Jacky Wu Jing, The Tai Chi Master

Wu Jing, The Tai Chi Master
The Tai Chi Master (太極宗師)

Have you ever wondered how the slow and graceful movements of Tai Chi could possibly be applied in a real fight? If so, this expertly choreographed movie will give you some ideas.

In The Tai Chi Master, Chinese action hero Wu Jing (a.k.a. Jacky Wu, Jason Wu) portrays real-life master Yang Lu-Chan, the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi. Here, Wu Jing re-enacts the famous tower sequence from Bruce Lee’s Game of Death.

Tai Chi vs. Shuai Jiao Wrestling

Tai Chi vs. Staff

Tai Chi vs. Iron Body Kung Fu

Tai Chi vs. Ninja

Tai Chi vs. Fighting Monk

The Tai Chi Master is the two-hour distillation of a TV series by the same name, and as such, it suffers from abrupt scene changes and a lack of character development. But if you are a true fan of kung fu movies as I am, none of this will bother you. The action is top-notch, uncut, and highly recommended.


  1. But, in the end, isn’t it still just a movie? I’ll believe Tai Ji (which nonetheless is still a beautiful art form, and I’ve got nothing against it) works in a real fight when I see it.

  2. Damn, but that’s pretty. I’m starting to learn a watered-down version of Tai Chi for arthritis patients (I just had back surgery a couple of months ago), but I’d love to learn a more rigorous version of it. I’ve always been fascinated by martial arts, just never really had the opportunity to learn.

  3. I never thought much of Tai-Chi but I never knew that it could be used in such a practical way. It seems like tai chi is fare more superior when he’s battling agaings some of these people.

  4. Taiji is a fighting art end of story, if your learning taiji for any other reason, then your not learning REAL taiji!

  5. Jim, I recommend Chen Style tai chi if you’re looking for a more rigorous type. Chen Style is a bit more physically demanding than the other styles, plus it looks a lot more like a martial art in the way that it is performed and all the healthy side benefits are there as well. A good chen teacher can be hard to find though.

    As for learning tai chi solely as a fighting art, I think other martial arts provide a much more direct path towards real martial skill and if you all you’re interested in is fighting than tai chi would be a bad choice. Real fighting skill in tai chi only comes after many, many years of dedicated practice and ‘eating bitter’.

  6. John, I agree that Chen style forms are more dynamic but that is not a guarantee that your teacher will show you how to use it – more and more Chen style teachers are involved in just teaching forms and some people learn just forms through choice.

    As to it taking a long time to learn to fight with Taiji it depends on how you train and who you train with, I agree a good teacher is difficult to find. If your teacher only teaches you linked forms without applications then yes – it will take a long time. But as Tim Cartmell points out, Taiji should be a quicker martial art to learn than most as it is based on natural movement. He says it should take a few months and I agree, providing the student works hard.

    Most people don’t train Taiji seriously for combat but some of us do and in fact, many who have visited our classes (from other arts) have been put off by how contact orientated our classes are and how much we knock stuff in from day one.

    Chris, I don’t think anyone died and yes everything that is real is real, but things can also be changed or transformed so that they become something else. If I pour away half my pint of “real beer” and fill the empty space in the glass with lemonade am i still drinking “real beer”? No I’m drinking shandy, because my “real beer” has been changed by taking half of it away and replacing it with something other than beer.

  7. Chris, how do you know if a teacher that teachers in tai-chi is an authentic one? Are there any ways to indicate what being taught by the instructor is genuine?


  8. Kenny, I don’t doubt that one could get some good tai chi instruction, work hard at it for maybe 6 mos, and then be able to use some moves martially to some degree, but I don’t think that necessarily makes it tai chi. IMO, it is tai chi only when the elements of rootedness, connectedness, and relaxation are present and every move originates from the dantien. This is what is hard to cultivate and I think takes at least a few years of mindfull training to get just a basic handle on it.

    There are a couple of guys at my school (Chen style school) who did hard, external kung-fu training for years and then started tai chi about five years ago. They have old habits that are hard to break and they fail to internalize the tai chi principles. To a learned observer it is apparent that things like ‘sung’ and ‘peng’ are not present in their practice, but if asked to use parts of the form in a martial application they can pull it off. The power used just isn’t tai chi power. I know Cartmell is awesome but he’s the world’s greatest tai chi teacher if he can teach tai chi power in a few months.

