Thirteen Postures of Taijiquan:
Shi San Shi
Eight Gates and Five Directions

13 T'ai Chi Ch'uan Postures (Movements, Techniques, Energies, Gates, Stances or Powers)
8 Gates and 5 Steps 


Notes     Links     Bibliography     Quotes     Charts     8 Gates     5 Steps

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Ta'i Chi Ch'uan     Taijiquan Classics     Yang Style Taijiquan     Taoism

Compiled and Indexed by
Michael P. Garofalo



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Cloud Hands - Yun shou






Index to the Thirteen Gates of Taijiquan:
13 T'ai Chi Ch'uan Postures (Gates, Stances, Movements, 
Techniques, Kinetic Movements, Tactics or Powers)

General Remarks

1.  Ward Off - Peng

2.  Roll Back - Lu

3.  Press - Ji

4.  Push - An

5.  Pull Down - Tsai

6.  Split - Lieh

7.  Elbow - Chou

8.  Shoulder - Kao

9.  Advancing Steps - Jin

10.  Retreating Steps - Tui

11.  Stepping to the Left Side  - Ku

12.  Stepping to the Right Side - Pan

13.  Settling at the Center - Ding



General Remarks


The Thirteeen Postures (8 Gates and 5 Steps) are referred to in various ways by T'ai Chi Ch'uan authors.  Some call them the "Thirteen Powers = Shi San Shi."  Others call them the Thirteen Postures, the Thirteen Entrances, the Thirteen Movements, or the Thirteen Energies.

The most frequent references to the 13 Postures are in the writings and teaching in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.   

The first Eight Gates or Eight Entrances (Ba Gua or Pa Kau) can be divided into the Four Primary Hands (Ward Off, Pull Back, Press and Push) and the Four Corner Hands (Pull Down, Split, Elbow and Shoulder).  

The first eight (Pua Qua or Ba Gua) of the Thirteen Gates are often associated, for mnenomic or esoteric purposes, with  the eight basic trigrams used in the Chinese I Ching: Book of Changes.  In the order of the first Eight Gates (Pa-Men), the eight I Ching trigrams are Heaven, Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Thunder, Lake, and Mountain.  

All thirteen postures, or course, involve some movement of the feet and legs, but the final Five Gates involve more extensive movements of the feet and legs.  These are collectively referred to as the Wu-hsing - Five Elemental Phases of Change.  The final five gates are associated with the 5 elementary processes (Wu-xing) involving:  metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.  


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Eight Gates
(Eight Stances, Postures, Energies, Ways)   



1.   Peng - Ward Off

Peng - Ward Off

Peng Ching (Jing) is outward expanding and moving energy.  It is a quality of responding to incoming energy by adhering to that energy, maintaing one's own posture, and bouncing the incoming energy back like a large inflated rubber ball.  You don't really respond to force with your own muscular force to repel, block, or ward off the attack.  Peng is a response of the whole body, the whole posture, unified in one's center, grounded, and capable of gathering and then giving back the opponent's energy.  

Peng is aften referred to as a kind of "bouncing" energy.  It is also considered the fundamental way of delivering energy and embodied in some way in each of the other Eight Gates.  

Example of Form movements:  Grasping the Sparrow's Tail (Ward Off)

"When moving, receiving, collecting, and striking, Peng ching is always used.  It is not easy to complete consecutive movements and string them together without flexibility.  Pen ching is T'ai Chi boxing's essential energy.  The body becomes like a spring; when pressed it recoils immediately."
-  Kuo, Lien-Ying, "The T'ai Chi Boxing Chronicle," p. 44

Tye's Peng Path Analogy


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2.   Roll Back  -  Lu   

Roll Back - Lu

Lu Ching is receiving and collecting energy, or inward receiving energy.  

Form movements:  Grasping the Sparrow's Tail - Rollback

"Li is the use of force in a sideways direction, such as where we intercept and move with a forward directed attack, simultaneously diverting it slightly to one side and thus to the void.   The greater the force of his attack, the greater the resulting loss of balance on the part of our opponent."
Principles of the Thirteen Tactics





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3.   Press - Ji or C'hi

Press - C'hi, Qi or Ji

Chi or Ji Ching is pressing and receiving energy.
This is an offensive force delivered by following the opponent's energy, by squeezing of sticking forward.    

Form movements:  Grasping the Sparrow's Tail - palm pressing on forearm.  

"What is the meaning of Pressing Energy?  It functions in two ways: (1) The simplest is the direct method.  Advance to meet (receive) the opponent, and then adhere and close in one action, just like in elbowing.  (2) To apply reaction force is the indirect method.  This is like a ball bouncing off a wall or a coin tossed onto a drumhead, rebounding off with a ringing sound."
-   Stuart Alve Loson,
T'ai Chi According to the I Ching, 2001, p. 73


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4.   Push - An

Push - An or On

An Ching is downward pushing energy.
Pushing power comes from the legs pushing into the earth.  
Form movements:  Grasping the Sparrow's Tail, Fair Lady Works the Loom.  Pushing or pressing with both palms in a downward direction, peng energy directed downward.  


"What is the meaning of An energy?
When applied it is like flowing water.
The substantial is concealed in the insubstantial.
When the flow is swift it is difficult to resist.
Coming to a high place, it swells and fills the place up;
meeting a hollow it dives downward.
The waves rise and fall,
finding a hole they will surely surge in."
-  T'ang Meng-hsien,
Song of An


"What is absolutely necessary in the beginning is to follow the imagination.  For instance: when the two hands form the Push gesture, there is an imagined intent to the front, as 
if an opponent was really there.  At this time, within the plams of the hands there is no ch'i which can be issued.  The practitioner must then imagine the ch'i rising up from the
tan-tien into the spine, through the arms and into the wrists and palms.  Thus, accordingly, the ch'i is imagined to have penetrated outwards onto the opponent's body."
-  Chen Yen-lin, 1932, Cultivating the Ch'i, Translated by Stuart Alve Olson, 1993


"An Examination of T'ai Chi Push Methods."  By Hiu chee Fatt.   T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  Vol. 27, No. 2, April 2003, pp. 21-25.   


"Arn: This posture is normally called to push.  However this is also incorrect as it means to 'press'.  This is again a yang attacking movement coming from the whole body issuing yin and yang Qi into the attacker's vital points on his chest.  Many make the mistake of looking after their legs when they hear about not being 'double weighted' but neglect their hands.  Never in Taijiquan is there a two-handed strike or attack using the same power in each hand at the same time. There is a 'fa-jing' shake of the waist causing one hand to strike just before the other. The hands are firstly yin, then yang thus releasing yang Qi into the attacker."
-   Earle Montaigue,
Tai Chi 13 Postures, 1998


Push Hands:  Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes.



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5.   Pull Down - Tsai   

Pull Down - Tsai or Cai

Tsai Ching is grabbing energy.
A force delivered by a quick grab and pull, usually of an opponent's writst, both backward and down.
Form movements:  Needle at Sea Bottom.    

