View Full Version : Tai Chi for karate kids

09-19-2004, 02:04 AM
Recently I had an experiment together with a karate master to teach Tai Chi to the kids. This master has some knowledge of Tai Chi and he said that it helped to soften down his movements.

We also found out that at a higher level, both Tai Chi and karate are a mixture of slow and fast intermixed. Karate starts with fast somewhat abrupt movements and ends as a mixture of slow and fast intermixed, TC starts slow and ends up the same. This has nothing to do with internal and external. A beginner TC player starts primarily physical in the beginning and needs some time to build up internal strength, the same as a karate player who starts becoming internal past the black belt.

My other observation was that the master could copy the movements in a relaxed TC manner whereas the kids had some trouble balancing......

Who is going to win the fight? Karatekas or TCkas? Well, i think this depends widely on the practitioner and not on the art. self-confidence plays a great role


Do you agree with us posting photos of the kids here?

09-19-2004, 04:36 AM
Soraya- You have reopened a favorite and usually hotly debated topic. Our Martial Arts school teaches Karate and Tai Chi (as well as a fistful of other arts). The Karate masters I know have great respect for Tai Chi. They practice Karate not because it wins fights, but because Tai Chi is not popular on Okinawa where the best Karate masters come from.

We try hard to get the children to recognize the value of Tai Chi and practice with us. They make faces and derisively refer to the "slow" art. My 13-year-old daughter privately expresses interest in Tai Chi, but among her peers sticks to the Karate. I think it is counter-intuitive to train slowly for fighting, which generally is a fast-moving in practice.

I am confident that fighting skills can be acquired in Karate faster than Tai Chi. Form and Qiqong practice alone lay the groundwork for what comes later, while Karate "One-steps" are effective for fighting very quickly. I (and some Karate masters I know) speculate that at one year, Karate produces more, "bang for the buck;" at five years, the arts might be even; and at 10-20 years, Tai Chi likely has an edge. Full contact tournament results seem to bear this out.

Although Robert Smith was pretty derisive of Karate (and he taught several people who now teach me), my own masters note that at the advanced levels the arts look more and more alike, with increasing emphasis on internal power with Karate training, and increasing emphasis on external power from Tai Chi training. Goju Ryu, one of Okinawa's four principle Karate styles, means "Hard-Soft" and explicitely recognizes this. Bill

09-19-2004, 08:59 AM
most people think slow practice is "counter-intuitive".i think that's one of the most fascinating aspects of tji;the fact that as Wm.CC Chen says;"In order to speed it up you have to slow down";fast striking and punching practice tenses you up,which will actually have the effect of slowing you down because you will think in terms of having control over the movement;whereas t'ai chi slow trains it to be a precise spontaneous movement with little to no thought involved.i think the effect is somewhat akin to speed reading where you learn to let the mind go instead of
reading each sentence to yourself.Slow relaxed practice frees up the mind where the connections travel faster;once you make that body and mind connection....you do the math.
apologize for my plethora of posts...sittin' here with the keyboard staring at me and naught to do
taiji vs. karateka?
i think the most competent individual will win

09-19-2004, 10:14 AM
I did karate with my sone for a while. He liked karate as it was faster and in his opinion more youthfull. We got there early as I liked to do the extra warm up and often used a mixture of Tai Chi and karate moves.

My son hated the tai chi movements and thought they were much too slow. Her carried on with the karate for a while, and I carried on with tai chi. Having said that I enjoyed the katas as I enjoy doing a set pattern of movements.

At work my managers son signed up with cubs to learn 'martial arts' which turned out to be tai chi and wouldn't do it any more because it was too easy. the boy was about 11!

09-19-2004, 11:17 AM

Interesting topic for discussion, as well as your experiment. Would probably be good if more karate masters were as open-minded as yours. Yes, it does appear that more and more kids want the fast and flashy karate. However, there will come a time in their life that they will need to slow down, so why not learn it at an early age? We, as TC practitioners and teachers. might not place enough emphasis on teaching kids our beloved art. At the same time, our leaders in society may not see the need for kids to have some quiet, peaceful times in their young lives. Our young people have many stressors in their life, but it appears that not enough adults are willing to see it and do something to help them with achieving relief--perhaps because they live such a busy, hectic lifestyle themselves and don't know how to slow down either.

