The Tai Chi Space Book

How to Move in Tai Chi and Qi Gong

A Pictorial Guide of the 42 fundamental internal principles by Paul Cavel

  • 120 original illustrations by Sophie Manham
  • E-book or paperback
  • Reviews and student feedback below

Recommended by Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis:

“Paul is a gifted teacher who is able to embody the arts and break them down into easy to follow steps. I have seen him help others build extraordinary energetic foundations in their bodies. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn or deepen the internal principles that give shape to tai chi and qi gong forms”.

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This book is designed to teach the fundamentals that drive and underpin training at all levels and stages of development, not a form. There are numerous books on forms packed full of diagrams and figures that largely only serve to confuse those trying to learn tai chi and qi gong because three-dimensional motion cannot be accurately portrayed by a series of two-dimensional images, and large gaps between moves prevent students from truly following along.

The collection of principles included in the book, portrayed as illustrations and accompanied by brief explanations, are aimed at conveying how internal arts techniques function in ways that help you embed them and feel them come alive in your flesh. Internal arts training does not involve just thinking about or visualising concepts. Instead, the focus is on directly experiencing what is happening inside your body – no mental projection required! But of course you must have some level of understanding of what it is you are meant to do as a starting point. Pictures can give you a means for assimilating information without simply overlaying past experiences onto concepts that are actually brand new to you.

Foreword by Dr. Michael Mettner:

“Metaphors, images and symbols are the language of our subconscious minds. They help to convey meaning to our consciousness and hence store in the memory quite easily and naturally. If they are chosen well, they are able to penetrate the deeper layers of our consciousness and trigger the deeply imprinted wisdom of our body. The images Paul offers can shorten the process of transmitting information, enhance our learning and awaken our bodily intelligence.

This way of teaching requires a very deep level of understanding of the material and, indeed, of human nature itself. Paul obviously has both”.

Who Can This Book Benefit?

Whether you are a complete beginner, an experienced stylist or anywhere in-between, learning and training an internal art always requires attuning your mind to the modus operandi, content and quality of the art you are practising. In the longer term, you need a method for staying on track and preventing squandered effort, either by missing some of the essential principles in your practice or by trying to move on to more advanced techniques too quickly. All of the material in this book is a part of fundamental training that should never be regarded as too elementary, nor not important enough to develop and revisit time and again, as internal arts training is intrinsically circular. Through the cycling, intermediate and advanced students will find the holes in their understanding and skill set, and root out weaknesses; this guides and sets the pace for ongoing practice without a bunch of mental mumbo jumbo, allowing more advanced training to transpire organically.

Message from Paul Cavel:

“I have encountered too many practitioners who have put in immense effort, some over many years, in great earnest, yet their forms cannot really be considered internal. Maybe they trained a weak system, did not have a teacher who could perform or communicate internal techniques that are virtually invisible to the untrained eye, or they did not spend enough time on component practices. Whatever the case, this situation is incredibly unfortunate, and, with my upcoming book, my aim is to show you how to develop quality and depth in the fundamentals, which not only unlock health and power-generating benefits but also more advanced and extraordinary levels of practice”.

119 pages

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Order your copy of The Tai Chi Space: How to Move in Tai Chi & Qi  Gong >>
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Publisher: Aeon Books, London, UK
Catalogue No: 40055
ISBN 13: 9781904658986
ISBN 10: 1904658989

What Peers & Students Are Saying:

“The Tai Chi Space: How to Move in Tai Chi and Qigong” should prove to be quite valuable to my students. The 42 Principles takes one directly beyond the “dance” of forms to a succinct understanding of why we learn and practice the forms. An amazing blueprint to direct the mind’s quest for qi energy experience; an owner’s manual for the body. All related via simple metaphors imagery and symbols. An extraordinary achievement; thanks Paul. Jerry, certified WI-YMCA instructor

Thank you. I am into the book now and very much enjoying it. Paul clearly knows exactly what he is talking about. I’m very glad I bought the book. Peter B

Congratulations on this marvel of a book with valuable lessons for all tai chi and qigong students. Joan G

Your book is great! Mo, France

I am enjoying the book, it is so clear and, like poetry, its “simplicity and clarity” is very nice. Runa G, Sweden

I forgot to mention how much value I’m getting from his book, which I’m reading in small segments and will, I’m sure, reread often. Holly

