Is Taiji alone enough for Health?


This type of practice specifically,I mean. I'm wondering if this training alone is good enough for general all around health.

The reason I ask this is because...lets take Weight training,for example. These days,it is acknowledged by the scientific community that this is great for health,but that doesn't mean this alone is enough. You still have to do "Cardio". Even if you train at a high rep range,weight training apparently cannot replace cardio.

I'm personally not a fan of typical cardio exercise. I generally don't use the stationary bike or treadmill at the gym except for warming up. I personally let the combat sports (Boxing/Muay Thai currently in my case) training serve as my cardio/conditioning. Its benefitted me greatly in that regard. I think most Martial Arts enthusiasts in general (I can't speak for this forum,haha) share how I feel in this regard.

Of course,I am probably gonna have to change my tone if I want to ever want to compete one day in the combat sports I train,but that's something I'll think about later on.😆

I'm wondering if just this training alone suffices for your "cardiovascular health needs". Will you be missing anything health-wise if this is the only physical activity you engage in?
I would say that this gongfu is indeed a great promotor of one's health if reasonably practiced regularly.
When I started in 2020, my body was quite a mess from working in kitchens for 22 years-not a favorable environment for health and wellbeing by most standards.

The beginning was quite rough for me: I suffered a partial MCL tear on my left leg just months into starting my training here that really slowed me down. It didn't even really start to feel better/like it was healing until about 7 months after it happened.

I altered my practice to favor mobility and flexibility, while doing my best to still work on the gongfu aspect as laid out here.
I can say that by the following summer, that overall, my body felt better than it had in years. It was an easily observed overall feeling.

I would add that, these days, I find that if I lapse in my practice, I suffer for it with tightness, aches and pains.
These are different from the pain of the "bitter" aspect of training, which is ok.


I would add that, these days, I find that if I lapse in my practice, I suffer for it with tightness, aches and pains.
These are different from the pain of the "bitter" aspect of training, which is ok.

I've made a similar observation with getting into general fitness. Before I started training regularly,I used to semi-regularly get nasty cramps. I experienced having a couple of these strike me while training (thankfully during the stretching cooldown,and not while I'm under the barbell. :ROFLMAO: ) early on,but eventually as these happened less and less until it was almost non-existent,so too did this flow over to daily life.

I definitely prefer the pain/exhaustion from training over the pain of decaying health any day. I've been forced by life circumstance to break away from my current routine (although I did what I can,so I wasn't doing totally nothing.) this past month and I've definitely seen some old issues creep their way back in. Hopefully just after New Years celebration,I can move back to where I was and continue my old routine.


Lao Tou
Staff member
I think this is not an easy question, really depends on viewpoint and goals. I don't think this idea of overall health is the same for every person. Beyond that though I would say that this gongfu practice CAN be an appropriate all-round health approach, at the later stages of training. As a beginner there are many things that are not involved, such as (traditionally viewed) cardio and many strength challenges as one is working on limited basics. Further down the line into intermediate and advanced training and we (should) have fast practice that is very much cardio demanding, but some people never get there. Can't fault the art for that. It also involves very rigorous partner training. if grappling etc is not cardio, I am not sure what is. Then there is also heavy apparatus strength training. The whole package is quite broad and challenging but one does have to work their way to that over a span of time.


if grappling etc is not cardio, I am not sure what is.

Definitely counts as cardio,yeah.

The approach makes sense. People starting out will often be lacking in certain physical qualities in some way (if not in overall general fitness),so this gives them a chance to make the necessary developments before the harder practices comes into play. Progressive Overload as its called in weight training. Thanks for taking the time to explain,Marin!

Brad Johnson

I'm wondering if this training alone is good enough for general all around health.
(I wrote this a couple days ago never hit send, so it's a redundant with a lot of what Marin wrote, but I figured I'd posted it)

Here's my take.

