The fiction of IMA slowing the aging process

Discussion in 'Internal Martial Arts' started by Narrue, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    In China much like in India and Tibet there is the idea that through internal practices one can dramatically slowdown or halt the aging process.

    From my observations I have found this to be fiction, looking at all my teachers they all did and do look their age. Even most of the grand masters and lineage holders look more or less their age.

    Any youthfulness observed in such people could be put down to good genetics and need not entail any internal practice
  2. aaradia

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

    Where have you heard people saying it halts the aging process? I haven't heard anyone say that before. Do you live in one of the named countries and that is what people say over there? Certainly not here on MAP.

    Aside from the fact that leading an active lifestyle is good for you and that you certainly need to keep moving to be in good health - especially as you age.
  3. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    I already explained it is a common mythology that is found in China, India and Tibet.

    Hermits living up mountains and in forests that are of great age but look young.

    This mythology is likewise repeated in almost every qi gong or tai chi book I have ever read.
  4. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I'm very surprised that a student of Chinese IMA would not have ever heard of Taoist concepts of internal alchemy in relation to longevity and immortality. The external alchemy that Chinese emperors spent so much time and money trying to attain has fallen out of fashion, but the internal schools of thought still persist.

    "The second treasure, jing, is essential for humans to live; it is referred to as the energies of the body (Kohn 145-149). It corresponds most closely to the energy of the physical body. The conserving of jing in the body is heavily focused on internal alchemy (Smith 199-200). It is thought that a person dies when they lost, or ran out of jing. Taoists believed that preserving jing allowed people to live longer, if not to achieve immortality. The idea of immortality came about because Taoists believed that if jing in the body could be preserved the energies in the body could be saved, which allowed you to stay alive (Schipper)."


    "A very common and major goal of most Taoists is to achieve immortality rather than enter the regular after life. Reaching this goal is not easy; there are various tasks that must be met during your entire lifetime to be qualified to be immortal. The two different categories of requirements for immortality include internal alchemy[11] and external alchemy.[12]

    External alchemy is mastering special breathing techniques, sexual practices, physical exercises, yoga, attempting to produce an elixir of immortality by consuming purified metals and complex compounds, and to develop medical skills. In Taoism one’s soul or energy is considered to be interlocked with the vital energy, which is what nourishes your soul. Ridding the body of impurities can increase this energy. Aside from these requirements, you must lead an upright, moral and good-hearted life."

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  5. aaradia

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

    I just hadn't heard that anyone really focuses or believes that still as a predominant belief.

    And no, that sort of stuff isn't what my school focuses on in it's teachings. They talk about overall good health through exercise (via MA's) , and the idea that Qi Gong in particular, works on not just muscles, but the health of the internal organs.

    I am surprised that belief in IMA's as some magical elixir of long life still exists as a common thought in parts of the world. But then again, considering how many people still believe in magic Chi Blast no touch nonsense, I guess it shouldn't surprise me.
  6. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    It is not in some parts of the world, basically any book you buy on internal martial arts starts out by mentioning this mythology as fact.

    Shen li chi jing is the basic process ie shen (spirit) inspires mind (li), mind controls breath (chi), chi condenses into jing. The whole idea of storing chi in the dantian is so it will be converted later into jing thus slowing the aging process. Sex is a major loss of jing according to TCM therefore the various sexual retention practices seen in Asia

    In qigong the kidneys are thought to produce jing hence practices such as massaging the kidneys
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  7. Dialectitian

    Dialectitian Banned Banned

    They says some people like Aspies and INFPs (both me) are old when they are young, and young when they are old. Aspies are very creative and full of fantasy, is that internal alchemy? But no external alchemy :D
  8. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    There are 2 training that's important to slow down aging:

    1. single leg balance.
    2. body stretching.

