Recommended reading

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Mind, body, spirit

Tai chi is renowned for positively affecting all areas of a student's life. The physical training will result in a calmer, clearer, more focussed mind.
Exercising the body is only half the story with taijiquan. To fully embrace the art, you must exercise the mind as thoroughly as you do the body.

Constructive reading

Exercise your mind by reading our website and studying supplementary books. Constructive reading changes attitudes, improves sensitivity, encourages insight and deepens understanding.
Here is a small selection of titles:


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

Grit by Angela Duckworth
- passion, drive, focus, determination, practice and commitment matter more than good qualifications and the notion of natural talent

Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
- exploring 'comfort zone' and 'mental representation' in a very thorough way, covering a multitude of permutations

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- how habits shape our lives and how to cultivate a productive
framework for on-going improvement and change

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
- a fascinating exploration of productivity

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

Tai chi theory & principles

Barefoot Doctor's Handbook for the Urban Warrior: Spiritual Survival Guide by The Barefoot Doctor
- a mild introduction for the curious student who wants to know more about taijiquan and Taoism

Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Essence of Tai Ji by Chungliang Al Huang
- an entertaining, lightweight introduction

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

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi by Peter Wayne
- a thorough exploration of the medical benefits of taijiquan

The Power of Internal Martial Arts by Bruce Frantzis
- an engaging account of Frantzis' journey through the martial arts

Steal My Art by Stuart Alve Olsen
- a light hearted, entertaining account of lineage study

The Tai Chi Book by Robert Chuckrow
- a detailed, well-considered introduction to taijiquan with many relevant topics and themes

Tai Chi Chuan: The Internal Tradition by Ron Sieh
- a personal introduction to taijiquan

The Tai Chi Journey by John Lash
- a comprehensive introduction to tai chi and Taoism

Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters by Yang Jwing-Ming
- The Tai Chi Classics with excellent commentaries

There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal
- a candid account of one man's experience of taijiquan in New York


Back to Beginnings by Huanchu Daoren
- a gem of a book that combines Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian insights

Become What You Are by Alan Watts
- thoughtful discussions concerning Taoism

The Book of Life by Krishnamurti
- short, daily readings

The Book of
Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
- a fascinating exploration of the spiritual practice

Chuang Tzu in a Nutshell by Robert Van De Weyer
- a great introduction

Commentaries on Living Volumes 1, 2 & 3 by Krishnamurti
- beautiful descriptive passages, short conversations and interviews regarding living, thinking and conditioning

I Ching Made Easy by Sorrell & Sorrell
- an accessible version of this Taoist classic

In Praise Of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki
- a curious look at how the presence of light has changed our reality

Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching by Timothy Freke
- a straightforward, accessible translation

The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller
- a lightweight introduction

The New Lao Tzu by Ray Grigg
- a well-written modern version of Tao Te Ching

Play to Live by Alan Watts
- Taoism, living, contemplation and reflection

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- this often quoted, beguiling book offers some spectacular insights

The Sage's Way by Ray Grigg
- a fun story that introduces Taoist insights and perceptions

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

Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts and Al Chung-Liang Huang
- an interesting exploration of Taoism

The Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg
- a consideration of Taoism and Zen

Taoism: Way Beyond Seeking by Alan Watts
- an intriguing range of discussions concerning Taoism

Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers by Leonard Koren
- embracing the melancholy as well as the upbeat aspects of life

Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts by Leonard Koren
- a deeper look at the history of wabi-sabi

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 Way to Love by Anthony De Mello
- examines our conditioning and questions how we perceive our reality

Zen For Beginners by Judith Blackstone & Zoran Josipovic
- a graphic novel-style introduction

Zen O'clock by Scott Shaw
- time, thought, consciousness and living

Zen Questions by Robert Allen
- a useful introduction

Martial theory & principles

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 Art of War (Giles version)
- a clear, easy to read version

The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Cleary version)
- a more detailed, scholarly edition with a wonderful introduction by Thomas Cleary

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

36 Strategies by General Wang Jingze
- a wide range of effective strategies designed to baffle and confuse the opponent

Chinese Boxing by Robert Smith
- a variety of accounts concerning different Chinese martial arts instructors

