Sweating During Taiji Revisited

Is it okay to sweat during taiji training? I’ve asked this question before, but I’m starting to think about this again. Lately, I’ve actually been trying to avoid sweating during my forms training. Why? I’m starting to feel that if I am sweating, then I’m engaging too much musclular strength and not relying on the frame of my body for support. I’ve been told that with correct alignment, very little muscular strength will be required to support the weight of the body. Also, the importance of this alignment assists in the transferance of any incoming force during applications.

So why do I sometimes still sweat? That’s really quite easy, the answer is because I want to go low in my forms training. I’m pretty sure the problem is that I’m not relaxing my hips and kua enough so I bend at the knees instead resulting in more muscular usage of the thighs. However, this does not explain why I want to go low in the first place? Sure, in combat, lowering one’s center of gravity can be optimal, as seen in many western football players, but is there more?

This will sound strange, but I have often related something about chen style that makes me want to go lower, more so than when I practice yang style. I don’t think it’s a fault of the chen style, but a fault within my own ego and self image when doing chen. I often see masters going low and in my mind I think.. wow.. they look cool. Plus, my background in contemporary wushu and the goals of going lower to the ground than the next guy, doesn’t help either.

Working on the hips/kua aspect will be easier to address in my practice than the ego aspect. Thanks to Shang Lee’s Post on Peng, and ZenMindSword’s prose on Sung, I have even more things to think about during training!!! All joking aside, I do thank them as revisiting this topic has revealed some core topics for me to address. Thanks, guys! 😉

[tags]taiji,sweating,ego,kua,training[/tags]

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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16 Responses to Sweating During Taiji Revisited

  1. Shang Lee says:

    Just sweat when you have to. And don’t sweat when u don’t have to. Use sweat as a gauge of your gong fu, and not as an end itself. 🙂

    i sweat a lot as well… my teacher says that’s the process we have to go through until we learn to relax. he says he need to do his form for about 3-4 hours before he starts to sweat. I haven’t personally seen it, but i haven’t seen him broke a sweat yet… 😀

  2. wujimon says:

    I guess we’re just not at that level 😉 I start to sweat within like 20 mins of my practice!

  3. zenmindsword says:

    Two perspectives :-

    a) When I did Dong style I used to sweat buckets 😉

    b) When I did my current taiji I used to sweat a lot too until……………one day my teacher said sweating too much is not correct….a light bulb went off in my head!!! From that day onwards I hardly sweat anymore. What changed?

    Its natural to sweat a little when you move – that’s the body’s natural method of preventing overheating but its not natural to sweat too much when doing taiji (especially yang style; yes I can do 3 hours of form practice and hardly sweat but sometimes it depends on the external weather too and the surrounding environment). Why?

    But sweating is not the big issue here………what do i mean?

  4. wujimon says:

    Sweating is not the issue b/c sweating is a byproduct of the real issue. The real issue is the usage of li and not yi???

  5. zenmindsword says:

    Correct brother!!! As long as you use leg muscles you will sweat tremendously. So if the objective is to isolate out the intention from the body so that you can use intention how do you reconcile this with the use of leg muscles? In the end, what we are all aiming to achieve is quite straightforward isn’t it?

  6. eastpaw says:

    Disclaimer: I’m not a Taiji guy but a Xingyi one.

    Interestingly, whenever I practise correctly, I start to sweat buckets within a couple of minutes. This is especially true for zhan zhuang and health qigong.

  7. Fencer says:

    Hi wujimon,

    I won’t comment on sweating which I do a lot. I did want to say hello and give appreciation for your site here, which I will come back to and read when I have more time…

    Regards

  8. Chris says:

    Sweat is not a measure of gong fu or achievement, it’s a measure of effort!

  9. wujimon says:

    @eastpaw:
    I used to also sweat buckets during zhan zhuang, but at that time I was holding low stances. Now that I don’t go as low, I rarely sweat but can now mostly feel the tension in my shoulder, back and arms.

    @Fencer:
    Thanks for the kind words. Come back anytime 🙂

    @Chris:
    Interesting point, however I wonder if the effort is being place on the wrong thing. Should I really being placing effort on maintaining low stances, or perhaps is the effort better spent on being relaxed in my postures? Are they mutually exclusive?