"Tsai: Sometimes called 'inch energy'.  Like picking fruit off a tree with a snap of the wrist.  Often on hand will be placed right on top of the other wrist to assist in the power of this jerking motion.  It is not a pull of his wrist but rather a violent jerking fa-jing movement that can knock him out by its violent action upon his head jerking backwards and kinking his brain stem.  Again, the power must come from the centre and not only from the arms and hands, and a follow up attack is also necessary."
-   Earle Montaigue,
Tai Chi 13 Postures, 1998

"Tsoi is where our opponent loses control of his centre of gravity, and we use a technique to disrupt his balance to such an extent that he is uprooted completely from his position. It 
is something like a strategically placed lever lifting a heavy rock."
Principles of the Thirteen Tactics



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6.   Split - Lieh   

Split - Lie or Lieh

Lieh Ching is striking energy that splits apart an opponent.

Form movements:  
     Parting the Wild Horses Mane
     Slant Flying
     Wild Stork Flashes Its Wings

"Song of Split:
How can we explain the energy of Split?
Revolving like a flywheel,
If something is throw against it,
It will be cast off a great distance.
Whirlpools appear in swift flowing streams,
And the curling waves are like spirals,
If a falling leaf lands on their surface,
In no time will it sink from sight."
-  "Yang Family Manuscripts," Edited by Li Ying-ang
   "T'ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions," 1983, p. 33



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7.   Elbow - Zhou  

Elbow - Zhou or Chou

Chou Ching is elbow striking energy.  
Turn and Chop with Fist

"What is the meaning of Elbowing Energy?  The function is in the Five Activities: advancing, withdrawing, looking-left, gazing right, and fixed rooting.  The yin and yang are distinguished according to the upper and lower, just like Pulling.  The substantial and insubstantial are to be clearly discriminated.  If its motion is connected and unbroken, nothing can oppose its strength.  The chopping of the fist is extremely fierce.  After thoroughly understanding the Six Energies (adhering, sticking, neutralizing, seizing, enticing, and issuing), the functional use is unlimited."
-   Stuart Alve Loson,
T'ai Chi According to the I Ching, 2001, p. 74



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8.   Shoulder - Kao   

Shoulder - Kao

Kao Ching is a full body strinking energy.  The peng energy is mobilized throughout the entire body, and then the entire body is used as one unit and the force is delivered with the shoulder or back.  

Football players are familiar with this use of energy.  

"Often called 'Shoulder strike: This method is used as a third line of defence and can be quite lethal used at the correct distance. The power must again come from the centre using the power of the legs and waist together. Shoulder can be used from the front or from the back depending upon the type of attack the your are receiving. If for instance is it a pull down where you right shoulder is being pulled to your right, then you would use the front part of the shoulder. If however, the attack pulled you to your left and there was no time to use the front part, you would turn right around so that the scapular part of your right shoulder could then slam into his chest using fa-jing."
-  Earle Montague   


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Five Steps 
(5 Steps, Directions, Footwork Techniques, Movements)  -  Wu Bu


Nimble, responsive, and coordinated footwork is essential to success in all styles of martial arts.  Taijiquan requires precise footwork and legwork.  The placement and movement of the legs and feet as they relate to the powerful and coordinated application of energy in Tai Chi stances and postures gets extra attention by Taijiquan teachers in form work, drills, and push hands.  


"In Chinese martial arts, Bu is a general term referring to stance and foot/leg work. If we keep in mind our general definition for the Shi San Shi or the 13 Powers, an ideal translation for Wu Bu might be something like: “powers based on the five stages of footwork” or, “the five implicit behaviors of the stance” or even (considering the interactive nature of the Wu Xing), “the five innate powers and conditions arising from the natural cycle of stages within the stance”.  It is the inherent behaviors, strengths and stages that are the subject in the Wu Bu, not the shape or position of the stance as such. The innate conditions for power in stance work. We are also referring to the cyclical way in which these powers emerge and dissolve.  Also, as importantly, we are speaking of the natural constraints inherent in the legwork."
Sam Masich,
Approaching Core Principles


"Wubu are the five footwork skills. Wu means five. Bu means step. In fact it is more about Shenfa - body movement skills because footwork and body movement have a very tight relationship.  They should be combined together.  It is said "the body follows steps to move and steps follow the body to changed, Body movement and footwork skills cannot be forgotten. If any of these is omitted, one does not need to waste his time practicing any more."  The body movement skills and footwork skills are about how to move the body in fighting. Only when the body can move to the right position (distance and angle), can the hand skills work well. Thus, it is said Wubu is the foundation of Bafa."
-   Break Step, an Entering Forward Step. 
Five Stepping Methods of Taijiquan


The association of various Kicks with the Five Stepping Movements (9th to 13th Gates) is based solely upon a kickboxing training regiment that I use while doing walking or running exercises.  The associations are my own, and, to my knowledge, have no connection whatsover to traditional stepping theory in internal boxing.  Tai Chi Chuan does use front heel kicks, toe kicks, jump kicks, sweeping kicks, and knee strikes.  The Five Stepping Movements (i.e., forward, backward, to the left, to the right, and staying in place) all primarily involve movements of the legs and feet, with little emphasis upon the arms or hands.  When kicking, the arms are used to balance the body, facilitate the control, power, or speed of the kicks, and  to have the 
arms in a defensive position.  It seems to me appropriate to associate kicking techniques with the Five Stepping Movements.  In Tai Chi Chuan practice, kicking is done slowly, effortlessly, gently, and smoothly; and considerable balance and strength are required to extend the legs fully, slowly, and in strict form.  In kick boxing practice the kicks are done with much more speed and power.  These are the Yin and Yang approaches to kicking; and, both approaches are needed by martial artists.      



9.   Advancing Steps - Jin

Advancing Steps, Stances, and Looking (Jin Bu)

Brush Knee and Twist Step

Generally speaking, when moving forward, step forward with your heel first.  Carefully transfer weight to the forward foot, while being prepared to retreat the step as needed.

Walking forward exercise #6.


" This step is one of the main stepping methods of Taijiquan. The front foot is placed down on its heel, then as the body moves forward, the toes are placed.  However, the weight does not come any more forward than the middle of the foot. The thighs and knees are curved and collecting while the rear thigh is less curved than the front.  We never retreat in Taijiquan and we can do this because of this stepping method.  The rear foot controls the waist in yielding and throwing away the attacker’s strength.  The waist is controlled during this step by the rear foot.  There is an old Taijiquan saying: "To enter is to be born while to retreat is to die". So we never retreat, we rely upon the rear leg controlling the waist for our power and evasiveness without moving backward."
-   Break Step, an Entering Forward Step. 
Five Stepping Methods of Taijiquan


Consider the advance movements in heel kicks and toe kicks with the right or left leg.  

Forward movement is associated with the Element Metal.



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10.   Retreating Steps - Tui

Retreating Steps, Stances, and Looking Back (Tui Bu)
Step Back and Repulse Monkey

Generally speaking, when moving backward, step backward with your toe first.  Carefully transfer weight to the backward moving foot, while being prepared to return the foot
forward as needed.

Walking backward exercise #6

Consider the turning backward set up for a back kick with either the right or left legs.  

Backward movement is associated with the Element Wood.



