74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2008
When purchasing this book/dvd combination, I was hoping to get an introduction to Tai Chi that I could practically evaluate and practice. Instead, what I received was a poorly veiled advertisement for the author's 4 DVD set of instructional videos.
While the book does contain certain valuable facts about Tai Chi (history, etc), this is not something that you can pick up and begin doing Tai Chi exercises within an hour. The DVD on the other hand is almost completely useless and while advertising the full length 4 DVD set - looks as if it were filmed in the author's living room with long curtains hiding his sofa.
I would not recommend this product. Two stars b/c the book isn't all that bad - but is not a practical application of Tai Chi - and that may have been my mistake.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2000
QiGong (chee kung) means "breath work." Chinese references include nearly 7,000 QiGong exercises, some of which may be done while sitting or lying down. T'ai Chi (tie chee) is a form of QiGong. All T'ai Chi exercises are done while standing or moving. Bill Douglas has studied and taught QiGong and T'ai Chi for twenty years. His latest book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong, presents his accumulated knowledge in an easy-to-understand guide. Douglas says that "whether you are stressed out, continually exhausted, treating a health problem, or just wanting to get in shape and feel young again, T'ai Chi is just what you need." Qi is also known as the "energy of life." Stress, tension, and ill health stop the flow of Qi throughout the body. T'ai Chi exercises are easy to do, incorporating breathing and relaxation techniques in slow and relaxed movements. Douglas describes each exercise thoroughly, including information not just on the physical movement, but on the mental awareness it brings as well. Photographs accompany each exercise. He includes a section of advanced movements for those who have mastered the basics. He also includes special sections for children, seniors, sports, and healing therapy. The appendix lists organizations and energy work centers for those desiring to practice with others. Douglas also includes a complete glossary. More than 2,000 years old, T'ai Chi is the most popular exercise today. People like it not only for its simplicity, but because it "simultaneously heals the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body." Readers wanting to learn how to obtain these benefits for themselves will find that The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong provides the answers to their questions as well as the "how-to" they need. -- Sandra I. Smith, Reviewer
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2002
The author tries to present the theory and the practice of tai chi and ends up doing neither effectively. In the first 13 chapters, he goes through endless psychobabble, new age stuff.
Finally, he begins presenting the form in Chapter 15 (after a chapter of the history of the form which is largely redundant of what came before). In chapter 15 he presents 12 movements. Each movement concists of 4 to 6 instructions, but only one photograph. In Chapter 16, he writes, "This chpater will give you an overview of movements 13 through 25 of the Kuang Ping form. Rather than detailing the movements, this chapter will focus on some of the benefits of each moment." What follows is one photo for each movement and a paragraph telling the reading the benefits of this previous movement. This is tedious and redundant and not at all helpful for someone who wishes to learn the form.
If the reader wants to know the theory of tai chi, an excellent book is "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tai Chi" by Angus Clark. He presents Chinese philosophy within a Chinese setting not in New AGe babble.
If the reader wants to learn the form of tai chi, an excellent book is "Tai Chi, For Inner Harmony and Balance" by Paul Tucker. In this book, he presents a short form with amble photographs and illustrations and breaks the book into 31 very management lessons. The Tucker book is an excellent book.
Do not waste your time and money on the Douglas book.
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2002
I picked up this book in hopes of improving my teaching abilities. While it didn't really contribute to this, it's a good book for beginners, despite some misstatements (A. The people you see in other tai chi books aren't models, they're usually model students, B. David Carradine didn't do Tai Chi in the 'Kung fu' TV series, he did Tai Chi Praying Mantis, which is a hybrid art, and C. the cover claims 'Highly Illustrated instuction on the major Tai Chi styles', whereupon the only illustrated instruction is in the Kuang Ping and Mulan styles). Otherwise, Mr. Douglas covers his subject pretty well, and is fairly well-informed. Great book for beginners, albeit a little too 'New Agey'.
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2002
I have been interested in Tai Chi and QiGong for many years. I found all of the books interesting but just could not get myself to follow through. This book is fun to read, very motivating and you REALLY do feel a difference. I have found the Sitting QiGong a wonder after work. I wish I could give it more stars!!!!! Hope he writes more books.
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2004
Before I begin with my review, let me share a brief anecdote on tai chi: about a year ago, I was at a town watch meeting and met a retired gentleman who lives in my neighborhood. I am a qigong practicioner, and he practices tai chi. He told me that, for 20 years, he had chronic back pain. Then he began to practice tai chi, and within a few months he no longer had this back pain that he'd suffered every day for 20 years.
Now, you can accept the traditional chinese rationale for this relief, or you can rationalize it any other way you like, but the fact remains that many people, like this neighbor of mine, have benefited from tai chi and qigong. You can too.
Anyway, back to the book. This 2nd edition is of a larger format than the standard "Idiot's" books, and is well illustrated to show the various stances and movements in tai chi. Mr. Douglas' writing style is entertaining, and I found the book to be informative.
On the negative side, there were a few things I disagreed with. For example, the name of the taoist master Lao Tzu is pronounced, according to Mr. Douglas, as "Lao Dzoo". However, fellow taoist and qigong master Ken Cohen, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, says it is pronounced "Lao Dzuh". I'm inclined to go with Master Cohen on this one, as he is a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese. Also, Mr. Douglas says in this book that the I Ching is a "game", which it most certainly is not.
