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on June 3, 2005
One of the top-five Qigong books on the market. This may well be the most important book available, the one to use as the reference by which to judge the others. It's prosaic and straightforward, not flowery, not air-headed, not egotistical, not anything but pure Qigong history and theory. Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming is a real treasure, an example for all of us to enjoy.

There are no real "excercises" described in this book, but the descriptions of the breathing techniques alone will enhance the reader's practice immeasurably. I teach things somewhat differently, but this book definitely enhanced the quality of my own instruction.

Dr. Yang could have saved the space devoted to the Meridians and TCM, both themes are covered in just about every average-quality Qigong book available.

I would love to give such rave reviews to his other Qigong books, but unfortunately, they don't live up to the standard set by this one.

The best companion to this book, in my experience, in Roger Jahnke's "The Healing Promise of Qi".
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on September 18, 2000
I'm always surprised at the number of qigong students who have never heard of the principles of "regulating" (tiao in Chinese). I'm also surprised at the number of qigong teachers who never even mention the topic! It is a fundamental concept of the art.
This book fills in that gap. It is a detailed and well-researched textbook of Qigong theory that I recommend to serious students and teachers of qigong, taijiquan (tai chi chuan), and internal martial arts. I use this book constantly in my teaching of qigong and taiji and in my writing on those subjects.
Yes, the book is more suitable for the experienced student, and may be tough going for a beginner. If you are already studying or teaching qigong, however, I highly recommend taking the time to study this book.
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on May 10, 2002
I haven't been that impressed with Dr. Yang's other Qigong books but this one captures a good amount of essential ideas in one place. The book goes through the 5 element theory in a very basic way (for a very thorough view of this see "Between Heaven and Earth : A Guide to Chinese Medicine"). The book then goes through a very detailed and excellent discussion of Qi, Jing and Shen.
There are a few exercises in here but this is really a reference dedicated to the more "theoretical" aspects of Qigong. There are many important tips for all aspects of Qigong including some good ideas for helping you achieve a deeper Qi state during meditation. There are also some good points about things such as Qi stagnation and how to relieve it.
Dr. Yang also keeps pointing out that it is important to find a good master - something I agree cannot be overemphasised. There are many people in North America claiming to "masters" and it would appear that the vast majority are better labelled as enthusiasts. If you are really interested in what Qigong can do for you I highly suggest finding out if WISH (USA or Canada) have a class nearby. I would avoid many of the other books since most promote activities that can be very harmful if not done under expert supervision.
When you come down to it, Qigong (and meditation in general) is not something that is suited for books. It is about doing it and being dedicated to cultivating yourself. Spend your money on a good introductory course and start practicing!
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on March 7, 2010
This intro tome to the art is a product of the golden age of Chi Kung (see Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China). It's the result of a buying spree by the author on a visit home to Taiwan, during which he snatched up every Chi Kung document he could find -- and in those days, before the Falun Gong crackdown, that was probably a *lot*.

Yang's determination to cross-reference and characterize every single method he has read about is creditable, but as he freely admits, he certainly has not practiced every single thing he is describing. What you are getting here is a digest of written material. The initial attitude is great, speaking of tradition with the highest respect but also granting the need to test it and acknowledge it wrong if necessary, and insisting the reader not take the book as infallible.

I learned from the pool of info -- terminological clarifications, subtle distinctions in breathing and work with the emotional mind, things of that kind. But I didn't learn as much as I had expected. The material is repetitive. It's mostly pretty basic stuff, but since it's presented neither simply enough nor coherently enough to practice from, I would not recommend it for a beginner. Conversely, if you are experienced in Chi Kung this will mostly be stuff you already know.

Despite the initial "I'm not the final authority" attitude, there are endless exhortations with the words 'must' and 'should' about correct practice scattered everywhere; I don't always agree with them, nor with the order of work Yang lays out which he seems to regard as unshakably correct. Some warnings are useful, but the exhaustive list given here verges on the pedantic.

