The sexual prowess of internal martial art masters is legendary. I was told by one of my teachers that his teacher (in his 80s) was still enjoying regular relations.
I often wondered what could be the explanation for this? According to traditional chinese medicine (TCM), correct tai chi practice exercises the “kidney/liver” system. In TCM, kidney/liver does not mean only the physical organs. The kidney/liver system refers to a whole complex of spiritual, emotional, physical and other factors. The kidneys are related to life force and strong kidneys means strong libido, strength and creativity to be successful in the world.
However, I stumbled upon some research that offers a more tangible explanation for why tai chi could have these miraculous effects. Keep in mind that good and correct tai chi instruction is really hard to find. The millions of old people practicing in the park are largely doing it incorrectly!! Hard to believe but true. The real stuff has been watered down and popularized for the masses.
Most of the old people practicing in the park are doing it wrong and not getting benefits over fresh air, sunlight and walking. This is why tai chi practice does not appeal to young people and most non-chinese people.
If word got out about the side effects of correct tai chi practice, then everybody would do it and older people would be become vibrant and youthful.
Anyway, this study and many many others are saying that simple pelvic floor exercises can restore proper functioning to men provided they aren’t too far gone already (severe heart disease or heavy drinkers).
When tai chi is practiced correctly, it’s like an intense pelvic floor exercise. When the body is positioned correctly and relaxed the legs form a “bow” which results in the pelvic floor lifting and supporting the body. As one moves through the form, the pelvic area and legs get a thorough work out. It takes about 10 minutes to do the entire long form. Practiced up to 10 times per day, it’s 100 minutes of kegels and pelvic floor exercise each day!
If you are a tai chi student and do not feel this or your practice feels weak, seek out some new instruction. Traditional chen family style with a good lineage is a great place to start.
It’s time to reconsider high intensity training routines that are becoming a popular exercise trend. The theory is that short bursts of intense exercise are similar to what our ancestors experienced and are more effective at burning fat and releasing growth hormone. However, for older more sedentary weekend warriors, perhaps this strategy is not the best strategy for fitness.
Andrew Marr, journalist and BBC TV presenter, recently had a high profile stroke caused by intense exercise on a rowing machines. You can read about it here.
Apparently, Mr. Marr damaged his carotid artery during an attempt at a short, high intensity training exercise on a rowing machine. Contrast this approach with internal martial arts training. In traditional internal chinese martial arts, one is taught to hold pressure in the lower abdomen and not in the chest, neck and head. There is intense pressure on the lower half of the body, while the upper body is relaxed. One is taught to avoid “chi rising”. Obviously, I’m not saying Mr. Marr’s stroke was caused by “Chi Rising”. We’ll never know what caused it–could be a random event and it was just the time for to happen, or it was genes. diet and environment.
The point of the article about his incident is that perhaps for older people, high intensity training is probably not a good idea. Chinese internal martial arts, with it’s breathing patterns, scientific relaxation techniques, intense leg pressure and posture training is probably a great choice for fitness. Many people don’t realize how hard authentic internal chinese martial arts like taichichuan are to practice and how you can get a great core workout that rivals any pilates or yoga class.
Here’s a good example of good taichichuan. It’s an excerpt of the chen style 2nd routine that is done with more power expression and a faster tempo:
Walking vs Running?
Check out this article from Time–it says that walking is similar to running with regards to health benefits such as reduction of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. However, when you read the article, walking is almost TWICE as good as running. Not JUST as good as:
Here’s what the researchers found:
Running significantly reduced the risk for being diagnosed with hypertension by 4.2% while walking reduced the risk by 7.2%
Running reduced the chances of having high cholesterol by 4.3% and walking by 7%
Running lowered risk of diabetes by 12.1% while walking dropped the risk by 12.3%
Running reduced coronary heart disease risk by 4.5% compared to 9.3% for walking.
You can read the whole article here.
The way I read this, walking is almost 2x as good as running for hypertension, almost 2x as good as running for high cholesterol, just as good as running for diabetes, and again 2x as good as running for heart disease.
So forgot running. I feel that too much running increases inflammation in the body and breaks it down.
Go enjoy your walk!
Here’s a very cool e-book with a simple program you can follow to activate your mind’s ability to influence your body chemistry to create a state of lasting health, youth and beauty. It’s a simple idea leveraging things we already know about the power of the mind to regulate our hormone levels, muscle performance and immune system. Everyone knows about Norman Cousins and the power of laughter. Everyone knows about the use of mental imagery by elite athletes. Did you know that practicing a skill and mentally lifting weights will make your muscles stronger? Did you know you can secrete more testosterone by certain visualizations? This book gives you simple ideas you can use everyday for a week to align your mind with your body. Try it!
