5 Best Tai Chi Books (For All Experience Levels)

Tai Chi can be a great way to work the body and mind and is incredibly popular around the world.

Having been practiced for thousands of years, anyone can incorporate Tai Chi into their lifestyle and reap the benefits.

For those who want to further their knowledge into Tai Chi and qigong culture where it originates then purchasing some literature is a great way to open the door and introduce you to the world of Tai Chi.

You can use it as an initial source of instruction and inspiration or as additional material to go alongside your classes.

Some mentors and teachers ask their students to purchase books on the subject so they can better their understanding into how it works. 

Here are what I think are some of the best Tai Chi books on the market...

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OUR TOP PICK

T'ai Chi Classics

Our top recommendation is the iconic text T’ai Chi Classics which was arranged by Master Liao, a pioneer in the practice of Tai Chi. 

This is an essential text for practitioners of all abilities and it is recommended that it should be read at some point in your Tai Chi career.

For those who want to learn about the history of Tai Chi and Qigong culture as well as gaining a better understanding of the philosophy behind it.

Providing an overview and commentary of three classic martial arts texts, you’ll be introduced to the inner meanings in a way that is easy to understand. 

This book is often referred to as the “Tai Chi Bible” which only highlights how important it is.

With detailed introductions to the texts that explain how to properly engage in Tai Chi, beginners will be able to apply these lessons to their classes whilst advanced practitioners will find that their understanding is enhanced.

There are also illustrations in the book that were drawn by Master Liao that display the various stances to give an idea of what is expected as well as how each stance is beneficial. 

Pros

  • Providing an overview and commentary of three classic martial arts texts, you’ll be introduced to the inner meanings in a way that is easy to understand
  • Beginners will be able to apply these lessons to their classes whilst advanced practitioners will find that their understanding is enhanced
  • There are also illustrations in the book that were drawn by Master Liao that display the various stances to give an idea of what is expected as well as how each stance is beneficial

Cons

  • Does not discuss the stances which is an important part of understanding how to do the various moves. 

EDITORS CHOICE

Qigong and the Tai Chi Axis: Nourishing Practices for Body, Mind, and Spirit

Our second selection is Qigong and the Tai Chi Axis: Nourishing Practices for Body, Mind, and Spirit which is a great introductory book for beginners who are just starting to learn about Tai Chi. 

This book is incredibly accessible and features information about the Tai Chi practice as well as some insights in the benefits.

It also provides the tools on how to replenish inner resources to help you manage energy levels as well as offering advice on how to make healthier choices in everyday life to support the body’s natural capacity for energy, balance and wellbeing.

This book is particularly ideal for beginners and there is also the option to purchase an accompanying DVD (see these Tai Chi DVDs for seniors) for those who want a visual aid or don’t have a class available nearby.

The book runs a total of 256 pages meaning that it isn’t going to take a long time to read or be exhaustive to understand.

With a fixation on the actual physicality of Tai Chi rather than the history, this is the perfect choice for those who want to focus on the different stances and how they are beneficial rather than delving into an extensive history on the subject.

Pros

  • Provides the tools on how to replenish inner resources to help you manage energy levels 
  • Perfect choice for those who want to focus on the different stances and how they are beneficial rather than delving into an extensive history on the subject

Cons

  • Mainly covers the basic techniques so advanced practitioners will probably know this information

BEST VALUE

The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice

Our third choice is The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice and is one of the best choices for more advanced practitioners.

This guide is extremely informative and is a comprehensive read to the practical application and potential benefits of Tai Chi.

Including step by step illustrations for practice at home and covers everything from the history to the philosophy and how it can assist with your mental, spiritual and emotional development.

This book has been designed to be an additional text that you can read whilst taking classes so you can enhance your learning. 

What puts this book on our list is how informative it is and the vast amount of topics that it discusses.

Starting with the history of Tai Chi and its origins as a martial art practice to its historical development over the years, the book then goes into the practicality of it and the techniques while stating how each stance is beneficial to you.

The structure of this book allows you to see how Tai Chi has developed over the years and how it has been used in conjunction with modern medicine to promote a healthier wellbeing. 

Pros

  • Including step by step illustrations for practice at home and covers everything from the history to the philosophy and how it can assist with your mental, spiritual and emotional development
  • Has been designed to be an additional text that you can read whilst taking classes so you can enhance your learning
  • The structure of this book allows you to see how Tai Chi has developed over the years and how it has been used in conjunction with modern medicine to promote a healthier wellbeing

Cons

  • Can be intense for beginners to read so if you're new to this then try another book.

RUNNER UP

Tai Chi Chuan Classical Yang Style: the Complete Form and Qigong

Our penultimate selection is Tai Chi Chuan Classical Yang Style: the Complete Form and Qigong which is one of the best options for beginners and advanced practitioners as well as those who like to practice everyday.

