|Fit for combat|
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Our insurance company states that taijiquan students can only train material appropriate to their level of fitness and ability.
This means that the syllabus must take the student's condition into account at all times. Although this may sound restrictive, it is actually quite sensible and safety conscious.
If a student is not fit enough to undertake certain aspects of the syllabus - but erroneously believes themselves capable - they run a serious risk of injury. As a business we cannot cater for wishful thinking.
Fitness is provable. Good intentions are your own concern.
All martial arts require the student to be fit for combat.
Taijiquan students train: core strength, massage, leg stretches, cardio work, yoga, 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.
If you pass the physical you can start taijiquan training.
This is easy non-martial stuff. Just some qigong exercises that require limited mobility and coordination, along with basic partner work.
A student must pass the material ASAP if they hope to undertake martial training.
Sifu Waller offers beginners the occasional taste of combat. But he is limited by the student's own level of fitness...
Rigorous martial arts training assumes a reasonable degree of fitness - by our standards - not by yours.
If a student struggles to make steady progress through the beginner's grade we must conclude that they are not suited to martial arts training and the martial opportunities will end.
Tai chi for fitness
If a taijiquan student flounders with the material or fails to attend weekly classes we are obliged to move them to tai chi for fitness. There is no shame in this. It is for your own wellbeing.
As a business, we have no choice but to look after your own best interests.
If a student starts to develop a health problem such as a 'stoop' they will initially be told about this.
Should the individual choose not to address the matter, they will begin working on the problem in class (rather than undertake taijiquan training all evening).
The final stage would entail a move to tai chi for fitness.
Every student who trains taijiquan has proven that they know the basic qigong exercises and partner work. Sifu Waller assumes that they are training at home and improving their skills.
If a student demonstrates ineptitude or neglects their fitness, they will be required to rehabilitate with the tai chi for fitness students until this problem has been remedied.
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.
Most new starters are not prepared for the amount of physical work involved in learning a martial art. The public image of tai chi creates a false sense of effortlessness. Few people expect to train hard.
This is naive.
To get fit for combat a martial arts student must commit to different training methods designed to encourage the maximum muscular development for the least amount of time commitment and effort.
Also, they cannot afford to bulk up. Body building will impede mobility and agility. Suppleness, nimbleness, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness are vital.
If a fighter is panting for breath after 10 minutes of cardio, they are not fit enough for combat.
The aim is to supplement traditional training methods with a targeted selection of strength training methods that address the areas qigong neglects.
Cardio work, leg stretches, Taoist Yoga, psoas exercises, core strengthening exercises, dynamic stretching, punching/kicking drills, endurance/stamina exercises, baoding balls, hand power grip exercises, sticks (of various lengths and weights), wallbag work and heavy bag work all combine to comprehensively increase your overall strength and fitness.
Qigong, form, partner work and the forms in our syllabus will undoubtedly provide you with the skills necessary to perform taijiquan adequately. But this training is 'internal'.
For your taijiquan to become martial you must supplement it with additional strength training concerns. This is the 'external' component.
e.g. Wang Shujin carried two iron bird cages at arm's length from his home to the training area every morning in order to increase his power. This exercise is now known as the 'farmer's walk'.
A lot of modern people like to train with weights. Most martial artists do. Weight training does not equal fighting skill.
Delavier advocates undertaking weight training specifically chosen to supplement your art. This usually means just only a few exercises each session; usually working a large number of muscles at once.
Working out at the gym will not help in this regard. A standard gym workout or machine-based practice runs counter to what we are looking to accomplish.
Will weights help with your taijiquan? Not really. Most people just become tense.
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.
Sifu Waller has designed the syllabus such that everything works together. There is no discord between different facets of the curriculum.
Every exercise, drill and form works in conjunction with everything else. The entire syllabus follows the teachings of Taoism and The Tai Chi Classics. All areas of study are in harmony.
To be permitted to engage in the complete range of shuai jiao skills, considerable suppleness is a must.
When we are young, we can
enjoy lots of external movement. When we are older, we become less active
and can't as easily enjoy large movements, speed, high impact, and quick
twisting of the muscles. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time our bodies
really need good exercise to maintain youthful energy and health. Most of
the exercise systems available in our society can't satisfy this need.
Many beginners think that
they do not need to warm-up. Skipping a warm-up will automatically result in
pain later on, and that will restrict your fighting abilities. A good
pre-workout warm-up protects against future aches and pains. Furthermore, it
is also an immediate factor in improving performance.
The risk of injury in combat sports is especially high. To prevent injury, do the following: 1) Learn to warm-up well before any exercise, 2) Do everything possible to accelerate recovery between workouts.
Strength training must adapt to the fighter's needs, not the other way around.
Programs for fighters should consist mostly of compound exercises. These allow for intense work on a maximum number of muscles in a minimum time.
11 June 1996
Last updated 27 April 2020