However, despite these misgivings, I found the information related to tai chi and qigong to be well-written and helpful, and this book is a worthy addition to my bookshelf. If you are interested in qigong only, I would recommend "The Way Of Qigong", by the aforementioned Ken Cohen.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2002
I have been studying Tai Chi for over 15 years and am the owner of my own Tai Chi school. I have often thought "I need to write a textbook for my new Tai Chi students" but I have never had the time. I am thrilled to say that I no longer have to do it because Bill Douglas has done it for me!!! I love it! I have found it to be an excellent resource and I am offering it to all of my students. Mr. Douglas is to be commended for his wonderful contribution. I think that his user-friendly format is ideal, his communication style effective, and his information is sound. If you are a beginner, this book will definitely help you to learn and understand Tai Chi. If you are an instructor, this book will make you a better teacher! Get it!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1999
As both a student and teacher of the Martial Arts, I understand how difficult and baffling some of these concepts can be. I understand how intimidating it can be for the beginner to seek out safe and credible instruction, especially women. And, to be honest, I know how difficult it is to find a "sense of humor" in such a traditionally austere atmosphere. As a Registered Nurse in an urban emergency department, I also know how timely and practical these practices are for our health and well being in today's heath care crisis. For these reasons and quite a few more The Idiot's Guide to Tai Chi and QI Gong is an incredible book and an important one. Mr. Douglas has achieved what I believe to be the desire of every good teacher: to simplify and convey extremely difficult information accurately. He gives the reader an excellent sense of what Tai Chi/Qi Gong is and how it works. He gives solid advice on evaluating a teacher and how to get started in a class. Many of the questions commonly asked by students are very clearly addressed and answered. And because of his methodical approach (and tons of pictures) this book is also perfect for people who have limited time or opportunity but might want to explore these practices on their own. The fact that he accomplished this with a good sense of humor is only icing on the cake. After years of reading the "traditional" texts, this book was a delightful breath of fresh air. He has achieved for Qi Gong what Apple did for the computer. He's brought it to the people. Anyone interested can now "get it" and have a good laugh too. Mr. Douglas' book is a great place to start for the beginner as well as an excellent place for "seasoned vets" to check in on simplicity. In fact, teachers may find this an excellent manual "on how to explain these concepts to the general public", and may also find that by referring students to the book as a primer, the students may be more likely to stick with their T'ai Chi classes, and be more relaxed and easier to teach. It is perfect for people who might have health problems and believe Martial Arts are only for the strong or the fit. Most importantly, it is an excellent way to help anyone develop a "Tai Chi" relationship with themselves and their world. R Poccia,Beyond Anonymous
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2005
I consider Bill Douglas's "Complete Idiot's Guide to Tai Chi and Qigong" the "best book on the market for a beginner" precisely because it doesn't just teach a form. It does show one form, the Kwang Ping long form, in considerable detail; but the real value of the book is that it covers a lot of territory relating to tai chi and qigong quickly and amusingly.
The average westerner who decides to try tai chi knows very little about what he's getting into. Reading Douglas's book is one of the quickest ways to acquire a little background--something to help you understand what you hear in class, remind you of the things you couldn't take in because you were fully occupied trying to get the next movement, give you "enough to be going on with" in your own further reading--and tell you what to expect (and look for) in a class before you get there.
I don't know any other book that crams as much about as many different subjects relating to tai chi and qigong into as little space as painlessly. Jou's book, "The Tao of Taijiquan", while excellent, and one of the very few that, like Douglas's book seeks to go beyond style to what is essential to all styles of tai chi, is not exactly light reading. It will tell you much more in much greater depth than the average beginner is likely to sit still for or be able to understand or appreciate. Reading Douglas first is an excellent idea, and what I recommended to my students when I was a leading a tai chi practice group.
The comment has been made that the form described and pictured in this book is an unusual one that won't help you "fit in" to classes you might find more readily on various Yang forms, but for a real beginner (the "complete idiot" of the title), some examples were necessary, and Douglas quite reasonably used his own style. It isn't the one I do or taught in the practice group, but that doesn't make the bulk of Douglas's book irrelevant. Most of his material is general enough to be useful background for any style you choose--and if, like me, you choose a style that's so uncommon in your area you have to be very largely your own teacher, it's a great boon to find a book to help you fill the gaps in all that background information you, as your sifu with a fool for a student, didn't know to tell yourself to start with.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2007
Stress at work. Find yourself sitting in front of the television all weekend. Turning into a zombie? Been there, done that.
Let me clarify this: I've never been 'up' on the Eastern arts, and until I picked up this book, I had no clue about Eastern Medicine. As a 'good Christian boy', that sounded a bit outside my realm.
But, after reading Mr. Douglas' book and watching hte included DVD, I must say that I have fallen for Tai Chi and Qi-Gong 100% !!!
The breathing techniques you learn early on help tremendously, especially when done daily.
Now that I've read the book, I have been actively seeking a Tai Chi class here in my hometown.
Easy to read and simple to follow, Mr. Douglas presents Tai Chi in a way that anyone could understand.
Oh, and if you have physical limitations, DO NOT WORRY! Mr. Douglas includes information that demonstrates how you can participate in Tai Chi, too!