Monday Tai Chi class – 6/16/08 – A new movement.

I was not sure what to think about my Tai Chi classes.  Even though they are interesting, they do feel slow compared to my Karate classes.  I knew that going into it and one of my reasons for taking it was to slow down and relax but I was still a little unsure about it.

Tonight was a little different.  We have been doing the same movements for all of the classes and although I feel that I am progressing, I am used to doing something a little different.  Tonight, we did the same movements, called our preparation movements, like we do each week but after we finished those, we did one of the first movements in our first form.

A form in Tai Chi is much like a kata in Karate.  It is a series of movements with a meaning behind them.  It can be a type of self defense movement where the person uses the opponents energy against them.  It can also be considered an exercise or a way, that some feel, to increase the flow of energy in the body.

After doing this first, simple movement, I am starting to understand a little more about what we are doing.  The movement reminds me of a short back stance with a knife hand block although the movement is distinctly different.  Instead of using power and force, we slowly move into this short stance and turn our body at a 45 degree angle.  The front hand is held below chin level and loosely open and the other hand is about rib height and loosely open.  We then move from facing forward and then into the 45 degree angle while lowing our stance.  I cannot remember the name of the movement and I will ask again in my next class but to make a long story short, I am starting to become more interested now that I am seeing some of the movements that I will be learning as time goes on.

When I started taking this class, I thought that it would be much easier than my Karate training but I am finding that the movements are so different and using different muscles, it is much harder than I expected.  I do feel there is some benefit to my Karate training by taking these Tai Chi classes and I think I will keep it up for a while longer before I decide if I want to keep doing it or not.

About doug
Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..


3 Responses to “Monday Tai Chi class – 6/16/08 – A new movement.”
  1. Anonymous says:

    I was wondering – I kind of want to take either yoga or Tai Chi to add to my karate training as well. But I’m unsure what will be better for me. I look to improve my overall flexibility and also just in general ability to relax – I also tend to be very tense in my karate. Do you find Tai Chi is more about inner relaxation or does it do something for your flexibility as well?

  2. doug says:


    I am sorry about the late reply. I have been having some issues with my comments area. I typed really good reply last night but my browswer locked up and I lost the entire thing. I will try to remember everything that I typed so here goes.

    I took a yoga class for about eight weeks a while back and I found that it was just too slow for me. We spent most of the time with our backs on the floor and I always had a hard time trying to stay awake. There were a few moments where we did some some good stretching exercises but it was very slow and what I callno impact training.

    From taking Karate, I am used to moving around and the yoga was a total opposite for me. I am not saying that yoga isn’t good, it just
    isn’t good for me and maybe other yoga instructors are different but I am not sure since I only took one session of classes with the same person.

    I have been taking Tai Chi for over a month now and I like it much better than yoga. The movements feel more like exercise even though they are also slow. There is a lot of focus on breathing and each move has to be done with exact precision in order for it to be effective.

    One of the movements has us standing in a narrow horse stance where we move from right to left, shifting our weight from one leg to the other. We inhale when moving to right and exhale when moving to the left while trying to keep our head at the same height throughout the entire range of motion. This not only works the legs very hard but it causes the hips to open up a good amount. My hips feel so much more flexible after doing that movement that I often try to do it before my Karate classes when I have time.

    As far as relaxation is concerned, I do feel very relaxed when doing those movements even though do can stress the muscles very hard. I think the breathing helps calm me down and I end up focusing on that more than the pain in my legs while doing the movements.

    I also need to relax and one of the reasons that I started taking Tai Chi was because of something one of my Sensei’s, Sensei Cieplik, said. He told me that one of his Sensei’s, I think it was George Anderson but I am not positive, was too tense when he did his Karate and he started taking Tai Chi and it helped relax. From what I understand, he was able to do his movements more fluid and with a more focused mind because of what he learned in Tai Chi. Again, I am not sure if it was George Anderson but for some reason his name rings a bell.

    I do feel that Tai Chi is a good supplement to my Karate and even though I still cannot kick like I want to, I do feel it is helping because my hips have improved. I do also feel that I am less stressed out when taking class and outside of class too.

    The only downside that I have seen and I think it is more a lack of patience on my part is that learning the forms (kata) in Tai Chi can take many years. After more than a month we just started working on the first form movement and all of the other movements that we have been doing up until now have been preparation movements for the forms that will come with time. I was told by my Tai Chi instructor that it can take years to learn one form and do it well and I guess that in itself will at least help me become more patient.

    I hope this helps.


  3. Rick says:

    Hi Doug,
    I just happened across your blog. It’s great that you’re sharing your experiences and insights into your Karate training.
    I began studying Shaolin Kung Fu roughly five years ago. It is just now in my training that I am getting to know the forms in their entirety. Much like the tai chi (and in fact, we use some tai chi in our training) it takes time to learn the forms. Especially because they are not meant to be committed to conscious memory, but “muscle memory”.
    This is important; when you need to react in a split second, you need to train it as reflex. This requires years of repetition, and has nothing to do with what you know consciously.
    My Sifu claims that we train the cells of our body as much as our minds this way.

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