The focus on the C7 anchor and extension of the elbows from the spine worked a treat!  I spent the main part of the practice in Yang run-throughs just feeling that connection, then applied it to Brush Knee as you suggested. The three point focus connected my frame so the points moved together and gave relative positions in space from which to move, with the anchor as ‘origin’; opening me up.  It changed Brush Knee for me completely. I only describe this to let you know how wonderfully user-friendly your text is. By separating the Principles into 42 specific chunks means we’re not trying to ‘juggle’ and then your direction to apply this one element to a single tai chi move again refines practice.  If we don’t know how or what to separate; we can’t combine. This book is excellent and I believe will be able to be used through a lifetime of tai chi. —Susan D, UK

I recently had a chance to read through some of “The Tai Chi Space” and it pulled me in immediately!  I am a serious bookworm and your style and presentation is totally spot on. I really like the “Visual Lexicon” part.  —Katy, HI, USA

I have just begun exploring Qi Gong and am very impressed with your book. It was delivered this week and I have found it very informative. Because I am so impressed with this book, I am signing up for your training program The Five Keys to Taoist Energy Arts. —John N, TX, USA

[The] new book is just fantastic. It has a way to skillfully convey powerfull ideas with simple illustrations and it is very inspiring for my daily practices. —Olivier A, Spain

A most welcome addition to my library. I have found this to be an aid to my understanding. —John C, Canada

I would just like to write to thank you for the book The Tai Chi Space! I have found each of the tips to be incredibly helpful – not only do they give me certain things to focus on while practising the (Yang) form but, most importantly, each of the tips and accompanying illustrations are communicated in an easy-to-comprehend manner (certainly NOT a common trait of many taichi books!) – and yet similarly possessing so much depth that I imagine returning to it again and again over the coming years. A wonderful achievement! —Damian L, Germany


Energy Arst Senior Instructor Bill Ryan:

Tai Chi Teacher Bill Ryan

Paul Cavel, my friend in the study and teaching of tai chi and qigong for over 20 years, has just published his first book. It’s entitled The Tai Chi Space: How to Move in Tai Chi and Qigong.

For a very long time, I’ve looked for a book about the core principles of tai chi and qigong that I could recommend for students, in addition to our teacher Bruce Frantzis’ books.

Paul has written that book. I’ve read it from cover to cover, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who studies tai chi or qigong.

It’s the kind of book you can pick up, peruse one or two pages of easy-to-read text, and immediately go practice whatever you’ve learned in your tai chi or qigong form … and realize improvement.

Even better, for every principle Paul presents, the book includes a  drawing by artist Sophie Manham that captures and helps you understand and remember the principle.

I’ve always loved to watch Paul teach, whether introductory or more advanced subjects, because he explains things in ways that students in the West can relate to and understand. He does the same in this book.

After just a quick first viewing of a few pages on Amazon, one of our students said that it’s some of the best writing he’s seen on tai chi and qigong.

Whether you’re new to tai chi or qigong or a long-time student or a teacher, I’m confident you’ll benefit greatly from reading and pondering what Paul has written.

Once you’ve read it, please post a review on Amazon, and do anything else you can to spread interest.

Bill Ryan

Chris Cinnamon of Chicago Tai Chi:

I want to offer my strong recommendation for an outstanding new book for Tai Chi and Qigong practitioners, The Tai Chi Space: How to Move in Tai and Qigong, by Paul Cavel.Based in the UK and Spain, Paul is a Senior Energy Arts Instructor with over 20 years experience in teaching Tai Chi and Qigong.

In Tai Chi Space, Paul describes 42 principles, guiding the reader sequentially from what it takes to build solid foundation for a Tai Chi or Qigong practice to deeper internal practices to increase Qi flow, fluidity, and connection.

Tai Chi and Qigong practitioners of all levels will find Tai Chi Space loaded with readily accessible material to advance and deepen your practice.

Each principal is succinctly articulated (2 pages max) and accompanied by Sophie Manham’s helpful illustrations. Paul’s prose deftly combines education with entertainment, at once authoritative, lyrical, and straightforward.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing Paul’s teaching in person at Energy Arts retreats. He is top quality instructor, combining deep knowledge of the material with an extraordinary ability to teach subtle external and internal movement. Plus his sharp British wit provides ample comic relief.

Tai Chi Space is a welcome addition to the Tai Chi literature, and I recommend it highly.

Chris Cinnamon,JD, MS, Head Instructor, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist

Elena Moreno, Tai Chi Book Reviewer:

Many of the metaphors and images used in the book draw from the rich oral tradition by ancient masters… Read more at