Posts Tagged ‘Tai Chi’

The Beginner in the Martial Arts

Written by bryan. Posted in Events, Training Diary

Tai Chi, Split, Tai Chi Kick, TaijiThis week, I’m in the Czech province of Jizerka training on the 24th Shikon Jizerka course hosted by Shikon Czech and it’s Chief Instructor Ondra Musil 7th Dan in Karate and 6th Dan in Aikido who along with Steve Rowe 8th Dan in Karate and Tai Chi Sifu and Martin Gatter 7th Dan Karate and Tai Chi Sifu from Shikon International have been the teachers.

With around 80 participants mainly from the arts of Karate, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu and Aikido, there has been a range of diverse skills to sample and learn from.

Today is Wednesday and we’re half way through the course. My training plan for the week has been simple:-

7:00 Tai Chi (Chi Gong, Long Form and Long Boxing)

8:00 Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 Tai Chi (Long Boxing, Fa Jing, Dao Lu)

10:30 – 12:00 Aikido

13:00 Lunch / Enjoying the countryside / Free Practice

15:00 – 16:30 Tai Chi (Long Boxing, Fa Jing, Dao Lu)

16:30 – 18:00 Aikido

19:00 – Dinner / Enjoying the Countryside / talking about all things martial and more free practice

So the training plan itself was easy, right. Okay it was and is tiring I have to admit. When I decided to come to Jizerka earlier in the year, I committed to myself that I would make the most out of the training experience and learn as much as I could. So many good things shown and explained, shown again and clarified, it felt like at times my head was about to explode.

I’ve tried to train as a beginner with no preconceived ideas,  actions or knowledge whilst training. It’s been hard to do and sometimes I haven’t managed to, these times have generally been easy to spot, it’s when I’ve been doing it badly. It’s been oddly satisfying though when I’ve have got it right. Some light bulb moments and several real “oh yeah, I get it now” moments, followed quickly by “Doh, it’s so easy to understand, why did it take me so long.” Simple Young Jedi, it’s all down to the key principles, I was told more than once. Principle #1 – Feet, Principle #2 – Posture, now use them. Steve Rowe is my teacher and his long term students know his style of teaching very well. No false, “that was great” or “You’re awesome” or anything like that. In fact the only time Steve will say something like that is when one has been crapper than usual and he’s taking the mickey out of you. Even he’s excelled himself this week with some of his comments and insightful remarks. Many of us attending are long term Martial Arts coaches and practitioners in our own right. Yet I can’t begin to count how many times, I’ve heard a ‘Steveism’ and some attempted correction at whatever we needed to work on. I snuck off before lunch for a sneaky bit of training with someone on some Springing hands work and Long Boxing, from about 300m away, Steve spotted an error from my training partner and sent someone over to stay “stop sticking your butt out and stand straight.”

Remember those days as a kid and being told to sit still at school, or was that just me? Anyway today Martin led us in some Neigong or standing post work. Simple stuff, again! Or so it seemed at a superficial level. Hold five postures for two minutes each. Oh yes, there are a few things to consider when you do them. Stand tall, spine straight, start spiralling from the feet and carry it on up and around the body, heighten your awareness, map your body, be sensitive and be aware. I managed about three out of the five, but then lost focus. Only one person said that they managed all those things throughout the 10 minutes.

 

I’ve seen some demonstrations of Aikido over the years and I must admit to not been hugely impressed with it as as art. My mistake, big mistake. The Aikido classes I’ve taken part in have all been by Ondrej Musil a 6th dan in Aikido or one of his senior students. The classes were filled with Czech students and one English person, me. Consequently all have been taught in Czech. So listening to instructions was definitely out, but I had to focus very closely to see what was being demonstrated as both Tori and Uke and then work to replicate it with my partners. I was able to cheat a little bit as many of the a few Japanese terms used in Aikido are also used in Karate, such as Maai, Kuzushi and Atemi Waza. It made me realise that although I was learning this way, only learning visually was very difficult for me. But I muddled through and most things I managed by watching and best of all trying the techniques. The moral is, you can learn by talking, you can learn by watching. But the best way is to learn by doing and making mistakes and doing it again and again.

