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DVD Review: Tai Chi & Qi Gong Basics

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Martial arts instructor Matthew Cohen presents his latest video, Tai Chi & Qi Gong Basics. The DVD combines separate workouts for Tai Chi and Qi Gong, each with an introduction followed by poses and routines.

The Tai Chi program is a thirty-minute lesson that introduces some basic poses and builds them together into a couple of different routines. Cohen’s instruction here is fairly hit or miss. Although his style is very calm and methodical, there seems to be an assumption of previous knowledge. Terms are often used without clarification and the pace of the routines allows little time for beginners to soak in instruction on poses before they are further developed. This particular segment will probably be more beneficial to those who may have some prior experience with Tai Chi. The routines themselves are a step above (as in beyond) most beginner fare and would be a good resource once you have most of the poses more firmly under your belt.

Another issue with this first section is that it can be difficult to follow Cohen’s movements. First, it’s unclear whether you should be mirroring him or not. This is less of an issue at the outset, but the complexity of the poses quickly increases, and the pace often doesn’t let you get your bearings before moving on to the next item. Secondly, the camera angles are a little too ambitious for their own good. Crane shots that float around a room are great for concert footage, but they can add confusion to matching an instructor’s movements.

The Qi Gong portion of the disc seems to avoid almost all of the complaints from above. Although the cameramen still want to “do” something all the time, the nature of the content makes it less of an issue. Cohen leads an almost forty-minute set of movements which can be done stand-alone if needed or altogether as a unified program. The pace here is much slower, but what makes it easier for beginners to jump in is that all of the movements are more or less mirrored and repetitive, so that you have ample time to learn each one and then join in the instructor’s flow. Cohen does a great job here of explaining each pose and how it fits into the larger program.

The main critique with this video is that it almost feels like a sampler pack. If you have a desire for a little bit of both practices it has some value. But on their own each section feels a little incomplete. The Tai Chi portion could definitely use something in the way of a pose guide for reference, as well as an option for an instruction-less routine once you’ve had time to acclimate to the disc. The Qi Gong is covered on instruction but could use a more seamless routine option. Another minor quibble is that with both sections the voiceover is very loud and on occasion seems to peak and distort.

Cohen presents great information, has an obvious command of the practice and creates a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere with Tai Chi & Qi Gong Basics. It’s a shame that the disc feels underdevloped in a few areas, but for those who have already been introduced to Tai Chi and who would also be interested in combining some Qi Gong (especially as a cool-down set) there is enough to recommend this as a combo program.

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About David R Perry