Unit 1 Level 3 - Foundation Principles 


At Level 2 you will have looked at the philosophy of Tai Chi: this unit will help to expand on that knowledge.


Yin Yang Theory

The need to attain balance throughout all aspects of life, underpins Chinese philosophy ¹

The Yin Yang theory is used as a way of understanding the nature of everything in the universe and how paired opposites contribute to this. Without an understanding of these basic principles, Tai Chi Form becomes a dance or pure movement of the body. An understanding of the Yin Yang theory will help to remedy this.

There are 4 main principles of Yin Yang and these can be downloaded by clicking here.

The aim is to create a natural balance within Tai Chi and work within the laws of nature. With time and diligent practise our Tai Chi improves and we will have helped to promote good health because we are ‘balanced internally’.


Yin Yang can be found in all Tai Chi Forms. We can see it in the empty (insubstantial) and full (substantial) of the body weight, the open and close of each movement, the release and storing of the power, the up and down of the hand movements, the forward and backward of the stepping and the inhalation and exhalation of the breathing.

Within Tai Chi, the Yin Yang movements can be seen as paired opposites - opening and closing, firm & yielding, solid &empty, fast & slow, up & down, still & active, hard & soft, expanding & contracting etc


We can break this down even further by looking at different parts of the body.


One leg is full and supports the body (yang) whilst the other leg is ‘empty’ and able to change direction (yin).

Upper & Lower body:

The lower body is yang or full (rooted to the ground and supporting the torso whilst the upper body is empty (light) to be able to change direct or turn when required - yin.


The dominant arm in a movement is the substantial arm (yang), whilst the other is insubstantial (yin).


Within the coiling & spiralling movements of Tai Chi Bang, yin yang can be also distinguished – opening and closing, expanding and contracting, firm and soft.  

To summarise:

Of particular importance in Tai Chi is the concept of full or substantial (yang) & empty or insubstantial (yin). These should always be present in your legs, arms, upper body, lower body, left side and right side when performing the form.The concept of Yin Yang is constantly changing within the Form – you should rarely be even weighted.


Note: You may have heard of the term Double weighting. This does not mean even weighted or balanced. It refers to a body position that will negate mobility.

One leg must always be solid or full while the other leg is empty and free to move in any direction, otherwise you will be double weighted.




¹ Chen Style Taijiquan by Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim & David Gaffney. North Atlantic Books. 2002



If you are not an experienced Tai Chi player, you may want to carry out some further reading/research before you move onto the assignment for this unit.

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 Unit 2.

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