Cheng Manching 37 form: posture names in several languages

According to my Taijiquan styles survey, the Cheng Manching 37 form is one of the most practiced forms. I guess that is because Cheng Manching (also Zheng Manqing, 鄭曼青, 1902-1975) was one of the first to bring Taijiquan to the West. And many of his students are still active, teaching, and writing books.

Originally, Cheng Manching learnt the long Yang form from Yang Chengfu. But he wanted to create a shorter version. Thus he developed his well-known 37 postures: the Cheng Manching short form. The name is what you get: just 37 postures! He basically eliminated most repetitious movements, removed some postures from the longer Yang form and thus reduced the form time to about 10 minutes.

However, while I searched for the movement names, I discovered that these postures are not always counted the same. If you go through it step by step, you might count Grasp the Bird’s Tail as one move or several moves. I based my following list mainly on how it is presented on Wikipedia. If you practice this form or your teacher has a different way of counting, don’t worry! All the versions I’ve had a look at somehow got 37 postures!

Cheng Manching 37 form postures in Chinese, English & German

  1. 預備勢 Yù Bèi Shì
    • Preparation
    • Vorbereitung
  2. 起勢 Qǐ Shì
    • Beginning; Commencement
    • Anfang; Beginn
  3. 掤  Peng
    • Ward Off (Left)
    • Abwehr (links)
  4. 掤  Peng
    • Ward Off (Right)
    • Abwehr (rechts)
  5. 捋  Lu
    • Roll Back
    • Zurückrollen
  6. 擠  Ji
    • Squeeze/Press
    • Drücken
  7. 按  An (3-7 also known as 揽雀尾  Lǎn Què Wěi)
    • Push (Postures 3 through 7 are known as “Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail”)
    • Stoßen (Bewegungen 3 bis 7 sind bekannt als “Den Vogel beim Schwanz fassen”)
  8. 單鞭 Dān Biān
  9. 提手 Tí Shǒu
    • Raise Hands; Lift Hands
    • Hände heben
  10. 靠 Kào
    • Shoulder Stroke ; Lean Forward
    • Schulterstoss
  11. 白鶴亮翅 Bái Hè Liàng Chì
    • White Crane Spreads Its Wings
    • Der weiße Kranich breitet seine Flügel aus
  12. 摟膝拗步 Lōu Xī Ào Bù
    • Brush Knee Twist Step
    • Linkes Knie streifen
  13. 手揮琵琶 Shǒu Huī Pípá   摟膝拗步 Lōu Xī Ào Bù
    • Play Guitar/Pipa followed by Brush Knee Twist Step
    • Spiele die Laute/Pipa gefolgt von linkes Knie streifen
  14. 進步  Jìn Bù
    • Step Up and Block;  advance and deflect
    • Schritt vor, Fauststoß
  15. 搬攔捶   Bān Lán Chuí
    • Parry and Punch
    • Zurückziehen und Stoßen
  16. 如封似閉 Rú Fēng Sì Bì
    • Apparent Close-up
    • Hände zurückziehen und stoßen, als ob man eine Tür verschließt
  17. 十字手 Shí Zì Shǒu
    • Cross Hands
    • Hände kreuzen
  18. 抱虎歸山   Bào Hǔ Guī Shān   攔雀尾   Lán Què Wěi   斜單鞭   Xié Dān Biān
    • Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain (followed by Grasp the Bird’s Tail, then diagonal Single Whip)
    • Den Tiger umarmen und zum Berg zurückkehren (gefolgt von den Vogel beim Schwanz fassen und diagonale Peitsche)
  19. 肘底捶   Zhǒu Dǐ Chuí
    • Fist under Elbow
    • Faust unterm Ellenbogen
  20. 倒攆猴 Dào Niǎn Hóu
    • Step Back and Repulse Monkey, Right
    • Affen abwehren rechts
  21. 倒攆猴 Dào Niǎn Hóu
    • Step Back and Repulse Monkey, Left (followed by three more Repulse Monkeys)
    • Den Affen abwehren links (gefolgt von drei weiteren Affen)
