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Journal of Asian Martial Arts - Articles
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Laoshi: Tai Chi, Teachers, and Pursuit of Principle

By Jan Kauskas

Laoshi: Tai Chi, Teachers, and Pursuit of Principle
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Laoshi: Tai Chi, Teachers, and Pursuit of Principle

A tai chi student explores the Dao of Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-ch'ing) with the aid of his teacher, Laoshi. Through personal accounts, reflection, and dialogue with Laoshi, we witness the novice's evolution in his search for the spirit of the art-and the resulting bond forged with his instructor. Together, student and teacher examine the philosophical and martial aspects of tai chi. They demonstrate what it means to pursue principle, and they see the ease with which it can be lost to that trickster and provocateur, the ego. Engaging, sincere, and at times lighthearted, this fictional memoir narrated from the student's perspective addresses themes familiar to all who study tai chi and the martial arts. Laoshi is a journey into tai chi and a meditation on life and living without fear.









  • “This book allows us to meet that one teacher we all wish we could just spend our entire lives with. We can't help but feel inspired to not just be better martial artists, but better human beings.”
    > Yang Jwing-Ming, Ph.D. (president, YMAA Retreat Center)
  • “Located at the intersection of tai chi and life, technique and principle—the veteran, beginner, and even nonpractitioner will find wisdom that never descends into cliché. Mr. Kauskas delivers a highly edifying and entertaining cornucopia of anecdote, aphorism, and apocrypha, destined to become a modern classic.”
    > Douglas Wile, Ph.D. (author, T’ai Chi’s Ancestors: The Making of an Internal Art)
  • “. . . informative and entertaining . . . . People who want to learn more about tai chi, or Eastern philosophy in general, will be well served, and those who practice tai chi will find answers to many of their questions in this book.”
    > Ken Van Sickle (author, Taiji Feather Sword)
  • “Laugh, cringe, and marvel with a young warrior encountering his own issues and blindspots while navigating the labyrinth of martial arts training . . . . our protagonist stumbles and soars in his quest for mastery and enlightenment.”
    > Tricia Yu (author, Tai Chi Mind and Body)
  • “Jan Kauskas covers all the topics and challenges we face in tai chi practice beyond the physical movements. He shows the entire learning process, written beautifully as dialogue between the student and his master, Laoshi. A really inspiring book for all who are playing tai chi or would like to begin.”
    > Helmut Oberlack (publisher, Taijiquan & Qigong Journal)

Author Bio:
Jan Kauskas began studying the tai chi of Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-ch'ing) in 1987, initially in the UK, then in the US and Taiwan. He teaches full-time at his school, Autumn River Tai Chi (Glasgow, Scotland), and also at workshops in Europe. He offers teaching in the principles of tai chi through practice of the Zheng Manqing form, da lü, push-hands, saber form, sword form, and fencing.

Product Specifications:

6" x 9", 200-page, perfect bound paperback.


1 Tai Chi Beginning 

2 Ward Off Doubt and Fear 

3 Life-Giving Sword 

4 Step Back to Repulse Boredom

5 The Martial Sparrow

6 Tales of the Repulsive Monkey

7 The Swallow Leaves the Nest

8 Punch the Big Toe

9 Waving Hands in Confusion

10 Do a Form

11 Copy, Imitate, Steal

12 Withdraw and Push the Yin

13 Standing on the Edge of a Precipice

14 The Pillar of Heaven Collapses

15 Is That So?

16 Chasing the Sparrow’s Tail

17 Study the Form, It Has Meaning 

18 Separate Fact from Fiction

19 Cross Swords

20 Play the Qi

21 Mutually Guarding

22 Fair Lady

23 The Alert Cat Catches a Cold 

24 The White Ape Offers Respect

25 The Kicking Section

26 The Dao of Man

27 But It’s Not Martial Arts

28 Step Back and Listen

29 Circles around Push-Hands

30 The Old Lion Gives Way

31 Armor Fist and Elbow

32 Embrace Tiger, Return to Energy

33 Easy Is Right 

34 Conserving the Qi 

35 The Hornet Enters the Hive 

36 Embrace the Sword That Does Not Shine

37 The Greatness of the Qi