There is vigorous debate on whether one can learn
Taiji (T'ai Chi) and other forms of Qigong (Ch'i Kung) from
books, audio tapes and videos. Hundreds of experts have
insisted that it is impossible. Yet in China there are
thousands of books on Taiji and Qigong. In the West there
are hundreds of books. There are several excellent videos
that are not overly complex.
Numerous people who could not find a teacher brought
focus and enthusiasm to the use of books, audios and videos
and were able to learn quite a bit. Of course such learning
is best as an addition to study with a teacher or a group
Simple forms of Qigong are the most accessible through
books and tapes. Longer and more complex Qigong forms and
most forms of Taiji are impossible to learn without a
teacher. The benefit of books, audios and videos is also in
exposure to stories, the history, the science and the
testimonials that can enrich your practice.
The primary short coming of books is that the postures
are usually depicted with poor illustrations or very
un-dynamic, posed pictures. It is nearly impossible to
"guess" what movement connects the postures in the pictures.
There are some excellent books available and it is to your
benefit to read about Taiji and Qigong.
The primary shortcoming of audio tapes is that you
can't see what is being described. With meditation forms of
Qigong this is OK, however, the moving forms really require
visual the support not available in an audio. There are
number of excellent audio resources for Qigong and Taiji
particularly on the theoretical and philosophical
The primary shortcoming of videos on Taiji and Qigong
is that the production costs are very high, to get excellent
quality. So, some of the videos are low quality. Others are
not very well thought out so that the visual material is
poor. Some videos are excellent and very useful.
Books, audios and videos are best as follow-up to
workshops and trainings or to modify and enhance one's
practice. There are many cases, however, of people who have
developed their own practice using these resources.