Shambhala 1977, 1990
Contains translations and commentaries on the essential texts by Chang San-feng, Wong Whung-hua and Wu Yu-hsiang
as well as a clear and easy to follow discussion of the history and principles.
North Atlantic Books
This was the first book on Tai Chi Chuan I read, and while it is certainly very good, there can be no doubt that Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art after reading this. The philosophy and mystical parts are just that, though with their brevity and clarity, are more than a bit better than the average. The heart of this book, however, is the move by move description of the traditional Ching Men Ching short style yang form, by far the most often taught and videoed these days in the US, is almost whole a description of combat.
If my opponent punches at me from the left, I sink onto my right leg, release the left, turn the waist thus and ... thereby uprooting the opponent and surely tossing him against the wall....
Not a quote from any particular passage, but as you can see this book pretty much assumes you already know the basic moves and just want to really understand what's going on. I highly recommend it to folks who have learned the basic sequence and what to understand the martial aspects of what they have learned. Many of the pictures are helpful, too.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong (Complete Idiot's Guides)is a lot of fun to read and certainly hits most if not all of the key points a student of T'ai Chi or Ch'i Kung should know about. As with all these type of guides, the information is chunked pretty small and sometimes it feels as if there is something missing.
The author is very active in the World Tai Chi Day activities, and hosted the event in Kansas city in the summer of 1999. I went there and was quite impressed with both the wide variety of styles being played on the lawn of the musuem. His form, a 64 move variety of the Yang Family style, I've never seen or heard of elsewhere, but it appears quite learnable. However, the photos and instructions in the book are not going to be of much help for a beginner.
His wife did a Mulan form, named after the same person Disney co-opted. Especially for women, this form would be a real challange to anyone, though she made it seem both elegant and easy (except for the low parts).