Find below a great selection of Taoism Books
Tai Chi Books
The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan: Way to Rejuvenation, by Jou Tsung Hwa.
Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions, edited by Douglas Wile.
T’ai Chi Ch’uan Ta Wen: Questions and Answers on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, by Chen Wei Ming.
The Essence of T’ai Chi Ch’uan: The Literary Tradition, by Benjamin Pang Lo.
Complementary Health Books
Key to Health: With Cures from East to West by Graham Horwood
The I Ching, or, Book of Changes (Bollingen Series XIX) (Bollingen Series (General)), translated by Richard Wilhelm.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, C.G. Jung.
The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life, translated by Richard Wilhelm.
Man and His Symbols, conceived and edited by C.G. Jung.
Lao Tse. Tao Te Ching, Penguin Classics
Read Blue Eye by Tracy Elner..
A book dedicated to Graham Horwood
The most popular style of Tai Chi is Yang Style which originated in the thirteenth century by way of Wudang Shan. There are two main Yang styles the most popular and prolific being the ‘public’ Tai Chi and the ‘family’ version which is more martial and secretive being closer to the esoteric forms from the Wudang Monastery.
In ‘Yang Family Tai Chi’ one smoothly fuses the mind and the chi together, in nei kung chi kung developing ‘thought chi’ thus making the life force- conscious, which can then be circulated at will in oneself, in others and weapons for martial or healing purposes. This form of ‘thought chi’ initially responds to the calm, deliberate movements of Tai Chi being enhanced and concentrated by the spiralling Chan Shu Jian-The Silk Weaving Movements. Chan Shu Jian allows the chi to store in the bone giving rise to ‘bone marrow washing’ and that a ‘Master has bones of steel wrapped in cotton wool. Besides the self defence possibilities of this principle one has to consider that bone marrow stores life giving and healing stem and blood cells also being responsible for the immune function. Chi is responsible for the biology of the body. However if one moves in a strenuous manner, one burns up the finite, mother load of kidney jing-chi. Whereas internal styles stimulate, balance and store chi in the bones like a battery lasting for years, besides holding chi in the Tan Tien for a more limited period. Chi is linked to the unconscious aspects of the human condition, hence when one ‘feels’ chi, one enters the parlour of the supernatural’. This ability to ‘feel’ chi is developed in The ’13 Postures: –being the- four techniques of push hands and four corner method and the five steps’ where one is able to interpret another person’s energy by breaking it down into the ‘Eight Trigram Postures’ and ‘Five Elements or Phases of Change’ from the Book of Changes. The Masters who developed the martial side of Tai Chi realised that sparring was too dangerous as striking with chi could cause internal damage so they worked out a system to practice martial techniques without fear of damage which became San Shou. San Shou is a hybrid of ‘push hands and four corner method’ incorporating all the self defence and counters in Tai Chi. For example in ‘push hands’, a practitioner will initially react to a strike move such as ‘an-push’ with ‘peng-ward off slanting upward’ feeling the impetus of the partner’s forward advance, albeit ‘externally’, only using the outer senses such as the eyes to see the action, the motor and sensory nerves to perceive the weight shift and the movement in the arms and so forth. If one stays relaxed and follows the ‘central equilibrium’ posture of Tai Chi, detailed in chapter five of Tai Chi Chuan & The Code of Life- one will be able to centre and control oneself or any opponent, as well as activating one’s inner sense of ‘touch’. This can be assisted by closing the eyes, but not all the time, as the mind-body-memory ability can be hindered by blind sensing alone. After practice one starts to open the ability to feel chi internally with one’s own chi, including the intention of the partner as both are linked. Thus ‘an-push’ being a ‘fire’ move has all the intrinsic qualities of the ‘fire-li’ hexagram from the I Ching, whether deliberate or not. It does not matter which style or system is carried out as the intention and move will be automatically linked to that archetypal association. Therefore the ‘push hands and four corner method’ are qualitative energy sensing concepts that can be felt subliminally. These when practiced internally will open up the internal door to the other inner senses such ‘inner; seeing-intuition- etc. Following the law of opposites all the outer senses have inner relatives. The more one practices in a relaxed and controlled ‘Tai Chi’ fashion, the more one opens the inner senses.
One can practice this inner sight or intuition by posing a question before practising a solo form, with an answer subsequently materialising as if from nowhere. being after the fashion of consulting the oracle of the Book of Changes. Both being modes that access the realms of the unconscious.
Tai Chi and Shaolin go back along way. A probable line is a Taoist physician and pugilist called Hua To, from the Han Dynasty c. 200 AD who developed therapeutic exercises called-wu quinxi -five animal play,. He observed creatures such as the tiger stretching out its limbs, a deer extending its neck and head, a bear crouching then extending up to its full height on two legs and last but not least the movements of birds flapping their wings on the ground and in the air. All of these became martial drills.
