Study guide for Unit 1 


This study guide covers Learning Outcome 1. 
All study guides are the copyright of Somerset Skills & Learning

Names & Movements of Shibashi.
Abdominal Breathing.

Body Alignment.


Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi (18 Movements Qigong) 

Before starting, stand quietly in a loose standing posture for a few minutes, allowing your body and mind to relax. This is your wuji stance - with the legs 'hanging down from the hips'. Then change your weight into your right foot and step out with your left, bending the knees slightly. The feet should be at least a shoulder width apart. This is your basic Tai Chi stance.  

Keep your head straight and your shoulders relaxed as you practice. Hand movements should be co-ordinated with your breathing and should flow naturally. Breathing is very important in Qigong - in general, breathe in for yin (inward) movements, out for yang (outward) movements. 

The names of the 18 movements are below.

For a detailed description of each of the movements, click on the attachment at the very bottom of the page. You will also find an explanation of the main stances in the Stances attachment. 

1. Commencing the Form 

2. Broadening ones chest

3. Dancing with Rainbows 

4. Circling Arms 

5. Twisting waist & Swing arms 

6. Rowing the Boat

7. Holding a ball 

8. Carrying the moon 

9. Twisting waist & Pushing Palms 

10. Playing with Clouds/Wave hands like Clouds 

11. Scooping from the Sea

12. Playing with Waves 

13. Spreading your wings 

14. Punching 

15. Flying like a Wild Goose 

16. Spinning Wheels 

17. Bouncing the Ball 

18. Pressing the Palms  


 Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing.

This is the style of breathing that we use for Shibashi. The movements are co-ordinated with the breathing rather than breathing in time to the movements.  

Are you a Chest Breather?

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Which one moves when you breathe in? Babies breathe naturally, that is they are natural abdominal breathers. As we get older we are told to stand up straight and hold our tummies in. By doing this we can only breathe using our chests. 

Chest breathers: 

  • Waste a lot of effort just to get air into their lungs.
  • Tend to raise their shoulders and employ incorrect muscles in breathing.
  • People that are chest breathers tend to take more breaths per minute than abdominal breathers.

Abdominal breathers: 

  • Employ the diaphragm to get air into the lungs.
  • Use this efficient method of breathing to obtain greater oxygen transfer.
  • Can use breathing as a strategy for stress relief and relaxation. 

 Abdominal breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing. The diaphragm is situated between the chest and the abdomen and is attached to the lower ribs.

Still don't understand abdominal breathing? Maybe this video will help. 

The mechanics of abdominal breathing 

  • As the diaphragm contracts it descends: this increases the volume of the chest cavity.
  • There is a subsequent decrease of air pressure so the greater air pressure outside the body, forces air into the lungs.
  • As the diaphragm relaxes the diaphragm moves upwards and so air is expelled from the lungs.

For Tai Chi & Qigong practice you should breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

  • Shibashi requires co-ordination of breathing and movements. When you are first learning the movements it will be difficult to think about breathing as well.
  • Work on the movements first and then add the correct breathing when you no longer have to think about the movements.
  • As long as your breath 'flows' from in to out, without a holding your breath at the end of a move, then the rest will follow when you are more familiar with the movements.

Once your breathing and movements are finally co-ordinated, you will be able to lead both the movement and, with time, your Qi. This is accomplished by Yi, which you will study later on in the course. 

If you are unsure of what qi is, take a look at unit 5 attachment - Qi and the Dantien. Now open the Abdominal breathing handout.

Click on some of the links below to look at other perspectives.


Body Alignment. 

The knee toe alignment is very important. Injuries to the knees can occur due to incorrect alignment. The correct knee toe alignment can be seen in this video. You should still be able to see the tip of your toe if you were to look down towards your front foot. 

Go to the very bottom of the page to find 3 handouts on the subject of correct body alignment  

While we are looking at body alignment we should mention a few terms that you will come across during your studies. 

Rooting is developed by bending your legs and ensuring correct body alignment. In the Tai Chi stance, weight must be divided equally between both feet - 50% on one and 50% on the other. The feet must stick to the ground: this is achieved by gently relaxing the feet 'into' the floor.

Full & Empty
To experience the concept of Full & Empty, try standing in the Tai Chi stance. Then slowly shift your weight very slowly from one side to the other. Start with 50/50 and slowly change to 70/30 then 90/10. If you are upright and balanced, this will allow you to 'feel' the weight sinking into one foot- you will experience rooting. When you are able to feel the difference between full and empty you will be able to take this into your Shibashi movements.


You will need to remember the following points:

 1. Stand straight, with the coccyx very slightly tucked in. Keep the head upright but with the chin very slightly tucked in.

2. Chest and back alignment - Do not protrude your chest. Ensure that you keep your back straight and sink (relax) your shoulders.

3. Relax the waist.

4. Distinguish between your 'full' and 'empty' stances.

5. Keep your shoulders in a relaxed, natural position.

6. Use mind not muscle.

7. Co-ordinate the upper and lower parts of the body - root the feet.

8. Focus the mind.

9. Move the whole body as one - follow up with down and down with up.

10. Connect all the movements to achieve a continuous flow.

For Yang Chen Fu's 10 essentials Click here.

Below you will find links to websites that you may find helpful for research. 

youtube Shibashi
Watch the Master!


These sites provide explanations of rooting. 

Scroll down to the rooting section once you have opened this link

Wuji Stance
Note - Don't get lost in this site! Just scroll down to the Wuji stance.
You will need to know the importance of this for your final assessment.

The Art of Standing
This site shows wuji as a wide stance - what we are calling Tai Chi stance. Try not to get confused, we are only trying to show you different perspectives. From the physical point of view, Wuji is basically standing still with correct body alignment, whether the feet are wide apart or closer together!

Tai Chi Stance or Horse Riding Stance
Horse Riding stance is generally know as being a wider and lower stance - a wide stance is often not suitable for those with mobility issues.
For those of you that are new to Tai Chi & Qigong the main thing to remember is that when you step out to the side, ensure that your feet are at least shoulder width apart. Most people, whatever their mobility should be able to manage this distance of step.
Ensure you take a look at the 'Basic Tai Chi stance' handout. You are required to know the importance of this stance for your final assessment. You should stand in this position at the end of the Shibashi movements and then move into the wuji stance.

A word of warning!
One of the things that you may have discovered already, is that people have different names for the same thing or stance. Don't get confused by this, it's something that is best discussed at a face-to-face session.
For the purpose of this course the leg/foot positioning is:
Wuji stance - feet 'hanging' at the side of the body.
Tai Chi - feet a good shoulder width apart.
Horse stance - generally accepted as a lower, wider stance and is often used for leg stamina training or martial arts.

If you wish to print any of handouts please select one from the bottom of the page. Pictures may not print out as clear as when viewing online.

Think before you print!

Names & Movements.doc Names & Movements.doc
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Are you a chest breather[1].doc Are you a chest breather[1].doc
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Tai Chi stances.doc Tai Chi stances.doc
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Basic Tai Chi Stance.doc Basic Tai Chi Stance.doc
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Body Alignment.doc Body Alignment.doc
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