Effortless Combat Throws by Tim Cartmell
- a comprehensive, detailed introduction to the throwing aspect of shuai jiao. Excellent introductory sections and appendixes

Moving Toward Stillness by Dave Lowry
- illustrating Lowry's ideas about what it means to be a martial arts student

Moving Zen by C W Nicol
- a well-written, enjoyable account detailing the experience of living and training in Asia

Nei Jia Quan by Jess O'Brien
- a mixture of different viewpoints

Sword and Brush by Dave Lowry
- a consideration of how Japanese calligraphy, words and meaning apply to the practice and study of the martial arts

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

Tai Chi Theory & Martial Power by Yang Jwing-Ming
- provides a thorough explanation of what each jing means and how they should affect the opponent

The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho
- a consideration of Zen and martial arts practice

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


With today's round-the-clock access to news we can now receive a twenty-four-hours-a-day parade of mostly negative information about random shootings, drug wars, environmental disasters, racially motivated hate crimes, rampaging serial killers, and gruesome sex crimes. As they say in the world of television news production, "If it bleeds, it leads." The news, in fact, has become so stressful that health experts recommend 'news fasts' to improve psychological health.

(Dr Bradley Wilcox, Dr Craig Wilcox and Dr Makoto Suzuki)


The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
- intriguing lessons in evaluation and decision making

Curious by Ian Leslie
- a terrific book concerning the divide between the curious and the incurious

The Detox Plan by Jane Alexander
- a step-by-step guide to detoxing your life and experiencing a richer, fuller condition of health

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
- a simple introduction to thoughtful living

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- simplicity, trade-offs, honesty and realistic time management 

Green Tea Living by Toshimi A. Kayaki
- eco-friendly, clean living, practical tips on how to incorporate traditional Japanese sensibilities and health care into modern life

How Not To Die by Dr Michael Greger
- the significant benefits of eating a varied plant-based diet

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- engaging essays about the application of Taoism in business and everyday life

Keep it Simple by Nick Page
- great ideas for uncluttering your life

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

The Okinawa Program by Dr Bradley Wilcox, Dr Craig Wilcox and Dr Makoto Suzuki
- a fascinating book about the 25 year centenarian study
- the three doctors maintain that tai chi (with its ancient origins and incredible health benefits) is the ideal form of exercise for modern people

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- an interesting exploration of the less obvious factors that coalesce to produce an outcome

The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck
- a well thought-out book designed to increase self-awareness

Rip It Up: Forget positive thinking, it's time for positive action by Richard Wiseman
- pop psychology for the chronically unmotivated

Simplicity by Edward De Bono
- a carefully considered stratagem for more effective communication

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
- an intriguing exploration of the often contradictory outcome of employing willpower

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
- a light-hearted but relevant story concerning change and fear

Your Erroneous Zones: Escape negative thinking and take control of your life by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
- a thought-provoking book about taking responsibility for our own emotions, thoughts and lives


The books on this list are all worth buying. Some you may enjoy immediately whereas other may take a few reads to appreciate.

To understand an oriental discipline, one must understand the ideas and world view upon which the discipline rests.
That is why the oriental disciplines can never merely be hobbies or pastimes.

(John Lash)

You will change

As you grow and change, the relevance and significance of each book will alter. The unfamiliar becomes commonplace. Elusive meanings are suddenly clear and apparent.
Many books will continue to become richer as your own journey progresses.


You will even outgrow some titles. The message may not be relevant to your level of training.  Or the text no longer challenges your mind. If so, pass the book on...
Let somebody else benefit from reading the book.

Sifu Waller's choice

Sifu Waller has found these books to be particularly useful over the years:

  1. The Art of War (Penguin Classics) by Sun Tzu (Minford version)

  2. Back to Beginnings by Huanchu Daoren

  3. The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

  4. Commentaries on Living Volumes 1, 2 & 3 by Krishnamurti

  5. The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan - The Literary Tradition by Lo et al

  6. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Phoenix/Orion books edition)

  7. The New Lao Tzu by Ray Grigg

  8. The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

  9. Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

Page created 3 March 1997
Last updated 09 June 2019