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11.   Stepping to the Left Side After Faking Right - Ku   

Left Side Moving Steps, Stances, after Gazing to the Right (You Pan) or faking to the right.
Rolling on one foot

Parting the Wild Horse's Mane
Waving Hands Like Clouds
Strike the Tiger
Deflect, Parry and Punch
Single Whip

Toe kicks with the left leg.
Heel kicks with the left leg.
Sweeping kicks with the left leg.
Jumping kicks with the left leg.
Side kicks with the left leg 
Spinning kicks with the left leg.

Movement to the left and looking to the left is associated with the Element Water.



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12.   Stepping to the Right Side after Faking Left - Pan   

Right Side Moving Steps, Stances, after Looking to the Left (Zou Gu) or faking left.
Rolling on one foot

Parting the Wild Horse's Mane
Strike the Tiger
Brush Knee and Twist Step
Slant Flying

Toe Kicks with the right leg
Heel Kicks with the right leg
Sweeping kicks with the right leg.  
Jumping kicks with the right leg.
Side kicks with the right leg.  
Spinning kicks with the right leg.    

Movement to the right is associated with the Element Fire.


"Song of Look-Right:
Feigning to the left, we attack to the right
     with perfect Steps.
Stricking left and attacking right,
     we follow the opportunities.
We avoid the frontal and advance from the side,
     seizing changing conditions.
Left and right, full and empty,
     our technique must be faultless."
-  "Yang Family Manuscripts," Edited by Li Ying-ang
   "T'ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions," 1983, p. 37


"Gu (or Zuogu - left look around) means to go forward sideways; that really means to close up to the opponent indirectly.  Here Zuo (left) means sideway; Gu (look around) means look after or being careful. Usually in martial arts this term means defensiveness within attacking skills. So the main idea of Zuogu is how to rotate and advance forward from sideway with some defense skills. It is usually called rotate attack. It is wood which means straight and grow up continually.  It belongs to Ganjin (Liver Channel). When the key point Jiaji is focused on, the qi will automatically urge the body to rotate and advance forward."
-   Zhang Yun,
Tai Chi 13 Postures  (This webpage offers some depth of interpretation about the 13 Postures.)

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13.   Settling at the Center - Ding   

Settling at the Center, Rooting Stances, and Holding Still - Zhong Ding

Golden Cock Stands on Right Leg - Left Knee Strike
Golden Cock Stands on Left Leg - Right Knee Strike
Needle at Sea Bottom
Fair Lady Works the Shuttles

Centering, holding to one's center, maintaining equilibrium, settling, moving downward, and staying balanced at one's center are associated with the Element Earth.  

Knee strikes with the right or left knee.


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Links and Resources about the Thirteen Gates of T'ai Chi Ch'uan:
12 Taijiquan Postures (Movements, Stances, Techniques, Energies or Powers)

Links and Bibliography




Buddhism and Martial Arts

Chang San-Feng
, Zhang Sangfeng   History, Legends, Bibliography, Lessons, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

Chen Style of Taijiquan
   "The Old Frame Chen Style of Tai Chi bears a close resemblance to the New Frame Chen Style and also to the Zhao Bao and Hu Lei styles. Apparently it is not based on the classic '13 postures' which are central to the Yang and Wu Styles of Tai Chi."  "Chen Fa Ke had replied that his art was not based on the 13 postures."

Chen Taijiquan   Bibliography, Lessons, Lists, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

Cheng Man-Ch'ing (1901-1975)   

"Clarifying the Meaning of Peng Energy."  By Hiu Chee Fatt.  T'ai Chi, April, 2002, Volume 26, No. 2, pp. 44-47.  

Classics of Taijiquan

The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan
: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice.  By Wong, Kiew Kit.  Shaftesbury, Dorset, Element, 1996.  Index, bibliography, 316 pages.  ISBN: 1852307927.  The Thirteen Gates are described and analyzed on pages 40 - 63: Fundamental Hand Movements and Footwork.  Combat sequences and tactics using the Eight Gates are found on pages 100 - 150.  

Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung  Bibliography, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: The Literary Tradition.  Translated and edited by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo; Martin Inn, Robert Amacker, and Susan Foe.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1985.  100 pages.  ISBN: 0913028630.  Includes translations of works on the Thirteen Postures (pp. 41 - 66).  

Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures
.  By Wu, Yu-hsiang. Paraphrased by Lee N. Scheele.    

Five Steps: Meditative Sensation Walking.  By Paul Crompton.  Midpoint Trade Books, 1999.   80 pages.  ISBN: 187425060X.

Grasping the Sparrow's Tail

The Intrinsic Energies of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  Compiled and translated by Stuart Alve Olson.  Chen Kung Series, Volume Two.   Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dragon Door Publications, 1994.  Index, 194 pages.  ISBN: 093804513X.    

Meditation: Links, Bibliography, Notes, Quotes.
  Compiled by Mike Garofalo. 

Principles of the Thirteen Tactics

Push Hands
(T'ui Shou): Bibliography, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

Relaxation, Fangsong, Sung Bibliography, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

Silk Reeling (Chan Ssu Jin): Links, bibliography, quotes, notes. 

Song of the Thirteen Postures.   Paraphrased by Lee N. Scheele. 

Song of 13 Postures.   By Dennis Watts, Gold Coast Tai Chi Academy, Australia.    

Song of the Thirteen Postures.   Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo.  

Sun Lu Tang's Style of Taijiquan

Songs of the Eight Postures
.    Attributed to T'an, Meng-hsien.  As researched by Lee N. Scheele. 

T'ai Chi According to the I Ching: Embodying the Principles of the Book of Changes.  By Stuart Alve Olson.  Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions International Ltd., 2001.  224 pages.  ISBN:  0892819448.  This book provides a detailed and well researched analysis of how the I Ching Trigrams are related to various Tai Chi postures/movements, using the Yang form as the basis for associations.  

The T'ai Chi Boxing Chronicle.   Complied and explained by Kuo, Lien-Ying.  Translated by Guttmann.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1994.   141 pages.  
ISBN: 1556431775.  The Eight Gates and Five Steps are explained on pages 43 -60.   

T'ai Chi Chuan: The Martial Side.   By Michael Babin.  Boulder, Colorado, Paladin Press, 1992.  142 pages.   ISBN: 0873646797.   Thirteen postures on pages 83 - 98.  

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Walking

T'ai Chi Classics.  By Waysun Liao.  New translations of three essential texts of T'ai Chi Ch'uan with commentary and practical instruction by Waysun Liao.  Illustrated by the author.  Boston, Shambhala, 1990. 210 pages.  ISBN: 087773531X. 

Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions.  Translation, commentary and editing by Douglas Wile.  Sweet Chi Press, 8th Edition, 1983.  159 pages.  ISBN: 091205901X.

Taijiquan Classics   

Taijiquan Links and Bibliography

Taiji Thirteen Postures, Master Shouyu Liang

The Tao of T'ai-Chi Ch'uan:  Way to Rejuvenation.   By Jou, Tsung, Hwa.   Edited by Shoshana Shapiro.  Warwick, New York, Tai Chi Foundation, 1980.  263 pages.  First Edition. ISBN: 0804813574.  The Eight Gates are described and explained on pages 226-239.

Taoism and Tai Chi Chuan  By James Leporati.  

