Chen Taijiquan: Lao Jia Yi Lu & Straight Sword

There are many who believe that performing tai chi is an all-natural key to maintaining health and boosting energy and healing powers. In fact, supposedly it can make you forget yourself, make you think you were someone else — someone good. That's probably reason enough for Lou Reed to study this meditative martial art. He's been doing it since the '80s. And now, on this DVD, viewers get to explore Taijiquan with Reed's own teacher, Master Ren GuangYi, who according to his Web site is "the senior disciple of Chen Xiao-Wang, the 19th generation standard-bearer of the Chen family." OK. Filmed in high definition in Central Park, the DVD features Ren demonstrating two fundamental tai chi forms. The demonstration can be viewed from several angles, and there's a slide show of still photographs to study the poses in detail. For his part, Reed offers narration and two soundtrack options, both of them ambient works every bit as interesting as Metal Machine Music. But what we don't get to see is Reed performing any tai chi moves himself. This is disappointing, because it would be interesting to see him when he's rushing on his straight-sword run — it makes him feel just like Lao-tzu's son. The DVD is beautiful to watch, no question. And watching it puts one in a mind of some Zen koans. Among them: "What is the sound of one viewer napping?" and "What do you call an instructional DVD that teaches nothing?"

Brian J. Bowe writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].