How to Perform Forms

The main part of tai chi training is learning and repeating complexes consisting of different numbers of forms.

Below we have a short set of eight forms from tai chi instructor Harry Smith. The complex contains no complicated elements and is performed in one direction, which makes it easier to perceive and navigate in space.


Place your feet shoulder-width apart, with an inhale raise your arms up through your sides and lower them in front of your body with your palms facing down. Repeat twice.


Raise your hands in front of your body, palms down to shoulder level, and then gently lower, while gently bending your knees. Repeat two times.

Tai Chi Forms

Playing the guitar

Turn your body to the left, shifting your body weight to your left leg, and spread your arms apart, palms down.

Extend your right arm in front of your body as if pointing an open palm to a corner, straighten your right leg and place it on your heel. Move your left arm forward as well and leave it in front of your body at the level of your diaphragm. Take a step forward, shifting your body weight to your right leg. At the same time move both hands forward and smoothly lower them down.

Turn your body to the right and repeat the same from the other side: now the body weight remains on the right leg, the left leg is straightened out and placed on the heel, and the direction is pointed by the left hand.

Stop in this position and move on to the next form.

Step back to chase the monkey away

Gently bend your knees and step back with your left foot while extending your right hand in front of your body with the palm of your hand facing forward. Make a complete circle with your left hand, tracing it with your gaze, and then raise it to head level. Place the right foot next to the left on the toe.

Now step back with your right foot, changing the position of your hands. Bring your left hand forward, and with your right hand make a complete circle from bottom to top, with your gaze on the palm.

Make two more such movements backwards. Then step back from the right foot, put the left foot on the toe next to it, and fold your hands as in the warm-up: leave the right hand upward with the palm facing the floor and the left hand downward with the palm upward, as if you were holding a large sphere in front of your body.

Stroking the mane of a wild horse

Take a step to the side with your left leg and shift your body weight to it, straighten your right leg. At the same time, in a smooth sliding motion, lift your left hand palm up and move it to the side, while the right hand is palm down.

Move your hands smoothly, as if you were stroking a wild animal that might run away at any moment. Put your right foot to your left foot and fold your hands in front of your body again, as if you were holding a sphere. Perform the same movement in the other direction, stepping with your right foot.

Single whip

Extend your arms forward. Fold the fingers of your right hand into a pinch and bend your wrist, leaving your left palm open. Step to the side with your left foot and put your body weight on it. Turn your body to the left, put your left hand in front of your chest, bend it gently at the elbow and turn it palm forward. Leave your right hand out with your fingers folded.

Place your right foot to your left toe, bring your right hand in a circular motion from below, and pinch the fingers of your left hand in a pinch.

Repeat the movement in the other direction: step from the right foot, turning the body to the right, move the right hand to a position in front of the body with the palm away from you, and leave the left hand out with the fingers together and the wrist bent. Then turn your torso straight and both arms apart to shoulder height.

Crossed arms

Lower your arms down through your sides and then cross them in front of your body and bring them upward with palms facing you to shoulder level. Extend your arms in front of you with palms down, bend slightly at the elbows and lower in a gentle stroking motion.


Put your left leg up against your right leg and loosely lower your arms down the sides of your body.

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