Starting a Tai Chi fighting school

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : Starting a Tai Chi fighting school
   By Steve Austin (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, March 04, 2006 - 10:22 am: Edit Post

Hi all,

I have been doing Yang style for about 12 years and may want to start a little club/school here in a few years. While the teacher and lineage I have studied under are excellent in terms of material, there is no heavy conditioning or sparring (other than the standard fixed free pushing and self-defense technique practice), but i have taken other arts and know the value of conditioning and sparring--so here is my question (especially for Tim)...

It seems to me that all that is mission from a good Yang style curriculum in order to make it a perfectly effective martial art that can produce students that can mix it up just fine with other good MA students is conditioning and sparring (and maybe some supplimental ground work). Any comments or suggestions--have I missed anything?

Thanks to all who respond and thanks Tim for a useful forum.

   By Steve Austin (Unregistered Guest) on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 08:01 am: Edit Post

"all that is MISSING", not mission :-)

   By Jason M. Struck on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 10:59 pm: Edit Post

it would take a really excellent and dedicated teacher to take people that had no other MA experience, and get them to apply in TaiJi in a sparring environment. If that sounds like you, i think that it's a great idea, and wish you luck.

speaking of a little supplementary groundstuff...where is that going to come from? Judo, or wrestling, or bjj? I think this too is a great idea.

   By Tim on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 12:56 am: Edit Post


I'd recommend a lot of pad work (striking combinations, especially in short anaerobic bursts) and non- cooperative, resistant sparring drills (modified for every level of student).

My rule of "push hands" training is that, except at the most basic level, some level of at least medium contact and lots of throwing techniques should be included at all times.

   By Steve Austin (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 10:33 am: Edit Post

Jason and Tim,

Thanks for your comments, they are very helpful, exactly what I was looking for--practical advice.

Jason--any good groundwork that I know or can find, but definatley a huge helping of BJJ

Tim--bag/pad work, non-coop sparring, and more focused drills with resistance is exactly what I was thinking (plus lots of flat out conditioning). Also, while I have done every type of push-hands under the sun, my favorite is basically shuai-chiao rules following Taiji principles.

One more comment--I read in an interview with one old Yang stylist who died recently(who's name I can't remember and who studied under Chien Hou I think) who said that there were no secret forms or teachings, but that back in the day they sparred very hard (to the point that they were injured alot), they got in many actual fights, and they did everything three speeds--slow, fast, and full-out, including Sanshou forms done while "trying to really get eachother". Made sense to me how that that type of Yang Taiji training could have practical use.

I was thinking about having one class for the Taiji "curriculum" and a second for conditioning and sparring, so that people could decide whether they were going for health or health and IMA. But they'd have to take the curriculum class to do the fighting class--and I wouldn't allow the "curriculum only" people to fool themselves into thinking that they were actually learning how to fignt.

Any other comments or advice?

   By Jason M. Struck on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 11:38 am: Edit Post

interesting concepts.

you might want to separate in to 3: forms, fighting and conditioning.

I would separate fighting and conditioning because you couldn't do both well in the same session. Watching amateurs fight fatigued is pretty ugly stuff, and if they are your students, you should have some paternal desire to keep them from getting banged up.

In your conditioning, i would work on two big things. Partner stretches, based on the contract relax side of PNF based teachings, and partner strength. Doing squats and other drills (sprints) with the partner on your back. There's a difference in 100 push ups, and 2-5 really hard pushups! The latter will improve absolute strength, which will eventually ipmrove pressing power.

   By Tim on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 07:48 pm: Edit Post

I also agree with separating your classes between forms/"health"/push hands and fighting.

Remember, 99% of people that are attracted to Taijiquan will not want to either condition hard, or spar.

   By Steve Austin (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 08:45 pm: Edit Post

Once again, thanks guys.

One quick question for Tim--did you mean three different classes:

1) forms

2) health

3) push hands and fightng

If so, what would the "health" class be--I guess Taiji qigong exercises taught separately from the form class and the push hands and fighting class?

My origional thought was one class of qigong, forms, and push hands patterns (maybe an hour and a half long), and then a second one for conditioning, free pushing, and sparring (maybe an hour and a half or even two hours). You and Jason seem to like a three class format better, but I'm not sure if it is for the same reasons.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback!

   By Steve Austin (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 08:48 pm: Edit Post

Y'know, it does make me a bit sad that you can't open a Taiji martial arts school and be taken seriously by 99% of the people out there--Yang Lu Chan must be spinning like a top in his grave.

C'est la vie...

   By Shane on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 11:59 pm: Edit Post


I think what Tim is suggesting is a 2 hour class.

