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Mark Jakabcsin 02-06-2010 04:26 PM

Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Physical Tension - Another Thought

Last month (Nov 09) I attended the Breathing, Health and Combat Seminar in Toronto, Canada and had my eyes opened to many new thoughts and views with regard to the correlation between breathing and movement. As often happens at these events the interaction with our fellow students helps us to see the material for different perspectives. Ten of us can participate in the same training and come away with 10 different points of view, this is the reason for circling up at the end of class to share.

During some down time I was talking with Kaizen Taki, an instructor in Seattle. For those of you that have not met and trained with Kaizen I fully recommend the experience. Our discussion was long and covered many topics, hence I do not recall the exact lead in on how we got on the topic of tension and moving tension around the body. This is probably a good thing as it keeps me from story telling and gets me directly to the point.

In a nutshell Kaizen used the word pressure to describe tension in the body. While Kaizen told me Vladimir has used this change in words before it was the first time I had heard it. Kaizen had me grab him and bend him backwards. We could both fell where his body was tense (pressurized) and discussed the different points and identified the point of greatest tension/pressure.

Once we identified the areas of highest tension/pressure Kaizen said all he had to do was equalize the pressure throughout his body. In a sense spread the pressure out over the whole instead of allowing it to stay in specific areas of the body. He demonstrated this very smoothly and with great ease. By releasing this pressure Kaizen essentially regained his structure and altered my structure, all with no external movement. Way cool!

In the past when I was aware of tension I tried to release it. This worked to varying degrees of success and always started with me becoming aware of increased tension in my body. What Kaizen shared with me might not seem much different but it has drastically helped me in many different ways.

First I connected with the word pressure to a greater degree than tension, especially pressure created by an outside source like in the example above of being bent over by a second person. The first step in dealing with tension is to be aware of it, if one is not aware of it consciously or sub-consciously then there is no hope of making proper adjustments. Monitoring pressure changes in my body seems easier than looking for tension changes. This could be semantics but it is valuable to me.

Secondly I was no longer attempting to totally eliminate or remove tension from my body, I was accepting it and equalizing it over my entire body. With this thought I am not focused on the body part that is holding the pressure, I am becoming aware of my entire body as I move the pressure evenly into the entire body. Releasing tension from one specific spot can be a daunting task, now I am simply spreading it everywhere. Somehow this just seems easier to me and I feel the full body awareness is a plus.

Lastly this concept of moving pressure throughout the body is easily tied to the breathing methods taught at the seminar. At one point during the seminar Vladimir mentioned using the breath like an air pump and pumping into or out of the body. I can use the same visualize of an air pump and pump the pressure from the high pressure areas to the low pressure areas until everything is equalized. Visualization can be a great tool to help us get started. Eventually one would not need this aid and equalizing the pressure would simply become natural. Our bodies generally seek comfort, equalizing or releasing pressure is a comforting act, hence all we have to do is teach ourselves how to respond in such a manner.

A simple solo drill for training this is to lie on the ground and relax completely. Once relaxed slowly start to move with the intention of getting up. When you feel the slightest change in body pressure halt your movement and try to spread the pressure throughout the body. Once equalized, begin moving again until the next pressure change. Sometimes it will take several attempts to make the easiest of motions. While doing this drill I have become aware how I tend to rely on the large muscle groups and power through movement instead of finding the most efficient method of movement. This has forced me to explore different methods for generating motion. Additions to this simple drill are to explore how to use movement to release pressure and how to use breathing to release pressure.

