View Full Version : relaxing during technique - how?

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tim evans
03-09-2013, 04:56 PM
this has been giving me problems lately any tips?

03-09-2013, 05:08 PM
Hi Tim,

Without seeing what you're doing and without knowing what state you consider "relaxed," it's hard to say too much except to suggest to move slowly (and deliberately) enough through your techniques so that your regular breathing remains undisturbed.

My two cents. Thoughts from others?

-- Jun

tim evans
03-09-2013, 05:34 PM
i,m always out of breath and the technique fizzles in the end i,m always ahead of uke or to far behind to take the balance effectively i will try the breathing exercise you have suggested thanks jun

Mario Tobias
03-09-2013, 06:15 PM
What does one mean by relaxation? Relaxing is difficult to attain and explain since it is an abstract concept. What I've learned over the years is that in order to attain or understand something such as an abstract concept as relaxation or ki, you need to connect something tangible or physical to it, but that's just me.

For me, a relaxed form is when nage takes full control of the situation AND the physical and mental aspects within nage are integrated into one.

1. Breathe. You need to understand when to exhale/inhale within the technique. Breathing out of sync during a technique will cause problems (ie shortness of breath, forced technique)
2. Use hara first to initiate movement, the peripheral body parts follow.
3. Know your angles. wrong angles would render the technique ineffective so you use strength to compensate.
4. Even if you get into the wrong angle, adjust yourself to get into the correct angle. A lot of people jam themselves and get stuck and still try to force the technique thus using strength
5. Minimize use of shoulder power. Instead use power from the elbows or wrist power
6. Strengthen your leg muscles to minimize use of upper body strength
7. Master the basic footwork.
8. Understand economy of movement. The masters take only so much steps to complete the technique but not one step more
9. Blend, don't clash/block. Blocking/clashing depletes a lot of energy
10. Have a relaxed spirit/quiet mind. Do not be concerned if you get hit as long as you experiment with the correct form then work on not getting hit
11. Lead uke's mind (through atemi) rather than the body through dragging it.
12. Master suwariwaza kokyu ho
13. So many others.

As you can see, these are just small things that when added up lead you to a very significant outcome. IMHO, attaining relaxation is one of the end goals in aikido. As Endo sensei points out, it is similar to attaining freedom and the thing is you start with a lot of constraints (ie unrelaxed form). It is not the outcome of one's focus on one or two things but of many aspects such as the ones above. I have got so many things to work on still to attain relaxation.

Mary Eastland
03-09-2013, 07:29 PM
Have your partner hold your arms up for you.

Place your wrists in their hands and then relax your arms in their hands like you are resting your arms on a table. If your arms don't just drop to your sides when they remove their hands you need to relax more. The person who is holding your arms should randomly drop your arms. Practice letting your arms feel heavy and relaxed in their hands. When you can do this every time (let your arms drop to your sides naturally not put them there) ...you have become more relaxed.

You can then relate this to technique because you are developing a relaxed feeling.

Janet Rosen
03-09-2013, 11:56 PM
Building on what Jun suggested and esp. if you are out of breath: if, ideally, the technique is done in one breath - moving in/taking balance on inhale and doing the throw/takedown on the exhale - when I used to have problems with my breathing getting too fast and I was getting ahead of things, I found it helpful to pace my movements so that it took TWO full breaths to do a given technique. Made me slow down and gave me time to work on all the inside myself stuff I wanted to pay attention to, stop rushing and pushing my partner around, and let me get grounded and more relaxed. I"ve suggested it to kohai through the years and many found this helpful.

03-10-2013, 05:17 AM
IMO you simply need to repeat the form until it becomes as natural as walking or talking.
Of course this is not acheived quickly - I still sometiomes find myself trying to muscle through techniques - but in reality it is not until you are unconciously performing the techniques you can truly relax.

03-10-2013, 07:51 AM
IMHO, most tension is expressed in the body but created in the mind ... calm the mind and the body will relax ... I have been known to hum or whistle while I work ...

Walter Martindale
03-10-2013, 08:53 AM
Always out of breath suggests physical fitness or circulation problems depending on age and condition. Back in the day I could go for hours at "aikido practice pace". Now I have to rest frequently. In the intervening time I have gained weight and I drive a car to and from what little training I do, rather than ride a bike or run.
All of the aikido training hints above can help. Additional low-intensity exercise can help (depending on how far you live from work or training, can you bicycle there?). A quick visit to the MD to check your ticker might sound over the top but depending on age and history it might help, too.
In addition to that - a lot of aikido training can help, too, simply by training and training (as facile as that sounds) your body and nervous system will learn how to move in a 'relaxed' fashion.

Robert Cowham
03-10-2013, 02:14 PM
I have had success with getting people to relax more by using breathing. Start by long slow breathing a few times, then for example, with something like shiho nage, breath in long and slow while lifting and turning, and breath out long and slow while dropping your hand.

Good for uke to practice the same long slow breathing too.

The other suggestions, particularly around relaxing the mind, and very to the point, though perhaps not so easy to actually grasp!

03-10-2013, 09:46 PM
Hey Tim

I remember sugano sensei telling us in a seminar something to the effect that once you tell someone to relax, they can't, because they end up just thinking about that. So maybe don't think about relaxing. Think about just moving.

And like everyone else said, breathe. If you hold your breath and start to muscle through everything, you'll be tanked in no time. I think we've all been there.

