In my years of working at and owning climbing gyms I have observed three groups of people that come into climbing for their first time and instantly do really well: Gymnasts, dancers, and wrestlers/martial artists. My thought on this is that all three groups have this in common: a strong core, really good body awareness and the ability to fire more muscles at the same time while making movements. A lot of people think that the ability to do much pull-ups is key to climbing hard but by it’self, it doesn’t harness the key that people think it does. Strength is important but these are just as important, I think even more.
I’m already working on a stronger core in my strength training so now it’s time to start working on the body awareness and the firing of multiple muscles and I believe Tai Chi will help with this. Tai Chi is more than just moving through poses if it is done right. It’s a meditation focusing on what every muscle in your body is doing as you move, firing many of them at the same time as you both move and resist movement. Done right it’s about tuning out the world and focusing on every movement, every muscle and what they’re doing. Done right everything stems from the core and the limbs are just along for the ride, and this holds true in climbing as well. There are other disciplines that offer a lot of the same benefits, yoga has been used by climbers for decades to train this and flexibility as well, and it is a great alternative. I’m just going to say that I’ve tried yoga a few times over the years and it’s not my thing. I’m hoping this will give me what I’m looking for, time will tell.
When I first started practicing Tai Chi I was in a small town (like 9,000 people small) and there were no instructors near me. If you can find a studio it would really help to get the routine down and a good instructor can help you advance much quicker. Not having this option I searched the internet and app store till I found this app that so far is giving me what I need. It took me several sessions to memorize the routine, adding one or two postures each week. After memorizing the first section of the routine I’m now working on perfecting each posture, focusing on the movement, my breathing, my mental space. The learning curve trying to learn this on my own with an app was steep but worth it.
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