  9. yogip,
    You may not realize it, but you are asking a trick question. The answer is not important.

    Trying to define true Tai Chi power (a.k.a. REAL Taiji) is like searching for a true Scotsman–which is like wrestling with a pig, so don’t bother.

  10. “but if asked to use parts of the form in a martial application they can pull it off”

    John, judging by your comments about the guys that did a hard external kung fu style before coming to taichi, I can only guess that your teacher teaches forms first? Before begining my own taichi training I had a background in karate and kickboxing and I too had habits that were the opposite of taichi and hard to break, but it certainly didn’t take years to break them.

    The teacher at my own school uses uses a principle advocated by Yang Luchan’s son, Yang Jianhou – “principle first, movement second.”

    Before we are taught any movement we are first shown the martial application of the movement – the when, where, how and why of it. The fighting techniques that we are taught are demonstrated every lesson along with an explanation of the underlying principles of taichi in relation to the technique.

    Yogip, judging by your previous comment, I can only assume that it is the combat techniques of taichi that you are interested in learning. My advice would be to visit any schools in your area and observe at least two lessons. Does the teacher, teach martial applications from the start? If not ask them why not, ask them if they do indeed teach the martial applications, and if so when would you start to learn them? Even ask them to demonstrate martial application for you, if they are a genuine and able teacher they will not have a problem with these sort of questions or requests and will be happy to both answer your questions and show you martial application.

    Above all my advice would be to reject any teacher that does not teach martial application, or one that tells you that before you can learn the application you must master the form. This is just not true. Certainly reject any that cannot show you martial applications (you might be suprised at how many don’t know applications). Unfortunately there are teachers out there that will happily extract money from their students for years, whilst teaching nothing more than empty form. Form on it’s own will not teach you to defend yourself. To perform the movements correctly, you MUST learn martial application from the begining, if you want to learn taichi as a combative art, which is the very thing that taichi was developed for.

  11. You’re right, Chris. Maybe I should talk of tai chi in less absolutist terms. I’ll try saying ‘more correct’ and ‘less correct’. For instance, I will be attending a Chen Xiao Wang (the standard bearer for Chen Style) seminar this weekend and he will correct parts of my 19 form. Hopefully, my 19 form will be ‘more correct’ after this weekend. Although, I know that my tai chi will never be absolutely correct, but that doesn’t make it any more ‘real’ or less ‘real’. Though I will say that most tai chi being taught out there isn’t that concerned with being ‘more correct’, making it basically a series of dance movements, and that tai chi as it was traditionally taught should be distinguished from this.

    Kenny, my teacher does stress learning forms (as does most traditional Chen Style from Chen Village), but we also do application (tui shou and chinna), though not to the degree that we do form. I could see how breaking the forms down and practicing martial applications repeatedly as your school does will leave you better prepared for fighting, but if that is what I was looking for then I probably would have just joined a judo class. I think the great thing about tai chi is how much it has to offer. I think that to interpret it as strictly a fighting art misses so much.
    Besides for just mental and physical development, I wish to gain good martial skill in it, and I look to the very best in the art to show me how to do that (and also my teacher). Chen Xiao Wang and his student Ren Guang Yi show tremendous martial power and when asked about how to attain this level, their answer is “form, form, form”. It’s said that they would practice 20 sets of Lao Jia Yi Lu in low stance (done slowly about 20 mins each set) a day. That is some intense form practice. This weekend at a seminar Chen Xiao Wang will correct my stances and I will get just a taste of the immense power that comes from this ‘more correct’ way. The trick is to keep practicing the form until I can regularly put myself into these powerful stances and move softly and fluidly into and out of them while staying relaxed. I won’t get there by practicing ‘Buddah’s Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar’ over and over again.

  12. Thanks for the tip, John. Since I couldn’t find any Tai Chi schools in my area, I actually ordered a set of DVDs about a week ago produced by Master Stephen Hwa, who teaches classical Tai Chi. From the description of the video, I should be able to ‘teach myself’ from that and then, later on down the road I might think about learning a variant or two.

  13. Cool, Jim. I just saw a youtube of Stephen Hwa teaching tai chi stepping. Good stuff. Good luck in finding a good teacher in whatever style you choose. It’s all tai chi – they’re all good.

