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  1. IWorkInPixels is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/21/2014 11:30am


     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Advice for a guy with a bad back?

    Hey, trying to get some advice on my training in light of the fact that I have a bad back.

    ("Bad back" means that back in college I had 2 surgeries on a ruptured disc at L4-L5, the first surgery caused a massive infection, which meant that during the 2nd surgery they couldn't put in any metal or fuse the vertebrae, so they just removed the disc, and now I have bone on bone and scar tissue right around the sciatic nerve, and they are very unlikely to be willing to open me up again.)

    In the years since my back surgeries I've looked for things that help my back, and so far the list I've got is swimming, biking, and tai chi. About 6 months ago I graduated from just training off of Ian Sinclair's videos to formal training under White Metal Rabbit Taijiquan here in Springfield, MO. I also do tai chi in the park two days a week under A.K.M.S. (as does my sifu from White Metal Rabbit). Both schools really know their stuff regarding tai chi, but as I would like to learn tc as a martial art, there's a problem.

    The sifu at WMR is a 50-some year old woman with a hip replacement, so she has zero interest in sparring, and very little interest in even doing push hands. None of the other students have any interest in learning tai chi as a martial art; they're there for health benefits.

    The one at AKMS is younger, but wants me to learn the entire form before even starting in on push hands.

    On the non-Chinese side of things, I enrolled my kid at a local BJJ-MAA school (Team Fusion MMA) the other day where a buddy of mine is a fighter (they had an event on Saturday and all 6 of their fighters won!) and while we were there I took my one free class. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my back held up (and I even submitted a guy once), but it was a good day... on bad days I can still do the yang 108 form, but I don't think I could roll on bad days. Also, when we were practicing arm bars, it took ~80% effort on my back muscles for me to tap my partner, who wasn't resisting at all... I don't think it's supposed to take that much grunt.

    I have been attempting to find local people to spar and do push hands with, but so far have come up empty.

    I have a few core goals for my martial arts:
    1: I want to strengthen my core, first to avoid future injury and then to be able to defend myself.
    2: I want to lose weight (6'0" and currently 250).
    3: I would like to have a chance at defending myself in the unlikely event that the need ever arises.

    After that, if I occasionally get to go to a competition and not lose at least once, I'd consider that gravy. :)

    It seems like my current taiji training is in no way preparing me to fight, but I'm worried about the impact that practicing bjj with a bunch of REALLY TOUGH mma dudes will have on my back.

    Do any of you have any advice about how I might meet my goals, either within one or both of these styles, or a different style? Particularly, does anybody know of a good way to find local people to spar with?

    Thanks.
  2. Resonance10 is online now
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    Posted On:
    11/22/2014 12:29pm

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     Style: Taiji/Hsingyi

    2
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Did your doctor/surgeon/health care provider/whichever ok you for that type of training?
  3. IWorkInPixels is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/22/2014 1:08pm


     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Resonance10 View Post
    Did your doctor/surgeon/health care provider/whichever ok you for that type of training?
    Yup. At least, he's ok'd me for doing the form in taiji... he suggested it, in fact. He has also said I could give bjj rolling a shot, which I did, and as I said I was pleasantly surprised at how well my back held up on that, but that was on a good day... I think I will end up just sitting the bad days out for a while until I can build up some core strength if I continue in bjj.

    Just wondering if anybody else in here has similar problems and could advise on taiji as a martial art, as I have no experience yet on how that's going to affect my back.
  4. jspeedy is online now
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    Posted On:
    11/22/2014 4:15pm


     Style: FMA

    2
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I'd definately check with your doctor before getting into anything more serious, but here's my two cents. I'd make weight loss a primary goal, being overweight certainly isn't good for any kind of joint pain/injury. Tai chi probably isn't going to help much with the weight loss, BJJ will probably help some but if your back doesn't hold up that's out. I'd consider finding a personal trainer that will help you lose weight and strengthen your core properly. As far as martial arts goes you may have some options; after weight loss and core strengthening you may be better off in BJJ, as MA goes it can be fairly easy on the body and it's not uncommon to find articles with men over 60 training regularly, surely if the old timers can do it you can too. You might consider boxing also, hitting the bag and shadow boxing will help with weight loss, working the focus mitts with a coach can teach you a lot too. I don't think i'd recommend boxing competition with your back injury but you may have options with boxing. The head movement and ducking might be problematic for your back though, but your legs can do a lot of the work. Another option are the filipino martial arts (FMA). Generally, FMA focuses on stick and blade techniques and the weapon takes the brunt of the abuse over the body.
  5. IWorkInPixels is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/22/2014 5:41pm


     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by jspeedy View Post
    I'd definately check with your doctor before getting into anything more serious, but here's my two cents. I'd make weight loss a primary goal, being overweight certainly isn't good for any kind of joint pain/injury. Tai chi probably isn't going to help much with the weight loss, BJJ will probably help some but if your back doesn't hold up that's out. I'd consider finding a personal trainer that will help you lose weight and strengthen your core properly. As far as martial arts goes you may have some options; after weight loss and core strengthening you may be better off in BJJ, as MA goes it can be fairly easy on the body and it's not uncommon to find articles with men over 60 training regularly, surely if the old timers can do it you can too. You might consider boxing also, hitting the bag and shadow boxing will help with weight loss, working the focus mitts with a coach can teach you a lot too. I don't think i'd recommend boxing competition with your back injury but you may have options with boxing. The head movement and ducking might be problematic for your back though, but your legs can do a lot of the work. Another option are the filipino martial arts (FMA). Generally, FMA focuses on stick and blade techniques and the weapon takes the brunt of the abuse over the body.

