Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Qi Gong Tai Chi differences

Someone asked me recently to explain the difference between Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong.

Very simply, the main difference in all Tajji-based martial arts is the speed in which they are practiced.
  • Chen-style Tai Chi is practiced with speed in its kicks.
  • Yang-style is practiced slowly throughout the form.
  • Qi Gong I have seen practiced at different tempos — even to go as far as pausing, so postures are held for better muscle memory and strength building.

The instructor and where the instructor learned his/her craft will determine form sequence and mode of practice.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Art of Not Arching

Sorry, folks, I know I've been slow getting articles published, but you won't believe what has been going on.

Chris broke her foot coming back from our honeymoon — and if that's not enough, a couple of weeks later she had emergency surgery for a leaky intestine. (Don't worry, she's on the mend now.)

However, to correct the huge injustice caused by this, I will attempt to write a couple of extra articles to make up for the break in the action. Also, please feel free to chime in and let me know what articles you want to see on this blog. (You can either comment at the end of this blog or e-mail me.)

O.K. 'nuff said. Here we go.

I have used this particular analogy with frequency as of late:

If you place a plank in the ground so the plank is vertical, then place a 50-pound weight on top of the plank, it probably would not break.

However, if you were to bend that plank and place it in the ground to make it vertical, chances are that it would snap.

The human spine is no different than the plank. When we lift, we need to be mindful of neutral spine.

Remember: if you have to use muscles (i.e., arching your back) other than the ones you are targeting, chances are you are using too much weight for that exercise. Good form and safety go hand in hand on the gym floor.

As the weight rises above your head during a shoulder press with dumbbells or a barbell, concentrate on keeping your back straight. Don't put more stress on the spine than necessary.

This also holds true for one-arm tricep extensions. Too often I watch in absolute horror as weightlifters' backs arch while doing this exercise.

Even something as easy and seemingly innocuous as bicep curls (and many others) can be done in a way that causes the back to arch — and introduces the possibility of serious injury.