Counting the Moves in the Cheng Man-Ch’ing 37 Posture Form

How many moves are there in the 37 move form?

This may sound like a trick question, but the answer is actually 65 moves. This is because many of the moves are repeated. For example Single Whip appears five times, Brush Left Knee Push appears three times. The table below lists all 65 occurrences of the 37 unique moves.

The early sections of the form take the longest to learn, because every move is fresh. But once you get past a certain point, you will be familiar with many of the moves and will race through the rest of the form.

The last column of the table is useful for those who are learning the form, because gives you an idea of your real rate of progress.

Punch Under Elbow is the 23rd of the 65 moves, or 35 %  of the way through the form. But if you consider only the unique moves it is actually the halfway point – by the time you get here you have learned 49 % of the form

Making these calculations strikes me as a distinctly un-Tai Chi thing to do, but I  think there is a lot of value learning all the moves quite quickly, rather than focussing on each one in great detail.  Once you have learned the sequence you can focus on developing relaxation and flow. Don’t forget to go back and refine the individual sections though!


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