Books (shortlist)

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Introductory reading

Exercise your mind by reading our website and studying supplementary books. Constructive reading changes attitudes, improves sensitivity, encourages insight and deepens understanding.


To get far with advanced martial arts, study is imperative. Tai chi is based on insights that necessitate deeper study.
Here is a shortlist of introductory titles:

The Sword Polisher's Record by Adam Hsu
- an exploration of what it means to study and practice Chinese martial arts in earnest

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Phoenix/Orion books edition)
- incredible wisdom and insights concerning human character, integrity and wholeness from the Roman Emperor

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher
- our experience of reality is shaped by what we pay attention to

The Tao of Being
by Ray Grigg
- a well thought-out Tao Te Ching adaptation designed to promote awareness and contemplation

The Way of Chuang Tzu
by Thomas Merton
 - perhaps the most accessible interpretation of Chuang Tzu ever written, this collection of anecdotes, stories and aphorisms offers Taoism to people with a sense of humour

The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan - The Literary Tradition by Lo et al
- The Tai Chi Classics presented in full

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
- an excellent jump start for anyone seeking to improve how they use their brain

The Art of War (Penguin Classics) by Sun Tzu (Minford version)
Sun Tzu wrote a book called The Art of War in which he scientifically detailed the principles of combat and strategy. His teachings are as relevant to individual self defence as they are to the battlefield

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
Miyamoto Musashi was an undefeated samurai, famous for fighting using two swords rather than one. His five part instruction guide is concerned with conflict and strategy

Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel
- a fascinating study of how the spirit of Zen can infuse a martial art


Katz: How do you know all this stuff?

Bryson: Well, there's these things called books. They're like TV for smart people.

(A Walk in the Woods)


Page created 3 March 1996
Last updated 16 June 2023