H. WON TAI CHI INSTITUTE
FAQ & Tips
Tai Chi Chuan & Weightlifting: Can a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner benefit from weightlifting?
Absolutely not! Don't do it if he/she wants to develop the true internal power of the traditional Yang family Tai Chi Chuan.
Traditional Tai Chi Chuan is about internal power, which is developed from the internal energy. To develop this energy, he/she has to soften & relaxed the body, mainly the joints & the muscles. Moreover, during this process of learning to soften & relax the body, he/she is also stretching & strengthening the joints & the muscles according to the internal principles of Tai Chi Chuan. One could say that the process of softening & relaxing is "yin", & the stretching & strengthening is "yang". From this function of the opposites, "chi" is consequently cultivated. With chi, it is further refined to nurture "peng jing", which is, of course, the source for the internal power.
The inexperienced & the incorrectly trained tai chi practitioners might think that weightlifting (including chin-ups, push-up, isometrics, etc.) helps in attaining the needed strength as long as those muscles aren't tense or flex when applying the techniques. This may be true as far as the external styles are concerned, but for Tai Chi Chuan, weightlifting & aforementioned exercises undermine the internal principles of chi & peng jing.
The enlarged or the packed muscles cannot completely relax although he/she might think that they can; as a result, the joints cannot relaxed. If joints are not relaxed, they cannot be properly trained to become strong. If one didn't already know, in Tai Chi Chuan, having strong joints, as well as strong muscles, is one of the important factors in developing the internal power. Strong muscles? Yes, but, strong muscles don't necessarily have to be large or packed muscles. If a size is necessary, then strive to enlarge the tendons, not the muscles. Ideally, we want to train for large tendons & strong, soft muscles by doing the long form & the dynamic pushing hands.
A 19 inch arm may impress the ladies & others, but it will not impress the well trained Tai Chi Chuan practitioners because the latter knows the capability of the internal power over the muscular strength's inability to maintain internal connection & generate internal power. So, stay away from the weightlifting & the others exercises, whether done lightly or heavily.