The Best Tai Chi Forms for Beginners

Tai chi is learned as a series of movements. Learn enough of the movements and you’ve learned a tai chi form or set. A number of tai chi forms have been created, but some are definitely better for beginners than others.

Read here about:

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Short Forms

Recommended for beginners: short, openhanded forms

Long Forms

Practicing Short vs. Long Forms

Forms with Weapons

All Styles Have Their Own Forms. The different styles of tai chi, such as the Yang, Wu, and Chen, have developed their own tai chi forms. These include: unarmed forms (or openhanded, without weapons) and those using weapons. Whether involving weapons or not, forms are divided by length, short and long.

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Short Forms. The easiest forms to learn are the short forms. Short forms are usually between 13-40 moves long and generally take between 3-20 minutes to complete.

Short forms were designed specifically for beginners or those with limited time to practice and learn.

Best Forms for Beginners: Unarmed Short Forms. Beginners are best advised to learn the basics of tai chi an a short, unarmed form, and to save weapons work for later.

Read about the most popular tai chi form, the standardized Yang short form here.

Another form highly recommended for beginners, especially those with back or knee concerns, is the Wu short form. Read about 16 move unarmed Wu tai chi sort form with many of the same moves as the Yang, but with a more internal and meditative approach.

Long Forms. Most beginners start by learning and then deepening a short form. Some choose to continue even further, by learning a long form.

Long forms require a much bigger commitment than learning a short form--no big surprise here. Long forms, which can have 80+ movements, can take over an hour to complete. Learning a long form can be a steep learning curve, and may require over a year just to learn the movements.

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Practicing Short vs. Long Forms. It may be surprising to learn that several short forms don’t equal a long. Practicing a short form over and over again for the same amount of time as a long form just won’t yield the same energy benefits. This is because of the greater variety of moves and the longer, sustained attention in the long form yields exponentially greater energy results.

Yes, longer forms have bigger energy benefits. But, if you’re a beginner, don’t rush into learning a long form. Tai chi, after all, is about relaxing and moving at your own speed.

Forms with Weapons. Weapons add more complexity, as practitioners treat the weapon as an extension of their body, rather than just an object they are using. Skilled practitioners project energy through and to the end of the weapon. The weapons forms commonly taught are: the tai chi straight, double-edged sword, the broadsword or saber, the pole, and the spear.

Next: Read about the Yang short form.