 

It’s been good to see so many students finish the formal practice and then find some space in the great outdoors to continue their practice. My last training session tonight, after dinner, but still in the restaurant, I asked “Wasn’t sure how to do this technique, is this correct?” From the laughter from my colleagues it would appear not, Martin Gatter, didn’t laugh, well not out loud anyway, his brow however does the same as a ‘Steveism.’ 

Key points for me

– When the teacher says do ‘x’ technique, don’t ask how many times, keep going until you’re told to stop.

– It’s reminded me of how much we should listen and watch our teachers and actually try to do what they say.

– Be aware of your body

– You can learn by talking, you can learn by watching. But the best way is to learn by doing and making mistakes and doing it again and again.

Happy training. Time to get ready for dinner before I do some training.

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The Eight Principles of Martial Arts

Written by Wayne. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

 

The Eight Principles of Martial Arts by Wayne Roberts

On the wall of our dojo in Basingstoke is a list of 8 words that face students every day when we train. I have to admit that even though I have previously looked at these words many times, I don’t really think that it is until having worked through much of the research for this project that I now understand these fundamentals more clearly and their applications.

These eight ideas are the underlining principles that need to form the foundation of sound ‘soft’ martial arts. If skill in martial arts can be thought of as a series of layers, then this is the first of these followed by the 13 dynamics (The Eight Gates & Five Steps as covered previously) and then finally different techniques applied on top of these which will be specific to each form of martial art.

The Eight Principles

Feet – are the way in which our bodies connect to the ground, so are key to transmission of energy through the body and to balance. Feet in general should always be pointed in the direction of power and used to press against the floor to generate power – this is the key to good rooting and the ability to generate a spiraling of energy from the feet, up the legs and through the rest of the body. Contact with the floor should be though the pads of the feet, always being mindful of where your center of balance is – toes should just be lightly in contact with the floor.

Posture – in order to really master awareness of where your body is and what is happening in terms of balance and stance it is key to be constantly mindful of this every day, not just in training. Through the pressure generated by the feet, the body naturally brings itself upright. The feeling here should be as if the head is pulled upwards by a string and then allowing the body to soften and relax so the body is effectively not ‘standing on its bones’. Good posture will give you a free passage of energy and also enables you to breath correctly.

Mind – its important to have a high level of awareness or ‘liveliness’ in order to be able to stay highly focused. This is especially important in threatening situations where it is critical to be able to maintain a strong, concentrated and powerful mindset. Discipline and willpower are also key to achieving this. Poor posture or breathing can particularly effect the mindset.

Breath – good breathing is key to increasing the oxygen flow through the body and ensuring the mind stays alert. Breathing action should come from the lower abdomen (the Tan Tien), pushing outwards on breathing in and opening up the back and shoulders.

Internal – in Tai Chi this is also know as ‘energizing the inner orbit’, opening up the energy flow around the body. On breathing in, you channel Chi through the Governing Vessel (running over the skull and along the spine) and breathing out channeling through the Conception Vessel (bisecting the front of the body). The Governing and Conception Vessels are connected by touching the tongue to the top of the mouth. Internal also refers to the ability to channel energy/force from the contact point with an opponent through the body, down the legs and into the feet. Key here is being able to connect the top and the bottom half of the body, so for example force is not just taken into the shoulders or upper body resulting in being thrown off balance.

Power – power can be generated from many parts of the body, but is most effective when used in conjunction with each other e.g. with power being ‘layered’ up through the actions of different joints or muscles. An example would be a punch, which some students may only use the hips to generate power. However, when layered and timed correctly power can be greatly amplified through using first the muscles around the spine, then to bring in the action of the shoulder, arm, waist, hips, legs and finally the feet. The majority of the power in this instance is generated from the spine, which is the core muscle at the centre of the move.

Wedge – the point at which out hands our other part of the body would normally travel to when meeting an attack (the interception point) and combines the first four principles above to be able to first block and then begin to redirect a strike. Key here is the feeling of ‘wedging’ through an attack towards the opponent, and this principle is key to self defence aspects of any martial art, however is offensive rather than defensive. The wedge principle can be applied with many parts of the body including legs, head and shoulders as well as arms and hands.

