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18 Form (Shi Ba Shi – 十八式)

The Chen 18 Movement Form was created by Grandmaster Chen Zheng Lei in response to demand from students for a short routine suitable for beginners. The form is composed of 18 movements (and thus its name), divided into two main sections. The form is easy for novice to learn, yet offers the experienced practitioner room to express and develop the basic principles, energies and techniques of the style. The form is a subset of postures from the traditional Chen style taijiquan Lao Jia Yi Lu (Old Frame First routine). Click here to download a PDF document that contains details of each movement.

Section 1:

1. Preparatory Stance or Starting Form (Qi Shi, Yu Bei Shi) 预备式 or 起势(起勢)
2.Strong Man Pounds the Mortar (Jin Gang Dao Dui) (1) 金刚捣碓 (金剛搗碓)
3. Holding Coat at the Waist (Lan Zha Yi) (2) 揽扎衣(攬紮衣)
4. Six Sealing and Four Closing (Liu Feng Si Bi) 六封四闭 (六封四閉)
5. Single Whip (Dan Bian) (3) 单鞭(單鞭)
6. White Goose Spreads Wings (Bai E Liang Chi) (4) 白鹅亮翅
7. Step forward into diagonal posture (shang bu xie xing) (5) 上步斜行
8. Gathering at the Knees (Lou Xi) (6) 搂膝 (摟厀)
9. Three Steps Forward (Shang San Bu) OR Twisted Steps (Ao Bu) (7) 上三步 (拗步)
10. Hidden Punch (Yan Shou Gong Quan) (8) 掩手肱拳

This section has 10 movements and introduces the student to the various leg stances. In performing Chen Style Taijiquan, the leg stances must be visually clear, i.e. which leg is bearing the weight. There are left and right bow stances as well as empty stances. Weight distribution for the bow stances are usually 70/30 split (provided you can really tell) and empty stances are usually 90/10 split.

(1) 金刚 is commonly translated as Buddha’s Warrior Bodyguard or Vajra. However, the use of 金刚 usually refers to someone who is very strong.

(2) Many translations have listed this as Lazily Holding Coat or something lazy about it. There is absolutely nothing lazy about this movement. The original Chinese characters refers to ‘waist” and not ‘lazy’. The Romanized representation of these characters are unfortunately the same.

(3) The lifting feeling is on the right wrist, top of head, and left middle finger.

(4) In Chen Village, there are no cranes but lots of geese. So it is always white goose spreads wings and never crane.

(5) Also seen as Oblique Movement, this movement is characterized by the inclined rotation of the body during the execution of the movement and thus its name, which when directly translated means inclined shape. However, when the movement is done, the body is NOT inclined. The right foot also has a hook feeling, unlike Single Whip.

(6) Gathering at the knee requires the two hands to ‘he’, i.e. come together in a coordinated fashion, like a vise to grip or hit.

(7) When written as 拗步, this is usually pronounced as Niu Bu and not Au Bu. Technically, this means twisted steps. So this can going left and right as you move forward.

(8) The right knee points at the toes with the calf on top of the foot. Waist is relaxed. Thighs are ‘pushing’ outwards to initiate the spiral rotation. The right fist is not closed tight. The moment of impact is about a tenth of a second when it meets the opponent, only then is it tight. Immediately after the jin reaches the fist and after contact, relax the whole body. Gong versus There are many write ups that have “yan shou hong quan” or “dao juan hong”. The Chinese character for hong is 宏 which is similar to 肱 (gong). The difference is in their meanings. 肱 means upper arm, which I believe is what the form is referring to and 宏 means great or grand.

Section 2:

11. Pat Horse on High Back (Gao Tan Ma) (1) 高探马 (高探馬)
12. Left Heel Kick (Zuo Deng Yi Gen) (2) 左蹬一根
13. Jade Maiden Shuttles back and forth (Yu Nu Chuan Suo) (3) 玉女穿梭
14. Moving or Waving Hands (Yun Shou) (4) 运手 (運手)
15. Turn Back and Wave Double Lotus Kick (Zhuan Shen Shuang Bai Lian) 转身双白莲 (轉身雙白莲)
16. Head strike Cannon Fists (Dang Tou Pao) 当头炮 (當頭炮)
17. Strong Man Pounds the Mortar (Jing Gang Dao Zhui) 金刚捣碓 (金剛搗碓)
18. Close (Shou Si) 收势

This section moves in the opposite direction bring you back to the starting point. It has sidewards movements, kicks, jumps and pivoting from the last section of Lao Jia Yi Lu can thus can be more challenging to beginners. Some movements like Jin Gang Dao Dui is repeated from the first section.

(1) The hooking of the right foot is introduced in this movement. The right foot will make two turns before completing the movement. Avoid making too big of a turn for the first turn else the knee will fold in and the peng dang will be gone.

(2) Heel kicks are directed to the slightly above the waist or to the knee cap. Eyes look at where you are kicking.

(3) This movement is used to break yourself out of a group surrounding you. At a high level of skill, the ideal is to leap as far as you can. Another very common interpretation for this is jade maiden works the shuttle. A shuttle is a piece of a loom that moves back and forth between yarns. I think the name is describing a lady moving back and forth quickly like the shuttle of a loom and not the lady working the shuttle of a loom. When both hands turn upwards, there is a he jin compressing into the center. Hands and right leg lift first, then the left leg. Left leg land first and then right making a stomp stomp action.

(4) The simplified Chinese character for cloud is 云(雲). It is very similar to the simplified Chinese character word for moving 运(運). It is very likely that these characters got translated incorrectly and “Cloud hands” stuck as a name and that is a translation error. Waving or moving hands is more accurate.


Master Chen Hui Xian performing the 18 form.