Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Chen has great knowledge of the art and the poetic Taijiquan classics, but chooses to explain the concepts in as practical term as possible.
Absolute Tai Chi
You will find more practical and useful information crystallised into this one article than in many books, so by reading this you will save yourself both time and money. The Five Levels of Taijiquan is a route map for the study of taijiquan, and is suitable for people of all levels.
The Empty Vessel
Regardless of the style you practice, including qigong forms, you can apply the teachings here to good measure. I enjoyed the fact that the original Chinese of the master is included. The translations, by his German student, a taiji master in his own right, are clear and to the point. He also includes much supplementary material, to make the teachings more easily understandable. Another valuable contribution from the folks at Singing Dragon Press, who are becoming an important source of excellent material on the healing arts.
Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang
Taijiquan is a teaching of the Dao. The Dao is not far from man, but it is man who distances himself from the Dao. The Great Dao is without a gate. If you pursue it with insistence and perseverance and if you enter the depth step by step, you will finally reach it and enter it, just like fire ascending from water, just like a flower blossoming amidst the snow. Hence he who has the determination is indeed going to complete the task.
David Gaffney & Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim, authors of Chen Style Taijiquan: The Source of Taiji Boxing and The Essence of Taijiquan, UK
Jan Silberstorff's illuminating commentary on Chen Xiaowang's Five Levels of Taijiquan guides the Taijiquan student from the first step, through to the deepest levels of skill. A meticulous study that will engage the most advanced reader.
Bill Helm, 20th generation disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, Daoist priest and founder of Daoist Sanctuary, San Diego, USA
The book that Jan Silberstorff has written is one of the most helpful guides to clearly evaluating a person's progress in learning the martial art of Taijiquan. Jan has provided a precise way of examining this process of moving from beginning to advanced levels of practice. He has included the original lectures by his teacher Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, the 19th generation Gatekeeper of the original Taijiquan tradition. In these lectures Grandmaster Chen identifies the stages of development from being stiff and uncoordinated, struggling to learn the basic choreography to the requirements for the highest level of mastery. Jan has interpreted and made commentaries filled with examples that make the book entertaining as well as illuminating for the reader. This book provides practitioners of all styles of Taijiquan with concrete milestones based upon specific physical skills and their mental associations that enable a person to develop from beginning to advanced level.
Ronnie Robinson, Editor, Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts magazine, UK
For many, beyond the basic learning of movements and sequences of a Tai Chi form it is difficult to ascertain one's development, particularly once it goes beyond a year or two. The Five Levels of Taijiquan sets out clear, definitive guidelines on how best to evaluate and improve your progress. Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang and Jan Silbertorff set out a blueprint not only on how best to train but, more importantly, what progressive steps are necessary for effective achievement.
Stephan Berwick, Founder of True Tai Chi, Chinese martial arts instructor, and co-author of Taijiquan Hand & Sword, Taijiquan: Chen Taiji 38 Form and Applications and Tai Chi for Kids, Washington, DC, USA
Taijiquan Grandmaster, Chen Xiaowang, has often said that no language fully captures the richness of all that is Taiji - even Chinese. But here, in this landmark translation and analysis of Chen Xiaowang's text on the five levels of Taijiquan, Jan Silberstorff has captured the essence of Taijiquan's progressive training in English. Jan's uniquely insightful commentary and explication of an accurate translation of Chen Xiaowang's writing on the topic, marks a turning point in the scholarship of this sublime discipline. Imbued with a rare depth of view into authentic Chen family Taiiquan - the original martial art from which all styles of Taiji emanate - The Five Levels of Taijiquan makes a substantial contribution to the field, as the essential guide for any Taijiquan student's practice and progress in this ancient martial art.
I was quite excited about reading this book before it arrived, and being only a thin volume, devoured it in a couple of sittings. Master Silberstorff has a clear and simple style, writing as someone who evidently practices what he preaches and knows his subject matter extremely well...The fact that the target audience for this book is so incredibly small enhances my respect for Master Silberstorff. He writes for the elite as only a true Master can.
Tai Chi Finder
I would venture 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.