Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Book Review: Wisdom of the Taiji Masters

The publisher, Tambuli Media, was kind enough to send me a copy of Wisdom of the Taiji Masters by Nigel Sutton.

In the history of Taijiquan in America, one of the first notable teachers from Asia was Cheng Man Ching.Robert W Smith, an early writer about martial arts, wrote extensively about Prof. Cheng and indeed did much to promote his art.

Prof Cheng and his methods are not without critics. His Taijiquan is often derided as being watered down, or only a partial transmission of the art.

Before coming to America, his art took root in Malaysia and Singapore. To this day Cheng's Taijiquan is thiving; being taught as a real fighting art.

Nigel Sutton has spent decades in Malaysia and Singapore, studying and practicing Cheng's art. In this book, Wisdom of the Taiji Masters, Sutton presents interviews he has conducted with many teachers of this line who practice and teach in a wide variety of circumstances and locations.

Mr Sutton has a knack of getting out of the way and allowing each of his subjects to express themselves about the arts they study and teacher. With each of these interviews, the unique character of each of these master teachers voices comes through. It is almost as though you can hear each one of them speak.

As different as some of their approaches were to each other, I found there were common threads which taken together must represent the core of Prof. Cheng's Taijiquan. As for what are these common threads, I will give the reader the pleasure of discovering them for himself.

I think each of these masters has something to say to us no matter what are we are studying.  There is a lot of information here and it is not to be digested in one reading. This will be one of those martial arts books that I return to again and again to test my current thinking against.

Well done, Mr. Sutton. I hope that you publish more.

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