Spiral – spiraling comes after the wedging action and is a way to turn the an opponents energy or momentum against them, taking force away from the opponent and turning into a lock, strike or throw. A spiraling action is also present in the way force is transmitted through the body and the legs to the feet and again helps to keep the connection in place between the upper and lower halves of the body.
Steve Rowe, Shikon, Gavin King

 

As can be seen, many of the above are closely interlinked and in most cases cannot really practiced without the other, in particular the first four principles feet, posture, mind and breath. In Chinese martial arts these are commonly know as Neigong which emphasises training the coordination of an individuals body with the breath. The last four principles are closely aligned with Qigong, which is the channeling of Chi through the body. Chi can also be used to repel, parry or absorb an attackers energy.

It is also very important to be able to able to recognise the condition of these principles in an opponent. For example by being able to analyse where their balance is e.g. weight might be in their heels; perhaps they are distracted so may not be fully mindful of the situation; an aggressor may also be breathing heavily with a puffed up chest which will also impact their posture and balance. An initial attack can also be targeted at disrupting one of the eight principles which can then be followed up with the primary attack aimed at disabling the opponent.

References:
The Eight Principles are at the heart for the Shikon system put in place by Steve Rowe Shi Kon’s Chief Instructor. More information can be found her

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Baguazhang and Boxing

Written by Katherine. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

BuaguaREPORT 5 – SOFT AND HARD MARTIAL ARTS

Baguazhang and Boxing

 

And so to the final part of this part of my project – looking at 5 hard and 5 soft Martial Arts.  I deliberately saved boxing until last as it is quite controversial in its inclusion and also Baguazhang as I really struggled to find a fifth soft art to look at.  Many that I initially researched were ultimately labelled “hard/soft” and, to be honest, I think most Martial Arts (dare I venture, all) would come into this category on a sliding scale. I really wanted to do Wing Chun but this definitely sat on the fence and so I landed on Baguazhang. As a report I found this entry (on Baguazhang) the hardest – partly because there are many variations or it practised, some of which don’t fit into my labels as nicely as others and also because I genuinely found the research confusing. It is, therefore, a mere scratch on the surface of what is a very complex and deep Martial Art and if it whets your appetite I would encourage you to study it further yourself – I really cannot do it justice here and am no way proficient enough to begin to fully understand it.

 

SOFT MARTIAL ART 5 – BAGUAZHANG

WHAT IS BAGUAZHANG?

 

Baguazhang is one of the three main Chinese Martial Arts (the other two are Tajiquan and Xingyiquan). Historically it can be traced back to its accepted founder Dong Hainchun, back in the early 19th Century. He trained other students who were already students of other fighting systems and he sought to add to and deepened their existing knowledge with his school of fighting. Hainchun had learned from Taosit and Buddhist teachers and it is here that the roots lie.

 

Baguazhang literally means “eight trigram palm” – referring to the trigrams of the Yijing (I Ching), one of the canons of Taoism, to explain the relationship of all natural phenomena, and Baguazhang seeks to be the physical manifestation of the properties. There are differing layouts of the eight trigrams – older and newer but each shows how the elements are linked and also their representation of yin and yang. This is a topic to be researched all on its own but if you are interested this site explains it more – http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/Chinese_Customs/bagua.htm

 

Nowadays there are many different schools of Baguazhang, as students of Dong Hainchuan took their own practises and formed new schools. The main similarities are their use of the palm techniques and the distinctive circle walking technique. Most styles use strikes with the hand (especially with the palm), fist, elbow etc as well as thrown and locks, but with an emphasis on a flowing style and spiralling practises, and body evasion.  Baguazhang, as a martial art, is based on the theory of continuously changing in response to the situation at hand in order to overcome an opponent with skill rather than brute force.

 

BAGUAZHANG AS A SOFT MARTAL ART

 

Baguazhang is quite a difficult Martial Art to categorise as there are so many variations of it – each with their own styles and focuses. Generally, however, it is considered soft because of its emphasis on circular movements and evasive footwork – the Yijing trigram, as seen above, is from “The Book of Change” and it is this ability to change movement and direction and flow around attackers that defines Baguazhang and adapting the body to use energy most efficiently. As with other “soft” Martial Arts, Baguazhang does have hard elements – especially its palm strikes and its use of weapons from small, concealed knives to the large bagua sword. Different styles may place more or less emphasis on certain techniques – throws, grappling, locks, strikes, kicks etc – but they all have the circling, spiralling and palm techniques in common.

The circle walking avoids direct confrontation with an attacker and draws them off balance and off their centre so that they can be overcome with momentum and flow rather than strength. Baguazhang seeks to use an attacker’s aggression and energy against them and does not encourage power-on-power moves as this will disadvantage a smaller fighter.

