Reading List

The Complete Tai Chi Tutor: A structured course to achieve professional expertise 
Dan Docherty
ISBN: 1856753522
Publisher: Gaia
This book deals with what a Tai Chi instructor should know and examines Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, Unknown Knowns and Unknown Unknowns in all aspects of Tai Chi Chuan. Lost techniques and concepts such as Flying Flower Palm, Running Thunder Hand are taught in some depth.

The Tai Chi Bible: The definitive guide to decoding the Tai Chi form (Godsfield Bibles)
Dan Docherty
ISBN: 1841814334
Godsfield Press
This book explains the background of the Tai Chi hand form techniques and their application. Weapon theory and practice is also dealt with, as are pushing hands drills, and concepts such as Cai Lang / the Uprooting Wave, Gyrating Arms etc. The full Tai Chi Chuan syllabus can be found in the appendix.

Tai Chi Chuan: Decoding the Classics for the Modern Martial Artist
Dan Docherty
ISBN: 1847970842 
The Crowood Press

This book for the first time presents an illustrated translation and commentary on the 5 major TCC Classics, as well as the 'Tai Chi Diagram Explanation' of Neo-Confucian philosopher, Zhou Dunyi [1017-73] and General Qi Jiguang's [1528-87] 'The Classic of Boxing.'

Complete Tai Chi Chuan
Dan Docherty
ISBN: 1861260334 
The Crowood Press

This definitive book is the first in English to deal extensively with the concepts of "inside the door" training and the inner art, including therapeutic and martial aspects of Taoist internal alchemy. Featuring 190 photos, the book includes: history, theory, and philosophy; hand form; practical training; weapons; and competition.

The Fighter's Body: An Owner's Manual : Your Guide to Diet, Nutrition, Exercise and Excellence in the Martial Arts
Loren W Christensen & Wim Demeere
ISBN: 1880336812

You can find a complete review of this book here.Book Reviews

The Relaxation Response
Benson Herbert, M.D.
ISBN: 0380815958 
Avon Books

An interesting guide to dealing with stress- fight or flight response – meditation etc. ****buy

The Syncretic Religion of Lin Chao-En
Berlin, Judith A.
ISBN: 023104870X 
Columbia University Press

Good guide to the Chinese cultural mindset and links between, religion, philosophy and martial arts. ***buy

Chen Style Taijiquan
Paul H Crompton
ISBN: 9622380166 
Paul H Crompton

One of the first English language introductory guides to Chen style, quite ok. **buy

Asian Fighting Arts
Draeger Donn F. and Smith Robert W.
ISBN: 0870110799 
Kodansha Internat, US

Fairly comprehensive guide, and though uneven, is informative. *****buy

Myths and Legends of China
E.T.C. Werner.
ISBN: 981218046X 
Graham Brash Pte Ltd

Excellent guide from “Old China Hand” Werner giving a lot of useful cultural background. *****buy

Origins of the Boxer Uprising
Esherick Joseph W.
ISBN: 0520064593 
University of California Press

Detailed study of the subject, well-written and useful if a tad academic. ****buy

A History of Chinese Philosophy Vol I
A History of Chinese Philosophy Vol II
Fung Yu-lan.
ISBN: 0691020213 
and ISBN: 0691020221 
Princeton University Press

One of the best available reference works on the subject. Terrific. *****buy

The I Ching
Translated by James Legge
ISBN: 9971492008 
Graham Brash Pte Ltd

Legge was a British missionary during the Qing who translated a lot of classical Chinese works on religion and philosophy. Somewhat dated but he is informative and opinionated. ****buy

The Fists of Righteous Harmony: A History of the Boxer Uprising in China in the Year 1900 
Keown-Boyd Henry
ISBN: 0850524032 
Pen & Sword Books / Leo Cooper

More populist than Esherick’s work, but gripping description of the times and issues. ****buy

Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China (Studies on China) 
Edited by Naquin
ISBN: 0520075676 
University of California Press

Historical accounts make clear that tourism is far from being a modern phenomenon. Too many tourists, too many souvenir shops – it was ever thus. Very good indeed. ****buy

The Shorter Science & Civilization in China: Vols. 1 + 2. Cambridge University Press, 1978+1981.
Ronan and Needham
ISBN: 052105799X 
and ISBN: 0521085713

Quite wonderful and representing a distilled essence of some of Needham’s vast opus. *****buy

Teachings of Taoist Master Chuang
Saso, Michael.
ISBN: 0300020805 
Yale University Press

Practical Taoism with a discussion of some of the major sects and practices. ****buy

Self and Society in Ming Thought
Seidel, Anna.
ISBN: 0231083130 
Columbia University Press

A French academic perspective on Chang San-feng, not always logical.. ****buy

Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods
Smith Robert W.
ISBN: 155643085X 
North Atlantic Books

Smith spins a good yarn and gives a fairly entertaining account of his time in Taiwan and some of the masters (many now dead) whom he met., though as usual Cheng Man-ching & co are highly over-rated. ****buy

