Writings on the art of T'ai Chi
T'ai Chi is an art with profound depth and subtle meaning. In its case reading may not be absolutely essential but it can be of great help. Here are the rules and the concepts which can make practice a more interesting and rewarding experience.
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#KH014 The Hidden Metal of T'ai-Chi Ch'üan
by Peter Frohlick
122 pages, photographs
and illustrations, softbound
Is Tai Chi really a fencing art? In this intriguing book Mr. Frohlick examines Tai Chi from a fencer's perspective. His thesis relates that the mysterious postures of Tai Chi may seem completely non-functional UNLESS you see them referenced to the Chinese art of fencing. He further points out that though there are fewer surviving martial arts in the West there are actually more records of martial movements and strategies all the way from the Middle Ages to the present. He cites sources such as Europe’s oldest fencing manuscript, the Royal Armouries Manuscript 1.33 written in Latin, and the work of Johannes Liechtenauer, a fencing master from the fourteenth century. He also points out the much greater cross-pollination of technique than standard histories generally take into account. We find Mongol, Steppe, European and Chinese influences mixed like a great soup. He speculates broadly but calmly on parallels in Chinese and European techniques and theories. He adds quite a number of old illustrations from European texts, adding yet a finer flavor to the work. Published by the author this little gem is a bit pricey but worth it to those interested in this fascinating intersection of historical influences. Many insights: for instance the concept of the “bind”, the push-pull touching of two blades together and its relation to Push Hands.
While I agree with Mr. Frohlick's point--that Tai Chi postures might best represent not empty handed but armed techniques--it also raises my one real criticism of the book: he presents this as a new idea and it is not. While this analysis might be news to many Western practitioners of Chinese martial arts, at the advanced practitioner level in Kung Fu this is well known and widely accepted. In fact, this 'weapons over hands' approach shows up everywhere and even causes the opposite misunderstandings: for instance, why martial artists stand with extended postures; or why they don’t keep their guards up by their faces.When I learned three sectional staff from Sifu Wing Lam I remember coming across a posture exactly the same as one from the basic hand form, Tan Tui. I remember thinking, “Oh, that must be what it means to have a system. Every item relates to every other item.” This is not only true of every Kung Fu system but each system adds its flavor all the way through weapons usage so, for instance Wing Chun, moves its weapons in the Wing Chun manner, much like different fencing schools in the West.However, this criticism becomes a rather minor quibble, especially considering that Mr. Frohlick has amassed actual sources from old manuscripts and other hard to find reference material.
|KY007 The Yin of Tai Chi , Tai-Chi and the Mysterious Female
John Lash brings intelligence and insight to everything he writes about Tai Chi. This exceptional little volume ranges far, engaging topics like Wu Wei and Tao and their relation to the proper practice of this art. "Because no other part of creation has a rational mind (as far as we know), no other creature can lose its oneness with the Wu Chi. The loss of Wu Chi is a purely human condition. Our choice, as human beings, is whether to seek to recover the oneness of the Wu Chi by delving ever deeper into our loving nature or to surrender ourselves to the rational mind with its view of separateness and its overwhelming fear... ".
|KT003 T'ai Chi Notebook for Martial Artists
Teacher Scott Rodell herein shares observations on the art of T'ai Chi in this book of essays. This little book comes under the heading of "inspirational" though there are numerous anecdotes based on personal experience. Rodell has studied Yang T'ai Chi, a branch of this called Mi Chuan and Jin Shan Pai. From decades of training he speaks about the misconceptions in this art, the attainment of skill, fangsong and relaxation exercises, breathing, basics practice, fear, opponents, conflict and all the other subjects which not only do we want to read about but we know we should write about too.
from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty
Professor Douglas Wile
very important book by one of the few competent Chinese scholars
who treats martial themes as though they were important. These
recently uncovered documents DRASTICALLY expand our knowledge
of the origins of T'ai Chi. This rich new text allows us to make
a fresh new survey of long standing issues in T'ai Chi history:
the origins of the art; the authorship of the "classics";
the differences between Wu, Yang and Li; and the role of Chang
Sen Feng, Wang Tsung Yueh, Chiang Fa and the formerly missing
link, Ch'ang Nai-Chou. In addition to everything else, Prof. Wile's
book is nicely written and proposes a few well-considered theories
of his own. Original Chinese texts appended.