    Unfortunately both are not emphasized by so called "internal" MA. When you are 80 years old and you can still

    - swing your foot and touch your head (good flexibility),
    - 20 times non-stop (good endurance),
    - without falling down (good balance),

    you are not old at all. When you bend down and you can't even tie your own shoe lace, you are truly old (you lose your body function).


    IMO, the following exercise is the best solo training to prevent old age.


    Never lose your "body flexibility" through your old age is the key.

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  9. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    As you age your ability to do kick high will decrease, arthritis and muscle wear along with mental degeneration a point will come that despite your best intentions you cant without risking a fall and injury.
  10. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    By staying active and excercising in a beneficial way throughout your life you hope to reduce the effects of old age upon your body, and hopefully your mind too. That is the point that you appear to be missing.
  11. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    You can have 2 different attitudes when you get old.

    1. I should slow down my training and do "internal".
    2. I need to train harder to maintain my ability.

    Which attitude is better? Since if you don't use it, you will lose it. You should not give up so soon.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  12. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    But as far as 'internal" practices in general, aren't stretching and balance fundamental and heavily emphasized in all the 'internal arts', along with daily and constant exercise as a central tenet? I think that explains the link between internal martial art practice and general health including elder health.

    Tai Chi and its cousins would seem to a novice to be a sort of guided stretching routine that promotes better balance, and daily physical movement, and so forth, prior to any of the applications becoming apparent through instruction. It combines the concepts of balance, cycle, et cetera in the form of movement that has clear (scientifically documented) health benefits, even if we were to assume the martial benefits require a completely different focus on applications of skill and training regimen.

    Sorry to be so long winded but in sum, I think this might help explain any supposed link between ancient Chinese martial sages and longevity and health (or tales thereof) and it's this: smart people exercised back in the day, and became well known experts in various practices related to physical or mental feats. India has a similar history of colorful esoteric practices. Yogis were sought after far and wide...much like Tai Chi and Ba Gua masters of later eras. It wouldn't take more than a handful of such 'sages' to build a legendary following, when you really think about it even one or two notable historical "gurus" can spawn a legion of tales. Obviously yoga and internal martial art that is similar to yoga has health and physical benefits especially when done regularly. But when it comes to people living hundreds of years because of their notability, that's a phenomenon that covers almost every culture. Many Biblical figures are also claimed to have lived that long so I think it's more or less a common theme of 'supermen' in human recollection, especially when it comes to oral tradition.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
  13. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    Frankly option 2 is not even possible, you cant train harder then you did when you were in your youth.
  14. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Of course you can!

    If you give (say) 95% effort at 70 when you were only giving 94% effort at 20 then you are training harder.
  15. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Training smarter ie safer and more efficiently is the key not harder.
  16. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Training smarter is beneficial at any age. But unless someone is getting actual coaching, then it's often the case that they only learn how to train smarter through long experience.

    And I think that as we get older and get more prone to niggling aches and pains, we learn to appreciate the value of traing smarter more than when we were young and thought that we could do what we liked!
  17. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

  18. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member


    - smart is like to make 1,2 into 1 and to make 1,2,3 into 1,2.
    - hard is like to lift certain amount of weight for certain amount of reps.

    It's different things.
  19. runcai

    runcai Valued Member

    Stretching is an eccentric exercise and is good for the aging and the following might explain why:

    Internal Martial Arts are eccentric exercise and stored elastic muscle energy, or just non-concentric exercise if one define it as use no brute force. Most practitioners can maintain their strength at old age but their look is another matter.
  20. Kai-M

    Kai-M New Member

    Not 100% directly related to the original topic, but one huge benefit of arts like tai chi is that they are known to reduce the risk of falling in older age (because your balance, gait and strength are better). This is a very important benefit, which impacts on life expectancy and overall quality of life. A bad fall can sadly be "the beginning of the end" for some older people, even where they are not previously ill.

    Although some people would say that once you start teaching forms for their health benefits only (e.g. to older people as part of a falls prevention programme) it is no longer the same (martial) art, but has now become something else . . .
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2015

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