Cross-training in our school

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What is the difference between a karate gi and a judo/ju jutsu gi?

The karate gi is made from lighter cotton
The judo gi is heavyweight, with reinforced zones to protect the wearer from impact with the ground.
Karate is a striking art. Judo is a grappling art.
The different gi reflect this.
The exponents of these respective arts also train their bodies accordingly; karate people are long-limbed and lean whereas judo students are more 'built'.

What are our students learning?

Taijiquan and baguazhang are grappling/striking arts.
Shuai jiao requires the student to pack on some muscle to avoid impact injuries and to make sure the joints are adequately protected.

Strength training must adapt to the fighter's needs, not the other way around.

(Frederic Delavier)


Strength training

If you trained qigong (daily), form (daily), weapons drills (daily), partner work, pushing hands and applications you will gain quite a lot of muscle
However, qigong/tai chi is not 'the perfect exercise'.
It often fails to address cardio and neglects certain muscles.

The norm

Most martial arts recognise the need to get fit.
Consequently, they include a very extensive range of stretching, cardio and strength building exercises in their warm-up.
Taijiquan classes usually do not.
This is odd.
Maybe they imagine that qi is going to fill in the blanks?

Qi magic?

Taijiquan practice, neigong, form and baguazhang will certainly build much stronger, necessary muscles... but the training only goes so far.
Between a MMA fighter and a taijiquan student there is a dangerous fitness gulf that no amount of qi will fill.

Do more qigong?

Doing extra qigong won't help you to build truly versatile combat fitness.
More of the same will not lead to growth and versatility.
You will max out quite soon

Qigong, pushing hands and form?

Most tai chi people simply do qigong, pushing hands and form.
They balk at a more varied training regime.
Because they are lazy.
Giving your body a comprehensive workout takes effort: stretching, core exercises, cardio work...

Tai chi for health

Faced with a major health crisis in the 1950's, the People's Republic of China turned to Yang style taijiquan for a solution.
They wanted a form of exercise that could be performed by students of all ages.
The simplest way to achieve this was to remove the more demanding fitness component and the kung fu (combat).
Most modern tai chi classes are teaching an Art that an old person could cope with...
By definition this cannot conceivably be a martial art.

Get fit

To get fit for combat a martial arts student must commit to different training methods designed to encourage the maximum muscular development for the least amount of time commitment and effort.
Also, they cannot afford to bulk up. Body building will impede mobility and agility.
Suppleness, nimbleness, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness are vital.
If a fighter is panting for breath after 10 minutes of cardio, they are not fit enough for combat.

No shortcuts

To reach a high level of skill, the taijiquan student needs to take a lesson from sport.
They must become a martial athlete.
The training doesn't get easier. You get stronger. But only if you practice.


Many people who commence taijiquan practice are essentially 'daydreamers'.
They have fanciful notions of becoming a martial artist but entirely lack the grit and determination required to accomplish the task.
Instead of committing to a challenging regime of on-going comprehensive, rigorous training, the student is contented with the dream.


Sifu Waller's approach to strength training is to offer modules; each lasting 5-10 minutes approximately.
are intense and focussed.
The aim is to avoid complacency and boredom.

I commend you on this approach. There are too many completely out of shape tai chi "teachers".

(Bob Klein)

These training methods are systematically taught as the student works through our curriculum:

  1. Standing qigong (various)

  2. Moving qigong (4 sets)

  3. Form (8)

  4. Solo drills (various)

  5. Partnered drills (various)

  6. Weapons drills (various)

  7. Balls & grips

  8. Leg stretches (2 sets)

  9. Psoas exercises (4)

  10. Core strength (3 sets)

  11. Cardio work (2 sets)

  12. Taoist Yoga (4 sets)

  13. Self-massage

  14. Weight training (optional)

  15. Neigong (50)


Sifu Waller has designed the syllabus such that everything works together.
There is no discord between different facets of the curriculum.
Every exercise, drill and form works in conjunction with everything else.
The entire syllabus follows the teachings of Taoism and The Tai Chi Classics.
All areas of study are in harmony.


It is OK to train a wide range of exercise methods without ruining your taijiquan.
The key concern is moderation.
Avoid over-doing it: over-stretching, straining or exerting.
Be mindful of posture, poise and tension.

Baguazhang & weights

Baguazhang students learn a whole series of solo drills and can undertake weight training providing they are not tense and avoid strain/shortening muscles.
In terms of weight training, the aim is not to isolate muscle groups.
A limited selection of exercises are recommended; utilising at least 3 different muscle groups to accomplish the task.
Again, the routine(s) are short and focussed


The wide variety of training methods do require some specialist equipment, but this is bought over years.
Our syllabus is incremental.
Students are not required to pay out for loads of equipment at the onset of training


Programs for fighters should consist mostly of compound exercises. These allow for intense work on a maximum number of muscles in a minimum time.

(Frederic Delavier)

Ideally, you should end by actually hitting something. When you practice explosive technique just by doing shadow boxing, your own antagonistic muscles stop your fist or foot.

(Frederic Delavier)

The philosophy of between-reps breaks consists of doing everything you can to avoid fatigue instead of seeking it out as you would in body building. Striving for failure is more appropriate for those working on muscle mass than for those wanting to increase strength or power.

(Frederic Delavier)

The difference between experienced fighters and beginners is the speed of muscle relaxation, which is 8 times faster in champion fighters. For an inexperienced fighter, the speed of muscle relaxation is too slow for the leg or the fist to gain enough speed when striking a blow. Keeping the antagonistic muscles contracted automatically slows down the movement.

(Frederic Delavier)

Many beginners think that they do not need to warm-up. Skipping a warm-up will automatically result in pain later on, and that will restrict your fighting abilities. A good pre-workout warm-up protects against future aches and pains. Furthermore, it is also an immediate factor in improving performance.

(Frederic Delavier)

The risk of injury in combat sports is especially high. To prevent injury, do the following: 1) Learn to warm-up well before any exercise, 2) Do everything possible to accelerate recovery between workouts.

(Frederic Delavier)

Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 29 July 2007