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The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan Paperback – March 2, 2005
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“I highly recommend The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan as a valuable resource for Taiji players, with the actual words of Yang Chengfu to guide them in their practice.”
About the Author
Louis Swaim lives and practices in Oakland, California. He is the translator of the highly regarded handbook on the art of taijiquan, Fu Zhongwen: Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan (North Atlantic Books, 1999). He studied Chinese history, Mandarin, and Classical Chinese at U.C. Berkeley. After completing a master's degree, he continued his language study at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies in Taiwan. He has been a taijiquan practitioner for thirty years.
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Top customer reviews
In this little book, the pictures alone demonstrate that tai chi is a purposeful exercise of martial techniques. Even eye movements are important and are carefully described in the text. If I don't keep in mind the intent of the moves, I'm not likely to do them correctly. Images and text also remind me of how central the idea of unbalancing the opponent is to tai chi, and conversely, how important my own balance is.
I use this book as a reference to look up certain moves as I work on them. Why is my right hand below my left elbow in Spear Hand? To remain hidden, of course, "in order to respond to any changes"! This book is not recreational reading, but even so, there's an inspirational quality to the introductory material. For a 99-pound weakling like me, it's always nice to be assured that, "The soft and weak win over the hard and strong."
This book is not meant to substitute for a teacher. The subtle movements going on in the core of your body to initiate movement can only be taught one on one by an expert practitioner trained in the Yang family style.
Yang Chengfu's little book on The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan is a classic, and every student of tai chi should probably own a copy.
Yang Chengfu attempts to describe the applications to techniques, giving the reader some idea of what the intention of the movements are. However, knowing that real applications were traditionally reserved for in-door (rumen) students, I am a bit skeptical about the descriptions being provided.
A few of the Taiji classics are listed at the end, which is a plus for any Taiji Quan book. Overall, a good source of reference to the long form, originating directly from the source (although I still prefer Fu Zhongwen's version.)
No, a beginner won't learn Taiji from reading this book, that is not its purpose. It serves as an inspiration for more experienced students, as a means of illuminating practice and study of the Classics, and as a glimpse back in time to the end of imperial China and its climate of martial arts.