Most people know about Tai Chi (also Tai Chi Chuan or Taijiquan) because they have seen some old Chinese people moving slowly in a park in a documentary about China. But what about a Tai Chi documentary? Once you a are biten by the Tai Chi bug, you want to know more about the art, the history, the background.
I spent many Saturday nights watching one Tai Chi documentary after the other (poor me 😉 ). Thus now I can tell you what they are about and which I liked the most!
>20 Tai Chi documentaries
The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey to the West
Let’s start with a Tai Chi documentary from 2016. It is a documentary solely about Cheng Manching. One of his students (Ken Van Sickle) and a well-known director (Barry Strugatz, read my interview with him here) did this Cheng Manching film with many of his students. This is the trailer:
This Tai Chi documentary is not available on YouTube, but you can get it at Amazon:
I watched it and I really enjoyed it. It give a very good insight into the Cheng Manching teachings in New York. And I find it wonderful to see that even though he died in 1975, he had such a big influence on people!
If you want to watch more, have a look at the most interesting Cheng Manching videos here.
太极拳八一电影 Taijiquan Documentary from the 1950s
On the contrary, this seems to be one of the oldest documentaries about Taijiquan. It is said to be from the 1950s. There is no tone and no comments, but here they say that there are Tai Chi masters featured like Li Yaochen, Chen Zhaokui, Sun Jianyun, Wang Yongquan, Yang Yuting, and Li Jing Wu.
The Way of the Warrior: Tai Chi, the Soft Way
This documentary Tai Chi film was made by BBC in 1983. Unfortunately the visual quality is very poor, but the audio is ok. It features a master from Taipeh (Master Hung) and his students. There are many moves and applications not only from Taijiquan but large parts are actually about Xingyi and Baguazhang.
Tai Chi: The Deadly Art
This documentary is in Chinese with English subtitles (and thus the ads are actually quite annoying because then it’s hard to read the subtitles!). It is about three martial artists coming from different pracitices, e.g. Karate, Praying Mantis etc. Each of them tries Taijiquan for some months and reports what they think about it.
I would say that Chen styles has the most “air time” in this documentary, but Wu style and Yang style Taijiquan are also shown. There are many featured masters and teachers, the most known are probably Chen Xiaowang, Chen Xiaoxing, Ng Kwongyu, Chan Cheonglap and Prof. Yuen Keiching.
There are actually quite a lot of fighting scenes in this documentary. I have to admit that I am not quite sure if all of the fights are actually Push Hands or Sanda or Taijiquan at all. But well, I guess the good thing about that is that maybe more young people will be intrigued by Taijiquan after seeing this Tai Chi video.
“Supernova” Documentary – Tai Chi in MMA
This short film shows UFC fighter Nick Osipczak. He is said to be the first who brought Tai Chi to mixed martial arts. The film is about Yin and Yang and finding a balance, but it does not say more about he actually incorporates Tai Chi in his fights.
There are actually various documentaries about Chen style Taijqiuan. This is the trailer to one of them.
You can buy the full documentary at Amazon:
Experiencing Real Kung Fu: Chen Style Tai Chi
I recommend watching this interesting documentary from the Chen village with applications and small fights. My favorite line from this film is “Mr Wang’s abdomen is the most weird.” I mean it’s true, whenever I touch a master’s body it so soft yet magical!
And actually one of the hosts, Eric Couillard wrote about the experience here.
Tai Chi of Wudang
There must be several parts of this documentary, this seems to be part 6. It is mostly about Zhang Sanfeng and his lineage. And it even inlcudes a short interview with Ang Lee, the movie director. And it has a beautiful shot of Taijiquan in the snow (ca. 23. minute).
The Immortal Path
This is another Wudang documentary. Have a look at the trailer:
You can get the full Tai Chi DVD on Amazon:
Disciples of the sacred mountain
There seem to be many documentaries about Wudang during the last years! Look at this trailer:
Again, you can get the DVD at Amazon!
Wu family style documentary
Quality is not very good, but I put it on the list to show that there are documentaries from different styles! It features specifically Eddi Kwon Wu from Hongkong and includes weapons.
Master of Heaven & Earth
This documentary covers the Yang style, Chen style and Wudang Taijiquan. Have a look at the trailer:
You can buy the full documentary at Amazon:
Travel – Cheng Cheng – A documentary about Tai Chi
In this Tai Chi documentary you can see the portrait of a Hong Kong-origined teacher who now teaches in Chicago – her name is actually How Come? She also teaches in a senior home (which reminded me of the course I once taught seniors). The movie is from 2015.
This is a documentary about Daoism and Martial Arts. I found it really interesting and of course it covers Taijiquan!
Tai Chi documentaries in Chinese
This movie seems to be very interesting, however, it is only in Chinese! Maybe someone can tell me what it is about in the comments?
The next movie is also only in Chinese, so I am not completley sure what it is about. It seems like some kind of competition between different masters. In the end there is a little “fight”. And I think they do scientific tests, too. So look for the other videos (I found it the easiest to search for 太极拳-最高境界的格斗术 in YouTube and then go from 1A to 4B.
There is a short documentary from a Vietnam veteran who discovered Tai Chi to deal with PTDS (Post-traumatic demoralization syndome). He is a student of Bruce Frantzis. You can watch the film here.
And this is another Tai Chi documentary from a veteran, talking about his journey:
And just in case if you are interested in WHY one should Tai Chi, have a look at this documentary. You’ll also find an introduction to what Taijiquan is, Yin & Yang, Taoism, Tai Chi benefits etc. And this documentary is different from most other because this one covers Western teachers!
And last but not least: This woman traveled to China to learn Taijiquan there. Interesting, and that looks like a nice school:
There are surely many more documentaries, but these are the ones I could find and which I liked. If you know of any new Tai Chi documentaries let me know and I will have a look at them!