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Tai Chi for Skiing

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm excited about my Tai Chi class. I enrolled with a freind and thought it might be a little lame, but after the first class I can feel it in my legs. A lot of slow movement and balance type motions. Motions require flexed knees so your legs get worked a lot and we've just covered the warm-up's and first couple of introductory stances! This is going to be great addition to my pre-season routine.
post #2 of 20
Me too. I've been curious about tai chi for a long time, but never realy knew anythng about it. Skiing and tai chi, joined at the hip so to speak. What "stuctural awareness" this developes! Feet planted on the ground, absorbing and releasing, welcoming gravity, hips parallel to the ground, feet and legs initiate all movements of the hips, hips and sholders move in unisone, rotating on the core axis, upper body always relaxed and willing. And yes, it is a serious lower body workout when done correctly. I can't forget the breathing, so much a part of movement. Now I'm wondering why I waited so long. Hell with just pre season, I hope to keep it going year round. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #3 of 20
That's awesome, guys! Check out this thread!
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well the interesting thing about Tai Chi, as I understand it so far, is that although it has a martial application and the movements were derived from that, the techniques we're learning are all preformed in a very slow and deliberate way. The focus is on self/body awarness for health; probably closer to yoga than karate or tai kwon do. It's really a blast, and does challenge your balance.
post #5 of 20
Thanks LM. Good thread. All I know is that my body has been going yes, yes, yes, along with my mind.

One interesting thing about my class, there are around 20 students, and only 3 men. Ages run from 20 to 60+. I think the instructor has done a good job with this group.
post #6 of 20
It has been speculated that one of the reasons ANY form of martial artist has less of a tendency towards ACL tears, is that it is done in bare feet. This is a really good way to develop the proprioception needed for skiing, as well as ankle and foot strength.
As far as comparing Tai Chi to Yoga, it is actually more like Pilates. Yoga is a static form of flexibility. Sports medicine researchers are finding that there is only a minimal amount of carry over from a static stretch to a dynamic sport. For some people, women mostly, the kind of stretching done in a Yoga class would promote excessive joint laxity, which would be the express route to injury.

Tai chi, like Pilates, is flexibility IN MOTION, which has a greater carry over into sports. Even more important, like both enhance strength and flexibilty simultaneously, whereas Yoga is almost exclusively flexibilty, despite the false statements of some "gurus".
Strength with length is always your best bet for ski related fitness.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Very interesting LM, thanks. I know I'm really enjoying the Tai Chi and am surprised at how difficult it is to get the right form. Although, in our class, we've been keeping our shoes on. I'm going to ask our instructor about that. I'm also going to start using my wobble board in bare feet!
post #8 of 20
I think the "in Motion" part is why it felt so familiar physicaly, and yet it is done in a context that is so new and challenging. Taking me physicaly and mentaly out of my comfort zone. What fun it is to be a begginer again!

Tomski, we stay in our shoes also. Though I have been doning it at home in my thin house slippers. It's more intimate feeling and seems to require more foot dexterity and strength.

Strength with lenght. I like that LM. Thanks.
post #9 of 20
This is all very interesting. I have done tai chi in the past but never yoga. I had balance problems on occasion with it, too (anything involving movement while being on one leg is a problem -- I think it relates to my back, but I consider that elsewhere). I wonder if qigong, the Chinese program, is similar or not. The movements I learned seemed VERY similar in what was called a medical set but I am not sure regarding benefits of it.

post #10 of 20
There are actually specific sets of Tai Chi Qigong that go with the upper levels of learning and work. After enough work, the slow forms themselves become an integrated set of qigong exercises of a sort. A popular misconception in the U.S. and much of the west is that Tai Chi is slow and that the initial beginning form is representative of the entire art. Much of tai chi after the beginning 108 slow form is quite fast, the real time application of it certainly is! You have to go that slow at first in order to develope the relaxed, directed, unencumbered, powerful motions that all of Tai Chi's strength is derived from. Gotta retrain the interferring bodily tensions and the antagonistic muscle infighting, as well as get your breath and body harmonized. A big challenge for anyone! Let alone at normal speed.

