Tai Chi and Climbing??

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Chugach

Trad climber
Vermont
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 8, 2012 - 08:04pm PT
I've been working with an older gentleman who has been studying tai chi for the last 20 years. I'm amazed how he moves his body around a centered core. It's so efficient and effective. It strikes me as something that would make yard work half the effort - and perhaps climbing as well.

Can anyone here comment on the applicability of these skills in climbing?

Thanks
Hankster

Social climber
Zakynthos
Jun 8, 2012 - 08:09pm PT
I was gonna' post a "Chai Tea and Climbing" thread but I just thought I'd rub that joke out here... sorry.
Andy Fielding

Trad climber
UK
Jun 8, 2012 - 08:15pm PT
I'm 50 and I started Tai Chi classes about 6 months ago. When I was 40 I started karate, reached black belt and then stopped when I was 45. For the last 5 years I have felt a void and I think Tai Chi has brought back something that I was missing. I like the discipline of a "martial art" compared with the freedom that I get when climbing. Does it help me? I don't really know, maybe I haven't been doing it long enough but it helps with flexibility and it does help focus the mind.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Jun 8, 2012 - 08:21pm PT
Woah!

I'm 33 and am just starting Taiji Qi Gong.

My mentor is an old friend from Squaw.

To date, we've been working solely on hip movement, but lesson number two is on Sunday.

I'd love to hear others input on this.

It seems like a great balance can be attained in this.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 8, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
I was a full time martial artist for over 20 years. 4th dan. Even when I was doing full tilt contact sparring grappeling etc I was also doing lots of tai Chi. I walked away from the matial arts right after 911. For lots of reasons I was done with that phase of my life. I needed something more peacefull. I climbed 190 days the year that I quit the acadamy. I am pretty dissapointed at myself however for not keeping up with the tai chi. Tai Chi translates directly to climbing. I am way stiff and not flexable now.

One bit of caution in finding a qualified instructor. tai chi is a combat art. there are a lot of crunchy granola typs who waive their hands in the air and think they are doing tai chi but have no clue what they are doing. They have no center and no connection to the ground. If your instructor does not fully know the combat applications of the form they are teaching keep looking untill you find a real Sifu.
Scole

Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 8, 2012 - 11:17pm PT
I have studied Taiji for over twenty years and have taught for the past ten. Taiji relates to climbing in many ways, primarily in movement from the center, and in effective use of breath.

The most basic concept in Taiji is movement from the center: Turn the waist! The parallels to climbing are innumerable. My old friend John Bachar was an adept at Taiji, and he utilized it's principals in his climbing as long as I knew him.

The climbing related gains available from the regular practice of Taiji include improvement of balance, better focus, and control of the breath. In addition to the climbing related benefits, regular Taiji practice can treat may health issues.

I performed an experiment one spring in Indian Creek. I arrived in April after a winter in Wyoming, fat and out of climbing shape. Each morning I did 1 1/2 hours of Taiji practice before climbing. Despite my winter fat and weak muscle, I climbed at a respectable level for myself, onsighting numerous 11+ climbs, each time with power to spare. I attribute my successes on this particular trip to the effective use of abdominal breathing techniques which I learned in my study of Taiji.

The path to knowledge is long and slow, but this mirrors the path to becoming a skillful climber. Neither are easy, but the rewards are obvious to anyone willing to devote the time to learn
Scole

Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 8, 2012 - 11:18pm PT
Chugach

Are you studying with Paul Drake?
Chugach

Trad climber
Vermont
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2012 - 09:26pm PT
Scole, no. Not training yet. Just spending a lot of time working (work type work) with a guy as mentioned. My wife has studied martial arts for years and I've always thought about getting into a gentler art as I age, something like tai chi that I can do the last half of my life. I've traveled through China and was always impressed at the youthful old folks who still practice.

Thanks for the feedback y'all.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jun 10, 2012 - 10:20pm PT
One bit of caution in finding a qualified instructor. tai chi is a combat art. there are a lot of crunchy granola typs who waive their hands in the air and think they are doing tai chi but have no clue what they are doing.

any idea on how to do that?
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 11, 2012 - 06:15am PT
I guess it is just like trying to find a mentor climbing. not so easy when you are a noob.. I suppose asking what the movements mean might be a place to start.. If all they have is a fancy name but when you ask them what the practicle application of pat ponys tail is you get a blank stare or a vauge run arround that might be a hint the person has no clue what they are actually doing. pat pony's tail BTW lifts the ooponent off their center with an arm bar while you lower your center rooted on you rear leg. i was taught this was an elbow break as well. Much of those scripted martial arts move don't work so well on trained fighters who are not going allong with the script but that is annother story entirly. The real point is understanding the movement on a deeper level than the granola cruncher can fanthom..