Sources of Chinese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600
Sources of Chinese Tradition: From 1600 Through the Twentieth Century (Introduction to Asian Civilizations)
Compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary & others.
ISBN: 0231109393 
and ISBN: 0231112718 
Columbia University Press

Good overview of important historical and philosophical texts. Superb. *****buy

Imagination Becomes Reality: The Teachings of Master T. T. Liang
Stuart Alve Olson (Editor)
ISBN: 0938045091 
Paul H Crompton

Liang is also something of a storyteller, and in some cases the title is only too literally true. **buy

Tai Chi Chuan for Health and.Self-Defense
T.T. Liang.
ISBN: 0394724615 
Random House USA Inc

Useful general book on a certain variety of Yang style. **buy

Tao Te Ching (Penguin Classics)
Translated by D.C. Lau.
ISBN: 014044131X 
Penguin Books

Straightforward look at one of the seminal texts with a fairly detailed textual analysis. ****buy

Sexual Life in Ancient China
Van Gulik R.H.
ISBN: 068512486X 
Brill Academic Pub

Terrific and fascinatingly detailed info on internal alchemy and all kinds of practices which many Chinese people continue to deny as being part of their heritage. I think it is still out of print. *****buy

Wu Style Taijiquan
Wang Peisheng & Zeng Weiqi. 
ISBN: 9622380158 
China Books & Periodicals

One of the early English language books on this style from the well-known Wang. Limited. **buy

Lost T'ai-Chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty
Wile, Douglas.
ISBN: 079142653X 
State University of New York Press

Interesting material of varying quality, though could have done with a bit more analysis and Wile is not at his best when discussing how to actually use the material in combat. Translations are often dubious. ***buy

Investigations into the Authenticity of the Chang San-Feng Ch'Uan-Chi: The Complete Works of Chang San-Feng (Faculty of Asian Studies Monographs, 2)
Wong Shiu Hon
ISBN: 0909879176 
University of Hawaii Press

Very detailed and somewhat academic discussion of the legendary Chang San-feng, which started life as a Ph.D thesis. ****buy

Yang Style Taijiquan
Zhendou Yang
ISBN: 0835120414 
China Books & Periodicals

One of the early books on Yang style in English, featuring the Yang family though it mainly presents the orthodox view. **buy

Additional reading material

The Genius of China, 3,000 years of Science, Discovery and Invention
Robert Temple
Prion Books Ltd
256 pages (June 10, 1998) ISBN 1-85375-292-4

Just what the title says, good background source book. ***buy

Outlines of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs
C.A.S. Williams 
3rd Revised Edition 
Dover Publications, Inc
472 pages (March 1, 1977)
ISBN 0-486-23372-3

One of the best books available about Chinese art, numerology, symbols etc. from a British colonialist sympathetic to Chinese culture. *****buy

A Brief History of Qi
Zhang Yu Huan and Ken Rose
Churchill Livingstone
256 pages (July 2001)
ISBN 0-912111-63-1

Up to date and highly informative without much of the wishy-washy pseudo-mysticism of some authors. *****buy

The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation
Barbara Davies
North Atlantic Books
200 pages (September 6, 2002)
ISBN 1-556434-31-6

The book passes 2 tests; it tells us things we didn’t already know and is better than other books on the subject, though the author’s limitations in the fields of internal alchemy and actual fighting are obvious from both translations and commentary. ****buy

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Ta Wen: Questions and Answers on TCC
Chen Wei-Ming (student of Yang Cheng Fu…wrote most of his books for him) 
Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo and Robert Smith (1985)
North Atlantic Books
Shanghai 1929
Reprinted by TCC Research Association, Republic of China, Taipei, 1967
64 pages (March 1986)
ISBN 0-938190-67-9

Of dubious value given Chen’s own limited knowledge of internal alchemy and actual fighting, but an interesting period piece. ***buy

The Book of the Sword
Richard F. Burton 
New York, 1987

Burton, archetypal British colonial eccentric gone native is always worth a read and was a trained swordsman and soldier. Recommended. ****buy

Vercammen Danny, The History of Tai Chi Chuan Dao Association, 1991.

Short pamphlet on the history of Tai Chi Chuan by Belgian academic and martial artist. **buy
This can be obtained from the author at
You may also be interested in "Neijia Wushu (vol. 1)". This academic book published by Ghent University in 1989 which contains the original Chinese texts of taijiquan, xingyiquan and baguazhang with English annotations and an extensive bibliography.


Out of print

The following books are out of print or impossible to obtain online. You may be able to find copies in second hand shops.
If you do find sources of these books let us know. One we do know of is

L.Wu. The Origin and Dissemination of Chinese Characters, Published by Caves Books, Ltd. 1990.

A Taiwan reprint. Meticulous look at the structure and changing meaning of key Chinese characters. ****buy

Liu James J.Y. The Chinese Knight-Errant, by Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. 1967.

This is the ancient martial artist (usually swordsman) made flesh with tales about Li Pai the drunken poet, Jing Ke, the doomed assassin and a host of others. Excellent. *****buy