Tai Chi influence on Karate

The principles of Tai Chi have strongly influenced our Karate in terms of postural alignment and relaxation. there are also historical links as Okinawan Karate masters like Chatan Yara, Matsu Kino and Chojun Miyagi integrated Tai Chi (also called Taiji Quan) into their Karate. But what is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is a martial art, make no mistake about that.  It may have the image of a kind of moving Yoga that is mainly for old people, but that is a misconception.

Our classes typically begin with Zhan Zuang (posture training) before moving on to Jiben Gong (training basic hand positions).

Then we will move through the form (24 Step) one posture at a time and each time we study a posture we then practice some ‘applications.’ This is about applying the postures as strikes, locks, throws, chokes and so on.

Tai Chi is less physically strenuous than Karate (in a cardiovascular sense) but many students find it more demanding in terms of its intricacy and strong postural work.

The Tai Chi studio has a matted area and applications are taught gradually and safely.

Our Tai Chi students come from all different backgrounds. Some are complete beginners to the martial arts, others have decades of experience in Tai Chi, others are martial arts fighters from other styles.

Overall the art uses traditional postures and drills in order to improve health and flexibility and train effective self defence.

Simon performing Tai Chi:

Our background in Tai Chi

Bushinkai chief instructor Simon Keegan began studying Yang style Tai Chi in 1998 (as a brown belt in Karate) with his dad David Keegan (Bushinkai Principal) before joining Dave’s Tai Chi club which was run by a Yang style world champion who was a student of Professor Li De Yin.

Li De Yin (who we trained with on annual seminars) was the grandson of Li Yu Lin, a Yang style and Sun style master whose teacher Li Jing Lin was considered the equal of the Yang style headteacher Yang Cheng Fu.

In this school David and Simon were taught the Yang style (Beijing) forms the 24 short form, 88 long form, the 32 step sword and a little of the 56 step sword. They were also taught the 42 step combined (Yang, Chen, Sun, Wu, Woo) form and a little of the 42 step sword as well as the Traditional Sun Style long form (72 form) which was comprised of the three internal arts (Tai Chi, Hsing-I and Pakua) this study extended to learning the Fists of Hsing-I. They were also taught various Chi Kung including the Ba Duan Jin.

They also had chance to study a little of the Yang family ‘Wei Shu Ren’ form. Since leaving this Academy, Simon has had chance to further his studies by delving into the Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Hsing-I ancestry of Karate, and David Keegan has also added various Shaolin forms to his repertoire.

We have also recently had the chance to train in traditional Yang style with Sifu Steve Rowe. Steve Rowe has studied Yang style Tai Chi directly with the headteacher of the Yang family in China. Steve has decades of experience in Karate, training as a personal student of Toru Takimazawa and has also studied Iaido. Through his teacher Jim Uglow, Steve was able to study Yang style Tai Chi in China with headteacher Ma Lee Yang (Mary Yang), the head of the Yang family whose grandfather was Yang Cheng Fu, headmaster of Yang style. Steve also trained with Ip Tai Tak, the senior student of Ma Lee Yang’s father Yang Sau Chung.

Yang style family: Shikon head Steve Rowe, Metal Tiger headteacher David Keegan and Bushinkai chief instructor Simon Keegan

Yang style family: Shikon head Steve Rowe, Metal Tiger headteacher David Keegan and Bushinkai chief instructor Simon Keegan

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