… I next started training Taijiquan. The Taiji folks leave me scratching my head the most on the subject of conditioning. They seem to be the most set against physical conditioning, out side of doing their basics, and forms.
The above snippet caught my attention and made me think about my own training. Mike Murphy goes into more details on the reasoning and some potential pitfalls for weight lifting and/or resistance training, see the above link for more.
Like Mike, and everyone else in the world, I am getting older. As I get older, I think more and more about my overall health and well-being.
Muscle reaches its maximum size by about the age of 25 in most people. There is then about a 10% decrease between the age of 25 and 45 with a 45% shrinkage over the next 30 years. But why does so much muscle tissue disappear, and why does the degeneration accelerate after the age of 50?
The general recommendation is for people to engage in both aerobic and resistance type training. In regards to taiji, I do not see any issues with doing ANY type of aerobic training, whether it be running, biking or swimming. My Cardio of choice was swimming, but I am thinking about getting a stationary bicycle for the basement.
As for resistance training, I have also heard stories that taiji people should not lift weights. However, at the same time, I have read about taiji masters practicing with heavy poles and engaging in low stances. Is this not resistance training?
I would say the answer is yes, however I think of it more as functional training. I have noticed a shift in the fitness world from straight weight lifting to functional exercises. When I was at the gym, I saw a guy practicing baseball style swings using weights attached to a pulley as resistance. Likewise, I have seen people practicing taiji circle exercises using surgical tubes affixed to a post. In theses examples, some resistance is used to train a particular physical function, whether it be swinging a baseball bat or performing a taiji circle.
Personally, I believe in functional training. I consider push-ups and sit-ups and most bodyweight exercises to fall into this functional category. Exercises that offer a combined strength, balance and coordination training are all good in my book. In fact, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga fits the bill quite nicely and is something I definitely want to incorporate more into my daily routine. Let us all try and achieve a simple goal of being able to do 100 Push-Ups, that should fall within reason, right?
… Additionally, I would consider the ability to personally maintain a healthy body weight, an excellent state of overall physical fitness, and the ability to apply the Form Postures to self-defense as a soft style internal kung-fu art. In the end, whatever is expressed outwardly….our personal demonstration…is a reflection of what we think and feel inwardly. [via]
What are your own thoughts on the role of physical conditioning in taiji? Is it “all in the form” or is there more to it?