New and experienced students of Yang-style tai chi will appreciate the well-illustrated and direct approach Henry Zhuang has taken with The Mind Inside Yang Style Tai Chi: Lao Liu Lu 22-Posture Short Form.
For martial arts practitioners, the philosophy and form of each movement are united in purpose. By combining annotated photographs and simple, step-by-step instructions, this book effectively breaks down each tai chi posture into its functional parts. The illustrations work especially well in tandem with accompanying paragraphs that describe the intention behind each motion. This “mind approach” element of the form, which is integral to its effectiveness, is communicated clearly throughout the book, particularly through the application of several key mental visualization cues.
“Beginning taijiquan [tai chi] enthusiasts…must approach the practice of taijiquan as something more than an aerobic exercise,” the text asserts. “To learn the subtlety of the use of internal force and power, one must learn the mind approach of the internal power.” Zhuang’s interpretations of tai chi techniques are a valuable contribution, and operate well alongside the traditional descriptions of how to manipulate internal power. This title stands to offer even experienced students new ways of understanding the foundations of tai chi practice.
The book includes a careful outline of the historical lineage of this martial arts style and its carefully guarded transmission through the generations, underscoring its hidden value as a combative art, in addition to its reputation for developing inner power and longevity. Historical portions of the text might have benefited from additional finessing, as some grammatical constructions suggest awkward translations or other stylistic snags; nonetheless, the material is approachable and adds meaningful context to more practical sections.
While there may be no substitute for studying directly with an experienced teacher, The Mind Inside Yang Style Tai Chi is a solid martial arts reference book. With it, Zhuang not only helps to preserve the foundations of the style and its applications for posterity, but also leads new generations of disciples toward an understanding of tai chi’s deeper purpose, through which they can pursue more meaningful, healthful lives.