Many Tai Chi Hands

It is said that in the practice of Tai Chi it is the hands that show the chi. As we advance in Tai Chi practice, we come to appreciate and more deeply feel the variety of ways the hands gather, carry, hold and issue the chi.

we can identify three major categories of hands in the form;  palm hands, fist hands and knife or laser hands.  Within those general categories can be found the more subtle variations of slap hand, chop hand, push hand, slice hand, knife hand and circle hand.  And of course, we have awareness of Yang hand or Yin hand in relationship to and opposite to the root foot.  Clues about chi intention can also be found in thumb position (usually Yang) land little finger position (usually Yin).

The 108 Yang long form offers may hand variations for our attention and intention.


Palm down in brush knee and cloud hands
Palm up in repulse monkey land the transition to parry and punch
Palm push sideways in transitions of single whip and snake creeps down
Palm push forward in brush knee, ride the tiger, jade girl, and press
Palm push down and backward in grasp the birds tail and white crane
Palm inward in grasp birds tail, cloud hands and shoulder push
Palm outward in fan back, jade girl and white crane
Palms above and below in the ball in grasp birds tail and slant flying
Palms side  by side for push
Palm turns out as in single whip, white crane and jade girl
Back of palm leads back as in transition after brush knee and roll back
Back of palm leads forward as in ward off
Palm split as in play guitar, repulse monkey and slant flying


Fist with thumb up knuckle forward as in parry and punch
Fist with fingers in as in fist under elbow
Fist with fingers down as in parry and punch to the groin
Fist parallel as when circling in parry and punch
Fist hook hand as in single whip
Fist flop back as in chop down
Fist flop forward as in ward off after ride the tiger
Fists turned in as in duel winds
Fists facing up an down in strike to the left and to the right


Knife hand fingers up as in fist under elbow
Knife hand fingers down as in needle, and snake creeps down
Knife hand fingers forward as in snake sticks out its tongue
Two finger knife hand as in shoulder push
Knife hand down as in slant flying with pinkie leading
Knife hand up as in slant flying with thumb leading
Knife hands parallel with pinkie lead in part wild horses mane

This is but a small sampling of the numerous examples of subtle nuances that are present in the many hands of Tai Chi.   It is the student's journey to seek and find these delightful variations in daily practice, each of which is filled with chi in a very unique way.  Let us enjoy the journey!