Yang is good on interactions of Yi/intent with Xin/emotion, the various distinctions between forms of Jing and Qi, the relation of Shen to Ling -- things like that. Some of the definitions are overly rigid for my taste. Like so many writers of this period, Yang loves Western physics and medical physiology, but knows nothing of psychology (let alone things like art). "The gallbladder is responsible for decision-making" is more his mode. There's much speculation about the human magnetic field without evidence (as he admits) which he hopes could point to a 'physics of chi', but serious mental topics such as chi deviation and emotional regulation are considered entirely from the traditional "train your ape and this too shall pass" point of view. I found him a trifle Buddhist here for my taste, as he often considers emotion an infallible source of evil.

Very properly, Yang wishes to point up the history of Chi Kung. His retailing isn't bad although scholars of Taoism might object to the ideas that exiting the wheel of dharma was the goal of all Chinese religious Chi Kung, that Taoism was an entirely scholarly phenomenon prior to the arrival of Buddhism, or that Taoists all believe in reincarnation. The information is again a little rigid and one-dimensional for a volume of scholarly research, but not straightforward practice material either. A visual summary of the 12 meridians and 8 vessels rounds out the presentation.

Cultivators looking for additional perspective on their practice will find stuff here, but this isn't a good beginner's book. It's a product of its time. I still intend to check out the work Yang has done on the orbit and tendon/marrow traditions, and respect him as a researcher, but this work was a little less enlightening and all-embracing than I'd hoped a really big, juicy Chi Kung Encyclopedia might be.
1010 comments45 of 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 4, 2002
I have had this book for a year now, I read it when I bought it (year ago) and began to pratice. At first reading, I felt that alot was lacking BUT I kept on out of the need for somting more than the daily grind.
Upon returning to it a year later I have since learned you must crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run, laying a foundation of theory is essential as Dr yang says "Knowing the why of somthing, your mind will not wander and you will know what you are looking for". In the fast paced world of today I have been conditiond in my short 29 years on the earth to want.. "things", to want things fast!! This was my misfortune, I wanted (i thought) a book that would make me a qigong master yesterday.
This book (the root of qigong) has taught me patience and calmness or rather taught me how I can recondition myself to travel steadily and most importantly...calmly through life. Granted it is alot of theory, but if you are serious about qigong ,build your root here and then continue to enjoy a peacful and healthful journey in...the root, of qigong.
Summary: Great book, lots of theory, some basic moves and techniques. Perfect for serious beginner.
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VINE VOICEon October 20, 1998
This book has very good Chi Kung theory, descriptions of 13 breathing exercizes, and adequate drawings showing where the energy meridians occur on the body. However; in my opinion this book is unsafe for beginners with no Chi Kung experience. Zorrik Voldman (wrote one of the reviews below) recommended two books by the same author. I haven't read either of those books yet so I am unable to confirm or deny his statements. Currently I only recommend two books for beginners with no Chi Kung experience. Chi Kung: for Health and Vitality (Wong Kiew Kit) The Way of Energy (Lam Kam Chuen) Either of these books, along with "The Root of Chinese Qigong" will give you a good foundation in Chi Kung
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on June 5, 2004
One of the best books on Qigong theory I've found and I've read many. While I would not call it a beginner book it is clear & to the point.
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on May 29, 2004
I bought this in my third year of Chinese Medical school. It is one of my most prized resources. This explains concepts very clearly, keeping in mind the cultural diffrences, and with out being condicending to the reader.
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on August 19, 2001
I have just read 1/3 of the book and am very excited by the way the author explains the history of qigong and the theroy of tcm. When learning Shiatsu and qigong some years ago, none of the teachers I came across had 10% of the knowledge and experience of the author, hence I gave up shiatsu and qigong, until I came across 'the root of Chinese qigong' it has inspired me to resume learning and studying qigong, knowing that there are practioners who know and able to pass on the knowledge of qigong.
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on December 1, 2003
If you practice chi kung and are interested in the finer points of regulation, buy this book. Although it may seem heavy and overly academic on first reading, the text directy hits most of the vital points required for understanding -- and thus fine-tuning -- chi development. An incredibly informative text that _does_ reveal secrets for those who are beginning to sense what their practice is doing.
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