Thirteen Animals of Taijiquan   "1.  Dragon: Playing   2. Tiger: Pouncing   3. Snake: Coiling 4. Horse: Parting   5. Phoenix: Looking   6. Monkey: Stretching   7. Bear: Walking  8. Toad: Gazing   9. Chicken: Fighting   10. Magpie: Jumping   11. Crane: Dancing  12. Lion: Turning   13. Lynx: Catching."

The Thirteen Gates of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Notes, Bibliography, Links and Quotations.  By Michael P. Garofalo. 

Thirteen Postures Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan 

Thirteen Tai Chi Postures by Earle Montaigue

13 Postures of Taiji.   By Mike Sigman.   Article in 'Internal Martial Arts": October, 1999.  Note the differences between the Chen and Yang styles for the 5 steps.  The Chen style: "Teng: Sudden upward-angles strike (Yang: step forward), Shan: Sudden emptying downward (retreat back); Zhe: Bend/close opponents arm back on him (look left); Kong: Sudden empytying not quite downward (Gaze Right); and Huo: Overall smooth and flowing (central equilibrium)."

Walking and Taijiquan   

"Wang Haijun on Eight Methods of Training Jin," by David Gaffney, T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 4, August, 2005, pp. 5-10.  Translation by Davidine Diaw-Voon Sim. 

Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Bibliography, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, Training Basics, Part 1.  Includes drills for practicing the Eight Gates.   Videotape features Master Lu, Gui Rong.   65 minute videotape.

Yang Family Style Tai Chi Chuan Traditional Long Form, 108 Movements.  By Michael P. Garofalo.  Provides a list of the movements divided into five sections for teaching (.html and .pdf versions available).  Includes a bibliography, links, notes, and quotations.   Provides a list comparing the Yang Long Form 108 to 85 postures sequence.    

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Short Form
, Peking Version 24 Movements.  Lessons, Lists, Bibliography, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Links.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 




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Quotations about the Thirteen Gates of T'ai Chi Ch'uan:
13 Taijiquan Postures (Movements, Techniques, Stances, Energies or Powers)




"In the Long Form, Ward Off, Rollback, Press, Push, Roll-Pull, Split, Elbow, and Lean Forward are called the forms of the Eight Diagram (Pakua), the movement encompassing the eight directions.  In stance, moving forward, backward, to the right side, to the left side, and staying in the center are called the Five-Style Steps.  Ward Off, Rollback, Press, and Push are called the four cardinal directions.  Roll-Pull, Split, Elbow, and Lean Forward forms are called the four diagonals.  Forward, backward, to the left side, to the right side, and center are called 
metal, wood, water, fire and earth, respectively.  When combined, these forms are called the thirteen original styles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan."
Master Chang San-Feng, from a text dated circa 1600 CE, "T'ai Chi Classics," Translated by Waysun Liao, p. 95



"The Shi San Shi or ‘Thirteen Powers’ are universally regarded as the energetic and conceptual core of Taijiquan training. They are considered to be the source of all stylistic variations of Tai Chi and the universal key which unlocks the secret of all Taijiquan. It is said that without Shi San Shi at the root, one’s art cannot be called Taijiquan. The Shi San Shi consist of thirteen specific power qualities used in martial arts. These are broken into two main categories, the first of which contains eight components associated with the structure and operation arms and hands. These are called Peng, Lü, Ji, An and Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao (Ward-off, Roll-back, Press, Push and Pull-down, Split, Elbow, Shoulder).  The second category contains five components which relate to the structure and operation of the legs and feet.  These are called Jin Bu, Tui Bu, Zou Gu, You Pan and Zhong Ding (Advance Step, Retreat Step, Left-side Gazing, Right-side Looking and Central Settling). The theory is not fanciful.  It supports a reasoned and practical methodology for adroitly managing the dynamics of interaction within a specific range of hand combat."
-  Sam Masich,
Shi San Shi: The Thirteen Powers 



"The taiji form is therefore, a set of postures designed to express the taiji principles.  Indeed, the oldest masters of taiji did not practice a "taiji form."  They took basic postures from martial arts and health-exercise forms and infused them with specific (taiji) principles.  These basic postures are known as: the 5 steps and the 8 gates.  Together they are called the core "13 postures of taijiquan."  Practiced in an impromptu way, these basic moves were put together in various combinations that flowed into one another.  This was the original way of taijiquan."
-   Alpha Holistics,
Learning Tai Chi Chuan



"In tai chi practice, each of the five elements is represented by the five lower body directions: forward=metal, backward=wood, look left=water, gaze right=fire, and central equilibrium=earth.  The five elements combine with the eight trigrams to create the 13 postures of t'ai chi chuan.  The eight trigrams (the eight gates) define the eight energies in t'ai chi: peng, lu, ji, an, tsi, jou, kou, lie.  The thirteen postures form the basis for all techniques in tai chi."
-  Sifu Bob Marks,
Five Elements Theory, Five Elements Tai Chi Chuan School



"Kuo, Lien-Ying's chronicle on Tai Chi makes clear that no matter what style one practices all forms of Tai Chi must conform to the classic qualities of the art as they have been recorded throughout history. This means there is only one T'ai Chi Ch'uan. These qualities are referred to as the Ba-gua (8) gates and Wu-hsing (Five Elemental Phases of Change) steps. Together they constitute Tai Chi's 13 movements."
Notes on Yang, Lu Chan



"The Eight Trigrams and Five Elements are a part of man's natural endowment.  We must first understand the basis of work: conscious movement.  Only after grasping conscious movement are we abel to interpret energy, and only after interpreting energy can we reach the level of spiritual insight.  Thus the first stage of our work is understanding conscious movement, which although it is a natural endowment is extremely difficult for us to acquire."
-   Yang Ch'eng-fu, Self Defense Applications of T'ai-chi Ch'uan, 1931
Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions, p. 133.  



"Taiji Quan is often called Taiji Shi San Shi (Taiji Thirteen Postures) or just Shi San Shi. Thirteen is the special number in Taiji Quan.  Behind this number is the complete principle of Taiji  Quan. This principle is respected and followed by all generations of Taiji groups for more than two hundred years. It is the foundation of Taiji Quan.  Thus, to learn this principle is really important for Taiji Quan practice. Without understanding it well, one cannot reach high level Taiji Quan skills. Shi San Shi - Thirteen Postures does not mean thirteen different postures or movements. Actually it means thirteen basic skills; and moreover, it means thirteen basic attributes for advanced study. They are the foundation of all Taiji Quan skills. It is said all other skills come from the different variation and combination of these skills.
-  Zhang Yun,
Taiji Thirteen Postures



    "You must pay attention to the turning transformations of empty and full, and the chi moving throughout your body without the slightest hindrance.  In the midst of stillness one comes in contact with movement, moving as though remaining still.  According with one's opponent, the transformations appear wondrous.  For each and every posture, concentrate your mind and consider the meaning of the applications.  You will not get it without consciously expending a great deal of time and effort.  Moment by moment, keep the mind/heart on the waist.  With the lower abdomen completely loosened, the chi will ascend on its own."
Song of the Thirteen Postures



