A review by David Radford
I first came across CXW's article some years ago in a book by David Gaffney and Davidine Sim. It is helpful both to teachers and students in managing expectations whilst giving a glimpse of the heights that may be reached by the select few through dedicated training with the best teachers.
Now, the commentary suffers from the same problem as does anything which talks about advanced concepts, namely that when you read it before you reach the level, you only gain at best superficial understanding of it and may even misunderstand completely. Conversely once you have reached that level then it is clear but you already understood it anyway.
In his book Jan attempts to explain these concepts in simpler terms and much more detail and as a disciple of CXW he is in a good position to do so. He also adds an excellent introduction. At times the explanations feel a bit laboured but I would venture to suggest it is not the sort of book to read cover-to-cover in one sitting, more the sort of book you can return to again and again.
In summary, this short book is well worth reading and much of it probably applies not just to tai chi but also to learning any sport that involves full body power and co-ordination where you may find yourself with the opportunity of testing your progress in competition with others. Hopefully Jan will have inspired more people to progress beyond that feeling of stagnation to reach the point at which tai chi once again becomes a deep joy for both body and mind.