Pros: Very clear photos; interesting historical quotations
Cons: Fails to diagram acupressure points; you’ll really need the video too
Rating: 3 out of 5
First published 1/3/2001
Here we are, with review number 6 in my series of qigong book reviews. If you still don’t know what qigong is, check out my review of Ken Cohen’s The Way of Qigong. It was the first in this series of reviews, and I still believe that his book is also the best book to start with if you’d like to pursue the practice of qigong.
Not a beginner’s book
Most of the things that make this a non-beginner’s book are not “bad” things. They just aim this book at a more advanced level. For instance, the section that talks about qi and qigong, what they are, and what their effects are comes after the history. So you already need to have some mild background in qigong before reading the history. That same section on the effects of qi and qigong goes into some detailed description of qigong’s effects on the body, probably because the author has engaged in a fair amount of qigong-related research. However, he does not explain things for the layman. I have at least a slight background in such things as neurobiology, and yet much of what he said went right over my head.
The only thing that kind of annoys me is that some of the movements make reference to acupressure points without bothering to explain where they are or provide a diagram. Admittedly, I have those diagrams in other books. But it is another good reason why this shouldn’t be your first book on qigong.
Mr. Zhang also does not go into any sort of a study schedule, which could have been useful for learning this sort of prolonged series of movements.
There are some gorgeous translation quotes in the history section; I had a lot of fun reading them.
Each movement comes with specific notes about what effects on the body that movement is supposed to have. I always find this information useful and interesting. Each movement also comes with very detailed photos, and I was fairly impressed with their clarity. I thought that some of the movements were a little difficult, so again, this isn’t for the beginner. However, there are some good notes with each movement that often discuss ways to make the movements easier if necessary.
One important note is that these movements are designed to flow one into another in sequence, more like Taiji (T’ai Chi) than most other qigongs. Some people may prefer this; others may find it more difficult. Apparently there is a companion video available which may make this style easier to learn (ISBN 1-886969-94-9). I do suggest that you look for it if you get this book – some of the movements are tough to learn from a book.
For such a short book (105 pages, most of which are photos and instructions of movements), it has a thorough index.
This is an interesting book on an unusual style of qigong, but it feels a little incomplete. I would have liked more information on this specific style of qigong, how it works, and how it is used, rather than some generic qigong info followed by movements. Also, you’ll really need the video if you’re going to make a serious attempt at this style.