By Douglas Wile
Trade paperback book
This book introduces for the first time in English three sixteenth to eighteenth century martial arts traditions that contributed critical genetic material to the development of t’ai-chi ch’uan as it came to be constructed in the nineteenth century: Three men – a general, a peasant, and a scholar – created arts which have virtually vanished., but whose form, spirit, and theory live on in t’ai-chi today. Ch’i Chi-kuang’s Essentials of the Classic of Pugilism bequeathed its postures and form: Wang Chen-nan’s Art of the Internal School contributed its philosophy and ideology: and Ch’ang Nai-chou’s writings are our closest link to T’ai chi theory and the classics. Taken together, these truly are t’ai-chi’s ancestors.
To put these sources into historical context, this book examines the more than two thousand year development of soft-style martial arts theory, attitudes toward martial arts in Chinese society, new perspectives on the Chang San-feng legend, the popularization of t’ai-chi ch’uan in the late Ch’ing-early Republican period, and its role in ideological debates down to the present. Practitioners will find this book the authentic historical origins of their art, and scholars will glimpse a neglected aspect of sixteenth through twentieth century Chinese culture.
Praise for Tai Chi Ancestors The Making of an Internal Martial Art
“Douglas Wile, a professor of Chinese language and literature and a longtime practitioner of T’ai Chi Ch’aun, has written a scholarly and useful book that provides valuable insights into the development of Chinese internal martial arts theory. A skilled translator and author of important T’ai Chi Ch’uan books. Wile reveals source material useful for beginners and advanced practitioners.”
-Marvin Smallheiser, Editor/Publisher, T’ai Chi Magazine