of Cheng Man-Ching performing his form.

Learning the Taichi form

You could find a Taichi class, and learn the form from a teacher in a group, or you can learn it on your own. Either way, it will probably take a bit of time before you know the form by heart. A good way of learning it, is to learn a step at a time, and to practice regularly, daily if possible.

With the videos here, and one or more suitable books, it is quite possible to learn the form. To learn, you could proceed by studying one step of movements on videos, or in a book, figure out how to do it, and then try it yourself. Then check whether you did it more or less right, and practice the new movements for some time. Start at the beginning of the form, and add to what you already know, so that you can always practice a series of movements as a sequence.

After you've learned some new movements, it is a good idea to keep practicing them daily, without learning additional new steps, for a week or so. When you feel you don't know them well enough, you could check with the videos again. When things seem to go fine, you could learn a new step to add.

If learning movements works differently for you, by all means, do it your own way.

Videos with Cheng Man-Ching's 37 forms

These videos all show the same Taichi form, from different angles, and different people. The first three videos show Cheng Man-Ching at different ages.

Books about Cheng Man-Ching's 37 forms Taichi

To get the details right, descriptions in books can be helpful.

In "Master Cheng's New Method of Taichi Ch'uan Self-Cultivation" the form is shown with photos, descriptions, and foot diagrams. The foot diagrams show how to distribute your body weight over your feet, and of course how to position your feet, and where to move them.

In "Cheng Tzu's Thirteen Treatises on T'ai Chi Ch'uan" there are clear photos, and descriptions for doing the form. It's described how the movements are meant to defend against particular attacks. The "New Method" book goes into more detail about how to do the form, though.

You might also be interested in these books about Taichi and exercises at Amazon

Master Cheng's New Method of Taichi Ch'uan Self-Cultivation, by Cheng Man-ch'ing

How to do Taichi. With photos, descriptions, and foot diagrams of the form.

Cheng Tzu's Thirteen Treatises on T'ai Chi Ch'uan, by Cheng Man-ch'ing

Principles of doing Taichi, and descriptions with clear photos for doing the form.

Eight Simple Qigong Exercises for Health, by Jwing-Ming Yang
The Eight Pieces of Brocade

A set of exercises to improve energy flow in the body, strengthen the organs, and enhance body awareness.

See longer book descriptions