Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby TaijiSufi » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:54 pm


I have been doing Yang Taiji for around 13months now. I am upto about 80 of the 103 Long Form (using Master Yang Juns tradional DVD to learn). Prior to this i had about four TaiChi teachers. All of whom taught me lots and good things but i was fed up of the inter politics and issues between them, plus it was confusing learning from different sources so i decided to go for 1 which is Master Yang Juns form from the Original. I consider it a blessing from heaven.

Recently however because of a swimming injurty in my left knee i had to rest it and stop. However the recovery is slow as i had abnormal blood vessels inside my knee cap causing me pain. I used to do golden rooster/right seperation kick etc.. on my right good knee. However after4 months practise now my right knee is hurting due to the pressure on it. I had stopped the high kicks totally know and improvise (basically do a standing split move to immitate the direction of the kick had i raised my leg).

I have also listened to old teachers advice who said to me that i should centre my balance, so for example in grasp birds tail i dont lean forward on my right leg and lean back on my left as i bring my arms in but instead adopt a middle stance always but use my arms to imitate the move. This does help.

I have also increased the speed of the taiji so that i am not having one leg 'empty' and one leg 'full' for too long. This also helps as the pain in my knee doesnt get chance to appear.

Interestingly i also read an old master (Maybe Ip Tai Tak) say that knee problems are common to new students of taiji at first in the old china but then students progress and actually come much stronger due to being able to resist force and the body conditioning the taiji chuan does for the student. This was immensly motivating for me.

However it has got to the point now where i stop my taiji. I simply cannot raise my left knee and am scared of overburdening my right knee. Because i cant do taiji properly i am demotivated.

Is their any good excersizes i can do that can strengthen my knee?

Do you also have this problem and if so how did you overcome it?

Practising the Long form is very rewarding but also disapointing i cant do it properly and this demotivates me, i dont practise and so i lose the fuller flavour tai chi had in my life. To give an accurate example i used to do around 7-10 hours training a week in Taiji. Now it is about 2-3 hours maximum a week and i am losing a little hope.

Thank you for any help you can give.

Ash aka SufiTaiji
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby TaijiSufi » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:57 pm

People are also noticing and comment to me i dont do the taiji anymore and i lose the health benefits. If Master Yang Jun can give his expert opinion on this advice, or any other expert i would highly appreciate it.

thank you again
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby Mike Lucero » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:45 am

I think this is where a teacher is most helpful. They can tell you what you are doing wrong by looking.

Be most careful to not twist your knee when you bend it. It should bend in the same direction as your foot points. When you are in a bow stance, you should have the feeling of your feet flat on the ground, your crotch/hip joints open. When you shift forward, your hips should point diagonally, not forward (square). I think just practicing shifting forward and backward and feeling your feet flat on the floor is very helpful.

Good luck,

Mike Lucero
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby T » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:09 pm

Now for the standard Taiji response... don't let your knee go past your toes.

Now for my response...see a doctor and find out what is going on and if necessary go to physical therapy.

I went months trying to push a knee injury that only got worse which eventually took me out of all training for several months and after 3 doctors, 3 sets of X-rays and an MRI they found I had a torn meniscus. I was on crutches a cane, in a rigid knee brace and I was unable to do anything for months and I am still not back 100%. If I had to guess I am at about 75% of where I was before the injury and I am still in a semi rigid knee brace when I do Taijiquan.

I am not as healthy as I was before and I have gained weight from it as well. However I am getting better. And I took the downtime to read a lot of great books on Taiji, Zen, China and Yoga.

Knee issues take time... they need rest and that is about all there is.
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby TaijiSufi » Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:28 am

Thank you for all your responses. I would like to help others and say how i am overcoming this knee problem.

1) It is amazing how the Creator looks after his creation, only a day after i did this post doing my taiji i found a good solution, which also helps my taiji and reduces pain. As i was doing the Long form 103 and got to the kicking section i thought "Why not do faijing on kicks? That way i am only standing on one leg for a second or two maximum (and not 4 or 5 seconds as per slow form). This also helped me introduce to faijin and the last kick in the form which is also fast/explosive. I have heard that Yin is slow in the form and Yang is fast. So i am actually balancing my body.

