3 Essential Tai Chi Reads
Just the other day, I had a student come up to me and ask if there is “Anything I can do or read to help me improve” [in Tai Chi]. Immediately, three books shot to mind (out of several dozen that I’ve read over the years). The first book that I think anyone with an interest in the art of Taijiquan should acquire and read (and definitely if you’re an instructor of Taijiquan) is Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain by Chungliang, Al-Huang. [click on the image for Amazon.Com link]
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
Published in November of 1973, it is probably safe to say that North American hadn’t had its influx of Taijiquan influence, however it was this author and masterful teacher, Chungliang, Al-Huang that helped me to form my vision of what I wanted (my personal) Taijiquan to become. There are many parts to Taijiquan and although everyone will see them differently, Master Al beautifully illustrates what they can grow into, and how you can use the power of Taijiquan to create boundless energy and freedom.
Pros: This book is highly under-rated. Because of this, people are selling used copies for only pennies.
Cons: Many people are interested only in the combative potential of martial arts (even Taijiquan) and will thus will get very little joy from this movement/energy/spirit-based book.
Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power
Published in 2008 by one of my early teachers, Master Yang Yang, this book is more detailed on the science and study of Taijiquan as a martial art and system of mind-body therapy. If you are looking for a clear explanation how and why Taijiquan practice can benefit you, look no further! Very thorough and well-written, Master Yang Yang gives you the foundation for not only Taijiquan practice but gives you principles that can benefit all martial artists.
Pros: This book encompasses everything that is great in a martial art book. Very easy-to-read, and explains what is (for some) a difficult, and deep subject to breech. As an indoor disciple to the late Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, and someone who stands strong to his Master’s teachings, you can feel and can’t help but to get swept up in the feeling that this could have easily been written by the founder of Hunyuan Taijiquan (GM Feng) himself.
Cons: Available only in Hardback, this book comes with a higher price tag of approximately $30-40
Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method, vol. 1: Theory
This book, written by Hong Junsheng was translated and published by his disciple, and my primary teacher, Master Chen Zhonghua. Hong Junsheng, as many of us know, was the most senior disciple of Chen Fake; one of the true legends of all Taijiquan. Hong spent his lifetime dedicated to the cultivation and perfection of his master’s art, faithfully practicing and passing on his master’s teaching. If any book can be called a “Masterpiece,” this one should!
Pros: The one and only book diving right to the source of Practical Method theory, a useful resource for any martial artist (particularly those that study Taijiquan). Although the book can be costly ($39.99 at PracticalMethod.Com), you can get a digital copy for only $20.
Cons: In order to obtain a copy of this book, you’ll have to spend $39.99, which makes this the most expensive book on the list (and it’s not even hardback). Although you’ll be reading a well-translated volume, the read can be a bit tedious; more cerebral in parts. There are parts of the book that are quite poetic and without a bit of clarification here and there (most likely from Master Chen’s articles, videos and workshops) you might misunderstand certain concepts. Needless-to-say, this book is certainly for all serious practitioners of Taijiquan (particularly the Practical Method).
Well there are certainly some other books that I could add to the list, but these are my TOP 3. Do you agree with my list?
WHAT BOOKS WOULD MAKE YOUR LIST?
LET US KNOW!