Some other interesting drills built from the work we did in November are:

#1 lays on ground and bends himself into an uncomfortable position, holds his breath as long as possible, noticing where the tension starts to build from then holds the position and uses breathing to recover. Note that the uncomfortable position means the body starts with increased pressure. #1 attempts to equalize this once he assumes the position and throughout the drill. While holding the breath the body will also build pressure, perhaps in the same area, #1 should likewise attempt to equalize this pressure/tension.
Pair up and now #2 bends #1 into uncomfortable positions of his choosing and follow the same process above. Having someone else control your body adds another layer of difficulty.
Repeat this drill but now #2 should begin to add his body weight to increase the fear and perhaps even place a forearm on the face or other sensitive areas to increase the difficulty.
Repeat the drill but now when #1 is recovering and release all of the tension he should try to move a little to feel how his elimination of tension affects the structure and form of #2. Hint: When relaxing some of the smallest and most subtle motions can have dramatic affect but do not try to move #2 simply move where and how the body naturally wants to move.
Note the same series can be done standing up and becomes the basis for escaping from holds.

This type of work can be added to in a progression style training method to build all the way up to freestyle wrestling. This concept of monitoring for pressure changes has been a nice change for my ground work. Now when wrestling I focus on the opponent less and less, instead focusing on my breathing and changes in body pressure. I make sure I am breathing and use that breathing with my motion to constantly equalize my body's pressure. When doing so I am far more relaxed and options continually appear, which means I am not struggling against my opponent. With more training I hope to make this my norm.

Take care and Merry Christmas,

Mark Jakabcsin
12/24/09

Jeremy Hulley 02-06-2010 05:40 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Great Stuff.
Thanks Mark

Janet Rosen 02-06-2010 06:52 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Interesting stuff to ponder and play with. Thanks for posting.

thisisnotreal 02-06-2010 08:57 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Great stuff indeed! Thanks for the ideas and pointers...
It reminded me of ... :

I found this thread helpful; and, I believe, connects with your views. Here<. Opening the Joints. (That is definitely connected with the pressures in the body)

Also; great postshere too
-"Create a body that does not impede any force"
-6 directions will become "atarimae" or a "given."
The tensions are only there so you can learn the lines. Then it becomes a game of how well you can "relax" those lines "into" the other person.
-I think that helps to "burn in" the lines of tension you need to perform efficient technique. The real hardpart is taking away the frame but still keeping those "lines" there.

thisisnotreal 02-06-2010 10:44 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
i had another thought. what do you think: <crosses fingers and hopes this makes sense>
I wrote about that once and called it 'generating harmony' on the body; and was rightly corrected by upyu that it is better to `maintain` than `generate` harmony.
This is in light of what you wrote about re-equilibrating the pressure. -The body as a tensegrity structure-. That *literally* defined the dynamic::defining how forces and displacement settle into a new stable alignment. I saw some interesting vids posted by dps a while back, about a Tensigrity model of the body. searching...dang. anyhoo; in one of the vids it mentioned that in their view of the body _every_ bone in the body could be considered a sesamoid bone. a bone that floats in a tendon (literally but paraphrased). Like the floating bone 'chip' under the ball of your foot. Experientally, that kind of changed my mind about `retaining internal axial balance` through muscles, and bones along forces or groundpath.
Also: the 'soft' action of balance that precedes movement..the remnant musculo-tendon tension/pressure of the body, and its spontaneous movements (read about it as the 'wild sister to breath'). it's like an 'active dither' of the muscular suit. that's part of the ki stuff i'm betting. body is searching for the next local optimum...too hard to write about.
:freaky:
just some ideas I had. I have no idea! It meant something to me. : ]

dps 02-06-2010 11:02 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Josh Phillipson wrote: (Post 251789)
i had another thought. what do you think: <crosses fingers and hopes this makes sense>
I wrote about that once and called it 'generating harmony' on the body; and was rightly corrected by upyu that it is better to `maintain` than `generate` harmony.
This is in light of what you wrote about re-equilibrating the pressure. -The body as a tensegrity structure-. That *literally* defined the dynamic::defining how forces and displacement settle into a new stable alignment. I saw some interesting vids posted by dps a while back, about a Tensigrity model of the body. searching...dang. anyhoo; in one of the vids it mentioned that in their view of the body _every_ bone in the body could be considered a sesamoid bone. a bone that floats in a tendon (literally but paraphrased). Like the floating bone 'chip' under the ball of your foot. Experientally, that kind of changed my mind about `retaining internal axial balance` through muscles, and bones along forces or groundpath.
Also: the 'soft' action of balance that precedes movement..the remnant musculo-tendon tension/pressure of the body, and its spontaneous movements (read about it as the 'wild sister to breath'). it's like an 'active dither' of the muscular suit. that's part of the ki stuff i'm betting. body is searching for the next local optimum...too hard to write about.
:freaky:
just some ideas I had. I have no idea! It meant something to me. : ]