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

Baguazhang was designed to improve the health of the student – both physically and mentally. Because of its foundations in the Taoist trigram, its aim is to harmonise all the elements – especially yin and yang, and to be able to balance the energy flow within. By being in tune with, and listening to, your internal side, your body will flow perfectly, the blood will circulate smoothly and you will experience heightened senses.

Baguazhang is a very internal practise, seeking to harness “neijin” or inner power (ki, qi chi), as well as promote a supple, flexible, adaptable body. It is concerned with the experience of change – coming from the Yi Jing, or “Book of Changes” – right from the atomic level in the makeup of our bodies to the vast planetary systems.  Changes can be made from the smallest level in one’s life right up to universal level.  Baguazhang is based on the 8 symbols, “gua”, that are the building blocks of the universe – heaven, earth, water, fire, thunder, wind, mountain and lake.

Effective practise of Baguazhang requires understanding of the trigrams and their relationship to each other and then be able to translate this externally to use angles and shapes and intuition to overcome an attacker.

As I am struggling to fully understand and explain Bagua I will add a description from a long time practitioner of Chinese internal Martial Arts, Gwilym Panah Williams:

“Bagua is more than a mere martial art, it is a complete system, a scheme: and as such is a repository for many important disciplines of ancient and authentic Chinese culture: the metaphysics, the traditional medicine, and the philosophy and spirituality. It is more than mere actions and movements: its forms and internal practises seek to infuse the practitioner with celestial energy drawn from the eight primordial energies. Their very qi, or life force, is inside Baguazhang!”

POWER GENERATION AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUE

As Baguazhang is by far the most “internal” Martial Art that I have looked at, much of its theories of good technique and power generation are concentrated on harnessing QI from inside. I do not pretend to fully understand this but will attempt to give a basic explanation.

Externally, Baguazhang is characterised by continuous flowing movements, with the body constantly changing direction and twisting and turning – the footwork is highly evasive and the body almost snake-like.

There are 3 physical fundamentals to learn in Baguazhang although there are many, many more techniques than just these – but these are what set it art from most other Martial Arts:

Circle Walking: Although there are many variations in styles of Bagua because Dong Hainchuan adapted each training to the style of his students, each variation includes circle walking. It is what is says – literally walking in a circle while executing the upper body techniques and forms.  This trains the legs to generate power but also to have quick footwork for evasion and the control the body.  The student walks round the edge of a circle in low stances, while periodically changing direction.  It is important to keep the body engaged the whole time so that you can then apply the feeling to the rest of your movement. In circle walking you aim to connect the whole boy from the feet right u to the skull and allow the blood and qi energy to flow round.

The body is kept open and upright, breathing is from the dantian (lower abdominals) and the feet are rooted and the legs engaged. It also helps teach control of the body through twisting motions, which improves flexibility but also uses the torque of the body to add power. The circle itself adds a layer of power through the use of centrifugal (which draws a body away from the centre of rotation) and centripetal forces (which keep the body moving along a circular path, towards the centre of the circle).

Here are 2 different Youtube videos of circle walking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RquLh85KaoI

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BbLWxLwO4g

Circle walking is believed to be a Taoist form of meditation – to focus minds and gather energy from around you to heal and energise.

Stepping:  Obviously a key component part of the circle walk is the step. In Baguazhang there are many different steps to be learned but the fundamental one is known as “The Mud Slide Step”, from which all of the steps are spawned. This step is also the root of shin kicks, ankle stamps and many leg sweeps. The step is important as it is used to train balance and stability but also how to thrust power up through the legs and to engage energy flow from the feet upwards.

The feet are always kept close to the ground, and usually flat and parallel so that in the event of an attack both feet can be quickly put in a string position back on the ground. This method of walking also trains the leg muscles to be fully engaged and powerful as they have to lift the entire leg rather than coming up onto the toes.

The foot can be slid forward over the ground which is useful for those who like sweeps or trips or it can be lifted slightly and hovered over the ground in the forward step.

