Tai Chi History of the Fan Form

Yang Style Fan Form


Due to the popularity of the Fan Form at the school, I have revised this post for you all, in case you missed it the first time round. So what is about the Fan Form that fascinates so many people, it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful forms in Tai Chi and is practiced by many people all over the world, even though it has taken many years for this elegant form to become more available to students.

History of the Fan.

Thousands of years ago. Fans had a dual purpose often serving as a status symbol as well as an ornament. Fans were made from a variety of materials and later were decorated as to allow the artist to express themselves and gain notability within circles and friends. They often ranged from basic leaves to complex woven structures and as they offered the person a cooling system, it would also ward off insects. 

Palm leaves can be used as fans

Palm leaves can be used as fans

Decorating by hand a wall fan.

Palm leaves fans were the most common then as today. Fans have been unearthed in tombs across the world, so the ancient art of cooling has been with us a long time. However these days we have to fan ourselves, but in days gone by, slaves were used to fan a room or an individual. In later ages the British in their Indian colony employed natives to operate overhead fans known as the punkhah by pulling a rope, all round the clock.

The Greeks, Etruscans and Romans also used fans for the double purpose of cooling and ritual practices. Roman ladies used circular fans. Chinese culture links the fan with mythology, legend and history.

Iron Fan penetrates the back.

Iron Fan penetrates the back.

So how did the Fan form end up as it is today. Well over the centuries in Asia, the fan also became a deadly weapon and in the hands of a skilled person the use of the fan as a weapon could overcome several attackers at the same time. This required immense skill as the blades of the fan were often made from steel, hence the name the iron fan penetrates the back.

I for one do not fully understand the martial art applications of using the fan for self defence. I have ever only learnt the forms, simply because I just love their beauty and grace as it allows me to express my self in a way, which is different from the empty hand and sword forms.

The Yang style fan forms have again various lengths of forms, from small medium and large frames, how ever the discipline is very high and the handling of the fan can be mastered with a little practice. So one should feel confident in learning the Fan form. 


Every Friday for the last few weeks I have been teaching the Yang Style short Fan form to some of the Students, they are progressing nicely and enjoying the hard work and style of form. To join the class, you will of course need to have some Tai Chi experience, normally I would say, its best to complete the short form first, so you have a strong foundation in place. This then will make the demands of the Fan form less intensive and the very different movements easier, as students can underestimate the hard work which is required to complete the learning of the form. Otherwise it is a beautiful and wonderful art to learn, so graceful, yet so powerful. Another beginners class will follow as soon as I can schedule in the one hour a week required. My aim is to teach everyone at the school the form, so your chance will come. The only other requirement is that you will need to purchase a fan, which can be ordered through the school or by yourself. The fan should meet the size requirements, which you can obtain from me. As soon as the students allow me to, I will post some pictures of them doing the form. I will always ask their permission first.

Looking forward to teaching you this masterful art of dancing with the fan.

Master Vasilious