Friday, October 10, 2008

Tai Chi Chuan & Okinawa Kenpo

I have been going to the gym to maintain my leg strength and knee health due to an ACL Reconstruction. Although this injury has a six months to one year average recovery period, I realize that maintaining a healthy strong knee will be part of my lifestyle. There have been excellent benefits from my time at the gym. I spend time on the elliptical and lifting weights. I have been inquiring about the Tai chi chuan class offered at the gym since I joined seven months ago. I attempted my first Tai chi chuan class this week.

On the positive side:
The instructor was great...the real deal. He sat down and explained his goal for the and wellness and feeling connected to your body. As an added bonus, he explained that he taught traditional Tai Chi and did not like the "fad" (his words) classes. It was more than I expected to find during an 8:00 p.m. class at the local gym. The instructor gave a brief history of his martial arts background and he answered questions thoroughly. It was interesting to note that he started learning Karate and Taekwondo but ultimately decided Tai chi chuan was the path for him.

On the negative side:
My knee hurts. The movement is so different from Okinawa Kenpo. We were working on a movement drill where the focus is to keep the shoulders and hips moving together from the center while the knees do something else. It was the something else...a slight turning at the knees that I was obviously doing wrong...that cause my knees to hurt. I think it will get better over time.

Then I asked what I consider the big question. How difficult will it be to practice both Tai chi chuan and Okinawa Kenpo? I explained that my purpose in learning Tai chi chuan is for health and wellness. The instructor was honest and told me that it would be difficult and that it might take me longer to "get" the movement. He indicated that he may be telling me things that are contradictory to what I know. He was honest and I respect him for his candor.

I want to continue taking Tai Chi Chuan classes.

What has been your experience learning multiple styles? Can they be kept separate? Do you want them to stay separate? Is it too difficult?


Steve said...

I'm lucky to be doing one style, but interested to hear what others say about mutiples. How many days/hours do you put into it each week? Like us all, my time is limited.

Michele said...

My schedule varies depending on my job and my daughters activities. Currently, I teach Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00-8:00. There are occasional Saturday black belt classes or seminars.

I made a commitment to myself to go to the gym three times a week. I go to the gym after 8:00 pm in order to fit it in. I will have to trade a gym workout for the Tai Chi class.

Anonymous said...

Please take a look at "The Tao of Martial Applications" at I have a background in Tae Kwon Do before I studied "large frame" Wu Style in Toronto. That is one style that maintains a Martial emphasis.

30 years later, I started studying with Master Stephen Hwa,small and compact "frame". I made the documentary with him. He teaches at Faust's USA Karate and has several students who still continue their Karate.

I did find that I had to give up Tae Kwon Do when I studied at Wu's in TO. 50% of the time, someone would actually entangle one of my high kicks during sparring and I would end up on my butt. Wu's Style is great for "putting people on the ground" with its larger frame and "offsetting" the opponents balance abilities (through free style tui shou training).

Fundamental differences (because of frame size)with what I do now. Classical Tai Chi ( which is good for health AND martial arts, Really good fajin and short burst punches when working in close to someone.


John Vesia said...

I dabbled in aikido a few years ago. To say that it's different from karate is an understatement. Without going into too much detail, I think the "soft" aspect of aikido gave me the most trouble. I was dissapointed because I was very interested in aikido's philosophy, but I eventually had to give it up.

Some people I know from longtime karate backgrounds speak highly of tai chi, mainly for its health benefits. But I have seen some martial applications that could readily work. Good luck with this.

Michele said...

Jim: Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your comments and enjoyed the video of Master Hwa.

John: I think I am going to have trouble with the movement. The instructor already told me that it is going to take me longer. I am going to give it a try and see how it goes.