  22. 斜飛勢   Xié Fēi Shì
    • Diagonal Flying
    • Diagonales Fliegen
  23. 雲手   Yún Shǒu
    • Wave Hands Like Clouds, Left
    • Wolkenhände links (Die Hände wie Wolken bewegen, Wave Hands in Clouds, Yun Shou)
  24. 雲手   Yún Shǒu
    • Wave Hands Like Clouds, Right (followed by three more cloud hands left, right, left, to Single Whip)
    • Wolkenhände rechts, (gefolgt von drei weiteren Wolkenhänden und einfache Peitsche)
  25. 蛇身下勢    Shé Shēn Xià Shì
    • Downward Single Whip; Snake Creeps Down
    • Gehockte Peitsche; Schlange kriecht zu Boden
  26. 金雞獨立   Jīn Jī Dú Lì
    • Golden Cock Stands on One Leg, Right
    • Goldener Hahn steht auf einem Bein rechts
  27. 金雞獨立   Jīn Jī Dú Lì
    • Golden Cock Stands on One Leg
    • Goldener Hahn auf einem Bein
  28. 分腳   Fēn Jiǎo
    • Separate Foot (Right)
    • Rechten Fuß heben
  29. 分腳   Fēn Jiǎo
    • Separate Foot (Left)
    • Linken Fuß heben
  30. 轉身蹬腳   Zhuǎn Shēn Dèng Jiǎo  左右摟膝拗步  Zuǒ Yòu Lōu Xī Ào Bù
    • Turn Body and Kick With Heel (followed by Brush Knee, Left and Brush Knee, Right)
    • Drehung und Stoß mit der linken Ferse (gefolgt von linkem Knie streifen und rechtem Knie streifen)
  31. 進步栽捶   Jìn Bù Zāi Chuí  上步攔雀尾   Shàng Bù Lán Què Wěi   單鞭   Dān Biān
    • Step Forward and Punch (followed by Grasp the Bird’s Tail and Single Whip)
    • Schritt vor und tiefer Fauststoß (gefolgt von Vogel am Schwanz fassen und einfache Peitsche)
  32. 玉女穿梭    Yù Nǚ Chuān Suō
    • Fair Lady Weaves (Works) Shuttle left
    • Schöne Dame am Webstuhl links
  33. 玉女穿梭   Yù Nǚ Chuān Suō   攔雀尾   Lán Què Wěi   單鞭   Dān Biān   蛇身下勢  Shé Shēn Xià Shì
    • Fair Lady Weaves (Works) Shuttle right (followed by two more Fair Ladies, Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail, Single Whip and Snake Creeps Down)
    • Schöne Dame am Webstuhl rechts (gefolgt von zwei weiteren schönen Damken,  Vogel beim Schwanz fassen, einfache Peitsche und gehockte Peitsche)
  34. 上步七星   Shàng Bù Qī Xīng
    • Step Up to Seven Stars
    • Stoß zu den sieben Sternen
  35. 退步跨虎   Tuì Bù Kuà Hǔ
    • Retreat to Ride Tiger
    • Schritt zurück und den Tiger reiten
  36. 轉身擺蓮   Zhuǎn Shēn Bǎi Lián
    • Turn Body Sweep Lotus Leg
    • Drehung und mit dem Bein über den Lotus streifen
  37. 彎弓射虎   Wān Gōng Shè Hǔ   進步搬攔捶   Jìn Bù Bān Lán Chuí   如封似閉   Rú Fēng Sì Bì   十字手   Shí Zì Shǒu   合太極   Hé Tài Jí
    • Bend Bow Shoot Tiger (followed by advance, deflect, parry, punch; apparently closing; cross hands; concluded Taiji)
    • Den Bogen spannen und den Tiger schießen (gefolgt von Schritt vor, Fauststoß, zurückziehen und Stoßen, als ob man eine Tür verschließt, Hände kreuzen und Abschluss)

If you want to have a look at Cheng Manching 37 form and generally Cheng Manching Tai Chi, look at my blog posts with the most interesting Cheng Manching videos! And if you still haven’t enough, here you’ll find many Cheng Manching books. Not only from “the Professor” himself, but also a lot of books from of his students. One of his main students, Robert Chukrow actually wrote this very interesting comparison of the Cheng Manching 37 form and Yang style long form.

And coming to the end I’d like to ask you something: if you speak a language I haven’t covered yet, feel free to send me the Cheng Manching 37 form names in your language. I would love to add them to the list!