"Move the chi as though through a pearl carved with a zigzag path (nine-bend pearl), reaching everywhere without a hitch.  Mobilize energy that is like well-tempered steel capable of breaking through any stronghold.   One's form is like a hawk seizing a rabbit. One's spirit is like a cat seizing a rat.  Be still like a mountain, move like a flowing river. Store energy as though drawing a bow. Issue energy (fa jin) as though releasing an arrow.   Seek the straight in the curved.  Store up, then issue.   The strength issues from the spine; the steps follow the body' changes. To gather in is in fact to release.  To break off is to again connect.  In going to and fro there must be folding; in advancing and retreating there must be turning transitions.  Arriving at the extreme of yielding softness, one afterward arrives at the extreme of solid hardness."
-   Wu Yu Xiang,
Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures



"The apocryphal founder of Tai Chi was a monk of the Wu Tang Monastery, Chang San-feng to whom have been ascribed various dates and longevity's. Some scholars doubt his historical existance, viewing him as a literary construct on the lines of Lao Tzu. Other research and records from the Ming-shih (the official chronicles of the Ming dynasty) seem to indicate that he lived in the period from 1391 to 1459.  Linking some of the older forms with the notion of yin-yang from Taoism and stressing the 'internal' aspects of his exercises, he is credited with creating the fundamental 'Thirteen Postures' of Tai Chi corresponding to the eight basic trigrams of the I Ching and the five elements."
-   Christopher Majka,
The History of Tai Chi



"The thirteen postures should not be taken lightly;
The source of the postures lies in the waist.
Be mindful of the insubstantial and substantial changes;
The ch'i (breath) spreads throughout without hindrance.
Being still, when attacked by the opponent, be tranquil and move in stillness;
Changes caused by the opponent fill him with wonder.
Study the function of each posture carefully and with deliberation;
To achieve the goal is very easy.   
Pay attention to the waist at all times;
Completely relax the abdomen and the ch'i (breath) rises up.
When the coccyx is straight, the shen (spirit) goes through the headtop.
To make the whole body light and agile suspend the headtop.
Carefully study."
The Song of Thirteen Postures.   Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo, Martin Inn, Robert Amacker and Susan Foe, 1985.  



"Taijiquan is sometimes referred to as the shi san shi - thirteen postures. This name is derived from the notion that there are thirteen basic postures, energies or skills that run throughout the whole of taijiquan, and all other skills come from variations and combinations of these skills.  The shi san shi are normally divided into two: Ba fa (eight methods) - these are shou fa (hand skills) and Wu ba (five steps)- these are shen fa (body movement skills).  Although this tradition is primarily received through the Yang tradition, the Chen tradition is somewhat different, there are a number of similarities and it can be interesting to relate the shi san shi back to the principles and traditions of Daoism, from which both families draw.  The shi san shi relates to two of the most important theoretical documents of taiji and Daoism the Taiji T'u (Taiji Diagram) of Chen Tuan (although most people are probably familiar with it through the Neo-Confucian re-interpretation of Chou Tun'yi) and Fu Hsi's pre-heaven arrangement of the bagua derived from the Yellow River diagram (again this diagram is perhaps best known through Shao Yung's Hsien T'ien T'u. Ostensibly all of these two diagrams describe the same thing - the passage from wuji (original nothingness) through to physical manifestation. Chen Tuan and Chou Tun-yi describe the movement form wuji through yin and yang and the five elements to manifestation, while Shao Yung applies the logic of the Yijing to Fu Hsi's bagua arrangement and shows the process of manifestation from wuji to taiji, the bagua and ultimately the hexagrams.  For Chou Tun-yi the five elements equate with taiji and underlie the manifestation of the bagua at the same level as yin and yang. The mixing and changing of yin and yang within taiji is the same as the dynamic relationships of creation and destruction between the five elements. Thus the five elements underlie the bagua just as yin and yang underlies the bagua."
Thirteen Postures from Absolute Tai Chi


"The principle of Taijiquan is based on Wang Tsungyueh's Taijiquan Treatise ["discovered" in 1853) using the idea of Taiji in Yi Ching , and the requirements for boxing.  It stresses the application of the interaction of two opposites, Yin and Yang, to the strategy of fighting so as to achieve the utmost advantage over your opponent.  However, this treatise provides a concise description without details to methodology.  Still, the Taiji idea can be applied to find the details of the basic requirements of Wushu.  When two opponents are in a fight, one must have a fighting strategy and tactics to achieve victory.  Strategies means external and internal maneuvers while tactics mean actions and postures.  Continuing this method of analysis, a set of requirements is obtained for the motion of hand and feet, as well as the body postures and state of mind.  Any routine that satisfies these requirements is called Taijiquan. This set of requirements were grouped together by the Taijiquan masters, and is called the 13-Postures.  Of these, six are the names of curvelinear motions, and the rest of 7 postures are named as Lean, Elbow, Move Forward and Aft, Observed, Aware, and Calm.  Based on these 13-Postures, various stances of Taijiquan are formed."  
-   Mark Tinghei, "
A Synopsis of Taijiquan"



Thirteen Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan Practice:

  1. Sinking of Shoulders and Dropping of Elbows
  2. Relaxing of Chest and Rounding of Back
  3. Sinking Chi down to Dan Tien
  4. Lightly Pointing Up the Head
  5. Relaxation of Waist and Hip
  6. Differentiate Between Empty and Full: Yin and Yang
  7. Coordination of Upper and Lower Parts of the Body
  8. Using the Mind Instead of Force
  9. Harmony Between Internal and External
  10. Connecting the Mind and the Chi
  11. Find Stillness Within Movement
  12. Movement and Stillness Present at Once
  13. Continuity and Evenness Throughout the Form



"The enduring legacy of Taijiquan is that qi grows by the practice methodology, as a plant by tending and watering.  Along the way, the qi nurtured in daily practice alleviates stress related illnesses.  In the longer term, the qi buildup invigorates and strengthens the body's constitution, and serves as a natural preventive medicine that shields against chronic ailments.  The alluring promise is that the store of qi preserves the "spring of life" in old age, as espoused in the verse of the Song of Thirteen Postures.

Yi shou yan nian bu alo chun

One gains longevity and prolongs the spring of life in old age."

-  C.P. Ong,
Taijiquan: Cultivating Inner Strength, p. 156


"The last five of Taijiquan’s Shi San Shi, or Thirteen Powers (oft. “Postures”) are the Wu Bu, usually translated as the five directions, the five steps, the five phases or the five elements.  Although these are said to be fundamental aspects of Tai Chi training, it is rare to find a Tai Chi practitioner with a truly integrated sense of the Wu Bu, and problems abound with regard 
to interpretation and the application of the Wu Bu theory.  To complicate the issue there is very little available material exploring this subject.   Most books provide at best a cursory explanation or a simple list"
-  Sam Masich,
Approaching Core Principles

"Taiji Quan, the other name is Chang Quan (Long Fist), also named Shi San Shi (Thirteen Postures). It is Chang Quan because it likes a long river and an ocean flowing forever wave by wave. Shi San Shi is Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao, Jin, Tui, Gu, Pan, Ding. Peng, Lu, Ji, An, that is Kuan, Li, Zhen, Dui, are the four straight directions. Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kuo, that is Qian, Kun, Gen, Xun, are the four diagonal directions. This is Bagua (Eight Trigrams). Jinbu, Tuibu, Zuogu, Youpan, Zhongding, that is metal, wood, water, fire, earth, is Wuxing (Five Elements). To combine these together is Shi San Shi."
-  Wang Zongyue,
Tai Chi Classic, "Explanation of the Name of Taiji Quan."



