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The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan

The publication in 1934 of Yang Chengfu's book, Essence and Applications of Taijiquan (Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu) marked a milestone in the modern evolution of the art of taijiquan. Using what is best-termed demonstration narrative, the author presents form postures and suggested applications from his own perspective, as he performed them. This methodology renders Yang Chengfu's direct, hands-on teaching of the art with such immediacy and liveliness that the reader experiences the master¹s teaching much as his students did.

This English translation finally makes Yang Chengfu's classic work available to taijiquan enthusiasts in the West. It includes notes and commentary that clarify the author's frequent classical and literary turns of phrase and elucidate the philosophical and political underpinnings that shape the text. The translator investigates and compares several early taijiquan books in order to help explain the roles played by two of Yang Chengfu's students, Dong Yingjie and Zheng Manqing, in bringing Yang Chengfu's words and teachings into print.

Serious students of taijiquan, and those wishing to deepen their knowledge of taijiquan history and theory, will find this seminal work indispensable to their study and practice.

Reader's Comments:
Yang Chenfu for English readers

The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan, which was written by Yang Chengfu, was published in 1923, but despite its importance for taiji practitioners in the west, it was available only in Chinese. I knew about it because my taiji`s master; Dr. Qi Ke Bao, used it as one of his main sources for studying and, of course, teaching it. This book is for advance students who already are acquainted with Yang style long forms and with pushing hands exercises. The emphasis of the author is in functional features and in applications. It is written, as the translator points out, as "demonstration narrative"; when I was reading it, I felt as if receiving specific instructions for the important points in each movement. I think that the translation is precise and that Louis Swaim, the translator, was able to make Yang Chengfu`s ideas accessible to an English reader (Qi Tiang Shu, my master`s son and a Taiji master himself compared some random paragraphs with the original Chinese version and concluded that the translation kept the original sense). I found the translator's comments appropriate and very useful. He explains the meaning of some words, which are difficult to grasp, in such a way that they become more intelligible for a western reader. I think that for someone interested in Taiji, mainly in Yang style, the reading of this book is as necessary as the reading of the Taiji Classics.

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