Here you go;

Steve Levin & Tom Flemons discuss biotensegrity and body mechanics,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ajowL0T4bM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNPgq...eature=related

David

Marc Abrams 02-07-2010 06:38 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
This post goes right to the heart of ukemi. Speaking of which...

A shameless plug for Kaizen Taki's seminar on Ukemi at my dojo in Bedford Hills, New York in April of this year

http://www.aasbk.com/events.php

http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17516

Kaizen is a fantastic teacher and a wonderful person! Great combination, not to be missed! I hope to see some of you there!

Marc Abrams

gregstec 02-07-2010 08:48 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Mark Jakabcsin wrote: (Post 251779)
Physical Tension - Another Thought

#1 lays on ground and bends himself into an uncomfortable position, holds his breath as long as possible, noticing where the tension starts to build from then holds the position and uses breathing to recover. Note that the uncomfortable position means the body starts with increased pressure. #1 attempts to equalize this once he assumes the position and throughout the drill. While holding the breath the body will also build pressure, perhaps in the same area, #1 should likewise attempt to equalize this pressure/tension.

Mark Jakabcsin
12/24/09

Interesting - we do something similar with our standard stretches during our warm up. In one exercise, we will relax totally (as in one of Tohie's famous four principles) then we will stretch out each hand in a spiral clockwise motion towards opposing walls while mentally trying to touch each wall. During the stretch we totally exhale and then will inhale at the end of the stretch and hold the breath and stretch. At this point, you should feel a general overall increased pressure/tension in the body. At one point in your stretched path, you will feel more pressure/tension than elsewhere - this is where we put the focus of our mind and then we will mentally try to move the increased pressure point along the stretched path. We also apply this method to all our physical stretch undos.

We find that this approach provides for the physical stretching of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the path as well as providing a good exercise in working our mental intent to help establish a better internal awareness of our bodies; which we all know is an integral part of IS/IP development.

Greg

Mark Jakabcsin 02-07-2010 08:54 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Josh,
Interesting posts and thoughts. I agree with upyu that it is better to maintain than to recreate harmony/equilibrium. The above posted exercises are a starting point. Ideally one learns to move so he is always in equilibrium and the internal pressure never changes.

Sometimes we have the need to relate information to other things we think we know. Mistakenly we think this helps us to understand and to learn. Unfortunately this learning approach generally results with the individual think he 'gets it' when really he does not. The end result is no further study and a missed opportunity.

Mark J.

thisisnotreal 02-11-2010 06:22 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Mark Jakabcsin wrote: (Post 251806)
Josh,
Interesting posts and thoughts. I agree with upyu that it is better to maintain than to recreate harmony/equilibrium. The above posted exercises are a starting point. Ideally one learns to move so he is always in equilibrium and the internal pressure never changes.

Hi Mark -
Thanks for that. That is quite a tall order, huh? I think (just rephrasing what you said) this points to dynamically equilibrating (i.e. readjustment/dithering) on-the-fly so that you are never put off balance (,internally). An Amazing Standard. Some more thoughts: Does it ever get easier? Or is it always at the extents of reach, skill, balance and power? (I think yes, fwiw. It never gets easy...it's just that you can do progressively more and more difficult things. i.e. What was once impossible is now doable, and new things are opened to you...now just barely possible.). Do the skills and body changes plateau (stop?), and then you work on skills with them? I would think not; as I have already been wrong on that account too many times. Anyway; maybe i'll stop there...wondering aloud can get your head chopped off here. Wondering what you think.

