Taoism And The Taoist Arts




Main Concepts
- Yin and Yang
- The 5 Elements
- Wu Wei / nothingness
- Chi - the vital energy

Background & History:
- History of Taoism
- Main characters & texts
- Religious Taoism
- Modern Interpretations

The Taoist Arts:
Martial Arts
T'ai Chi
Medicine / Diet

- UK


Taoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy which promotes living simply and in harmony with nature, and going with the flow. Ancient Taoists believed that by following the natural world, pursuing a strict diet and meditation regime and not struggling with their lot, they could achieve an inner calm, improved health and great martial power. But despite its age, Taoism has a lot to offer the average Westerner and more and more people are turning towards the Taoist arts to help them with questions and problems in their lives.

The Taoist masters, often referred to in the ancient texts as 'sages' or even 'immortals' typically studied such topics as meditation, martial arts, herbalism, diet and medicine and often the arts. Though they might seem unconnected, study of all of these topics leads to self improvement on a physical, mental or spiritual level and this is one of the reasons they appealed to the Taoists of old. As 'Taoist Arts' information on each topic can be found in these pages.

A Few Words

Everything you read about Taoism or the Taoist arts should be taken as personal opinion not hard fact, and that includes this site. Taoism is not an abstract set of beliefs but a practical way of life and therefore open to many different interpretations. Particularly beware of Western 'interpretation' by non Taoists. The philosophies are meant for living, not for discussing, and many attempts have been made to translate ideas as well as words. This has not generally been very helpful.

One common example of this is in the translation of 'chi' which literally means 'energy' or 'breath' and refers to the internal energy. This concept is foreign to western thought and some have taken it to refer to the body's electromagnetic energy, or to a kind of strength obtained by leverage and good posture. You may or may not agree with these ideas, but it is worth being aware that they are Western interpretations of a Chinese concept, not direct translations.

The way to learn about Taoism or the Taoist arts is by direct experience, and in my opinion this is the only way. Tao means 'way' or 'path', and while books and teachers can act as signposts, no amount of description can replace the experience of actually walking along that path, especially when it is a path through terrain quite foreign to us. Above all always bear in mind the first line of the Tao Te Ching: The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact me

About this site

/ Background & History 1 / Background & History 2
Main concepts 1 / Main concepts 2 / Meditation / Martial Arts
T'ai Chi / Herbalism / Medicine / Bookshop / Contact