Internal arts resources

I thought it would be worth having a permanent page that describes some of the books, websites and general resources that have helped me along the way.

Other blogs and Links 
At the bottom of this site you will find an automatically updated list of some of the other Internal arts related blogs that I follow. Some of my particular favourites are:
  • Mike Sigman I have a great deal of respect for  Mike and his explanantions
  • Zen habits "Smile breath and go slow"
  • Violet Li at
  • Neurologica Blog frequently posts about alternative medicine research from a skeptical perspective
  • Cloud Hands an extensive resource of information about tai chi
  • Run Soaked Fist is a great Internal arts discussion forum
There is a huge tai chi links site here: Links to T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Related Web Site.

There are loads of books out there, so I have picked a few of my favourites that I think each bring something different.

First of all we have Daniel Reids A Complete Guide to Chi-Gung. This was really the book that motivated me to become a regular and serious practitioner, rather than just going along to the weekly classes as a bit of a hobby. Chi gung is all about breath control, meditation and understanding the body and as such is really the root of all the internal arts. Daniel Reid has produced a well-written and authoritative guide, which I found extremely helpful in understanding the theory behind the techniques I was being taught in classes. If nothing else, this book will open your eyes to the serious intellectual effort that has been devoted to "cultivating the breath" over the centuries. Daniel has done a great job of making the book accessible and inspiring, but it must be noted that he does occasionally step outside of his core area of competence, and makes a few science gaffes, however these can safely be ignored and detract little from the vast majority of the content.

The second book in my list is Essential Anatomy: For Healing and Martial Arts by Marc Tedeschi. This is a pure reference book that details every single Meridian and Chinese acupuncture point in the body. This book is no doubt found in almost every serious Chinese martial artist, acupuncturist and general healer's book shelf in the Western world. Although I am no healer, and do not really buy into the detail and specifics, I believe there is sound evidence-based rationale behind the development of the meridian model. As such, this book is great to flip through and to implicitly absorb the whole body connections, and how particular exercises stretch different Meridian paths. Investigating these things on my own really helped me to feel that my teachers were not just "making it all up" but that these techniques and exercises had been refined, developed and passed down through the ages using a methodical, self consistent reasoning and theory.

The next book takes a more autobiographic flavour, with There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man Ch'ing and His T'ai Chi Chuan. Wolfe Lowenthal tells of his personal experience studying under Cheng Man Ch'ing in New York in the 1960s. Cheng Man Ch'ing is really the first Chinese master to begin to seriously spread Taichi in the West. In many ways he is therefore the founder what some might consider the beginning of the chinese enlightenment of the West. The book is a deeply personal story filled with insight and core teachings. As the title says, this book really brought home to me how ultimately the internal arts are quite simple. The lessons you are taught on day one of your Tai Chi class, are the same ones that are taught to advanced students with decades of practice behind them. Unfortunately therefore you can be preached at as much as you can take, but the only way to actually understand, is to experience it yourself - and the only way to experience is to practice. There are no secrets, only dedication (if I do find a short cut I promise to blog about it!).

Next comes The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi: Combat and Energy Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi and Hsing-I by Bruce Frantzis. This book is THE encyclopaedia and a must have. I cannot recommend it enough. Bruce Frantzis has really made the martial arts his life since a very young age, studying and training all across the globe. The book is well structured and filled with personal accounts and stories from his time with a bewildering array of masters. Every term is introduced with a little explanation and is thoroughly indexed. Unlike many of the Taichi and internal arts books out there Bruce Frantzis does not have a particular devotion to a specific style or system, and his explanations and discussions are only enhanced by this multidisciplinary approach.

Wong Keiw Kit's The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Practice is a book in a similar vein to Bruce Frantzis's (above), but from the traditional Chinese perspective. Wong Kiew kit is also extremely well versed in the subject having been born into the Taichi lineage and immersed in the traditional culture. He writes with authority and in an accessible and friendly style limiting his discussion to the world of Taichi (he has many other books as well). I personally believe that this book provides the reader with a sound grounding in the traditional Chinese Taichi heritage, history, techniques and teachings.

A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook: Spirit, Intent, and Motion by Martin Mellish, is a novel approach to the subject with a book that truly is accessible to Western readers. Visualisations and "intent" are core to tai chi. However in order to use the traditional visualisations for practical tai chi benefit, a Westerner needs to understand the historical culture of China 400 years ago - a big barrier for most westerners. Martin Mellish's book throws off these doctrinal shackles by realising that it is the visualisations that are important not the Chinese cultural understanding (although he modestly and respectfully declines to point this out). The visualisations were originally created from everyday actions so Martin skilfully recasts them using modern everyday Western culture. The power of Martin's book is that he authoritatively collects a wealth of disparate imagery together as the perfect resource for tai chi practitioners and teachers alike. This book will make you think and I guarantee it will spark at least one mini eureka in everyone who reads it.

Finally in my little list comes Chen Style: The Source of Taijiquan by Davidine Sim and David Gaffney. It is really impossible to learn tai chi or the internal art from a book or video without having a teacher. However when you are being taught your practice can be significantly improved by reading around the subject. My major style is traditional Chen style and as such this book represents what I consider to be the most authoritative, practical and detailed explanation from this discipline. What I like about the book is that it concentrates on principles, and does not waste its time with the futility of trying to "teach the forms". If you're studying or interested in Chen style this is the book to get.