Knee pains in Taiji

Cissyn wrote a post on how "taiji is a pain in the knee" (NOTE: I would've commented directly on his blog but wanted to test if trackback/pingbacks/linkbacks work with the blogger service). I just wanted to add my own thoughts to his great observations.

In addition to the "knee point same direction as toe" thoughts, I also do the "knee does not go beyond the instep". Some ppl used to teach the knee to toe alignment but to me that is wrong and makes it quite painful on my knees.

This kind of relateds to Cissyn's thoughts on song kua, b/c in order to get into a low stance and not let the knees go beyond the instep, you need to have a relaxed kua otherwise it is not possible to do without breaking this alignment.

Another thing I've noted is that for me, it's harder to keep the knees pointing the same way as toes in chen but not so in yang. I personally think it has a lot to do with how the 60/40 horse stance is commonly used in the chen form whereas that's translated to a standard bow stance in the yang set.

The funny thing about the side horse stance is in general the application results in the energy being focused "behind" due to the application of the arm opening, etc , whereas in yang, I feel a lot of the apps are done in such a way where the energy is being focused in front of you. In this regard, I think a lot of the chen apps emphasize the usage of the shoulder/back with a "bump" kind of energy whereas in yang and a lot of other sets, the opponent is generally kept in front. Perhaps it has something to do with the context of the development of the styles.. chen is more rural fighting whereas yang was more emphasis of 1-1 in small confined spaces, etc..???

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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3 Responses to Knee pains in Taiji

  1. Taijiquan in Tampa says:

    Just read your “twisting” post and this one, they seem related.

    Remember yang was developed to teach the less talented taiji. It takes more strength & flexibility to make use of the open (lower) horse stance, and the idea of it is much more nuanced. Also I think that it lends itself more to fighting groups than yang does. Instead of having your back leg locked (bow), you have an open stance that can fend off attacks from two directions. I suppose the sweeping back motions in brush knee push, etc. could be considered defending the back side, however.

    As for the knees, I find that as long as you don’t ramp up too fast, and you obey the rules of posture, knees aren’t much of a problem. Butt in, head/neck up, make sure to stretch regularly. I’m trying to picture what you mean about the instep and the knee/toe pointing, and I think that I violate that rule of yours regularly. For example when doing the basic silk reeling (kind of like a stationary wave hands in clouds) my knees are basically making circles because the twist and the push from one leg to another are slightly syncopated, with the push reversing before the twist reverses. I can’t think of any time that I do this in the yang form offhand, but I was taught that basic silk reeling when i learned yang, so I consider it a part of that style.

  2. wujimon says:

    Hi Taiji@Tampa:
    Consider the instep region to be the area right behind the bubbling well point, ie, the area in between the balls of the foot and the start of the ankle. Some people advocate knee to toe alignment, but I am against this.

    Regarding knees making circles, when I do a stationary wave hand like clouds silk reeling, it appears as if my knees are making circles, however, it’s really the movement of the kua and the shifting and turning of the hip that drive the movement. In this regard, my knees never point a direction different than that of my toes and they never go beyond my instep. Perhaps we’re doing the same thing but speaking from different perspectives.

  3. Taijiquan in Tampa says:

    Oh I misunderstood you. The ‘past the instep’ comment is like the more common ‘past the toes’ rule that people cite. I do the same thing as I consider a knee reaching the toes to be a bit too far. Yeah I guess the knee does not actually point to the side during the wave hands in clouds, even though it is moving in a circle. I should mention this to the class, because if you do turn that knee (because of hip inflexibility) you will be putting unwanted stress on it.

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