The slow form is primarily an energy circulation form, not an energy accumlation/conservation form. There are warnings about this in some of the literature I've read, directed toward participants who can weaken themselves by practicing only the slow moving aspects to obsession without the balance of energy nourishing practices that many qigong sets are designed to provide. Many motions and body positions are visually very similar between the soft martial arts and the myriad different qigong sets. Often similar postures will be used for very differnt purposes through different imagery, intentions and postural stressings. So it's very possible the medical set you mentioned closely resembles a part or parts of the Tai Chi style you are familiar with. Just some brain droppings I've gleaned through the years. Boy I need to ski.


p.s. Lisakaz, if you can find someone really knowledgable in this area, they may be able to give you qigong exercises that will address some of the specific problem areas in your back.

[ December 13, 2002, 02:56 AM: Message edited by: joel ]
post #11 of 20
Personally, I'm a huge advocate of tandoori tai chi. It's tai-chi in a room that's heated up to 105 degrees. My expert analysis, which was cultivated over 20 years of work with the University of Prague, the foremost university for sweat analysis, indicates that this is the most beneficial form of exercise for skiing and the additional heat results in an amazing improvement in balance provided that the boots are actually worn during the exercise, thereby improving the flexion radialtarsi contradiction/extension of the middle foot. The Synergies between heat and balance are amazing. Be forewarned, however, the person in front of you in the tandoori tai chi room (the downhill sweater) has the right of way unless he/she is a boarder or a PI lawyer from Colorado.

[img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] Sorry. Don't flame me for the digression. It won't happen again.

P.S., I also meant no disrespect to those who posted above, it was simply a humerous interjection based on other topics.

[ December 13, 2002, 06:30 AM: Message edited by: Skidmo ]
post #12 of 20
Joel, how long have you been practicing? Your first paragraph pretty much sums up how my instructor presented Tai-chi to us. The startng point of a long path. I'm readng that you speak from experience? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #13 of 20
Ah Tai-Chi: the study of excellence, to give and receive with equality while the energy gathers within while flowing through without hindrance. May I ask what type of instructors you are working with? Possibly a Chinese trained Si Fu or maybe a local practitioner or community ed. class? Also what style are you trying; traditional Yang, Wu, the ever popular Chen or maybe a bit of Sun in your day? So much to learn and so little mind to do it with. Do have fun and rejoice in life’s energy.
post #14 of 20
I've been working with a guy Named Craig Kolberg. The Yang short form in adult ed. He's taught for 20 yrs, much of that in california. He spoke a little about his thi-chi chuan instructor lineage but I don't remember it. Didn't seem important at the time. I'm a newbie, just scatchng the surface but it's been very positive experience so far. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #15 of 20
Tandoori Tai Chi! Skidmo that post has me screaming! Great smush job of all silly at recent EPic! Good one.

RicB, First and formost, I am a low, low, novice at tai chi. My experience and understanding comes from teaching Karate for a long time now, at MSU(mich.) and associating with and learning with others in the community here over the last twenty years. I found out alot from a man named David Sung, a 65 yr. old Taiwanese retired military instructor who happened to end up teaching a tai chi class in E. Lansing in the early eighties. A truly skilled gentleman with a lot of depth. Plenty to make my newly black belted, perhaps a bit narrow sighted, eyes pop wide open the first time I went air born when I didn't expect it! He was kind enough, and conversant enough, to take an interest in my view of the world and martial arts in general. Caught a good bit of philosophy and a pretty good picture, I think, of some basic principals that have helped my teaching and personal work. So definately some experience, just not a great deal of depth in the tai chi area. I still do the Yang short form quite often, it's always enjoyable and just about the only tai chi I do anymore.

He did make mention of the possible problems of going overboard with the practice of the slow form to exclusion. He was talking about people doing it for multiple hours a day in the effort to progress, but draining their reserves and health in the process. I also really like to read alot, and have run into similar warnings in some things I've come across. Hope my post didn't sound know-it all or preachy, I didn't mean that at all. Just saw some connections and blatted them out.


p.s.(edit) Meant to kudo Ryel on his post too, I really relate to the "so little mind to do it with". It's a very wide subject with no end in sight.

