Tai Chi for fitness

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by idols11, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Why can't you do this with Brush Knee. Why can't you do it at full speed?
  2. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    except maybe where the original question was
    if someone is asking if an art has good fitness benefits then surely we should compare it to other ways of getting fitness?

    And I don't know about you but the tai chi classes I have seen don't have many people hitting stances that low, especially the yang style as popularized by yang Chen fu and taught in the vast majority of modern western schools
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  3. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    What is unproductive about utilising neglected muscle groups? That's a genuine question; why do you feel it's a waste of time to move in ways you don't normally?
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member


    There are some fitness benefits according to how one practices (I posted an example), I just find it misplaced to judge them against dedicated fitness work which Tai chi is not.

    As for the average class, that has no meaning to me. And if you or anyone use that as a reason to box and limit anyone's training then it's really a shame. I would rather encourage people to research the broad range of taiji systems and understand what is in them to inform and improve their training towards their goals. If that is too much or not possible, then that's that.

    I look to make the best of things as they are not be a negative nelly and dwell on the limitations people place on taiji as well as themselves/ others.

    I am right to do that too in my opinion.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  5. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    The answer to your question is simply that the range of fitness benefits available is dependant on how and what you practice. But there is a limit in comparison to dedicated S & C ('fitness'), due to TCC being a pretty typical TCMA system rather than say a crossfit program or whatever.

    You only have forms from your class and the way you are taught them. So there are a couple of variations that anyone can do to improve on a typical medium height slow form.

    Tai chi has fast form practice and I was lucky to be instructed by my first teacher to do my tai chi at full speed. Later I picked up on the fact that TCC can and is also practiced in very low stances, so did that.

    You can also break the longer form into individual single forms and train them repetitively. You can choose a low posture like 'snake creeps down' and work the hell out of it, if you want to improve your leg strength. If you want cardio, work them at full speed repetitively. None of this requires any specialist instruction, you can just go ahead and do it anyway if you want.

    How you train in your own time is up to you. It's about what your fitness goals are and whether they can be met by TCC practice.

    As for myself as an example, I have found other things to supplement with. I sprint, do bag work, some bodyweight exercise, med ball (taichi ball work included), kettle-bell etc.

    I could practice pole work or other weapons for the added weight/resistance, but I don't, but that's just me. Truth be told if you want fitness from a class, then expecting it or looking for it from your typical teaching it for health class is barking up the wrong tree. But that doesn't mean you can't make modifications to your personal practice if you like and want to continue the class.

    What else are you getting from it - I assume you didn't go into the class seeking a 'proper' fitness program from it?
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  6. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Considering the op is asking if TC has health benefits in order to judge them against the lack of martial emphasis in his school's training I'd say say it's fair to judge TC in this instance against pure exercise activities. The op will be doing Tai Chi purley for health after all.

    From what I see here, its not worth it.
  7. Prizewriter

    Prizewriter Moved on

    There are health benefits for sure, but does Taijiquan hit every measurement of fitness in an optimal way? In my brief experience, it does not.
  8. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Some Taiji principle discourage people to bend their body backward. IMO, if you don't do that, your stretching is not complete.



    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  9. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    So I think we have already established on MAP that many schools don't teach TCC properly. That TCC is hardly alone in TMA's in that it is hard to find a decent school, but that TCC and Aikido are two disciplines where it is particularly difficult.

    The key words that several of us have said is "taught properly." You are talking about improperly taught TCC.

    My school is Yang style and Yang Cheng Fu lineage and we are taught to push our stances lower - as low as possible.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  10. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Where did I say it was a waste of time, I said judging a workouts success on how it makes you feel isn't the best way and unless you are very unfit there are probably better ways to train fitness
    For example I can practise slow kicking and balancing on one leg for stability and balance, or I can train 10minutes of farmers walks one handed and two handed, which one will challenge my core stability and balance in a more practical and realistic manner, and also allowed me to progressively build strength in my legs, trap core and arms as well as challenge my energy systems?

    Or I could hold a low horse stance for 5minutes which will make me very sore as its a movement I'm not used to holding, alternatively I could run 20minutes of 15sec tempo intervals with active rest between doing dynamic flexibility work such as step overs, duck unders etc, this won't leave me sore as I will be aerobic at all times but will increase my muscular endurance, dynamic flexibility and aerobic base

    As for when can it be wrong to move in patterns you don't normally, well it can be wrong if those patterns don't actually do anything productive for you, remember those bosu and stability ball balancing and movement gurus from a few years ago that eric creassey basically spanked and put out of business?
  11. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    I've yet to hear or read any teacher-tho' there are probably some somewhere-tell people not to stretch backward in flexibility training.

    The only prohibitions against bending backward is during ph,sparring,drilling,etc because it's a good way to build a bad habit.

    As to the OP question,while TC has some health-(not speaking of overall fitness)- benefits I'm going to be radical and say that generally speaking no MA by itself provides great fitness.Sure, for example one can do Hung pillar forms repetitively for some form of conditioning,but I wouldn't advise getting on the court w/someone who also does roadwork if you're not.

    So,fitness? Run,lift,stretch,and build agility through your martial practices. Don't expect T'ai Chi,Goju Ryu,or boxing alone to give you a good level of fitness.(Altho' grappling systems will develop overall functional strength).