As far as karate, as you already know, the power comes from speedy strikes which begin with relaxed muscles. Adding internal strength makes them even more powerful. My fine instructor taught me to always have respect for all martial arts. It depends alot how well we can perform our technique, while keeping a calm mind, and here is where TC really helps. Before we can do something well fast requires us to learn it SLOWLY first. Best of luck with your experiment and your fine ideas to help our children. Keep up the fine posts, I always enjoy them and learn much. Take care. -- Bob

09-20-2004, 12:16 AM

I do not intend to place any negative comment but my mum took a deep breath as she read dr. Taylor's article in the newsletter. Dr. Taylor stated that internal cultivation was unique to Tai Chi. Big error! Most martial arts are internal with different emphasis except a few in the ancient China to make the soldiers ready for the battlefield in a short time.

About karate she stated that it only works on external strength. Wrong! It starts faster but ends up slow and internal. Fast and slow has NOTHING to do with external or internal. TC practitioners are very physical in the beginng and gradually build up internal power through slow movements.

MY personal opinion is that one should do enough research before speaking in front of a large audience. Hope this did not offend you.

Dr. Paul Lam
09-20-2004, 05:16 AM

this is the exact text from Dr Taylor's talk:"The unique feature of Tai Chi is the emphasis on cultivation of internal energy. Most of the martial arts, like Karate, focus only on development of external force. In Tai Chi the force comes from internal cultivation, and is more efficient and effective in combat than brute force. Mastering the internal allows the mind to lead the Qi which results in the most effective application of power."

the way i see it, she says the unique feature of tai chi... which does not mean tai chi is unique in being internal. To me this is perfectly reasonable. Re other martial art, she says focuses... which in the context of her talk is a common observance by many. Dr Taylor was tryng to emphasis a point in her talk, most audience there were martial artists who did appreciate Dr Taylor's point of view. Chinese martial arts are divided into internal and external schools, while in my opinion both contains internal and external training but internal school do emphasis (or more focuses) on internal aspect. There are many ways to look at one aspect.

I don't appreciate negative remarks here, and I don't see what readers can gain from your comment.

09-20-2004, 08:19 AM

I see that my comment is not particularly positive so if you wish i can remove it. On the other hand this is what a few karate artists think and i just expressed their thoughts. A bit lack of diplomacy from my side. My observation is that many teachers teach differently and could be true that some teachers focuses only on external strength. Your text was "focus only"

What readers gain from my comment would be something i cannot estimate. But i would be more than happy to remove anything you are not pleased with. Maybe it would also be better when i don't participate, i am very direct but would like very much to assist any question on this forum

09-20-2004, 08:47 AM
Paul and Melanie

I would very much like to steer back to the original topic and that is my experiment of teaching Tai Chi to (karate)kids. My idea was that the "hard" and "soft" styles could learn from each other maybe and that was my colleagues initiative.

I noticed that many karatekas below the black belt ,when i may allow some generalization, are getting very impatient when learning Tai Chi forms. NOt so the masters and higher dans, these students learn very fast and know how to conduct their qi.

I just thought the karatekas could round up their mind and body and TC people could learn some speed training(not fighting). I did incorporate speed and reaction training for TC people which has by no means anything to do with fighting. Partner work like little games, people closing eyes while others directing them and they could learn how to perceive their body and direction of left and right. Also playing tick would help them to react very quickly

09-20-2004, 09:19 AM

I see M. W.Chen's comment on" in order to be fast you need to slow down". I was taught this by GM Chen and GM Jim Fung(Wing Chun). My own experience was that I became very fast during martial applications after doing the form(any form, WC and TC alike)

My idea about the speed training was actually to show students what they have gained from slowing down, in the proof of doing speed training without tensing up their mind through fighting ideas. This works especially well with kids who like more dynamic training

By the way, I did show the kids that Tai Chi was not that"slow old people's art" by demonstrating Chen 56!

09-20-2004, 12:49 PM
My Karate master is both a Tai Chi enthusiast, and also very scientifically minded in the Western sense; from his perspective, relaxing does increase speed because you don't have to overcome your own dynamic resistance in addition to the inertia of your fist.

One possible major difference between the arts is hand tension. My Karate fist (or Shuto) is very rigid. It is quite plausible to me that this inhibits Qi flow in direct contrast to the "Fair Lady's Wrists" we use in Cheng Manching Tai Chi. As Soraya notes, the more advanced the Karate master, the more relaxed they look. I also noted this was true during an impromptu discussion of substantial/insubstantial with a Tae Kwan Do expert (5th degree black belt) and some Dan-level Karatekas; the Korean fighter maintains extremely relaxed form until the moment of impact. My three years of Tai Chi training looks far more "tense" than this 17 year external stylist.

