Friday, May 8, 2015

Airbending Strength and Conditioning

Airbending is based on the real-life martial art of Bagua Zhang.  Apparently, Bagua Zhang was never meant to be taught to beginners (Source).  Most people who would come to learn the art would have already trained extensively in another art. I think that is a testament to how technical Bagua actually is and that lines up pretty well with the fluidity and power present in the Airbenders, themselves.

Just look at the little guy, concentratin' and stuff.

It is recommended that you find a qualified instructor to help you along in your training, just as with the Earthbending and Firebending versions. This workout, like the others, is not an exhaustive list of training for this martial art, but is merely a place to begin.

Airbending Strength and Conditioning

Warm-up and Stretch (Examples of from #3 on: Part 1/Part 2)

  1. Walk- 5 Minutes
  2. Basic Movements- 15 Minutes Total
  3. Waist Twists- 20 Each Side
  4. Waist Twists with Heel Turn- 20 Each Side
  5. Front-to-Back Arm Swings- 20 Reps
  6. Small Arm Circles- 20 Each Way
  7. Big Arm Circles- 20 Each Way
  8. Forward Bend Arm Swing to Overhead Arm Swing- 20 Reps
  9. Bounce and Shake- 20 Reps
  10. Forward-to-Back Quick Weight Shifts- 20 Reps Each Side
  11. Look Up and Down- 20 Reps
  12. Ear to Shoulder- 20 Reps Each Side
  13. Neck Circles- 10 Each Way
  14. Shoulder Shrugs- 10 Reps
  15. Open and Close the Chest- 10 Reps
  16. Forearm Wave- 10 Reps Each Way
  17. Wrist Twist- 10 Reps Each Way
  18. Palm-in Wrist Stretch- 10 Reps Each Side
  19. Patting the Air- 5 Reps Each Side
  20. Hip Circles- 10 Each Way
  21. Torso Circles- 10 Each Way
  22. Knee Circles- 10 Each Way
  23. Knee Rotations- 10 Each Way
  24. Knee Slap and Hip Raise- 10 Reps
  25. Ankle Rotations- 10 Each Way
  26. Standing Single Leg Hamstring Stretch- 30 Seconds Each Side
  27. Palms-up Overhead Stretch to Forward Bend and Stretch- 1 Rep
  28. Standing Meditation- 1 Minute
Then, Choose 1 of the Following (see notes for exception),

1. Stance and Movement Training

  1. Walking the Circle- 20 Minutes (References: One/Two/Three)
  2. Bow Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  3. Horse Stance- 2 Minutes 
  4. Kneeling Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  5. Cat Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  6. Single Leg Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  7. Low Side Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  8. Twisting Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  9. Bladed Stance- 2 Minutes Each Side
  10. Stance Flow- 5 Minutes

2. Combat Training

  1. Palm Change Practice- 5 Minutes
  2. Reeling Silk- 5 Minutes
  3. Forms Practice (One/Two/Three/Four/Five/Six/Seven)- 30 Minutes Total
  4. Two Person Form Practice- 10 Minutes 
  5. Bagua Sparring- 10 Minutes

3. Physical Conditioning (Choose 3)
  1. 100 Squats
  2. Plank- 3 Sets x MAX Time
  3. Straight Bridge- 3 Sets of MAX Time
  4. Planche- 3 Sets of MAX Time
  5. Practice forms with Weights (bricks, hang weights from arms, weighted vest)- 30 Minutes
  6. Walk the Circle with Weights (shot put/heavy bag over head/bricks/weighted vest)- 30 Minutes
  7. Climbing- 20 Minutes (Rock, Rope, or Tree)
  8. Distance Running/Walking- 2 Hours 
  9. Run an Obstacle Race- At least 30 Minutes


  • I've listed a great deal of video sources for forms and the warm-up exercises, so please make use of them. 
  • This workout will always start with the warm-up and stretch section and then you will choose one of the workouts below to begin. You will advance in the same fashion as the Firebending and Earthbending workouts. Eventually, you may get to the point where you are training all three workout sections in a single day, moving up to training all three sections most days of the week. 
  • In the Stance and Movement section, you can increase the difficulty of walking the circle like in the History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi workout.  Please walk the circle for several months before attempting to make walking the circle any more difficult. Make the movement second nature.
  • Add weight to any exercise you are doing at an extremely slow pace. Practice your forms and circle walking and know them extremely well before you even attempt to add external resistance. Maintaining the form is more important than the amount of weight you are holding. If your form is degrading, the weight is too heavy. 
  • For the Stance Flow, you will merely attempt to flow from one stance in the training list to another. You can stay in each stance for a few breaths or just a moment. It's your time to experiment with how the movement flow into one another. Do it slowly at first and until you become more comfortable with the movements and positions in general.
  • You may add weight to the squats when you feel relatively comfortable doing 100 full-depth repetitions. Add only 1 to 2 pounds at a time, however. 
  • The Planche is performed by placing your hands down toward your hips, while fulling extended, and raising yourself off the ground completely, with nothing touching the ground but your hands. If you cannot do this, you can start with a Tuck Planche, which means you curl your body up into a ball and raise yourself off the ground. In this way, you will not need as much core strength to get into the position. Eventually, you will be able to extend your legs more and more until you are able to hold the Planche normally. This, however, may take some time. 
  • The last three exercises are taken more from the show than actual Bagua training methods.
  • For climbing, you can break it into sets, if need be. Always climb with a partner, whether you are using a rope, a rock wall, or a tree. If possible, wear a helmet and use some sort of pad underneath where you are climbing to keep yourself as safe as possible. Ideally, you should be using climbing equipment in case you slip and fall. 
  • Distance running is to build massive endurance so that you get used to continuous movement for a long period of time. Also, endurance training will give you the lean body type that most Airbenders seem to have, as well as building your "air" as many old-fashioned trainers would say.
  • The Obstacle Course training is right out of the show. The new Airbenders in Legend of Korra are shown to run through numerous obstacles that push their ability to move and dodge. If you have a short obstacle course, just repeat it for the time listed.  You could also run a Spartan Race or a Tough Mudder, as well. If you are lacking an obstacle course, make do with what you have by trying to navigate around natural or man-made obstacles as best you can. However, please be cautious. 
That's all for today! Until next time, good luck and train hard!

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