Cross-training of sorts. Belly dance and other disciplines

Hi as I was reading the Sword Weight thread Nath and Khanjar mentioned being fencers. I too have fenced and found that bellydancing improved fencing in ways that went beyond what fencing masters taught. Our weight shifts, flexibility, ect helped improved fencing. With tai chi... it was the tai chi that improved the bellydancing... it's breath control the thing where you keep the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth to keep the chi flow circular. Also watching my friends in martial arts made my sword dance very different than other sword dancing with mine looking a bit more like a sword kata. Just wondering what others have experenced. Creaks


New member
cross-training = trying to do ballet after hagallah!

Sorry, couldn't resist - cross-training always makes me think of a bunch of grumpy people learning how to get grumpier better!

Actually, anything that activates similar neural pathways will be enhanced in certain general ways but detract from some specific movements. Let me explain.
If your other activity involves moving weight from one leg to another, then bellydance will help, if, on the other hand, it's about thinking 'up' (like in ballet) then the neural pathways work against each other as automatic movement patterns needed for one activity are recruited to do the other, making it hard to 'think up' for ballet while actually needing to be 'grounded' for bellydance - but the stronger neural pathways will dominate. It's a bit like transferring from one computer keyboard to one of those curved 'ergonomic' keyboards. Your general skill of typing fast will remain but your specific and 'old' learned patterns will interfere with finding the FJGHVNB keys. Learning to play the piano will enhance speed but not accuracy.


New member
Interesting question. I took Tai Chi for a couple years to help with balance and it has. My fencing improved. Too bad I had to stop fencing.

The lessons on just body awareness from tai chi alone have helped me when learning the isolations necessary for belly dance.


Well-known member
I had the opposite experience with my Karate training. One of the biggest problems I had when I started learning to dance was the similarities between the basic stance in Kempo and Bellydance. I would get in position and then my teacher would instruct us to move in some way and my feet just would not want to follow her instructions, it was to imbalanced. I had to start dancing in cat stance just to keep up. :confused:

Andrea Deagon

New member
I came from ballet in my mid teens and had a pretty easy transition -- I was strong and could do things like Turkish drops and just being used to dancing helped me. But those were the (sometimes) bad old days when no one knew much of anything (at least in my part of the world) about the kind of internally motivated dancing anyone who's studied Egyptian style thinks in terms of now. Everything was outside rather than core. So the difference in technical basis between ballet and the belly dance I was doing then, wasn't as sharp as it could be.

Some kinds of modern dance are OK. Graham-style flow and rebound can be useful even if it's not directly adapted in belly dance.

Now I do yoga sometimes, though I am not especially used to it. But it is good for stretch and balance. The only thing that irks me about that is the same thing that irks me about belly dance: physically talented kiddies with great bodies who have absolutely no clue about the stuff underneath. My first yoga classes were in the 1970's about when I started belly dancing, and they were profound. I miss that.

African dance is also interesting as a cross-training, in that the energy and quality of the movements is so different and it encourages you to really stretch and extend the central body in a way that gets you out of the girly-thing that sometimes happens with belly dance. Not that belly dance shouldn't sometimes be girly, but it shouldn't start and end there.


New member
Fencing with foil always suited me, as light and fast appealed, I am of a light physique, what friends called a time ago, of the marsh wiggle variety, tall and thin.Fencing, because of my physique, I was light and fast, my height gave me the advantage of a long lunge, I got to regional championships, won my events, and thereafter quit fencing, I had achieved what I needed at the time. Since then, I have done Tai Chi Chuan, Pilates, and various types of Yoga, but my latest venture belly dance, dance,that to me is the complete of it all, it encompasses all. Now belly dance, is my movement, my leisure and my exercise, I enjoy a level of exercise and self exspression I have never before known. To tell you, all through my life I have been a shy person, thoughts of public appearance, be it exercise, practice or tuition, in public, would have had me running screaming for the hills, I was not a public person. Belly dance, has opened my mind and given me an exercise I enjoy, to music, the song of the soul. For a person who has been dormant for four years, belly dance has awoken me, I feel a new me coming.

My exercise routine, is the class warm up, followed by practice on moves and invariably ending up with some yoga and later isometric training. The thing is, for exercise, I actually enjoy it, as I was of the sloth variety, why sit when one can lay.

I feel no need to pursue another exercise discipline, belly dance does it all for me.


New member
That's interesting that so many of us have had, or do, fencing! I enjoyed it in college, as well as the Japanese sword discipline known as kendo (I took it because when was I ever again going to have the chance to study with an actual 33rd-generation samarai?).

Also have had ballet, tap, folk, and jazz dance, all of which have been useful with belly dance. But hatha yoga remains the most useful other exercise not only for the flexibility it encourages but because it forces me to breathe properly, too. I haven't tried tai chi but it strikes me as very similar.


New member
Yes, it is interesting the number of people who have fencing experience and other sword arts, it was my interest to do Kendo when I was a teen, but there was nowhere local to me that did it, but I did go onto battle re-enactment, which was steel swords and spears, but minus the sharp edges. And yes, I did get injuries in that game, mostly broken fingers, cuts and bruises despite blunt weapons, they are still heavy lumps of steel in close combat, and when we were scrapping, it was just scrap, no choreographed fights, it was I suppose to all intents and purposes very real, but there were rules, like pull the blows when unprotected body was in line for hitting. I have seen broken ribs and arms in others, one day about seven of the people on the field attended casualty for various injuries.

But Yoga, Tai Chi, fencing, Kendo, they are all disciplines, just like belly dance, it is something we learn to do outside of our normal day to day existence, and extra thing to do to become proficient at, maybe it is the discipline we seek, but am clueless to why sword arts seem common.

Hey, here's a wild idea, there is a link between sword arts and bellydance, the dance with the sword, maybe the sword features more in our conscience than we like to think.


New member
LOL I took fencing in college and would take it again if I wasn't already so busy... it's just not quite that high on my priority list and it costs more money than I can really justify right now...

I am seriously considering picking up (and being encouraged to pick up) rock climbing again - I climbed in gyms and outdoors on and off for years and ironically dropped it once we moved to Colorado because of the snobbery on the rocks in Boulder. Now we live in the sticks and have a climbing area across the street and a rec center wall in town. I'm looking to pick it up again also to balance out some of the muscles that seem to get over and under worked... Now that I am in belly dance and working out my core more, I hopefully won't spend so much time doing PT from climbing (rock and alpine.)