Tai Chi Heavy Bag Workout

Although it is not a traditional tai chi training tool I’ve rather taken to using the heavy bag for practicing striking and developing power. My teacher Shifu Chao at first admonished me when I told him I was using a heavy bag. Later when he saw how I was using tai chi principals on the bag he did he not mind as much and began giving me tips to generate and increase the power of my strikes. Likewise the master Luo Dexiu told us at a seminar, train striking with a partner(including pad work) not a heavy bag.

The reasons good tai chi teachers avoid the heavy bag workout in tai chi training.

Of course the above masters are not mistaken in their dismissal of heavy bag usage in tai chi training. If a student starts training on a heavy bag before understanding tai chi body mechanics and force generation methods it’s likely to really destroy your tai chi. You will start to rely on the power generation and footwork of boxing or kick boxing. Boxing and kickboxing are all great arts, but they use totally different body mechanics than tai chi. If you have not been taught tai chi body mechanics you will be humbled by the heavy bag and you will try and compensate

The reason I started using the heavy bag as a tai chi training tool.

I have not had a tai chi push hands partner for a long time, and the heavy bag provides some substitute for one it’s resistance and movement. Also I have several boxers in my family and over the years I began to see the effectiveness of the heavy bag in power development, though it me some time to figure out how to integrate and adapt bagwork to tai chi.

Considerations in using the heavy bag in Tai Chi training.

The seven stars and three points is a core concept in tai chi that deals with the different striking areas we can use on the body. The three points are the hand, feet and head. These are used for conventional punches and kicks. The seven stars include the knee, elbow, shoulder and everything else.

Practicing only the three points on a heavy bag will make you overly-reliant on upper body power and you will get stuck at that level. The seven star methods make up a large portion of tai chi striking attacks in the form and during push hands, so you must carry this over to your heavy bag workout. Striking with the 7 stars you will keep the ground path and not rely on upper body strength as the primary source of power. Finally, you must use tai chi footwork when doing tai chi methods on the heavy bag. You must use gong bu, natural step, and whatever methods you have in your specific style of tai chi to generate the power. Do not start training tai chi striking on the heavy bag until you understand these concepts.

Example of a kung fu heavy bag workout with tai chi motifs.

Using the 7 stars

An example of striking with the seven stars, instead of the three points.

Example of Using the 3 points striking in Tai Chi heavy bag workout

Working on the standard tai chi parry and punch is an example of using the three points. Don’t overdo or under-do this important technique on the heavy bag.

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