Tai Chi for fitness

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

  1. idols11

    idols11 Valued Member

    I'm having second thoughts about Tai Chi. The school I currently go to only does the forms. There are no martial applications.

    My question is, are there good fitness benefits to doing Tai Chi? If there are not I will probably quit.

    I know the instructor has said you can strengthen the body.
  2. aaradia

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

    Well, to answer I have to say something I have said in many other threads.

    I am taught that to get the health benefits (aside from any health benefit from just moving vs sitting) one needs to understand the martial applications. Even if one isn't interested in the fighting aspect, one needs to understand them for those health benefits.

    Knowing the martial application does things like getting one aligned properly, getting proper extension................

    Personally, I would not recommend a school that teaches forms without martial application. Forms are important, but so are drills of the moves in forms to understand them fully. And IMO push hands.
  3. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Depends on your age, physical condition and how rigorous the class is, but honestly is you are fairly active probably not that useful
  4. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Mmm depends what you mean by fitness.

    Which version of Tai chi are you doing? Also what form?

    If you are looking for a tough sweaty work out then Taijiquan may not be for you. Its an internal syestem, and the health benefits you will get will be initially primarily breath control, posture, and increased balanced (if you are doing it slow enough!)

    I started it initially as a way to develop non telegraphic smoother movements for fencing and have done it on and off for years. The version I practice now Chen can be pretty form based and meditative, especially the initial 19 form. But the 38 form is much more dynamic and while I don't sweat buckets like in fencing or boxing , i do work up a sweat. Chen has some very low stances and slow movement can be quite challenging.

    Bear in mind that as you age, you may be glad you kept up with a gentler exercise. My knees at 36 are begginig to protest and creek in other sports.

    In the end you need to be truthful as to what you want from it and if taijiquan meets those needs.
  5. Prizewriter

    Prizewriter Moved on

    Tai chi is a surprisingly tough workout when done properly. If you look at any of the top guys, they have big strong legs and pretty good flexibility. That said finding a good school is tough.
  6. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    That’s like saying look gymnasts have great bodies, all you need to do is add a few ring dips and pulls ups and hand stands in at your local cross fit gym and you to will look like that. What the top 1% look like who probably starting training at 4, trained several times a day, and at a much harder pace with much heavier weights and much more resistance than your local school isn’t really productive.
    Also since the majority of top guys come from a culture where squatting is the norm not sitting on chairs, its hard to argue if there leg strength and flexibility is due to training or lifestyle
    What you should look at is the average student, and the average tai chi student is normally not athlete in the slightest when compared to your average thai boxer, your average judoka and not fit when compared to said average students

    Which is why I said it depends on your current levels of activity and age, if you are in your 20s fairly fit and active the majority of tai chi classes wont be challenging to you, if you are in your 50s, fat and with a resting HR in the 70s it probably will

    Theres also a difference between doing something that feels tough because you aren’t used to it, and something that’s productive in terms of health and well being
  7. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Yang Ch'eng-fu (1883–1936) died at 53. Cheng Man-ch'ing(1902 - 1975) died at 73. Both are not old age.

    For sick and weak, Taiji is great. Otherwise, it's not. Even when you are in your 70, you will still need to

    - work on weight to maintain your bone density.
    - stretch to maintain your flexibility.
    - do sit up to tie up your fat belly.
    - stand in single leg to remain your balance.
    - do some fast move to make your heart to move faster.
    - ...

    The Taiji system just doesn't give you all those benefits. One simple example, Most Taiji guys just don't have fit waist line.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  8. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Yep meant if your heart rate (resting) was in the 70s beat per minute area, or in other words if you are very unfit, other wise its probably not that useeful I agree
  9. aaradia

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

    TCC can give you a good workout if you are healthy too IMO.

    A lot of what you say below goes for other martial arts as well as TCC. Weights are weights. Stretching is stretching. Calisthenics are calisthenics.

    The only way I agree is that TCC doesn't give you a workout that other MA's do is cardio.

    We are encouraged to stretch for both our CLF and our TCC.

