Supplemental activities for TJQ

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Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby LaoDan on Thu May 09, 2019 11:23 am

Trick wrote:a taiji teacher in taiwan told me swimming is a good additional exercise to ones taiji practice, i agree swimming is a very good exercise.But swimming is a relatively new common exercise among chinese not long time ago few dared to jump into the pool, including gung fu masters...so lucky there was the martial arts around as an exercise to make them stronger

I am curious what additional exercises, sports, etc. would be especially appropriate for supplementing Taijiquan practice. I favor the idea that frequent repetition of an activity is usually the best for gaining the appropriate muscle development, nerve “priming” for actions, coordination, connections, etc., but I also recognize that supplemental training often can help (and can sometimes speed up the gains). Also, most sports have numerous weight room training and other exercises that are thought to give elite athletes an edge, and it seems like this should hold true for TJQ as well.

I do not think that solo TJQ forms practice is sufficient, but when one does not have a partner to train with, then it is better than nothing. So, when one does not have a partner to train with for the interactive aspects of TJQ (push-hands, sparring, etc.), then what solo activities could one do to improve (in addition to solo forms)?

LABOR? I think that the wiry strength/power and efficiency that many laborers have (and that many Chinese peasants that learned TJQ presumably had) complements what we want for TJQ. Assuming that people will not be willing to quit their current jobs to become laborers in physically demanding jobs, are there training regimes that could mimic and develop the wiry efficiency of laborers? Is this even desirable for TJQ?

FITNESS? While many training regimes for men seem to be more about bulking up, those designed for women’s fitness appear to be more whole body and more compatible with what we want for TJQ. Would women’s fitness programs be good supplemental training for TJQ?

SWIMMING? I used to be a swimmer (through High School) and do think that swimming would be good as a supplement for TJQ. The activity involves pulling and pushing oneself through resistance (the water) for the full ranges of the various strokes. While I was a swimmer long enough ago that weight training and other activities were probably not yet optimized for swimmers, at least not for the amateur level that I was at, we did do some preseason running as a supplement. However, running, skiing, skating and other winter activities done on a weekend would harm one’s swimming times and would require about a week to recover from. This indicates to me that the lengthened muscles beneficial for swimming would be tightened by winter sport activities to a detrimental degree. Swimming’s lengthened muscles and coordinated body actions done through resistance seem like they would benefit TJQ practitioners.

GYMNASTICS? Some personal trainers seem to really like the qualities that gymnastics develops, especially the balance and body control – especially the powerful explosiveness while having the control to suddenly stop or still the movements (e.g., for the landings), etc. While competitive gymnastics probably goes beyond what we would want for TJQ, and would likely be harmful for what we are trying to develop, would an amateur or recreational level of gymnastics be a good supplemental activity?

DANCING? I know that many dance schools supplement their training with TJQ in order to improve their dancing, but is the reverse also true? Would dancing help one’s TJQ? Dancing teaches body control (although often not always the unified, centered, stabile control of TJQ) as well as balance, flexibility, fluidity, and even power. Are these qualities developed in dance similar enough to what we want for TJQ, or are these qualitatively developed different between dancing and TJQ? Professional dance would probably not be good for TJQ, but perhaps recreationally it would be good?

SPORTS? There are various sports that have controlled body interactions, even in so called “non-contact” sports like basketball and soccer (football), which seem to involve actions that are similar enough to TJQ that they may be beneficial as supplemental activities for TJQ. Since I do not have much experience with these, however, I would not know which may be especially good.

Are there other disciplines that could be helpful and complementary supplemental activities for TJQ? Are there others that serious TJQ practitioners should avoid because they would harm what we are trying to develop (assuming that we know well enough to identify what physical qualities we are actually trying to develop in TJQ)?
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby everything on Thu May 09, 2019 11:44 am

well... supplementary for what end? if it's to understand "internal", qigong. sink qi to dantian. if someone doesn't want to do that, there are some fantastic "soft arts" that don't claim to be "internal" that are better imho to do.

if it's for IMA that isn't a "follow" approach, bagua+xingyi, so you can try to study the big 3 (the name of the main board).

if it's better movement and general physical quality, I'd say kb swing + tgu + yoga.

if it's for standup grappling via "soft art", judo.

if it's for balance, board sports or soccer/football (which is a contact sport with quite a lot of one armed push hands btw).

cardio? hiit using tabata protocol.