[ December 14, 2002, 12:00 PM: Message edited by: joel ]
post #16 of 20
Joel, it wasn't preachy or know it all. It made sense to me. Other than the short time I've spent practicing tai-chi, I have no experience in any martial art. The second session starts in three weeks, should move into push hands and more forms. Can't wait.

I too, got lifted up and backwards once, just from a simple push. What power from so little movement. Even though it wasn't a blow to me, it felt like a short strong push, it really sent me a ways. Interestng stuff this tai-chi. :
post #17 of 20

What type of karate?

I just read the LM post from above. I do not think we suffer fewer injuries because we trained in bare feet. I strongly feel that it is because we stretch extensively and condition slowly. You do not push the same performance standard such as a low stance on a green belt as you do on someone of greater seasoning.

It is more common today to see TKD training done in sneakers on carpeted floors and that is the "dominant" form of "shopping mall" martial arts. When I trained Kung Fu, it was in tabbies.

The stances that I think helped most were cat and horse regarding skiing.

[ December 16, 2002, 04:16 PM: Message edited by: yuki ]
post #18 of 20
I was just reading an excerpt of Guilliani's book Leadership. He has a chapter on "dealing with bullies". Apparantly, his dad was an avid boxer. he taught the young Rudy some boxing skills, the most important one being the ability to remain calm under duress.
I think this is a trait that carries over into good skiing, and is prevalent in people who study any martial arts/ self defense techniques.
post #19 of 20
Hi Yuki,
The style I teach is Pu Kang Tang Soo Do, roughly translated as Northern Diamond Mountain Hard Style. A Korean style brought to MSU in '62 or'63 by Jongoon Kim. The MSU club voted to stay Tang Soo Do when the controlling factions(Korean TSD/American TSD I believe) had a split and many pulled away to create Tae Kwon Do. Jongoon, feeling pressure, started the MSU TKD club. Since the late sixties, our club has been headed by Bruce Henderson. We teach to anyone of sound mind and body(as determined by us ) who is willing to work and progress. The dues money($90 dollars/15 weeks, an excellent deal if I do say so) all goes back to the club in the way of equipment, covering tournament fees for participating students, beginning of term brunch, etc. The style is a mix of traditional Tang Soo Do and modern martial arts concepts with the emphasis on functionality and efficiency and a use of both hard and soft techniques as the situation requires. We're pretty persnickety about precision and accuracy, we can afford to be, we're not a 'commercial' school. It's certainly a labor of love for me, but I must admit, starting a new job in August has wreaked havoc with my schedule and training. Feast or famine thing.

Couldn't agree more about the slow progression of training giving the body the time to adapt and fully strengthen itself. I find good students naturally arriving at the point in a stance where they shouldn't move past and letting their body's responses guide them in the intensity and depth. I am under the impression, and would appreciate a response from someone who really knows, that muscle developes quicker than the corresponding attachments that connect it to the skeleton. If this is not taken into account and the slower strengthening and thickening tendons don't catch up to the new muscle strength, serious injuries can occur. It makes sense to me and would seem to explain some things I've seen,but, that don't necessarily make it correct. Someone let me know. Working out in bare feet is good for most people, it certainly has made my feet strong. I think being in shape, having the ability to move in an expanded range of motion, and being somewhat loose would contribute more to injury prevention in the physical realm.

I still love the comfort of a good pair of broken in,"personalized", cloth bottom kung fu shoes! I used to get them in the summer, wear them in the shower, go for a walk and let the bottom form to your foot. Age old orthotics for $8. Don't like tennis shoes and carpet, too much friction and resistance to spinning and turning, as well as the fact that nowadays most of that carpet is on cement. ouch. Kung fu/tai chi slippers are fine in this regard and move well with me. I finally went skiing!!! Had A Riot! Interesting day, more later.

post #20 of 20
I too have started Tai Chi, I find it awesome!
Alas, the Shao-lin monk (sp?) (a converted westerner, not a chinese),who teaches us, has injuried himself.
Too bad, I needed Tai Chi, first and foremost for its psycological effects, and then for its phisycal ones.
All I had time to learn, is what the Monk called the four cardinal movements of Tai Chi. Well, I'll practice those over and over, until lessons will resume.

[ December 18, 2002, 01:01 AM: Message edited by: Matteo ]
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