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tim evans
09-28-2009, 12:28 PM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ? :)

lbb
09-28-2009, 12:34 PM
Practice to the point when you are confident of your ability to respond. It's kind of hard to relax otherwise when someone attacks you.

dps
09-28-2009, 12:52 PM
I have a weird answer.

Physical exhaustion.

Seriously, before class do an aerobic exercise(s). not weight lifting, until you are extremely tired.

David

phitruong
09-28-2009, 01:32 PM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ? :)

borrowing a drill from systema. walk around the mat or wherever, have someone and a bunch of someone continuously press their knuckles, fingers, palms, elbows, feet to various part of your body from head to feet. your job is to walk around and breath and stay loose. do that for a while. then have the other folks to start tapping their knuckles, fingers, palms, etc on your body. don't forget to do the head more, because most folks tend to tense up when things head toward their head. your job is the same as before. next up, ask other folks to hit you lightly, with their body parts. your job is still the same as before. have the other folks increase the intensity to the point where you start to tense up, then ask them to back down and continue with the drill. do that for a month or so.

i have two teenage boys who have my permission to hit me at random. if i tensed up, it just hurts, a lot. one of my conversation with my son (5'9" 160 lbs) followed,

Dad: hey son! how's school today?
Son: great, Dad!
Dad: any problem?
Son: Nope. *thud thud thud* (he just delivered three rapid punches to the chest, rib and solar plexus)
Dad: Good! Got your works turned in?
Son: Yup! Missed one question though! *thud* (he threw a punch into the kidney while i turned my back)
Son: I am going to work on my English paper. what's for dinner?
Dad: I am baking some chicken. should have dinner ready in an hour.

as you can see, i have developed an illness which Ledyard sensei called "Low self-preservation syndrome" or something like that. don't blame me if you caught such illness later on.

Kevin Leavitt
09-28-2009, 01:52 PM
It is not easy for sure, but most folks think Relax in the sense of what we do when we sit in a chair or lay on a bed..that is collapse.

I think a better term might be "active relaxation". This has more to do with establishing correct proprioceptions, relaxing in one area while not relaxing in other areas.

For most of us, I think, we tend to see something coming and we tense our shoulders, arms, maybe shift our weight the wrong way, push and pull when we are not supposed to, based on our emotions, habits, and ingrained responses.

"Just relax" or "Move your hips", simply is not descriptive enough of what has to happen in order to move correctly as a holistic unit.

So, relaxing, just doesn't do it for me as a concept.

If you really want to learn this, the most helpful for me has been getting with these IT or IS guys who have a pretty good clue on how to move correctly in a martial/semi-martial environment...and it involves alot more helpful concepts than "Just relax".

If it were that easy, we wouldn't need all this waza!

Jorge Garcia
09-28-2009, 02:12 PM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the attack come to me without tensing up ? :)

When your mind is in a confident relaxed state of mind, your body will also be in that state. To get there, train a lot and do it for years. The part out of your control is that of developing expertise. Get really good at what you're doing. If you can do that, you will develop a relaxed state of mind and you will find the tensing up will stop.
Best,
Jorge

Garth Jones
09-28-2009, 02:20 PM
Are you tensing because the attack is coming in, or are you tensing because you are worried about how well you will do the technique? I ask because you were recently quite worried about how well you would do on your 5th kyu test. Also, when I was where you are now, that was my major preoccupation!

If you are worried about the attack, then keep practicing getting off the line and hope (trust?!?) that your practice partners will not hit you hard if you mess up. If you are worried about the technique 'working' then try (and it's not easy) to let go of that. After all, there is no technique if you do not get off the line, and there is no pin, or throw, if the technique is not there, so don't get ahead of yourself.

Also, what happens if your technique isn't very good? You get to try it again. And what happens if your technique amazes everybody around you? Same thing, you get to try it again.

It took me several years of training before I could reliably let go of all this stuff (and I still struggle with it) but my practice improved greatly once I did.

Cheers,
Garth

Janet Rosen
09-28-2009, 02:52 PM
This is an area where I find paired weapons training very helpful. You can watch some people flinch and withdraw and others freeze and others have their shoulders go up above their ears.... I'd try to make suggestions that are specific to what body reaction I was seeing but a couple of general ones would include remembering to keep breathing in and out, to focus on the tanden and drop center, and maybe some visualizations (OK, sounds silly, but for me I have a sense of the mat as being the size of the world, me as being able to fill all that space plus the hugeness under it - helps drop center! - and then inviting uke in with a smile as my guest)

Ketsan
09-28-2009, 03:00 PM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ? :)

Arrogance. Once in while allow yourself to be arrogant.

tim evans
09-28-2009, 04:56 PM
Are you tensing because the attack is coming in, or are you tensing because you are worried about how well you will do the technique? I ask because you were recently quite worried about how well you would do on your 5th kyu test. Also, when I was where you are now, that was my major preoccupation!

If you are worried about the attack, then keep practicing getting off the line and hope (trust?!?) that your practice partners will not hit you hard if you mess up. If you are worried about the technique 'working' then try (and it's not easy) to let go of that. After all, there is no technique if you do not get off the line, and there is no pin, or throw, if the technique is not there, so don't get ahead of yourself.

Also, what happens if your technique isn't very good? You get to try it again. And what happens if your technique amazes everybody around you? Same thing, you get to try it again.

It took me several years of training before I could reliably let go of all this stuff (and I still struggle with it) but my practice improved greatly once I did.

Cheers,
Garth
Garth, my answer is both during class and my test.During my test I was extremely winded some of my senior instructors said I was winded because I wasn,t relaxed tensing up on the atacks.During class trying to get all aspects of the atack instead of rushing to the conclusion.

Shadowfax
09-28-2009, 06:37 PM
Ok so maybe you need to breath. A lot of times when I am having this problem whether it is as Uke or a Nage I just stop for a moment. Take several slow deep breathes and allow myself to relax. Deep breathing actually can induce relaxation in the body. As you breath out allow all of the tension to drain out of you.

When I do this I generally will close my eyes a moment and go completely still mentally as well. The get to work. It only takes a moment but it does seem to really help me refocus and let go.

It helps if you practice doing this at home and at other times so you get your body trained to respond.

When you are breathing concentrate on filling the lowest parts of your lungs and emptying all the way to the lowest parts of your lungs. Feel yourself fill your lungs form the bottom up and empty them form the top down. When you inhale of your chest rises yo are not breathing deep. You want your belly to expand and bulge outward and your rib cage to move out sideways and upward.

Another kinda cool exercise is to learn to inflate only one lung at a time. It just helps you become more aware of your breathing.

And as Garth mentioned.... regardless of what happens, you are in a controlled environment. Nothing bad is going to happen to you and you are going to get to do it 100 more times. It is a lot a matter of desensitization. The more you face the situation such as being attacked and nothing bad happens the more your self preservation instincts begin to learn to not lock up your ability to think.

crbateman
09-28-2009, 06:40 PM
I have had good luck with visualization. First, I try to imagine myself as a wall of water, able to flow around an attack without contributing tension. Then, I try to visualize the attacking fist, foot, weapon or whatever, from the rear perspective, as if from the attacker's point of view. Works for me, maybe for you also.

mjhacker
09-28-2009, 06:52 PM
Physical exhaustion.
I personally don't like this method, as it seems to ignore the process through which a student must go in order to learn to consciously relax under stress. They key to learning how to appropriately release muscles doesn't lie in physically exhausting the muscles themselves, but in learning to control the job orders issued to those muscles.

Doing hundreds of repetitions to the point of physical exhaustion is more of a test of spirit and will than a path to correct technique. It can be a very useful tool, but when muscles are fatigued it's no longer really a choice to relax them.

It also goes without saying that I don't have time to physically exhaust myself in the fraction of an instant before an attack occurs. It's kinda like needing to stretch out before I can throw a decent kick. :-)

The way I deal with this situation is to have a student train very slowly so that they can learn to gradually release any tension that doesn't need to be there for the particular job at hand. If necessary, I point out specific muscles and help them learn to release them. As senior side, I also control my attack so as not to exacerbate any existing anxieties in a student.

Once they can handle things pretty well, I start gradually turning up the heat (speed, power, intent, etc.) so that they can learn through a process of graded desensitization and re-sensitization.

dps
09-28-2009, 10:16 PM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ? :)

The muscles fibers that become stiff and tense when you see attacks coming are the same muscle fibers that are used for mobility in the body. By fatiguing the mobility muscle fibers (before they become tense) your body then has to rely on the muscle fibers that are primarily used for stabilization. The feeling you have at this point is active relaxation and a goal to be consciously reproduce without fatiguing the mobility muscles.

