Q: What are the Tai Chi Classics?

A: The Classics is a small group of texts that have turned up in different versions in the families that have a lineage back in history; the Yang family, Wu family and Chen family, but other copies have turned up as well. The common thing is that there were different authors given for the texts. Zhang Sanfeng, Wu Yuxiang and Wang Zongyue have been ascribed as authors for different reasons. Furthermore they had different titles in the different copies, and they were also presented in a slightly different order and different wording. However, it has always been clear that these texts were old and very important as they give us principles for internal practice and the philosophy behind Tai Chi.
After the Li Family Manual was discovered all the missing pieces fell into place – The classics were written by three different members of the Li Family of Tang Village in the Henan Province. Wang Zongyue was a school teacher who studied with one of them, he simply signed his own bunch of texts and this caused other people to believe he was the author.

The Classics consist of:

無極養生拳論
Treatise of the Health Preserving Boxing System
of the Endless Void –  Li Chunmao (Li Yezhen) 1590.

十三勢行功歌
Poem on the practice of the Thirteen Movements – Li Chunmao (Li Yezhen) 1590.

十三勢釋名
Explaining the name of the thirteen movements – Li Family manual, but author not given.

十三勢論
Treatise of the Thirteen Movements – Li Chunmao (Li Yezhen) 1632

十三勢行功心解
Explaining the mindset of the practice of the thirteen movements  – Li Family manual, but author not given.

行功心法辯
A discussion of the mind-set of practicing
Li Zhong (1598-1689)

太極拳論
Treatise on Taijiquan – Li Helin 1787

打手歌
Poem of sparring – Li Helin 1787

打手要言
Essential words of sparring – Li Family manual, but author not given.

身法 Body method
刀法 Sabre method
槍法 Lance method
打手撒放 Issue forth with the voice in sparring
– Li Family manual, but author not given.

春秋刀訣 – Li Family manual, but author not given.
The Spring and Autumn Long Broadsword – Copied by Ru Chun from the stone tablet at the Guan Sheng Hall in the Thousand Year Temple.

All texts are translated in the book Tai Chi – The True History & Principles