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T'ai-Chi: The Supreme Ultimate Exercise for Health, Sport, and Self-Defense Hardcover – 1967

4.2 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance. If you are looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi. Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that's now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements." —Mayo Clinic --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

The late Cheng Man-ch'ing was an international authority on T'ai Chi and wrote two earlier books on the topic.

Robert W. Smith is also the author of The Secrets of Shaolin Temple Boxing and A Complete Guide to Judo. He lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; 1st edition (1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804805601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804805605
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a beginning Taiji student, I've found this book to be a great tool for further developing/practicing at home. It is a great guide to those studying the short Yang 37 form style. I've found it supplements training by helping you remember the essential footwork, handposition, and weight transfers from class. The pictures can be a little challenging as they are 'mirror' images of what you are actually doing. However, they are all there in a complete pull-out form as well, including footwork. The writing is to the point and descriptive. The book does NOT provide the transitions between each form very well though and thus I recommend it a supplemental tool to going to your taiji class. It will be a well-worn book though!
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Format: Hardcover
Cheng Man-ch'ing and Robert W Smith do an excellent job of showing the western readers the real traditional tai chi. With over 275 pictures and 122 diagrams Robert Smith continues to produce the high quality books he is famous for. I would recomend this book to all serious martial artists.
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By Xam on April 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is really comprehensive. It has many pictures and descriptions of them to help you along with the forms. I'm taking a Tai Chi class at my college, and this book is the perfect companion. It is very well layed out and can be easily followed. Of course it is always necessary to have an actual master, but this book is probably the best on the market. Many Tai Chi books are confusing and poorly made, but this is one of the few that is not. Learning Tai Chi straight from a book is a little silly, at least look for classes or a video. But this is the perfect companion piece to perfecting your Tai Chi. If you want to buy the best, this is the one - no question about it.
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Format: Paperback
This might have been the first work in English on tai chi, and Smith was Cheng Man Ching's first western or American student. It's still one of the best introductory tai chi books out there. The photos of Cheng's form are worth the price of the book by themselves, his form being impeccable as usual and a high benchmark we should all strive to attain.

One caution, which is that the photos of Cheng are from two other previous books and some are reversed from what they are in the actual form; for example, single whip is shown on the left side when it is actually done on the right side. You can tell they're from different books since some photos show Cheng in a white jacket, and others show him in a dark jacket.

Smith includes the best brief, several-page summary of tai chi history and its origins I've seen, giving you essential details and facts without getting into an overly meticulous recounting of its origins, the lineage, and other controversial issues, which are still unresolved, anyway. But if you become more of an advanced student you'll want to learn all about that later. For an introductory text this is enough information for now.

A nice chapter on the martial arts applications is also included, something neglected too often in present day tai chi texts. Also, some good information and instruction on pushing hands techniques. By the way, pushing hands was a skill added to tai chi much later, it being originally a dim mak or point striking art, which most practitioners aren't aware of.

One minor quip. The pictures for the photo sequences of Cheng's form are a little small and sometimes a bit dark by present reproduction standards, but one has to remember these plates are now almost 40 years old.
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Format: Hardcover
This text by famous grandmaster Cheng Man-ch'ing and his first Western student, the well-known martial arts authority, Robert W. Smith, was written specifically for Western readers. One of the very first books written in English about T'ai Chi (first published in the U.S. in 1967), it is the first to present Cheng's now famous Yang style short form. It is also provides an English translation (by R. W. Smith and T.T. Liang) of the extremely important T'ai Chi Classics which provide the written wisdom essential for understanding and progress.
The book includes pictures of Cheng doing the postures along with text describing them as well as a very helpful foldout chart showing the complete form. Other excellent chapters cover T'ai Chi history, T'ai Chi for a healthier life and the Principles of T'ai Chi. In the section, T'ai Chi for Self-Defense, Cheng is pictured (with T.T. Liang) in demonstrations of some of the postures such as "Turn Body and Sweep Lotus with Leg" in which he advises that the "...waist and thigh must be relaxed and sunk or the sweep will not be effective." In "Withdraw and Push," Cheng tells us that "The energy used must come from the leg, not the hands."
The section entitled "Yang Cheng-fu's Twelve Important Points" introduces Westerners to the insights of the Yang family, the originators of modern T'ai Chi and the ones to bring forth T'ai Chi to all of China and the world in general.
In "Questions and Answers," Smith asks Cheng a series of interesting questions. For example, "In doing the postures how does one know when he is relaxed?" (Relaxation, of course, is the first principle of T'ai Chi practice.) Also, he asks "How important is the Pushing-Hands Practice?" Cheng's answers to these and other insightful questions provide helpful guidance to a student at any level.
This early, excellent text would be an important addition to any T'ai Chi player's library.
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