Predominantly using the abdominal muscles for breathing instead of the chest muscles is very important.

David

tarik
09-29-2009, 01:00 AM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ? :)

Slow down. Ask your partners to slow down. Speed comes with repetition.. if you practice stiff and tense, you will get good at stiff and tense and may not even notice how stiff and tense you still are.

Regards,

tarik
09-29-2009, 01:22 AM
Slow down. Ask your partners to slow down. Speed comes with repetition.. if you practice stiff and tense, you will get good at stiff and tense and may not even notice how stiff and tense you still are.

FWIW, when you slow down, you have time to identify which muscles are holding undesirable tension and release it. You have time to experiment with releasing different muscles and seeing what the results are when you do.

Ideally, your teacher will also point out which specific muscles to release instead of just saying stupidly "relax!" Because relaxing completely isn't the answer either, unless you're a possum.

Slow practice also gives you time to develop confidence and to deal with any lingering fear that might also be causing unnecessary tension in your posture and movement. Frankly, good quality slow practice is difficult stuff to learn and I'm still learning it and trying to learn it, but it's better (and gets more constructive results) than most of the headless chicken practice I've witnessed in my day.

Regards,

Lyle Laizure
09-29-2009, 06:54 AM
I agree with David. Practice to the point you are physically exhausted. Don't forget to breathe though.

YogaRen
09-29-2009, 07:12 AM
unless you're a possum.



ohhh... duh... well, there's MY problem.. :p

John Matsushima
09-29-2009, 09:57 AM
When your mind is in a confident relaxed state of mind, your body will also be in that state. To get there, train a lot and do it for years. The part out of your control is that of developing expertise. Get really good at what you're doing. If you can do that, you will develop a relaxed state of mind and you will find the tensing up will stop.
Best,
Jorge

I agree. I think relaxation isn't taught, but comes with expertise. Rote training in proper movement, posture etc., is the way I learned to relax. People don't just tense up in Aikido, but other activities where certain physical movements are done for the first time are the same. I learned in my experience with other physical activities, it works the same way.

I think that having an improper state of mind can be an obstacle. In my experience, those with minds of confrontation seem to be tense no matter what kind of experience they have. Going around shouting OSS! at every chance, speaking with an aggressive, stern, loud voice and a mean, serious face doesn't help.

One point that I think is important to mention is that after you get to the point of being able to relax and act without thinking, be careful you don't get sloppy; that comes with arrogance.

Adman
09-29-2009, 10:13 AM
I agree with David. Practice to the point you are physically exhausted. Don't forget to breathe though.

Actually, I think David was mostly talking about pre-exhaustion before aikido. In that case, I'd have to agree with Mr. Hacker:

[snipped...] The key to learning how to appropriately release muscles doesn't lie in physically exhausting the muscles themselves, but in learning to control the job orders issued to those muscles.

Doing hundreds of repetitions to the point of physical exhaustion is more of a test of spirit and will than a path to correct technique. It can be a very useful tool, but when muscles are fatigued it's no longer really a choice to relax them.

It also goes without saying that I don't have time to physically exhaust myself in the fraction of an instant before an attack occurs. It's kinda like needing to stretch out before I can throw a decent kick. :-)

Kevin Leavitt
09-29-2009, 10:24 AM
I believe there is much merit in training to the point of exhaustion. Lots going on when you do this. One yes, it is training for the "suck" factor, spiritual and all that.

More importantly, I believe it also forces you to have to do things with correct posture principles etc. Once you get the "fight" out, you can let go and begin to move correctly as you are no longer in your own way.

In BJJ we do this alot, especially with new guys that are wrestlers. It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.

Janet Rosen
09-29-2009, 11:11 AM
I have to agree w/ Michael Hacker on this one. We need to find a way to train that instills the feeling in us to start with. I think there are a couple of paths to this - a teacher who can actually explain what muscles ARE used, visualization, working slowly and adding pressure (like from a jo) but not speed.
Also, I don't know about you, but when I'm exhausted I don't have good posture. I'm doubled over panting. Seriously. The last way I could learn how to do effective anything is when my heart, lungs, muscles and electrolyte system are overloaded. Maybe it works differently for 20 yr old men than for 54 yr old women.

Janet Rosen
09-29-2009, 11:12 AM
I should add that I DO believe there is merit in pushing limits including very hard training to point of exhaustion - I just don't think it is an effective way to teach the issue the OP raised.

Shadowfax
09-29-2009, 11:37 AM
It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.

Actually I have to beg to differ on this. This particular method of horse breaking teaches the animal nothing and does not foster trust in humans. Rather than force the horse to submit in this manner it is far easier and has a better result if you cause the horse to desire to be with you and to allow you to take the role as his leader through communication in his language.

Horses and Aikido do indeed have much in comon.

If the horse is afraid and tense he will learn less and more slowly than he will if he is helped to soften and give to the pressures put upon him. Working him to exhaustion only fosters in him the fears and creates in him a desire to avoid the training in the future.

It is very easy to tell a horse that has been trained gently form one that has been "broken" through rough handling.

Some people respond in similar ways. They need to be led gently and firmly until they find the answers rather than forced to find them through overwork, potential injury and exhaustion.

mjhacker
09-29-2009, 12:01 PM
It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.
The difference here is that broncos don't want to be tamed; you're forcing your will on them. If a student comes to my dojo to train, I assume they come of their own free will and intend to submit themself* to the training. If a student doesn't trust or follow what I'm telling them, they need to find a new dojo.

* How is this not considered to be a proper word by Merriam-Webster?

mjhacker
09-29-2009, 12:13 PM
Actually I have to beg to differ on this. This particular method of horse breaking teaches the animal nothing and does not foster trust in humans. Rather than force the horse to submit in this manner it is far easier and has a better result if you cause the horse to desire to be with you and to allow you to take the role as his leader through communication in his language.
Beautifully stated, Cherie!

I work on developing a high degree of trust with my students, just as my teacher helps me develop the same with him. I still have a lot of fear in me, but I'm letting it go.

The moment my teacher put his hands on me, he knew that I had been beaten up in my previous training. Beating people up teaches them to beat people up.

Shadowfax
09-29-2009, 12:14 PM
Them is plural self is singular... the combination is a contradiction. The word should either be their-self or themselves. ;)

Wild horses can develop a desire to be with humans and become willing partners given the right motivation and guidance. Just like those who maybe once considered themselves to be anti-violent and not interested in learning a martial art can be led to find a desire to train in this discipline.

Horses are among the creatures that lend themselves easily to domestication under the right circumstances, just like some people find that martial arts come natural to them given the right impression of what it means to be a martial artist.

Wild horses and I have a lot in common. :)

My apologies for the slight topic detour. I think in a way it still applies in an abstract sort of way.
I am a professional horse trainer and have worked with quite a number of troubled horses that were trained by humans behaving like predators rather then humans behaving like herd leaders.


I work on developing a high degree of trust with my students, just as my teacher helps me develop the same with him. I still have a lot of fear in me, but I'm letting it go

It appears that yo and I also maybe have a lot in common. ;)

tarik
09-29-2009, 12:28 PM
I believe there is much merit in training to the point of exhaustion. Lots going on when you do this. One yes, it is training for the "suck" factor, spiritual and all that.

More importantly, I believe it also forces you to have to do things with correct posture principles etc. Once you get the "fight" out, you can let go and begin to move correctly as you are no longer in your own way.

In BJJ we do this alot, especially with new guys that are wrestlers. It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.

Young bucks (and some young does) are not being taught how to relax by letting them train to the point of exhaustion, they're getting all the misdirected testosterone laced idiocy out of their systems, at which point, PERHAPS they can be taught how to relax.

The two aren't really related, IMO, even though good things about how minimal movements and correct posture even while exhausted are effective can be learned. But not all newbies require this treatment to learn.

Real trust in the teacher is required. I'm finding that even when this is explicitly spoken and believed, it takes real time invested before that trust becomes real enough at the gut level to be acted upon when buttons are being pushed (gently or otherwise).

Regards,

mickeygelum
09-29-2009, 12:29 PM
The muscles fibers that become stiff and tense when you see attacks coming are the same muscle fibers that are used for mobility in the body. By fatiguing the mobility muscle fibers (before they become tense) your body then has to rely on the muscle fibers that are primarily used for stabilization. The feeling you have at this point is active relaxation and a goal to be consciously reproduce without fatiguing the mobility muscles.