Sink, relax completely, and aim in one direction!
In the curve seek the straight, store, then release.
Be still as a mountain, move like a great river.
The upright body must be stable and comfortable
To be able to sustain an attack from any of the eight directions.
Walk like a cat.
Remember, when moving, there is no place that does not move.
When still, there is no place that is not still.
First seek extension, then contraction; then it can be fine and subtle.
It is said if the opponent does not move, then I do not move.
At the opponent's slightest move, I move first."
To withdraw is then to release, to release it is necessary to withdraw.
In discontinuity there is still continuity.
In advancing and returning there must be folding.
Going forward and back there must be changes.
The form is like that of a falcon about to seize a rabbit;
The shen is like that of a cat about to catch a rat.
-  Wu Yuxian (1812-1880), "Expositions of Insights Into the
Practice of the Thirteen Postures."



"All the thirteen postures of Tai Chi Ch’uan must not be treated lightly. The meaning of life originates at the waist.

When moving from substantial to insubstantial, one must take care that the Chi is circulated throughout the entire body with out the slightest hindrance.

Find the movement in the stillness, even stillness in movement. Even when you respond to the opponent’s movement, show the marvel of the technics and fill him with wonder.

Pay attention to every posture and study its purpose. That way you will gain the art without wasting your time and energy.

In every movement you must pay attention so as the heart (mind) stay on the waist, then completely relax the abdomen, and your Chi will rise up.

Your Tail Bone should be centered and upright so as your spirit (Shen) rises to the top of the head. The top of the head is suspended and the entire body is relaxed and light.

Carefully study and pay attention when doing research, extension and contraction, opening and closing follow their freedom.

To enter the door and to be led along the way, you need to have oral instruction; practice without ceasing, and the technic is achieved by self-study.

When asked about the standard, function and application of the thirteen postures, the answer should be the Yi (mind) and Chi are the master, and the bones and muscles are the chancellor.

Carefully investigate what the ultimate meaning is: to increase and extend our health and age, and maintain a youthful body.

The song consists of one hundred and forty characters, every character is true and its meaning is complete. If you do not approach and study in this manner, then you will waste your time and energy, and sigh in regret."
Dennis Watts





"The Eight Trigrams and Five Elements are a part of man's natural endowment.  We must first understand the basis of work: conscious movement.  Only after grasping conscious movement are we abel to interpret energy, and only after interpreting energy can we reach the level of spiritual insight.  Thus the first stage of our work is understanding conscious movment, which although it is a natural endowment is extremely difficulat for us to acquire."
-   Yang Ch'eng-fu, Self Defense Applications of T'ai-chi Ch'uan, 1931
Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions, p. 133.  



"The thirteen basic postures must never be regarded lightly. The original source of their meaning is in the waist.  In changing and turning from substantial (Yang) to insubstantial (Yin) and vice versa, one must pay close attention; ch'i will circulate throughout the entire body without the slightest hindrance.  Inwardly tranquil, one responds to a forceful action while maintaining an unruffled attitude. Manifest your inscrutable techniques to accord with an opponent's changing actions.  Pay special attention to your every posture and seek out its hidden meaning, then you can acquire this art without exerting excessive effort.  Pay attention to your waist at all times. When the abdomen is completely relaxed, the ch'i will soar up (and circulate through the entire body).  When the lowest vertebrae are plumb erect, the spirit of vitality reaches to the top of the head. When the top of the head is held as if suspended from above, the whole body feels light and agile.  Examine and investigate carefully and thoroughly. Whether bending, stretching, opening, or closing, let it take its natural way.  To enter the gate and be guided onto the correct path one requires verbal instruction from a competent master. If one practices constantly and studies carefully, one's skill will take care of itself.  If one asks about the correct standard of substance and function, (the answer is that) the mind and ch'i direct, and the flesh and bones follow.  Carefully examine what the ultimate purpose is--the enhancement of longevity, rejuvenation, and immortality.  The Song of the T'ai Chi Thirteen Postures contains 140 Chinese words. Each one is genuine and true doctrine which explains fully and without reservation the meaning and purpose of T'ai Chi. If you do not seek carefully in the direction indicated above, your time and effort will be spent in vain and you will have cause to sigh with regret."
Song of the Substance and Function of the Thirteen Postures



"I believe the concept of "center" in Jiulong and the Daoqiquan arts is broader than the concept of "center of gravity" in mathematics/physics.  In addition to your physical center of gravity, the "centeredness" of your mind, your intent, and the state of your Song are part of the equation as well.  If fear causes you to "rise up" to flee, then fear has raised your center.  And that's not necessarily bad, if your intent is to be light on your feet and run as fast as you can."
-  Stewart Warren,
Jiulong Baguazhong # 1360, 31 Jan 2006 



"Before exploring the 8 jin, it is important to understand that these explanation of Jin refer to three occurrences in most cases:
1) an essential internal movement method of the practitioner relating to specific shenfa (body methods particular to the system) of that Jin,
2) a strategic method of engagement to external action or force,
3) a variety of tangible application methods that can be named as "X" type of Jin methods.

These are different facets of the meanings of these Jin, this difference should be noted as is can be a bit confusing. Besides this, the skills of the eight Jin (and all other methods in Chen Taijiquan) in application and strategy ideally must be acquired on three levels; high, medium and low.1) Peng Jin (pronounced in English as something like [p'hung]): Peng Jin is the mother of Taijiquan Jin because without it, nothing else works. All applications and manifestations of other Jin necessarily include the existence of Peng to occur. This power is most easily described in the example of a rubber ball filled with air. This ball has a somewhat flexible or resilient exterior though is anchored to a particular location (or even a mobile location) at its center in the case of taijiquan by its frame illustrated in the legs' connection to the earth.  Peng Jin, like a rubber ball, has a resilient and only slightly yielding exterior that naturally rolls when pressed in any location.  Resilience in response to outward pressure and neutral rolling in any direction are its actions.

Peng as an isolated principle is Neutral, (non aggressive, non yeilding). Its consistent intent is to maintains its integrity as a resilient roundness with no attachment except to its anchor; Peng is not spatially nor structurally yeilding, in those facets it is neutral, yet it is directionally unfixed and yeilding.

In terms of actual applicable methods, Peng may show as upward or outward rolling. In action it is not necessarily neutral as it, like all the other JIN does not manifest in action in any isolated way, but only exists as compound methods.

2) LU JIN (pronounced something like [leeu]

Lu jin, like all other jin has peng as its foundation, but can be said to be more active and less neutral. Lu can be well described in the action of a swinging door, this one swings all kinds of ways and there is nothing but an empty hole behind it with probably a bunch of awkward unsafe objects to stumble over.

While Peng maintains integrity and rolls incoming force around it, Lu, on the other hand gets out of the way of force, disappears. This is the commonly referred to "leading to emptiness" in Tai Chi. Lu is not neutral, it is receptive, inviting. It manifests in practical action as "yeilding" to incoming force, though can even exist as a certain type of pulling.

3) JI JIN (pronounced [jee])

Ji jin means crowding power. It is not neutral in any way, it can be said to be the outwardly aggressive direct mutation of peng jin. We can say that this crowding power is the deliberate attempt to compress an opponents Peng jin or spatial/structural integrity. This basically means an effort to pop or flatten the opponents rubber ball.