I assume we want to follow 80/20 rules and have limitations on time (who doesn't have that).
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby Appledog on Thu May 09, 2019 2:13 pm

I have actually spent incredible amounts of time trying to find a shortcut like this. I couldn't find one.

One of the key problems is that most activities require you to load your upper body in some undesirable way contrary to taijiquan. For example, riding a bicycle, you tend to grasp the handlebars and support your body weight partially by leaning on the handlebars. That being said, I've seen some comfort bikes such as a Day 6 Patriot which have a very relaxed upright posture. Riding such bicycles almost made me feel like I was doing seated tree standing pose.

Another example would be kettlebell swings. Turkish get-ups obviously violate the principles because you are loading through your top body, for example, but what about swings? It seems so close to many taiji movements. As I've discovered, when you do swings the temptation to 'lean on the bell' when it swings upwards is impossible to resist, because otherwise you would loose your balance. I am not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing but if you look at normal kettlebell instruction it is the reverse of taiji instruction, i.e. support the force by using a gorilla posture not a tailbone tucked posture. The forces and load distribution are clearly different; mix these two at your own extreme risk, experience tells me to suspect there is a lot of pain in your future if you try to mix these two seriously.

Then there is swimming, jogging, and so forth. Actually I tend to agree that swimming might be good in the sense that it burns you out. The problem with swimming is that you don't train your center of gravity in the same way as in taiji. If you want to go swimming it's fine-- if you want to train taiji using swimming you are going down an inapplicable path. The one that wins out is walking/jogging. Since you're on your feet and you're not doing anything particular it is actually perfect for training taiji. Normal walking can become closer to or more like taiji walking with some effort on your part, maybe not 100% the same, but it can be useful. The real benefit of walking, jogging and such is with interval training, which directly trains your body to use energy in a way that supports your martial arts. Beyond that it is simply king for physical fitness in line with what Taiji wants, in general.

But overall I would say I have wasted my time looking for some kind of supplementary exercise. I should have just done my qigong and forms. There is really nothing else that can replace the standard training. I think it's evolved to be the way it is out of similar kinds of searching as mine. I think you can do other kinds of exercise if you really want to, but if you forget your goals you are in trouble. Always remember your goal. What it is that you want to achieve. Then, whatever it is, you can achieve it. If you don't remember these goals, then is it any surprise you didn't achieve them, or are going too slowly?
Last edited by Appledog on Thu May 09, 2019 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby everything on Thu May 09, 2019 2:28 pm

I should have just done my qigong and forms.

this is the real answer, but people aren't that interested in doing that or talking about it.

plus ... it kind of rejects the entire question here :D
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby windwalker on Thu May 09, 2019 2:44 pm

LaoDan wrote:

I do not think that solo TJQ forms practice is sufficient, but when one does not have a partner to train with, then it is better than nothing. So, when one does not have a partner to train with for the interactive aspects of TJQ (push-hands, sparring, etc.), then what solo activities could one do to improve (in addition to solo forms)?




Others noted in the field have mentioned this.

"People always say to me, 'You always emphasize relaxation. But how do I do it?' I say, 'Do the form.' That's the only way. A lot of people ask me: 'Do you have any special posture that can help me relax?' I say yes. They ask, 'What?' I say: 'Do the form.'"

"If we had some other kind of posture or form that will help your body relax, we wouldn't be teaching you Tai Chi Ch'uan. We would be teaching you that. But so far, we haven't found those kinds of things."

Lo said relaxation involves the entire body at the same time, "not just one wrist, one palm, on leg, etc." "We want your whole body relaxed at the same time. So far as I know, Tai Chi Ch'uan does this. Of course, other kinds of martial arts maybe have this, too. But I don't know."

Lo's second important principle is separating Yin from Yang.


Ben Lo "RIP" was a noted taiji teacher, having practiced in some of his classes I doubt if any others asking about adding other things to the practice could meet his standards for practice.

"It is all very, very simple but it is hard to do it. Talk is easy. One minute you can know the five principles, but maybe in 50 years you won't get it, especially relaxation."