What do you see as the pinnacle of these tension things? (aiki?)
I still am not sure I can even see all the puzzle pieces (nevermind actually do them). In fact, after a moment's reflection, I'm sure I don't.

Quote:

Mark Jakabcsin wrote: (Post 251806)
Sometimes we have the need to relate information to other things we think we know. Mistakenly we think this helps us to understand and to learn. Unfortunately this learning approach generally results with the individual think he 'gets it' when really he does not. The end result is no further study and a missed opportunity.

I think you are right. I hope I'm not doing this. But I am afraid I must be to one extent or another. I just hope my mind can be reopened again. My thoughts: Seems a constant process of learning, integrating, and then putting down the useless baggage.
I don't want to miss an opportunity.
Thanks a lot. Have a good day.

JW 03-04-2010 10:09 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Hi Mark-
I have been thinking how to articulate something since I first read your post. Question for you, or anybody: what do you think about the idea that there are 2 things being described here, not one, regarding relaxing and "spreading tension" out away from local spots?
These 2 things would be things that in normal people are so intimately linked, in function and in sensation, that they are mistaken for one thing.

Here's what I mean: muscle flexion is one of the 2 things. You turn it up or down with your brain, with the commands "flex" and "relax." The other thing is modulated by a different command-- one we often refer to as "intent." So that second thing is not muscular activity, but "ki." Using intent, the activity of ki can be spread across the body, connecting distant parts.

So in this model, your post described down-regulating muscular tension while up-regulating ki connection. There is a "Relax" component (a command to the muscles) and a "directional spread" component (a command to the ki).
If you do the 2 things together it would amount to a feeling like you describe-- dissolving away local muscle tension by spreading the load gently. It's relaxing with directional intent.

Anyway the point would be that there are kinds of training that aim to disentangle 2 things that are very tightly linked in untrained bodies, to the degree that we don't normally see that they are 2 things. The point of such training would then be-- when we learn to separate the 2 things, can one of them do something special when we learn to use it more by itself, something that couldn't really be done when they were linked?

Anxious to hear what people think.
--JW

thisisnotreal 04-13-2010 08:57 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Hi,
I saw this article; and thought it was an interesting shift in point-of-view on what Mark brought up. I take Chris' description as a way to 'reequilibrate' the load on the body.
Quote:

Chris H. wrote:
Do You Make This Zhan Zhuang Mistake?

Even an exercise as simple as zhan zhuang has its subtle points, the ignorance of which may hinder your progress in wushu. Wang Xiangzhai, the founder of Yiquan and a master of zhanzhuang, said:

We must, first and foremost, avoid the use of clumsy force, in body and in mind. Using this force makes the qi stagnant. When the qi is stagnant, than the yi stops; when the yi stops, than the spirit is broken.

To be sure, this is good advice, but even the greenest student is familiar with this principle of no-force. So, instead of dwelling on that, I would like to examine a more specific problem.

Zhan zhuang practice typically begins with wuji zhuang, a balanced posture with arms down at the sides of the body. A transition into cheng bao zhuang (‘Embracing the Ball' Stance) consists of raising the arms up and forward. This action shifts your center of gravity forwards, and unless you compensate for this shift with another part of your body, you will immediately topple over.

The easiest way to compensate for this forward shift is to move another part of your body backwards: butt, back, or head. This type of adjustment may seem correct, because you can thereby maintain your balance without much effort. But it is wrong; it defies the basic requirement of a straight back and impairs circulation. Moreover, these adjustments make it difficult to receive and issue force.

Instead, accept that when you adopt different postures with the arms, you must engage different muscles in the legs and back to remain upright. At first, this will feel uncomfortable, as it increases the load on your entire body; nevertheless, it is correct. This discomfort does not necessarily mean you have violated the principle of no-force; rather, it simply shows that your body is not yet strong enough.