    And we do stance training in our TCC as well as our CLF, so standing on one leg (both for stances and for a series of slow motion kicks) over and over are both things we do as part of our TCC training.

    In fact, doing things like a proper TCC walk will train your balance better than doing a fast form in another MA.

    I have seen plenty of healthy active CLF students take up TCC and be surprised by it making their muscles sore.

    If you don't get a good workout from your TCC training, then I don't think one is training TCC correctly.

  10. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    When you are young, you need to run, jump, flip in the air, dance, ... and have fun for your life. You don't want to move slow like an 90 years old man does. Try to enjoy your life. Try to move your body in fast speed when you still can.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  11. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Why does it have to be either/or?

    Do fast stuff, do slow stuff, do hard stuff, do light stuff. Try doing the fast stuff slow, and try doing the slow stuff fast.
  12. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    The work out of a

    - jumping kick can be equivalent to 4 non-jumping kick.
    - non-jumping kick can be equivalent to 4 punches.

    1 hour of fast speed work out can be equivalent to 2 hours of slow speed work out. If your body can afford to work out in fast speed, you should push yourself harder when you are still "young" and "healthy".
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  13. aaradia

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

    And how did you come to those mathematical calculations of what equals what in a workout?????

    There are different ways to push oneself harder. Doing repetitions/ sets of snake creeps low, followed by repetitions of slow toe kicks, followed by say holding Golden Rooster stands on one leg for a minute- then several minutes. Do a form and push your stances the whole way through.

    You should push yourself harder at all ages. We have - for example - a couple in their late 70's that still do both CLF and TCC. They also do downhill skiing. Our GGM Wong Gong does CLF still and he is in his 80's.

    I agree with David Harrison - why make it an either/ or thing?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  14. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    After I have finished my 4 miles running on the Pismo beach, I like to do some solo drills on the way back.

    If I do the

    - XingYi Beng Chuan, I can drill that for 1 mile before I stop and rest.
    - front kick left and right non-stop, I can drill that for 1/4 miles before I stop and rest.
    - tornado kick non-stop, I can only drill that 30 times and I have to stop and rest.

    As a runner, I'm very accurate with the distance. I have used the distance to measure my solo drill training and get that number.


    Fast short distance spring and slow long distance running can train your body in different ways. It all depends on how much training times that you can afford to spend daily.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  15. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    That is a beautiful spot to go running! I go running by a dirty river full of old bin bags and a park covered in used condoms: colour me jealous.
  16. Guitar Nado

    Guitar Nado Valued Member

    All I can say is that when I get to your age If I am running 4 miles and still in the mood to do tornado kicks, etc. Then I will feel pretty good about things.
  17. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    The flesh ocean breeze and nice California weather can give me a lot of energy. When I was young and when I had body temperature, I would repeat my tornado kicks so many times until I sweated. My body temperature would then drop down after that. One time I mentioned that to a western medical doctor, he didn't agree with this kind of self-treatment. It definitely is a good exercise for "fitness".
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  18. runcai

    runcai Valued Member

    You can learn to utilize your innate energy within a a few minutes and the rest is just repetitive training of forms to build up that strength that is all. Pushing hand techniques are just practice of neutralization and weight training.
  19. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    As I said before there’s a difference between feeling sore because you are doing a move you aren’t used to, and increasing your strength, conditioning and flexibility in a productive way

    There are much better ways to work your balance, strength, coordination and increase your stamina and conditioning than tai chi, unless your athletic abilities and conditioning levels are low or non existent to start with
  20. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    TCC is not a fitness regime per se it's a traditional MA system, but it still can offer good gains in "balance, strength, coordination and increase your stamina and conditioning".
    The video below is an example.

    As with anything the more effort and sweat you put in the more you will get out of it.
    TCC has all the things other KF sytems have and therefore can be trained just the same as them. Comparing it to other fitness regimes is besides the point entirely.

    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boJ-2oLhhHg"]Zhao Bao TaiJiChuan - YouTube[/ame]

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