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Azato's picture
Tai Chi

It looks like I am going to have a guy coming in and teaching Tai Chi twice a week in my school. He specifically works with the elderly but said that I would be welcomed to participate. I have no experience with the softer side of martial arts. Sensei Abernethy often talks about Karate as a life long pursuit and the necessity to modify your practice if you wish to keep training at an advanced age. One day I know I'll be there and want to use this as a opprotunity to broaden my horizions a bit and get a feel for what my training will have to become when I am 65+. Does anyone on here have any experience with Tai Chi? If so, how do you feel it can be intergated into Karate practice at an advanced age? All responses appreciated, thanks! -Dan

Dennis Krawec
Dennis Krawec's picture

I did more boxing workout than Tai-chi, but for the few lessons I took (never completed a pattern) it seemed very geared towards body movement control, tied to breathing. Already being an active dancer at the time I didn’t find any additional benefit that I didn’t get out of a barre routine, so I did’t continue. Modifying your practice of kata to emulate Tai-chi is easily done. Though by all mean bring the Tai-chi instructor in; if at least to provide an alternate source of income to your school if you are renting or own the space you use.

You may not have to wait until 65+ to find out how your training will evolve. I’m just over 45 and it looks like I am developing osteo-arthritis in my hips, so I won’t be doing any high side or round house kicks to a face, but I can still take someones knee caps out. I find doing kata a very beneficial exercise that I have adapted to be more Tai-chi like to allow for restricted hip movement. My “performance” now has each movement slowed down, I try to push my stances as wide/long as I can go, focus on complete body control (full extension, hip rotation, feel the power trasfer at the end of each punch / receive & etc). I keep kicks to what I can do which is lower, substitute roundhouse with crescent kick. Typically I do each Heian, Tekki, and Bassai dai kata twice nice and slow, then a run through at normal speed. The key is you need to control and feel your body in each movement, much like a professional dancer would. 

Azato's picture

Thanks for your reply, I look forward to trying it out. I will probably be 'softening' my training well before 65 as well. I am 27 but have suffered serious injuries in both of my shoulders and one of my knees. I'm sure its going to catch up with me sooner rather than later so I'd like to be ready to adapt my training based on what my physical condition demands. I'll maybe post again here in a few months after I've attended the classes for a bit. - Dan

karate10's picture

Wow....Someone must've read my mind or something...lol...Matter of fact Azato, a FB friend of mind invited me to a Tai Chi seminar not so long ago and I intend to particpate in his class of Tai Chi from time to time. I enjoy the Tai Chi seminar class as personally, it benefits me on relaxation and findng your balance in class and outside in the real world. Plus, the movements with your hands and arms flow moving slowly up-down-side to side and streches made a nice impact on my Karate on how to properly do techniques with excellent form.

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Tai Chi is great, try it you might like it and learn something, but you can always do kata in similar fasion. In my club we have group of students from 38 to 84 doing Kata slowly. They love it I call it Taiso (body conditioning) at the moment I have around 30 people and it's getting more popular :) Kind regards Les

Anf's picture

I've recently added a weekly tai chi class to my training plan. My primary style is tang soo do. I find that since adding tai chi, I've become a lot more mindful of details like breathing and posture in my tang soo do practice. Tai chi is stigmatised somewhat, as being for old people with arthritis. It certainly is good for such folks, but it's by no means exclusive to that section if society. It's all about making the most of what you have, so if you are fit and tough, you'll still get a good workout. If you are old and decrepit, you'll get best use out of whatever still works. And it's low impact and relaxing too. Don't be fooled. I leave tai chi each week feeling relaxed, but thoroughly worked out.

Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture

I've studied tai chi in a number of venues.  One such venue had a very strong focus on the martial side of the art. Studying there had a great effect on my leg strength, relaxation, and awareness of my hips.  It can be an excruciatingly demanding art in areas that might support your karate.  If you have the opportunity to get a taste for it, even if you won't be practicing it as a fully realized martial art, I think it's a valuable stop for one's martial edification.