Patella Compression Syndrome

Tim's Discussion Board: Ba Gua Zhang : Patella Compression Syndrome
   By Great Illuminator on Monday, November 20, 2000 - 01:36 pm: Edit Post

Over the years in doing the low stances in Pa Qua,the deep extended stances with knee flexion,have at various points caused me pain and discomfort.

Through the years one of the things that I have learned is not to assume that studying a particular form of martial arts offers a balanced approach to training,no matter how qualified the teacher is or may claim to be.

One of the areas that I believe martial arts and the internal styles in particular can benefit from is the implementation of methods that bring about structural and muscular balance and not the eschewing of these methods due to their "NON INTERNAL" stature.

I personally have had this expierence with one very famous internal arts instructor who claims to be an expert in the area of health and chi development,as well as martial arts.

The advice given is generic;"do not go to low,absorb the force in the kwa,do not take the force in the knee joint,do not extend the knee beyond toes of foot", ect,ect ,ect.

All very good advice but still after searching and implementing these methods the pain continued,much to my frustration and consternation.After all this world famous instructor and "health expert" could not be wrong,nor could the system or practice.It must have been me.I even practiced a chi gung exercise called "the cats breath"upon this instructors recomendation

It was however my fault,due to my failure and closeminded approach in not looking at possibilities beyond the "INTERNAL"and some of the accompanying quackery.

Eventually I followed the advice of my friend and had a professional evaluation done by a sports physiotherapist.The conclusion was that all the extreme stances that incorporated deep knee flexion,had left me with a muscular imbalance between the flexion and extension mechanisms of the knee and quadriceps.

The fix included some weightlifting that restored this muscular imbalance.In my particular case it involved a lot of extension strengthening type exercises to "antidote" the imbalance due to the extreme usage of deep knee flexed stances.The result is tha I no longer have this pain upon the practice of these deep stances.

In reading an old Pa Qua journal the authors reported on going to the Cheng village and the extreme hard manual labor that was performed by members of the village and of the martial artists.In fact the hypothesis was that the manual labor in rural china prepared and strenghtened the body in ways that just doing the martial arts or forms practice never could have.

Based upon this assertion and my own personal expierence, training methods such as weightlifting or other similar methods, are not that incompatable with the practicing of the "INTERNAL".As a matter of fact the striving for muscular and structural balance is a must.And is not something that is satisfied by the sole practice of martial arts,in many cases.And never again will I listen and completelty trust self annointed "experts" who by virtue of this lineage or that, claim expertise in such vital areas as the health of ones knee or back,or any other body part.

And I am not saying that IMArts do not offer significant health benefits.It is just that many in the Internal arts IMO,refuse to look at some very effective and conventional methods,because it falls out the realm of their philosophy,and cast light upon the limitations of some of the methods that they teach.

   By A Prowler on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 02:07 am: Edit Post

I've been illuminated! You fall for quackery and believing in Chi, etc. I'll certainly follow your advice. Your English is still bad even with all the help everybody has been giving you. In the same way you probably will not except correction in your martial arts. A life doomed in failure.

   By Mike Taylor on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 05:19 am: Edit Post

Hey G.I.,
My knees improved (after being injured repeatedly in the service) by way of internal martial arts & time (10 years). Trick is to avoid injury in the first place (if possible; seek out decent instructors & practice partners: one's who aren't trying to prove themselves at your expense).
Tim tells me that ideally my lead knee shouldn't extend past my ankle (rear one not to exceed past my toes of same limb). I stopped trying to do much low stuff once my knees gave out -- & this helped a great deal (as once they healed I could go low when necessary without difficulty -- that is until another practitioner re-injured one of them unnecessarily by showing me his prowess with mat work). I also used body-weight-only martial-arts practice & exercises to strengthen my legs during this time period when my knees improved (with one weight "lifting" exception: I walked up & down a flight of steps while carrying two 50-lbs. dumbbells once martial-arts practice had given me the strength to do so; recall that I couldn't stand up from the ground without using my hands to assist me when I first met Tim). IMA (as taught by Tim) is good for health!
I figure that in about nine more years my "bad" knee will be "good as new" again (in the meantime I'll keep my posturing on the high side whenever possible -- again). {:o)

