Taiji With Eldan


My teachers

My main teacher since 2011 has been Viola Brumbaugh in Seattle. Her love of the art is contagious, and she teaches several classes a week online, so you don't have to be local to join.

Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei is the definitive source for our lineage, and he produces some downloadable videos and online workshops, as well as offering a few weekend seminars a year around the world.

Here are some of the other teachers I have had the privilege of studying with and can recommend:

Books about Taiji itself

Chen Zhenglei has written a series of reference books with illustrations and guidance on the movements, all translated by Jack Yan, the head of the Canadian branch of his federation. I don't recommend trying to learn taiji from a book as the primary source, but the books can be a great help if you find yourself wanting to dig into the details. They're getting hard to find online, but Plum Publishing seems to reliably have them (look for "Chen's Tai Chi Series" on that page).

C.P. Ong's "Taijiquan Cultivating Inner Strength" is a very readable overview of the theory behind taiji, and helps explain why some of the training methods are as they are.

Blogs and mailing lists

Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim writes short, pithy posts about the ideas underlying Taiji at Chinese Whispers.

Sam Masich writes a a consistently informative newsletter about Taiji history, theory, and culture.

Other resources about the culture around Taiji

Chen Zhenglei's biography, written by Cui ChunDong and translated by Jack Yan, is a fascinating read. It gives a lot of the background to how Chen Taiji almost died out in the 20th Century and how it has rebounded since, as well as a heart rending personal account of living through the Cultural Revolution. It's available from Plum Press.

The philosophical roots of Taijiquan come from Daoism, and it's worth reading the Dàodéjīng, the founding text of Daoism. There are many dramatically different English translations of it, and I have nothing like the expertise to claim that any given one is right or wrong, but I am personally a fan of Ursula Le Guin's version, which I find the most readable.

If you are wondering how to pronounce transcriptions of Chinese, and why there are so many different ones, I recommend this quick history of the Pinyin romanisation system, and this Pinyin pronounciation guide. I use Pinyin because it's the closest thing to an "official" transcription system for Chinese as spoken by the Chen family, and it was actually devised by Chinese people rather than colonial scholars.

China Digital Times and the Sinica Podcast are my favourite sources about contemporary China, which most media based in English-speaking countries do a terrible job of covering.