  14. Good Luck,

    Learn the 8 directions first, hand position second and timing third. The hand movements can be confusing in the beginning, so directions combined with footwork as a prerequisite will do the trick. Do all the internal discipline “offline”, then combine/integrate it with the 108 Long Form after you have memorized the form. Going to the web page will give insight into basic internal discipline, also see videos at youtube.com/parea10. I just completed a DVD documentary on the 13 Postures (still editing) and numerous applications. We also included single and 2 hand push hands. An extensive q&a is also included, there was no time or room to contain more advanced push hands, push hands with steps, sparring exercises, etc.


  15. Thanks, Jim. I just started watching through Volume 1 yesterday evening and practicing the first couple of introductory internal moves that Master Hwa demonstrates. I’m looking forward to really getting in-depth with the study of Taiji.

  16. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I have family up in the Rochester area, so the next time I’m up there visiting, I’ll make a point to try to drop in for a visit.

  17. Let me know at the info@ email address. Master Hwa teaches at Faust’s USA Karate and there is a not so small charge by the Karate people. Rather than pay the fee, let me know 1st. If I can make arrangements with him then we both can meet with you some place outside…hopefully warm weather. If Rochester turns out to be a “no go” because of such fees, you are always welcome to come to Buffalo…we can meet at a couple of places inside where I teach. No charge… Both he and I have done this kind of thing before, even with people from such diverse as Belgium or Chile. What is your “handle” in his email forum…Yahoo Groups?


  18. tai chi is an extremely deadly form of martial art minipulating the oppenents force and directing it against them it is a great martial art because you dont need to use any strength you redirect or go with the force of the oppenent it also has health aspects it can reduce stress and is practically good for the joints

  19. Tai Chi Chuan is a healing art as well as a martial art. If you don’t learn both than your ablilities wil be limited. The way you are all describing Tai Chi shows that you are practicing it just to fight. There is more to martial arts than fighting. Remember with discipline comes restrant.

    Just to tell you guys there is a form of Tai Chi that resembles kung fu other than the Chen style. Wudang kungfu is an inner style that also resembles kung fu. Wudang has many styles, I would recommend if anyone was to further their learning of inner kungfu you should learn it.

    P.S The Tai Chi Master is one of my favorite movies. Actually I’m watching it right now.

  20. I would like to thank all the ppl who have shared their beautiful comments with us about martial arts. As we all know that chinese matrial arts divided into two school: External (Shaolin: From Hard to soft ) & Internal (Wudang: From Soft to hard). In order to fully understand the mechanism of Taijiquan, we need to go back to its philisophical origin impeded in the Yin & Yang theory and their additional diversification into the eight trigram till we end up at the 64 hexagrams. Taijiquan philosophy has copied alot of natural phenomena features: Water and its flowing power, thunder and its stricking power, after all the name taijiquan has many meaning as we all know: 13 stances style (refering to eight trigrams = cardinal directions and 5 wu xing elements = 5 stances), the talk about Taijiquan is never ending, I do wish to add 1 more note, is that: the movement in Taijiquan originates from the feet and directed towards waist (king) and boosetd by the energy of the dantian and excuted by the shoulder and the arms… I wish you a good dat and God Bless :))

  21. chen is a hard and soft style that balances yin and yang equally. routine 1 is yin. routine 2 is yang. most schools (including the one I goto) practice for the yang (yang is not the yin yang but named after a sevent named yang) style perspective, avoiding the yang. we practice soft and slow with little applications. Chen Xiaowangs deciple Dan, who resides in the Chen villiage says the practice with fajin and the second form with vigior. hense to have balance one needs yin and yang.
    Chen is the best stand up fighting martial system I’ve seen. I complete this with Brazilian jujitsu

  22. Tai Chi can be used in a variety of ways: saying it can only be used for exercise is like saying writing can only be used for writing essays.

  23. Hey folks, I found this over at the Wahnam forum and thought I’d link you to it,

    The OP, Sifu Zhang Wuji says: “For the benefit of those who don’t understand Mandarin, the exponent in red is the son of Wang Xian, one of the Four Warriors of Chen Taijiquan. The other is a Zhaobao practitioner.

    See how effortlessly he applies his Kao and felling techniques, but some ignorant fools posting their comments think it was fake. Anyone who has any experience of the internal arts at all will recognise how it is being used. Notice the stances being used and the whole body movement.”

  24. Tai Chi is a great flip side to whatever external martial art you are learning. If you are lucky enough to learn the practical applications of Tai Chi for fighting than you are someone I don’t want to mess with. Also on a plus side, Push hands is pretty fun game most anyone can do.

