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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How much time do I need to work out?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting the same question over and over. “How much time do I need to devote to working out?” There really isn’t a perfect answer to this, but here is my view. You honestly do not need to spend hours in the gym working out. The real trick is to workout smart. In a lot of cases, you can get away with 30 to 45 minute long workouts as long as long as you avoid the common distractions in the gym such as TVs and constantly texting or making calls between sets, and in some “fitness facilities”, the snack table. No, I’m not saying that you won’t get a lot out of working out for an hour; heck, I like working out for at least an hour. But in most cases, the time is not necessarily available. Another thing you can do to help speed up your workout is focus on multiple muscle groups in one exercise. You don’t have to stick with the standard three sets of 10 for bench press three sets of 10 for lat pulldowns you can work more than one muscle at a time. The most important of all focus on your goals. Every time you enter your gym, playground or wherever else you workout, go in with a plan and if that plan is torn apart by someone using the equipment, then you need have a back up plan. There of been plenty of times when I went in planning to work one set of muscles and was thrown off by equipment I regularly use for that so I switch gears and move to another muscle group. And never forget, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re not sure how to best maximize your time in the gym. It takes some getting used to and there are plenty of people that can help you get on the right path.

Have questions? Contact me.

See my fitness journey.

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.