Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power
by Robert Schlagal
Master Yang is a top disciple and close personal friend of Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, who is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished Taiji experts in the modern era. Grandmaster Feng, in turn, was a top student of the great Chen Fa-ke. The training that Yang received, therefore, comes directly from the heart of Taiji tradition at its best.
As is invariably the case with mastery, Yang worked closely under a great teacher and long and hard on his own to perfect the art he was given. He stands at the center of a rich and practical vein of Taiji lineage. From this vantage alone, he has an exemplary knowledge of the art. But Yang has also worked to understand the power and mechanics of Taijiquan by reaching beyond traditional explanatory frameworks: Thus, in order to better demonstrate and promote the benefits of Taiji practice in the West, he is currently conducting doctoral research in kinesiology at the University of Illinois. His research focuses directly on Taiji. Yang's detailed study of Taiji from these commanding points of view - as a master practitioner and as a scientific researcher - enable him to clarify and/or de-mystify what are often obscure points of theory and practice.
Despite Yang's detailed and multifaceted knowledge of Taiji, this book is highly readable. It should be of compelling interest to beginners - or even curious non-practitioners - as well as to initiates. (Throughout, Yang offers thoughtful advice to beginners and to veterans. I valued his advice to beginners every bit as much as his advice to veterans.) Yang possesses a unique ability to go clearly and directly to the heart of things. Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power is an exposition on Taijiquan in its essential expressions, apart from questions of style; and it is a discussion of the means for efficiently maximizing growth within those expressions. Yang's candid discussions of the central role of energy cultivation, of the requirements of Taiji movement, and his careful guidelines and advice for push hands training are unique and of lasting value.
Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power represents the thinking, experience, and straight-forward confidences of an acknowledged master of Taijiquan. This is a book replete with life-wisdom. For Master Yang, Taiji is a spiritual practice as well as martial discipline. The cornerstone of Taiji development lies in effectively training in ways that promote health, relaxed strength, balance, integrity, and spiritual well-being as the necessary foundations for and accompaniments of real martial advancement. To build upon this foundation and take these gains to their highest level, Yang explains, requires in students the presence and continued development of solid moral character, what some have called martial virtue. This book should be the central volume in any Taijiquan practitioner's library.
Robert Schlagal, Ph.D.
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina