Martial Arts and Longevity
The purpose of this article is to explain the true meaning of martial arts and longevity.
It is my firm belief that any martial art, to be complete, absolutely must fulfill two functions:
- Must be good for health for whole life
- Must be applicable for self defense for whole life
Number 1 is far more important if we consider the practitioner’s whole lifetime.
I have practiced martial arts daily for more than 50 years. In that time, I studied a variety of different martial arts and styles. It is not important to name the arts I studied. What is important is how these different martial arts affected my health, and why I now choose to practice Chen style tai chi exclusively.
Also, I was a Doctor of Chiropractic for many years, and practiced my healing expertise worldwide. So enough to say, I have considerable knowledge, experience, and actual training that I consider myself an authority on this subject.
Many of my friends in martial arts that I grew up with, no longer practice. One of the main reasons is because of sustained injuries over the years from all that “good old fashioned hard training”. Back pain, arthritic joints, blown discs, restricted range of motion of shoulders and hips, torn cartilages, knees that swell in pain regularly from daily activities such as walking up stairs… and many others. Not to mention many can’t get through the day without a taking a bunch of pain pills.
No Pain No Gain
The mentality I have come across regarding this is, that when we are young, it is important to train hard, fast, push ourselves to the limit, and basically beat ourselves up – the “no pain no gain” attitude. And that somehow this is good for us. And then, when older (the magic age seems to be around 50), to realize that we can not train like that any more because of all the built up injuries, and we then start looking for things like tai chi so we can continue training, and to use it for healing old injuries from all the good old hard training.
So I only have one question, and I would ask that everyone reading this please be honest with your self. Why is it good to beat ourselves up and sustain chronic injuries and pain, and then after many years of that and not being able to do that any more, start learning tai chi?
Why not start with tai chi from the beginning? As young children? And possibly prevent a lot of pain and suffering later in life?
What constitutes healthy martial art training? Do we consider that we would like to practice all of our lives?
Until now, and I am speaking strictly for myself, I have found Chen style tai chi to be the best martial art for my health, as well as being very efficient and applicable for self defense. The reason for this is based on the actual training methods and principles. Because tai chi was created for health and self defense at the same time.
I know I am going to upset a lot of martial artists with this article. But thats OK. Because I know that tomorrow morning I am going to wake up very early, pain free, and go outside and practice this martial art that I love so much, and each day, continue to feel better and better…
For more on this subject, and why tai chi is so good for health and longevity, please read some of the other articles posted on my site. It is explained clearly.
I write this not to infuriate other martial arts enthusiasts. I write this because I would like to see all martial artists be able to practice for their whole lifetime in a healthy way, free of pain and injuries!
I will be happy to receive your comments on this article! Thanks a lot!
Dr. Bob Bacher
Here is a good article from Harvard Medical School on the health benefits of tai chi.