KN004 Nei Jia Quan
Internal Martial Arts Teachers of Tai Ji Quan, Xing Yi Quan and Ba Gua Zhang
by Jess O'Brian
is a book of interviews. For long time practitioners that will
be of sufficient interest in itself. Many of these are well
known teachers, particularly in the Western world. The list
K Frantzis, Tim
Yang and Allen
Pittman. Opinions vary much on certain topics. Cartmell's
section is particularly interesting as we witness his struggle
with the concept of Chi. On the other hand, much of the information
is similar; echoing well established truths: basics are important,
Kung Fu is more than it seems, skill lies in little things,
etc. Documents like this, where knowledgeable instructors give
directly of their experiences are - we feel - vital to Wu Shu
research. However, our feeling is that the editor/compiler,
Jess O'Brien, did not dig enough to really reveal much. It was
more like he snapped on the tape recorder and just let it run.
A good example is the title of the book itself. More than one
instructor pointed out that there is no such thing as the "Internal
Arts" but of course that's is nonetheless the book's title.
We know this is a popular name for these practices and recognized
by many, but it shows the ambivalence of a book for people who
know enough about the arts to know the "labels" but
not enough to know what they are and aren't. Like Tai Chi Magazine,
the range of information is often confusingly non-specific and
James Wing Woo: "Then he (Bruce Lee)
said that he was going to show me Jeet Kune Do. I told him,
"B.S. Do! You should stick to Wing Chun, you'd be a lot
Chin: (Talking to Sun Chien Yuen about Cheng Man Ching) "She
said, ' Cheng Man Ching? I never heard of such a person! Also
Chen Da Gu (her relation with Chen Wei Ming made it possible
for her to call him Elder Brother) was not in Chungking. He
was in Shanghai at the time.' Then I realized that Cheng Man
Ching was telling stories."
teachers represented are Fong Ha, William Lewis, Gail Derin-Kellog,
Luo De Xiu, Zhao Da Yuan and Albert Liu with an interesting
history on the development of Liu He Ba Fa.
The Making of an Internal Martial Art
Professor Douglas Wile
the first time in English three 16th to 18th century martial
arts traditions are introduced. These include the extremely
famous Chi Chi-kuang "Essentials of the Classic of Pugilism",
Wang Chen-nan's "Art of the Internal School" and
Ch'ang Nai Chou's classic on internal boxing theory. Each
of these is a famous text in the history of Kung Fu. Practitioners
will find in this book the authentic historical origins of
their art and the scarce and rare writings that illuminate
the very heart of Kung Fu practice.
of Chinese language and literature and long-time practitioner
of T'ai Chi, Douglas Wile has contributed a number of important
texts and translations to the field of Wushu studies.
of the T'ai Chi Circle
as a novel, this entertaining tale offers insights into
not only the principles of T'ai Chi and Taoism, but the
relationship of instructor to student in this ancient tradition."
At least that's what we wrote over three years ago when
we first listed this book. Then it almost immediately went out of print. But it's back - and now it's personal. We
LIKE this book. It's FUN. We like Luke Chan. The back of
the book states "You will cry. You will laugh."
You're all too sophisticated for that, we know. But that's
the author's intent at least and he's written a kind of
"quest book" that many martial artists and seekers
will want to read just for sheer enjoyment. Try a little
one side of me chose to live in my own world of being young,
curious, and always growing and learning while the other
side of me detached myself from my own world, seeing my
life just as it was - having the same sorrows and joys as
other individuals. In my own world, I was a child, always
growing; out of my own world, I was an adult, always sharing.
Finally when these two sides fused into a perfect T'ai Chi
Circle within me, I felt as though the water source of the
pond had been connected to my body, and my mind became as
clear and open as the Reflecting Pond itself. Indeed, the
Fourth Secret of the T'ai Chi Circle had just been revealed