Over 50 (2)
Kung fu

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Ideal workout

According to the book The Blue Zones it is important to think of exercise in terms of what you can reasonably do long-term. The ideal form of exercise is moderate enough that you can do it for the rest of your life. It needs to be joint-friendly, provide a gentle workout and be sustainable. This sounds rather like tai chi, doesn't it?

Itís crazy. I never thought Iíd be getting more powerful as I got older!

I used to be able to hit pretty hard in karate but it was 100% effort. More than a handful of full power hits and I was getting fatigued. With Tai chi Iím hitting as hard, probably harder but no effortÖI could carry on striking all day! Itís nuts! Also, with karate there was wind up or at least fist at waist or head so had space to travel before contact. Now I can almost hit as hard from touching the target!

The fact Sifu Waller has been able to transform my power generation as I age into my 40ís is all the proof I will ever need of both the art and Sifu as the real thing. I almost feel sorry for those that continue with slow old people taichi or wushu style. They are missing the essence!

(Chris Young)

You must get fit

All martial arts require the student to be fit for combat and tai chi is no exception. There are many lazy tai chi classes in the world. This is naive in the extreme.

Cross-training tai chi
Our tai chi students train: massage, leg stretches, qigong, neigong, form, partnered work, martial sets & drills, combat and weapons.
The training is done carefully, gently - in a controlled manner - without exertion or strain.

Little & often

Tai chi advocates moderation; not taxing or tiring the body. Rather than train for a lengthy period of time, aim to practice little & often. 20-30 minute increments, with rest breaks in-between is ideal.
Instead of pushing your body hard and putting it under duress, just do a little exercise. Resting will keep your concentration sharp and offset fatigue.

Motor learning
For many people, their fitness regime does not take into account 'motor learning'. Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Tai chi combines exercise with motor learning.

Learning a martial art

When learning a martial art there are essentially 3 stages

  1. Physical fitness

  2. Technical skill

  3. Combat

Most students want to do stage 3 but flounder at stage 1.

A martial athlete?

Combat is not easy and there is a risk of injury if the student is unfit. This is true of any martial art. To reach a high level of skill, the student needs to take a lesson from sport.
They must become a lot fitter, but not necessarily a martial athlete.

Intelligent combat

A well-balanced 50 year old usually recognises that they do not really want to risk being injured in combat. They are looking for something milder and more intelligent. Yes, they want tai chi skills, and they also want more. They want to feel fit, calm and comfortable in their own body. A good class can offer a highly-stimulating training experience without the risks associated with conventional martial arts practice. And if the training is too rough for you, why not opt for tai chi for health instead?

Age range

18-60, providing you pass the eligibility criteria. We don't teach kung fu to new students under 18 or over 60*.
* If you start aged 59, you don't have to stop when you reach 60.

Kung fu for the elderly?

Some martial arts schools offer programs tailored for children or for the over 60's. We do not. Teaching martial arts to those age groups requires specialised training and insurance cover for this type of practice. Unfortunately, we're neither trained nor insured to teach children or seniors. Most adults can train qigong & tai chi though.

Qigong & tai chi

Tai chi involves simple movements, mild stretches and cooperative partner work. The onus is upon relaxation, balance, good poise and coordination. Students learn how to move their body in a healthy, comfortable way without the risk of injury. Most adults can study qigong & tai chi. This non-martial approach is accessible for many people aged 50 and above.
Assuming that you are fit enough to undertake the training,
tai chi is great. It is a lifetimeís work. You can start at any time and potentially still be training for the rest of your life.

To get the most out of martial arts training, finding a tailored program for older adults is essential. Some standard features that may be important for older adults include shorter classes with more repetitions, modifications for those with disabilities, and instructor certification in geriatric martial arts.

(Graying With Grace)

Page created 19 August 1994
Last updated 14 August 2023