Also, true fighting isn't necessarily fast. There is a good demonstration of this on the Bagua demonstration on http://www.energyarts.com/hires/bagua/index.html , B.K. Frantzis' site. Bill

09-21-2004, 05:54 AM
good point and good observation;tji bagua etc. matches the opponent's speed,be it slow or fast

09-21-2004, 06:15 AM
caveat:i have seen film footage of master Cheng Man-Ching where the shape of his fist is more of a half fist and is really a terrible looking fist from that standpoint;Bob Smith says the same thing about him;my reasoning is that this is in order to demonstrate that in taiji a fist is not really a fist and everything is in the process of transformation;every taiji movement is in flux,so to speak;this is what Maggie Newman conveyed to me recently when discussing the professors style;which was that he was not hung up on any exact shape or "placement" of the hands or limbs etc.
(people coming out of a "hard "style have trouble w/these type of concepts,as did i for a long time)

Dr. Paul Lam
09-21-2004, 06:16 AM

glad we are coming to the original theme. yes like yin and yang, internal and external schools can learn from each other.

George Leonard's book "Mastery" which is about Aikido... applies to most disciplines. Dr Taylor recommended that to me and i have recommended it to many of my tai chi friends. there are many common threads in different arts.


I did not delete your post because i want to be of minimal interference... would really appreciate if we all focus on positive aspects.

09-21-2004, 08:49 AM
Thanks Paul for the book recommendation, I will have a look when i find time(dilemma)! Will talk to Mel to remove the post.

totally agree cause GM Chen and GM Jim Fung taught me the same. There is no rule in martial arts, no set sequence. There is only a set of sequence for education purposes to prepare the student for application and sparring or better understanding of the form.
I asked the master"Can i bite?" He said"yes, if you are close enough but watch your teeth..lol".

A fight can be slow, fast, dependent on so many circumstances it is flux....it can be a fist, half-fist,a cupped hand, kick,a shoe, a stone, deflection, moving aside,..... anything, it is not a set scene.

09-22-2004, 12:32 PM
just a tort,

On a personal note, I think the 'directive' to channel kids to tai chi is not a good one. To take advantage of their inexhaustible level of exuberance, karate or similar activity in the age of more kids been seen as obese/overweight is a better health choice.

09-22-2004, 02:53 PM
i used to think that but now i feel that kids should be accorded enough respect to take them on a case by case basis;same as adults.
if they're truly interested in t'ai chi then the younger the better

09-23-2004, 10:14 AM
Just an observation on my part, I know it is not true for everyone. It is just an observation with no basis in science!

All the people I know who like karate tend to be scientifically minded, brilliant at things like maths.

All the people I know who like tai chi tend to be more creative and excell at writing , cooking and painting.

There are a few who do both karate and tai chi and take the scientific appraoch to things like cooking and painting or write brilliant science papers!

09-23-2004, 07:25 PM
you may have something there:maybe karate is left brained and t'ai chi is right brained;...karate, developed by the ever pragmatic Japanese,is practical;whereas the Japanese were unwilling to embrace some of the more mystical and philosophical practices and concepts that came with the Chinese martial arts.result?
Chinese martial art produces a more completely rounded individual;and is therefore superior

09-24-2004, 03:42 AM
Thank you Shark and Caroline for your insights.

Never thought about scientists and artists. My experience was that in Tai Chi and karate alike there were scientists and artists. Having more knowledge about TC i think the art is both left- and right-brained. Look at Paul Lam who is a scientist and artist at the same time. I was a pianist and secular musician before i became a doctor and scientist.

My concern with this thread would also be what other martial arts incl aikido(concerned Japanese tai Chi), Wing Chun, Choy LI Fut(many of them practice Tai Chi) and TC can learn from each other with respect? GrandMaster JIm Fung from the Wing Chun school has practiced tai chi for some time. As I asked him whether his very internal Wing Chun has been influenced by TC his answer was that the roots of all the martial arts were the same and that is the TAO philosophy

09-24-2004, 03:45 AM
Again I would say that the individual is most important. A karate practitioner with a very internal attitude(maybe through Tai chi?) would impart a lot of internal aspects into his art. On the other hand, a brutal individual would infuse brute external strength into TC(i do know such individuals unfortunately, gang members etc)

09-24-2004, 06:55 AM
your view is interesting so i will not make stir the water.

