Weapons Forms

The empty-handed Tai Chi Form (short, Long, and two-person sets) is but one of five traditional tai chi disciplines (or forms). According to Chinese thought, there are 5 phases/elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The five Tai Chi forms correspond to those basic elements in Chinese tradition. The empty-handed Tai Chi Form is earth, symbol of rooting power. The Tai Chi weapon forms are intrinsically elegant and of great practical use in combat situations, even with substitute weapons such as a rolled-up newspaper or umbrella. Practice linking the weapon to the body also enhances one’s basic form, through the extra balance required and the goal of focusing one’s chi to the tip of the weapon.

Stick Forms

Identified with Wood, symbol of absorbing power. Wood is characterized by sudden bursts (hops) and a blend of crooked and straight moves. Most martial arts schools have a staff form that utilizes sticks five or six feet in length. Such a stick is not very useful in our society but we do carry canes and umbrellas. Grandmaster Chu devised the short-stick form and two-person sparring form that we teach at CK Chu Tai Chi in order to teach students practical stick-fighting skills. The single short-stick form, also called the Flute form, is the best weapons class to begin with.

Prerequisites: Tai Chi Short Form. Ten-week course (each form).

Broad Sword (Big Knife)

This form’s element is Metal, symbol of striking power and characterized by distinct, chopping motions. Although class practice is with the sword, the same techniques can be used with a smaller knife.

Prerequisites: Tai Chi Short Form. Sixteen-week course.

Double-Edged Sword

Identified with Water, symbol of yielding power, it is considered the most beautiful form. The movements in this form are fluid and graceful. The same movements can also be used with an umbrella, ruler, small dagger, or even a pencil.

Prerequisites: Tai Chi Short Form. Twenty-week course.


The Spear Form, associated with fire, is not taught at the Center because the weapon is 18 feet long and intended for use on horseback. However, using a modified spear – a long staff of 8 feet, the school does teach the basic spear moves and partner drills. There is no standard Tai Chi spear form as there is with the other weapons. This will be a special class for advanced students at the school.

Prerequisites: Tai Chi Short Form; Flute Form; Two-person Stick; extensive Nei Kung, Push-Hands, and fighting; permission from Sifu Harris. (Due to the length of this weapon and our studio space — class size is limited.)