These books have helped me understand and practice. I don't view TCC as requiring faith in a doctrine. It seems to me to be discoverable in the same sense as anything in Physics or Mathematics. For that reason I've included books with intellectual underpinnings in European thought in addition to translations of important Chinese texts.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan Ta Wen: Questions and Answers on T'ai Chi Ch'uan
An overview of Tai Chi from the notes taken by Chen Wei-ming of Yang Cheng-fu's answers to questions. This is essential reading.
The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan - The Literary Tradition
In the Ta Wen (above) the question "How do we know we're doing it right?" is asked and answered with the advice "If it's consistent with the Classics, you're doing it right." These are the Classics that are specifically directed at the T'ai Chi practice. There are others that are more general and abstract that are also important. Lee N. Scheele has provided an excellent set of the Classics on line. Go to his website to see his work.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan: A Simplified Method of Calisthenics for Health & Self Defense
This is identical (regardless of the copyright date) to the reference for the form that we used at the Tai Chi Association and at Shr Jung in the late 1960's and early 1970s.
Master Cheng's New Method of Taichi Ch'uan Self-Cultivation [Paperback]
This is the most complete description of Cheng Man-Ching's form I have been able to find. The foot placement diagrams are worth the price of the book. Professor's emphasis, clearly stated in this book, on moving only if the waist moves is generally lost in the current trend toward "spiraling" and pretty (in the form competition sense) practice of the Form.
Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation
There seem to be hundreds of translations of the Tao Te Ching. Having more than one can give you a better perspective. The version on the Gutenberg Project site isn't bad. Recently I found a version translated by Sanderson Beck that I like. You can find it here. This is the most important of the more general classics mentioned above. The Confucian "Doctrine of the Mean" is another.
The Art of Warfare
Here is the Taoist approach to warfare; If it's unavoidable, it should end quickly and with a minimum of destruction. There is a good version on the Gutenberg Project. This classic can be read as a T'ai Chi manual.
Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique (Paperback)
F. M. Alexander is a lay person who applied the scientific method perfectly and arrived at a significant understanding of the principles and the method of using of the body found in Tai Chi. It's just as important that he found a means around the difficulty most people have learning this material. Michael Gelb does a good job presenting Alexander's technique.
How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery
This book is the best presentation of the ideas of wu wei er wu bu wei (without doing yet without failing to do) and hsing yi (mind form) I've ever encountered. Alexander teachers call wu wei "inhibiting" or "not doing" or taking an approach that isn't "end-gaining." and call wu bu wei and hsing yi "directing." The nearly perfect overlap between these ideas and the corresponding principles in T'ai Chi, despite the independence of their origins, supports the assertion that these ideas are discoverable rather than an arbitrary, fantasy doctrine. As a discipline, Alexander has the advantages, in the modern world, of leading to improvements in daily well being early in the learning process, of having a clear certification process and of having had respectable scientific verification. The method is young relative to T'ai Chi and has only just begun to fragment as people try to "improve" it.
Mindfulness in Plain English: Revised and Expanded Edition
Mostly a very good presentation of Vipasana Meditation. The method overlaps and extends both Tai Chi and Alexander Technique teachings on the use or, I'll call it posture, of the mind.
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance (Paperback)
This book offers a practical approach to Wu-Wei (Not Doing) from an entirely different pair of traditions.
Rolfing: Reestablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being (Paperback)
Rolf does an outstanding job on the anatomy of alignment and its benefits. The methods she advocates for getting there have little to do with Tai Chi but the understanding is superb.
The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting
Don't think that this shouldn't be read by women just because of the the title. The authors set out to dissuade anyone from fighting as long as there is a way to avoid it without loosing ones life or a life one cares for. I am in complete agreement with their advocacy of leaving intact as the best outcome. I'm reminded in their writing of the advice from Sun Tzu that to win without fighting is best as a life taken is a treasure that cannot be restored.
The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence (Paperback)
Gavin De Becker emphasizes the importance of recognizing and acting on the intuition of danger. His approach is related to T'ai Chi in his insistence on paying attention to feelings (an expression of pre-conscious intelligence) rather than on how acting on the feelings will make you look to other people. It's also an example of controlling the outcome by recognizing the beginning, so it's also T'ai Chi in that sense.
|T'ai Chi by Cheng Man-Ching||
Cho San Inc.
128 Cisco Road
Asheville, NC 28805
|The video is a copy of two films made of Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing's T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Last time Lee Scheele checked it was $65 plus shipping, which is about $6.
According to Lee: "Cho San has had a reputation for being very slow and unresponsive to inquiries. I think, however, that everyone who has ordered from them has eventually gotten their tape. In any event, the address shown above is a new one for the company and, hopefully, will not have the problems some have encountered before."
|Ben Lo teaching film||Mr. Benjamin Lo P.O. Box 210537 San Francisco, CA 94121-0537 Cost is $75 plus shipping, which is $6.05 for the videoape and $2.40 for the DVD in the U.S. Please specify either videotape or DVD.||Cost is $75 plus shipping, which is $6.05 for the videotape and $2.40 for the DVD in the U.S. Please specify either videotape or DVD. This from Lee Scheele again|
|Cheng Man Ching, The Master Tapes||
Published by Cheng Man Ching Enterprises
179 Fayetteville Street
Asheville, NC 28806
|This website is run by Professor Cheng's daughter Ellen. This info from Paul German|
|The Lectures with Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo - 4 DVD Set [DVD-ROM]||
This is a set of lectures on the Classics given by Ben Lo.
Amazon DVD Catalog Entry
|According to the Amazon site, The Lectures are commentaries on the T'ai Chi Ch'uan classics as found in revised edition of "The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan" also published IRI Press, in 2008 (available through Amazon). These commentaries (on a 4 DVD set) given by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo, are based upon his over 65 years of experience and practice. Benjamin Lo is recognized as Prof. Cheng Man Ch'ing's first student. "The Lectures" are unique and are the first time a great practitioner of T'ai Chi Ch'uan has been able to share his knowledge about these seminal/ancient texts. The book "The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan" and "The Lectures" DVDs form a complete set.|
|Tai Chi Feather Sword||
By Ken Van Sickle
Sinobar DVD Catalog Entry
|The DVD costs $54.95.
It contains the black and white sword teaching film by Professor Cheng. I don't endorse any other part of the DVD.
|The Alexander Technique: First Lesson (DVD)||
William Hurt (Actor), Jane Kosminsky (Actor)
Amazon DVD Catalog Entry
|A an introductory Alexander Technique lesson. OK as far as it goes. As with T'ai Chi, a teacher is a necessity.|
|Systema Hand To Hand (DVD)||
Russian Martial Art DVD Catalog Entry
|$39.95 plus shipping. A good overview and introduction.|
|Escape from Holds (DVD)||
Russian Martial Art DVD Catalog Entry
|This tape shows the importance of detecting and responding to the beginning of an attack so the attacker can be guided. Many other videos are available form the same source. Vasiliev's early videos on knife and gun disarms, or fighting multiple assailants, or escaping from within chaotic crowds, are testimony to the man's training and talent at spontaneous improvisation in accord with principles. If you think you may need to apply your T'ai Chi, watch some of Vasiliev's tapes.|
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