Why Tai Chi?
That’s the question I get asked more than any other. It’s usually asked by the athletes who have seen the group exercising outdoors as they walk passed us after their workout.
“You only stand still.”Try it….
After you’ve read this I’m going to want you to get up, Stand Up..Get out of your seat and try “Standing Still”But first let’s have a look at the question Why Tai Chi?
First a bit about me..I’m a 61-year-old Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor..after living most of my life involved in contact sports that wrecked my body. Right ankle twisted so often it stopped swelling up: Right knee ruptured during cartilage surgery:Right clavicle sticking out of its socket:Lower back stiffness that meant I couldn’t touch my knees.
That was twelve years ago.Check out the pics attached..
What equipment do you need to begin a programme? Easy..enough space to stand up..and if you can include fresh air do it!!
That’s it..No Excuses.
Now daily practice means I move efficiently, my leg muscles are internally strong..that means that I can stand still for an hour, barely moving, but I can hold a squat position for a long time and deliver a head-high kick .My upper body is totally relaxed; full shoulder rotation, Full arm rotation and the ability to look over and behind both shoulders.Your upper body is totally relaxed and therefore able to move with speed and power from a firm, strong base. I can deliver 100 punches in 20 seconds..
Think about it..if you’re attacked do you stiffen up and take a defensive stance or do you relax, stand firm and just rotate the hips so that the attacker falls off balance and into your range. Are you moving backwards out of range taking your legs out of the fight or are you able to deliver a powerful kick with little back-lift. All of the movements need relaxed muscles, balanced stance and focus.The movements need to be practised everyday so that they become natural.
The discipline needed to practice the same move time after time so that it flows from one move to another takes a dedicated mind.I’ve just read an article by Anthony M Drage on this site and he talked about detail.The difference in delivering a powerful punch from one stance and moving your feet two inches is massive.The relaxation of muscles means your reactions are lightning fast as opposed to strained muscles after a weight session where they’re fatigued.
Look at the breathing of an athlete after a weight training or track session where the emphasis is on expanding energy..short, fast breathes the mind still racing..now look at the breathing of an athlete after tai chi..deep, controlled and settled. The mind follows as energy is collected and stored.The fighter can build resistance by focussing the mind.We’re looking for tireless stamina, speed, flexibility and the suppression of stress related reactions.
You see Bootcamps,heavy weights and “eye balls out” sessions are *designed to take the body beyond healthy limits* and produce extreme reactions. Tai Chi trains you to be cool-headed while others are stressing.High intensity workouts place different degrees of tension and imbalances on the body and that means fascia hardens to compensate* (Scott Sonnen) Tai Chi compensates with “low intensity–though not that low” exercises to reprogram motor functions, rotations, balance, extensions and stillness. These periods are vital to keep the body flexible way into your coming years and to prevent over use injuries.
Tai Chi allows you to build stamina, strength and muscular endurance without complex movements being performed under fatigue.
So let’s have a go..
Enough talk.Move back from the PC..your sitting on a chair..OK
Feet apart, firmly on the floor…begin to stand up but stop with your backside just two inches off the seat..squat position..
Now..have your arms at chest level as if your holding a delicate balloon..too loose it falls out–too tight it bursts. Look ahead and focus..Breath in to a slow count of Four//Breath slowly out to a count of Four x 6 times
Lift the “balloon”.. level with your eyes..palms facing away from your face and follow the breathing pattern x 6 times
Lift the balloon above your head..palms facing the ceiling and follow the breathing pattern x 6 times
Now push the chair away.. pretend that the balloon weighs heavier.. sink down into your feet and lower to full squat..thighs parallel to the floor…repeat the three positions as above..
Then stand up…
Day by day, week by week, month by month standing for longer.Use your imagination..imagine you’re holding a medicine ball and follow the program..make it heavy.
Then follow the particular tai chi form you’ve chosen…
That’s why Tai Chi
..moving slowly requires absolute focus..try standing on one leg and singing..try standing on your left leg, swinging your right leg slowly up and forward into a kick… stopping it at the strike point.at the same time.swing your left arm round and forward..your right arm round and out to the side..
Tai chi demands total balance, bad balance in one position ruins the movement into the next position with strength and control.Just check out any tai chi video and check out the powerful, yet flowing movements of masters..Think you could destroy them..in most cases think again.