Using the palms: Baguazhang places a great emphasis on the use of the open palm as a weapon rather than a closed fist. There are 8 fundamental positions – each based on one of the signs from the trigram, and each 8 positions can be practised in 8 different easy (based on different animals e.g. the bear or the snake) which leads to a huge variation of applications. The palm has more options than a fist – from sharp fingers of a spear hand to the wide surface of the palm, as well as the sharp blade edge of the palm. Defensively the palm can scoop, lift and grab while the hand is open and relaxed and this relaxation helps speed and momentum rather than a tight closed fist which is more likely to tense up the shoulders. The palm movements and shapes are practised in a form known as “Eight Mother Palms” – but it is done whilst circle walking to engage the legs and feet while using the hands.

The eight animal models – (I won’t list them as they vary in different styles of Bagua) each focus on a  different aspect – for example the lion is Yang – hard, powerful, fierce and derives power from the waist whilst the snake is more coiling and develops the back and arms and is especially suited to using knives.

Internally Bagua, and most other Chinese Martial Arts, include:

Qigong: – this is breath control and visualisation which helps to increase circulation and awareness. It seeks to control breath and movement together to develop qi. It is typically practised with rhythmic breathing and fluid movements while visualising the qi flowing through the body.

Neigong: this is also breathing and meditation with deliberate movement, designed to relax but also to learn to have awareness and control over every aspect of your body, even parts which are usually unconscious. Practitioners believe it will lead to health benefits such as faster healing as well as more flow and flexibility.

Waigong: the external element – balance, agility, strength, posture all come under this heading.

All these elements need to be combined and an appreciation of one will lead to insights in the other areas as all are connected. The aim is to develop QI – which is a combination of mind, breath and body – all need to work in harmony and co-ordination to maximise the power from one’s own life energy.

So – I have not really dwelt on the actual fighting techniques of Baguazhang and in fact, hardly any of the information I researched was about specific techniques but overwhelmingly the importance was placed on the foundations – the circle walking, the palms and the use and harnessing of QI.

http://youtu.be/cSg6fUhXNig – Training and moving

http://youtu.be/E6FyX0ICcxo   – This one demonstrates applications

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6FyX0ICcxo&feature=youtu.be

 

 

BoxingHARD MARTIAL ART 5 – BOXING

WHAT IS BOXING?

 

I decided on boxing as one of my hard martial arts almost straight away but when I researched it on the web there seemed to be a lot of dispute as to whether it counted as a Martial Art at all. In the NO camp is the idea that boxing is merely a sport – you train to fight in competitions where there is a clear winner and loser and the objective is to only win the fight or “beat someone up.” Martial arts practitioners also look at the philosophy behind the art and learn to use their skills for self defence and have to weigh up when and if to use their skills in earnest, and would think about the consequences and any alternative strategies.  Without this element to training it is seen as just a fighting sport.

 

However, the YES camp would classify it as a martial art as it is a recognised fighting system, albeit less ritualized than many Oriental styles. It still follows a specific system and can be very effective in teaching self defence.  Historically, particularly in Western countries, boxing and wrestling were taught as self defence methods. Also, they would argue that boxing is not merely “slugging” that there is a mental skill involved which takes it beyond a purely physical pastime.

 

So – I am choosing to look at boxing as a form of Martial Art, albeit not one that possibly fits the category so obviously.

 

Boxing has been around for thousands of years – originally in African and Egypt before spreading to Europe where the Greeks, notably, picked it up and included it in their Olympic Games in 688 BC. It started as bare knuckle fighting – often a fight to the death – and it was not until the 18th Century that it began to be controlled by rules. It was starting to be the boxing we know today – a stand up fight, with the two participants wearing padded gloves fighting in a ring seeking to punch their opponents’ head and torso only.  Today there are amateur competitions where the emphasis is on points scoring and professional bouts where they are more keen to seek a knockout.

 

BOXING AS A HARD MARTIAL ART

 

The aim of boxing, and the underlying goal, is to punch your opponent into submission or unconsciousness. In amateur matches where points are scored – these go to the most aggressive fighter and the one who can land the most clean techniques. In my mind, this has to be classified as one of the “hardest” Martial Arts as it is uncompromisingly direct and, apart from when in defense, the intention is to hurt and debilitate your opponent.

