13 Postures (十三式)

Shi San Shi (十三式) or Thirteen Postures does not mean thirteen different postures or movements steps but actually means thirteen basic skills. The 13 postures are also known as Bafa Wubu (八法五步) and Bamen Wubu (八门五步).


The hand skills of Taijiquan follow the principle of Bagua trigram. Bafa (八法) or Eight Method are eight hand skill methods of Jin force. All hand skills and techniques are generated from the Eight Method.



Eight Methods

Trigram Name

Direction

Attribute

Key Acupoint

Map to Five Element

Peng, 掤

Kuan

North

Water

Mingmen

Water

Lu, 

Li

South

Fire

Xuanguan

Fire

Ji, 

Zhen

East

Thunder

Jiaji

Wood

An, 

Dui

West

Marsh

Tanzhong

Metal

Cai, 

Qian

Northwest

Sky

Xinggong

Metal

Lieh, 

Kun

Southwest

Earth

Dantian

Earth

Zhou, 

Gen

Northeast

Mountain

Jianjing

Earth

Kou, 靠

Xun

Southeast

Wind

Yuzhen

Wood



The footwork of Taijiquan follows the philosophical concept of Wuxing (五行) or Five Elements. Wubu (五步) or Five Footwork are the five footwork skills. It is more about Shenfa or body movement skills because footwork and body movement have a very tight relationship.



Five Footwork

Attribute

Direction

Element

Acupoint

Jinbu, 进步

Step forward

North

Water

Huiyin

Tuibu, 退步

Step backward

South

Fire

Zuqiao

Zuogu, 右盼

Sideway step forward

East

Wood

Jiaji

Youpan, 左顾

Sideway step backward

West

Metal

Tanzhong

Zhongding, 中定

Central equilibrium

Center

Earth

Dantian



These 13 basic skills are the foundation of all Taijiquan skills. All other skills come from the different variation and combination of these basic skills.

The meaning of those 13 skills are as below:
  1. Peng- ward off
  2. Lu- roll back
  3. Ji- press
  4. An- push
  5. Cai - pull down 
  6. Lieh- split
  7. Zhou- elbow
  8. Kou- shoulder
  9. Jinpu- step forward
  10. Tuipu- step backward
  11. Zhougu - step to the left side
  12. Youpan- step to the right side
  13. Zhongding- central equlibrium

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