Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, June 02, 2017

Tension and Relaxation

In martial arts, especially internal martial arts, particularly taijiquan, you are admonished to relax. It's sounds so simple, but the simple fact is that we carry around a lot of tension with us all of the time of which we are not usually aware. 

Below is an excerpt from an article at MoveWithLife that attempts to turn the picture around, by looking at tension as a way to learn to relax. The full post may be read here.

Chi Kung is training the proper use of tension!

Tension usually has a negative connotation in Internal Martial Arts. It is said that we must flow like water and “relax” into movements for the most benefit. The big question that runs through many peoples’ mind is HOW?!?

To turn the traditional teaching around, the main question to ask is not how do we relax, but rather, How can I use my tension more efficiently?

Truthfully it is tension that holds us up and moves us. Relaxation on the other hand is us letting go, it makes us heavy and connects the body as a singular unit. Relaxation by itself is a simple thing, yet putting it into movement requires a refinement of the tension needed for a task. In this post specifically we’ll focus on the use of tension which influences the efficacy of movement.

Tension in the sense we are talking about is the state of contraction in a muscle. For us to generate any movement we must contract our muscles, there’s no way around it. For us to do anything at all, our body must have some level of tension. To flow like water and relax into our movements we must pin point this tension to exactly what we want to accomplish.

Alignments and timing of tension are very important to refining our movement. Seeing as this is very much movement specific, today we’ll work on illustrating the basics of using tension with some simple examples.

Simply put, any tension that moves you away or holds you back from where you want to go is wasted effort. Keeping this in mind the use of tension in striking or weight lifting can be summed up in one phrase… Create a solid anchor for your force to launch from.

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