 

“Boxing is the art of hitting an opponent from the furthest distance away, exposing the least amount of your body while getting into position to punch with maximum leverage and not getting hit.”
Kenny Weldon

UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

Probably because of the reasons why there is dispute as to whether boxing is a Martial Art, I found it difficult to find a true underlying principle or philosophy. Unlike many of the Oriental – Japanese and Chinese arts – which have roots in religions such as Buddhism or Zen, boxing has not grown out of such foundations. However, this does not mean that boxing students do not try and apply their commitment and dedication to other aspects of their lives.  There has to be commitment to training and improvement, there has to be self discipline in training and also outside in terms of keeping healthy and fit and one is always seeking to move up to the next level of fighting – self improvement.

Two quotes I found try and explain this:

Joyce Carol Oates in her book “On Boxing” – Boxers are there to establish an absolute experience, a public accounting of the outermost limits of their beings; they will know, as few of us can know of ourselves, what physical and psychic power they possess – of how much, or how little, they are capable.

Gordon Mariano, a boxing trainer and Professor of Philosophy – While Aristotle is able to define courage; the study and practice of boxing can enable us to not only comprehend courage, but ‘to have and use’ it. By getting into the ring with our fears, we will be less likely to succumb to trepidation when doing the right thing demands taking a hit. To be sure, there is an important difference between physical and moral courage. After all, the world has seen many a brave monster. The willingness to endure physical risks is not enough to guarantee uprightness; nevertheless, it can contribute in powerful ways, to the development of moral virtue.

POWER GENERATION AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUE

In my opinion boxing is “simpler” than many of the other martial arts I have looked at, in that it has a much smaller bank of techniques that are called on.  The boxer’s main arsenal consists of four punches – the jab, the cross, the hook and the uppercut (ring any bells, Kickboxing form fans?).  There are, of course, variations of these (such as the bolo punch or check hook) and also infinite combinations, but the basic toolkit is as outlined above.  Defensively there are more options – slipping the body, ducking, bobbing, parrying and blocking, covering up or clinching, although this is only a shortlived defense and can be penalised in matches.

However – as with other Martial Arts, good technique and power begins at the feet – with the stance. A good stance will give you:

  • Power & Defense
  • Range & Balance
  • Flexibility & Security
  • Stability & Mobility

A Good Basic Stance

It needs to be a compromise of stability for power but also lightness for mobility and should enable you to land a variety of punches from different distances. Basically, feet should be should be width apart with the toe of the front foot roughly in line with the rear heel – this turns your body providing a smaller target ad also allowing you to pivot.

The back heel should be slightly lifted off the floor to maximize mobility and even on the front foot which is more planted the weight should be towards the ball. The knees remain bent to spring for power but also to absorb punches and aid balance. Weight is generally distributed 50/50 to keep an even spread. If the feet are too wide it will mean you have to take larger steps to move and are more likely to be caught out in the middle of a step, when you are weakest.

Moving up the body, it is important to keep the shoulders and arms relaxed with the elbows tucked in and the hands up to provide body cover.

Power in a punch starts from the feet up, and depends on leverage and body rotation, using the twist/torque of the body from the hips especially on cross and hook punches. The body rotation and transfer of power from the rear to the front foot adds impact.

There is also a Physics equation I have found that can help to explain how to maximize power:

Power = speed/velocity x mass – so heavier fighters can still have power even with slower punches, and counter to this, a lighter fighter can increase power by their use of speed.

Having said this, some very successful boxers haven’t been the most powerful. Precision and exact placement of a punch can have devastating effects and secure a knockout, even if not at full power – punches to the chin, temple or liver can be as useful as pure power punches.

There are some building blocks in getting the most power in your punch – the most important of which is good technique.  This means that your punches actually land and cause damage – they are not able to be defended because telegraphing is minimised. Good technique also puts the whole body behind the punch to maximise mass – exploding up from the balls of the feet.

Control behind technique is also essential – that you keep your balance if a hit misses, or if it connects that you have the stability to follow up with another powerful punch. Once control is established, speed can be layered in – which increases power and also reduces the chances of it being blocked or evaded.

 

Once speed and mass have been exploited, what else is there that can add power? The answer is timing, strength and flexibility. Timing can be used to use an opponent’s mass against them – as they move forward as you land your punch then their mass can be added to the equation.  This is a harder trick to master as actual contests tend to be quick and dynamic, rather than drill training, so reading the opponent is essential.

 

Strength, rather than huge muscle mass, is sought by boxers, as they prefer to have a better power to weight ratio and huge muscles counter this. Strength is especially focussed in the calves, quads, abdomen, shoulders, chest, lats, triceps and forearms – delivering a pathway for power to travel through.