Waive hands in clouds really does work well as it is not so much a scripted move but a way of movement that allows you to slip punches or grabs and strike your oponents body with your body where you are centered and rooted as your bodys collide and they go ass over teakettle. I used that all the time in many karate and kick boxing / grappeling sparring sessions..
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Jun 11, 2012 - 10:15pm PT
tai chi, karate, the martial arts, zen, yoga--i got nothing against these pursuits, but i often think many of them could learn a bit from us.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 11, 2012 - 10:42pm PT
(And there's a little bit of humility in the community.)
paganmonkeyboy

climber
mars...it's near nevada...
Jun 12, 2012 - 12:34am PT
yes...move from the center, every move towards is also a move away, breathe deep and flow...
Scole

Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 12, 2012 - 06:24pm PT
Chugach

Look for Paul Drake @ Mountain River Academy of Tai Chi Chuan. This is old school Tai Chi, not the modern fluff.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 12, 2012 - 06:30pm PT
...but i often think many of them could learn a bit from us.

Flabbergasted and shaking my head. Wow.
locker

Gym climber
DUH!!!...
Jun 12, 2012 - 06:30pm PT

Total "SET UP":

"To date, we've been working solely on hip movement, but lesson number two is on Sunday."...

But gonna leave it alone this time out...

;-)

locker

Gym climber
DUH!!!...
Jun 12, 2012 - 06:32pm PT

"Flabbergasted and shaking my head. Wow."...

WHY???...

I think Tony has a good point...




Can't it go BOTH ways???...

blahblah

Gym climber
Boulder
Jun 12, 2012 - 07:32pm PT

"Flabbergasted and shaking my head. Wow."...

WHY???...

I think Tony has a good point...




Can't it go BOTH ways???...

Yeah Tony's point is reasonable whether or not you agree. MMA fighting has knocked some of the "ancient chinese secret" down a few pegs as we see that a knowledge of boxing, wresting, Brazilian jujitsu, and physical conditioning seems to be the way for tough guys to beat the crap out of other tough guys.
The kung fu stuff didn't make the cut--debate seems to be whether karate helps even a little bit or is completely worthless.

Seems a little far fetched that kung fu or whatever would be the secret to climbing when it's not even the secret to fighting. I have no problem believing that it helps with good stretching, focus, whatever.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 12, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
Tai Chi is about fighting?

No.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 12, 2012 - 07:50pm PT
Okay.

This thread is about Tai Chi, an ancient, wise discipline. Tony bunches together Tai Chi, “the martial arts,” zen and yoga as “pursuits.”

Most of the climbers I see out there have little or no real awareness either physically or mentally of how they move, or of how to create and control quality movement. They simply love climbing and the climbing lifestyle. I am not criticizing that at all, I was the same way for a long time.

So I assume Tony is not talking about the average climber, but rather someone exceptional. But the fact is that exceptional climbers are enlightened to the ideas of Tai Chi, Yoga, and yes even Pilates.

So I do not see that climbers have much to offer in knowledge to these ancient disciplines, rather I think it is the other way around.

locker

Gym climber
DUH!!!...
Jun 12, 2012 - 07:53pm PT


"But the fact is that exceptional climbers are enlightened to the ideas of Tai Chi, Yoga, and yes even Pilates."...

I wouldn't be so certain on that one...

I am sure there are many really good climbers that are very well aware of their body movement that aren't into any of the above...



EDITED:

For the record...

I am NOT, one of them...

I am a HACK, at best...

LOL!!!...

Fuking A!!!...

;-)

Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 12, 2012 - 07:57pm PT
You might be right, but I know a lot of people who simply don't talk publicly about their "secrets."

Some do ...
locker

Gym climber
DUH!!!...
Jun 12, 2012 - 07:58pm PT


"You might be right"...

Ain't no "Might" about it!!!...

;-)

TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jun 12, 2012 - 09:06pm PT
Hey Kris,

since they're your neighbors, know anything about this bunch?

http://www.quanyinkungfu.com/

Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Jun 12, 2012 - 09:26pm PT
it's what you bring to it. i've looked at yoga several times and can't see an advantage in it for me. focus, discipline, challenge, meditation--i get all these things in climbing, and i think quite a bit more. i see lots of people getting nowhere with yoga, thinking it's some sort of substitute for exercise. as for martial arts, i decided long ago i didn't want to make that kind of weapon out of myself.

this is not to denigrate the paths others take. i see lots of parallels. i just think that climbing and mountaineering can have the same things going, spiritually, as other paths and perhaps even more. but climbing can also be trivialized or reduced to meanness. it's your choice what you do with it.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jun 12, 2012 - 09:33pm PT
Who the hell cares about mystical mumbo jumbo.