"Everybody thinks that they are relaxed, but when you meet somebody better than you, you become hard. So we can't be perfect. It is a lifetime challenge. We just keep doing and doing. Just the basic things."

http://www.wuweitaichi.com/articles/Ben ... Basics.htm
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby roger hao on Thu May 09, 2019 3:08 pm

Snowboarding - Silver Surfer style
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby johnwang on Thu May 09, 2019 3:43 pm

The "inner hook" solo training is very good for balance.

I'm still allergy to "push".
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby Steve James on Thu May 09, 2019 7:25 pm

Bjj or boxing are good supplements if you're planning to compete, no? Imo, if the goal is simply to do tcc better, then it's hard to think of something that supplements it more than simply practicing tcc more. Yes, being stronger will improve one's life, but so will improving flexibility or stamina.

Again, if one plans to compete, then cardiovascular endurance and physical strength will be invaluable. Ok, some will say that they're not; but, they don't need to refute me; they need to demonstrate it in competition. Of course, competition is not everyone's goal.

Will tcc improve one's flexibility? That will depend on how one does tcc. However, stretching will also improve one's flexibility much faster. The question is what does one want to become flexible for? It probably won't prepare one for doing splits. Ok, doing Zhaobao will ... er, may. However, I think it'd be hard for most elderly people to get to that level of strength and flexibility. Think of your nana who watches her "shows" on the couch.

That said, when I competed in tournaments, I was also a competitive cyclist who worked on a construction site as my day job. I'd say that for core and leg strength as well as cardio, cycling is a great "supplement." I think that swimming might be even better. However, I get bored looking at the bottom of a pool. Walking is really best exercise overall, if one pushes oneself. Iinm, race walkers are among the fittest of Olympic athletes (who are measured for the record books).

Yeah, I know. People who are healthy don't think walking is even exercise. :)
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby I-mon on Fri May 10, 2019 1:30 am

Honestly, I'd say the same as for any other highly specialised physical endeavour. If you want to be healthy and generally competent as a child you should run jump climb wrestle play swim carry shit throw stuff and do dangerous stuff whenever possible. As an adult if you want to be healthy and competent for as long as possible into old age you should build and maintain a solid base of whole-body strength and muscle mass; you should work on building and maintaining a healthy heart and lungs by walking as much as possible and running, swimming, cycling, skipping or using rowing machines or whatever; you should develop and maintain comfortable mobility, fluidity and range of motion of every single joint in the body under varying degrees of load; and you should practice things which challenge your balance, coordination, spatial skills and reflexes, whether that's boxing, dance, juggling, ball sports, weird martial arts drills, or anything else that really makes your brain fire and keeps you "sharp".

TJQ really helps with a lot of this, obviously, but it's sorely lacking in some areas, so in terms of low-hanging fruit and diminishing returns, doing a half hour of compound lifts a couple of times a week, a bit of skipping or gentle jogging, and some juggling, and you'd experience a lot of overall improvement in a very short amount of time, a lot of which would transfer over to your martial art of choice and would massively improving your work capacity without taking too much time away from your skill development.
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby RobP3 on Fri May 10, 2019 1:35 am

Just start doing Systema, it will add in all those things plus, then you'll be able to give up the TCC entirely ;) ;D
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby DeusTrismegistus on Fri May 10, 2019 5:11 am

From the labor standpoint. The main way the body is developed thru labor is using tools or moving objects, all day long. When I was working on the roof I had to tear things apart with my hands and various tools (maddock, hammer, pry bar, heavy bar, shovel), push wheelbarrows loaded with debris, carry debris by hand, pull carts weighing hundreds or over a thousand pounds, carry 100# rolls of material on my shoulders, carry pails weighing 50# each, usually 2 at a time, frequently be bent over on or kneeling while working, swing a 100# mop, kick around 300# rolls of rubber, break 100# kits of asphalt with an axe, and be constantly walking and moving the whole day.

It would be very difficult to replicate this in a gym. Part of the reason this develops wiry strength is that you are periodically subjecting the muscles to submaximal loads for various lengths of time, with variable rest, and literally doing it hundreds or thousands of times a day. Injury is also common in older laborers from doing this. Bad backs, knees, elbows, hips, shoulders, arthritis etc.
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby LaoDan on Fri May 10, 2019 6:43 am

I frequently hear from TJQ practitioners how it can help improve basketball, soccer/football, and this and that and the other thing, but rarely hear how other activities can help TJQ. This seems to be one sided and arrogant (is TJQ really the “ultimate” and thus unable to be helped by other activities?).