This book is an in depth guide for beginners to learn the basic techniques properly as well as providing a general plan.

As well as the techniques, you’ll also learn about the general history of Tai Chi, how to practice, about Qigong culture, the fundamentals of Tai Chi and the different categories of Qigong.

This will help you to incorporate the Qigong culture into your lifestyle should you wish. 

This revised edition has a newly improved layout that makes it great for all abilities to learn and includes photographs so you can clearly see the stances and practice them properly.

This is a great addition to go with your classes.

This is a brilliant instructional book as it provides step by step stances as well as warm up and get loose exercises to ensure that your muscles are always in optimal condition.

For those who want to learn Tai Chi but are worried that they won’t have the discipline to practice it daily, this book includes daily workouts that you can easily incorporate into your routine. 

Pros

  • This book is an in depth guide for beginners to learn the basic techniques properly as well as providing a general plan
  • Provides step by step stances as well as warm up and get loose exercises to ensure that your muscles are always in optimal condition
  • Includes daily workouts that you can easily incorporate into your routine

Cons

  • Can be difficult for beginners to understand initially as it's aimed at more experienced practitioners 

RUNNER UP

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications)

Our final choice is the The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind which has been written by a longtime teacher and Harvard researcher who looks into the scientific benefits of practicing Tai Chi. 

This book is ideal for those who want to learn about the history and philosophy of the practice rather than wanting a book that displays all of the stances.

This book incorporates cutting edge research and explores how conventional medical science and Tai Chi can be combined to promote a healthy lifestyle and a sense of wellbeing.

This book includes an array of information for those who want to understand the medical side of Tai Chi including...

A basic program including more than 50 photographs as well as practical tips on how you can incorporate Tai Chi into your daily routine.

An introduction into the traditional principles of the practice.

Up to date summaries of the latest research on the health benefits it brings.

As well as how it can enhance your work productivity, creativity and sports performance.

This book will give you a well rounded view of Tai Chi and its practices so you will have all the knowledge you need to advance your skill set. 

Pros

  • Ideal for those who want to learn about the history and philosophy of the practice
  • Incorporates cutting edge research and explores how conventional medical science and Tai Chi can be combined to promote a healthy lifestyle and a sense of wellbeing
  • Gives you a well rounded view of Tai Chi and its practices so you will have all the knowledge you need to advance your skill set

Cons

  • Does not include an extensive section of stances and techniques

Best Tai Chi Books Buying Guide

With so many Tai Chi related books on the market, it can be a bit overwhelming to make your choice and be assured that it is going to help you learn and advance in the field.

However, if you’re still unsure and want to conduct your own research, then be sure to always think about your ability, the book’s topics, how the information is laid out and your budget.

Once you’ve thought about all of this, you’ll be in a position to make a decision you can feel comfortable and confident with. 

Best Tai Chi Books

Ability

Firstly, consider your ability as this may affect your understanding of what the book discusses.

If you’re a beginner and you purchase a book that discusses a lot of advanced techniques using specific terminology then it may be intimidating and throw you off.

Equally, if you are an advanced practitioner and purchase a book for beginners that follows the most basic techniques then you are not going to get much from it.

You want to make sure that the book is suitable for your ability whilst also posing challenges at the same time so you can excel.

Topic

Next, you want to think about the actual content of the book in terms of its topics and discussions.

Some books look at Tai Chi specifically and are filled with lots of instructions, methods and stances that you can replicate.

However, others have a more generalized view of the qigong lifestyle where they discuss how Chinese alternative healing can be applied in all areas of life including Tai Chi.

You want to make sure that you are getting a book that explores what you want to learn rather than buying a book that isn’t going to give you what you want. 

How the information is laid out

Now that you’ve thought about the topics you want to read about, it’s important to also consider how these topics are explored.

If you are wanting a book that provides instructions on various stances then it is wise to have a book that has a lot of photographs or illustrations so it is easier to replicate them.

On the other hand, if you are wanting a more informative read about the history of Tai Chi and the qigong culture then you may want a book that is more text heavy. 

Budget

Lastly, think about how much you want to spend on the book.

With a variety of books available, they can also vary greatly in price. You want to make sure that you are getting what you want from the book without breaking your bank. 

Best Tai Chi Books - FAQ's

Can you learn Tai Chi from a book?

The best way to learn Tai Chi is by going to classes or finding a mentor.

However, books are a great way of broadening your knowledge and understanding of how Tai Chi works and giving detailed instructions of various stances.

Books should be used as an additional resource alongside your mentor and are often recommended to further your understanding. 

How long does it take to learn Tai Chi?

The basics of Tai Chi can be learned within 30 to 40 hours of practice.

However, if you are wanting to truly master the art then it can take 3 years of continued practicing. 

Last update on 2021-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API