The classics are the collected wisdom of the old Tai Chi masters. They attempt to give meaning to the more abstract concepts of the art. The writings are not meant to be taken literally, they’re more of a guide to lead the student to a deeper understanding. They need to be read, thought about and pondered. Some of the ideas only have meaning once the student has the necessary level of experience, and others are a guide so that the student has something to aim for and to think about.
There are traditionally five classics:
For a full discussion on the subject refer to Dan Docherty’s book “Tai Chi Chuan – Decoding the Classics for the Modern Martial Artist“