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Fitness is different to health.
Being fit entails a wider range of concerns e.g. increased flexibility, suppleness, strength, cardiovascular health/fitness, agility...
These considerations are addressed at length in the tai chi for fitness curriculum and the taijiquan syllabus.
Tai chi for fitness
Not everyone wants to learn a martial art nor are they seeking to address health issues.
But they do want to get fit without any risk of injuries. Tai chi for fitness is ideal.
The syllabus includes:
Standing qigong (various)
Moving qigong (4 sets)
Long Yang form
Balls & grips
Cardio work (HIIT) (2 sets)
Core strength (3 sets)
Leg stretches (2 sets)
Psoas exercises (4)
Taoist Yoga (4 sets)
Weight training (if appropriate)
Beyond the beginning
If you want to become more than a beginner, it is important to recognise that the training will become increasingly harder.
At some stage you pass through a capacity barrier and it will no longer feel difficult.
But that may well be years away.
It will not get easier.
If you are lazy now, expect difficulties ahead of you.
We are expecting your fitness level to improve as you move up the curriculum.
This should happen naturally.
You grow stronger, fitter and far more capable.
But it will not happen by itself.
Being in condition entails:
• Increasing your strength
• Improving your ability to last (endurance)
• Overcoming fatigue
• Being fitter
• Being more efficient in your body use
• Being more capable
• Overcoming stress
Set aside talk about relaxation, qi, softness and other concerns...
Your body is flesh and bone.
It is moved by muscles.
In order to be strong, agile, flexible and adaptive in combat - you need to strengthen your body.
Sifu Waller's approach to exercising is to offer modules; each lasting 5-10 minutes approximately.
They are intense and focussed.
The aim is to avoid complacency and boredom.
It is OK to train a wide range of exercise methods without ruining your taijiquan.
The key concern is moderation.
Avoid over-doing it: over-stretching, straining or exerting.
Be mindful of posture, poise and tension.
Tai chi is not going to fix you up.
It was never intended (or designed) to be something employed for repair.
At best, it may be seen as a tonic.
It helps to keep you fit, healthy and vital. It is a preventative measure, not a fix.
Do it every day
A tonic is a medicine taken daily in order to maintain and invigorate the body.
It may significantly improve your fitness.
However, you should take note of the small print, the conditions of use:
It must be administered every day
When you stop taking it, the fitness benefits go away
This is something to really think about. Re-read the
paragraph if you need to.
Most people are not used to training at home.
The key to home training is to work into it gently.
Try doing a small amount every day.
Exercise with care
People who do a lot of body building and gym machines usually fail to stretch enough.
Their muscles remain over-contracted and become chronically tense.
This reduces the length of the muscles and limits their functionality.
Stretching is vital
'Stretching' covers a wide range of approaches.
A good tai chi class should offer a varied and versatile selection of stretching methods.
Weight training (optional)
Instead of pumping-up for the sake of pumping-up, weight training serves an actual function in tai chi.
Stronger muscles are used in all aspects of the curriculum.
If your muscles get stronger from weight training exercises, then you are stronger for everything.
Each form, exercise, drill and movement is stronger.
Take it easy
Instead of hammering and punishing your body, you treat it with respect and care.
Your body must last you a lifetime.
18 April 1997
Last updated 18 May 2017