Book and DVD Reviews
Phoenix in Graceful Clouds of Blessing
Book review by Dr. Pallavi Rainer
I purchased the “Phoenix in Graceful Clouds of Blessings” e-book in mid-2015. One year later, I can honestly say that that was one of the wisest investments I have made. Master Lok tackles a complex subject in a clear and concise manner.
The book is well organized. The information, mnemonics and integrated videos have truly helped deepen my practice. I have also found that this book can be useful as a reference guide for life situations as well as deepening understanding of the world around us. I often find myself reaching for the book for an explanation or reminder, sometimes on a daily basis.
This book and the wisdom contained is a treasure, and I highly recommend it.
Dr. Pallavi Raina
30 July 2016
Book review by Dr. Glenn Sunshine
Joe Lok’s Phoenix in Graceful Clouds of Blessings is without doubt the finest book and instruction on qigong I have read.
It has a number of features that make it unique among qigong resources. First, the book has thorough explanations of the theories that underlie the practice of qigong. Much of this is “closed door” teaching that traditionally would only be taught publicly. As a Westerner, Daoist theories of health are foreign to me, but Master Lok presents them in a way that even I can understand them. The explanations are clear enough for beginners, but even more advanced practitioners will benefit from the discussion. This is remarkable in itself: it is very difficult to write a book that can benefit both experienced and novice practitioners, yet somehow Master Lok has managed to do so.
The book is more than just theory, however. It includes instruction in a complete system of qigong. Reference can be made to the dvd of Master Lok performing the form and teaching the individual movements. The videos give basic instruction, while the text supplements the videos with more detailed explanations of the internal dimensions of the movements. In other words, it doesn’t just tell you what to do, it tells you why. This again is unique with both live qigong instruction and the books I have read on the subject. Add to that concrete suggestions on how to go about practicing the form, and you have a very effective system of instruction that can be implemented virtually immediately.
I have been practicing the first few movements of the form on a nearly daily basis. Initially, my practice did not generate the feeling of qi in my body. Even without this, however, I received physical benefits from my practice, including realigning my spine and undoing kinks from vigorous exercise.
As I have begun paying close attention to details I had missed in my initial practice, I have begun feeling the energy in my body. This is more than I have gotten in the taiji or qigong practice I have done and is a mark of the effectiveness of Master Lok’s teaching. I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is an excellent resource for any practitioner of qigong, taiji, or any of the internal arts; it is also a great complement for people who work out hard and need something to help them maintain a balance in their physical activities.
Glenn Sunshine, PhD
Jun 3, 2014
DVD review by Wes Mollison
It has been a few years since Sifu Lok released his in-depth e-book training manual to his qigong system - ‘Phoenix in Graceful Clouds of Blessing’. In that time, the popularity of the system has spread around many parts of the globe and has been recognised and embraced by a large number of tai chi and qigong practitioners as a highly refined, effective and efficient Taoist holistic health practice.
This new instructional DVD is the perfect complement to the original book, and serves as an excellent introduction to the Phoenix in Graceful Clouds system, as well as being a very welcome training tool to practitioners who are both already studying or teaching the system.
There are myriad reasons why ‘the Phoenix’ has become so popular so quickly with tai chi & qigong practitioners: the detailed depth of the methodology, its authenticity in Taoist wisdoms, and the positive physical & psychological benefits that are produced from the practice. Despite what some may claim, there are no short cuts to the high levels of the internal arts – yet the Phoenix is a refined distillation of a lifetimes study into tai chi, qigong and Dragon Gate neidan (internal cultivation work), compiled by a master of the craft, that produces excellent results in a relatively short space of time, if one is prepared to make the effort.
A special component to Phoenix Qigong is that, in addition to the 16 individual qigong movements that can be repeated in sequence similar to other qigong methods – they also ultimately converge to create a short, graceful and highly therapeutic moving Tai chi qigong form.
I have many students who want to learn a tai chi form purely for health or as a moving meditation, and have no interest in the martial applications of a traditional form that may take 10 or 20 minutes to perform, and many months of learning just the basic choreography. For such needs, the Phoenix form is absolutely perfect. It is embedded with high-level Taoist health wisdoms, and yet takes just a few minutes to perform. It is a powerful concentrate. It is simple, yet has not been simplified. It flows like water, but has not been watered down. For seasoned practitioners with years of experience, the forms depth and authenticity are soon felt – and can become a significant addition to one’s daily regimen, as well as an excellent tai chi qigong form for students.
It is this form that the DVD pays most attention to.
“Human imitates Earth. Earth imitates Heaven. Heaven imitates the Way.”
In the DVD’s introduction, Sifu Lok reminds us of the intrinsic relationship between Heaven, Man & Earth in relation to the Tao (the ‘way’ of the universe) - and that by cultivating a naturalness of being through movement and intention, that imitates natural processes, we ourselves may merge closer to the Tao, and alleviate any unnecessary tension and disharmony in the mind and body. In so doing, the form places great emphasis on observed natural phenomenon together with the highly symbolic animals of Taoist alchemical practice, the Dragon and (of course) the Phoenix.
As such, the practitioner finds themselves moving through a flow of stances such as: ‘Sun & Moon rotation’ ‘Tide splashes the Thrusting River’, ‘Mist turning Pearl’ & ‘Phoenix faces the Morning Sun’.
Whereas the previous book goes through the internal meaning of each movement in detail, the DVD takes us through each step, posture and movement of the form to provide a basic foundation from which to go on and cultivate inner refinement.
What pleased me a lot with the DVD is that Sifu Lok’s dedicated and sincere approach to teaching and instruction translates excellently through the video medium. I have been very lucky to have spent many hours privately with Sifu Lok, and experienced first-hand his infectious and passionate desire to transmit what he has to share to others as comprehensively as he possibly can. It can will the student forward, even when certain aspects do not come easily, and I felt this same impassioned teaching when watching the DVD. It was great to see some of his students also on the film, themselves being corrected, so as to see in various sections of the form where one may potentially veer off course and need guidance.
I consider this DVD to be a very worth-while addition for anyone interested in Taoist health practices, mindful movement and the Chinese internal arts.
Wes Mollison – Equinoxtaichi.com
9th July 2016
DVD review by Mariko Hiyama
Master Joe Lok's practice brought me more than just learning the form. Each movement of the Phoenix sequence has profound meanings which transformed me in 3 dimensions, Physical, Mind and Spiritual.
Master Joe Lok's instructions are precise, yet, his instructions are given according to practitioner's individual level and readiness.
This video is great for beginners who would like to learn the Phoenix form from scratch, even without any prior experiences in Qi Gong or Martial Arts.
If you are planning to join Master Joe Lok's workshops, this DVD gives you a solid foundation to follow his teaching and to follow up your practice at home.
If you are willing to practice at home, this video gives you deep enough details about the Phoenix Qigong from a standing stance to concept of energy movement in each sequence.
I hope to see more people learn this beautiful and powerful sequence.
11th Oct 2016