I thought about trying to take advantage of you, but I’ve been through some profound life changing experiences recently and it’s altered my moral outlook. After having my perspective altered, by a series of painful near death experiences, I have changed and grown. Just like Aang and Korra probably did in their respective cartoon narratives. Which leads me to my point. With my new found maturity comes the understanding that this relationship is not going to work unless we are totally honest with each other.
The following exercise regime is based on a lie. I don’t actually know any “water bending,” and I don’t know very much about “The Legend of Korra.” More or less everything I do know was a learned in the process of researching this article. I can’t move water with my mind despite the fact that I do know some Tai Chi Chuan (which is a Chinese martial art that uses movements similar to those involved in water bending). I don’t even know who Kya is, or how her water bending prowess fits into the overall narrative, but I do know this: Korra would not want you to be out of shape! Korra would want you keep the promises you made to yourself not to eat things that you know are bad for you and she would want you to enjoy the social and health benefits that come from regular exercise.
So please, for Korra’s sake, give this workout a try. It might be hard at first, but when the Lion Turtle withdrew it’s protection from the people of the Water Tribe, that must have been pretty hard for them too. I bet it wasn’t easy for them to learn the secrets of water bending by observing the relationship between the moon and the tides. They probably had tons of other things they could have been doing besides staring at the ocean, but they kept up the effort. Why? Because the ancient people of the Water Tribe knew what Korra knows, and what we all need to learn: Short term pleasures must be put aside, so that we can achieve our long term goals!
|And our goals are to get as close to Waterbending as possible.|
The Moon Spirits don’t reveal their secrets easily, but don’t forget the powerful metaphor that I assume was referenced at some point in an episode of “Legend of Korra” involving Water Bending. “Water is the softest thing in the world, but with enough time it can wear down mountains or dig out the Grand Canyon. It always finds the most efficient path as it flows towards its destination, but if you struck it spontaneously becomes hard.” After reading that I think you’ll have to admit that water has great intrinsic value, and that so does physical health. Therefore, and without further disclaimer. I present to you this low impact but highly effective “Water Bending Workout!”
Please do it! I told the Lion Turtle you would. You wouldn’t want to make me a liar would you? Did I mention that I almost died?
Water Bending Workout
Fighting Back With Water:
It’s a common misconception that water bending makes you vulnerable to electrical attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s actually the impurities in water that conduct electricity, master water benders learn to remove the impurities in water thus making it an effective insulator. Therefore, let us honor the legacy of the Moon Spirit by drinking lots of pure water throughout the day and cutting out all sodas and energy drinks. Dehydration often feels like fatigue, and many of us find that by simply staying hydrated we can avoid tired feelings that we previously fought with caffeine.
Caffeine is dehydrating, and only makes you more tired in the long run. That’s a vicious cycle, of destruction unlike the life giving cycle of the moon and the tides which form the basis of water bending. So when you are in training, drink water not beer, not soda, not energy drinks, and not fruit juice which is loaded with calories, has no protein and doesn’t alleviate hunger. Water does alleviate hunger, so when you feel like having a snack, fight the urge with water. Water Benders know that the cycle of nature will bring lunch to them in the fullness of time, and they know the power of water. That’s why they don’t need to give up on their dreams just to feel full now and guilty later. Even if you can’t fight entire armies with water, you can use water to fight hunger and fatigue!
Balance and Fluidity:
Water bending requires balance, fluidity, and core strength. The following routine will allow you develop those attributes while getting a surprisingly strenuous cardio vascular workout. All you need is two Dixie cups, some open space, and a piece of string.
Fill your cups with water and hold one in each hand. Hold them out at arm’s length. Now take three steps backwards and three steps forwards. Try not to spill any water.
Close your eyes and repeat your steps without spilling any water.
Hold your arms out to sides, and stand on one leg. Close your eyes and lower your foot to the floor and switch legs. Try to switch legs 10 times without opening your eyes or spilling the water. It should take you about a month to get the hang of doing this right. After a month, you can vary your hand positions to make it harder. For example holding both arms straight overhead.
Sit down on the floor without spilling your cups of water. The only rule is that you cannot spill the water. You can use any motions you want. This will be very hard at first but it will also teach you a lot about balance and mobility.
Now stand up without spilling the water. If you find it easy to do this progress to the next level by doing it with closed eyes. Sit down and stand up 10 times.
