The 13 postures, poses or gates are the foundation of Tai Chi Chuan. These thirteen movements include different stances, hand forms, body positions, body alignments, etc.

The first 8 postures and energies are associated with the eight trigrams (bagua) of the I Ching. The last 5 postures or steps are associated with the five elements (wuxing) of Taoist philosophy: wood, fire, earth, metal and water and together they are referred to as the “Thirteen Postures of Tai Chi”.

The 13 postures are:

  1. Ward off / Expand (掤; péng)
  2. Roll back / Deflect (捋; lǚ)
  3. Press (挤; jǐ)
  4. Push (按; àn)
  5. Pluck (採; cǎi)
  6. Split (挒; liè)
  7. Elbow strike (肘; zhǒu)
  8. Shoulder strike (靠; kào)
  9. Forward / Advance (进; jìn)
  10. Backward / Retreat (退; tuì)
  11. Left (頋; gù)
  12. Right (盼; pàn)
  13. Center (定; dìng)

Principles of Tai Chi Chuan