T’ai Chi Classics

The T’ai Chi classics consist of a variety of writings from the T’ai Chi masters of the past. These writings contain various guideposts to help practitioners of T’ai Chi gain a deeper understanding of this wonderful art. Some of the passage are fairly obvious while some are more poetic making them more difficult to interpret or even downright cryptic.

The writings included in “The Classics” vary to some degree by who is cataloguing them. Sometimes you will see a particular writing in one collection while it is nowhere to be seen in another collection.

Also, because of the nature of translating Chinese to English, different translations can often vary to a great degree. This is especially true when the original writings involved esoteric ideas described in a poetic fashion. Assuming you don’t know Chinese, if you really want to dig deep within the Classics, it can be helpful to read several different sources to find what idea is common amongst them.

Below are a few different options available to explore.

Web Page
T’ai Chi Chuan Classics – Lee N. Scheele: I’ve put this one first because it is free. Lee Scheele has put together a catalogue of nine writings and has translated them (or based them off of other translations). Keep in mind this is a no frills translation without any additional interpretations. But it is a great place to start.

Books on Amazon
T’ai Chi Classics by Waysun Liao: I have an older version of this book and it offers a lot. It only covers four of the classics, but includes a great deal of information above and beyond just the classics. It gives the translation of the original verse then goes into great depth with analysis and interpretation.

The Essence of T’ai Chi Ch’uan: The Literary Tradition by Benjamin Lo (and others): Benjamin Lo was one of the top students of Cheng Man-Ch’ing. This is simply a translation without any commentary. As a translation it has a very good reputation. The selection of writings varies just a little bit from Scheele’s website and the translations vary somewhat between the two.

The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation by Barbara Davis and Chen Wei-Ming: I’ll admit that I do not own this book. But is does get solid reviews on Amazon. One thing I notice is that it only covers 5 writings, however it does include commentary. Other than that, I don’t know a lot about this book.

Well, that will give you a start if you wish to dig through some of the writings. Hope that helps.