Various Styles of T'ai Chi Chuan

T'ai Chi has become such a popular martial practice that, naturally, it has developed into a host of variations. Some of these other styles, though not so popular and well known as, say, the Chen or Yang branches have great interest and beauty of their own. And sometimes it's not the style at all but the teacher which fate has chosen for you that determines which branch of this huge art to study.
Click on pictures to see bigger versions

Andrew Townsend has produced a substantial collection of books on the art and practice of Taijiquan. Below we represent 6 titles. A body of work like this can have many uses, and its completenenss makes it optimal, not only for students but for teachers alike. Key concepts snake through the books, each time with an eye to the specific focus of that particular text.

Click each cover to see the Table of Contents for that book. Each volume is $19.95 each; any two in the series is discounted to $18.95 each, and three or more are $17.95 each. Discount will show in the shopping cart.

 

Art of Taijiquan: An Examination of the Five Family StylesThe Art of Taijiquan: An Examination of Five Family Styles KA025 
Andrew Townsend, with Dr. Maurice Offus and Deya Townsend
422 Pages, Softbound, Illustrated with photos
$19.95; Order 2 in the series: $18.95 each; Order 3 or more in the series: $17.95 each

This very interesting book is noticeably unique in the contemporary canon. Townsend takes this theme — compare and contrast the 5 major family styles (plus almost 2 dozen sub-styles) of Taijiquan — to outline principles both shared and different among these families. In doing so, we learn about Taijiquan principles in general, plus those specific to the styles we practice.

His survey also incorporates topics such as Buddhist influence, five element theory, general principles and more. As one might expect, there are noticable jumps and lacunae in the overall discussion, mostly attributed to his honest and admitted omission of styles of which he has no firsthand knowledge; buttheir absence does not detract from the larger canvas.

The positive thrust of this series lies in Townsend’s comparison of significant points of structure and application. For instance, the hand, wrist and knuckles are shown with practice points such as wrist locking and elbow folding. In another section, varied methods of pushing or throwing an opponent are compared.

Further topics, such as principles of Push Hands, show us fine details and historical points; Townsend uses applications to reinforce many of the meanings behind individual actions, move by move.

The information collected in this one volume is invaluable, and its theme is reflected in other titles in the series.

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The Principles and Practice of Taijiquan: Volume Two: Auxiliary Training KP037
Andrew Townsend
357 Pages, Softbound, Illustrated with photos

$19.95; Order 2 in the series: $18.95 each; Order 3 or more in the series: $17.95 each

In our opinion, the best way to describe this comprehensive and worthy book is to not describe it at all, but to let part of the author's Introduction do the talking. And make sure to click on the book image to see the expansive Table of Contents.

"This book shouldn't exist. You shouldn't even be holding it in your hands. It's like an unplanned pregnancy, an accident, if you will. And yet, like the best outcome of an accidental pregnancy, it has become a beloved child and occupies a special place within the family of the principles and practice of the taijiquan series. Indeed, without this book, the series would be incomplete.

"Based on my experience in pushing hands personally with GM Tsao, and also with the newfound knowledge that he had revealed, I realized that it was important for serious taijiquan practitioners to understand the underlying power dynamics of taijiquan, not only for pushing hands and martial applications, but simply in order to practice the art as it was initially devised by the founders and their lineage holder descendants.

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The Principles and Practice of Taijiquan: Volume Four: Martial Applications KP039
Andrew Townsend
364 Pages, Softbound, Illustrated with photos

$19.95; Order 2 in the series: $18.95 each; Order 3 or more in the series: $17.95 each

This is a wide road with many lanes but, ultimately, everything has been coordinated with other aspects of fighting and self-defense. Townsend's approach is interesting: instead of starting from Taijiquan itself, he uses the vast storehouse of traditional martial application, and then situates in Taijiquan. In other words, many of these applications are brought from the legendary arsenal of centuries. Here, Kung Fu of many different methods are shown with attack, response and correct technique, but emphasizing Taijiquan principles in their usage.

Starting from Tai Chi and its eight key techniques, it considers parts of the body, including other energies such as Chin Na, as well as throws and the Five Steps of Taijiquan.

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Cultivating the Civil and Mastering the Martial:The Yin and Yang of Taijiquan KC077
Andrew Townsend
422 Pages, Softbound, Illustrated with photos
$19.95; Order 2 in the series: $18.95 each; Order 3 or more in the series: $17.95 each

This title presents interesting and unique considerations of Qi, FaJin, and different approaches such as offensive, Martial Applications, Principle and Practice, and more. The author describes well his inspiration for this title in his series:

"Given the plethora of excellent books on the subject, one might question the necessity of yet another book. The motivation for this book arose from my many years of experience in the taijiquan community. Sadly, my experience has been that most of the teachers and students with whom I have had contact do not embody the true essence of the art. The unique contribution of this book is to foster an understanding of the vital core of the art Taijiquan.

