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Anf
Anf's picture
Tai chi as a break from harder styles

Several of my joints complain daily. And I'm going through a phase of doubting the value of my practice. But I don't want to just stop. I'm thinking I might switch to tai chi for a while. Not the martial aspect, more the movement and meditation aspect. Just to stay fluid while I figure out what's going on in my head. Thoughts please?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I think you need to look at how you are training. Joints should not be hurting like that in the first place. Are you overtraining? Pre-existing issues? Is the alignment of some of your techniques off? Pain is a sign something is wrong. You need to work out what that is within your current practise. Tai Chi has its benefits, but it won’t fix the problems that are present in your core training.

All the best,

Iain

Anf
Anf's picture

Thanks Iain. Certainly historically I've been training badly. Foolishly I was placing speed and power over precision and quality. I'm also guilty of ignoring niggles until they develop into something worse. Basically I've been a fool, and am now paying the price. But the consolation is that I've learned from my mistakes. I now focus on improving quality rather than just trying to be as fast as I can. But I'm also getting sick of fighting thin air. I see the value of fighting the air, in that in real fighting a lot of strikes actually miss, and it's good to practice remaining in full control without depending on an impact to apply the brakes. But I think there's too much emphasis on fighting the air. And I think I might be bored of it. But I don't want to leave. So I'm thinking tai chi to stay flexible while I allow time to work out if karate or similar is the path I want to follow.

Chris R
Chris R's picture

I strongly agree with Iain. I think you could possibly benefit from learning more about correct movement mechanics, and by focussing on quality technique in your kata and kihon. If you are training Karate, you should not need a whole extra system to become flexible and injury free. In my experience, Karate can give you both of those things if you do it properly. From what I've seen, Karate can also be great for longevity when done properly; I have seen guys in their sixtees and seventees in my style with crazy power and flexibility. With that being said, perhaps some styles are better than others for this.

I understand your point about getting sick of "fighting thin air," but I think you need to consider what your goals are in training. Karate is (in my opinion) what you make of it, and unfortunately many dojos will make it all about hitting thin air. If Karate is aligned with your goals, but some stuff is missing, then personally I would just cross-train to fill those gaps. If the Karate you are doing now has nothing to do with your goals, and you dislike it, then perhaps you should either change dojos or consider training in a different system entirely?

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Hi Anf

As mentioned above, start looking on what and how you are doing in your training. Tai Chi with bad form will not change anything.

Fighting with air in most of the karate systems is not done properly, full power and speed with overextending joints equals injuries.

For my students with health problems we have slow  or as some call it Silver karate "Taiso"  concept similar to Tai Chi, try doing your karate kata slowly and modifying stances. We doing it like this:

Kind regards

Les

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Anf wrote:
I was placing speed and power over precision and quality. I'm also guilty of ignoring niggles until they develop into something worse.

It could be a good idea to follow Les’s lead and start practising your kata slowly being ever mindful of the details and alignment of your joints. It will be a nice literal and figurative change of pace that will help you develop your technique.

Anf wrote:
I think I might be bored of it. But I don't want to leave.

We all get periods were training is less fun than normal; sometimes no fun at all. It’s then time to mix things up a little so training feels “fresh” again. Maybe ease off the club sessions a little while you allow your injuries to heal. You don’t have to stop going all together, but cut it down a little and supplement it with your slow kata practise, flexibility work, etc.

If the Tai Chi group you are looking to join is a good one, they may help you be more aware of structure and posture and you can take that back to the karate practise.

If “air practise” is the big issue for you, you may find Tai Chi is not for you in the longer term. It depends on the group, but it’s generally not known for a lot of live practise, pad drills, etc. When you are all healed up, maybe look for form of practise with more hands-on training?

Plenty of time to work through your options, but the key thing has to be your health. Our martial arts are supposed to harm our enemies, not ourselves. I’d first try to get to the point where you no longer experiencing pain and cut out the practise that was causing it in the first place. You are sure to enjoy training more if it’s not leaving you with unnecessary discomfort.

All the best,

Iain

Anf
Anf's picture

Thanks all. There's some good wisdom here. I like the idea of slow forms. I might have a good at that.