Taiji Principles


Taiji Principles

Taijiquan is based on a set of immutable principles: a sort of “Ten Commandments.” These principles elicit a wholly unique method for utilizing the physical structure to maximize the intrinsic strength of the practitioner. The principles also act as a gauge to evaluate the quality and accuracy of each movement.

Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Chu'an) is the physical embodiment of philosophical principles in an exercise of mind/ body/energy (qi). To garner good Taiji skills one must carefully abide by proper alignment. While there are relatively few principles that must be adhered to when performing Taiji, they are difficult and rewarding, often in unexpected ways. Without these principles Taiji is nothing but empty movement--hands waving in air.

In good Taiji, it is easy to miss the power of the movements appears quite subtle. Taiji relies on internal strength rooted in the ground and moved through the body without the inhibition of unnecessary tension. To receive the full benefits, the practitioner must scrupulously apply themselves in a series of postures that challenge the mind to remain focused while maintaining a deeply centered awareness.


1. Lift the Top of the Head

2. Body Upright Don’t Lean

3. Raise the Back

4. Hollow the Chest

5. Drop the Shoulders

6. Sink the Elbows

7. Loosen the Lumbar Region

8. Open the Joints

9. Unify the Body

10. Distinguish Substantial (weighted) and Insubstantial (unweighted)

11. Keep the Upper Body Free and Supple

12. Keep the Limbs Natural, like an Animal Do Not Fully Stretch or Fold the Limbs

13. Point the Knee in the Direction of the Second Toe

14. Don’t Extend the Knee Beyond the Base of the Toes

15. Sit in the Hips Don’t Crouch in the Knees

16. Keep the Elbows Below the Wrists (when above the waist)


1. Sink the Qi to the Dan Tian

2. Maintain Emptiness and an Upward Energy

3. Qi leads the Body

4. Connect the Internal with the External

5. Extend Qi the Direction of the Bones

6. Express Qi in the Fingers

7. Relax and Be Natural


1. Change is a Constant

2. Be Still Like a Mountain, Move Like a River

3. Step Nimbly Like a Cat Walking

4. Move Gently, Steadily Like Pulling Silk

5. Movements Must Be Continuous

6. Movements are Rooted in the Feet

7. Muscles Work by Winding

8. Generate Power from the Legs

9. Control is Directed by The Waist

10. Movements Must Be Smooth, Light and Agile

11. Breathe Must Be Natural

12. All Parts Move or All Parts Stop


1. Mind Leads the Qi

2. Concentrate the Mind

3. Use Intention, not Force

4. The Mind Must be Concentrated

5. Keep the Mind Calm


1. When My Opponent Does Not Move, I Do Not Move

2. When My Opponent Moves, I Have Moved First

3. Receive the Opponent’s Intent and Redirect It

4. Four Ounces Moves a Thousand Pounds

5. Seek the Curve in the Straight, and the Straight in the Curve

6. No Beginnings, No Endings All is Continuous

Six Essential Harmonies

Three outer harmonies

Hand corresponds with foot

Elbow corresponds with knee

Shoulder corresponds with hip

Three inner harmonies

Thought corresponds to intent

Intent corresponds with breath

Breath corresponds with strength

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