One of the signature benefits of zhan zhuang practice is development of hunyuan li, or unified martial force. To gain this benefit to the fullest degree, be sure to practice with your whole body.

from<

My understanding (only my opinion) is that keeping the body 'open' and 'loaded' like that is an important way to build power in a cumulative way, and also to 'dissolve' blockages/sticking points/lines in your own body.

Hesitant to link .. .but I _think_ I link this kind of stuff with what Mark is discussing here, and what Greg mentions here, a few posts later. But i may be wrong.
thoughts?

ashe 04-13-2010 01:44 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
i think people confuse tension with stiffness.

thisisnotreal 04-13-2010 02:13 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
how so, ashe?

JW 04-14-2010 09:11 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Josh Phillipson wrote: (Post 255475)
Hesitant to link .. .but I _think_ I link this kind of stuff with what Mark is discussing here,

I'm not quite on the level with what Michael was saying in the quote in Mark M's quote. But I think what Mark said in response is exactly the same thing I was saying a few posts up in this thread:
Inhibiting muscle contraction is specific mental task that is an important skill in conjunction with increasing the intensity of the thing that responds to intent (the "qi").

In other words they may indeed be 2 different things that we focus on at the same time.

thisisnotreal 04-14-2010 09:32 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Jonathan Wong wrote: (Post 255551)
Inhibiting muscle contraction is specific mental task that is an important skill in conjunction with increasing the intensity of the thing that responds to intent (the "qi").

... and then holding this state, cumulatively, builds the internal power.

Do you think that the body has to be sufficiently changed/prepared in order to be able to use this state efficiently/productively?

I think yes, and that part of the changing results in you being able to separate the 2 things you discuss.
?

dps 04-14-2010 10:09 AM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Muscles do not contract instantly. There must be a build up of action potential to a threshold for the muscle to contract.

Can you control the level of action potential not to achieve the threshold of muscle contraction?

"Action potentials are generated by special types of voltage-gated ion channels embedded in a cell's plasma membrane.[2] These channels are shut when the membrane potential is near the resting potential of the cell, but rapidly begin to open if the membrane potential increases to a precisely defined threshold value. When the channels open, they allow an inward flow of electrical current, which produces a further rise in the membrane potential. This then causes more channels to open, producing a greater electrical current, etc. The process proceeds explosively until all of the available ion channels are open, resulting in a large upswing in the membrane potential, often to the extent of briefly reversing its polarity......."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_potential

At which time the muscles contract.



David

Mike Sigman 04-14-2010 05:04 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
I think that at each step of the way, it's too easy to think, "Aha... those guys back then didn't know what we know now, so we're speaking from the enlightened point of view". What if the "enlightened ones" are just the next guys in the chute in the archives who have shown that they don't have a clue? Isn't that something that should be considered before everyone starts opining about how things work?

It would have been a good strategy before a lot of past posts; it might be a good strategy now. I have to say, I'm pretty careful to think of everything I write in terms of "will this particular opinion stand up to scrutiny in the future or will I have to eat my words?". Personally, I think it's a good policy, but then again, I don't have the spiritual insight of many on this forum.

Namaste.

Mike Sigman

:p

Rob Watson 04-14-2010 05:24 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 255582)
I...or will I have to eat my words?". Personally, I think it's a good policy, but then again, I don't have the spiritual insight of many

Some of us think a steady diet of such words builds spiritual power ;) Provided one doesn't choke on too many at once.

PS I'm just being snarky because my wife wouldn't let me go to the easter seminar - she's the one with all the real power, and pants.

Mike Sigman 04-14-2010 05:36 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Robert M Watson Jr wrote: (Post 255583)
Some of us think a steady diet of such words builds spiritual power ;) Provided one doesn't choke on too many at once.

PS I'm just being snarky because my wife wouldn't let me go to the easter seminar - she's the one with all the real power, and pants.