   By Tim on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 01:46 pm: Edit Post

The Great Illuminator makes an important point. IMA are not a panacea for all physical problems.
CORRECT practice of the Internal will go a long way towards strengthening the body and making it resistant to injury. In many cases correct practice of the Internal will also help speed the recovery of injuries. But it is important to remember (despite a ton of marketing propaganda) that the IMA were invented for one thing and one thing only, FIGHTING. Health benefits are side effects of correct training for martial ability. Of course, most people will practice the Internal primarily as a form of exercise, and there are many benefits to be gained, but always keep in mind that these methods weren't invented by physical therapists, they were invented by fighters.
One last thing, if you find a teacher of the Internal that knows and understands a complete SYSTEM (not a few forms and 'qi gong' exercises), you shouldn't have any problem with over development of parts of the body which lead to problems of imbalance. One of the primary objectives of IMA practice was the overall, even development of the whole body (better for fighting).

   By Great Illumuminator on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 01:52 pm: Edit Post

Mike T,

Thanks for your response.Could you elaborate a bit more on the exercises you performed.

I only hope in my lifetime I have the pleasure of introducing my beng chuan to you.And also the pleasure of any type of sparring that you would care to perform,rou shou to full out fighting.You are however probably one of the chaps that The Original Macaco Fino laments-all fluff.

At any rate I will be descending from 8500 ft to visit Calif in the very near future,post an email and I will hopefully have a chance to meet you.

   By Volker Krüger on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 03:16 pm: Edit Post

Dear Great Illuminator,

you wrote:
"I personally have had this expierence with one very famous internal arts instructor who claims to be an expert in the area of health and chi development,as well as martial arts."

May I ask you who this expert was/is or would this be a lack of respect?

Kind regards

   By Great Illuminator on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 01:18 pm: Edit Post


My intention is not to damage reputations or create conflict over the internet.There are already enough of those types, Prowler comes to mind as one of these types.

This instructor is in fact very very good,just that based on my expierences Internal martial artists oftentimes rely on "belief " systems as opposed to facts.

I only give my expierences so that it may somehow resonate with someone.And hopefully somebody will reply in kind,so that I may benefit.That is the beauty of the internet and instant communication.

Along with that apparently are the clowns such as prowler,who are to busy lamenting the fact that my english isn,t up to the level of a Truman Capote,a man that I,m sure Prowler would have enjoyed on an intimate basis.

   By Mike Taylor on Thursday, November 23, 2000 - 04:24 am: Edit Post

Hey G.I.,
Rather than go into great length to appropriately describe a variety of martial-arts exercises, I'll merely recommend Tim's up-&-coming new book -- unseen -- on martial-arts power exercises as Tim taught me the exercises (specifically 8 of them for Pa Gua of which 3 involve knee-joint flexing). I also did some standing practice & mud-walk-stepping circle walking (done with hips approximately 3" down from full upright). I avoided doing much low posturing. I stopped running (& would no longer walk more than about 10 miles at a time -- & this rarely).
Squeezing a softball-sized inflated plastic (or solid rubber) ball between the knees while sitting, lift one foot up tensing the quadriceps of that same leg -- hold 10 seconds, then alternate legs (repeat process 10-to-30 times). Can add some weight (i.e. ankle weights OK). There was a similar (& great) exercise that I did for a short while when I had access to a special (simple) apparatus, but I never made the apparatus for my own (further) use (so I did this "ball method" once I left physical therapy).
From a position approximating a US Marine Kneeling-Fire position (as on a rifle range), but with back upright (torso balanced) "walk" forward by switching leg/foot positions (by pulling your torso forward using your foreward-most leg). Repeat many times & you will definitely feel this in your quads.
Once quads strong enough, repeatedly get up off of ground without using your hands or arms in any way (no using these parts to push off of ground or knee). Ensure you do a lot of this by practicing rolls & breakfalls (so you don't waste your time on the "down" portion of this). Ensure that your torso is balanced prior to rising (in other words, try not to look like a decrepit old geezer when you rise -- rise in one smooth motion, not in sections one at a time).
Walk up & down a staircase with a 50 lbs. dumbell in each hand (or bucket of sand, cement, or water if you don't have dumbells).
Stretch Hams & Calve muscles. If you do any cardiovascular, divide it up so that you don't overdo one area: walk, ride bike (no, not your Hog), & swim alternately [one each day except on rest day(s)]. Running is for when your knees are better (running jars knees excessively, so don't run when they're giving you problems).
Wait ten years. I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but I've been told that nerves take about ten years to completely heal; pain is felt by way of nerves. Hmm. :-)