    Runcai-ph is not any form of weight training.

    Well,I had more but lunch is over.Later,gang!
  12. idols11

    idols11 Valued Member

    I found a Tai Chi class that I believe does martial training so I will post back when I go there, next week.
  13. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Bad habit for Taiji can be good habit for wrestling.

  14. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    General Health and well being and fitness are not the same thing, and there are levels of fitness.

    I am at a loss as to why anyone attending a slow meditive form/ qigong type class is looking or asking for "fitness". It seems totally strange to me. But fine.

    Also regards strength. There are different kinds of strength. Usable strength can come in different forms and can be useful in different ways. The kind of strength you can build in slow moving and stance holding is what I have been calling postural strength, through mindful connection through the body and developing the smaller stabilizer muscles.

    This is a completely different kind of strength with different uses to strength in terms of lifting things as a measure. The measure used in tai chi testing is against the posture and what it can withstand re. forces coming in. This is creating structure or structural strength even.
  15. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    What traditional art/class does do it optimally ?

    It's the ones training for a sport that will give it more focus. Believe it or not there are a fair few people competing in TCC moving step and quite a few do supplement, some even in class time. WOW!!!!!!:p

    There are a ton of videos of people in push hands competition. So somewhere out there there must be a relative amount of classes where people are trying to push/grapple each-other around a space. Zone rules can make things more intense. If you haven't tried it, it can be a great work out!

    Having had experience in such TCC classes the fitness from that kind of class is on a level to the average Judo and BJJ class. The Judo and BJJ classes had some light warm up, some light conditioning at the start followed by techniques and ending with randori. However when guys at BJJ that I knew trained for comp those guys would ramp up their training. A portion of TCC guys competing in moving step can and would supplement with S & C work of some kind or other in my experience.

    The typical Judo/BJJ class I have encountered was similar to my training at a TCC school that encouraged competition push hands. I won't talk about full contact as the teachers coaching that in relation to TCC are just too few and far between.

    The only martial arts that do put a bigger emphasis on fitness are the combat sports and they are usually dialled up before fights. And even then these sports have progressively looked for outside input and learning from dedicated S & C coaches or external disciplines: powerlifting, kettle-bells etc.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  16. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Nonsense. I was taught a qigong by my first teacher that had us stretching back and our hands lifting up and back with our head facing up. The final position of the head was out of the base and there was a fair curve/bend created in the spine.

    Leaning out of your base is the error leaning in correct alignment is not. It is a form/ technique error - contextual to that. However, there are supplementary exercise in TCC that do not all adhere to form/ style principles. They are for body work purposes - loosening stretching being amongst them, but then also jibengong and neigong/qigong. I have learnt more than one from different teachers where the back was arched backward and the head was out of the base - you obviously have not and translate that as missing from TCC when really it is just missing from your experience (of it). Which let's face it is totally typical, being your MO.

    What I was taught was not miles away from your first picture just less extremely pronounced probably. So yes.... TCC has some stretching, but I will re iterate the same point as with fitness, it is not a complete stretching regime either.

    Should it be, does it need to be?

    Chang TCC in of itself is far from complete as it did not need to duplicate the things already in his kung fu collection - which let's face it was a lot. You have trained probably too many styles/things to really appreciate one single system and the fact it doesn't need to cover every base under the sun..
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  17. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Do you think that those benefits are gained in non-martial Tai Chi (genuine question,)? I think maybe it'd be better to find a more complete TCC class to get the most of the health benefits and to have your structure properly tested? It seems to me that structure is more about posture and alignment rather than strength too but I'm not a TC practitioner.

    Either way if it were me based on the opinions here I'd look for a class that trained push hands etc but its not so I guess it's up to the op to decide if the purported benefits are enough alone and if they are achievable at his club or the next.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  18. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Of course, sure I would encourage anyone to seek better teachers/ classes if available to them.

    But I do think the smaller muscle groups get attention they often don't in other modalities which tend to seek to work the larger muscles.

    The attention on intent in my opinion helps with "connection", maybe this is a kind of developed kinaesthetic feeling or awareness. An improved proprioception.

    Regardless, when tested against pushing and pulling the improvements in structure, stability, connection are there. If they didn't come from the training of slow/ static then where, if those persons were for the most part doing slow/static training. Needless to say, I agree with you, but I also think it does give improvements even without the testing anyway. But yes testing is important.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  19. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    I must respectfully disagree!

    Semantics aside, some types really are, or might as well be described that way. Training with a weight acting as resistance should be what defines "weight training". The Yang family tradition refer to it as 'dynamic pushing'.. Lots of styles do it, lot's of people call it fake, but it's just one person allowing the other to throw/push (all/part of) their weight through space. I have been known to throw the odd hefty rubber medicine ball around; I'm training with a weight ergo "weight training".. Whatever it's called, it can be practiced as a good workout.

    Ok, Ok it is not what you normally would associate with "weight training", I don't see why only barbells and dumbbells should get the honour. Seriously who cares though. Not us!!:evil:
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  20. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Muscle recruitment is a neural activity, so this makes perfect sense to me.

    Here's a fun little tidbit kind of on the same subject: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14998709

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