    Hey thanks man, I will take a look at the FMA for sure.

    My posts are still being moderated, so I can't reply in real time, but yeah, losing weight is definitely high on the priorities list... and it was the doctor who suggested the tai chi... and I'm glad he did. Trying to maintain wuji posture in my daily life whenever I can has done more for helping my back than anything else so far. But that's just doing the forms; I have no idea what training tai chi as a martial art will be like.

    And it's funny you should say boxing, because that's what I did before the tai chi... I was at Title Boxing Club for a while doing their workouts before we moved away from NYC, my back held up fine for their heavy bag workouts, it was the ab workouts that filled half the class that were a problem, since I would gas way before the end of that portion of the workout.

    I definitely plan on losing a ton of weight next year. I've got a heavy bag in the garage, so I will definitely get more consistent about using it, and the biking and swimming are a given, and I will be on at least one of the aforementioned martial arts.

    One thing I've learned is that I'm *much* more likely to keep going in a fitness program if it's doing something that's fun enough that I would have done it anyway, so hence the biking and martial arts. And when I say biking, I mean avg 30-50 mile rides at least 3x a week, at least one century a year... time is the biggest limiting factor there, but I ditched the car for the majority of this last spring and summer in order to have more saddle time.

    So I'm not *that* fragile, I just want to know if my reach exceeds my grasp on any of this... my question here is more like "Does my bad back limit my potential in taiji or bjj enough that it's not worth learning one or both?"
  6. soft touch is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/23/2014 5:07am


     Style: Goju Ryu/Balintawak Arnis

    1
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Ditto on the asking doctors and physio too if you can

    after that I'd suggest weight loss combined with some pilates (start off with easier movements, preferably get an instructor with experience in physiotherapy or sports medicine etc)
    when I injured my back (not anywhere even comparable to yours though) the pilates programs were what really strengthened my core, and once that happened it was the muscle taking strain instead of my spine

    last note would be to be incredibly careful as you fatigue in whatever exercises you do, because when your core stabilising muscle groups get tired, that's when you'll break your back

    tl;dr ask your doctor and physio +pilates is good ****

    Sent from my GT-I9100
  7. IWorkInPixels is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/23/2014 8:14pm


     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Tried responding to this thread twice before, but they either have been rejected or haven't been approved yet... this'll be the last attempt and then I'm out.

    Thanks so much for your responses, I will try to answer some of the questions here:

    Yes, the doctor approved the tai chi; in fact, he recommended it. He also told me I could try bjj for a couple classes and see how my back holds up, which is what I'm doing now. I have also done western boxing workouts and love them... have a heavy bag in the garage and plan on using it again come spring.

    Weight loss is a priority for me, for the winter I'll have at least tai chi and cycling on the trainer, and possibly also bjj... then come spring we're gonna expand all of those (riding a century outdoors beats the **** out of spending hours on the trainer!) and I'll have the option of adding TRX from the bjj gym or pilates at the yoga studio where the tai chi is at.

    My question was really more of "Is my potential in either of these martial arts likely limited to the point that it's not worth studying?" I mean, I picked these two arts because they're known for having practitioners be able to study well into old age, so I'm hoping that if I am careful I can continue in both... but wanted to get the opinion of fighters who have been in either style for a while... particularly if any of you have had lower back injuries.

    Anyway, thanks again for the responses.
  8. W. Rabbit is offline
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    Posted On:
    11/24/2014 8:53pm

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    1
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    This is cute I have to admit I have a soft spot for non-sparring taiji ladies with artificial hips.

    Can anybody spot the Hung ga technique below?



    http://www.whitemetalrabbittaiji.com/

    For sparring you need to find a Wood Rabbit, or nearby equivalent.

    I think BJJ is a bad idea for someone with a history of back surgery.
  9. IWorkInPixels is offline

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    Posted On:
    11/24/2014 10:55pm


     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Thanks for the thoughts W. Rabbit. She used to compete back when she was with Magic Tortoise Taiji in North Carolina, but I wouldn't know where to look to find stats.

    Tonight was night #2 of bjj, back held up just fine again, everybody there I tell about my back and they're careful to not put any pressure on it, seems to be ok so far.

    But as an example of why I asked, we were learning the armpit sweep tonight and I was able to do it when the guy wasn't resisting, but once we started rolling I would push my arm straight and then try to roll him when he pushed back and absolutely nothing would happen after that.

    I assume I will get stronger as I develop core strength, and that doing so will help my back to remain uninjured, but I don't know how much stronger, so that was why I asked about if my potential is likely to be severely limited (although I know it's not easy to tell that over the internet.)

    I spoke to one of the other tai chi teachers in town yesterday about the possibility of setting up a sparring club, and he seemed mildly interested, so it's possible yet that I might be able to go that route.
  10. Resonance10 is online now
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    Posted On:
    11/25/2014 7:03am

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     Style: Taiji/Hsingyi

    1
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by W. Rabbit View Post
    This is cute I have to admit I have a soft spot for non-sparring taiji ladies with artificial hips.

    Can anybody spot the Hung ga technique below?



    http://www.whitemetalrabbittaiji.com/

    For sparring you need to find a Wood Rabbit, or nearby equivalent.

    I think BJJ is a bad idea for someone with a history of back surgery.
    So the White Metal Taiji Rabbit uses 'golden' Hung Gar techniques..


    OP
    Did you inform your doctor of what is involved in BJJ?

    I second WRabbits opinion on that.

    Non contact Taiji is one thing, BJJ is at the other end of the spectrum, You will get twisted up.
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