Swimming seems to me to be one activity likely to help TJQ without causing unintended harm to qualities that TJQ is developing (however one defines those qualities). So I am looking more for activities that may specifically help TJQ, rather than what may help “health” or “fighting” etc. in general terms. But feel free to take this thread wherever you want.

Swimming adds the resistance of the water to one’s solo workout that is typically lacking in solo TJQ forms practice, unless one is practicing like “moving through molasses,” although practicing TJQ with weapons, especially those with historically accurate weight (rather than the light reproductions typically available) probably does the same.

Note, I actually think that juggling would probably be beneficial and it relies on peripheral vision and coordination (all while remaining relaxed) and well as peripheral vision apparently being “...linked with the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heartbeat, increases glandular secretions, relaxes the digestive system and is strongly associated with spontaneity, creativity, relaxation, calmness, intuition, and feelings of elation.”
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby oragami_itto on Fri May 10, 2019 6:55 am

Ultimately you have to ask what is the point.

There are activities that could potentially improve the same skills and abilities that proper traditional TJQ training addresses. Do they do a better job or are you better off practicing the TJQ curriculum to address them more directly?

There are activities that build supplemental skills not covered in TJQ training, cardiovascular health, for example, but there's a catch, some are good and some are bad, or rather, since it's a given that they don't "help" the TJQ directly, you can generally "do" them in a way that does not hurt your TJQ skills, but you are more likely to do them in a way that does.

What I mean by hurt is activities that build residual tension and close the joints, or trains the internal/external harmonies incorrectly, can make certain aspects of TJQ skills impossible to access.

So what's the point, what's the goal, what's the risk and reward of participating or abstaining?

Personally, currently, I use light weights mainly to assist stretching and alignment, resistance bands for power and smoothness, and a forearm/wrist roller for grip strength. Will probably take up swimming once the kids are a little older.

Generally, though, just taijiquan forms, weapons, and meditation.

Granted, I'm in horrible shape overall, belly is definitely too big, cardio is definitely too low. Taijiquan skills keep improving, though. Just need to increase endurance to prevent the need to rest as much at the meetups.
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby GrahamB on Fri May 10, 2019 7:01 am

Anything that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat for 20 minutes.
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Re: Supplemental activities for TJQ

Postby everything on Fri May 10, 2019 7:36 am

LaoDan wrote:I frequently hear from TJQ practitioners how it can help improve basketball, soccer/football, and this and that and the other thing, but rarely hear how other activities can help TJQ. This seems to be one sided and arrogant (is TJQ really the “ultimate” and thus unable to be helped by other activities?).

Swimming seems to me to be one activity likely to help TJQ without causing unintended harm to qualities that TJQ is developing (however one defines those qualities). So I am looking more for activities that may specifically help TJQ, rather than what may help “health” or “fighting” etc. in general terms. But feel free to take this thread wherever you want.


I'll take this comment mostly as a license to rant. if we want to help TJQ, I mostly agree with everyone saying only TJQ and qigong helps TJQ. since the first thing you do is sink qi to dantian, that's the fundamental building block so that's what you should do, then do form to integrate understanding of energy, moving of energy, with outer shapes and biomechanics. then you should do push hands to understand how this works with another person. the only non-TJQ things that are similar would be other IMA.

if we throw out or ignore or delay the first step as many (most?) people seem to prefer to do and want to use this as a normal soft art, a sort of jujutsu, then judo, bjj, any grappling will vastly improve one's TJQ because then you can understand the biomechanics of "soft arts" in general, nevermind anything "internal" (internal energy and not biomechanics, fascia, alignment, and those things). swimming is a million steps removed from that for me. I honestly have no idea why people bring up swimming other than it's a good exercise. if we want to understand external whole body movements and kinetic chains, all sports that involve a ball or an object that is manipulated will help, like bowling, tennis, golf, etc. more than jogging or swimming. you can't use "brute force" and do any of those things well even at a bad, recreational level ... people who go down these biomechanical rabbit holes. it's as if they never did any sports in their entire life. they don't realize how stupid they sound. then years later, one can be like Dong Haichuan and meet a monk who only circle walks, doesn't care about MA or fighting, and start to integrate Taoist arts with MA.
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