Ji jin relies in diagonal method or "crossing". For example; if one is facing a the outside of a square two dimensionally, to collapse it is best acheived by folding it to a parallelogram. Practically one way this shows up is as crossing any of the opponents actions over his/her own center and compressing them. In essence it is just pure crowding (compression) of the opponent's structure.

4) AN JIN (pronounced something like[ahn])

An, is often said to refer to downward pressing, which is not inaccurate, yet it is a bit deeper than that.. An is like pressure, or pushing that is powered by weight. In useage this weight power may show up as (but is not limited to) the ability to move an opponent by placing the hands lightly on them without any visible pushing, as the weight or mass of the body is being employed as the power.

AN JIN is basically heaviness. This is to say that it may feel heavy to the opponent, and that it's potential derives from the skillful harnessing of the practitioners own mass. This JIN often appears passive as it show up simply as a reconfiguration of the practitioners current structure. AN appears when the practitioner wants to affect their mass=weight to the opponent via their structure, or simply make advantageous use of gravity.

-   Martin Spivac, 8 Energies (Ba Jin) of Taijiquan



"Tai Chi Chuan is based on this theory, and therefore it is smooth, continuous, and round. When it is necessary to be soft, the art is soft, and when it is necessary to be hard, the art can be hard enough to defeat any opponent.  Yin-Yang theory also determines Tai Chi fighting strategy and has led to thirteen concepts [Jings] which guide practice and fighting.  Thus, Tai Chi Chuan is also called "Thirteen Postures."  Chang San-Feng Tai Chi Chuan treatise states "What are the thirteen postures?  Peng (Wardoff), Lu (Rollback), Ghi (Press), An (Push), Chai (Pluck), Lie (Split), Zou (Elbow-Stroke), Kau (Shoulder-Stroke), these are the Eight TrigramsJinn Bu (Forward), Twe Bu (Backward), Dsao Gu (Beware of the Left), Yu Pan (Look to the Right), Dsung Dien (Central EQuilibrium), these are the Five Elements.  Wardoff, Rollback, Press, and Push are Chyan (Heaven), Kuen (Earth), Kann (Water), and Lii (Fire) are the four main sides.  Pluck, Split, Elbow-Stroke, and Shoulder-Stroke are Shiunn (Wind), Jenn (Thunder), Duey (Lake), and Genn (Mountain), the four diagonal corners.  Forward, Backward, Beware of the Left, Look to the Right and Central Equilibrium are Gin (Metal), Moo (Wood), Sui (Water), For (Fire), and Tu (Earth).  All together they are thirteen postures."

The eight postures are the eight basic fighting moves of the art, and can be assigned directions according to where the opponents force is moved.  Wardoff rebounds the opponent back in the direction from which he came from.  Rollback leads him further that he intended to go in the direction he was attacking.  Split and Shoulder-Stroke lead him forward and deflect him slightly sideward.  Pluck and Elbow-Stroke can be done so as to catch the opponent just as he is starting forward, and strike or unbalance him diagonally to his rear.  Push and Press deflect the opponent and attack at right angles to his motion.  The five directions refer to stance, footwork, and fighting strategy.  They concern the way one moves around in response to the opponent's attack, and how one sets up one's own attacks."

-  Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming.  Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan.  Volume One: Tai Chi Theory and Tai Chi Jing.  By Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.  Boston, Massachusetts, Yang's Martial Arts Academy, YMAA, 1986.  Glossary, 276 pages.  ISBN: Unknown.  This book includes a detailed explanation of the concepts of Jing, Yi, and Chi; and an outstanding discussion of the Jings (pp. 68-210) of Tai Chi Chuan.  VSCL.  Quotes from p. 9, and p. 253 (Appendix 13). 


Taijiquan Jings Eight Trigrams and Five Elements
Wardoff   (Peng Heaven   (Chyan)  
Rollback   (Lu) Earth   (Kuen)
Press   (Ghi) Water   (Kann)
Push   (An Fire   (Lii)
Pluck   (Chai Wind   (Shiunn)
Split   (Lie Thunder  (Jenn)
Elbow-Stroke   (Zou Lake   (Duey)
Shoulder-Stroke   (Kau Mountain (Genn) 
Forward   (Jinn Bu Metal   (Gin
Backward  (Twe Bu Wood   (Moo) 
Left   (Sou Gu Water   (Sui) 
Right   (Yu Pan Fire   (For
Center (Sung Dien Earth   (Tu



"Taiji Thirteen Postures is also commonly known as bamen wubu. Bamen translates as "Eight Doors" or "Eight Gates." Wubu means "Five Steps." Bamen is the theory of bagua (Eight Trigrams) in taijiquan It refers to the eight positions of bagua. Both taiji and bagua are Taoist philosophical theories. They are cosmological perspectives that provide a framwork for many Chinese, traditions such as traditional medicine, fortune telling and feng shui. The martial arts of taiji and bagua are based upon this theory too. Bamen consists of four straight directions, called sizheng, and four diagonal directions or four corners, called siyu. Si means four. Zheng means upright, straight, correct, main, chief and positive. Yu means corner or diagonal. According to Taijiquan Treatise by Zhang Sanfeng (believed to have created taijiquan in the Song Dynasty), the four straight directions are peng (ward-off), lu (roll-back), ji (press or squeeze) and an (press or push). In Eight Trigrams theory, these four straight directions correspond to four of the trigrams: qian (heaven), kun (earth), kan (water) and li (fire) respectively. The four diagonal directions are cai (pluck), lie (split), zhou (elbow-strike) and kao (body-strike or bump). They correspond to the trigrams of xun (wind), zhen (thunder), dui (lake) and gen (mountain). Furthermore, peng, lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou and kao are referred to as bafa (Eight Methods), as they represent eight different kinds of fighting techniques. These eight fighting techniques equate to eight kinds of jin (power manifestation) patterns that correspond the eight positions of bagua.

Wubu refers to the five skills revolving around footwork. Wu means five. Bu means step. The Five Steps corresponds to wuxing (five elements). In reference to Zhang Sanfeng's Taijiquan Treatise, the five steps are qianjin (advancing), houtui (retreating), zuogu (look to the left), youpan (glance the right) and zhongding (central settling). The words "look" and "glance" in "look to the left" and "glance he right" are merely metaphors used to describe leftward and righnward actions with footwork and body movements. In five elements theory, they correspond to jin (metal), mu (wood), shui (water), huo (fire) and tu (earth) respectively. These five footwork skills train the body to move in the most flexible way during fighting."
Taiji Thirteen Postures, Master Shouyu Liang