Like Chris wrote, there is no doubt that taiji promotes health. If "promoting" health is what you're interested in, than this style certainly checks that box. But more broadly, I suggest thinking about what you envision "this training" encompasses. If you're limiting the scope of "this training" to basically yilu (the first long form), that comes with some limits to the overall breadth of training benefits. That's why taiji is not limited to yilu, but maybe doing a little yilu is "good enough" health for you.

If you broaden the concept of taiji to encompass its full traditional breadth, then you get much more diverse benefits. Weapons and accessories like the heavy ball and long pole provide weighted and aerobic training and other more mercurial benefits, especially when qigong is included. Er lu (second set) goes right toward anaerobic training as well as working a bunch of other things. Moreover, things like pullups, push ups, running, and lifting heavy objects are in the portfolio of traditional training exercises of a well rounded practitioners. Just the same way that stretching and loosening exercises are wisely done too. They are all part of being healthy and strong. Of course, manual labor was a big part of traditional training too.

So, good enough is always in the eye of the beholder. It's like, some people sit at a desk all day and then jog or walk, or do yoga or tai chi 20 min. a day and that roughly satisfies base medical guidelines for "good enough". If you just do slow form, you will reap what slow form has to offer - and you can wring a lot out of that, particularly in this style. I guess my point is, taiji works like everything else. Taiji is an art that in developing and practicing it you develop certain strengths and skills (very cool ones). This is just like one does in ballet, gymnastics, fencing, track and field, and golfing, to name a few. People who are serious about their movement art, tend to do more than the core of the art to excel and be rounded in ability and health.


Random thoughts:
  • My understanding of current research is that optimal "cardio" for longevity is more or less equivalent to a brisk walk. Yilu as done in this lineage is significantly more strenuous than a brisk walk.
  • Even though the legs are more prominent, the movements of the upper body are done with a good bit of dynamic tension. It won't make you look good on instagram, but you will definitely develop some "dad strength" if following the rules for the upper body diligently.
  • I think these arts evolved to have something for everyone-- the practitioners would have been everyone doing all the things in a rural village, and would have different needs accordingly (i.e. a farmer vs. a blacksmith vs. a shopkeeper). The practice would fill the need for learning self defense, but possibly also general health, flexibility, strength training, entertainment, competition, giving kids something to do, etc. Within the confines of the general art, folks likely would have chosen emphasis as needed or desired.
  • There were no clean, spacious, well lit and environmentally controlled gyms with treadmills and heavy bags and adjustable weights for people to use. Ancillary training was based on specific function, but also what was available. I'm sure after tossing the stone ball in the air a few times and shaking the heavy spear, young prospective fighters would have been encourage to knock out a few power cleans and a set of front squats, had the equipment been available.


Thank you for the further clarification,Brad Johnson! much appreciated. Just one thing I'd like to address for now:

If "promoting" health is what you're interested in, than this style certainly checks that box.

- Yeah,"Health" is just one checklist for me. There's much more I'm after,and I assume the same goes for most of the rest of you who train here.

I'm definitely excited to experience the rest of those things you mentioned,such as learning Traditional Weapons and maybe even some mental exercises that I imagine you guys probably do as well. (Like I said in my intro,pursuing genuine Meditation is actually part of the reason I got interested in this practice. Edit: My mistake. I did tell Marin this,but its not in my public intro. must have gotten them mixed up. haha.)

I know I'm getting ahead of myself here however. Talk is Cheap as the saying goes after all. :ROFLMAO:

I'll probably elaborate even further once I've actually gotten my first real experience. Hopefully soon! I'm glad however to have gotten the pleasure to meet you folks. I've already had some very interesting conversation with some of you here. 😁
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Lao Tou
Staff member
I've been working hard at this, but success has been elusive. A few of the students are impressively pasty, not many have high pitched voices at this point. I think a lot of nuts-kicking, maybe long term over many years, is in order. I've heard colloidal silver over use can help with the pastyness.