Choosing The Best Tai Chi Styles For You

By on 08/17/2015
Hao-wu style

Tai Chi Styles

When you decide to learn tai chi, the first step is to choose the style that you want to learn.  There are five main Tai chi styles with numerous “subdivisions” or branches of each main style, each featuring certain variations in their movements.  However, all the styles have the same health benefits such as enhancing body flexibility and lowering stress levels.  Most of these styles use circular and flowing movements, often done in slow motion.  Most practitioners learn the practice of tai chi based on numerous factors including their school’s convenience as well as their teacher’s level of expertise.  that every learner should know.

The most popular style in the world is the Yang Style Tai Chi. This style is widely practiced in America, England and China, with the style in every country differing with minor variations. However, each approach used by the various schools around the world originated from China.  To watch a beautiful demonstration of Yang style, click here to watch Sifu Amin Wu play this form.

The second most popular tai chi style is the Wu Style Tai Chi. There are three major variations in this style, but are all derived from the founding family of Chuan You. The largest variant of this style is in the Yang style where some schools emphasizing on small and compact movements.  View a Wu style here.

The third style is the Chen Style Tai Chi which originally led to the creation of the Yang style.  Unlike other styles, the Chen style does not only involve slow motion movements, but also short and fast ones.  This style involves a lot of physical coordination that may include stamping actions, jumping kicks or even fast releases. Chen is common with martial artists as well as younger, energetic people.  Here is an example of Chen Style Tai Chi performed by Grandmaster Ma Hong

The forth style is the Hao-Wu  Tai Chi Style.  This style is non-existent in most parts of the world and even less practiced in China.  Hao uses small frame movements, with its main focus being on the internal chi movements rather than physical motion.

The last style is the Combined Tai Chi Styles, or 24 Form.  Right after the Yang and Wu styles, the combined style is the world’s third most popular tai chi style.  The style involves mixing the various movements in the other styles, and it borrows some movements from various internal martial arts including hsing-I and bagua.  24 form was developed in the early part of the 20th century in China and adopted as the National physical fitness sport because it was shortened for ease of learning.

When learning these styles, it is important that you practice them more often on your own and ensure that you get the movements order in each style.  The Hao, Wu and Yang are the easiest to learn as they require less physical coordination skills.  If you aim to stretch out, choose a style that uses larger movements.  Styles with higher stances are also appropriate for those with injured knees or lower back pains.  These are some of the top tip on how to choose a tai chi style.

Tai chi learners above the age of 50 are advised to go for the short frame styles that are done in slow motion since they can be learnt easily and without risk of joint injury. The longer stances styles can lead to complication in the lower back and the knees. However, these long stances can be helpful to those with strong knees as they will strengthen your legs. The small frame styles are most appropriate when aiming to improve the health of the internal organs.  For the elder learners, styles involving longer stances can be easily remembered as you learn tai chi basics to help you in learning smaller styles.


Next: What Is Tai Chi Chuan?  or Tai Chi explained



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