1st hour- Typical Tai Ji Chuan excersices, form and the easier Chi Gung sets.

2nd hour- more intense conditioning, the more difficult Chi Gung sets, applications, push hands and sparring. (I'd add to gear the 2nd hours applications around whatever 2 or 3 movements of the form are being focused on in the 1st hour).

Unfortunately it's a fact, the majority of Tai Ji Chuan students want to study for health only (balance, meditation and learning an ancient form, which is a they see as a safe way to glean a little martial ability.).

   By Jason M. Struck on Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 11:40 am: Edit Post

i still feel like perfect practice makes perfect, and rarely do I see 'perfect' form after 30 mins of calisthenics.

(by perfect i mean reasonably good)

   By Tim on Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 05:45 pm: Edit Post

People that are interested in Taijiquan forms are primarily there for exercise (health). They will be the overwhelming bulk of the people you will most likely attract to a "Tai Chi" class. Most students of this type will want to learn some combination of basic exercises/qigong, a form and maybe some "push hands" that does not involve heavy contact or being thrown to the ground.

The other one percent will pad up and spar.

So two separate classes is probably a good idea.

   By Steve Austin--Astronaut ---A man barely alive . . . (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 08:35 pm: Edit Post

Good, this has all been very useful feedback and very good food for thought.

I'm pretty keen on the whole two-class format thing--one for forms and "health" and one for conditioning and fighting. I was the main person who helped my teacher get his school up and running (and it's been doing well for ten years now), so I understand the back end of having a school pretty well. In a couple of years maybe I'll give it a go and let you all know how it works out.

Wish me luck--thanks for the forum, Tim, and thanks for the feedback, Jason and Shane.

   By Jason M. Struck on Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 10:34 pm: Edit Post

please get back as things progress, I am very interested to hear/see how it winds up.

   By Brian Kennedy on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 05:47 am: Edit Post

A friend of mine asked me the other day about how martial arts schools in California (civil suit capitol of the universe) protect themselves from civil suits. In particular schools that have hard contact sparring.

I realize you use a kind of two prong approach; i.e. 1. have the students sign a well drafted waiver and 2. carry some premises liability insurance. As to the insurance, are there insurance companies that will issue a policy for a full contact martial arts school or do most schools there in California just rely on the student waiver and a normal business insurance policy.

It is not just a random question, the guy is thinking of opening a MMA school up in Northern California.

Take care,

   By Steve Austin--Astronaut ---A man barely alive . . . (Unregistered Guest) on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 10:58 am: Edit Post

Y'know, a general discussion of the "back end" administrative stuff would be a useful thread, but I don't know which board it should go on...

   By Tim on Friday, March 10, 2006 - 12:30 pm: Edit Post

Hey Brian,

There are insurance companies that specialize in insuring martial arts schools.

   By Brian Kennedy on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 08:49 pm: Edit Post

Super, thanks Tim. That will get him started with the "legal aspects" of running a school.

take care,

   By cai bai lung on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 06:54 pm: Edit Post

Oh yes - regarding padwork:
to use or practice with pads defies the whole point of tai chi chuan.
the strength is built up during zhan zhuang and chi kung and practice of the form (preferably not the cheng man ching form which he brought to the USA (which is far inferior to his form as taught to his chinese students).
IE: the practice of *candle in the wind* chi kung exercise will test your leg muscles to their extreme! Especially once you can perform near 100 of these without muscle-tremble!
kick/strike pads are NOT USED for tai chi chuan.

   By cai bai lung on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 06:54 pm: Edit Post

There really is no such style as *yang* - it is a style that has been adapted and modified by many many chinese families.
12 years training/practice is (imho) nowhere near enough experience to even begin to think about starting a school!

   By Tim on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 07:41 pm: Edit Post


Here is another insurance company that includes sports/MA insurance:


Pad work is essential in any martial art that includes striking, including Taijiquan.

   By Jason M. Struck on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 09:03 pm: Edit Post

i would love to fight someone who had only done "zhan zhuang and chi kung and practice of the form" in tai chi!

How come no dumbshits like that ever challenge me to a duel?

   By Michael Andre Babin on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - 09:52 am: Edit Post

Re: "How come no dumbshits like that ever challenge me to a duel?"

Answer: Perhaps they are too busy counting the money they get from the large numbers of North Americans who buy into martial wishful thinking?

   By Jason M. Struck on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 - 09:06 am: Edit Post

i suspect your right.

suppose i were given the choice of cashing a check or some difficult experimentation/evaluation...

   By Jedi Master (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 04:12 pm: Edit Post


If you want to convince readers on this forum that you don't live in a martial arts fantasyland you should probably start by picking a user name other than Bobbafet.

May the force be with you.

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