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08-09-2002, 01:16 PM
I have a great deal of trouble trying to stay relaxed when performing an Aikido technique. The area I have most trouble with is in the shoulders. I try to focus on staying relaxed, but I also need to focus on proper form, fluidity, etc. Tightening my muscles seems to be imbedded deeply in my psyche and it often occurs with out concious recognition. I am aware that many have the same problem and I was wondering if anyone knew of any exercises (mental or physical) that could help battle this problem.
"Live on, become strong,
in time, through experience"
08-09-2002, 01:26 PM
Yeah, relax harder! No seriously, this may sound real strange but, while training, concentrate on relaxing your face muscles. For some reason this tends to flow down and cause the rest of the body to relax as well. sounds strange but it works.....
Another way to embody "relaxation" is to not think about being "relaxed" but to use other methods of getting that concept through to your body.
One way I have heard that was good for me is to "fill your body with softness." The person who said this said to me that, for her, it was difficult to try to take away a quality like "being tense" from her body; it was easier for her to put this sort of different quality into her body instead.
Another way is to "let your body sink into the gravity" (ie "weight underside").
As for Dan's suggestion of relaxing the face muscles, I've used the same kind of thing -- relaxing the jaw. I've noticed that relaxing the jaw tends to make my nexk relaxed which often makes my shoulders relaxed more, too.
Just some thoughts.
08-09-2002, 04:21 PM
A trick we use in medicine sometimes is to have a patient tense other muscles, and this tends to relax the ones we are interested in...I wonder if, say, all those eminent senseis are so relaxed in the shoulders because they are trying to hold in the little belly that holds the hakama in place :D
08-09-2002, 06:03 PM
I've said it elsewhere, but I think the blanket prescription of 'relax' for shoulders is confusing and inaccurate. Hunching your shoulders up requires a lot of muscle tension, but so does keeping them appropriately down and back during the transmission of force between the torso and the limb - it's just that holding them down is a different holding pattern that happens to be mechanically useful, while hunching them is couterproductive. I admit that holding them in the appropriately neutral position seems to involve less overall muscle mass, but lack of strength could very well be why you can't maintain the position.
If you doubt this grab a cable or rubber tube with both hands directly in your center. Make sure the anchor/pulley is secured at waist level or lower, and do tenkans against substantial resistance. If you try to do it with your upper body completely 'relaxed' it is impossible to maintain the handle in the center of your torso - your arms and shoulder girdle will just flop around. Doing these will show you very quickly that a proper tenkan against resistance requires substantial trunk, shoulder girdle, and arm strength. Do 2 or 3 sets of this exercise twice a week, and watch your form improve.
Kevin Wilbanks, CSCS
08-09-2002, 08:48 PM
I have a great deal of trouble trying to stay relaxed when performing an Aikido technique. The area I have most trouble with is in the shoulders. ... I am aware that many have the same problem and I was wondering if anyone knew of any exercises (mental or physical) that could help battle this problem.
One of my Senseis suggested the following exercises in doing irimi and tenkan movements.
Hold your hands in front as though you were holding a bokken with the proper hamni. Tight enough so your bokken doesnt fall to the ground but loose enough so that your arms and shoulders dont feel tired or sore. Imagine your feet sucking water from the ground through your body and projecting out through your fingers. When you do your irimi or tenkan movements, concentrate on the turn of your hips. A sign that you are leading with your shoulders is a feeling of being unbalanced or perhaps a little wobble in the irimi or tenkan.
Try the movements with your eyes open and closed and feel the difference. Try not to consciously think about the movements but feel where your posture is when you do the movements.
Oh yeah always remember to breathe normally when doing the movements.
The suggestions that other posters ojn this topic certainly have merit as I've used some of them too. Having a "quality of softness" in your body is a wonderful feeling but a challenge to consistently achieve. Then again that's why we train.
Hope this helps. All the best with the training.
08-10-2002, 07:43 PM
The tense/inhale and relax/exhale is a great way to pair breathing and relaxation. A lot of people tense the shoulders because they hold their breath in while they move. Have your Sensei (or a senior student) watch and gibe you feedback. Other people tense because they have some fearful fantasy going on in their head. Let go of the fantasy and fear and the body tends to relax. Also, maybe you are taking yourself too seriously.
Relax, breath, and enjoy ourself.
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