Unit 2 Level 3 - 13 Core Essentials 


The assignment for this unit asks you to relate the 13 essentials to your Tai Chi Bang practice and applications. We have also included information on Push hands, as it relates to the martial art applications. Please note that you will not be assessed on Push Hands though. 



Core essentials.mp3


During the Level 2 Tai Chi Bang we looked at the core postures - 13 Gates or Postures. These are also known as the 13 Essentials.

These 13 core postures are found in all traditional styles of Tai Chi – it is only the way that they are performed that varies slightly, depending on the style of Tai Chi.

You may want to take a quick look at the 5 main styles of Tai Chi before moving on, as this will provide you with a better understanding.

Chen style

Yang style

Wu style

Sun style

Wu Hao style


You may also want to take a look at Youtube and Wikipedia to read more about the different styles of Tai Chi. The link below may also prove helpful.


At Level 2 you were provided with a handout of the core postures but for ease you can find the list again, below.

The 13 postures are made up of 8 hand postures and 5 footwork patterns: The first 8 are hand or body postures. These are also known as the 8 Energies.


 The last 5 of the 13 postures relate to footwork.


Below you will find futher details regarding the 13 Essentials plus the Chinese name.

 Peng – Ward off.

The upward, circular movement uses the energy from the core centre to defend yourself, usually with the arms to disrupt the opponent's centre of gravity.

 Lu – Roll back.

This is a  sideways yielding movement where you can redirect someone’s movement. The roll back can be high, low or flat. Each style uses a different way - Chen uses a high roll back, Traditional Yang uses a flat roll back and contemporary forms use a low roll back.

 Ji – Press.

Here you press or squeeze from the foot, channelling your energy to press someone away from your body.

An – Push.

This can be a single or double hand push. It is executed by moving the power from the core centre to push someone off. It is an offensive movement.


The next 4 movements require speed in applications.


Cai – Pluck or Pull Down.

This is a pulling downward movement with the hand which uses the whole body.


This is to offset with a spiral motion: to split an opponent's body and destroy their correct posture and balance. It is a hit out movement. It is often executed after roll back.

Zhou – Elbow strike.

The slow and gentle Tai Chi movements store up energy. This stored energy can then be used to defend ourselves. The elbow strike is performed over short distances. It can be a forward, backward or sideways movement.

 Kao – Shoulder press/strike.

This movement uses the shoulder or back to push. It is used when someone is too close to you and allows you to ‘bump’ them.


The next 5 movements are the footwork patterns.

 Jin – Forward step

The movement is advance – always step forward using the heel first.

Tui – Backwards step

The movement is retreat – always step back using the toe first

Gu - Step or turn to left

Pan – Step or turn to right

Ding – Central equalibrium


These 8 body movements, plus the 5 footwork movements, make up the 13 essential techniques of Tai Chi martial art application and can be found in all traditional Tai Chi solo forms. They relate to the martial art applications for self defence, which is one of the 4 key components of Tai Chi.


The 13 essentials (core postures) in Tai Chi Bang

We can now look at which of the Tai Chi Bang movements are core postures.

There are examples within the form and a number within each movement: a list that you can download here, will provide you with a few good examples. These have been provided for you by Master Tsao.

As this is a Level 3 course you are expected to carry out your own research into the 13 Core Postutes to provide you with background information.  


Now we will take a look at Push hands. Please remember that you will not be assessed on this though. If you look back at the introduction for this course, you will see that Push hands is one of the key components of Tai Chi practice, so it is included to provide both Yin and Yang!

Push Hands

Push hands is a way of practising the eight energies and five steps which are connected to the thirteen essentials associated with Tai Chi.

You may want to take a look at a series of videos on Youtube that relate to the 8 energies. The videos are not about push hands; they show a specific type of Tai Chi Qigong, but will provide you with a good explanation regarding the 8 energies. You can watch lesson 1 by clicking here. 


Push hands practise develops sensitivity. It teaches you ‘listening to energy’ (ting jing) and internal energy circulation.

Whether the ultimate goal of Push Hands is for martial art or health, the intention is to develop balance and sensitivity by feeling and using your own and your partner’s energy.

Below you can watch a video clip of Push Hands and listen to Master Tsao explain some of the core essentials.