Wednesday, August 15, 2012

a good introduction to tai chi and qi gong

The book and DVD of The Power of Tai Chi, featuring Master Shao Zhao Ming is a nice introduction to basics of tai chi, including philosophy, breathing and forms. Concepts like qi (personal energy) and Dan Tian (where energy is stored in the body) are explained in easy-to-understand words, pictures and exercises. Shao even includes some basic qi gong concepts and exercises, demonstrating them with and his wife Ching, recommending doing qi gong before starting to practice tai chi. He also demonstrates the martial applications of tai chi, an aspect it is good to remember that underlies all of the seemingly serene postures.

This is a nice biographical video on Master Shao (not included on the DVD)

Warm-up and cool down exercises and a relaxing meditation are also included. The meat of the package is Tai Chi 8-form, an extremely shortened version of Yang-style tai chi. I'm not sure how purists would feel about his routine, but it does include some of the well-known postures — Repulse Monkey, Brush Knee, Parting the Horses Mane, Jade Lady, Cloud Hands, etc. The book presents step-by-step photos with explanations of each exercise and routine. It is best to read the book first and then watch the DVD which is structured in exactly the same sequence. Viewers will be able to follow along more easily after they have read and seen examples of the main concepts.

I have been learning the long-form of the Yang style for the past few months and have come to feel that it is just too much for me. I'm about a third of the way through the 108 moves and have been looking around for some other resources. I don't think this Tai Chi 8-form will do the trick. I need something a bit more challenging, but not as intense and exhaustive as the 108-form. There is a 24-form version that I hope will be what I'm looking for. But for someone who is just starting out and would like to dip their toe in the tai chi waters I think this book and DVD combo would be a good place to start. Just the meditation section at the end of the DVD is a nice, peaceful, thing to do.
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