I know do all high kicks fast and i can do it with 80% reduction of knee pain. Of course over time i have improved direction of my kicks (first my fast kicks just landed anywhere 4 or 5 inches away from line of leg (as in perfect place when you do it slow) so was off the mark. However over time now i can improve and kick with finish of foot in the usual place.

Of course it means my Yang Long Form now has fast and slow in it, but as i have no choice because of knee injury this is OK? The only downside is that leg strenghtening by doing the kicks slow doesnt happen as much but i can live with this as the leg strengthens anyway so much with the constant bow/empty stance.

2) I have taken up cupping (Hijamah) twice now on knee and it helped the pain alot. I have had x rays and mri on my knee (it is abnormal blood vessels wrapped round like a knitting ball in my knee which cause pain) - but this helped. Cupping is ancient chinese art form. Hijamah is Arabic/Muslim take on the science but using small cuts, so bad blood is drawn out and good blood immediately fills the joint/area. The body is amazing at healing and it is 100% safe. My knee pain improves a lot with this. Maybe 40-50%.

3) I have taken Multivitamin tablets (wellman sport brand - vitamin C - vitamin A - E - B - B12 etc...) and over a month this helps. When i wake up i just feel slightly stronger. Maybe 1% but over a month it makes a difference. When i stopped these i feel recovery is slower. It is said people in northern hemisphere (UK for me) dont get enough sunlight, which greatly heals bones and aids healing. Maybe their is a Truth in this...

Anyway i hope the above helps you. My knee pain isnt gone and i have to take it easy still, but i do feel i am getting better - slowly and with time.
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby BertVa » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:53 pm

MY teacher tells us that as long is the posture is correct. How high the kick is is not important.

Better to have correct form and waist high or lower kick then a high kick and bad form.

if the form is correct you cannot be lose points, but if the form is wrong you can lose points.
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby Audi » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:03 am

I think it is fine to modify the form to suit individual needs. For martial purposes, the kicks in Separate Foot can be as low as the opponent's calf or as high as his or her head. That is why there is no requirement in the form that the kicks be at any specific height.

As for knee tips, I might add a few comments.

The knee should indeed be in line with toes, except that in certain twisting transitions (such as before Single Whip), the rule does not really apply. Also, I frequently advice people to concentrate very hard on keeping most of the weight in the bubbling well and off the joints. Feel as if the legs are all muscle and without any bones or joints, such as how we imagine a snake being. If you have trouble locating the bubbling well point, concentrate on the point in the sole of the foot you would use to push off if you jumped straight up. The sole is normally flat on the floor, but the weight should not be distributed evenly on the sole.
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby TaijiSufi » Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:19 pm

Thank you for your replies. I will certainly try that bubbling wellpoint though i do not think i know 100% what you mean?

Today however i tried to improve my leg concentration to help my knees. I noticed as a shifted my weight quickly/without being empty/not caring about footwork basically my whole body weight shifted to knee joint for a split second and then transferred to thigh muscles and bones inc feet.

Now i moved slower but moved my body alignment so the "weight transfer" almost always fell exclusively on my thigh bone. It is difficult but possible. Amazingly i had no knee pain because the transfer was absored by the joint (perhaps the sole of the foot also took it like you said when you get up. Next time i will concentrate on feet also and not just thighs).

Ever so slowly, i am gaining confidence that the correct taiji done in its purest pristine form. Will not only alleviate knee problems but cure them (by stronger legs). Danger is when i forget and i do long form (say thinking of other daft things like weather/what im having for food/children etc...) then i go back to bad taiji whereby i transfer weight even for a split second onto joint area. This timing may be very small but one wrong move is enough to knock out practise and make knee hurt all day.

Also i do not bend legs as much as i used to and now only slightly tilt the knee, so the weight is still mostly on upper thigh/bum area but chi can still flow as i do not have locked legs.

I also want to make form better and not bothered about kicking height, as opposed to higher kicks but wrong form. Good advice.

thank you
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby Audi » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:49 am

Thank you for your replies. I will certainly try that bubbling wellpoint though i do not think i know 100% what you mean?

