Posts Tagged ‘Tai Chi’

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.’

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.



“Stronger”-“Faster” Are they the most overused words in Karate?

Written by bryan. Posted in Coaching

Martial Arts secrets, taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, strength, flexibility

“Stronger” “Faster”

are two of the most overused words in Karate and usually without a correct understanding of the meaning behind the words.


Some of the best Karate-ka I have ever seen have come from a ballet or dance background. Sure the flexibility that is inherent in good practitioners of these disciplines helps, but that is not the main reason. In Karate we are often told to perform a technique “faster” or “stronger”

These overused soundbites are n’t usually used in the correct context and lead to many of us developing bad habits. So if we look at what they should really mean.


What this should really mean is to accelerate the technique more.

Speed of the technique at impact point is one (note that I say one *) of the reasons why a technique can be effective and will cause damage. So going faster is generally a good idea, but please remember, it is all about the acceleration of that technique to a maximum speed at it’s impact point without any deceleration.

* At a more senior level, other skills are developed which mean that speed is n’t quite as important. Timing and the way the technique is performed become just as useful tools.


Now this is the tough one to look at. We are often told to “use more Kime” or to make the techniques as “Strong”  as we can.

Note Kime is defined by Wikipedia as “Kime is a commonly-used Japanese martial arts term. In karate it can mean “power” and/or “focus,” describing the instantaneous tensing at the correct moment during a technique.”


In reality we should be told to relax more not to make a technique stronger. 

Often the result of being told stronger / more kime is to make the Karate-ka contort and contract the muscles of the body in all sort of funny shapes in an effort to be strong. All this usually achieves is that the Karate-ka tenses all of their body muscles to take on the western ideals of strength and once this is done, any pretence of speed is lost. Ever tried to walk or even run whilst tensing your muscles? Not easy is it, unless you are happy looking like a robot.


Many instructors translation kime to their students as tension. This is not strictly correct, its really focus at the end of the technique. Now if you buy into the idea that Kime is necessary to make a techniques effective (and I don’t by the way + ) then what you have to achieve or at least initially, for newer students, aim to achieve, is that the technique and whole body is totally relaxed and fluid right until the moment of impact. Then for a micro second, you focus (tense) the whole body but immediately you have to go back to that state of relaxation.  If this is done correctly, it also helps the practitioner with the flow and speed of transition between techniques. The most common mistake being made here is that people are too tense for too long, its really not necessary and if you keep doing this you’ll never make it as a competent Karate-ka.


In order to be a competent Karate-ka you must flow between each and every technique, but each and every technique must be effective. Look at some of the Youtube videos of the likes of Asai or Kanazawa, they look and are smooth. A dancer understands this and can make their techniques flow, look at someone doing Tai Chi, they understand this concept, many Karate-ka (exponents of Karate) who have yet to ‘get there’ look at Tai Chi and see something performed slowly and without power and assume that that this means its only for health and is no good for self defence. Nothing could be further from the truth and I’d go as far to say that martial Tai Chi (ie Tai Chi not taught by some new age hippie type on a health trip) is a very good martial art both in terms of the principles it teaches and also the moves you learn. Many Karate-ka would benefit hugely from practising it. I’d also go as far to say that Tai Chi is harder to learn and practise than Karate, due to the softness required.

So to summarise the main messages here. Relaxation is key, from relaxation stems speed and power.

If Tai Chi was easy it would be called Karate ;-). You may not practise Martial Tai Chi, but all the principles in Tai Chi exist in Karate, if its taught and practised well. Karate and Tai Chi are the same fundamentally in what they teach. The biggest difference is that in many schools Karate always is ‘stronger and faster.’ You could say that Tai Chi is the thinking persons martial art as students are training to think for themselves and to be always mindful of what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Why not try some Karate kata at ‘Tai Chi speed’ or do some pushing hands to learn to be more relaxed.


Enjoy your training.

+ I mentioned that I don’t buy into Kime being necessary for effective techniques. What Kime actually does is to stop the flow of a movement right at the moment of impact. It’s a bit of a contradiction don’t you think being told that you have to accelerate faster but then just as you hit the target you have to slow the technique down by using Kime? I know, I’d finished the article but could n’t resist the final curve ball 😎 Have a look at this clip of boxing knockouts. Is there much use of Kime within it?


Stimulating the System

Written by bryan. Posted in Health and Fitness

tai chi, health and physiologyDespite the multitude of different martial arts and infinite variations on training methods there is one common component that links all systems and styles – the human body.  Regardless of culture and ideology, size or shape, armed or unarmed, modern or traditional or any of the other divisions that have arose in the martial world the human structure is the one thing that unites all.  Understanding the core principles that govern the human body forms the foundation of all arts and our awareness and view of the body has a direct correlation with how we engage it and more importantly develop its potential.  At the heart of studying these core principles is the awareness of how the human body is constructed and how best to train it for optimum performance.

The common view of human construction is that our body is formed as a series of bones that sit upon one another to form the structure we know as the skeleton.  In my treatment room I have a skeleton and in order for him to stand erect he has numerous bolts, springs and wires that hold him together – without them he’d be nothing but a pile of sticks on the floor.  In reality our skeletal structure is exactly the same and on its own it has absolutely structural integrity.  Far from being a like a house of bricks with one bone being stacked upon another our body structure far more closely resembles a suspension bridge in design than a static pile of bricks.  Our bones form only one component of a far more dynamic whole.  It is only through the way the soft tissues of the body (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) weave the bones together that allows us to stand tall and dynamically move and interact with our environment.

