wrestling uses Tai Chi Principles ?

Wrestlers Use Tai Chi Principles?

In part one I talked about what I believe internal martial arts systems can bring to the table for additional development based on my experience.

As I reflect back on my initial experiences in internal martial arts what stands out is what the guy who was to eventually become my first internal instructor had that I didn’t have.

Awareness and Sensitivity

That might sound a too little touchy feely or new age and shrouded in mysticism but don’t underestimate the power of developing higher levels of this stuff.
And as I said before from my experience of working out with more ground fighters these days, they use internal principles as well. So yes, I believe wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu both  incorporate internal principles, there I said it.

Now bear with me as I attempt to unravel that statement …

True Principles Are Universal

You see, some of the core principles of internal martial arts deal with structure and alignment and sensitivity as it relates to developing a higher level of awareness as opposed to repetition and muscle memory through the accumulation of techniques or prearranged scenarios.

Now before my hardcore combat buddies jump all over me behind that muscle memory statement, I do realize the importance of having solid technique and muscle memory to become competent at a skill in a short period of time. It’s even more critical when we are talking about high threat level jobs like law enforcement, the military and corrections among other fields and yes even self defense for regular folks as well.

A friend of mine many years ago was a correction officer at the notorious prison in upstate Ossining NY commonly known as Sing Sing. One day he came over to my house and the first thing I notice are all of these dark red blood scabs on his legs some the size of a quarter.
“What the f**#@!*, I try not to use profanity these days, spiritual growth and all… what happened to you”?
He told me he got into it with a prisoner not following his orders and the prisoner wound up throwing him into a corner of a cinder block wall!

So I asked him to show me how the prisoner had grabbed him and all, which he did. I showed him a few counters to the grab, which of course he didn’t know back then. Apparently corrections didn’t teach a whole lot as far as dealing with situations like that. The only thing that an officer had was some type of panic device to alert a team that comes in with weapons and stun shields.

Like I said in this previous post who killed kung fu? I certainly wouldn’t recommend someone begin with internal martial arts, especially someone with a high threat level job situation. Historically accomplished internal martial arts teachers didn’t teach beginners, they only taught students that already had a certain level of fighting experience and background.

Wrestling and Tai Chi Principles of Movement

Okay back from that digression…
Lets’ look at one way that wrestling utilizes the principles of Yin and Yang  which is through a wrestlers stance.
Technical wrestlers have a certain level of internal awareness of their structure so it doesn’t get compromised. Awareness of the head, shoulders, hips, and knee alignment are constantly monitored to maintain structural alignments.

Maintaining certain alignments is a core building block of internal development as well.
If also look at a classic wrestling stance it’s also the optimal position for pushing something heavy such as a car or a heavy piece of furniture. Within the internal principles of Tai Chi Chuan, intermediate to advance practitioners learn how to generate effective pushing and pulling forces from their stance as well.

This balancing of pushing and pulling forces is the foundation of what the internal practitioner is after.
And yes, again from my experience Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners draw from internal principles as well.

Again at this stage of my martial arts career I tend to look at relationships and not get caught up in that my art against their art nonsense. Within the principles of Tai Chi for example, the center of gravity is on the feet, force is generated from the ground up through the hands.

In essence the goal is to be spherical upon being touched which enables you to re-direct and off balance your opponent.In grappling arts your center of gravity is constantly changing once you’re on the ground. So this then becomes a physical chess match, feeling where the leverage is to roll, pull and push your opponent’s mass.

Learning How to Learn

Keep in mind I have no back ground in wrestling. It’s only through the emphasis that internal martial arts play (with the right teacher of course) in focusing deeply on bio mechanics and the investigation of why and how things work the (cause and effect) that I’ve come to realize this. Along with being fortunate enough to have had teachers that were the real deal.

Admittedly, years ago I would never have had the patience for any of this stuff; there was a time that I only cared about techniques and fighting period, forget the details. Just how do you use it was all I cared about.
I remember working at a company several years ago with a salesman who had also happened to be pretty accomplished wrestler.
In talking about wrestling one day he mentioned to me that he wasn’t much of a technical wrestler. I didn’t really understand quite what that meant but I remembered what he said that day.

Only now am I able to dissect what that actually means during these later years of studying internal arts. This guy had wrestled throughout college as well as having competed in the Pan American games; he even wound up getting a head coaching position at a local college.

Now I know there are endless rants online about street fighting and how you never want to go down to the ground, but what they fail to realize is that more that you train with people that actually have skill in taking someone down to the ground the more ground proof you actually become. You then have more control within that range.

Early UFC fighters such as Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture along with many others demonstrated this consistently against take down attempts against grapplers. They finished their fights with their hands because that’s what they felt was their best skill.

MMA Version 3.0

UFC warriors like Anderson Silva primarily finishes fights with his hands and legs but could also finish on the ground as well, same thing with George St Pierre, John Bones Jones and various other fighters in the current MMA.Their competency within the 3 ranges is more fluid and complete as they can flow between ranges much easier.

I remember discovering some material of internal martial artist Tim Cartmel, I subsequently went to his website as well and found that he had expanded his martial knowledge with Brazilian Jujitsu.

If I had a dollar for the amount of haters that followed him, all ready to take aim with their negative opinions on forums and his website. Sadly enough I was even influenced by this anti grappling nonsense with people that I had trained with as well over the years.

Resistance to Change

Neuroscience tells us that there are 2 types of resistance to changing a commonly held belief.

1- Objective resistance- This type of resistance can be changed with facts.
2- Subjective resistance- This type of resistance is more deeply rooted when faced with facts people will twist the facts to support their current belief.

I’m no advanced level ground fighter by far, unfortunately we didn’t do a whole lot of free sparring during my Japanese Jujitsu days and I’m definitely no spring chicken anymore my competition days are long since behind me.
That being said,  I’ve been anxious to play with the internal principles I’ve learned against experienced MMA practioners so I joined an MMA school in addition to finally satisfying a long time interest in catch wrestling as well by attending my first catch wrestling camp.


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