I’m taking the opportunity of Monday’s day off at the YMAA Retreat Center to rest my body and hit the books. Does “hit the books” sound strange for a post in a blog about Taijiquan and Qigong? It shouldn’t. The mind is important in both arts, and not just mental focus, but also mental understanding.
I brought two books with me to review and study: The pocket book, Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters, and Taijiquan Theory of Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming. I might have brought more but for the limitations of reading time during the seminars and the weight of my carry-ons. I borrowed from the Center’s book shelves the book, Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Style. If you call yourself a student of Taijiquan and if after practicing for three to five years you are not reading these and other books, I don’t understand why.
In Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Style, Dr Yang presents a translation and commentary on Yang Ban Hou’s, thesis on “The Interpretation of Taiji’s Scholarship and Martial Arts.” It stresses the importance of intellectual study and physical practice in learning Taijiquan. If a student studies (reads or observes) Taijiquan without sufficient physical practice, the result is a “core” but without “application.” If a student practices the art physically but without studying and pondering the theory, the result is “application” but no “core.” In either case, it is like trying to build a building with only one supporting pillar or to applaud with only one hand.