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The “eight powers” of Tai Chi Chuan

The animation presented below is meant to illustrate the eight ways of power to be demonstrated in Tai Chi. In Chinese, these are called the ‘ba men’ or “8 gates.’ Here, I’ve attempted to show these 8 different styles that make up 8 of the ’13 Postures’ of tai chi chun. If you have questions, please contact, or TC.

You can see the trigrams for these 8 movements here, and in the animation:

peng ☰
liu ☷
ji ☵
ahn ☲
tsai ☳
lieh ☴
zhou ☱
kao ☶


Yin-yang visualization

The video below is a basic and balanced display of the interchangeable nature of yin and yang. Enjoy!

Those who know


There is a quote attributed to Lao Tzu, in the 6th century BCE, it says:

“Those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.”


Ignoring the paradox that this statement presents (as Lao Tzu was clearly ‘saying‘), I asked Gene Walder of TCSociety…

“Since many ‘say,’ and many ‘do not say,’ how is it possible ever to know?”


…and Gene replied:

“When a father teaches his son, he will say.”






There’s a greater master over the next mountain…


The above quote comes from Dr. Yang-yang’s book” The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power,” available here:


I wanted to share the above image because I hear things like this all of the time:

“I am going to meet with this special qigong healing master.”

“We’re taking a workshop with a guru who teaches a rare yoga.”

“I heard there’s a teacher in Orange County who can share some secret technique.”


The old expression, “The grass is greener on the other side” comes to mind. They wonder if they can learn a Chinese martial art from a white person. Some think they have to go to a mountain cave and seclude themselves, they will advance their practice faster. Or some think that if only they learn DIRECTLY from Master XYZ will they learn the ‘true’ art.

While there are many possibilities, Dr. Yang-yang explains in this book a few simple keys for finding a competent tai chi chuan teacher. All of Chapter 3 of the book is dedicated to pointing the student in the right direction for finding a teacher from whom he or she can learn. If you do find a qualified teacher, be hesitant to look to the next mountain. You may miss what’s standing right in front of you. To highlight this concept, I’ll recount a scene from the movie Needle Through Brick– where several kung-fu masters sit around talking about new students. They claim they will send new students away at first. “Go study with another master,” they insist. Their point is the same as the sentiment expressed in the above image- you can always chase a dream somewhere else.

There is always another master with whom to study. There’s always another guru JUST beyond the next mountain. You can search the world over for the best of the best, and even they will point you to some one (or some thing) else as their teacher. As mentioned above, Dr. Yang-yang mentions some ways to classify a teacher, here are some other techniques for learning:

1. Make sure you have a competent teacher.

2. Follow your teacher’s other students (learn from your peers).

3. Read books about what you are learning.

4. Practice daily.

5. Meditate.


If you can practice these few things, your art will be limitless. Climb the mountain you are on first. Then conquer the next:

Beyond the next mountain, there is always a bigger mountain.

Carnegie-Mellon Tai Chi Form

This ‘form’ was salvaged from a motion capture library I found earlier this week. The library is apparently a collection of data sets recorded in 2008.

No information is given in regard to the identity of the performance artist. The person is doing what appears to be a Yang style form, beautifully. The file name was listed under filename 12_04

Subject #12 (tai chi, walk)

12_04 tai chi

The motion has not been cleaned! What I can see is that Carnegie-Mellon’s motion capture equipment is wildly accurate. That also indicates that what you are seeing is a very accurate depiction of the movement. Then consider the stability through the main frame of the body.

It is possible to view something like this on your own computer by downloading the FBX file, Quicktime and a plugin for Quicktime that allows you to open FBX files. Contact Brian if you are interested.

“FBX for QuickTime Viewer” plugin:


Carnegie-Mellon Graphics Lab Motion Capture Database
full file listing with descriptions, word processor format
v1.00 last update July 20, 2008

Compiled from the individual CMU index files by B. Hahne

Hypercubic X-Stance

The ‘basic’ step, visualized as a hypercube:

Hypercubic X-stance from B dub on Vimeo.

Later, it will be possible to visualize movements of the hypercube through 3d space.


Consider postures like 扇通背 shan tong bei (Fan Over the Shoulder)
We continuously move the center to a safe position, while defending the outer perimeter.

8-celled structure

8-celled structure





The rest of today’s images are available here:



Hi there!

I just wanted to share a video from my Vimeo collection If you are not aware, there are quite a few videos of Xiong Yang-Ho out there on youTube. Xiong (sometimes spelled ‘Hsuing’) Yang-Ho (sometimes ‘Yangho’) was the first of TC Hou’s tai chi chuan teachers. In an effort for us to see more of the Yang style tai chi form, I have stabilized some of these shaky youTube renditions. The first of these, I did about a year ago. If you haven’t seen it, you can view it here:

This video shows Xiong Yang-Ho’s rendition of the Yang Style “First Set.” The postures demonstrated match our form- ‘Tai Chi Ready’ ( 预备 ) trough ‘Return Tiger to Mountain’ ( 抱虎歸山 抱虎归山 ).

The non-stabilized, original youTube title was:

For more on our lineage, see:
TCSociety lineage




If you missed last week’s blog, you can find the link here:


From today’s class we covered the first two [WOOD] meridians, and also one of the sounds associated with the liver organ.

If you saw the extra Wu Xing maps, and want to study them for yourself, please visit the wikipedia entry for Wu Xing:


The video TC mentioned is located at the link below. The video plays a little fast, as this is a prototype animation- just pause the video when needed.
An expanded version of the following animation (including the movements) will be presented in future editions. For now, please enjoy:

…learn more at the next workshop, Chi Kung Workshop #3.