Most helpful positive review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Probably the most useful Taiji book widely available.
on January 4, 1999
Any Taiji book begs the question "why does this book exist?" You can't learn from a book after all, so a book must either enhance what you get from your current teacher, or help you find a new one.
The typical Taiji book doesn't stand up to this question. It shows a form (usually poorly executed) sandwiched in a big wad of esoterica that is at best useless to a typical student and at worst misleading.
Master Liang's book, on the other hand, is among the best that I've seen that are available to the public.
First, of all, the examples are shown correctly. My pet peeve in Taiji books is bad posture and poor habits that should be purged after a few years of studying under a competent teacher, if not in the process of editing the photos. In contrast, master Liang's execution is, of course, impeccable. Second, this book contains guidelines for correct execution, which in most Taiji books is completely missing.
These two factors alone make it stand above any of the widely distributed titles. I would prefer a little more emphasis on readily observable criteria of correct performance. Armed with this knowledge, a student could readily critique himself, or a potential teacher. I've seen only one or two better books in this regard, and those were privately published.
Third, the book contains many demonstrations of applications for the 24 movement form which will be of interest to serious students and martial artists. Many people are unaware of Taiji martial applications because the abundance of grappling, throwing and other close quarters techniques makes Taiji fors difficult to interpret.
Finally, while even students of traditional forms will find much of value here, this book covers two of the most widely studied standardized forms. Students of the 24 or 48 forms will find this a valuable reference.
The main drawbacks of this book are that (1) the uniform that Master Liang wears is very loose, while this good for practice, it obscures the posture of the hips and lower back; many students would benefit from a clearer view. (2) This book continues a few bits of obscure nomenclature that has prevailed in the US since early, bad translations of Taiji books. For example Yema Fenzong ("Wild Horse Parts its Mane") is translated as Part the Wild Horse's Mane. Generations of American students have been waving their hands around like they were stroking "My Little Pony's" mane, which is not the right idea at all.
Aside from these minor faults, this book sets a new, higher standard for mainstream Taiji books in English.