The Role Of Books

Posted by Stuart Herbert on October 15th, 2008 in Teaching.

In last week’s Beginners’ class, we enjoyed a great discussion about the books I recommend on this website, and which books are of any use to someone just starting learning the art.

My own experience with books over the years is three-fold:

  1. As a beginner, I simply had no common frame of reference to understand the great advice available in the great Tai Chi books. Looking back in recent years, I can now see that many of the answers I’ve sought were there under my nose the entire time, but I simply didn’t understand enough to see that.
  2. There are a great many Tai Chi books that (imho) are utter rubbish. I don’t mean that they are written badly, but that the advice they contain is demonstrably wrong. Much to my wife’s disgust, I collect these almost as avidly as I do the better books, and my students can look forward to the day when I share these books with them, and ask them to pick out the many flaws they contain 😀
  3. The books that could be called authentic are a great source of advice. I was taught to take nothing on faith, to always seek out and verify everything I was taught by Robert. New information can promote a path of experience to new understanding, and in the light of new information things must change.

You can’t learn from a book. Knowledge comes from a book, but understanding only comes from experience. Books can’t replace a good teacher, but they can certainly validate good teaching. And they can expose bad teaching too.

One Comment

  1. Shang Lee says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I used to read a lot, but nowadays, I find too much information contained in books, mostly theoretical to me anyway as I can’t do them. I now just try to remember one basic rule – to relax – and all should fall into place. 🙂