Traditional Tai Chi Chuan


There is much confusion and doubt as to what is and what is not traditional Tai Chi Chuan. Perhaps it is easiest to start off by stating what is not traditional Tai Chi Chuan.


Non-traditional Tai Chi Chuan is modern or contemporary Tai Chi Chuan which, although based on traditional Tai Chi Chuan, has been modified such that its objectives, flavour and mode of practice is no longer that of a martial art.  It is geared towards an art of artistic performance, sport, competition, health, relaxation, exercise and dance.  Examples of non-traditional or modern or contemporary Tai Chi are the Wu Shu arts of Beijing 24 Tai Chi Chuan, Beijing 48 Tai Chi Chuan, International Competition 42 Tai Chi Chuan, 12 Steps Tai Chi Chuan, 8 Steps Tai Chi Chuan, 18 Step Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Ji Shi Ba Shi), as well as those Tai Chi that have been created by individuals who based an exercise or dance on traditional Tai Chi Chuan without significant martial arts or combative content.


Traditional Tai Chi Chuan are the 5 major forms of Tai Chi Chuan and their sub lineages that are handed down from the Chinese forefathers which are practised as a martial art with combative intent.


We can see that one major characteristic if traditional Tai Chi is that its movements, postures, theories and practices are geared towards a martial and combative art.


Other than that, any ‘Tai Chi’ that is created or made up by individuals is likely be non-traditional.


To gain deeper understanding of this topic, please read the following:-


What is traditional Tai Chi Chuan?


What is not traditional Tai Chi Chuan?


Styles and sub-styles of traditional Tai Chi Chuan



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30 March 2006

Written by John Chow,  a practitioner of Chinese medicine, acupuncturist, masseur, healer and teacher of martial arts and spiritual paths in Melbourne, Australia.

Copyright:-  No part of this article can be used, quoted, copied in any form without the permission from the author.  For further information on this article, please contact John Chow  at