TAI CHI, WEIGHTS AND BODYBUILDING
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“Bodybuilding is the closest we have to the fountain of youth.”
– Lee Labrada
Can I lift weights and practice Tai Chi?
When I was thirteen years old my father gave me a set of weights which included a bench, barbell, and a set of dumbbell's. I of course wanted to be strong like him so I quickly began a weekly workout routine. I have continued a weekly strength training routine ever since. I first began lifting weights at home for the first year and quickly progressed to my neighborhood gym. I am so glad that I have made weight training a part of my healthy lifestyle.
As we age we experience muscle atrophy and lose bone density. In order to reverse this aging process, we need to add strength resistance training to our lifestyle. This is done by lifting weights or by body weight exercises. It is my opinion through my own personal experience that everyone should do some sort of strength resistance training for better health.
During my martial arts journey, I have heard many times over the years to avoid lifting heavy weights. When you lift weights you are training your muscles to react by tensing up. When we train in Tai Chi we are trying to reverse this reaction. We practice Tai Chi to release tension and reverse the learned reaction of tensing up when we are pushed, attacked or even touched. We learn through the practice of push hands that we become stronger and are able to redirect force more efficiently by relaxing and listening with our hands and body. As a beginner, I think it is appropriate for you to rely on physical strength to execute your techniques. I think it is also necessary if the need arises to protect yourself by using physical strength. Only after you become more proficient and are very familiar with the techniques you can then start to work on practicing the techniques without using or relying on muscle strength.
The long-range goal as you become a more experienced and proficient martial artist is to relax and use less muscle strength. By relaxing you can make a better connection to the ground, by making this connection you can use the earth to generate more power by using your legs and hips.
Lifting weights or any form of strength training is essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Don't listen when people tell you not to lift weights.