Thursday, April 1, 2010

Books I have found helpful

I thought it might be helpful to mention a few books that I have found helpful in my practice of tai chi. I will make a few comments on each book.

A word about my comments. The activity of reading is a wonderfully dynamic adventure! Roles in the adventure are taken by: the author; the author's life world and experiences; the book itself; the reader; and the reader's life world and experiences. All of these interact in a delightfully complex way. Because of the fluidity and interaction of each of these elements, interpretations of any particular book are many and varied. It is also the reason why each time we read the same book we get something different from it. Our life world has changed. We have enjoyed new experiences. Our understanding grows and changes. Reading the book itself changes our perspectives. This is all by way of saying that my comments arise from a particular place in my tai chi journey, which is a particular place in my life journey. As a student of tai chi, I'm sure I have missed much in these books that a master would see. Also, I am not in a position to truly critique the books and point out any problems with either theory or practice. But, I can tell you have each has been helpful to me at this particular point.

So here goes ...

If you only get one book, this is the one to get. It is a mine of information with 260 pages packed with small print. There are chapters covering the history of tai chi, philosophy, practice, the tai chi classics, experiences and push hands.

It is the kind of book that repays careful reading a number of times. In fact, I have referred to it again and again.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, I most appreciated the philosophy that Jou explains. It has been very helpful in linking tai chi's physicality with its origins in Taoist philosophy. His chapter on experiences is also very useful. Jou answers the question, "What does it feel like to practice tai chi?" He looks at this both at the beginning and then also in later practice. Altogether a great book to have on hand as a reference tool.


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