Yeah, but I already feel like you're just another guy like me who spent too much time in math, physics, and other physical-sciences courses to buy into the magical maunderings of the New Age. It might toughen one's hide to pretend to give credence to this coffee-table theory of reality, but ultimately it's just chaff and therefore a waste of time to inure oneself to it. ;)

Too bad about SF. However, each time I sit down and think about things, I condense more and simplify more. Sometimes later is better. After that you're on your own because I am no ultimate authority with "many men" (and a fair amount of duds) willing to back me up and swear allegiance to me. :D

Best.

Mike Sigman

Rob Watson 04-14-2010 05:43 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 255584)
I condense more and simplify more.

Right, next is doka with references to heavenly bridges .. I'm gonna have get out my label maker and stick a fluffy bunny sticker on you if it comes to that! Maybe instead of kiai after a throw I'll just go 'woo woo'.

Mike Sigman 04-14-2010 05:57 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Robert M Watson Jr wrote: (Post 255586)
Right, next is doka with references to heavenly bridges .. I'm gonna have get out my label maker and stick a fluffy bunny sticker on you if it comes to that! Maybe instead of kiai after a throw I'll just go 'woo woo'.

Good point. One of the things that I remember surprised me was to find out that the harsh and critical remarks by the real experts I've met in Asian martial-arts far exceeded my own comparatively diplomatic observations. I think I'm going to retire and write soothing Douka and Haiku so that people only have to read the words and will automatically have the skills without having to do any hard work.

Well, wait.... instead of the needlessly complex syllabic requirement of Haiku, I should condense these revelations of mine to a mere two syllables. Like this one, which will no doubt trigger enlightenment for many people looking for I.S. clues, here's a three-syllable condensed direction:

Bite Me, Y'all.

Mike
:D

Rob Watson 04-14-2010 06:23 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 255588)
Bite Me, Y'all.

Oooooohhhmmmm. I feel it! I'm more powerful already ...

JW 04-14-2010 06:39 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
At the risk of agitating Mike some more, let's continue thinking out loud..

1. David, what's the point of having motor nerves fire action potentials that are not enough to fire the muscle? How is it different than firing no action potentials at all? Is this regarding the body being on the verge of moving but still not yet moving?

2.
Quote:

Josh Phillipson wrote: (Post 255553)
Do you think that the body has to be sufficiently changed/prepared in order to be able to use this state efficiently/productively?

I think yes, and that part of the changing results in you being able to separate the 2 things you discuss.
?

Keep in mind this idea that there are 2 things is not a fact or anything, just a mental model.. but my answer would be that learning to separate these 2 types of commands is part of the metamorphosis. It would be a learning process. At some point down the road muscles have to come back into it, because they are our force-generators, even if ki is our force-director.. so how "to use this state" is probably much more complicated than the process of discovery/exploration that I am thinking about.

dps 04-14-2010 07:13 PM

Re: Physical Tension - Another Thought
 
Quote:

Jonathan Wong wrote: (Post 255591)
1. David, what's the point of having motor nerves fire action potentials that are not enough to fire the muscle? How is it different than firing no action potentials at all? Is this regarding the body being on the verge of moving but still not yet moving?
.

Yes, it is preparing the structure of the body for movement. Not just the muscles but the whole body structure ( muscles, skeleton, connective tissue, skin, etc ).
One way of teaching the Aikido demo of unbendable arm, other then ki or water flowing from your finger tips, is to imagine reaching for something out of reach without moving. When you do this you can feel your body preparing to move. This strengthens the structure of the body in the direction of movement.

Try the unbendable arm reaching for something out of reach with both arms in opposite directions.


Here is some more opining from some"enlightened ones" of the "New Age" from Harvard Medical School.

While this is about the structure of the cell, the body structure is organized similarly.

A short interactive animation of the cell as a tensegrity structure.

http://www.childrenshospital.org/res...ity/index.html

This is from the 'Children's Hostpital Boston'.

http://www.childrenshospital.org/res...ublevel24.html



More information about the tensegrity structure of the cell is here,

http://web1.tch.harvard.edu/research...ensegrity.html

at the 'Ingber Lab' website at Harvard Medical School.

David


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