 

Flexibility allows a greater range of movement, can maximise leverage and will also contribute to an increase in speed.

 

Finally, breathing on the punch will give that final element of power – holding your breath will slow your body and tire you out, whereas exhaling on the effort will concentrate the move.

 

Defensively it is important to have good technique too – as the aim in boxing is to hit without being hit – the best delivered punch is no use if the other guy gets you first! Footwork and the ability to correctly move the head (with the rest of the body following) are the main skills in avoiding an attack and need to be as honed as delivering a killer blow.

 

Footwork: going away – easiest way of evasion, can tire an opponent by making them chase but can tire you also and puts you out of range to counter

Footwork: going around – more akin to tai sabaki, using angles and pivoting which keeps you in attacking range rather than a step backwards but leaves you vulnerable on the move and uses more energy.

Footwork: going forward – smothering punches with your body or “clinching” by trapping their arms with yours, and is good against taller opponents but is only a temporary strategy.

Blocking/Covering Up – keeps you in range but using your gloves/arms to cover your head and body and you can add to this by using your hips to turn and roll the attack away.  This is effective, particularly against jabs, but does leave you slower to counter and also might result in you being pushed back or even broken through by stringer opponents.

Parrying – deflecting a punch rather than receiving it straight into a block. This is useful against larger attackers and can render them off balance using their own weight and momentum against them. It works best against straight punches and against opponents who throw themselves into a punch.

Rolling – A step up from parrying, this is using the body to deflect attacks. Rolling the shoulders deflects a punch but leaves your hands free to counter

Slipping/Swaying/Fading – This also rotates the body but so that a punch is evaded by turning the head or body to the side.

Ducking/Bobbing/Weaving – other body evasion moves – ducking under a punch, bobbing the head sideways and under a punch then weaving back upright using the legs to lower and raise the body.

Surely the quote that sums up these two, contrary sides of boxing is Muhammed Ali’s famous, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”

A successful boxer must have powerful, accurate punches but also be nimble and light enough on their feet to avoid injury. A perfect combination of power and grace.

 

http://youtu.be/qMWs6rYMvwM   – Knockouts, good examples of the “hard” nature of boxing

 

http://youtu.be/woTLysKIQVM   – Mike Tyson using different evasion techniques

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The differences between Judo and Tai Chi What is Judo? ‘

Written by Jess. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

BJA, Senior Examiner, AWE, Basingstoke Judo, Black Dam Judo, Brighton Hill Judo, 3rd Dan, BJA, British Judo AssociationThe differences between Judo and Tai Chi

What is Judo?

‘A sport of unarmed combat derived from jujitsu and intended to train the body and mind. It involves using holds and leverage to unbalance the opponent.’

The word Judo means ‘the gentle way.’ It was developed in 1992 by Dr. Jigoro Kano (President of the University of Education in Tokyo.) He studied Jujutsu as a child and used the ideas and techniques from this within the new art Judo.

The main two principles/goals of Judo are ‘Maximum Efficiency and Mutual Welfare and Benefit.’ Maximum efficiency teaches the students to use the least amount of strength necessary in order to throw an opponent. This is achieved by precision and timing. Mutual Welfare and Benefit was a belief of Dr Jigoro had that Judo could help the students to become better members of society. He felt that the personal discipline that Judo taught would be used within everyday life and not just in the dojo.
Having done a bit of Judo (a few throws etc,) within karate classes, it is very clear how the maximum efficiency goal is used. You do not need to use all of your strength to throw your partner, just by being sneaky and timing everything correctly, even a tiny movement of your body can throw your partner.

Judo is mainly recognised for it’s throws and groundwork; it is compared to as freestyle wrestling because of this.  They are fairly similar, but Judo doesn’t use as many dangerous self defence techniques.  A practitioner will have to use careful timing and leverage of their own body to throw their partner.

People practise Judo for the same reasons as other martial arts and other sports; its exercise, for self-defence and a social event but mainly because it is fun. But some practitioners of Judo think of it as a way of life. Judo is a good martial art to use for exercise because it improves your flexibility, speed, coordination, muscle development and the cardiovascular system. They will all improve the standard of living for each practitioner as a healthy body creates a healthy lifestyle.