According to my understanding, whenever there is external there is always, always internal. Whenever we speak of internal, there is always, always external. To simplify things, teachers may speak only of one or the other, but the other is always, always implied. Students may understand or relate to one or the other, but the other must always be understood as well. If you truly understand one, you will understand the other; but often you cannot be sure you understand one, without analyzing the other. Depending on the teaching or learning style and depending on the teaching or learning moment, one principle will be better to consider than another.

The above quote relates to internal things, by naming an external point on the foot where the energy needs to be rooted. As I understand and feel it, this point is right behind the pad of the ball of the foot. It is the point you would thrust against, if you were to jump straight up and draw energy both from the ball and the heel of the foot.

To avoid developing and to help treat knee problems, it is good to look at the desired external structure in the legs. The crotch should be rounded, kind of matching what happens with rounding the back. The knees of both the front and the back foot should be bending in the direction of the toes, the front knee pointing forward and the back knee bending at a 45 degree angle. It is quite dangerous for the knees to bend repeatedly inward with respect to the direction of the toes. The joint is not designed that way. You do not want to increase very much at all the lateral flexibility of the tendons that hold the knee joint together. It also a little bit dangerous when you are in a forward weighted bow stance to have the knee past the front toes, since this also stretches the knee ligaments unnaturally. Back-weighted stances and empty stances are different.

From a more internal perspective, you can think of each knee as being the middle of a bow that is made up of the foreleg and the thigh. For the energy to flow correctly, the bow must be bend forward and backward, but not side to side. Bows are constructed and trained to bend in only one way. If you bend one in another way, you can destroy its power permanently. Even when you bend a bow properly, it will emit power in only one very specific direction, from the middle of the string to the middle of the bow. If you lay the arrow so that it intersects the bow and string at a different place, the result will not be good. Similarly, when you have the weight forward in a bow stance and allow the front knee to pass the toes, your front leg will have too much and your back leg too little.

I personally think in patterns and look for some kind of "handle" or unifying principle that can stand for the entire pattern. What I do to accomplish all the above is to feel for the energy going through the bubbling well point. If I stand naturally with my feet shoulder width apart and my intent is to stand for awhile, I feel that my legs stand in a "V." The pressure is on the inside edge of the soles. My weight is usually somewhat towards the heel. My knees and crotch close to take pressure off my muscles. This is great if my purpose is to stand for awhile with minimal expenditure of energy, which is a very specialized goal. This is bad if my purpose is to stand for Tai Chi purposes, which require a much more neutral equilibrium. To achieve my Tai Chi goals, I feel for the bubbling well point. To feel my energy come from this point, I feel I have to even out the left-right pressure in the sole of the foot. To do this, my knees have to move apart so that they are more over this point. To do this, I have to open the crotch. The feel of my legs change from a "V" shape to an inverted "U," which feels much more stable and powerful. To increase the clarity of the feel of energy, I must also bend my knees a little and rock my weight a little away from my heels toward the ball of the foot.

You can do the same process in a bow stance, with a similar result. You should feel a spring in both legs. If you pick up the heels slightly and bounce or even jump up an inch or two, you will jump up straight and feel very stable the entire time. If you jump with the knees out of alignment, your jump will tend to pull your feet in the direction of that misalignment and you will feel some instability as the legs push in different directions.
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby JerryKarin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:57 am

I had knee problems when I began learning taiji. In one of Yang Zhenduo's seminars he showed how the front leg pushes back (as if resisting someone pulling you forward) at the same time the rear leg pushes forward. Practicing like that cured my knee problems. You can find some discussion of this principle here: This may not be the source of your knee pain but may be worth considering.
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Re: Major Knee Problems. Help Needed

Postby Richful » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:35 am

I've just been through a knee injury caused by my Taijiquan practice. I'd been away from my practice for a few years and neglected stretching. I'm primarily an office worker by day, so I spent too much time sitting. After going back to my practice and trying to get proper alignment in my spine and loosen my kua I found I was getting knee pain after form practice. After a few weeks I went to see a Chriopractor. Turns out without proper stretching after an extended period away from Taijiquan my muscles had shortened (from sitting all day), the hamstring, ITB, glutes and calves were all pulling on my knees. With the twisting movements in the rear leg during bow posture all those muscles dragged on my knees twisting them.
So moral of the story is stretching muscles is just as important as relaxing them when beginning Taijiquan or going back to it :)
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