Sunday, March 22, 2009

Never Judge a Book By Its First Chapter

I just finished the book Tai Chi classics by Wasun Liao. I spotted this book on an end cap last week while I was in Borders book store. I read a few pages then took the book into the coffee shop for a slower, better review. After reading and contemplating a couple of chapters, I purchased the book and took it home.

What I didn't notice upon first review became apparent as I got further into the book: information is covered well, but often repeated. And repeated. And repeated.

The first chapter was titled "Historical and Philosophical Background." This was a great chapter. Not only did it discuss the handing down of the art as most books do, but it went on to discuss the role Tai Chi played in the history of China, going as far as speaking about the wanted power of Tai Chi by the royal family of the time.

The second chapter of the book introduced the internal energy known as chi. It included information about the proper breathing to create chi and included plenty of visualization techniques and metaphors in that gave the reader a good set of working tools with which to practice.

I thought, "Wow! how have I not found this gem before?"

Then I went to the third chapter -- which was more of the second chapter. I was still excited and thought it would pick up. Maybe the author needed to reinforce his hot points.

Farther and farther I delved into this book, but alas -- all I found was the same stuff: more metaphors and examples on how to create and transfer chi.

Seven chapters of material could have easily fit into four. By the time I neared the end of the book, I said to myself, "Alright already, I get it!"

The last chapter was great. It described in pictures and written direction a 37-movement form based on Master Cheng's 108 movement form, along with other movements the author considered signifcant.

There is plenty of good stuff here. This book belongs in most martial arts libraries as a quick-glance reference book.

It is a very fast read, especially if you skim over all the redundant matertial.

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