These Qigongs are constantly evolving and enhancing the ability to control chi and were also adapted by the monks of the Southern Shaolin Monastery in the Tang Fung District of Henan. The Buddhist monks founded an external Kung Fu school advanced by Ta Mo in the sixth century AD. He wrote his classics on ‘sinew changing’, ‘the eighteen Lo Han’ boxing and ‘marrow washing’ drills disseminating into hundreds of Kung Fu styles, such as Wing Chun, Crane Boxing, Praying Mantis, Plum Blossom Fist, Tiger and Crane System, Snake Hand, Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kick Boxing, Tai Kwan Do, etc.. In 2001 I met several Shaolin Monks from Henan where the head monk asked his team to demonstrate a Tai Chi form in my honour. He told me that they now teach, Chi Kung, Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Qua and Hsing I. It seems that this loop from external to internal has come full circle.
Wudang highlighted by Chang San-Feng of the Sung Dynasty (AD.960-1279). He was a former magistrate and Confucian scholar for Chung Shan County, a native from I Chow in the Liao-Tung district. He was born the ninth day of the fourth moon of 1247 AD.
His legendary fame became established after he had completed a ten year devotion at Shaolin where, besides studying the Chinese Buddhist doctrines, he learnt the external martial arts, ‘wai kung’. Later he went on to study Taoism at the K’o Hung Mountain Monastery leading him to Wudang Shan. Where he founded the Hsun Tien Monastery and the first major internal school, nei kung, of the martial arts.
This Chinese Merlin laid out the initial moves of latter day Tai Chi after some inspirational visions and dreams. One night he dreamt of a Taoist Immortal advising him to reform his strenuous training methods. The content of the dream troubled him, until one day he spotted a snake and a crane in deadly combat.
Chang noticed that before the snake attacked it would raise its head, bowing its body, gathering up its intrinsic energy, ready to strike out like an arrow ‘store the energy in the spine’, only for the crane to deflect the attack effortlessly with a downward arc of its powerful wing – Brush Knee and Twist Step- and -Crane Cools Its Wings- Punch Downwards. The crane retaliated by stabbing its beak down in the manner of –Taking A Needle From The Bottom Of The Sea-.. The snake used its flexibility to dip and ride the strike as in –Snake Creeps Down-, allowing the snake to lash out, –White Snake Puts Out Its Tongue – at the crane’s legs, which simply raised the vulnerable limb in a relaxed fashion so that the snake’s bite could not attach itself, due to the emptiness. Thus the crane moves were integrated into the middle of the Yang style especially with the kicking sequences designed to strengthen the lower limbs and improve balance and root. This natural display of yin and yang from the animal kingdom made a great impression on the hermit. Chang realised that yielding was more effective than using brute force. He also incorporated many of the martial postures from Shaolin into his ‘chang chuan’, long boxing, such as –Fist Under Elbow-Repulse Monkey-Elbow and Shoulder Stroke-Downward-Punch-Single Whip- Part Wild Horses’ Mane etc..
There is a legend that a son of the Emperor of China was hunting and encountered Chang San Feng in a forest. The courtiers ordered the dishevelled monk to leave the area immediately, as his presence was disturbing their sport. Chang who was up a tree at the time, politely refused. There was an order given to dispatch the recalcitrant hermit with a flurry of arrows to his next incarnation. Several ace archers shot at the hermit. However to the Prince’s astonishment, Chang jumped off his branch, catching and breaking all the arrows during his descent. When safely on terra firma, he returned the snapped shafts to the shocked archers.
Although a Wudang recluse, Chang taught openly, his reputation reaching far and wide causing the Emperor Tai Tso to send soldiers to recruit Chang in order to increase the martial prowess of his Court. The military escort was disappointed on finding Chang Sang Feng because he convincingly feigned madness. The duped envoys left empty handed, leaving the monk to continue his path in peace, but thereafter he taught more discretely. For a more detailed history of Tai Chi Chuan and its Western correspondences please refer to Tai Chi Chuan & The Code of Life- www.tai-chi-horwood.com
If you go to China you can observe in person the descendants of Chang Sang Feng and his tradition. The fourteenth generation and present incumbent is Master Yeo, assisted by Master Wang Li Ping. Thereby developing your martial skills, in Wudang Shan in this unique visit to China. It will include workshops at Wudang Shan as well as a comparative visit and workshops to the Shaolin Temple. You can also visit Beijing with an optional visit to the Wu Shu Institute and Grand Master Yang Zeng Do as well as The Forbidden City, White Clouds Taoist Monastery, Great Wall, Xían-Terracotta Warriors..
I recommend a Chinese Taoist Guide
© I Graham Horwood.
Chief Instructor of the Taoist Group. Est. 1976 Tel: 01702-298407.