In general, it does not matter which Tai Chi style or form you practice, you will obtain substantial health benefits of sleeping better, reduced anxiety, better balance, stronger immunity, and improved brain health. But not all Tai Chi styles are created equal. Dr. Shin Lin stated that a fast Tai Chi form could facilitate fast twitch muscles’ growth better.
There are two different types of fibers in muscles: slow twitch muscle fibers and fast twitch muscle fibers. The slow twitch muscle fibers contract slowly, but sustain for a long time while fast twitch muscle fibers contract quickly, but quickly get tired. Slow twitch muscle fibers are good for endurance activities like long distance running or cycling and can work for a long time without getting worn-out. Fast twitch muscle fibers are good for speedy movements like jumping to catch a ball or sprinting agilely and can be contracted quickly, but get exhausted very quickly because they consume lots of energy. Both muscle fibers are important for daily life and we need to keep them healthy and strong.
Dr. Shin Lin, Professor of Cell Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Integrative Medicine, as well as Founding Director of Laboratory for Mind/Body Energy and Signaling Research at University of California – Irvine, stated that most of our body muscles are made up of a mixture of both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. All of our muscles age as we get older; however, fast twitch muscle fibers begin the aging process much earlier at 30. Therefore, it is critical that we pay attention to them and keep them durable for a long time.
As a child, Dr. Lin learned Wing Chun. As an adult, he fell in love with Tai Chi especially the Chen Style Tai Chi. He has been practicing Tai Chi diligently and became a 12th Generation Chen Style Tai Chi Inheritor. Most Tai Chi styles are even-paced slowly, i.e. Yang Style and Sun Style. Tung Style has fast Tai Chi forms. Chen, He, and Zhao Bao Tai Chi mix both slow and fast movements together or Kuai Man Xiang Jian (快慢相間) and they are more suitable to maintain or even develop fast twitch muscle fibers.
The attached video is Chen Style Old Frame Routine Two demonstrated by Master Chen Bing. This form has many fast movements. But practitioners should be fluent in Chen Style Old Frame Routine One before trying this form.
(Edited by Doc Luecke)
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