I'm just interested in keeping the joints working.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 12, 2012 - 11:22pm PT
Tony, all I can say is that I've done a whole lot of climbing, and at the same time been misled by Yoga (as into hypermobility stuff) and also really educated by Yoga in ways I could never have figured out just from climbing.

The whole concept that the best training for climbing is climbing is shortsighted. It works up to a point... then one must open the mind to new things.
Scole

Trad climber
Joshua Tree
Jul 31, 2012 - 09:39pm PT
K Solem

You got that right. Ours is a very new art, and we mostly just figure it out as we go. Far different from an art founded hundreds, or even thousands of years ago.

Where climbing and martial arts coincide is in the willingness to confront life and death situations. Bridwell nailed it when he named his route on Half-Dome "Bushido" "the way of the warrior".
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Moundhouse Nev. and land o da SLEDS!
Jul 31, 2012 - 09:53pm PT
Hidetaka did tai-chi WHILE climbing lol!
Master of Kludge

Trad climber
Grizzly Gulch, WY
Jul 31, 2012 - 10:40pm PT
Do fools looks for a lost key only under a street light, even though they know it is not there?
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jul 31, 2012 - 11:56pm PT
So I do not see that climbers have much to offer in knowledge to these ancient disciplines, rather I think it is the other way around.


And I agree with what Mr Cole wrote. Hi Scott!!!

Taking my yoga teacher training this month. It's a very old practice and climbing, while also ancient, has not a codification in the manner of , say, the Yoga Sutras.

Master of Kludge

Trad climber
Grizzly Gulch, WY
Aug 1, 2012 - 08:14am PT
Climbing for humans is way older than Ti Chi. Humans have lost some of the particular joint angle dexterity, finger sizes and the apish walk that make their cousins the best.

Homo Sapiens knew how to climb long before the Buddha uttered those now famous words.

Go figure: What have we lost and what have we gained?

The reach for Ti Chi is simply a head trip available in all the diversity we make to entertain our shortcomings. Can you teach a chimpanzee Ti Chi? Maybe he would go through the motions for a treat. But can you get him to ritualize a routine like doing Ti Chi?

Our genetics are quite diverse and in the quest for personal improvement our unchecked mind motivated strategies can take us on many side trips. But alas, we seldom measure results as in doing an experiment to see if such pursuits are optimal. And so we fumble.



blahblah

Gym climber
Boulder
Aug 1, 2012 - 12:15pm PT
So I do not see that climbers have much to offer in knowledge to these ancient disciplines, rather I think it is the other way around.


And I agree with what Mr Cole wrote. Hi Scott!!!

Taking my yoga teacher training this month. It's a very old practice and climbing, while also ancient, has not a codification in the manner of , say, the Yoga Sutras.

Astrology is an ancient practice. Scientology is nicely "codified." Whether Yoga or Tai Chi is useful for climbing (in the sense of better than climbing itself, not better than sitting on a couch), I don't know, but it'll take evidence based research to convince me, not just old mumbo jumbo.
If people have fun doing it, great, lots of people like reading their horoscope.
hking

Trad climber
Santa Rosa CA
Apr 21, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
Tai Chi (Tai Ji Quan), and climbing. my experience has been that these two practices do inform one another. I've been climbing for about 23 years and practicing tai ji for about 16 years. Tai Ji trains relaxed, efficient, whole body movement, among many other things. In the last 10 years or so I haven't done a huge amount of climbing but I've found that with my Tai Ji and Qi Gong training, I've maintained an ability to climb at a reasonable level, maybe 1 full number grade lower than when I was climbing all the time. What does climbing do for Tai Ji? Hard to say, an ability to focus on a physical discipline, a connection to the natural world... Learning Tai Ji is a long process, not unlike being a truly competent rock climber. Try it out and see if it resonates with you. I'm not sure that I would pursue Tai Ji if my motivation was solely to improve my rock climbing. Other Chinese martial arts like Shao Lin Gongfu might be more useful in terms of tendon strengthening practices.

If one is interested in applying Tai Ji movement principles to rock climbing, as an earlier posting noted, training with a teacher who understands martial applications would be useful. I have yet to completely integrate Tai Ji into rock climbing, and making rock climbing an "internal art", an interesting project though.
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