03-11-2013, 05:28 AM
I think that i agree with all of the above advice and i could throw even more of them, but the point is that there are also other factors.
For example: how long have you been studying Aikido? How old are you? Are you overweight, or a smoker? What do you eat and how is it cooked?
Problems in technique can sometimes have the roots in technical mistakes and sometimes be the result of other wrong aspects of life. Most often is a combination of both.
Aikido is an all round way of life, so one has to keep that in mind.A lot of factors can affect your technique and also you need to have patience in order to take the time to progress.
So the right choices combined with lots of practicing hours and all that in a consistent long timeline can get you some results...

Mary Eastland
03-11-2013, 06:08 AM
Don't think about moving even...just move. :)

03-11-2013, 08:30 AM
New technique, or old technique that you've been doing for years?
Relaxing physically, or mentally?
How do you know that you're not relaxed?

03-11-2013, 08:47 AM
The best way to relax is to practice high flying break falls, you can start with 300, 3 times a day. You can ask somebody to throw you from koshinage – i.e. he can start shihonage and in the middle of the technique he should switch it to the koshinage, so koshinage will be done with shihonage lock. Do it again and again, one moment you’ll start to feel body relaxing. In this moment the sound of your body hitting tatami will change. It will become long, deep and soft. It is a good sign. After that, you can do high flying break falls one hour without being tired.

This way is the best, because it is not intellectual understanding or theoretical concept. Relax is born when your body is hitting tatami again and again. In this moment you can’t be stiff, crisped you can’t be sloppy…Breathing by itself will not make your body flexible – you know how to breath from the moment you was born. What is important is to put your body in such situation that muscles can’t be sloppy and in the same time cannot be tensed. So body has no choice but to change his memory. Very many repetitions are necessary (as body easily become lazy) to fix this new state, so later on you can use the same feeling while being Nage.

tim evans
03-11-2013, 12:48 PM
Thanks everyone

03-11-2013, 01:32 PM
I'm with Lynn on this one: relax your mind and your body will relax. I have urged nearly all the advice you have encountered here on this thread at one time or another to my students. I have observed, though, that if one does not have a calm, easy mind none of these bits of advice produce a truly relaxed body.

03-15-2013, 10:39 AM
Today, taking ukemi for shiho nage, I was told "Chris, relax". I tried and got much lower and more flexible. I was able to by stopping paying so much attention to shite. Perhaps that is the wrong expression. I stopped 'worrying' about shite, stopped thinking about whether I was performing uke correctly and once I stopped thinking so much was able to focus much more on both my own balance and body position.

Dan Richards
03-15-2013, 10:58 AM
"lax" is an actual word. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lax

I never got anything out of someone telling me to "relax." I often find people who use the word relaxed are not relaxed themselves, and also don't know how to convey what they mean. Or might not even know themselves what they mean.

When I work with someone, if they're muscling or straining, I'll stop for a second and ask them to do something along the lines of, "Hey, walk towards me like you're going to hand me a Coke." From there, every time, I see this person switch back into their own casual energy. Then I'll usually ask them to notice how their body feels...how their muscles are loose...how they have a light grip on the glass. I'll even squeeze their triceps and biceps, and say, "See how soft all this is. And see how you're shoulders are down."

So, with that same energy that you'd walk over and hand a Coke to someone - let's work with that same energy. And when you start to move, make it feel more like you don't give a shit. Just be in your own energy. The same energy as when you're doing something you enjoy doing, like when you hang out at home, or go to the movies, or walk through the park.

Lax = not giving a shit. Re-lax = go back to not giving a shit.

It's just extending some permission slips to people; letting them know they already know how to do this. It's simple. No need to make it into more work than it needs to be. That in being themselves, in their own energy, is the strongest and most effortless place to be. And that's exactly where the power of aikido lies.

03-15-2013, 12:11 PM
Lax = not giving a shit. Re-lax = go back to not giving a shit.
Yes agreed.

I thought I was relaxed when people told me I wasn't. Didn't do me a lot of good either.

Like so many things in Aikido, perhaps we become relaxed by not creating tension and effort. Its not what we do, its the by-product of not-doing. So hard to learn.

IMHO, I always want to give a shit - apathy is not detachment. Its a choice in how I express my my giving a shit.

So many things only back sense when we look back after learning them.

03-15-2013, 12:21 PM
Lax = not giving a shit. Re-lax = go back to not giving a shit.

i thought lax = give a shit. re-lax = give a lot of shit. laxative = stuffs help you really give a shit whether you want to or not. :D

Mary Eastland
03-16-2013, 07:33 AM
Sometimes I hear "I am relaxed." though gritted teeth. ;) Relaxation comes in degrees with conscious training. What may be relaxed for one person can feel like tension to another.
A relaxed mind leads to a relaxed body....we can't learn when we think we know it all.

graham christian
03-16-2013, 09:11 AM
As the word is relax and not lax it's best to look at it's root. From latin 'to undo' and re 'again'.

Tells you something right there. You have tied up, tensed up, so time to find where you are tying up and learning how to undo it. It's a process and practice and thus you develop the ability bit by bit.

So the question is not whether I am relaxed or not it is more 'where am I not relaxed' and there lies the next challenge.

Spiritually or mentally 'holding on to' makes the body tense. Solution---spiritually and mentally learn bit by bit to let go.

The more you let go the more you can flow. It's all good.


03-16-2013, 09:41 AM

In our training, we just ask each other "Are you happy?", then smile. When you smile (even when others are attacking you), everything else just comes into place naturally.

Koichi Tohei sensei's Ki principle #2: "Relax completely" means whatever you think you can rely on, your strength, your intelligence, your beauty, your pride, your knowledge, your money, your emotion, your fear, your... no matter what, just treat them like your junk mail, you throw them away.
Please refer to 5:18 of this video http://youtu.be/tivkVcKGlIM by Dr David Shaner who was a former Uchideshi of Tohei sensei.

Enjoy Aikido!:)