Sunday, December 12, 2010
Review: What Is Tai Chi?
I am very pleased to review a new book by Peter A. Gilligan with the simple title "What Is Tai Chi?"
So often books of this type are over-complicated, lose something in translation, or are merely pictorials of form movements. In "What Is Tai Chi?", author Gilligan attempts to answer a student's basic question, and succeeds in compiling a thorough overview of Tai Chi Chuan as a health practice, self-defense method and vehicle for self improvement. Gilligan speaks clearly to the western practitioner, while embracing the true historical and physical aspects of Tai Chi Chuan - in his own words:
"My writing about the art has been organized around three ideas, which I regard as three developmental tasks or levels of learning. The first is rectification of the body, the second is the method, Daoyin, and the third I call Nei Gong, linking The Six Secrets with true Nei Gong of "internal work" or "internal breathing".
Author Gilligan does a great job in laying down a format instructors can use to teach the deep and diverse art of Tai Chi Chuan. He covers issues such as Chinese philosophy, self-defense vs. martial art, methods of natural movement and body alignment, the above mentioned "Six Secrets", and how to approach teaching Tai Chi Chuan. Again, in the author's words:
"Ultimately the role of teacher in Taijiquan is considerably less than that of the student. The teacher is not so much there to teach you specific moves, techniques or forms. The teacher's job is to teach you methods to enable you to find whatever is relevant to your current level of development, be it rectification, Daoyin or Nei Gong."
"What Is Tai Chi?" is a study guide that applies to all styles of Chinese Internal Martial Arts, not just Tai Chi. It's definitely on my short list of recommended books for students, fellow practitioners and instructors of the complex and beautiful art of Tai Chi Chuan.
"What Is Tai Chi?", along with other books on Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua, Chinese medicine and Qigong are available at this website for Singing-Dragon.com