   By G I on Friday, November 24, 2000 - 02:37 pm: Edit Post

Thanks Mike!!!!!

   By wind walker on Monday, April 30, 2001 - 08:03 pm: Edit Post

Once again Mr Cartmell I found your response tru and balanced. i'd have to agree G.I. has raised an all too important point. The richness of knowledge
about the human body in IMA can sometimes over look the simplest of dangers, even for those exeptional teachers. For instance a practitioner of these arts may experience excruciating pain in the knees from something as simple as pronation of the feet or flat feet.Something that could be fixed with a good pair of orthodics. Something most Asian cultures did not experience as a problem I might add, as there was less flat concrete around in those days when IMA was being developed.

Speaking of development, I feel this discussion board an exellent opportunity to further the growth of our art so we are better equipped to combat all our enemies, be they muggers, rapists,
charlitans, our own inner demons or big old slabs of concrete. I feel this could be a way to help one another overcome our collective and personal

P.S. please forgive my spelling

peace and connections

   By Bob #2 on Tuesday, May 01, 2001 - 05:53 pm: Edit Post

hey! some of my dearest friends are muggers, rapists and charlitans.... One man's enemy is another man's beer drinkin' buddy.

   By wind walker on Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 05:43 am: Edit Post

Hey Bob #2
Yeah sorry bout that. It was just a belated and probably too subtle swipe at "A PROWLER".

However, should I return during my absence, keep me here till I get back!!

   By A Prowler on Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 11:09 am: Edit Post

No excuse. This board has a Spell and Grammar check during Post creation for you people that didn't make it through Grammar school.

   By English Critic on Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 11:42 am: Edit Post

A Prowler is quite correct. I for one find the poor grammar and spelling inexcusable!

   By Bob #2 on Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 05:53 pm: Edit Post

A prowler (A.K.A. English Critic)

"No excuse." is an incomplete sentence.

"you people" is a little ridiculous considering
only 'people' are reading your post.

"post creation" is called "Posting"... another indication that you are more grammatically challenged than you may realize.

".... for you people that didn't make it through..." you should have used 'which'
instead of 'that' and "did not complete"
rather than "didn't make it through"

and no one has referred to elementary school as
"grammar school" since the mid 20th century.

Not that I care.. but I thought you'd like to know that you make yourself look stupid when you do things like that.

Bob #2

   By An English Prowler named Bob2 on Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 08:16 pm: Edit Post

For the most part your arguments do not make sense and are incorrect. The arguments sound like something my 6th grader would use.

   By SysOp on Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 08:35 pm: Edit Post

Please take this topic to the Flame Room if you want to continue it.
Thank you

   By Olen Mina on Saturday, September 15, 2001 - 10:27 pm: Edit Post

I'm new here, so I'm not sure about the lingo...
People talked about "the low posture" above. What exactly do they mean ?
If they mean "xia pan", i.e. the knees level with the waist, I can walk up to half an hour in it.
I don't do it that much anymore as I consider being able to utilize the waist/tailbone power in the actual techniques, while being in zhong pan, far more important than simply possessing some tremendous power crouched down...

   By Olen Mina on Saturday, September 15, 2001 - 10:33 pm: Edit Post

I forgot to mention, I think it's crazy to do this deep-extended-stance-with-knee-flexion-thing if I understand it correctly !
The weight should remain on the back leg as long as possible, thus limiting the gait to be less than a foot at the most,
just my opinion ...

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