Book Review-Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Embrace Tiger , Return to Mountain

The Essence of Tai Ji

by Chungliang Al Huang

Paperback 224 pp. $19.95
Singing Dragon, Philadelphia PA( 2011)
ISBN: 978-1-84819-052-8


This book will bring a smile to your face, a feeling of peace to your spirit, and sense of warmth as you are taken on an experiential journey of the true essence of taiji with a master teacher. The author suggests that the book may be started at any chapter  since there are no starting and ending numbers on the circle.  Our living experiences are ever expanding circles of dynamic interactions on many levels.  The author advocates to be accepting of both the constant and the change. “ Learn how to be resilient and responsive to your surroundings, to time and to yourself.”( p.19)

The reader is taken along a week long set of workshops with Master Huang and you feel as if you were truly in a beautiful resort community complete with ambiance and the sights and sounds of nature.  One feels encouraged , guided and given permission to feel, to explore each nuance of movement in doing a taiji practice.

If the reader is looking for a detailed step by step approach to doing a taiji form , this book will not provide that.  Instead, the ideas, and crafted visualizations immerse the reader in the essence of movement – a movement meditation since you are constantly in motion, yet retain the quietness, centeredness and stillness deep within.  Being aware of your surroundings and allowing your body, mind and spirit to flow are important aspects of taiji training.

With the many photos of the author spread thoughout the book taken in  nature, in the classroom and with others, Master Huang always has a smile and a sense of balanced serenity in movement.

Master Huang teaches that one has to work through the feeling of your body gradually and slowly thus allowing your taiji form to emerge and become you.  “ Taiji is an art; not to be taught, but to be experienced”(p.30)  “If you limit yourself to the structure of any one form, you will lose the essence.”(p.30)

This book will appeal to the many people who are currently or have been studying tai ji for years while at the same time presents the raw beginner with valuable insights and visualizations to bring this art form to life.  It is a book that will bring a smile and warmth to your very being as you are brought through the many lessons taught in the book.  Master Huang defines the concept of” tai chi only means a way of learning how to regain balance again.

It is a way to come back to yourself from all the conflicts and confusions that we feel every day in our lives.  Taiji does not mean Oriental wisdom or something exotic.  It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own body and mind together as one process. “(p.62)  Taiji is a practice discipline that will help you get acquainted with your own sense of potential growth, your own creative growth and to experience the constant joy of  changing happening in yourself, as well as how you interact with others in your life.

Basic principles govern all of taiji practice.  Relaxed open joints, proper structural alignment, being centered and rooted, awareness of internal and external energies flowing, avoiding unnecessary tensions from the face to the feet, and constantly making adjustments to all of the above as needed. In addition , there is mindful mediation practice, studying the classics e.g. Tao Te Ching,  partner training (push hands) for sensitivity and connectivity of  energy flow, sword forms to enhance grace , balance and strength movement make learning taiji a constant learning process to improve the mind , body and spirit connection.

Master Huang also takes great pride and spends quite a few pages discussing and teaching calligraphy as part of taiji training.  In calligraphy, the brush becomes an extension of oneself and the taiji movement.  The reader is guided by Master Huang in his workshop on calligraphy and one is encouraged to join in the practices he teaches.  No experience is necessary to follow writing the pictographs and ideograms discussed.  Just go with the flow and have some fun while learning.  I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in taiji . You will be taken for an enjoyable experience in the essence of this art form.  Master Huang has a website if you wish to explore his works further (

[Salvatore Casano R.N., PhD – a registered nurse with a PhD in Holistic Health, and is an ATCQZ certified Tai Chi and Qigong instructor. His Tai Chi and Qigong journey began over 20 years ago while working as a chemistry instructor, when he felt the need for a more holistic approach to health care. Participating in many programs and projects relating to health, Dr. Casano educates the community on living a healthier lifestyle to avoid obesity and diabetes, and as a way to reduce stress. Over the years, he has learned from many masters including Bill Philips, Marc Issacs, Richard Chu, as well as two ATCQA advisors, Dr. Roger Jahnke, and Bill Douglas. Dr. Casano, along with his wife Veronica, often sojourn together on his healing path, as they use their skills in helping others connect the mind, body, and spirit. They have four adult children, seven grandchildren, and a cat, “Tiger.”]





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