It’s been quite a long time since I too had the benefit of a workshop with Chungliang, and I found this customer review to be “right on”…tai chi done well is the result of an inner dance, informed, but not bound; spontaneous.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars more than meets the eye …, April 25, 2006
By S. Holloway “innergizer”
After reading the other reviews, I wanted to add that I can understand and appreciate the comments, both pro and con, based on reading the book alone.
I have a relevant experience and perspective that I would like to share. Several years ago (in the late 90s) when I lived in California, I had the opportunity to attend a half-day seminar presented by the author. I had been practicing and teaching Taiji and Qigong since ’93 when I learned that Al Chung-Liang Huang would be in Los Angeles. In the 70s, I had practiced Shotokan Karate while living in Ohio, so I had been studying and practicing both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ martial arts for quite some time.
What Mr. Huang brought to the party, as evidenced in the book Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, was as one reviewer put it, the essence of Taiji. He represented the inner warrior as artisan and philosopher, a sensing, intuitive thinker, expressing his or her spiritual essence through energy movements, rooting and balance. The hidden paradox of Taiji, especially difficult for many action-oriented Westerners to internalize, is that the highest form of Taiji is no form, and the whole seminar embraced this concept. Bruce Lee also described his style of fighting as ‘no form’.
I remember Mr. Huang as a totally genuine, highly intelligent and compassionate man, effortlessly blending Eastern and Western cultures, due to his accomplished background in dance, music, philosophy and calligraphy. His smile beamed throughout the day and he seemed to possess more than enough high-spirited energy for each individual in the seminar, and there must have been more than 50 of us in attendance.
We did some basic postures, movements and breathing together, as most of the seminar attendees had some background in taiji or yoga, and then he put on some music and turned us loose for a completely free form period where everyone moved spontaneously and intuitively, based on the energy within, around and between us. For a person trained and ‘stuck’ in only the Taijichuan or other martial art forms, this is a different concept and is actually an elevation from the rigidity of simply going through the motions.
I have continued to teach internal martial arts in Hawaii, and the principles, the essence, gained from reading this book and spending a few hours with the author many years ago are still with me. I always leave some time in my classes for free flowing expression, and encourage students to allow this for themselves when they are practicing at home. I have found that many students (I teach adult night classes) stop coming when they find that Taiji is all about learning a form with no deviation, no individual expression. Many of them get intimidated when they don’t remember what comes next and so they freeze up or panic. This is in direct opposition to the relaxation effect intended when practicing Taiji and Qigong.
via Amazon.com: S. Holloway “innergizer”‘s review of Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Ess….