"Many Occidental teachers teach the form and talk about concepts such as song, qi, the dantian, and the balance of yin and yang. However, in most cases their understanding of these important principles is conceptual rather than experiential. If teachers don't embody these important qualities, how can their students ever hope to incorporate these principles and qualities into their own practice?"

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The Principles and Practice of Taijiquan: Volume Three: Pushing Hands KP038
Andrew Townsend
432 Pages, Softbound, Illustrated with photos

$19.95; Order 2 in the series: $18.95 each; Order 3 or more in the series: $17.95 each

This book offers an above average compendium of information on that often-uncomfortable aspect of Tai Chi that is Push Hands. Few practices in the realm of martial arts can be as paralyzing as this brilliant but poorly understood methodology.  Much of the uncomfortable straining and ceaseless ego displays might be circumvented with proper technique and the common sense required to engage in this valuable study. This book is a worthy resource.

Inside, many attempts and salient demonstrations highlight core concepts. One of the achievements of the author, which should be more common in the literature, is his presentation of on-the-spot switching from information to application, and back again. This mutual support of theory with practice makes this text stand out among others.

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The Sources and Applications of Internal Power KS069
Andrew Townsend
327 Pages, Softbound, Illustrated with photos

$19.95; Order 2 in the series: $18.95 each; Order 3 or more in the series: $17.95 each

The heart of this text lies not only in Power, but in a total transformation of the subject's meaning.

As any longtime practitioner is aware, Tai Chi might, up until recently, be considered a passive aggressive art — but not in a good way; rather as a set of attempts to unlock the requirements and goals of our ancestors.

Townsend offers a good survey of devices to test efficacy, which includes generation of power from legs, feet, spine, arms, limbs, plus whole body engagement; along with other possible sources such as Kong Jin and Fa Jin. His observations and commentary add a notable intimacy derived from his experience
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First Steps of Taiji QuanKF015 First Steps of Taiji Quan
by Qiu PiXiang, editor Jack Yan
$20.00; 192 pages,

This book, by world famous teacher and scholar Qiu PiXiang, offers itself as a entry level text on Taiji that would be appropriate to a beginning student wanting to get some solid Taiji skills before tackling the formal set, or for Tiji teachers who want a progressive and varied series of training exercises to increase core skills. What Teacher Qiu and editor/translator Jack Yan have done is to pick movements that are actually core for ANY style of Taiji. Like some of the work of George Xu, the circle, foot work and movements presented here can only help any practiotner of Taiji regardless of level but can be a real boon for those just starting out. Other topics covered hit the postures, hand shapes, footwork, a list of "Top 10" movements, a six and twelve short routine, and some Push Hands basics. To explain a subject takes knowledge. To explain in a way that almost anyone can understand yet does not lose the integrity of the subject is an art onto itself.

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Wisdom of Taiji Masters KW043 Wisdom of Taiji Masters
Insights into Cheng Man Ching's Art
167 pages, photographs, softbound,
by Nigel Sutton; Compiled and Edited by Mark Wiley
Retail prcie $19.95 Plum $17.85

Nigel Sutton has long and deep experience in CMA (Chinese Martial Arts). This new book, an exploration of the Cheng Man Ching contribution to Taiji takes the experiences, memories, and insights of eight instructors, all in the Cheng style. We are allowed to overhear conversations, some of them recorded years ago but available for the first time, that form a composite view of Cheng and his teachings. True, the vantage point is decidedly positive but, given that, there are many ideas here; for instance:

Tan Ching Ngee: "When you train the empty-hand form it is difficult enough to get everything right…The spear is harder still and the straight sword yet harder. Practice of the weapons slowly but surely raises the standard of our gongfu."

Ho An San: "When Shifu Lu (one of Cheng's disciples) took on challenges, he would initiate his attack by slapping them in the face. But if they were more of a challenge, he would use the single phoenix-eye fist to the solar plexus."

Koh Ah Tee: "That old gentleman took the straight sword that he learned from the Yang family and changed it and made it more natural. Like his form, the movements became more internal, more subtle. Another practice that he developed was that of the straight sword sparring."

Due to its soft and subtle approach Cheng's Taiji has remained as much a puzzle as a practice for many people. This book advances considerably that knowledge and insight on this subject.

Note: We posted this both in our Yang style section and our 'various Tai Chi' section because there is some question as to whether Cheng is a separate style from Yang or not. It's not a battling controversy we thought we'd honor the discussion.