Predominantly using the abdominal muscles for breathing instead of the chest muscles is very important.

David

Mobility muscle fibers, stability muscle fibers, Do you just make this s#*t up or what?

In order to breathe the following process always occurs :
Inhalation of air through your nose or mouth, into your lungs. This occurs when the muscle called the DIAPHRAGM contracts and lowers filling your lungs with the inhalation. This allows the oxygen to osmosize through the cilia of the lungs, oxygenating the blood in the arteries, that then carry the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. The muscles and tissues use the oxygen as fuel, producing a byproduct of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide infused blood then travels back through the body in the veins and as it passes through the lungs, it is exhaled through your nose and mouth. The process then repeats itself.

The appearance of abdominal muscles expanding and contracting is due to the diaphragm working to keep the blood oxygenated in porportion to the amount of exertion of the muscles. The pectoral muscles only appear to to expand and contract as the lungs fill to capacity due to the diaphragm working to ensure oxygenation of blood.

Mickey

Kevin Leavitt
09-29-2009, 12:29 PM
The difference here is that broncos don't want to be tamed; you're forcing your will on them. If a student comes to my dojo to train, I assume they come of their own free will and intend to submit themself* to the training. If a student doesn't trust or follow what I'm telling them, they need to find a new dojo.

* How is this not considered to be a proper word by Merriam-Webster?

Understand. Some though can't get out of their own way. Mind/body connection simply is at odds and by training hard and exhaustive, you can "let go" and begin to relax.

It is not about literally forcing your students or torturing them, but about helping them work through the process.

Janet's point is also well taken and that has to be considered as well. that is, when you are tired your posture, focus, etc may not be as alert. That is true, agreed.

You can't go into this phase exclusively with out providing guidance and slow, deliberate study that allows students to reinforce new habits, that is a very important part of the process for sure.

However, I think though, when you start address "Stress" or "Relaxation" that requires a multi-faceted approach that is based on Solo Training, Kokyo, Partnered Kata/Waza, and Randori at increasing levels. All under the guidance of an instructor that understands how to train this process correctly.

A lot of the bad rap that Aikido gets I believe is due to the fact that students train within a certain paradiqm or with certain folks and then when they are presented with any change in that process they fall apart as they have not stressed the system. When you fall apart you lose the ability to relax.

So, if your goal is to learn to relax, I think you have to train the spectrum that it encompasses.

My comments where not to say this is the ONLY way to train, but I do believe it is a very valid and appropriate way if done correctly. I know it is, cause I train that way quite a bit.

That said, I do find myself training slower and slower these days as it is what I need in my practice right now.

FWIW, there ARE students that ARE the essense of a "Wild Stallion" and you need to "wear them out" for them to begin to learn.

Different people learn in different ways so it takes unique approaches to get through to people sometimes.

"Wearing them out" is not abuse though and you do need to keep things safe and protect them. Wanna make that clear.

mjhacker
09-29-2009, 12:37 PM
So, if your goal is to learn to relax, I think you have to train the spectrum that it encompasses.
All in good time. But I won't do this with a beginner who doesn't understand how to release yet. I have a guy who is now a brown belt (and also has 30-some years of karate in his background). I'm starting to push him harder and harder now after 2 years of training.

My comments where not to say this is the ONLY way to train, but I do believe it is a very valid and appropriate way if done correctly. I know it is, cause I train that way quite a bit.
At some level, it has definite uses.

That said, I do find myself training slower and slower these days as it is what I need in my practice right now.
The slower I train, the faster I become.

FWIW, there ARE students that ARE the essense of a "Wild Stallion" and you need to "wear them out" for them to begin to learn.
These folks tend to either change or leave on their own. :-)

Shadowfax
09-29-2009, 12:41 PM
FWIW, there ARE students that ARE the essence of a "Wild Stallion" and you need to "wear them out" for them to begin to learn. The wild stallion only learns one thing when you train him this way.... Humans are predators. He may eventually learn but he will never willingly give himself to you as he would if you taught him with understanding.

Not saying all training is gentle and yes pressures must eventually be increased in training so as to overcome instinct in a high stress situation. But in the very beginning of training, earning trust and developing that leadership for them to follow is a must.

Personally I find that when I hit the point of exhaustion I can't learn effectively. I know each person learns differently but I am a kinesthetic leaner much like the animal we are using for comparison. I have found the same to be true in them. Submission is not the same as learning. Certainly I might fall more easily when I am tired but I no longer pay attention to how I fall and controlling it. Perhaps I wont use so much muscle in executing a technique but I also will not tune into the subtle differences in the feel of how my body is working. I might succeed and yet never understand how I succeeded in the execution.

Working a horse to a standstill may seem to be and in many cases is a faster means to the end result but often times it leaves gaping holes in the training that will eventually come out and sometimes to a very bad end for the trainer.

dps
09-29-2009, 12:58 PM
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the attack come to me without tensing up ? :)

An attack or perceived attack would trigger the "flight or fight mode" which includes a chemical dump that the body uses to prepare for the flight or fight.
The simplest way to use up these chemicals is through physical activity. A preemptive strike would be to tire the muscles before the chemical dump.
I would use this until you have learned how to control this instinct response.

In my experience some horses respond well to training, some horses you have to keep waking up to train them and some horse you have to let them " burn off nervous energy" before they respond to training

David

Shadowfax
09-29-2009, 01:15 PM
Burning off nervous energy can certainly help one to settle down and learn but I actually find that I get better results using that energy productively. Its a good place to train. With the green reactive horse I'll use that and direct it in something that requires less mental concentration on his part and maybe uses just his instinctive reactions until he begins to show me that he is becoming mentally engaged with me. AKA Join up.

In my personal training I have found that the warm ups and ukemi practice work well for settling me into and preparing for the work to come. But in either case I want to have something left to work with when it comes to the more advanced work.

dps
09-29-2009, 01:42 PM
Burning off nervous energy can certainly help one to settle down and learn but I actually find that I get better results using that energy productively. Its a good place to train. With the green reactive horse I'll use that and direct it in something that requires less mental concentration on his part and maybe uses just his instinctive reactions until he begins to show me that he is becoming mentally engaged with me. AKA Join up..

You have much experience with horses than I do. So I will concede to your expertise on horses.

Thank You
David

Walter Martindale
09-29-2009, 01:44 PM
Mobility muscle fibers, stability muscle fibers, Do you just make this s#*t up or what?

In order to breathe the following process always occurs :
Inhalation of air through your nose or mouth, into your lungs. This occurs when the muscle called the DIAPHRAGM contracts and lowers filling your lungs with the inhalation. This allows the oxygen to osmosize through the cilia of the lungs, oxygenating the blood in the arteries, that then carry the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. The muscles and tissues use the oxygen as fuel, producing a byproduct of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide infused blood then travels back through the body in the veins and as it passes through the lungs, it is exhaled through your nose and mouth. The process then repeats itself.

The appearance of abdominal muscles expanding and contracting is due to the diaphragm working to keep the blood oxygenated in porportion to the amount of exertion of the muscles. The pectoral muscles only appear to to expand and contract as the lungs fill to capacity due to the diaphragm working to ensure oxygenation of blood.

Mickey

Um... Yes, diaphragm does drive most of the increase in lung volume, which lowers the pressure within the lungs, which allows air from the outside to flow inwards to the lower pressure area - people call this inhaling.

The pectorals don't take part in the expansion of the chest, and I'm not sure that this was the set of muscles being referred to in the earlier post.

There are, however, other chest muscles - you can probably easily palpate them if you've been training for a while - they are called Intercostal muscles (they're between the ribs), and assist in expanding the chest (and in contracting the chest, as well) to increase the volume of the lungs, decreasing the pressure inside, and causing air to flow from the high pressure zone outside to the low pressure zone inside. I'm skipping a lot of detail about pleura.

Anyhoo - I'm going to go look at websites relating to tsunami warnings in the south pacific. There was a 7.9 earthquake not long ago near American Samoa, and there's a "watch" issued for a whole lot of places, including NZ. Might be not much, but the mountains are an hour's drive from Christchurch... Oh - the radio says NZ's not in the warning zone. Whew.

W

Larry Cuvin
09-29-2009, 01:46 PM
Tim,
This worked for me: since this is training in the dojo where it is safe, you know that the uke is there to give you the right intent to the attack but is not going to hit you ( I hope). Then if you know the uke is not going to hit you, so why tense up? You are both in training and are there to both learn as uke and nage, right? Just let go and know that you are in a safe environment to learn. You don't need to be excited or be agitated when you get attacked. Just visualize the movement before the attack and just perform.

