Friday, September 30, 2005

Loosen Up Dude!

At the end of class today I asked Sensei if it would be
counterproductive for me to practice hard-style kata. "For you, yes.
For most people it would be great, but for you... You really need to
loosen up." Guilty as charged! I have a lifetime of tension I'm
working with here. In hard-style martial arts, the process of striking
is tense-relax-tense: you launch a technique by first contracting the
appropriate muscles, then relax when the technique is en route, and
tense at the end to "pull" the technique, keeping yourself from
hyperextending an elbow or knee, and also in the case of partnerwork,
keeping yourself from hitting your partner. There are a few problems
associated with this approach. First of all, there is an inherent
difficulty in going from a tense state to a relaxed state. The tendency
is to never quite relax as fully as you could--there is too much tension
throughout the technique. Second, when tensing muscles to launch a
strike, the untrained (or not-quite-properly trained) body will tend to
tense all the muscles in the arm/leg, not only the ones necessary to
deliver the technique. The result here is that muscles are actually
working against each other, so much energy is wasted. Men are
especially prone to having too much tension. In the worst cases, it is
quite common to see a guy holding his breath throughout a kata, being
completely rigid in all movements, sweating profusely, and obviously not
generating external power while burning enough energy to light a small
village. It's pretty scary to watch.

So this is my history, and it will take a lot of effort to undo these

We spent this morning's class doing Qi Gong style exercises and movement
exercises derived from them. This is very useful to me, a missing piece
of my training so far.


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