Now put your water aside and stand with your toes touching a wall and your feet touching. Now squat down as far as you can without falling backward. At first your body will hit the wall and push your back. As you become more flexible you will be able to perform squats in this way. It takes very high level balance and flexibility to do this, which is why it is a staple of traditional Tai Chi training. The beauty of this is that the knees never go past your toes so there is never a risk of knee injury. Try to do 10 wall squats, but be aware that you will have to practice every day until you can get one wall squat. If you can do all ten easily then close your eyes. If you can do ten with your eyes closed try to work your way up to 20. However, doing 10 wall squats already puts you in pretty rare company. The only secret is regular practice.
|Regular practice yields results.|
Next, tie a rope to something sturdy that weight at least 45 lbs. Traditionally we would just use a tree, but feel free to be creative. Stand naturally (feet parallel) with your eyes closed, and pull on the rope as hard as you can with one hand without moving your feet or leaning your head forward or backward. Gradually pull harder until you lose your balance then switch hands. Try to pull the object towards you even if the object is immobile. Perform this exercise 10 times on each side. Then turn so the tree is behind you and perform the same exercise 10 times each side.
Next, stand on your right leg and touch your left big toe with your right hand alternate between your left and right legs. See how many switches you can make without falling and try to beat your number next time. Now have some water.
Unfortunately, the last part of this workout is a bit harsh. However, it is necessary to push your limits a little bit in order to extend your limits.
To get ready close your eyes and lie down on your back. Stand up without using your right arm or opening your eyes, then lie back down on your back and stand up again without using your left arm or opening your eyes. This counts as one rep for the last exercise. Your goal is to perform 100 reps to end your workout.
There are only two rules eyes closes and only one arm at a time. Besides those two rules you can rest as much as you want between reps or use any technique you want to stand up. You will find that standing up and sitting down with your eyes closed is very hard and that it will test your entire nervous system as well as ware your entire body out in a matter of minutes. You will find that your brain has to work overtime to discover new motor patters to help your keep your balance and use your body efficiently. You will also be shocked and how hard this workout is on your abdominal muscles. However, because this workout trains both your mind and body, you will make rapid gains as your brain adapts to the challenge and you will keep the extra physical confidence you acquire for the rest of your life.
Take the Water Bending challenge and try this routine and the diet recommendations above every day for a month. Then, switch to doing it the routine three times a week to maintain your coordination, mobility, and core strength as you use them to pursue other goes. If you do this routine all the way through even once you will never see your body the same way again and will have a solid foundation for internal Kung Fu training (the poor man’s air bending) as a collateral benefit.
(Edit from Stephen:
Start with the above training before you begin any of the things I am about to write. Do it for 1 month, three times a week. At the end of the month, you may do the above training, plus one of the following trainings. You will continue to train three days a week for at least another month.
After that, you may attempt to add more days of training, until you reach 6 days of training (this should be gradual and take you about a year). After a year, you will be doing the above training with one of the following groups of exercises six days a week.
Over the next year, you can experiment with doing 2 of the following or all three of the following during the week in addition to the above training. However, please start slowly and don't overdo it.
1. Combat Training:
Here is a video of the Yang Style Tai Chi Short Form (Part 1) and Long Form. Practice these forms starting at 15 minutes a day, adding time gradually. Eventually, I've been told the Long Form should take you about 45 minutes to complete because will be doing the form so slowly. If the videos I have linked are not the correct forms for Yang Style Tai Chi, I apologize.
I can certainly add more for reference, if needed.)
2. Stance Training:
Here is also a list of the stances of Tai Chi. If you're looking to mimic the style of the other workouts, you may practice each of these stances for 10 minutes a piece.
3. Additional Conditioning: (Choose 2)
- Swim for 1 Hour (any stroke, take breaks if needed)
- 200 Kettlebell Swings (start at a light weight and build up)
- 200 Side Switch Kettlebell Swings (see picture below)
- 50 Sets of Atlas Stone Lift and Carry for 20 Meters (start light)
- 25 Butterfly Stretch Squats (about half way down the page)
- Low Horse Stance for 2 Hours Max
That's all for today! Until next time, good luck and train hard!
(James has written several articles for various Martial Arts resources and has trained in Tai Chi, Karate, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.)