Shadowfax
09-29-2009, 01:51 PM
David.. thank you. I would not refer to myself as an expert so much as a very experienced student of their nature. ;) There is no end to learning and even the experts don't know it all.

Using horses as an example for me helps me relate to my own training and be able to share my experience. It is not my desire to prove anyone right or wrong so much as to explain my point of view so that hopefully someone might benefit. If no one else does, I do, as this discussion causes me to really examine my own training and thoughts on it.

Walter I hope that you and yours remain safe if this threat becomes a reality.

This worked for me: since this is training in the dojo where it is safe, you know that the uke is there to give you the right intent to the attack but is not going to hit you ( I hope). Then if you know the uke is not going to hit you, so why tense up?

another approach to this was mentioned above. If you are afraid of beign hit then perhaps you shuld ask uke to go ahead and make contact... not hard but enough to maybe let you begin tirealize that getting hit is not going to end you. Self preservation is a wonderful thuing buit sometimes it really gets in the way when it overrides the ability to think and act.

I have this issue at times as well so I can feel your pain. When I get locked up like I said I run through a breathing exercise and tell myself I'm perfectly safe and ok. And then I do it again. part of it is building trust in your partners and that can only come through many repetitions and positive experience.

mjhacker
09-29-2009, 02:01 PM
Using horses as an example for me helps me relate to my own training and be able to share my experience.
Have you talked to Linda Eskin? She's also a horse person who uses her experience with horses in her Aikido training.

mjhacker
09-29-2009, 02:08 PM
Tim,
This worked for me: since this is training in the dojo where it is safe, you know that the uke is there to give you the right intent to the attack but is not going to hit you ( I hope).
In my dojo, I will make contact with you if you don't move or change the line. How I do this depends on your experience level. With brand new beginners, I teach them ways that allow them to become gradually desensitized to the fear of having a hand in their face. But with a more experienced people, I'll make contact and drop him on his butt. Note: I do not strike to hurt people nor do I strike them percussively. My atemi is always designed to disrupt and destabilize my partner's posture (kuzushi).

Then if you know the uke is not going to hit you, so why tense up?
Knowing is only half the battle. ;-) There's knowing and there's KNOWING, and there's a rather large space betwixt the two. I can tell you something, but for you to really believe it in your flesh and bones, rather than it being an intellectual exercise, takes time and proper, gradual training.

tarik
09-29-2009, 02:59 PM
This worked for me: since this is training in the dojo where it is safe, you know that the uke is there to give you the right intent to the attack but is not going to hit you ( I hope).

Saturday, I didn't do a technique to test uke's attack and she laid me out flat on my ass on the mat. It's exactly what I expected and required her to do.

Then if you know the uke is not going to hit you, so why tense up?

She did connect, not percussively, but if I'd tensed up, I'd have potentially gotten hurt.

You are both in training and are there to both learn as uke and nage, right? Just let go and know that you are in a safe environment to learn. You don't need to be excited or be agitated when you get attacked. Just visualize the movement before the attack and just perform.

Yes, precisely, but there are ways that work and there are ways that work.. less. How did I get to where I could receive her attack like that? I think I've already hinted that in other posts.

Regards,

Kevin Leavitt
09-29-2009, 03:57 PM
All in good time. But I won't do this with a beginner who doesn't understand how to release yet. I have a guy who is now a brown belt (and also has 30-some years of karate in his background). I'm starting to push him harder and harder now after 2 years of training.

At some level, it has definite uses.

The slower I train, the faster I become.

These folks tend to either change or leave on their own. :-)

I think we are on the same sheet of music. It appears alot of this is semantics. Agreed about the beginner, and I should have pointed that out. You have to do an assessment about mental and physical conditioning and skills...there certainly is no value in whooping the crap out of someone that is not ready for that type of training.

I tend to work alot with a different profile than what we might find in an aikido dojo with Soldiers and BJJ guys. I work with a lot of wrestlers that have decent body skills and an expectation of a level of agression and pressure that is a bit different than maybe is in an aikido dojo, so I have to remember that as well.

Shadowfax
09-29-2009, 03:58 PM
Have you talked to Linda Eskin? She's also a horse person who uses her experience with horses in her Aikido training.

LOL yeah Linda and I have been pals on here and on Facebook for some time now. She and I started at about the same time and have very similar experience on coming to aikido.

Ok had a bit of discussion on this topic with a friend of mine, who has years of experience as a MA teacher, this afternoon. I can see how training to exhaustion might be a useful learning tool to help relaxation. But the way I'm understanding the concept of Shugyo at the moment I still think that technique is maybe not the first choice for someone in the OP's predicament.

I still would not apply the concept to horses though and neither would he. Just a totally different creature with a totally different way of responding to such things. More on that in my other thread.

John Matsushima
09-29-2009, 08:16 PM
Concerning training while exhausted, I'd like to say that I while I don't recommend it for learning to relax, I think it is good for learning to perform when you are at your weakest. I don't think this is for beginners who don't even know what proper posture and technique is, however.

tarik
09-29-2009, 11:23 PM
Concerning training while exhausted, I'd like to say that I while I don't recommend it for learning to relax, I think it is good for learning to perform when you are at your weakest. I don't think this is for beginners who don't even know what proper posture and technique is, however.

Agreed.

Regards,

Larry Cuvin
09-30-2009, 01:18 AM
I totally agree with you Tarik and Michael regarding proper execution of the attack especially at the higher kyu levels. I distinctly remember the same situation happening to me not too long ago when I was at his level and even now at brown belt, I constantly remind myself not to tense up. At 5th kyu however it was harder for me not to tense up because when I was at this level, I was still thinking of the mechanics of the technique.
At our dojo, we are told to attack to the level of your partner (when their rank is lower) and always up the ante (i.e. speed and resistance) to help them progress. I just hope that Tim's cause for tensing up is just due to his experience level.

Mark Freeman
09-30-2009, 05:29 AM
Concerning training while exhausted, I'd like to say that I while I don't recommend it for learning to relax, I think it is good for learning to perform when you are at your weakest. I don't think this is for beginners who don't even know what proper posture and technique is, however.

I agree with this. Using exhaustion to gain relaxation is not a good strategy. Imagine being accosted by an assailant and saying to them "can you just wait there while I run round the block, then I'll be ready"?:D
Relaxation is a mind/body state that a) takes a long time and much practice to really take advantage of and b) beats physical tension every time.
I find slow study the fastest way to relaxation, it gives time for deep enquiry into where the tension is when things are not going effortlessly, sometimes it is muscular, but as often as not, it is in the mind, too much 'wanting it to happen' and therefore too much 'trying'. When the relaxed state required is reached, speed can be gradually increased. The problem with going quickly, too quickly, is that the deeply ingrained mind/body tensions are inevitably going to show up just when you dont want them:(

The slower I go, the quicker I get:)

regards,

Mark

dps
09-30-2009, 07:26 AM
Imagine being accosted by an assailant and saying to them "can you just wait while I do some deep inquiry , then I'll be ready"?

At least running around the block will get you away from the assailant. :D :D

David

Josh Reyer
09-30-2009, 09:36 AM
* How is this not considered to be a proper word by Merriam-Webster?Plural word attached to a singular. I myself enjoy the gender-neutrality of "they/their/them", but if you going to use the plural, ya gotta go whole hawg on it.

In the sword school I study, for beginners the primary objective is intent. Without intent in kata training, you have nothing, so whether form is good or bad, whether the student is relaxed or not, whether they do it right or wrong, none of that matters as long as they have intent.

To get relaxation, we start with the beginning and the end. You make sure you're relaxed (or at the least, more relaxed than normally) before the kata starts, and then again at the end. Naturally, it requires a fair bit of practice to really relax, but eventually you become aware of the difference between when you're relaxed in the beginning/ending and tense during the technique. And awareness is half the battle.

Another "trick" I've found effective is focusing on tensing up where it's good to tense up: the muscles surrounding the abdomen. It's physically difficult to tense the whole body, so when you focus on that area, the arms and legs naturally relax. You start to move with the whole body, and you find you don't need to put any strength in your arms in order to deliver power. You maintain stability, and this physically enables you to see the opponent more clearly. Clearly seeing the opponent helps keep you from getting rushed or hurried; you sense you have more time than it may normally seem. With a calm mind you maintain relaxation.

Kevin Leavitt
09-30-2009, 09:36 AM
My thoughts exactly David.

I think what we have going on is two different focuses on training in some respect.