Song of the Thirteen Postures

"The thirteen postures should not be taken lightly;
The source of the postures lies in the waist.
Be mindful of the insubstantial and substantial changes;
The ch'i (breath) spreads throughout without hindrance.
Being still, when attacked by the opponent, be tranquil and move in stillness;
(My) changes caused by the opponent fill him with wonder.
Study the function of each posture carefully and with deliberation;
To achieve the goal is very easy.
Pay attention to the waist at all times;
Completely relax the abdomen and the ch'i (breath) rises up.
When the coccyx is straight, the shen (spirit) goes through the headtop.
To make the whole body light and agile suspend the headtop. 
Carefully study. 
Extension and contraction, opening and closing, should be natural. 
To enter the door and be shown the way, you must be orally taught.
The practice is uninterrupted, and the technique (achieved) by self study.
Speaking of the body and its function, what is the standard? 
The i (mind) and ch'i (breath) are king, and the bones and muscles are the court.
Think over carefully what the final purpose is: to lengthen life and maintain youth.
The song consists of 140 characters;
Each character is true and the meaning is complete.
If you do not study in this manner, then you'll waste your time and sigh."
Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo, Martin Inn, Robert Amacker and Susan Foe






Charts for the Thirteen Gates:
Thirteen Tai Chi Chuan Postures, Movements, Stances, Techniques, and Powers



Terms and Translations Chart

Pau Kua Chart



Terms and Translations Chart


Gate/Technique Romanization and Term

1.  Ward Off

Peng, Pang;  "bung"

2.  Roll Back

Lu, Lei;; "loo"
3.  Press Ji, C'hi, Qi, Jai;  "chee"
4.  Push An, On;   "ahnn"
5.  Pull Down Tsai, Cai, Tsai, Chai;   "sigh"

6.  Split

Lieh, Lie;   "leeaay"

7.  Elbow

Chou, Zhou, Jau; 
8.  Shoulder Kao, Kau;   "cow"

9.  Advancing Step

Jin, Jin Bu, Chin Jeun, Qian Jin

10.  Retreating Step

Tui, Tui Bu, Hau Teui, Hou Tui
11.  Gazing Right, Stepping to the Left Ku, Zou Gu, Jo Gu, Zuo Gu
12.  Gazing Left, Stepping to the Right Pan, You Pan, Yau Paan
13.  Settling to the Center Ding, Zhong Ding, Jung Ding





Ba Fa Chart

These attributions are based on a variety of readings and interpretaions:


Gate/Technique Trigram - I Ching  Direction Element Body

1.  Ward Off - Peng

Heaven, Sky, Chien Southeast Heaven Head, Arms

2.  Roll Back - Lu

Earth, Kun Northeast  Earth Dan Tien, Sex, Hips, Legs
3.  Press - Ji Water, Kan South Water Kidneys
4.  Push - An Fire, Li North Fire Heart, Blood
5.  Pull Down - Tsai Wind, Sun Northwest Wind Spleen, Gallbladder

6.  Split - Lieh

Thunder, Chen West Thunder Liver, Pancreas

7.  Elbow - Chou

Lake, Tui East Lake Lungs, Blood
8.  Shoulder - Kao Mountain, Ken Southwest Mountain Stomach, Intestine

9.  Advancing Step - Jin


10.  Retreating Step - Tui

11.  Stepping to the Left - Ku     Water  
12.  Stepping to the Right - Pan     Fire  
13.  Staying Centered -  Ding     Earth  


Different Associations of Eight Gates to Eight Trigrams:

Yang Ch'eng-Fu, 1931, in Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions, pp. 130-138

Ward-Off (Peng), South, K'an
Roll-back (Lu), West, Li
Press (Ji), East, Tui
Push (An), North, Chen
Pull-Down (Tsai or Cai), Northwest, Hsun
Split (Lieh), Southeast, Ch'ien
Elbow-Stroke (Chou), Northeast, K'un
Shoulder-Stroke (Kao), Southwest, Ken


Zhang Yun, Taiji Thirteen Postures.

Ward-Off (Peng), North, Kuan, Water
Roll-Back (Lu), South, Li, Fire
Press (Ji), East, Zhen
Push (An), West, Dui
Pull-Down (Tsai or Cai), Northwest, Qian
Split (Lieh or Lie), Southwest, Kun
Elbow-Stroke (Chou or Zhou), Northeast, Gen
Shoulder-Stroke (Kao), Southeast, Xun


Jou, Tsung Hwa, The Tao of T'ai-Chi Ch'uan:  Way to Rejuvenation, 1980.  

Ward-Off (Peng), South, Chien, Heaven
Roll-Back (Lu), North, Kun, Earth
Press (Ji), West, Kan, Water
Push (An), East, Li, Fire
Pull-Down (Tsai or Cai), Southwest, Sun, Wind
Split (Lieh or Lie), Northeast, Chen, Thunder
Elbow-Stroke (Chou or Zhou), Southeast, Tui, Lake
Shoulder-Stroke (Kao), Northwest, Ken, Mountain


Stuart Alve Loson, T'ai Chi According to the I Ching, 2001
     From the classic text: "The Eight Gates and Five Steps Discourse," p. 76-83

Ward-Off (Peng), Southeast, Chien, Heaven
Roll-Back (Lu), Northeast, Kun, Earth
Press (Ji), South, Kan, Water
Push (An), North, Li, Fire
Pull-Down (Tsai or Cai), Northwest, Sun, Wind
Split (Lieh or Lie), West, Chen, Thunder
Elbow-Stroke (Chou or Zhou), East, Tui, Valley
Shoulder-Stroke (Kao), Southwest, Ken, Mountain


Sifu Kent Mark, The History of Tai Chi Chuan

Ward-Off (Peng), South, Chien, Heaven
Roll-Back (Lu), North, Kun, Earth
Press (Ji), West, Kan, Water
Push (An), East, Li, Fire
Pull-Down (Tsai or Cai), Southwest, Sun, Wind
Split (Lieh or Lie), Northeast, Chen, Thunder
Elbow-Stroke (Chou or Zhou), Southeast, Tui, Lake
Shoulder-Stroke (Kao), Northwest, Ken, Mountain


8 Gates, 8 Elements, 8 Postures, 8 Jings, 8 Ways, 8 Stances
Eight Gates, Eight Elements, Eight Postures, Eight Jings, Eight Ways, Eight Stances, Eight Energies
13 Postures, 13 Gates, 13 Elements, 13 Jings, 13 Ways, 13 Stances. 13 Tactics
13 Kinetic Movements, 13 Basic Taiji Quan Skills
Thirteen Postures, Thirteen Gates, Thirteen Elements, Thirteen Energies, Thirteen Ways, Thirteen Stances
5 Directions, 5 Movements, 5 Steps, 5 Stepping Movements
Five Directions, Five Steps, Five Movements, Five Stepping Movements

Tai Chi Chuan, Taijiquan, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Tai Chi, Tai Ji Quan, Taiji, Tai Ji Chuan, Tie Jee Chewan

Chi Kung, Qi Gong, Qigong, Chee Gung, Qi, Chi, Tu Na, Dao Yin, Yi, Neigong, Kung Fu
Internal Martial Arts, Soft Style Martial Arts








Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

Cloud Hands - Yun shou



© Michael P. Garofalo, 2004-2017, All Rights Reserved


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This webpage work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, © 2017 CCA 4.0

Created and revised by Michael P. Garofalo,
Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, North Sacramento Valley, California, USA (2010-2017)
Revised and updated by Mike Garofalo, Green Way Research, Cloud Hands Home, City of Vancouver, State of Washington, Northwestern USA, (2017-)


This webpage was first posted on the Internet on April 15, 2004.

This webpage was last modified and updated on December 20, 2017. 



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