    As for the movie I’m watching it right now for the nth time!

  25. If you are looking for a taijiquan teacher then do not only consider looking at what he/she teachers and how good he/she, also consider how he/she teachers and if his/her students are getting it! A master is not always the best teacher, the best teacher is not always a master.

  26. Tai Chi was and continue to be a martial art form. However, time has passed and it has evolved into sets for forms for health and longevity deeply routed in the understanding of the Yin Yang principle. However, to even achieve 1/10 of the health benefits, one need to have a fundamental understanding of the inner workings of the form and Qi. If wandered too far away from that, the form become an empty set, no different from routine stretching. It takes years of practice to understand and perfect.

  27. Tai chi is still a fighting art, and the health benefits of practicing Tai Chi really only come when you are truelly practicing tai Chi with the martial aspects of it in mind. You can do Tai Chi for Health only but without really concentrating and putting in the effort to do it slow with deep stance and deliberate accurate movement like you would for martial application you will not achieve the level of health that it is capable of. The people that teach Tai Chi for health and don;t have any knowledge of Tai Chi as a martial art do not truly understand the principles behind Tai Chi and so you get an empty shell of a form with incorrect postures and movements that lack many of the benefits. The litteral Meaning of Tai Chi Chuan is “Grand Ultimate Fist” and there is a reason it was dubbed so, It started off as something else, often dubbed “Cotton Belly” or Cotton Fist” or “neutralizing Fist” as it’s most important aspects were it’s ability to teach the Martial artist to yield properly to any attack as to never take force head on but always redirect it. It is also well known for it’s bone breaks, and internal hits, that is strikes that penetrate past the superficial muscular layers and hit the internal organs or as I’ve felt a few times in just light demonstrations it feels like they hit you in your back when they barely touch you in the front of your body. Striking with a shockwave effect similar to how an EMT would try to start your heart by pressing the Tai Chi press has what is known as “striking the bull on the other side of the mountain” and “Heart rendering Hammer” It’s like if a man were wearing a motorcycle helmet If a person punches it with their fist they are likely to hurt their hand, but if one simply walks up places their hand on the helmet then sinks their stance and rooting into it the force transfers through the legs up through the body and into the palm then passes right through the layers of the helmet and shocking dazing or knocking out the person wearing the helmet. Bruce lee had the 1 inch punch Tai chi utilizes the NO Inch punch. Basically you maneuver your hand around defenses and deliver a devastating internal strike when you feel it’s there. I’ve had bigger guys drop to the floor because their rooting wasn’t there or their legs weren’t sensitive enough to realize I was hooking their legs as I struck the upper body, or because the thought they had a full blow to my body only to find out the solidness they expected to hit was no longer there It had yielded just enough to have them over extend and leave them vulnerable to a quick counter. I’ve also been taken down hard by Diagonal flying one time where my body was doubled over with both my legs sticking out in front of me as I flew back and down onto the floor and thinking to myself OH damn that was GOOD, He got me GOOD LOL. I also used it against someone as a sweep when they kicked and it felt effortless because of the particular kick and my entire body standing up as I stepped off to the side catching his leg with my forearm and usning my legs to stand up from a low reverse bow to where the guy was flat in the air at head level while I stood up looking like a flamenco dancer LOL Tai Chi works.

  28. Kenny you would enjoy an original work on Chen Taijiquan by Chen Rumen Disciple with appropriate credentials … try reading Chen Taijiquan by Mark Chen Amazon has reprints now it’s fairly inexpensive to learn the form in its true sense from a trained practictioner guru. How interesting you find Chen style is not applicable in a fight.

  29. Real life and death for the movies.
    Just like the one who can make your day for all.
    Always have the best thing for the people who love the movies and all the time. Open to any person or group. Became more fun and easy for anyone who likes it. Low cost for life and work for all your life.

  30. I think the only way to go in all its own way. Every time a new and improved by it’s cover. Keeping up for work or other as well and good for all the people who like it or love it. The real thing for you and your family and friends as well but the most part is the only one who can make it more and more for all the people. We’ll have some good news for all your friends and family members who love you too. Trust me on facebook, twitter, instagram and all other.

  31. The best in all its movies on your mind.
    Just like the one who loves my movies on all sides and keep the family members and friends. Be happy for the family members who like the way we are. Keep the people who love or like it.

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