Toby Threadgill actually wrote a very good essay on this issue that sums up the issue for me.

http://www.shinyokai.com/Essays_PCSConditioning.htm

Erick Mead
09-30-2009, 09:58 AM
I agree with Kevin that "relaxed" is not "collapsed." I like to illustrate the concept by structural examples -- in this instance a hanging cable or rope. It has a natural shape created by carrying its own weight. The interesting thing is that regardless how large small the span or how long or short the cable, that shape is always EXACTLY the same shape, just at different scales.

People have a tendency to anticipate loads and changes in loads on the body caused by movement, impact, bearing or lifting. Every single one of these anticipatory changes is suki -- an exploitable opening, because it is responding to a mentally created illusion of a factual situation that does not (yet) exist. The mind perceives a contemplated loading and is trying to adapt ahead of the load because it wishes a greater margin of time to manipulate it consciously. But this is completely unnecessary -- and made necessary, only because most people already carry themselves around in an almost constant state of anticipatory "lock-up." This is most noticeable in the shoulders and in the hips where the two major load conversion centers are (upper cross and lower dantien), if you prefer.

If you take a hanging cable, chain or rope and hang a weight on it, it automatically and instantly adopts the necessary shape to carry the load with minimum stress. If you hang two weights in different locations it does the same thing, or three or four or a dozen. There is no mind involved in this, and no anticipation is necessary for the structure to accomplish it.

Long answer short -- if you carry the weight of your body as a hanging chain carries its own weight, then you will find that the structure itself tends to adapt in much the same manner as the hanging cable and little mental intervention is required. The body is more complex and supercritical, and the cables are spirally arranged rather than simple planar cable spans -- but even so, the same laws apply -- just in a narrower range and in one extra dimension. There is nervous system involved but mostly spinal and cerebellar arcs, not higher brain functions.

This is "relaxed." Once you learn the intuitive shape (and its differently appearing scales) that responds to loading by instantaneous adaptation, you can learn to invert the process of adaptation and then you can drive structure by use of that shape dynamically. That process of instantaneously shifting an adaptive load through connected structures is very different from the "anticipatory" joint-levered tension, unconnected to any load, that we started with. That adaptive process is what we mean by kokyu tanden ho.

Erick Mead
09-30-2009, 10:04 AM
Imagine being accosted by an assailant and saying to them "can you just wait while I do some deep inquiry , then I'll be ready"?

At least running around the block will get you away from the assailant. :D :D

DavidProper maai to safely deal with a .50 cal. BMG ~ slightly under a mile and a half. ;)

Mark Freeman
09-30-2009, 11:14 AM
My thoughts exactly David.

I think what we have going on is two different focuses on training in some respect.

Toby Threadgill actually wrote a very good essay on this issue that sums up the issue for me.

http://www.shinyokai.com/Essays_PCSConditioning.htm

Excellent article Kevin, thanks for posting. Food for thought for anyone involved in martial arts/self defence. In essence there are 2 levels of relaxation attainable 1) that which is gained through practice in the dojo, which can be deep and satisfying and 2) that which is gained by high intensity/stress training, mimicing real violence, where hopefully the dojo skills learned will be utilised. Most will only ever get, or want relaxation 1, however relaxation 2 may just save your life.

regards,

Mark

dps
09-30-2009, 11:25 AM
My thoughts exactly David.

I think what we have going on is two different focuses on training in some respect.

Toby Threadgill actually wrote a very good essay on this issue that sums up the issue for me.

http://www.shinyokai.com/Essays_PCSConditioning.htm

Excellent link Kevin thanks.

David

ramenboy
09-30-2009, 01:25 PM
i agree with everyone who picked 'exhaustion' on the game board! ding ding ding ding ding!!!!!! then your body just moves. and eventually the movement becomes second nature.

and one of the worse things to do is to 'try' to relax. or 'think' about relaxing. then you start thinking too much about how to do it, and you can't. one of my instructors would say as soon as someone tells you to relax, you can't.

Ron Tisdale
09-30-2009, 01:29 PM
I might succeed and yet never understand how I succeeded in the execution.

Amen.

Best,
Ron

Howard Popkin
09-30-2009, 02:12 PM
Honto ni - Roppokai no yawara kaku waza desu

Beeru to Osake to Shochu

Keith Larman
09-30-2009, 02:31 PM
Relaxing is a red herring. The real problem is connecting to them so you can control them without allowing them to connect to you in return. That's a lot more complex. Now you can't do that without some degree of relaxation. But... the relaxation isn't the goal, just a necessary part of a much bigger picture.

For relaxation... I'm more inclined to go for a double, ice-cold, very dry Sapphire Martini with two or three good quality olives.

Or a really good Bordeaux, a piece of really good chocolate, and a good book.

Shadowfax
09-30-2009, 02:32 PM
i agree with everyone who picked 'exhaustion' on the game board! ding ding ding ding ding!!!!!! then your body just moves. and eventually the movement becomes second nature.


Strange... when I'm exhausted my body refuses to move at all. My reflexes are dull and it is really hard to respond at all much less by reflex, certainly not at all accurately. Now if I am just tired enough, mentally, to take the edge off I do find that it helps me to slow down and feel what I am doing allow it to happen instead of making it happen.

Erick's illustration about the rope is very interesting. Something to give some consideration to. Thank you for that post.

Kevin Leavitt
09-30-2009, 03:36 PM
Strange... when I'm exhausted my body refuses to move at all. My reflexes are dull and it is really hard to respond at all much less by reflex, certainly not at all accurately. Now if I am just tired enough, mentally, to take the edge off I do find that it helps me to slow down and feel what I am doing allow it to happen instead of making it happen.

Erick's illustration about the rope is very interesting. Something to give some consideration to. Thank you for that post.

Understand when you are exhausted your body gets tired of moving. That is the whole point of training this way. You are now at a point of vital conservation in which you must move very, very economical and very efficient. You should start realizing the true "cost" of movement and energy that may not be present when you have all your faculties present and a higher margin of error, or strength to compensate.

I find once I have exhausted my large muscle groups to the point that they are essentially useless, I must use my core, make choices based on economy of movement etc.

Everything now matters and it is very apparent whereas before this point, it was not.

Yeah it sucks because it is harder and yeah it sucks because I may not be as good, or my reflexes may not be as responsive, but removing these things allows for a different level of training that is vital if you ever expect to learn the full spectrum of trainng.

Pauliina Lievonen
09-30-2009, 05:32 PM
Maybe it also depends on what you start with. I absolutely am not more relaxed when I'm exausted, instead I start to compensate with muscles that are not optimal for the movements. But I'm pretty relaxed when I'm not tired!

It's a very small sample but I notice in this thread none of the women find exhaustion a good aid to relaxation?

I do find occasionally training to the point of exhaustion is useful for training spirit and being able to keep going even when your thinking gets more fuzzy and that sort of thing.

kvaak
Pauliina

Voitokas
09-30-2009, 06:13 PM
I try not to practise when I'm physically exhausted - I think that past a certain point, one is more prone to injury. Maybe when you're so advanced that you do the right thing naturally, this isn't an issue, but it still is for me. :) (Although one wonders if, by the time one is that good, one isn't in their late forties at least, and should therefore be taking better care of their liver, etc. than forcing their bodies to glucose starvation...)

tim evans
09-30-2009, 06:43 PM
WOW! thanks to all who responded I,m going to have to meditate on this thread for a while.thanks:)

Walter Martindale
09-30-2009, 06:47 PM
Terms. Hmm.
"relax" - I usually associate with feet up on a nice day and a cold beer at hand.
"reflex" - uncontrolled response to a stimulus
"respond" - controlled response to a stimulus...

A "shock absorber" gives the springs in the car a controlled response to displacements of the suspension system.

An analogous response mechanism in a trained person might be something they might call "relaxed", but it isn't really relaxed. Ready to blend with a movement and act as a dampening mechanism - that's not relaxed, but it's also not tense - it's something between the two states.
RELAX - yell it out to someone, and watch their shoulders rise up around their ears. Explain the dampening response (but that's not quite it, either), and people start to get away from being stiff.

Sorry - the sedatives from this morning's procedure are still with me - off to bed for a while.

Cheers,
Walter

Voitokas
09-30-2009, 08:11 PM
The terms are used in so many different ways! (viz http://www.springerlink.com/content/4tlcla11dyp7vw3h/)
But there are voluntary and involuntary reflexes, and most of what we think of involving skeletal muscle are voluntary. One can learn to modulate voluntary reflexes, depending on how far up the central nervous system the signal goes and how many neurons are involved, and they can be faster or slower, which is I think what Kevin was talking about.

