42-Step Competition Form

This form was created in 1989 by Li Deyin specifically for tournament play. It is a combined form that incorporates movements from the four major styles of Tai Chi: Yang, Chen, Sun, and Wu.

Gao Jiamin demonstrates 42-step competition form

Here is an outstanding demonstration of the form by Gao Jiamin, one of the most celebrated tournament champions of our time. Not only is this a great demonstration of the form, it also identifies the movements with Chinese/English subtitles.

You can read more about Gao Jiamin in this interview, originally published in Kungfu Magazine in 2000, republished by the US Wushu Center in Portland, Oregon, where she sometimes teaches.

Here’s another beautiful demonstration video by another great champion, Amin Wu, who teaches in the Bay Area. She also offers an instructional video which I have not seen.

Li Deyin, author of the form, instructs.

I originally learned 42 from my friend Long Feng in 2014, then again under the excellent instruction of Hu Pei Yi in 2016. For review and further instruction, I am using a 50-minute YouTube instructional video by Li Deyin, the author of the form. Gao Jiamin demonstrates each move; Li also demonstrates and elaborates on detail.

With the instructional vocabulary that I call Taijiese (much of it incorporated in this online notebook), I find I can understand most of what he says in this video, despite knowing just about zero conversational Chinese.

Here is the list of movements: 42-form [PDF].

Another very useful resource is a book by Li Deyin, available in English from Amazon, in which he details the standards for judging a performance of 42. You couldn’t learn the form from this book, but you can correct your form by referring to it in detail. He explains both important points and common mistakes.

Book by Li Deyin

I particularly like the chart that he offers at the start of the chapter on 42, in which for each move he gives the hand shape, footwork, techniques, and most interestingly, the style (school) from which the movement is derived.

Most recently (fall 2022), I have found that Qiu HuiFang offers an excellent series of four teaching videos on 42, each almost an hour long. In the first video, at about the two-minute mark, she offers a beautiful demonstration of the whole form. Instruction begins at about 9:00. Here are the links:

  1. Moves 1-10
  2. Moves 11-18
  3. Moves 19-33
  4. Moves 34-42

42-Step Taiji Quan

I’ve just been through Li De Yin’s instructional video on the 42-step combined form for competition. I have the DVD and have not found that material on YouTube; it might not be available on the Web.


I did stumble upon a short video in which Professor Li explains (in Chinese, alas and of course) and demonstrates one of the moves I have found most baffling: the sequence of Yan Shou Gong Chui and Ye Ma Fen Zong. The Hidden Hand Punch I get, and although it’s different from the Chen I know, Part the Wild Horse’s Mane is clear, too. What I have been puzzled about is the little fajin in between. This is the clearest exposition I’ve seen. Helpful!


For sheer beauty of form, Amin Wu’s version is the performance I am trying to keep in my mind’s eye. I’m a big fan of this many-time Chinese champion. You can read about her accomplishments here: wuamintaichi.com/master_wu.

I’ve been learning the Chinese characters for numbers and a few of the words that occur most commonly in tai chi. The red letters in the image above say 42 form taiji quan:  = 4,  = 10, = 2 (combine four, ten and two for 42), 式 = shì = form, 太极拳 = taiji quan. Learn Chinese numbers here: learnchineseez.com/characters/learn-to-write-chinese.

For names of movements, other videos, etc., see the main 42-form page.

Videos, Fan Form, etc.

Jesse Tsao offers an amazing line of instructional DVDs on Taichihealthways.com. The teasers are poor video quality, but the videos are excellent. I’ve started collecting them. So far I have the videos for 24 and 42 step.

photo (29)

Above, here is the wonderful Amin Wu doing 42-form. A few more times through Master Tsao’s instructions on this form, and I will be able to do it pretty confidently (within my sorry physical capacities). Of course, I follow Long Feng through it every weekend. Next, I’ll get Master Tsao’s video for Wudang sword.

Master Tsao was a collegiate wushu champion and studied with Chen Zhenglei and Li Deyin, so he’s pretty much got it all covered. Too bad he’s so far away (in San Diego). Watching the short clips last night, I was amazed to see Pao Chui in Fan II!

In section five, when you snap the fan backwards, that’s Yan Shou Gong Quan! Then left-right-left punches! Then you turn around and do what I thought was a kick. It’s chong! A sidekick.

In the move that follows, at school, we do a cat stance and snap the fan down. Long Feng does a little jump to cat stance. But what Master Tsao teaches is…Fan Hua Wu Xiou!!! Overturning Flowers! It’s Chen. And Master Tsao learned this form from Li Deyin, who created it. So I’ll need to get that video as well.

