Tai Chi Books: Historic and Modern Classics

Books can be invaluable in supplementing your tai chi practice. Here are a few references that both beginners and more advanced practitioners should find helpful.
Learn about:

•The Tai Chi Classics

•Tai Chi books for a modern audience

•Tai Chi books for martial artists

•Books for working with Qi

The Tai Chi Classics. A tai chi book list would be incomplete without at least mentioning the Tai Chi Classics. Almost every tai chi master has read it and refers to it when teaching. Although brief, it describes the fundamental principles of tai chi--using imagery that deserves to be contemplated.

For example,

“In every movement the entire body should be light and agile and all of its parts connected like a string of pearls”.

--T.T. Liang, 1977

General philosophy and tactics are presented, rather than explicit how-to instructions. This text was discovered in a salt store near the Chen village, where tai chi was first recognized. Now, this ancient text is available in different translations in the internet.

Modern Tai Chi Classics. Since the Tai Chi Classics, a number of other tai chi books have been written for a broad audience of practitioners. Here are just a few. • Tai Chi, Health for Life: Why It Works for Health, Stress Relief, and Longevity. This book by Bruce Frantzis was the primary reference used when building this site. It clearly presents why and how tai chi is beneficial, as well as ways to optimize one’s personal practice.

T'ai Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self-Defense: Philosophy and Practice. The auther, T.T. Liang, was able to overcome a number of health problems through his tai chi practice. He went on and gained recognition for his tai chi skills. His teaching tips and philosophy from 80+ years of practice are distilled here in this book.

Tai Chi as a Martial Art. Here are some books for those interested in tai chi chuan, the fighting aspects:

internal martial arts book
The Power of Internal Martial Arts: Combat Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi, and Hsing-I. Considered an essential reference by many practitioners, this book by Bruce Frantzis clearly describes tai chi as a fighting art. However, principles for developing one’s qi as well as practice tips for health and stress reduction make this book useful for anyone looking to deepen their tai chi practice.

Tai Chi Theory and Martial Power. This is one of many books by the prolific author, Yang Jwing-Min. It’s a good reference book for beginners looking for a better understanding of tai chi energies and specific application techniques.

Qi Development. Working with, and developing one’s qi or life force, is an essential aspect to tai chi. These books discuss specific practices for qi development.

Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body: Chi Gung for Lifelong Health. Bruce Frantzis describes specific Taoisist practices, used for thousands of years, to enhance one’s health, vitality, and qi.

The Way of Energy: Mastering the Chinese Art of Internal Strength with Chi Kung Exercise. Master Lam Kam Chuen’s book includes a number of well-illustrated, easy-to-follow exercises for internal energy development.

Visit any bookstore, in person or through the internet, and you’ll likely find a number of books on tai chi. However, for the best selection and harder-to-find volumes, online retailers such as amazon.com are good starting points.

While books can’t replace a tai chi class, they can provide useful supplementary information. There are a number of good books on the subject if you’re looking to build your personal tai chi library.

Next: Find useful internet links and resources.