Rob Watson
09-30-2009, 08:53 PM
Listen to your body and feel what is not relaxed (what is tense) then really isolate and tense even more then release the tension. Sure, during execution of technique you will get your timing off so don't practice this during technique! There are a great many times during the day in which one becomes tensed so practive resolving tension then and it will carry over.

Start small. Notice the tension in the jaw and/or face (this can lead to tension headaches) so when you feel this tension then isolate, tense and release. It will happen faster with practice. Evenually you can skip the tension part and jump directly to isolate and release.

The next step is likely the shoulders which are universally tense unless specifically trained not to be so.

Once you get good at noticing, identification, isolation nd releasing of tension now you can work on finding the source of the tension and ways to short circuit the start of tension by noticing the triggers.

This works by giving tools to deal with tension by working backwards from "I've got too much tension and now here is how to release it" up to "Oh! that is a trigger that can lead to tension so now I can resolve before the tension sets in".

If you get along to dealing with the face and shoulder tension then rest of the body falls into place (usually). Some folks are just tense from head to toe so they have to work extra hard on more areas.

Works pretty good for me anyway.

Shadowfax
09-30-2009, 09:29 PM
I find once I have exhausted my large muscle groups to the point that they are essentially useless, I must use my core, make choices based on economy of movement etc.

Hmm economy and efficiency of movement and core use are already pretty much instinct for me. My horsemanship training pretty much gives me an advantage on that. I just need to learn the feel of the aikido movements and train my body to respond in that pattern. One thing I have read and would recommend trying is to take up riding. I've heard it said that it can improve ones aikido... aikido certainly is improving my horsemanship, or rather returning it to what it once was.. If anyone should take that serious look for an instructor that is familiar with centered riding techniques and Sally swift.

I don't disagree that this kind of training might be valuable. Until I have experienced it I can't judge.And I am told by, someone who knows me well, that I would actually find it beneficial with the right teaching and at the right time for it. But I really think its not for the beginner either.

moreiraramon
10-01-2009, 06:22 AM
Thank u 4 asking the question. This is something i have been struggling with ,i get so tense that i have tired quicly during practice . I appreciaet the advice . I like what you'll have said bout relaxation will come in time as my aikido improves and I feel more confident and comfortable with the training environment . It makes sense though I had not considered that. Tahnks for the enlightment.:ai: :ki: :do:

phitruong
10-01-2009, 10:16 AM
I like what you'll have said bout relaxation will come in time as my aikido improves and I feel more confident and comfortable with the training environment .

not in agreement with that statement. you trained in tension for 20 years, still tension. it depends on training methodology. i'll plagiarized some systema stuffs here. tension comes in three forms: physical, mental, and emotional. they have interdependency with each others. easiest to deal with is physical.

Kevin Leavitt
10-01-2009, 10:56 AM
not in agreement with that statement. you trained in tension for 20 years, still tension. it depends on training methodology. i'll plagiarized some systema stuffs here. tension comes in three forms: physical, mental, and emotional. they have interdependency with each others. easiest to deal with is physical.

Haven't thought about it this way before, but I believe this is a good way to look at it...of course it is all realitive!

In many ways, I think the physical CAN be the easiest to deal with, certainly it is the most TANGIBLE and QUANTIFIABLE form.

So, when we go into "Neural Override", or deal with an amount of physical force we are not comfortable with, then it taxes the mental/emotional areas which control/influence the physical...which is a vicious cycle so to speak.

I don't believe you can detach the three, of course as they each affect the other, so while we can say the physical is the easiest...in isolation of the other two...I agree...however, the mental and emotional aspects are so intertwined with the physical...I don't think it really is possible to say this in a way that is pratical or applicable to reality..which therein...lay the paradox!

Kevin Leavitt
10-01-2009, 11:10 AM
Hmm economy and efficiency of movement and core use are already pretty much instinct for me. My horsemanship training pretty much gives me an advantage on that. I just need to learn the feel of the aikido movements and train my body to respond in that pattern. One thing I have read and would recommend trying is to take up riding. I've heard it said that it can improve ones aikido... aikido certainly is improving my horsemanship, or rather returning it to what it once was.. If anyone should take that serious look for an instructor that is familiar with centered riding techniques and Sally swift.

I don't disagree that this kind of training might be valuable. Until I have experienced it I can't judge.And I am told by, someone who knows me well, that I would actually find it beneficial with the right teaching and at the right time for it. But I really think its not for the beginner either.

ah...this might be a big part of the disconnect!

It appears that you are looking at the kinesthic practice of aikido as a way to improve your horsemanship. No issues if that is working for you. Certainly you don't need to train this way if this is your goal! Horses don't really pin you on the ground and beat the crap out of you, nor do they deliberately attempt to thwart your attempts to overcome them or to escalate things to a point of putting you at a tactical disadvantage.

Translated: they don't fight.

No doubt Horsemanship can improve your aikido. There are lots of practices that can improve your aikido. Playing Go, fencing, Yoga...etc.

For me, though aikido is a means to the end, not the end, so that being the case...it is a tool or methodology for understanding the physical applicaitons of conflict or fighting.

So, with that in mind, I believe we are looking at the same thing differently, therefore, their would be a different focus on value of skills.

So, with that in mind, physical stressful overload and learning to deal with it from my perspecitve (and many in that focus on the martial practice) is of primary importance...that is, once you hit a threshold of beyond that of comfort or experience how do you "relax".

phitruong
10-01-2009, 11:41 AM
I don't believe you can detach the three, of course as they each affect the other, so while we can say the physical is the easiest...in isolation of the other two...I agree...however, the mental and emotional aspects are so intertwined with the physical...I don't think it really is possible to say this in a way that is pratical or applicable to reality..which therein...lay the paradox!

whole heart in agreement with you. thing is we need a starting point, which i believed the easiest and more apparent is physical. i remembered Hooker sensei said at one of the seminar "you need to enter his mind through his body, then enter his body through his mind." of course, Hooker sensei was hitting Sparkman sensei in the small rib area at the time. which later, Hooker sensei gave Sparkman sensei feet massage where Sparkman proclaimed his love for Hooker sensei, which is the emotional side of the fence. so the lesson i learned that day was you start with physical, then mental, then emotional. this is in line with the formula for success from the Dog Whisperer dude: exercise (physical), discipline (mental), and affection (emotional), in that order. :)

Kevin Leavitt
10-01-2009, 11:45 AM
Yup agree...starting point is key and a great verbalization of that Phi, again, i never really looked it this way, but starting point is what it is.

thisisnotreal
10-01-2009, 12:29 PM
Here are some thoughts..just for fun, okay..? (and i am not even sure if this is obvious .. or even wrong) .. so take it with a big grain of salt..

I thought the OP wanted to know how to deal with getting hit, in a relaxed way.
I don't know how to do that. I suspect the answer is to train your body in anti-aiki to absorb (?) that .. i remember reading about ‘terrible' punches that could be absorbed and redirected (to the ground)..but i know nothing other than the possibility that this may exist.
I am still tense when i get punched. I find that tensing of the outer muscles protects the inner stuff/guts. I don't really know of any other way. I understand ‘relaxing' here...to mean "not being brittle"..but still flexing or inflating the body to absorb the hit. If anyone has ideas here (other than getting hit 10,000 times to get used to it), I'd love to hear it. At this point i still think it is a matter of conditioning (i.e. taking the 10thousand) to be relaxed for that; but I am all ears and would love to hear more..

Regarding relaxing ...specifically tiring yourself out...well..these are some ideas (which are certainly not new..). If i'm wrong; maybe you can tell me where it goes pear shaped (or what i'm missing)..
Okay; it starts like this
1. I'm thinking that the muscles and tendons of the body are marvelous ‘devices' that are designed to do one thing: animate the skeletal system. They provide motion and motive forces .. to move the skeleton around. That is their function. To move the body itself. (read: not to move other stuff or bodies)
2. Any ‘external load' (visualize a 5lb weight carried by your arms straight in front of, parallel to the ground, with the weight cantilevered outward) is a different type of load. In this "normal" way of ‘lifting' you are now ‘carrying' the load in the muscles. Probably the shoulders, for this example.

