Having chosen this book on the basis of its two glowing 5-star reviews, I was actually quite disappointed with it. Gordon Muir is doubtless a very accomplished Tai Chi player and perhaps even a very good teacher too, but his book fell far short of what I was hoping for. Why oh why do so may Tai Chi books supposedly aimed at beginners show the Form being done with an incredibly long and deep stance that would take perhaps a full decade of practice to achieve? Is it ego on the part of the authors that they want to show everyone how deep a posture they have managed to achieve? I'm not sure, but I don't think it's the best way to present the Form to beginners. And by beginners, I mean anyone in their first decade of practice! That aside, the photos in this book are small and it's not always clear from the text descriptions exactly what direction one should be facing. I also think it is almost impossible to convey correct positioning for each posture without a basic four-points-of-the-compass diagram showing where the feet should be, such as in the 1973 book by Cheng Man-Ch'ing and Robert Smith.
Perhaps I'm being overly critical though, as I didn't buy this book to try to learn the traditional Long Form. I practice Cheng Man Ching's 37 posture 'Short' Form and I was just interested in seeing what postures he had removed from the traditional Long Form to end up with the Form that I am learning. I might be interested in learning the traditional form once I feel like I've really got to grips with the short form, but that probably won't be for at least another dozen years or so yet.
Anyway, back to this book. The preliminary exercises are interesting and well described and have given me fresh insight into movement and weighting, and that alone has made it a very worthwhile purchase for me. Although I said I was disappointed with this book I would still rate it quite highly, as I suspect that my problem with it may just be that it's aimed at people much further along on their Tai Chi journey than I am at the moment. I'd say it's definitely not for beginners. :-)
I liked this book for two main reasons. Firstly, it contains a good selection of preliminary exercises and postures that one can use with beginners. Secondly, this is the only instruction book I have seen in this area with such excellent harmony between text and pictures. If one knows the short form then to learn the long form from this text is relatively easy. A beginner would still struggle however as it is almost impossible for most of us to learn any set of physical movements from text and pictures. For an existing practitioner who did not know the long form I would recommend this book unreservedly.
Gordon Muir has managed to condense a complex subject into an easily digestible format. Accurate and concise writing is accompanied by clear illustrations and photographs and the author's enthusiasm for his subject shines throughout. This book would be ideal for both beginners and long term Tai Chi practitioners!