New Dharma Bums, there was a post which pretty much amounted to a reading list for Taijiquan practice.
An except from the post is below. The full post may be read here.
Before setting out to cover the story of America’s evolving Tai Chi adventure,
I am filling in information gaps in the history and philosophy of the
Taoist martial arts, of which Tai Chi is one. I welcome any suggestions
from fellow travelers, and those busy reading on the sidelines.
I recommend building on a literary tradition that includes good translations of Tao Te Ch’ing, I Ch’ing and The Art of War, as well as the Tai Chi Classics
that lay out the principles of the practice. Other important works are
available in English, reflecting the American experience.
My old school in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, The Tai Chi Center, used a text written by its founder, Robert W. Smith, a student of the legendary Cheng Man-Ch’ing, who brought his simplified Yang form from Taiwan to New York in 1964.
Cheng is featured in a new film documentary, “The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West,” originally a Kickstarter project like this one. The film is in New York this week for a one-night showing,
and premiered in Los Angeles last month. The Professor was a poet,
calligrapher and a healer practicing Chinese medicine. He considered Tai
Chi, the martial art, his greatest accomplishment.
Robert Smith worked with the Professor in co-authoring “T’ai-Chi: The ‘Supreme Ultimate’ Exercise for Health, Sport and Self-defense,”
which takes you through the Cheng Man-Ch’ing form, step by step. While
there is no substitute for a hands-on teacher, “T’ai-Chi” lays out the
principles and practice of Tai Chi as well as any text I’ve seen.
I was assigned other books written by the Professor’s students, including Ben Lo’s translation of “Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises.…,” Cheng’s principles for marshaling energy (qi) for martial arts applications, and Wolfe Lowenthal’s “There Are No Secrets,”
showing how Cheng had broken down the “closed door” teaching that
cloaked Tai Chi with mystery in China. Ben Lo was a key editor in an
excellent translation of the Tai Chi classics, “The Essence of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.”
This is my Tai Chi literary base, which I’m always trying to expand. I
am thankful for my friends in Facebook forums, and supporters of my journey in search of the New Dharma Bums,
who have suggested different books that would serve as good background,
or inspiration, for my trip. Some are translating obscure works, while
others have written books, which they naturally recommend.
I recently finished Bruce Frantzis’s Taoist meditation classic, “Relaxing into Your Being,” and am ready for Volume 2, “The Great Stillness.” I’m just starting Jennifer St. John’s “Ten Zen: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times,” while also reading Rick Barrett’s “Taijiquan: Through the Western Gate,” both of which promise to help bridge the gap between the Eastern and Western philosophies.
Barrett’s work is particularly intriguing in how it parses the
Western cultural barrier to communicate the philosophies and practices
of Eastern people. We each have our own “Gate” of perception, and it’s
not easy to penetrate those traditions with genuine innovations.
Fittingly, Barrett begins his book with a quote from Marcel Proust: “The
real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in
having new eyes.”
Indeed. Discovery requires seeing things differently, and I will be
challenged to communicate the differences. Unlike Barrett, I have the
advantage of studying the Chinese language and living for a period in
Taiwan, but I do not have his expertise and training in Tai Chi. I am
learning much from his approach in “Through the Western Gate.”