There are any number of exercise programs that lead to weight loss, improved fitness, and greater self-confidence. Tai chi, however, calls to a particular audience:
“It is the perfect art for the seeker – the person who has an abiding sense that contrary to the shallow, hurried model we’re asked to embrace, there exists a deep resource-rich alternative.”
In other words, tai chi is more than a physical exercise program. Yes, it can do all those wonderful things that calisthenics or spinning or aerobic dance did for us, but tai chi brings something else to the table< “a deeper … understanding of the world and our place in it.”
In Tai Chi: The Perfect Exercise, Arthur Rosenfeld explains the history of tai chi and its development along with traditional Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy. Rosenfeld covers his subject with knowledge drawn from his own study, training, and experience. He has a lengthy and honorable background in martial arts and is, in fact, an ordained Taoist monk as well as a Tai Chi Master of The Year. He hosts his own television program on PBS, and his writings on the subject of tai chi have appeared in a slew of prominent magazines. In short, Rosenfeld is as credible an expert on the topic as you’re likely to find.
No book, however well-written, can actually teach tai chi; to truly understand this art, one needs a present and living teacher as well as a personal experience of tai chi energy. Nevertheless, Tai Chi: The Perfect Exercise provides illustrated poses, each clearly described and explained. Readers with no background in tai chi may be confused by what appears to be a static set of positions, so it is absolutely necessary to supplement this book with live instruction or, at the very least, a video demonstration of tai chi practice.
The basics of related topics are also explained here—qi, qigong, kung fu, varying styles of tai chi—as are the many health benefits associated with a steady tai chi practice. In every chapter, readers will learn through a set of Explorations about the movement itself as well as the effects and expected benefits.
Despite the unavoidable limits of the printed page, Tai Chi: The Perfect Exercise goes far beyond the superficial approach aimed only at grabbing the latest fitness fad. It is a tremendously valuable resource for those who want a deeper understanding of tai chi and the philosophy that supports it.