How to Count the Movements of the CMC 37

While learning the Cheng Man Ching (CMC) we refer both to the names and to the number of movements. It is important to note that the way of addressing the reference number of each movement is to refer to each unique movement in the form. In The First Third, often practiced as a stand-alone form, there is only one repetition.

The full form is known as the Cheng Man Ching (CMC) 37—you may also see it referred to as the Yang Short Form. There are 37 unique movements in the full form. There are also 27 repetitions. So to complete the full form, you are actually flowing through 64 movements total.

There are several variations of the 37-movement count, but they only vary slightly.

The 37 unique movements are numbered here. Repetitions of movements are indicated with asterisks. This is the complete form list. The First Third movements have links to written walk-throughs. 

Video, First Third—Front View
Video, First Third—Back View
Video, Second and Third 3rd Demo
Video, Tai Chi Cheng Man Ching First Third Group Demo

1. Preparation
2. Beginning
3. Ward Off, Left
4. Ward Off, Right
5. Roll Back
6. Press
7. Push

Postures 3 through 7 are collectively known as “Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail”, which gives the impression of playing a tugging game with a bird. Your motions should move forward and backward, like waves lapping at the seashore.

8. Single Whip
9. Lift Hands
10. Shoulder Strike
11. White Crane Spreads Wings
12. Brush Knee, Left
13. Play The Lute (Pipa)
**Brush Knee, Left
14. Step Forward, Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch
15. Withdraw and Push (Apparent Close-Up)
16. Cross Hands
(End First Third)

Posture 16 marks the end of The First Third also called the “Short Half.” This is because it contains approximately half of the total postures in the form and lacks some of the repetitions we find in the second half. Many practitioners find all they need in The First Third. Others desire to learn and practice the full form.

Repeating the lessons in the first third over and over until you are proficient in these 16 movements—and can perform the entire routine by memory—is necessary before attempting to advance forward.

☯  Sage Sifu Says

“It is better to practice fewer movements well, than many movements poorly.”


17. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
**Roll Back (diagonal)
**Press (diagonal)
**Push (diagonal)
**Diagonal Single Whip
18. Fist Under Elbow
19. Repulse Monkey, Right
20. Repulse Monkey, Left
**Repulse Monkey, Right
**Repulse Monkey, Left
21. Diagonal Flying
22. Wave Hands Like Clouds, Left
23. Wave Hands Like Clouds, Right
**Wave Hands Like Clouds, Left
**Wave Hands Like Clouds, Right
**Wave Hands Like Clouds, Left
**Single Whip
24. Snake Creeps Down
25. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg, Right
26. Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg, Left
27. Separate Right Foot
28. Separate Left Foot
29. Turn Body and Kick With Heel
**Brush Knee, Left
30. Brush Knee, Right
31. Step Forward and Punch low
**Ward Off, Right
**Roll Back
**Single Whip
32. Fair Lady Weaves (Works) Shuttle I
33. Fair Lady Weaves (Works) Shuttle II
**Fair Lady Weaves (Works) Shuttle I
**Fair Lady Weaves (Works) Shuttle II
**Ward Off, Left
**Ward Off, Right
**Roll Back
**Single Whip
**Snake Creeps Down
34. Step Up to Seven Stars
35. Retreat to Ride Tiger
36. Turn Body Sweep Lotus Leg
37. Bend Bow Shoot Tiger
**Step up, Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch
**Withdraw and push (Apparent Close-Up)
**Cross Hands

Note: There is no official end or beginning of the second and third third. We break these up as digestible teaching and learning break points. 

📚   Know Your History

One of the most widely practiced styles of Tai Chi, Yang Style Long Form, uses a form with 108 postures and generally takes at least 20 minutes to complete.

Professor Cheng Man-Ching studied the Yang Style Long Form with Yang Cheng-Fu, of the famous Yang Family lineage. Professor Cheng was one of Yang Cheng-Fu’s most accomplished students and was given special permission to shorten the form so that he could teach it more rapidly to the Chinese military during World War II. This shortened 37-posture form eliminated many of the repetitions that existed in the long form, while maintaining its essence.