How Tai Chi builds LASTING strength and BALANCE
The Chinese have been saying for thousands of years that all things are categorized by the Tai Chi symbol, also known as the Yin Yang symbol. If it indeed categorizes all things, then how does the theory of Yin and Yang relate to exercise?
This black and white circle symbolizes polar opposites and how all opposites balance each other. Yin being the black side and Yang being the white. The simple answer to the question above is yin= rest and yang= activity. The more complex answer would be yin is the relaxed muscle and yang is the tense muscle. These answers, however true, still do not get to the root of the question- how yin and yang relates to exercise. In exercise there are yang types and yin types; ultimately the type of exercise is rated on the primary muscles used and how moderate or explosive it is.
Why is this even important? As we noted before yin and yang categorizes all things. The idea is that for all things to function to the best of their ability; yin and yang must be balanced. For our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health; yin and yang must be balanced. Categorizing these things is the first step to balancing them.
Down below you will find a chart illustrating the yin and yang attributes of exercise.
Practicing Tai Chi philosophy in exercise requires balancing yin and yang types of exercise. When looking at various sports, training programs, and martial arts if you want to achieve lasting progress with little to no injury you must balance yin and yang. In short this means cross training.
For your focus on yang based exercises you must have a yin based practice to support it, and vice versa. A simple example is weight lifting and Yoga. The reason many weight lifters add Yoga to their practice is its yin predominance heals and safeguards their joints from injury. The same with Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan the Yin predominance of Tai Chi Chuan heals and relaxes the high intensity and violence of Kung Fu practice. In various martial arts this balance is found, if not completely encompassed by the martial art, then by cross training it with other arts. A prime example of this is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s Rickson Gracie, he has achieved great results by merging Yoga and BJJ to better his art and health.
Regardless of the art trained, exercise//sport practiced Yin and Yang are both required for great lasting progress. This is the “supreme ultimate way” the “Tai Chi Chuan” of training. Balance your methods and you will build enduring strength and control. I choose to do this by training Tai Chi Chuan and Kung Fu, Weight lifting, calisthenics, running, and dynamic along with static stretching. Find what you enjoy on both sides of Yin and Yang and be sure to balance one with the other.
Daniel R. Hyde
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
Tui Na, Chinese Massage
Shiatsu, Japanese Massage
Tai Chi Chuan
Kwan Ying Do Kung Fu