James MacRitchie Thorsons, London, 2002 Paperback, 208 pages, £14.99
(Reviewed by John Zhang, EJOM Vol. 4 No. 3)
Chi Kung - Energy for Life is an attempt to explore systematically and deeply the nature and significance of chi kung - an internationally recognised healing and self healing art. It introduces some basic knowledge of chi kung such as what chi kung is, its benefits, origin, history, applications and modern research etc. It also discusses in detail the cultural background of chi kung, e.g. yin and yang, five elements, Taoism and the medical background such as the meridian system, acupuncture points and the pathology of Chinese medicine. The book then covers some basic and popular chi kung practices that everybody can do. This is followed by some more advanced practices including techniques to improve sexual life and therapy to treat a variety of illnesses. Finally, the book deals with how chi kung can relate to our normal everyday lives from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, and also how it can relate to our society.
This wonderful book will obviously attract a wide range of readers. For beginners, it is a friendly ABC textbook to guide them to an understanding of an old and mysterious oriental healing art. For those who have already know something about chi kung this book will provide them with more advanced theory and practices, therefore helping to improve their own practice. For medical practitioners, especially for practitioners of alternative medicine, the book explains how to use chi kung as a very effective therapy to treat diseases. Actually, almost everybody can benefit from the book if they want good health and longevity.
The book is designed to popularise chi kung in the West. It fulfils its aims. It is one of the best books on chi kung I have read for years.
Compared with other chi kung books published recently, this book has its own unique features. Firstly, it is not a book focusing only on one style of chi kung such as tai chi chi kung, fragrant chi kung, falun chi kung, etc., but introduces some general skills and techniques of chi kung practices, plus some very popular styles of chi kung. Secondly, the detailed knowledge of the relevant culture background is very useful for readers with different cultural backgrounds in helping them to understand fully and deeply the nature, mechanism and benefits of chi kung. It is, therefore, also a very useful reference book for teachers who run chi kung courses in the West. Thirdly, Part V 'Everyday Chi Kung' is a fascinating part in the book. The content of this part can be rarely found in other books. It helps to extend our awareness of chi kung to most of our daily activities, but not only limited to special practice time. The author reminds us that we should look after our 'chi' (energy flow) at any time during a day from getting up to going to bed, including working time, and even when we are walking, doing the gardening or swimming. Finally, the author discusses profoundly the impact and significance of chi kung practice to our society. It is not only an effective exercise for health and longevity, but also a powerful weapon to help to resolve social issues such as crime, unemployment and family stability, etc.
There are sufficient and useful illustrated materials in the book. It is good value for money. I will not hesitate to recommend it to everybody.
John Zhang John Zhang was trained in China and the UK in traditional Chinese medicine and has been a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture since 1996. He has taught tai qi and qi gong for the past twelve years. He also teaches guasha therapy. He runs a private practice, together with his wife, in Southampton in the UK.