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Xing Yi with Li Cun YiKCT01 Taijiquan Xue by Sun Lu Tang
Translated by Joseph Crandall
$25.00; 100 pages,

Back Cover: "This is the classic text, A Study of Taijiquan, written by master Sun Lutang. This is the first complete English translation available to the public. The first part of this book contains several chapters describing the Taiji routine that Sun developed based on what he learned from Hao Weijin. The second part of this book contains several chapters describing Sun's version of Push Hands, and an addenda with texts on Taiji theory written by Li Yiyu. This book has 100 pages. The illustrations are reproductions of the photos used in the Chinese version of Sun's book. .."
Illustrated throughout sometimes rough but pretty good for their age.

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Tai Chi Yang style Theory and Principles

KT051 Tai Chi Chuan Theory and Principles
by Paul F. N. Tam
translated by Peter Chan & Lee Ying Lok
$49.95 each, Softbound, oversized, photographs

This is an interesting and significant book. Bear with us for a second. This text by Paul Tam comes from a rare branch of Tai Chi associated with our own great grand teacher Gu Ru Zhang. Grandmaster Gu is world famous, always associated with his Northern Shaolin style. There is a photograph of him performing a multiple brick break which has crossed into the legendary category. He was also a compatriot and student of Sun Lu Tang who taught him Tai Chi. He amalgamated this instruction with Yang style derived from Li Jing Lin, the famous swords master. The version he created is like very old Yang with some Sun and is very relaxed. We have had a number of friends and colleagues in this style, which is even more rare than the Chen Pan Ling form. Now one of the interesting little bits is that mutual friends and acquaintances unconnected with the style have occasionally said that the Tai Chi students from Gu's lineage, though not famous, are among some of the best they have ever seen. But Gu is only rarely associated with the style. This book is oversized and gives a very clear breakdown of the entire Gu set which he called "Sun" style. It also has a very rare section of translation from Gu's own Tai Chi writings. Also a biography of both Gu and Sun; some translations from Sun's Tai Chi writings, some from the Classics. There are also notes on Push Hands and a huge lineage chart.

NOTE: This is an oversized book with a beautiful gray and green cover. Unfortunately the green is very subject to scratching and if you order you should be prepared for a less than pristine surface. We are unable to send them back to Hong Kong for minor complaints.

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Essential Movements of Tai Chi

KE010 The Essential Movements of T'ai Chi
by John Kotsias
$16.95, Softbound, illustrated, 167 pages

"John Kotsias is a linguist and professor of mathematics and a passionate martial artist." These are the words of Marshall Ho, respected T'ai Chi teacher on John Kotsias, the author of this book. Having actually READ the book and talked to Mr. Kotsias extensively on the phone we can only concur. His interest in and knowledge of T'ai Chi is impressive. His experience is deep. How do we know and how did we know before meeting the author? The book is so simple, straight forward and fundamental it is the one we most often recommend for either a beginner or someone who is advanced but wants to really learn the basics of such important foundational concepts as standing and turning. An excellent and well structured text.


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Chen Pan Ling's Tai Chi bookIt's back!
KC004 Chen Pan-Ling's Original
Tai Chi Chuan Textbook

Chen Pan-Ling, Robert W. Smith, Ann Carruthers (translator),
Raye McGwen, Mike Whalen, Y.W. Chang
$38.95, Our special price: $34.95, Paperback, 194 pages

Chen is considered by many to be one of the finest teachers and historians of Chinese martial arts of his time. This is a fine book, exhaustive in its text and well illustrated with pictures of Chen PanLing himself performing his "integrated" T'ai Chi a style combining the Reeling Silk of Xing Yi with the step patterns of Ba Gua. Probably the best synthesis of the three "internal arts" ever done. Probably the most significant section of the book is that of Chen's commentary on the T'ai Chi classics. Sections include a Chinese glossary and chapters on Push Hands and Da Lu.

Robert Smith has said, in his introduction to the book,
"The style of tai chi chuan taught here is Chen's synthesis of the three major styles - Yang, Wu and Chen - prevalent in China today. Though eclectic, it is grounded in the traditional forms and brimming with the ancient spirit. On the outside it is erect and aesthetically pleasing without being gimmicked by impractical sensationalist movements. Complementing this, he describes what occurs inside one's body during tai chi practice; the connection and interplay of breath (chi) and intrinsic energy (chin)."

On a personal note: one of our staff, Shihfu Mancuso, studied Chen Pan Ling for a while before it's name was widely associated with tai chi in the U.S. In his words,"I quite enjoy the style. It was created by a man acknowledged as one of the top martial historians. It successfully blends the so-called internal arts: deriving structure from T'ai Chi, step from Ba Gua and arm-body rotation from Xing Yi. Chen Pan Ling made an accomplishment rare in this day of everyone creating his own system: he achieved a synthesis that actually works."