Meanwhile, I just finished reading The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. What a great book! How have I never read it before now? I’m reading it because I am writing up the story of how my Chinese friend Lily came to the US by way of Vietnam.

I have many times been invited to join my Chinese Tai Chi friends for potluck dinners, so I loved the scene where Waverly takes her American boyfriend home for dinner. With the best intentions he commits one faux pas after another. He takes too much on his plate to begin with:

“…he had helped himself to big portions of the shrimp and snow peas, not realizing he should have taken only a polite spoonful, until everybody had a morsel.”


“He thought he was being polite by refusing seconds, when he should have followed my father’s example, who made a big show of taking small portions of seconds, thirds, and even fourths, always saying he could not resist another bite of something or other, and then groaning that he was so full he thought he would burst.”

I was relieved to know that I had always cautiously taken small portions at first–and it was no artifice on my part that I then accepted seconds, thirds and fourths because I couldn’t resist! Until I begged off because I was so full!

Rich also falls for Waverly’s mother’s criticism of her own cooking–believing her and offering condolences! Only a man could make that error, and not only among Chinese people. But anyway, that’s how you behave at dinner.

42 Form

Also called the combined form and the competition form, 42 was created in 1989 by Grand Master Li De Yin. It incorporates elements of all four styles of Tai Chi: Yang, Chen, Sun and Wu. Wikipedia offers this interesting discussion by Dr. Paul Lam.

video of 42 form

I’ve been using an excellent video demonstration by Miss Ng Ah Mui.

For comparison, here’s an excellent performance by Gao Jiamin on YouTube.

Here’s a list of the 42 movements in English and Chinese, derived from Lau Sui and a list that Long Feng gave me.

The form takes 6-7 minutes. The movements are:

  1. Preparing Form – Qishi
  2. Right Grasp the Bird’s Tail [Wu style] – You Lan Que Wei
  3. Single Whip – Zuo Dan Bian
  4. Lift Hands – Ti Shou
  5. White Crane Spreads Wings – Bai He Liang Chi
  6. Brush Knee Push – Luo Xi Ao Bu [right and left]
  7. Fist Across the Body – Pie Shen Chui
  8. Roll Back and Press – Lu Ji Shi
  9. Step Forward, Block, Parry, Punch – Jin Bu Ban Lan Chui
  10. Withdraw and Push [Sun Style] – Ru Feng Si Bi
  11. Open and Close Hands – Kai He Shou
  12. Single Whip [Wu style] – You Dan Bian
  13. Fist Under Elbow [Sun style] – Zhou Di Chui
  14. Turn to Push Palm [Sun style] – Zhuan Shen Tui Zhang
  15. Fair Lady Works the Shuttle [Wu? style] – Yu Nu Chuan Shuo
  16. Right and Left Heel Kick – You/Zuo Deng Jiao
  17. Hidden Hand Punch [Chen style] – Yan Shou Gong Chui
  18. Part the Wild Horse’s Mane [Chen style] – Ye Ma Fen Zong
  19. Cloud Hands – Yun Shou
  20. Hit the Tiger on One Leg [Wu style] – Du Li Da Hu
  21. Right Snap Kick – You Fen Jiao
  22. Box the Tiger’s Ears – Shuang Feng Quan Er
  23. Left Snap Kick – Zuo Fen Jiao
  24. Turn Body Slap Foot – Zhuan Shen Pai Jiao
  25. Step Up and Punch Down – Jin Bu Zai Chui
  26. Slant Flying [Wu style] – Xie Fei Shi
  27. Snake Creeps Down – Dan Bian Xia Shi
  28. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg- Jin Ji Du Li
  29. Step Back Piercing Palm – Tui Bu Chuan Zhang
  30. Press Palm in Empty Stance – Xu Bu Ya Zhang
  31. Lift Palm on One Leg – Du Li Tuo Zhang
  32. Strike With Shoulder – Ma Bu Kao
  33. Turn Body Big Pullback – Zhuan Shen Da Lu
  34. Grab to Punch – Xie Bu Qin Da
  35. Squat to Palms Through – Chuan Zhang Xia Shi
  36. Step Up Seven Stars – Shang Bu Qi Xing
  37. Step Back to Ride the Tiger [Wu style] – Tui Bu Kua Hu
  38. Turn and Sweep the Lotus – Zhuan Shen Bai Lian
  39. Bend Bow Shoot Tiger – Wan Gong She Hu
  40. Left Grasp the Bird’s Tail – Zuo Lan Que Wei
  41. Cross Hands – Shi Zi Shou
  42. Close Form – Shou Shi

The form is predominantly Yang style; I’ve indicated where the other styles occur (as best I know).