Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tai Cheng-Zero Impact Workout

Q&A with Dr. Cheng, creator of Tai Cheng

Dr. Mark Cheng is a martial arts master with three decades of experience in Tai Chi and a background in traditional Chinese medicine. Here he discusses his first impressions of Tai Chi and goes into depth about what Tai Cheng can do for you.
How did you first get started with martial arts?
My dad showed me how to punch and kick a little bit when I was four, but I really got started when I was ten and saw my father doing Tai Chi.

What impression did it make on you?

Oh man, when I saw him doing Tai Chi, I was just snickering my head off. When you are 10 and you've never seen slow-motion martial arts, it looks kind of like mime, but weirder. Then he showed me Tai Chi's self-defense application and that totally piqued my interest.

How did he do that?

He goes, "Throw a punch." I did. He then took my punch and guided it off to the side and almost effortlessly flung me through the air. As a kid, that really got my attention.

What still fascinates you about Tai Chi?

The totality of it. If your body is beaten down it helps rejuvenate it. If your body is already operating at a high level it can kick you to the next highest level. From a self-defense standpoint it's fascinating to me and from a cultural standpoint, its levels of meaning interest me. How it's still relevant today for those who are fighting for their longevity, fighting to stay out of pain, and aiming for productivity in their daily lives.

Is Tai Cheng named after you?

It has the same Romanization—the same way of spelling it in English—but there is another character that is pronounced slightly differently. In Mandarin, my last name is "Tseung" and the character we decided to use was "Chung." Chung means evolution, achievement, attainment. I wanted to give people an evolution in how they looked at their fitness, not just measuring it in terms of sets and reps and load, but how well it helps them function in the rest of their life.

Tai Cheng teaches the 18 moves of Tai Chi but it also incorporates a Neural Reboot and other techniques. What is the Neural Reboot?

By the time we reach adulthood these days, there are so many parking brakes put on our movement. If you watch 3-year-olds around the world, they are able to do the same movements with ease. They can all deep squat, they can all crawl, and they can all roll over. The Neural Reboot helps bring your body back to that primitive movement pattern so you can attain those ranges of movement that you've been robbed of. Some people can choose to look at it as a warm-up. But it's so not just a warm-up.

How does the 90-day Tai Cheng program help adults regain or improve their flexibility, agility, strength, and more?

We begin with the Neural Reboot and go into the Tai Chi movements. We were trying to give the body as much range of motion as possible. Once your body can explore ranges of motion without pain, then we move to gaining control in those ranges. For example, we've all made the mistake of trying to drive with the parking brake on. If you're trying to stretch hard against a muscle that's tight, it's like gunning the gas pedal against the brake. It's going to be counterproductive. Once you train the brake to be off, it's easy for you. Then, you have a car with a great turning radius, perfect gas mileage, and the parking brake is off. So we need to teach you how that car handles so you're not taking that turn too wide, crashing into the house, or braking too late or too early.

Who is Tai Cheng for?

It's for everybody. Regardless of your age or ability level, it can give you a stepping-off stone to more intense exercise, and if you're already exercising at an intense level it takes your fitness to the next level.

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