When we talk about fitness, it actually comprises of many components. In general, the fitness components can be classified into Health Related and Performance Related fitness components.
Health related fitness components are the fundamental fitness components to assess if one is physically fit, examples of health related fitness components comprise of body composition, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility.
Performance related fitness components are more specific to the nature of the sports involved and some of the examples are power, speed, quickness agility, balance, motor skills etc. Certain sports require more priority on one particular fitness components than the other, for instance, in long distance running, cardiovascular endurance is of higher importance while having agility and power is not the main priority. This is important to be taken into consideration when designing the training program so that the correct fitness components are being well developed.
Next we will now look into the different types of fitness components that are specific to Taichi. The main Taichi fitness components involved are cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, balance, motor skills, agility and power.
Cardiovascular endurance is needed for continuous practice of Taichi. Muscular strength and endurance is also needed for executing the controlled movements of the Taichi routines and also the strength for holding the different types of weapons (sword, saber, spear, cuddle etc). Flexibility is needed for the different Taichi movements which require larger range of motions. Balance is also required for stability during movement transition and weight transfer. Agility and power are used in some of the faster and explosive movements such as the Chen’s style Taichi. Motor skills are needed during Taichi movement learning and for executing proper movement sequence to achieve hand and leg coordination.
Having understood the different Taichi fitness components, we need to realize that in order to perform well in Taichi and to benefit most from practicing Taichi; these are the fitness components which we have to work at during our physical preparation phase so that we can apply them into our Taichi practice. Very often, many Taichi practitioners rely on practicing of the Taichi routines alone to train all these Taichi fitness components, which will take a much longer time to develop and even so, the result will not be as effective and many components are still left undeveloped or under developed. Without all these fitness components being well developed, one will find it difficult to achieve the technical requirements in the Taichi routines and to benefit a better quality of life from practicing Taichi.
The next question would then be on how to train these specific Taichi fitness components. One would need to have a proper and systematic training program, preferably under the guidance and personal coaching of well-qualified Taichi coaches, with the relevant sports knowledge and experience in designing such specific Taichi fitness component training.