Sunday, March 22, 2009

Learning From The Differences

I started my karate journey in 1993. My husband was a brown belt in Okinawa Kenpo when I decided to take classes. If truth be told, he never thought I would last. That was almost 17 years ago.

In 2008, I started another chapter in my martial arts training. I began to take Tai Chi classes one night per week at the local gym. Initially, I wanted to keep Tai Chi influences out of my Okinawa Kenpo. I wanted my Okinawa Kenpo to look like Okinawa Kenpo. I was concerned that the different movement principles of the Tai Chi form would change the look of my kata. At my very first Tai Chi class, I was told that it was too hard to practice Tai Chi and Karate.

It is not easy. I feel awkward performing the Tai Chi movements. I understand the concepts but my body does not follow suit. Despite my shortcomings, I still go to Tai Chi class. I like the instructor and the other students. I will continue to go to class because learning Tai Chi has improved my Okinawa Kenpo.

How? I am learning from the differences. I have been taking a closer look at basic movement principles of Okinawa Kenpo. Tai Chi walking was (and still is) my first challenge. In Tai Chi, the weight is distributed on one foot as the other foot lifts up and steps forward. In Okinawa Kenpo, our feet stay on the ground then pivot and drop then move forward.

Although I originally wanted to keep Tai Chi and Okinawa Kenpo completely separate, I now hope that Tai Chi will continue to aid in a deeper understanding of my primary art.


Krista de Castella said...

Though I've never tried it myself I hear that Tai Chi is also really complimentary to karate and most martial arts in general. A nice way to balance the harder parts of training with a 'softer' more ju component.

I might just have to take it up ;)

Sue C said...

I'm sure you could mark out most of the martial arts on some sort of continuum or maybe with a Venn diagram (remember those!)which would show how they overlap or compliment each other. I personally have only done karate but my husband does karate and jujitsu(his main art)and he has definately found that the karate has improved his speed and reflexes in jujitsu and likewise he is able to help us improve our throwing techniques in karate.

I'm sure we shouldn't just stick to one art if we want to be a rounded martial artist. Glad you're enjoying the tai chi.

Michele said...

Krista: Thanks for stopping by my blog! Tai Chi has been a good balance for me especially since my ACL reconstruction.

SueC: I used to be strictly Okinawa Kenpo. Now I realize the benefit of learning another art.