In the 13 fundamental techniques, stepping (forward, backward, left and right) has a significant part of it. The way to step is also unique to Tai Chi training. Practicing proper stepping in your Tai Chi form is important to develop “Footwork” (步法) and “Body Movement (身法) in Tai Chi martial applications.
In Stepping, you must differentiate Substantial (实) and Insubstantial (虚). The leg that steps out should be insubstantial and passive. The leg that supports your body weight is substantial and active. So, the correct sequence is:
- Shift weight to the Substantial leg
- Sink via the Substantial leg to ground
- Float the Insubstantial leg in preparation for stepping
Here are the movements in the Eight Five form that relate to the above Stepping concept:
Stepping forward: Grasp Sparrow’s Tail (揽雀尾), Brush Knee and Twist Step (搂膝拗步), Step Forward, Block, Parry and Punch (进步搬栏捶)
Stepping backward: Repulse Monkey (倒撵猴)
Stepping sideway: Cloud Hands (云手), Single Whip (单鞭)
Stepping Up: Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg (金鸡独立)
Our “Tai Chi Walk” exercise is a great way to improve one’s Stepping skill.