Good introduction to Pa Kua. However, there is a lot missing. There is so much more to Pa Kua than what this book covers. It would also benifit greatly to have a video to supplement the illustrations.
~I'm finally glad they got Vol. 1 on this website. I'd written a review for Vol.2 awhile ago, but had to imply that there was a Vol.1 to be read, as well. It's been a while, and others have already gotten to it, but I thought I'd plug in my 2 cents...
In retrospect, there is some mystery here. BaGua, as with many Chinese martial arts styles, is all about your instructor, your instructor's instructor, etc.. Your lineage is key. BaGua has a very complex geneaology, stemming~~ from Dong Hai Chuan (various phonetic spellings) the legendary Grandmaster. In fact, two key branches of BaGua (since Dong Hai Chuan only taught experienced martial artists-- most whom he purportedly defeated in combat) are those that seem very BaGua like, and those that seem Hsing-Yi-ified. Those are my terms. In my experience, you can take the forty or so BaGua styles, and classify them as fairly "pure" BaGua (circular, evasive, fine, intricate), and those that have integreated~~ significant Hsing-Yi principles-- linear, power, direct.
Park Bok Nam's style is more pure BaGua in terms of evasiveness, footwork, and hand-techniques. His teacher, the legendary Lu Shue-Tien, is a bit of an unknown... Even in this book, there is no real claim as to who taught Lu Shue-Tien. Other sources I have speculate...
That being said, this book is a wonderful, detailed work that describes basic techniques-- footwork, some foot-trapping, and elementary strikes down to the~~ smallest level of biomechanics. How to move your feet, knees, pelvis, abdoman, to generate power, for example. In more detail than in any other book on any other style I've ever read. Superb for anyone who is trying to understand the underlying principles of this art, or even for the advanced practitioner trying to compare this or that, or to glean insights.
This is not a forms book. Park Bok Nam gives some simple palm changes that are basically qi gong postures with circle walking. ~~ It's a mechanics book. A superb one.
Finally, the lineage is important. BaGua varies significantly from style to style. The techniques can be dramatically different, as can the mechanics at the more superficial level. But I think from a basic concepts level, the biomechanics are all pretty much the same. So this is an insight into one family, not all. But I think confining it to mechanics kept it manageable, and pure. No hullabaloo or flash. And eminently useful.
Wonderful,~~ clearly written, adequate pictures (get the videos for better illustration of Park's technique). A must for the martial artist.~