Happy Qi!


P.S.: If you like this posture list, have a look at my list the 24 form names in Chinese, Pinyin, English and 4 more languages!



  • Thanks for the link. Indeed very interesting.
    The section about “Will Practicing a Shortened Form Make You Sick? Erle Montaigue (1949–2011) wrote that practicing a shortened form can make you sick” attracted my interest. I have been to Taiwan for a while and notice those CMC practitioners not looking too good from a postural point of view. Sure enough, do they pratice according to the complete teaching? That is the key question. My point of view is that they likely use the form to accumulate qi and not let it circulate freely, so they are getting sick of it, but it can occur with any form. The way out if having a form with fa-jins to avoid qi stagnation, or see an accupunturist a few times each year.
    Anyway long form is better and it is proven scientifically that exercise longer than 12 minutes has the best quieting effect

  • I am actually not so sure if practicing a short form will make you sick. I mean, you could just repeat the form multiple times, so in the end you would do either 1x long form or let’s say 3x a short form.

    And I think: practicing a Taijiquan short form is better than not practicing Taijiquan at all!

  • Hi Angelika,
    thanxs a lot for another very interesting article. I haven’t read the article by Robert Chuckrow yet, but it also looks very interesting. I saw a video on youtube, an interview with late MA T.T Liang the other day, were he pointed out, that he is healthy (he was 93 years old at the time) because he practises the Tai Chi long form every day.
    If a short Tai Chi form would be bad for peoples health, I thinkMA Cheng Manching would not have gone to the US to teach his 37-posture-form. It was his aim to bring the “jewel of Chinese culture” to the western world. If I would have started with Tai Chi while I was still leading a working life with hardly any free time, i would have choosen a short form. Now, that I am a pensioner with more free time I am learning the Yang long form.
    I think, whatever people choose to do, 10 minutes a day would be a bit short for any sort of exercise. If somebody really loves Tai Chi, I can’t believe that he or she would be happy to exercise just 10 minutes daily. But I agree with Angelika, if you’ve got a busy schedule, 10 minutes daily are better than no exercise at all.

  • I have heard of some competitors working the Beijing 24 forms probably a few hours per day going strangely sick as well.
    Do you know about this qi-gong clinic in Shanghai which only takes care about people who did take taiji or qi gong the wrong way?

    My teacher says, whichever form you take, it is a good one if either:
    * you fill the energy circulate (not everyone can feel it)
    * energy flows so much that you can do fajins (1 or 2 per posture!)
    * you can use it in combat applications in flowing manner

    Also the old chinese joke, conversation between master and student:
    – How long it takes to master taijiquan?
    – Depends on how much you train?
    – 1 hour per day?
    – 8 years
    – 2 hours per day?
    – 8 years
    – 4 hours per day?
    – 12 years

  • I also believe that Cheng Manching created his form with the absolutely best intentions!

  • When practising Aikido you always do the movments “a – mirrored” “Ein Spiegel” Why do you never see it in Taichi?? Its very intresting (funny) to do.

  • Do you mean that you start the form (or a single move) with the left foot instead with the right foot? I practice that, and I know a lot of people who also run their preferred form mirrored! It is definitely something I recommend.

  • Its a valid question but it has been practiced for years my multiple people across multiple countries.
    Is it worth a survey?
    I have done this form for over 30 years as the long form take too long when you add in qi gong and standing meditation (I still occasionally do walking meditation).
    I doubt it, but sick is very generic, and if you apply tai chi chuan mind to your practice you should be fine or at worst aware off any problem.
    Due to the fact that it is a short form it has its biases, so I do the opening starting from the left and then the right side! And do at least once a week snake creeps down from the other side. I guess this comes from my other martial arts I practice.

  • The whole of T’ai Chi ch’uan is 13 postures. Pa Kua Ch’uan has eight changes, and Hsing-I Ch’uan has five fists. A great boxer once said, “master one technique and no one will be able to defeat you.” More isn’t better.
    It all starts in the feet. You can’t do T’ai Chi Ch’uan in space, a weightless environment.

  • Thanks, I’m practicing this form. Having the names is helping))
    With them I could ask my teacher for explanationes easier:)))
    Only should translate them to Russian)))

  • Hi Anna,
    you are right, Russian would be another language to have!

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