Here's the thinking; Relax means doing what you need to do to maintain your own body's structural integrity. This is priority 1. Just BE. Strongly. And it will certainly include flexing some parts.
Don't think of ‘doing something' to somebody. Don't think of ‘carrying' a weight. Don't think of pushing uke. Don't *do* anything as a priority..instead shift the thinking to make it a priority to try to keep your body integrity. Try to make whatever external thing is happening a *part* of you. Let the load disperse across the entire skeletal system. Let the load 'in'. (safely!) Consider any load borne in the body's muscles, in the normal way, it is a stimulus that attempts to destroy your structural integrity. To negate and fight that 'attack' , usually you locally flex that muscle and carry the load there...in the flexed muscle. (shoulder, for instance) But now we shift to think that relaxing means _not_ carrying the load...but rather includes doing what you have to, in order to negate that destructive force by keeping your own body's integrity intact.

In the example of the cantilevered weight; consider what happens when you lift it over your head. Now a straight down path through your body to the ground. You don't ‘feel' the weight borne on the muscles of your body in nearly the same way. Now it kind of becomes just like your own body weight; borne by the body...so you've managed to make the load like a part of your own body. Now you have shifted and are using the muscles of your own body in a way much closer to what they are designed to do (i.e. animate the skeletal system). Obviously moving the weight over your head to establish a ground path is not always feasible. But perhaps there are ways to do it in the body....

What i think happens when you train to exhaustion beforehand is namely that you implicitly are too tired to ‘lift' and ‘push' around a load in a local, external muscle-born load...and (hopefully) you will default and do it in the ‘laziest' way possible...that becomes part of you...
Now...it bears saying that there are ways and there are ways to let it become part of you. I think there is a great depth here..

I am sure to butcher this quote; but I remember reading where O Sensei talks about the rhythm of the universe being in the feet, but the rhythm of man is in the hands. I came to read that to mean MOVE YOUR FEET. MOVE YOUR BODY to the right place. Don't carry weight in the muscles by catching the load with the hands (which is normal for man). .. (or something like that).

(disclaimer: I do not think that this is IT or IP or IS...but one of the things on the way to it)

That's just what i think (at this point)...
I am curious to hear your responses to this

p.s. I really like what Josh Reyer said about keeping the tension internalized in the abdomen. I believe that is consistent with what I wrote...because keeping the hips (/spine) and torso in integrity will be strongly aided by a strong abdomen. I think this alludes to 'body organization'...

pps. Sorry for the length; I find it hard to be precise and succinct with physical descriptions.

Best,
Josh P.

phitruong
10-01-2009, 01:23 PM
so take it with a big grain of salt..

Sea salt or Epsom salt or table salt or salt-flat's salt? :D


I don't know how to do that. I suspect the answer is to train your body in anti-aiki to absorb (?) that .. i remember reading about ‘terrible' punches that could be absorbed and redirected (to the ground)..but i know nothing other than the possibility that this may exist.
I am still tense when i get punched. I find that tensing of the outer muscles protects the inner stuff/guts. I don't really know of any other way.
Josh P.

tensing muscle just hurt more. so stop doing that. try this. breath in and expand your stomach, keep it expand but not compress the breath, have someone to hit you in the stomach (not too hard). now try to tensing up your stomach muscle (contract your stomach like you would do a sit up) and have someone hit you in the same place. notice the difference in the feel to you. the systema folks would love for you to tense up, because you've done half of the work for them. i believed my earlier posting on the systema drill would help you to deal with strikes.

personally, i started to dislike the term "relax". i think i like the term "staying loose" better.

Erick Mead
10-01-2009, 02:41 PM
i remembered Hooker sensei said at one of the seminar "you need to enter his mind through his body, then enter his body through his mind." of course, Hooker sensei was hitting Sparkman sensei in the small rib area at the time. which later, Hooker sensei gave Sparkman sensei feet massage where Sparkman proclaimed his love for Hooker sensei, which is the emotional side of the fence. Hooker reputedly illustrated that same point with a big wet smackeroo kiss on the lips -- followed by the most astonished uke in a koshinage you've ever seen ... I think it is usually told as a koshinage -- really though, I think nobody could concentrate on the throw at that point for laughing so hard..., or so Frank tells it.

How is Kevin Sparkman? Last I heard he was looking a lot leaner from treatment, but --- hopefully --- no meaner .... ;) Awesome guy. He started with Hooker here a couple of years before I did (''84-85), and left just before I started. He had a couple other arts under his belt when he started -- while I was a clumsy, green sophomore -- and still am, by some accounts. :D

Shadowfax
10-01-2009, 03:10 PM
ah...this might be a big part of the disconnect!

It appears that you are looking at the kinesthic practice of aikido as a way to improve your horsemanship. No issues if that is working for you. Certainly you don't need to train this way if this is your goal!

At the moment yes I look at it this way. But I would not say it is my goal. lo my current goal in Aikido is to just experience it and see what I can get out of it. People ask me what brought me to Aikido and I can answer that it was mostly horses. But I could not give you a clear answer right now as to what I want to gain from it. So to me it is neither a means to an end or an end. It is simply part of a journey of self discovery.



So, with that in mind, I believe we are looking at the same thing differently, therefore, their would be a different focus on value of skills.



Agreed.:) I already knew we were looking at the same thing differently. Cool thing about forums. Lots of people read them. Some will benefit form my POV some from yours and a whole lot will look elsewhere for their answers.;) Lots of people here have given lots of very valid answers depending on the situation of the reader. I hope out OP finds his answer among them.

Kevin Leavitt
10-01-2009, 04:24 PM
agreed Cherie!

phitruong
10-02-2009, 10:26 AM
Hooker reputedly illustrated that same point with a big wet smackeroo kiss on the lips -- followed by the most astonished uke in a koshinage you've ever seen ... I think it is usually told as a koshinage -- really though, I think nobody could concentrate on the throw at that point for laughing so hard..., or so Frank tells it.


that's funny! i got to remember that move for future usage. might come in handy when dealing with these internal masters. :D


How is Kevin Sparkman? Last I heard he was looking a lot leaner from treatment, but --- hopefully --- no meaner .... ;) Awesome guy. He started with Hooker here a couple of years before I did (''84-85), and left just before I started. He had a couple other arts under his belt when he started -- while I was a clumsy, green sophomore -- and still am, by some accounts. :D

saw him over a year ago. looked pretty good. still a tough nut to crack.

tarik
10-03-2009, 01:27 AM
Here are some thoughts..just for fun, okay..? (and i am not even sure if this is obvious .. or even wrong) .. so take it with a big grain of salt..

Josh, I like your post a lot. I think your observations are pretty much right on and where I was going with my advice.

I thought the OP wanted to know how to deal with getting hit, in a relaxed way. I don't know how to do that.

Start slow. Increase the pressure slowly. Whenever buttons are pushed, we tend to have reactions like tensing up, so slowing down helps us to specifically pay attention to that and to release the undesired tension. You have to increase the pressure until you've learned how to remain as relaxed as possible all the way to the terminal possibility of receiving the attack (on the floor).

I think what 'being relaxed' means is too often left undefined, but I think you define it well below:


Here's the thinking; Relax means doing what you need to do to maintain your own body's structural integrity. This is priority 1. Just BE. Strongly. And it will certainly include flexing some parts.
Don't think of ‘doing something' to somebody. Don't think of ‘carrying' a weight. Don't think of pushing uke. Don't *do* anything as a priority..instead shift the thinking to make it a priority to try to keep your body integrity. Try to make whatever external thing is happening a *part* of you. Let the load disperse across the entire skeletal system. Let the load 'in'. (safely!) Consider any load borne in the body's muscles, in the normal way, it is a stimulus that attempts to destroy your structural integrity. To negate and fight that 'attack' , usually you locally flex that muscle and carry the load there...in the flexed muscle. (shoulder, for instance) But now we shift to think that relaxing means _not_ carrying the load...but rather includes doing what you have to, in order to negate that destructive force by keeping your own body's integrity intact.

Note that this also applies to being tori as well as being uke.

I find it most helpful for myself and my students when the specific muscle(s) providing added, unnecessary tension (deltoids!) are clearly pointed out or even touched.

What i think happens when you train to exhaustion beforehand is namely that you implicitly are too tired to ‘lift' and ‘push' around a load in a local, external muscle-born load...and (hopefully) you will default and do it in the ‘laziest' way possible...that becomes part of you...

I do NOT find it helpful to train to failure or exhaustion to learn how to be this specific (although as noted before, there is a place for this training).

Now...it bears saying that there are ways and there are ways to let it become part of you. I think there is a great depth here..

Oh yes. Reprogramming our gut level reactions to unpleasant stimulus is what it's all about. Even when you believe and understand this stuff intellectually, re-wiring your nervous system takes a lot of effort. I really don't feel that exhaustion is automatically the best path.

