T Nation

Tai Chi

Is tai chi any good?

You have to think of what it was built for- relaxation (it’s considered a “soft” martial art). It is good in the sense that a deep massage would be good for. It also helps with flexibility and control.

[quote]Fulmen wrote:
You have to think of what it was built for- relaxation (it’s considered a “soft” martial art). It is good in the sense that a deep massage would be good for. It also helps with flexibility and control.[/quote]

…and balance and breathing. I found it especially good for back and shoulder tension.

In addition, if you give it a try you will probably need to cut your leg training back a bit:
Quads - Cut to ~1/4-1/3 your normal volume
Hams - Cut to ~1/2 normal
Calves - Cut to ~2/3 normal

When I first trained in Tai Chi, I practiced it every day and did NO direct lifting for my quads for over 8 weeks.

The week before the 8 weeks of TC, I had just worked my way up to an all-time best squatting poundage. About 9 weeks later, during a break from Tai Chi, I went to the gym and easily used this max weight for the same number of reps — I almost felt like I could have done more, but was too freaked-out about not having lost any strength.

tai chi is great if you get a competent instructor. I do yang style tai chi myself. A competent instructor will also know the self-defense applications (which are much, much more rarely understood). Good tai chi will be roughly similar to other arts that emphasize throws, joint locks, and redirection. It is very good, except for a phenomenally slow learning curve. It is a lifelong art in the sense that it is regularly said “after 10 years of diligent study, you can be considered to have a small accomplishment in the art”. But if your purpose is more health oriented, the majority of these benefits will be gotten much, much faster than that with diligent study. Very good for meditation, stress relief, body control/awareness, flexibility, sense of “touch”, joints, etc.

[quote]Fulmen wrote:
You have to think of what it was built for- relaxation (it’s considered a “soft” martial art). It is good in the sense that a deep massage would be good for. It also helps with flexibility and control.[/quote]

…it should also be noted that it was considered a “battle ready” martial art and was very respected in the Chinese army for many years prior to the 1930s. Almost none of that exists now, unfortunately. It was not, in fact, built or created solely for relaxation, although that is a major component of it. It was probably the most spiritually linked of the major “soft” arts, and I think that probably had spiritual origins (rather than defensive/offensive origins), although I’ll have to check on it. It was one of three major internal martial arts–hsing i, bagua being the other two. These two were also extremely well respected for their martial ability. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find a really good teacher for either of these arts in the USA. The teachers that are left are mostly in Asia.

Define what you mean by “good.”

[quote]AlphaDragon wrote:
Define what you mean by “good.”[/quote]

How can tai chi help me?

It helped me get thrown across a parking lot in China repeatedly by a 5’6 chinese man. Conversely, if you happen to be a 5’6 chinese man, it will help you throw 220lb of white boy across a parking lot.

If you got a good teacher, it would help you be a good martial artist. It also helps develop explosive energy, which could help with sports/lifting. The weapon forms, especially Sabre and Spear forms are pretty energetic and will help develop flexibility.