Multi Media Books, $19.95
It's a modern tendency, in the world of the disgruntled
and the shallow, to confuse a failed effort with a bad effort.
Such, despite press, is not the case. Sensing Hands is a case
to the point. It is, to our way of thinking, a failed effort
but by no means does that qualify it as a bad effort. Stuart
Alve Olson's new book is about the Pushing Hands practice
of T'ai Chi, particularly Yang style. He renames, or rather
re-interprets, the Chinese to "Sensing" hands because,
no doubt like every T'ai Chi instructor, he has been frustrated
by trying to point out technical skills to students congratulating
or castigating themselves on who pushed whom while simultaneously
missing every subtlety.
There are a number of good things about the book. It
contains a new translation of Yearning K. Chen's admonitions
on the art. It has some very salient points on practice. Where
it totters is in the descriptions of the exercises. Olson
breaks up the standard Four Hand Exercise into an introductory
group of partner practices. The trouble begins with the almost
complete inadequacy of the photographs taken at possibly the
worst angle conceivable for instruction.
The instructions are dry, at time incomplete and the
technical vocabulary is assumed on the part of the reader.
Even for those who can learn from books, it is not easy going.
And arrow, an illustration, the reviewer longed for a break
from the unchanging shoulder level camera and the rarely changing
angles. Tough going. An instructor's book to pick up a few