In the book ‘Anatomy Trains’ renowned structural bodyworker Tom Myers likens the relationship of the soft tissue and skeletal system of a human to that of a mast and rigging of a sailing boat.  In sailing if you didn’t have the rigging attached to the mast and various points of the hull, the mast would be ripped from the deck as soon as gust of wind caught the sail.  What the rigging allows for is the distribution of the ‘pull’ on the mast to multiple points on the sturdy structure of the hull.  In exactly the same process if you think of the spine as a mast and our muscles as the rigging, when the spine is pulled forwards the rigging at the rear will tighten and pull to stop the spine from snapping forwards and vice versa if it is pulled backwards.  Many people who have back pain often visit me to have that specific area treated and are surprised when I sometimes start work on the front of their bodies to address ‘pulls’ that may be causing the ‘rigging’ in the back to pull harder.

To enable dynamic movement our bodyweight needs to be suspended within the ‘rigging’ of the body rather than being precariously balanced on the bones.  Understanding the way this system of ‘rigging’ pulls and slackens is the key to grasping the anatomy of human movement.  Thinking holistically will provide clarity and reason for all of our movements and may even help identify areas for improvement and allow you to develop a ‘holistic’ training regimen.

Another misconception that often shapes peoples training routines is that muscles work independently of each other.  Luckily this view is beginning to change as many athletes and martial artists are pursuing what is being coined as ‘functional strength training’ or ‘whole body workouts – yet still far too many people still train their body parts in isolation rather than as a holistic unit.  In my opinion I think isolation training actually negatively impacts on the performance of the body when compared against whole body function specific training programs.  The only context I recommend for good sleep buy ambien and isolation training to my clients is during rehabilitation to bring an isolated body part back up to strength after which I advise them to switch onto exercises that will re-integrate the damaged or dysfunctional area back into line with the whole system.  Other than for aesthetic reasons I see absolutely no benefit to isolation training and in clients I have dealt with who follow “legs today, chest tomorrow and then arms the next day” programs I see imbalances in the body that lead to injury and tension in the system as a whole.

The key to both health and performance in the martial arts is having balance and harmony in the body.  When in balance the body can operate as a coordinated unit rather than as a series of isolated units that fire up independently all scrambling to fulfil their roles in life.  In tai chi we have a concept called ‘passing muscle to muscle’ whereby we train the muscles of the body to work co-operatively and efficiently and this is one of the primary purposes of the seemingly slow pace you often see tai chi practiced at.  This pace is needed to ensure that the muscles engage sequentially in a clean continuous partnerships and this level of coordination cannot be achieved through isolation training.  It is like tuning a car.  Once the muscles are tuned properly you can then begin to increase their capacity by moving more enthusiastically to stimulate synchronised growth throughout the whole body.

This then takes us onto another vital concept when engaging the body in a therapeutic manner to encourage health – something in our system we call ‘stimulation not decimation’.  Back in the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s martial arts people used to do thousands upon thousands of exercises, drills and techniques – many people believed that the muscles and bones would respond favourable if pushed to a point exhaustion.  The theory was that as the body recovered it would repair and adapt itself into a stronger machine. Many of the old timers from this era now spend a lot of time nursing chronically bad backs, knees, shoulders and other constant aches caused by the years of abuse.

Whilst there is some wisdom in this approach this approach a distinction needs to be made between ‘decimation’ and ‘stimulation’.  Overtly intensive training requires the body to repair damage rather than develop a stronger unit – there is only so much repair work the body can cope with before it breaks down.  This brutal approach to training is what we refer to as ‘decimation’.  ‘Stimulation’ of growth lets us tap into the body’s ability to evolve and requires us to look at the system as a whole and how best to engage it.

In my last article we discussed how humans learn from experience and we can use this quality to evolve the body’s physical capacity.  To stimulate the development of the body for martial arts you need to look at which function you want to improve and then decide an exercise or drill that will suit that function.  You then need to push the body through that drill just to the point that you can feel it start take effect – this is as far as you need go.  The body will take notice and then start to adapt and strengthen the structures you have worked – you have stimulated growth.  If you push past this point you start to decimate the body and it then has to divert resources allocated for recovery and regeneration to repairing and patching damage and ultimately this places a load on the body that you’ll eventually pay the price for.

When planning a program for self-development we need to look at how to nurture the body – not torture it.  In order to do this takes awareness and discipline.   It requires us to dispassionately apply reason and ‘holistic’ thinking to our training.  We need understand the system as a whole and it is impossible to evaluate that which is weak and that which is strong without first considering an individual components part in the whole – the evaluation of strength and weakness is always relative to the condition of body as a complete dynamic unit.

In order to ensure that our training is therapeutic and having a positive effect on our body we need to understand how the body is structured and functions as a holistic unit to avoid any training that will take a certain isolated part out of synch with the rest of the system.  I believe wholeheartedly that we should walk away from training in a better state than we walked into it.  As a martial artist I have no interest in what looks pretty I’m merely interested in the practical and the functional.  I love the martial arts and want to train every single day so I refuse to do anything that will stop me getting up and doing what I love every morning.  I’ve long ditched the training sessions that took three days to recover from and opted for ones that stimulate and invigorate my body on a daily basis.  Understanding these concepts is fundamental to long term prosperity and health through the martial arts!

Thursday, 25 November 2010 11:06 Written by Gavin King. 

Gavin King is a martial arts instructor and physical therapist who runs Shi Kon’s Martial Arts Essex kung fu and tai chi classes.