Cross-training martial arts
   
     

classes     taijiquan     baguazhang     self defence     qigong     about us     reviews     a-z


Mixed martial arts

The mixed martial art approach is very popular these days...
It may work with the external arts, but not the internal arts.


Taijiquan as an add-on?

Karate, aikido and wing chun students sometimes take up 'taijiquan' as a means of supplementing their existing practice.
Taijiquan, qigong and neigong are used to cultivate whole-body strength.
The problem is... it doesn't work.


What is the problem
?

Conventional martial arts people sometimes seek to bolster their art by training taijiquan.
Whilst this may sound reasonable as a proposition, it is fundamentally unsound in practice.
The body usage habits of their arts are external.
 

Taijiquan is an art where all the principles of other martial arts have been turned upside down.
They practice fast, we practice slow.
They practice hard, we practice soft.

(Cheng Man Ching)
 

Conventional martial art habits

These habits inhibit your ability to use taijiquan:

• Military-style warm-up exercise
Existing body habits
Mechanical
Jerky
Typically focuses on striking or grappling, seldom both
Blocking/resistant, force versus force
Favours the younger, stronger student
Fighting/competition
Aggression/emotion
Forcing
Speed
Isolated limb use
Extended
Linear
Struggling
Being in your head thinking about what to do next
Denying your vulnerability
Contracted, locked musculature


Catch-22

The person creates a vicious circle: the existing habits of body use prevent the individual from performing taijiquan correctly, thus diminishing any desired improvement in their existing art.
See the issue?


Internal is advanced

Internal skills cannot be learned quickly and then mixed in with others arts.
Neijiaquan involves a whole approach to the experience of combat, and every action is an integral part of the system.
A student may spend a decade learning just one style and still miss much of the meaning.
 

I was admitted to a select special research program in karate... here the innermost secrets of karate are introduced to future teachers. After a few months, it became obvious that many of the most 'secret' techniques were ones I had already learned in my first 2 years of basic training in the internal arts.

Many karate people had to wait 5-20 years before being taught the same material.

(Bruce Frantzis)

Made to order

Whole-body strength can only flourish in the internal martial arts. The systems were made for neigong.
The very nature of whole-body strength precludes its existence in the conventional martial arts.
The moment you tense your muscles or move your limb independently of the body, there is no neigong.


Context & meaning


Meaning requires context, otherwise the information does not make sense.
Hoping to learn the complete set of neigong in order to incorporate it into a conventional martial art is fruitless.
Why? Context.


Internal arts train internally

Fish do not just live in water. They are part of the water. They cannot survive without water.
It is simply the nature of what they are.
Context is everything.


Taijiquan fighting method

How can whole-body strength exist in a conventional martial system that does not use whole-body strength?
That was not even designed with whole-body strength in mind?
Conventional martial arts approach kinaesthetic awareness and the entire experience of combat from a fundamentally different perspective to taijiquan.
 

Where’s the elegance, where’s the grace, where’s the art, where’s the expression of what it means to be a human being in movement?

(Paul Gale)


Kidding yourself


A martial arts dilettante might well attend a taijiquan class alongside their existing martial art without telling the taijiquan instructor that they are doing this.
Unfortunately, this will backfire.
There will be no real progress and the taijiquan instructor will spend the whole time telling the individual to 'relax' and stop using 'external' bad habits.


Bogus taijiquan


If an external martial artist studies sport tai chi and learns competition forms, then the extended stances and exaggerated performance aesthetics may not jar with their existing training.
However, this is not taijiquan.
Sport tai chi is not even remotely martial.


Find another external martial art

If you want to cross-train a martial art, find compatible systems that can be practiced independently of one another; systems that do not contain conflicting principles of body usage.


Yoga

A conventional martial artist might be better off training yoga rather than taijiquan.


Tai chi for health & qigong

Tai chi for health and qigong may seem like viable alternatives to taijiquan but they still require a deep level of muscular relaxation.
If you continue to train a tension-based martial art then no real progress can be made with qigong or taijiquan.


Meditation


Meditation can help any martial artist.
Tranquillity, peace and harmony can be cultivated.
 

You will see karate students who are learning tai chi, for instance, coming from a long background in karate. Unable to see the new art through anything but the filter of their karate experience, they come up with a weird hybrid. They have not learned how to see beyond their past experience and open up to a new one.

(Dave Lowry)

More...


Page created 23 September 1995
Last updated 16 March 2017