I am sure to butcher this quote; but I remember reading where O Sensei talks about the rhythm of the universe being in the feet, but the rhythm of man is in the hands. I came to read that to mean MOVE YOUR FEET. MOVE YOUR BODY to the right place. Don't carry weight in the muscles by catching the load with the hands (which is normal for man). .. (or something like that).

Watch far too many of the aikido videos out there and what you'll see at the moment of kake or right before is tori STOPPING their feet instead of MOVING their feet. That's an automatic use of muscle to make the technique instead of staying connected with structural integrity and a definite 'fail' in my personal training paradigm (even if the technique 'worked').

Regards,

dps
10-03-2009, 07:28 PM
I don't think this is relevant to the OP, but will add to the discussion about adrenaline shock and an experience being "burned" into a person's nervous system.

If you read the whole article some of what is discussed might be disturbing.

http://www.edgework.info/article_therapeutic.html

Therapeutic Self-Defense: Training for Survivors of Violence and Abuse©

Ellis Amdur M.A., N.C.C., C.M.H.S

"One of the modern trends in self-defense classes is a dynamic workshop that functions as a rite of passage. In these workshops, a group trains in extremely effective methods of combat, which they practice against heavily padded instructors -- full force. The climax of the workshop is a graduation ceremony in which the participants defend themselves against an assailant, often in a replay of an assault they suffered in the past. They defeat their attacker this time, with power and rage. This can be a wonderful experience for most participants. Many people, despite skill in dojo simulations, are overwhelmed when flooded with an unexpected burst of adrenaline. As their stomach hollows, their breath flutters and their hands shake, they interpret this not as a call to arms, but as a sign to surrender. Their previous experiences with adrenaline are associated with the helpless submission to or ineffectual defense against rape and assault. They have no experience whatsoever of adrenaline "shock" fostering victory. Therefore, such courses enable the person to learn to function effectively at a state of high emotional arousal -- and win.

There is considerable evidence that experiences learned in high arousal states are "burned" into the nervous system. This makes biological sense. If one is terrified by a snake and snatching a stick, pins it to the ground and then kills it, it stands to reason that the organism that remembers this and reacts in similar fashion even quicker the next time will survive longer than the organism "traumatized into amnesia." When helpless, however, the organism "burns in" the experience that happened, because alive, one by definition, enacted a survival strategy."

David
Thanks to Mr. Amdur for permission to use the above quote.

Shadowfax
10-03-2009, 08:47 PM
Wow really good article! Thank, David, you for posting the quotation and links on that.

barbaraknapp
10-03-2009, 10:25 PM
You can't relax if you don't know you are tense or what relaxed feels like. You can learn the difference, its not magic. I took a class (it filled a requirement in school), about the same time I started aikido, in progressive muscle relaxation. Thats the one where you practice tensing and relaxing individual muscles. Most descriptions of it are a quick version focusing on large muscle groups, this class was much more fine focus. I highly recommend it if you really want to learn to relax: I believe you can get tapes that take you through it. It has helped me ever since, probably the most useful thing I learned in college. Its a commitment but well worth the work. When I was in my first few years of aikido, the comment I often got was, when someone says relax, you actually do it! Which was because I had learned how.

thisisnotreal
10-03-2009, 11:03 PM
You can't relax if you don't know you are tense or what relaxed feels like.

..., when someone says relax, you actually do it!.+1

Here's a quote

"Great relaxation can only be achieved in contrast to great tension"
-Pavel Tsatsouline


or in other words
True contractive power is made possible only to the degree that one is able to access its corresponding decontracted pole. The greater the reception, decontraction, and compassion, the greater one's power is both manifest and non-manifest.

:) :D ;) :p :eek:
:freaky:

thisisnotreal
10-03-2009, 11:07 PM
hey Tarik, thanks man. May, I ask: with respect to taking punches: Where do you think 'iron shirt/vest' training comes into it?

Grazina Kizaliene
10-13-2009, 04:02 AM
Hello everyone :)

It is indeed an interesting topic. I wonder, if I can ask you something. How do you manage to retain the state of active relaxation and use it whenever you want it? I know that I'm just a begginer and there's probably no need to worry about it but quite recently I have been in this state for a very short time and then it disappeared. Is it normal? How could I get it back and retain it? :)

lbb
10-13-2009, 07:21 AM
I know that I'm just a begginer and there's probably no need to worry about it but quite recently I have been in this state for a very short time and then it disappeared. Is it normal? How could I get it back and retain it? :)

By training for thousands and thousands of hours.

Why does everyone want a shortcut, a method, a magic pill? It's just training, there is no shortcut. Just practice.

Kevin Leavitt
10-13-2009, 07:53 AM
Like Mary said, through experience. I am still learning after years and it is the one thing I wish I could do consistently and better.

PaulMArellano
10-13-2009, 08:23 AM
Clear your mind and breath regularly. Don't think of technique too much. Too much technique-thinking equals stiffness.

MM
10-13-2009, 08:53 AM
I'm finding that working on the internal training exercises, especially paired, creates an environment where I'm learning to relax. Specifically, while I'm focusing on keeping the internal connections and my intent going, I'm relaxing. The more of a force I can work with, the more relaxed I get. It's when I get overloaded that localized muscle groups kick in and I lose both relaxation and aiki. It's why we sometimes work to the point of failure and try to work through it.

thisisnotreal
10-13-2009, 09:12 AM
just some ideas
-train your body to be very strong. By this i do not so much mean big-puffy-muscle-disjointed strength so much as old-man/farmer whole-body connected strength. Then you will not worry so much. That will allow you to relax. You know you are safe.
-learn your body's strengths. Strong positions.. strong stances.. strong joint angle...understand the limits of correct biomechanical movement.
-learn your body's weaknesses. Move your entire body to avoid being led into a weakness.
-learn the equilibrium/balanced position of your body's joints.
-learn how to stack your bones properly one on top of the other
-learn the first and second ways the joints tend to dissociate from their proper locations. Learn the muscle windings around your body (and their antagonists) that strengthen these weaknesses.
-free your body from any postural distortions
-free your muscles (/soft tissues) from any trigger points.
-What Mark said!

?

Carrie Campbell
10-13-2009, 02:36 PM
Tim, I’m struggling with the relaxed blend too, especially with tsuki, when uke’s arm sometimes stays solidly planted above my waist, but should be lower…. So I am no expert, and look forward to more advice from this thread. :) Meanwhile, I offer my interpretation of advice given to me and my attempt at applying it.

In general, I think Cherie is right: breathe; breathe deep. And after the initial blend, relax/breathe again. Make sure your partner is connected with you before you go anywhere without him; take your time. If your partner is getting too far away, perhaps a smaller, closer circle would help, and maybe projecting little more down. This is something Sensei was talking about recently at our dojo.

As for thinking about the coming technique, a former instructor once insisted that we sing Mary Had A Little Lamb or any song we could think of while we were nage, continuously. This was during a test. (No pressure.) I believe his reasoning was that if we were thinking of the lyrics and that we were singing out loud in front of other people, we couldn’t think too much about the technique and had to rely more on instinctual movement. Strangely, our muscles may have been more relaxed and calm this way. I don’t sing out loud anymore, but when I realize I’m getting all tense and anxious, I take a deep breath, and if I need more than that, a song running around my head or humming a tune might help.

mjhacker
10-13-2009, 02:44 PM
As for thinking about the coming technique, a former instructor once insisted that we sing Mary Had A Little Lamb or any song we could think of while we were nage, continuously.
We do this, too. Same song, even. I won't necessarily have them sing it, as simply reciting it will do. You can pick out any poem you like, or just talk. Anything unnatural-sounding in your speech is an indication of tension.

When two folks are having trouble doing randori together (ours is different from what most in Aikido would call 'randori'), I'll often ask them to have a real conversation with each other. Asking, listening, answering, exchanging. That will often fix the problem.

Kevin Leavitt
10-13-2009, 08:54 PM
Yea..visualizing another action or shifting the mind works well as a technique to get you to reduce the "triggers" in one part of the body to relax. Singing songs, imagining one point, walking through the person to the door...all that is good stuff.

Mark Nicoll
10-14-2009, 07:14 AM
I have a weird answer.

Physical exhaustion.

Seriously, before class do an aerobic exercise(s). not weight lifting, until you are extremely tired.

David

I totally agree with David!

Sometimes, after a stressful day at work for example, some of us are ready to train in Aikido 15 mins before the 2 hour class finishes, because we have given it our all during the class and are nearing exhaustion at the end and thus do not have the energy to be tense! :D