Volume 91, Issue 47
Thursday, November 20, 1997
stars and strife
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Being at one with the universe
$12.95 /64 pgs.
Many hundreds of years ago, it is said a Taoist monk saw a crane attacking a snake and was inspired by the soft and yielding nature of the snake which eventually out-manoeuvered the crane and its hard-attacking beak. This event, according to legend, was the inspiration for Tai Chi in China.
In Tai Chi: Flowing Movements for Harmony and Balance, Paul Tucker provides an excellent introduction to this graceful and rhythmic exercise that has grown out of Taoist philosophy. Devoting the first few pages to the history, theories and principles of Tai Chi, Tucker effectively explains how Tai Chi is a system of health, relaxation, self-defence and consciousness-raising, as well as a means of exercise and self-development. After this brief background and a number of warm-up exercises, the remainder of the book concentrates on the movement through the Yang-style short form, the most common of the various forms of Tai Chi practiced in the West.
Each step in this form of Tai Chi is accompanied by both a written description and a photograph of a model performing the movement. While these visual aids are easy to follow and at the same time add beauty to the book, it is difficult to learn something as complex as Tai Chi simply by looking at pictures. Tucker addresses this issue in his introduction and stresses the importance of finding a class to develop the techniques introduced in this book.
The exercises depicted in Tai Chi: Flowing Movements for Harmony and Balance are most useful as a memory aid to those who are familiar with the movements of Tai Chi and to those who wish to practice at home. However, it is not entirely useless to the novice. Simply working through a few short warm-ups or exercises relieves tension, relaxes the body and provides a self-awareness that is often forgotten in the crush of school and work.
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