I used to teach the art of Tai Chi Chuan. It is originally a Chinese martial art that centers around the practice of a particular kata or form.
This form is a series of movements that flowed from one to another. When all the movements were combined it produced a beautiful and elaborate “dance” that exhibited power, grace and technique.
The world of bodyweight calisthenics is changing. I believe people are getting sick of spending money at the gym and pumping iron the way Arnold and Jack Lalanne used to do. They are looking for alternatives.
Yet is the answer found in doing a bunch of push ups and no-weight squats?
Calisthenics skill-based exercises have grown in popularity. People like Hannibal for King, Denis Minin and Hit Richards have found large followings because they can do planches, handstand push ups and front levers (and of course because they have great physiques).
But is this the extent of bodyweight calisthenics…cranking out a bunch of super challenging moves? Sure its inspiring to see a bunch of dudes in the park doing something like this… but what’s next?
I think a small niche of people is forming that desire more than just to be able to do a planche or muscle up.
I think that the attraction to bodyweight exercises is that there is a sense of mastering oneself. And being able to conquer one extreme move is great but combining them into a full form where you move from one challenging move to another is even better.
For example, see the video I created below. At the beginning I start off in a handstand on the parallettes. I then transition into a L Sit and then transition back to the handstand. I am going through P2 right now and by no means am I saying that I am proficient at this.
But by going through the program a new world is opening up to me where I realize that I could create a full 20-30 minute form where I practice extreme calisthenics in a similar way that I used to practice Tai Chi.
Imagine a form or series of movements that incorporated movements such as handstands, planches, front levers, muscle ups, double levers, pistol squats, one arm handstands, and more… all combined into one long sequence or kata. The movements and maybe more importantly the transitions would help build tremendous strength but the benefits wouldn’t end there.
It would also incorporate the principles of Chinese internal martial arts such as flow, breath control, balance, whole body unity, energy control, yin/yang, rooting, etc. It would be a combination of internal martial arts and western strength calisthenics.
Aren’t you simply describing Yoga?
No, I am not. Yoga is a practice that DOES incorporate bodyweight exercises and meditative principles but I am talking about something different. Take a look at this video of a woman doing Tai Chi.
The fluidity and distinct energy control are two of the hallmarks of this art form. I would like to push the Western skill-based calisthenics movement toward this direction and challenge it to adopt even greater principles of breath control, fluidity, energy use and transition between each skill.
Below is a video of where we are CURRENTLY at as an industry. We have gone far but its time to push to the next level.
Let us work toward even greater mastery of our own bodies.
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless—like water.
If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.
If you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.
You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.
Now, water can flow or it can crash.
Be water, my friend.”
– Bruce Lee
Our strength practice can go beyond a series of movements. It can become art. It can become a dance of extreme movement that is as beautiful as a ballerina and as strong as a Tsunami.
I am currently putting together sequences of beginner and intermediate moves that are challenging and incorporate principles of Tai Chi.
Stay tuned my friend. 😉