The White Tiger Qigong system is used by athletes, martial artists, dancers, ballerinas and yogis who need to train for healing, balance, recovery, flexibility, and strength. When using this Qigong as a supplementary exercise it is important to note that, according to sports science, this Qigong is categorized as:
- Dynamic stretching
- Strength and Endurance
White Tiger Qigong’s dynamic Qigong exercises from a sports science point of view can be classified as dynamic stretches, strength exercises, endurance exercises, and even endurance strength exercises. Dynamic stretching is best for increasing dynamic or active flexibility which is applicable to everyday life and especially sports. You can adjust the speed of these exercises to slower or faster tempos. If you are using it as a warm up, a faster tempo is suggested. If you are using it as a method of strength training, it is suggested to use a slow tempo with a long hold in the peak phase of each White Tiger Qigong animal form. From a Chinese perspective, faster is more Yang, while slower is more Yin. A slow tempo would be a minimum of 3-9 second breath holds in the peak of each animal. A faster tempo would be a quick breath into each animal movement with no hold. Remember to let the breath direct and guide you as to how long you remain in each animal form. The body responds powerfully to different tempos of breathing. A very slow tempo stretching helps you achieve your most dramatic and permanent gains in flexibility and strength. A faster tempo would be more Yang and a slower tempo would be more Yin. The protocol of a movement (engram) is generated in the motor cortex of the brain. Interestingly enough, in many classic Qigong documents and books, the old wise ones say use your Yi (intention) to tell the body what to do. The Yi is like the General and the Qi are the soldiers.
White Tiger Qigong for Athletic Performance
The White Tiger Qigong system is used to enhance performance for, amongst others, athletes, martial artists and dancers. Performance is enhanced by goal-orientated whole movements. Stretching practices which focus internally on specific tissues may actually degrade performance. The elasticity of large connective structures, such as tendons, changes our thinking about force transmission and efficient movement.
White Tiger Qigong and the Western Anatomical Perspective
From a Western anatomy perspective, White Tiger Qigong exercises are a type of dynamic stretching that moves the limbs through a greater range of motion than normal.
Wikipedia explains, “Studies show that static stretches actually have a detrimental effect on explosive movements and strength output. There are two types of flexibility receptors: a static receptor, which measures magnitude and a dynamic receptor, which measures speed and magnitude. Dynamic activities that require movement, such as running, jumping or kicking use the dynamic receptor to limit flexibility. Therefore, a dynamic stretch that stresses the dynamic receptor is more beneficial when preparing for a warm-up when performing a dynamic activity. Dynamic stretching also includes constant motion throughout the warm-up, which maintains the core body temperature, whereas static stretching cage drop in temperature of several degrees. Another benefit of dynamic stretching is that it prepares the muscles and joints in a more specific manner since the body is going through motions it will likely repeat in the workout. It also helps the nervous system and motor ability since dynamic motions do more to develop those areas than static stretches.”
Following this theory, you could use White Tiger Qigong exercises as a great warm-up or cool-down for another workout, or as a workout in itself. For many White Tiger Qigong practitioners, this is our main form of exercise.
NorCal Strength and Performance (rated one of the top 30 gyms in the USA) explains why dynamic stretching is important to the Meridians. “Dynamic stretching will be beneficial to your performance and set you up for the current workload! Here is the science. Your body has many mechanisms that need to be activated and stimulated. When you put your body through a series of stretches while in motion, it sends signals from the brain to the muscle fibers and connective tissues in that area to prepare to do work. Your body’s temperature begins to rise and blood is pumped to the working areas of the body. Getting good blood flow to the area of the working muscles is very critical in order to supply the area with energy needed to do work. Along with getting proper blood flow to the working area, the muscle fibers and connective tissues will gain more flexibility and range of motion. Many studies have shown that dynamic stretching can help increase power, improve flexibility, and increase your range of motion.”
Read more in our Five Animal Qigong book.