13 Postures

Many Tai Chi Masters consider the 13 Postures or energies of Tai Chi to be the essence of the art.  The 13 Postures are most often what you see written about in the Tai Chi classics when a particular Tai Chi movement is explained or expounded upon.

The main thing to understand about the 13 postures as they are named is that they are really not so much physical postures as they are specific applications and expressions of movement and energy.  I will elaborate further on this in my next post which will be titled the 13 Kinetic postures.  But, first the list of the 13 postures.

Tai Chi generally always utilizes whole body power.  In the 13 Postures in terms of technique the first 8 postures refer to energetic expressions with some (usually upper body oriented) physical application and the last 5 postures refer to stepping directions and movements.


    1. Peng – Ward Off
    2. Lu – Roll Back
    3. Ji – Press
    4. An – Push
    5. Tsai – Pluck
    6. Lieh – Split
    7. Zhou – Elbow
    8. Kao – Shoulder
    1. Advancing Forward Steps
    2. Retreating Backwards Steps
    3. Stepping to the Left
    4. Stepping to the Right
    5. Zhong Ding – Central Equilibrium


  1. Thank you for sharing this information about the 13 postures from the Tai Chi Classics.
    A question: Would it be better to fashion the physical postures
    of 8 movements and 13 movement according to the classic postures? Or is part or all of it already incorporated into the sets you are teaching.

    • Sigung Clear says

      It is all already incorporated into the sets I am teaching. For instance I have written a post about how Zhou Tai Chi Elbow can be found in most moves and it will be up sometime in the next few weeks. Also, I will be writing more posts about how the first 8 movements (jings really) can be found in the majority of Tai Chi moves.
      Thanks for the questions. Keep em coming.

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