View Full Version : Tai Chi styles vs longevity

02-16-2005, 03:27 AM
Are some styles of Tai Chi better at promoting longevity than others? According to a friend's Taiji instructor, Wu style masters tend to live longest, followed by Yang style masters. Chen style masters fared the worst.

Has anyone come across similar observations?


Dr. Paul Lam
02-16-2005, 05:48 AM
I would like to read the statistic and the methodology or even the rationale of this conclusion. There are so many factors to consider, such as how you practice the style, what is your physique, how much do you practice... I cannot see how you can come to this conclusion with confidence.

apart from that there is too many variance to say which is better for health, my personal experience is that Sun style has unique and powerful qigong, probably more suitable and more effective for general health benefits. Altough i know different styles, admittedly Sun is one of my favourite, so i could be biased.

02-16-2005, 09:35 AM
I am biased towards Yang Style, but was told no one style is better tahn any other.

My personal theory is it is genetic too. This is based on my own personal observations, and the fact that I come from a family of long livers. Many senior members of my family have lived to be over 100.

I will still do tai chi to enhance my chances of a long and healthy life, as a healthy life style helps!

02-16-2005, 04:24 PM

has anybody heard of Lee Family Arts and it's health benefits?

02-16-2005, 07:23 PM
Longevity statistics are very hard to come by for something like this. You would have to compare styles taught in a standardized way, for one thing. It might be predicted that a Sun stylist whose training includes learning to stand up to being struck with boards might have a shorter life span than a Chen stylist taught only forms, gentle Tui Shou, and related qiqong, for example. If individuals taught a particular style come from one place in particular, that's another biasing factor; Wu stylists from South Yemen might be expected to have much shorter life spans than Yang stylists from south France. I am guessing there are some non-random factors in the distribution of Tai Chi practitioners around the world.

My best guess is that if there are differences in lifespan between styles, the effect size is so small that it would show up only in very massive studies. All Tai Chi styles tend to provide more exercise than would be had in a sedentary lifestyle; the exercise is suitable for a lifespan, unlike some sports like American football, for one; and except for isolated schools with potentially destructive practices like "Iron Shirt Qiqong", Tai Chi tends to avoid activities which would logically shorten life.

There are anecdotal claims about some martial arts which emphasize intense breath control practices that masters tend to die of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) secondary to Pulmonary Hypertension. I am sure this is not proven, and may be a manifestation of rumor-mongering by rival styles. Celebrated masters may be in danger of being "Wined and Dined" to an early grave by enthusiastic supporters, though Dr. Lam would know more of that than I. Finally, I bet Tai Chi practitioners AS A GROUP are health-focused, and may engage in otherwise healthier lifestyles than the "martial artists" who walk into Karate schools looking to, "learn to kick some one's rear end." Bill

02-16-2005, 10:04 PM
I'm not sure how the instructor came to his conclusion :)

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search of the net to find out the age at which some of the masters died. Not very scientific I fear :)
But at first glance, Wu and Sun stylists do seem to die older.

Yang Stylist
Yang LuChan 73
Yang Pan Hao 55
Yang Shao Hao 66
Yang Cheng Fu 53
Fu Zhong Wen 88

Chen Stylist
Chen Fake 70
Chen Chang Xing 82
Chen Zhong Shen 62
Chen Ji Shen 56
Chen Zhao Pi 79

Wu Stylist
Wu Jian Quan 72
Wu Ying Hua 91
Ma Yueh Liang 97

Sun Style
Sun Lu Tang 71
Sun Jian Yun 90

02-17-2005, 12:41 PM

Cheng Man-ching 74
Liang TT 102

02-17-2005, 02:38 PM

You are pointing in the right direction but your sample size is small. If I were to test that construct, I would compare lineage vs non-lineage (has to be defined) and look for at least 15-20 teachers per style variation and see what comes up.
But some questions may come up like;
1. Does the province where they came from matter?
2. Village vs country lifestyle?
3. Impact of education?
4. Family disease history?

as you see, variableas are many.

02-17-2005, 09:22 PM
there are too many variables in life other than t'ai chi which play a role in longevity,including lifestyle factors and healthy genes;from a logical standpoint,the Chinese idea of starting out the day with gentle excercise as opposed to a cigarette and a cup of coffee however
could tremendously improve your odds.

02-18-2005, 09:21 PM
Personally I do think, after practicing Wu, Yang and Sun at a fair level, with Chen in-depth, that it is more the practitioner and less the style.

It is well-known that for the last 2 centuries, life expectation has generally grown which is partly due to lifestyle, progress of scientific medicine, comfortable life and technology and probably a combination of all. Some families tend to live longer genetically. It also depends on the culture, social environment, standard of living etc. Statistics show that more people with comfortable living tend to live longer than the ones who struggle for survival.

When I look at your list:

Sun YIan Jun died recently, she is a product of the late 20th century, Sun Lu Tang died at 71 in the early 20th century

Yang Chen fu died at 53 and was heavily overweight. Fu zhong Wen lived quite long

Chen Zhao Pi is Chenxiaowang's father and died at 79, Chenxiaowang and -xiaoxing are still alive. Living conditions in Chenjiagou are hard, the day too hot, the night too cold. Food gets contaminated very quickly.

I also personally experienced Sun style as having great qi gong, especially with the open/close hands involved. But I felt sound qi gong sensations during the Chen laojia form first routine, with its repeated figure-8-shaped circles and great dantien rotation awareness.

02-20-2005, 04:12 AM
There goes the shortcut to longevity :)