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George R. R. Martin

bookrev: Tajiquan: The art of nurturing, the science of power by Yang Yang

5 stars: The best outline and explanation of Taijiquan

Whether beginner or expert, Master Yang Yang’s book will provide a foundation on not only what Taijiquan is and is not, but how to work your way into an understanding of it.

The book begins with some self-history of Master Yang Yang, then dives into what exactly Taijiquan is, and what it means to practice a martial art, with emphasis on both words. There follows an excellent chapter on how to pick an instructor, which is often neglected in the face of advertising and convenience.

The meat of the book goes through the three pillars of Taji practice: meditation (feeling and building your Qi), forms (using and extending your Qi) and push hands (feeling Qi from the outside). In each section, he provides the why’s (why is meditation crucial), the how’s (how to get started, the basics) and motivation (if you need any). The chapters also discuss how these three pillars are linked to one another.

The final chapter, “Why Practice Taijiquan?” pulls it all together, describing what you will, might and will not get out of efficient practice.

There also follows a quite well done appendix on the history of Tajiquan and the Chen school.

This is not a technical “how-to-do-the-forms-and-moves” book. For that, I recommend Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming’s series of books and DVDs (or, if you are lucky enough, take one of his seminars).

You will not learn Taijiquan from this book. But you will get a excellent background and a sense of what it is, how you should approach it and practice it, and what it can become inside you. Master Yang Yang writes not only with thought and intellect, but you can feel the passion that he has for his art. Martial artists say that the art lives through them, and that comes through in this book.

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