Sometimes you need to be your own cheerleader, coach or best friend. This site DailyNudge aims to help you do just that. You can configure daily or regular electronic reminders or nudges to be sent to your inbox or your cell phone. How is this helpful? Send yourself encouraging messages to stay on track for your goals. It’s amazing how we easily drift to autopilot during the day and our minds and emotions drift to our comfortable patterns. This is great if your normal patterns work for you..that is if you naturally believe you are healthy, happy, successful, wealthy, etc. However, if like many of us, you are a work in progress, then you need some cheerleading and coaching. Send yourself a personal message at 2pm, for example, to remember to relax, center and be mindful. It could be anything like eating better, visualizing a goal, smiling, or something more mundane like file that TPS report. The best thing is it’s free and I feel it’s a great tool.
This is something you can’t eat, but have to do. The Eight Pieces of Brocade exercise has a long history and there are many many versions and interpretations of this exercise. I, of course, will give you the right one. All kidding aside, I did get some insight into the proper intent and result for each exercise. Over the years, I have also honed my own understanding and developed theories of my own regarding why this particular set of exercises are deemed effective and have managed to survive for hundreds of years.
One legend states that a wandering monk invented these exercises after witnessing the poor condition of fellow monks who spent their days sitting in meditation and not exercising. This set of exercises was meant to keep the physical body in good condition.
There isn’t alot recorded about these exercises. I was told there were some cave or tablet drawings with basic instructions or ‘songs’. These songs were devices to remember the main points. They are largely unhelpful if you haven’t been taught the exercises. Therein lies the problem with a lot of traditions, arts or practices that have been revived from ‘old manuscripts’. One simply can not learn effectively from old manuscripts.
These exercises are very old and steeped in traditional chinese medical theory. That means that each exercise focuses on the body from the traditional chinese medical view of the body. An exercise will focus on a meridian (energy channel) or organ or both. In chinese medicine organs are more than just body parts like we tend to understand from a Western viewpoint. In Chinese Medicine, organs are connected to each other ‘energetically’ and control other parts of the body and emotions. Some organs don’t really exist physically, like the Triple Burner. The triple burner is an organ that is the focus of the first exercise, Holding up the sky to regulate the triple burner.
Stand with feet together or no more than shoulder width apart, arms at sides. While you start to inhale, synchronize your breath and the raising of your arms until they reach above your head, palms facing the sky. Again, from their position at the sides of your body, bring them together in front of you, turn them palm up and raise them up the front of your body. As you pass your chin, start to rotate them over so they face away from you. At the end you should be looking up and stretching your hands above you as if you were trying to push up or “hold up” the sky. Keep pushing and stretching and inhaling for a few moments and then exhale, bringing your arms back to their starting position. Relax.
Keep Inhaling to create pressure in your lower abdomen. Don’t hold the breath at the end, but keep inhaling
make sure the sides of your torso feel a stretch. Look on an acupuncture map for the triple burner meridian and make sure you feel it stretch.
Anything else is purely academic. These exercises were meant to be SIMPLE!! Don’t fall for complications or other “secrets”. These are not rocket science.
These were meant to be basic training exercises. I know a lot of people want to complicate these exercises with a lot of additional theories and points. Some of these additional points are very good, don’t get me wrong. However, they are probably additional points added from understanding and practices of deeper, more sophisticated internal arts or practices.
Keep this one simple. Remember the main points and that’s it.
I was thinking the other day about how much real information is really available in printed form and on the net. I was involved for many years in studying martial arts, especially the mysterious internal martial arts mainly from China — Tai Chi Chuan, Xing Yi, Bagua etc. What I like about these arts is that they tend to have associated health preserving practices often loosely labeled ‘Qigong/ChiGong/ChiKung‘ or ‘Nei Gung’. These exercises are loosely translated as ‘breathing exercises’ or ‘Inner Work’. There are some purists who will argue every statement made concerning these arts and practices. I always found them fascinating, especially the idea of a practice that could guarantee youth and vitality well into advanced age. One can find alot of books on these arts and introductory classes.
Unfortunately, the secret ingredient to make them work is not found in any of these books or on the net. If you want to learn from books and from introductory classes, you will not learn the true practice. I spent many many years and have yet to find the real secret. I’ve had a lot of secret stuff revealed to me, but it’s never the full story. I have had enough secret information revealed to me to know every book and video out there is pretty much useless. You will get hints from your teacher, but the only way is to stumble upon yourself. And that’s why we practice and practice.
But I will give you one secret a Chinese Herbalist revealed to me one day that I haven’t seen anywhere. For the tonic herbs, mix a little red wine in the resulting tea to magnify the effects. I thought this was a cool revelation, although minor, of the oral tradition only insiders get to witness. I humbly pass it on to you.
Notice the swirl? That’s a hint for another secret…..