View other works by and about Chen Pan Ling ...

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Chang style Tai Chi KC002Chang Style Tai Chi Chuan
Modified Short Form

Daniel Weng Ph.D. ( Weng Chi Hsiu )
$27.95, Paperback, 176 pages, Photographs

Daniel Weng has done much to promote the art of Chinese Wrestling in the U.S. At college in Taiwan he studied for a time with that most famous Chinese wrestler of the twentieth century, Ch'ang Tung Sheng, often called the Iron Butterfly. In those days a jacket that was not tucked into the belt was the suggestion of someone who would take any challenge. It is not recorded that Master Chang ever tucked in his jacket during his lifetime. When last in Taiwan we had the honor of meeting the present head of the World Shuai Jiao association and the son of Master Chang.

Ch'ang modified a form of Yang Tai Chi into his "Chang" style set. The movements are similar but the flavor and usage of the set partakes of Shuai Jiao with many throws and very direct and severe self defense. This book shows the Shuai Jiao training postures, the Ch'ang T'ai Chi form and then the applications of the movements to self defense situations with its unique characteristics. Our only complaint, some sections of the photos are too small. This third edition, other than the addition of an ad for Mr. Weng's other works, is pretty much the same as the first edition.

NOTE: There has been a price hike in this new edition where there is a significant format change: spiral bound, larger size, etc.
Let me see more information on Dr. Weng's teacher, the famous Chang Dong Sheng 

 

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Wu Dng Tai Yi Boxing

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KW034 Wu Dang Tai Yi WuXing Boxing
Grappling—Pouncing Techniques

by An Tian Rong
$13.50, Paperback, 176 pages, Photographs

First, our one complaint with this book. We would have liked larger pictures. Other than this we have here one of the best attempts in English to capture a Wu Dang style. According to the text by the well known instructor An Tian Rong, this form of Great Spirit (Tai Yi) boxing was taught to An Tian Rong by Pu Xuan who in 1929 began his stay at Zi Xiao Palace in Wu Dang. From Chief monk Li He Lin he learned this form of pugilism. Li He Lin was the eighth generation successor of the originator Zhang Shou Xing who was at the Palace between 1488 and 1504 of the Ming Dynasty. Tai Yi is said to combine the 13 elements of Chang San Feng's Tai Chi, the five animal movements of the great doctor Hua Tuo and other defensive techniques of the Taoist school. The form itself (actually a body enlivening method AND a form) is described very completely and in rather sophisticated terms for a Hai Feng translation. Oh, as a bonus, it is also with facing Chinese/English pages. NOTE: According to the publishers, the is the most complete set of Wu Dang boxing presently preserved. This might be true.

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Tai Chi Ruler Back in stock !
KT047
Tai Chi Ruler
Chinese Yoga for Health and Longevity: Second Edition
by Terry Dunn

$15.95, 119 pages, softbound,

Originally published as the first significant text on this subject in the English language. Terry Dunn, the creator of the most popular Tai Chi video of all time, explains a number of patterns with the Tai Chi ruler, a small carved instrument for Qigong practice.

This is a very good introduction to a subject which, if you get into it, has surprising depth. For instance the history of the ruler traces its origin back to Chen Hsi Yi the legendary Taoist creator of Liu He Ba Fa and a good friend of the first emperor of the Song dynasty and the legendary creator of Tai Tzu boxing. Small world, isn’t it? The Ruler has some very useful aspects for Qigong training. For instance, if the practitioner wants an instrument but does not want to carry around a weapon the Ruler is perfect. By definition it coordinates the two hands. It also contains a rather profound self defense method but that’s another story.
NOTE: The Tai Chi Ruler refers to the "Great Extremes" of Yin and Yang, not the style known as Tai Chi Chuan or Grand Extreme Boxing. Nonetheless you may also find it in that section due to its name.
Second Note: This is a revised edition of the earlier book and has a new cover.

See the DVD companion to this book, HERE


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Sun style Tai Chi Chuan

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KS042 SUN'S Style Tai Chi Chuan       
by Sun Jian Yun and Paul F. N. Tam
translated by Peter Chen and Leung Ming Yuen
$24.95, 141 pages, softbound, photographs front pieces in color

Some books are nothing less than essential. For the Sun style enthusiast this is a keystone written by the famous instructor's own daughter who practiced for over 70 years. Well written in a generally good presentation this book discusses the Sun style with its key points, Sun Jian Yun's life, the breakdown of the form with written examples of usage, key points to remember in practice and historical notes. Our only criticism is that the photographs are rather small. On the other hand there are specifics about, for instance, Sun footwork which are very helpful in understanding the fundamentals of this branch.


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