  10. silkreeling says:

    dosen’t matter how much or how little you sweat, or how low or how high you go. when your breathing is easy and your mind is calm, clear and quiet, your yi or intention will surface and you can start to exercise it. otherwise it is mostly just physical movements.

    yes, it seems like there is phyiscal-muscular barrier you need to break through if you’re adopting low stances.once on the other side the alignment and structure do the job. and the only way to break through that is to practice according to the right requirements.

  11. wujimon says:

    Hi Silkreeling.
    Excellent comment regarding the quality of breath and mind! This reminds me of a saying by Wai Lun Choi in which he states the key is to have calm and quiet breathing. If you let anything disrupt your breathing, you’ve already lost.

  12. cloudhander says:

    Hi Wujimon.
    I trained for years in Cheng Man-Ching style, & they advocated ‘no-sweat’. However, in posting (Yang or Chen), under the guidance of a good sifu, you’ll be drenched in no time. Zhang Zhuang is like that as well. A big problem most men deal w/is a lot of Yang energy, which is heat-based.
    I say don’t sweat it. 😉 I practice an 1 1/2 in the park, I have to wear a sweat band so I can still see.
    Of course, if I practiced w/my eyes closed, it wouldn’t be a problem.
    Another great thing about fa jing – you can shake the sweat off.

  13. wujimon says:

    Hi Cloudhander.

    I know most advocate the idea of no sweating all the time due to it meaning using the wrong thing (too much muscle, not enough song). I’m still exploring these ideas on my own practice.

    I’ll take your thoughts and try not to “sweat it” 🙂

  14. lifegivingsword says:

    Sweating is not only ok, id be concerned if you WERENT sweating. From a TCM standpoint, sweating in tjq practice is the natural function of your qi movement. your wei qi (defensive qi)is opening your pores and expanding outward, especially if you’ve been at it for a while and can move your qi wherever you want to on your body (grand circulation, in other words). secondly your ying qi (nourishing qi)also has a hand in the fluids that nourish the skin. when ying qi is doing its job, there will be fluid movement.

    third, the lungs are the arbiters of your body’s moisture. all the deep breathing that you are doing in your practice is allowing the lungs to regulate your body’s moisture level as needed. your body heat is going up because of qi leading blood through your vessels and the stimulation of your associated meridians, ying qi, and wei qi.

    the point is-again from a chinese medicine perspective-that sweating should be appropriate to what you are doing. if you are being completely sedentary (not just externally but also internally) and you are sweating like hell, then that would likely point to some sort of excess condition somewhere. likewise, if you were exercising and not sweating, as a TCM practitioner id start looking for some sort of yin deficiency, as your Fluids and Blood are likely deficient and not doing their job. keep in mind that strong qi movement causes sweating, not just muscle use.

    im reluctant to question your teacher, as i know nothing about him and he may be privy to something advanced that i dont know about, but if he isnt sweatign when he practices, then the possibilities are that 1) hes not using much in the way of qi for whatever reason, or 2) hes got a health problem that he may have caused himself due to his ability to regulate his qi/organ function, which is always a risk for an advanced practitioner.

    you SHOULD be sweating if you are moving qi. this is the natural bodily function. like i said, i cant account for your teacher being able to do something crazy and really advanced (like perhaps dumping the qi of his body heat into the surrounding air? dr. daniel pai used to be able to do that trick in reverse, im told) but as for you, start worrying when you STOP sweating.
    i hate to question a teacher that i know nothign about

  15. wujimon says:

    Hey, LGS!! Good to see ya back, buddy 🙂

    Thanks for your comments and explanations from a TCM perspective. I’ve since abandoned the idea and now feel that it’s ok to sweat, a little is good, just not profusely.

    I think you bring up an interesting point when you note that strong qi movement causes sweating! I would often sweat, not alot but a thin layer, when I did my zhanzhuang for extended periods (40+ min range). I was not sore muscularly, but I would note a generation of body heat and a thin layer of perspiration.

    Again, I think the best answer is the middle path.. Some is good. None is bad, too much is bad 😉

    Thanks for taking the time to explain from a TCM perspective. Very enlightening.

  16. lifegivingsword says:

    Thanks very much! skool keeps me mighty busy. And youre right about the moderation bit. That IS the chinese way afer all.

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