Internal Martial Arts & Calisthenics

Like a lot of people, I started martial arts training in an external martial art such as Muay Thai, and weight training worked great for excelling in that art. I got stronger and hit harder. Now, there is nothing wrong with external martial arts, I respect each art, but they were not for me and I didn’t realize this until my 20’s.

After a small hiatus, and watching late night Kung Fu movies, I gave Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) a try. The art fascinated me with its flowing movement and hidden power. I had to reverse all of my study, and focus on my internal self. I picked up on the weight training and noticed the weight training actually hindered my movement. In the last few years I dropped the weights and went to calisthenics. My movement, quickly improved. But I didn’t really pay attention to the change.

Recently, I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, a Grand Master in Yang Style Taijiquan, and after his lectures and expectations of movements, it clicked! Calisthenics is extremely beneficial to internal martial arts. Let’s look at the meaning of calisthenics, exercise to achieve fitness and grace of movement. In TaijiquanTaijiquan you need to have every part of your body to flow as one, calisthenics teaches full body control. This is a beautiful match to improve your internal martial art performance. I would never say you should give up your weight training if that is what you love to do, just make sure your training matches what your current goal is.

 

See my story here.

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Amanda Was The First To Take The Challenge!

1. So what made you decide you wanted to try The 6 day Calisthenics Challenge?


Amanda: Ray offered the challenge and insisted I wouldn’t die, so I wanted to see if I would be able to complete it. After training with Ray for almost a year, I wanted to see how far I could push myself, and also see how far I have come. 

2. Did you have many concerns about going through with it?

Amanda: I was afraid I would be too tired/sore/worn out to actually complete all 6 days. Honestly, I was terrified that like 2 days in I would be too sore to even get out of bed. This was by far the most rigorous and demanding workout I have ever done. 

3. What day would you say was the most challenging and what day did you enjoy the most?


Amanda: The most challenging day was leg day, by far. I have a love/hate relationship with leg day. It was absolutely exhausting, but the feeling of satisfaction and achievement when you finish and realize how many squats and lunges you cranked out in one session is awesome. 
As far as most fun, I loved the cardio day. Speed ladders and boxing in intervals was a blast and the workout went really quickly. 

4. If you did it all again what, if anything, would you change?

Amanda: I would eat better during the challenge. Clean eating is one of my personal challenges that I struggle with. I could tell on the days where I had slacked off and eaten junk food that I had less energy and that the workouts were harder to complete. I would probably do more at home stretching too, in between workouts, to help with muscle soreness.

5. Do you have any advice for the people out there considering giving the calisthenics challenge a try?

Amanda: Just try it. It is hard, and it does hurt, but satisfaction afterwards is more than worth it. Now I get to say I kept up with Ray for a whole week. And anyone that has met or trained with Ray knows that’s a hell of an accomplishment. (Also, you might accidentally get a six pack, which I look at as a positive) 

Sending out a fitness challenge to all my fitness friends and family! The challenge is come workout with me doing my routines for 6 days straight. All of it is calisthenics. Amanda was the first to survive the “Z Fitness Challenge”. Who’s next? The fee is only $125 for 6 days. If you make it all 6 days you get $25 back.

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See where I started.

Drop the Machines for Functionality 

 

push up

I know a lot of people love their workout machines, but here me out.

Let’s look at the machine like the leg extension. You will never really use this motion in everyday life, you are sitting in a fixed position just swinging your leg out. Sure, you do get a burn in your quads but where is the core activation?

Doing a squat is a much better alternative to leg extensions or even the leg press, and yes I know some people have issues with squats. There are ways around it such as a ball squat.

Before you use a machine ask yourself:  how will this help my over all functionality? Even physical therapists stray away from machines for more functional movements. If weights are not your thing also look at the option of calisthenics. Something as ordinary as a pushup has huge benign to your entire upper body.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.