I will say that although karate may be thought of as 'yang' activity, its graces along with sumi-e, bansai, tea ceremony and similar activities do a lot to balance the 'active' side of martial activity.

09-25-2004, 11:22 PM

Your views about tea ceremony etc are refreshing and i never thought about that.

I am not just interested in karate, i am also interested in finding commonalities between the other arts. There were 2 posters, i think their names are Seamonkey and LIzzie who posted quite interesting commonalities between their art and tai Chi. Are you still out there Seamonkey and Lizzie?

09-27-2004, 01:56 AM
Just remembered one of Paul's instructors who said that in tai Chi there are two species of people, the engineers and the artists. The first would do everything slow, super accurate and precise, primarily using their left brain, the artists are spontaneous, act from their belly, emotions, less precise and logical, very often impatient and irrational. Both don't really get along. As i said this was not my opinion but somebody elses'

09-28-2004, 08:24 PM
Very good discussion. One thing not mentioned is that kids vary not only by age but among individuals of similar age, in their neurological development. They also vary in their need for stimulation and speed, and in their patience. But even rowdy kids can apparently benefit from TCC under the right conditions. IN TC magazine a year or so ago, there was an article describing a trial class in a facility for delinquents, with some good result subjectively.

Richard Livingston, MD
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

09-29-2004, 01:05 AM

I missed your posts. You might be very busy but so am I.

Very interesting aspect about different neurological aspects in kids not only age-dependent. I understand the kids are still in the middle of their development but i am not as proficient as you are.

One question:
Do you think that this applies to adults as well not considering the fact that adults have reached their full development? Your view would be highly appreciated

To go back to the original aspects, i.e. working with kids, this thread also contains working with different types of martial arts. I observed that different kids in the karate course responded differently. Also i noticed that the faster and directer TCA was more appealing than 6 easy forms Yang style.

Of course i said it was a short form Sun style and that Sun Lu tang was a very proficient martial artist of the 20th century, not TC arthritis,

10-12-2004, 08:48 PM
AS a practiioner of shotokan karate myself

the only internal thing i can see in karate is using internal ki (qi) in a strait line and pointed out to attack

even every karateka knew all punch and kick are very sltily circular
if you do it slowy you can see

taichi for me use the qi in a radiant way
its circular and directed also but the ending is glowing like a lamp or the sun in a radient way

taichi is very strong when i play with friend who use karate to fight wth me they cant reach me because i am always faster to push them before they can strike me

and more the time past fithting with them they lost energy and breath like hell

and i am still and maybe more stronger with time and almost no breathing

in advance kata in karate they use breathing kata fo me its the qi gong of karate

its for developping mental and ki
but its not the form for figthing

in taichi in figihting i find out to just use your imagination and its work well


10-12-2004, 11:10 PM
Tu parles le francais?

Bienvenue c'est un plaisir pour le forum. Your input is refreshing!

Yes, therefore i encourage karate people to do Tai Chi which is also the idea of Master Bhezad. He has the 6th dan, experience of 30 years.

Dr. Lam wrote an article"enrich your practice with guided imagery" which is one of the means to increase your internal strength. If you know the martial arts application or qi gong purpose i.e. the function of the movement you will perform it with more focus and determination. You already understand this and i think you are very talented. You also know that slow tai Chi practice relaxes , increase focus and makes you faster. I have 1st hand experience but my master taught me this.

10-16-2004, 07:30 PM
Oui je parle francais

Avec plaisirs de partager ici sur ce forum

a bientot


10-16-2004, 08:29 PM
ouais,egalement bienvenue.
nous esperons que vous pourriez nous visiter aussi souvent que possible;a la prochaine...

10-20-2004, 07:46 PM
Soraya, the brief answer to your question about adults is yes. First, adults vary in fine motor and gross motor coordination, visual-motor accuracy, visual and kinetic/proprioceptive memory, balance, and a host of other measurable neurodevelopmental factors. Plus, about 5 per cent of adults have at least one "neurological soft sign," generally accepted to be signs of delayed or non-normal motor development. One example that might be relevant to TCC is "associated movements," which means that whatever one hand is doing, the other does to a lesser degree--i.e., lateralization is not quite complete. This is hypothesized to be caused by delay or failure in programmed nueronal cell death. Then of course aging and other factors emerge. Development is lifelong.

I have been busy but also had hardware problems. But I am here, and thanks for your support. Love to learn from you all.

Richard Livingston,MD

10-20-2004, 07:48 PM
Je parle un peu de Francais, aussi. Bienvenu.