There are three main areas within Judo- competition work, free practise and forms. The Judo terms are Randori, Shiai and Kata.  In free practise, you can spar and use which ever techniques that you want.  In competitions, the aim is to win by being determined; if you aren’t determined or decisive then you won’t win the points. Competitions aren’t the aim of Judo, it is another aspect that will help you to improve your weaknesses and see your strengths.

Kata, in Judo, is different moves in a scenario. The aim for Kata is to teach and learn different values in combat through choreographed moves and techniques are learnt and practised in Kata, but not in competitions and free practised.

Lectures were a main aim, but it generally isn’t used in teaching judo any more. By using lectures, the practitioners learn the theory side and knowledge of Judo.

Within Judo, certain clothing is required. This clothing is called a Judogi.  It can be in white or blue, and they are made of a firmer, thicker material than a normal Karate gi. This means that the gi will be stronger and will not rip easily.

 

Basingstoke Tai Chi, Yang Style, Soft Martial Arts, Internal Martial Arts, TaijiWhat is Tai Chi?

‘It is a Chinese system of slow meditative physical exercise designed for relaxation and balance and health.’ wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Tai Chi (also called Tai Chi Chuan,) combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow, controlled and gentle movements

It is a health benefit but is also a subtle, sophisticated method of self defence. Tai Chi doesn’t need any equipment so people of all ages and backgrounds can easily participate. It has evolved to help improve people’s physical health and helped them to defend themselves against others.  Unlike other martial arts, Tai Chi helps people to survive by using self-defence and fitness.

It develops a healthy body and alert mind, and is suitable for all ages so everyone can be developed. Tai Chi can be practised anywhere – indoors, outdoors, in a hall, or at work. Also, when it is practised in a slow, relaxed way, it can be used as a balance drill for the muscles, and can help the mind to process and remember complex moves.  By using deep breathing, it allows the body to use correct expansion and contraction of the lungs and diaphragm. Thus, more oxygen can be taken in, and then given to the muscles.

Tai Chi focuses on qi – Life Force.  Tai Chi allows practitioners to work with their qi, and thus changes their life. A lot of qi makes the body and mind feel alive, alert and lively to all the possibilities that life can offer. A lack of qi makes the person feel tired and dull. Tai Chi’s movements increase the qi and develop it too.

Anyone can do Tai Chi, regardless of their: age, gender and fitness levels. ‘The Perfect Exercise’ is what Tai Chi has been called because the injury risk is low and the health and fitness levels are high.

You can wear any type of clothing when practising Tai Chi; it depends on your situation. For example, if you are going to practise it for 10 minutes in your office at lunch time, then you can stay in your work clothes- suits, dresses, and skirts. However, loose, stretchy clothing is best, especially something like a tracksuit. If you are learning Tai Chi in a martial art environment where it is formal, then the teachers may request that traditional clothing is worn.

 

 

Differences between Judo and Tai Chi  

In Tai Chi, the main focus of the martial art is the body and how to develop it and work with it for relaxation and meditation. Although Judo requires understanding of your body, it focuses on how small movements can allow you to control your opponent throw throws, groundwork and grappling.

Judo practitioners have to have certain clothing- a Judogi. In Tai Chi however, you can wear anything, but stretchy, loose clothing is generally worn. A t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms are frequently worn.  Specific clothing is required due to the nature of the martial arts, i.e., in Judo, you pull on the clothing, so it needs to be strong material.

In Judo, although most teachers will not specify a set age or health requirement, a basic level of health and fitness is needed to ensure that no injuries occur. However, in Tai Chi, anyone can practise it as it increases your health and fitness and poses a minimal injury risk compared to Judo.

 

If you would like any more information on either Judo or Tai Chi, here are the websites that I used to create this report. http://judopedia.com/index.php/Overview_of_Judohttp://judopedia.com/index.php/Overview_of_Judo
http://www.beginnerstaichi.com/tai-chi-dictionary.html
http://www.taichichuan.co.uk/information/introduction_to_taichi.html
http://www3.nd.edu/~judo/whatisjudo.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Learn-Tai-Chi
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/taichi.aspx

 

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Martial Arts Standards Agency British Judo British Council for Chinese Martial Arts – National Governing Body The World Union of Karate Federations Shi Kon Martial Arts British Council for Chinese Martial Arts – National Governing Body

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