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Nozza74 03-20-2012 10:50 AM

Relaxation
 
Dear Aikido brothers and sisters

Do any of my fellow student of aikido have and practices or techniques they would gladly share to help me with my quest to be totally relaxed while training etc or is it simply a case of only in time wil the mind body and spirit will be as one ???

graham ....

Janet Rosen 03-20-2012 11:24 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
Find where you are holding tension that is not needed for what you are doing. Breathe and release it. Repeat over and over and over....

chillzATL 03-20-2012 11:25 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
go find someone, even outside of aikido, who can teach you the basics of internal strength and you'll be well on your way.

Chris Li 03-20-2012 12:52 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Graham Norris wrote: (Post 306073)
Dear Aikido brothers and sisters

Do any of my fellow student of aikido have and practices or techniques they would gladly share to help me with my quest to be totally relaxed while training etc or is it simply a case of only in time wil the mind body and spirit will be as one ???

graham ....

There are specific reasons for relaxing - without that methodology it's not all that useful. I'd second Jason's recommendation.

Best,

Chris

Kevin Leavitt 03-20-2012 04:19 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Yes, you need to have a good teacher that will create the proper conditions and feedback process for you to learn to respond correctly and efficiently. Without this learning to relax is not going to work. You need structure.

Mario Tobias 03-20-2012 05:47 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Graham Norris wrote: (Post 306073)
Dear Aikido brothers and sisters

Do any of my fellow student of aikido have and practices or techniques they would gladly share to help me with my quest to be totally relaxed while training etc or is it simply a case of only in time wil the mind body and spirit will be as one ???

graham ....

I do not have any techniques to offer for relaxation. You will need to search for it and over time with regular practice you will discover a lot of things. However, before you can say you are "relaxed" you need to understand first and foremost what it means to be relaxed in the context of aikido. In practice, being unrelaxed means you are in an unfree/restricted state. As Endo sensei points out, over the course of many repetitions, it may happen that the restrictions rid you of itself. This can only come from regular practice, awareness and experimentation.

As a start for me, just my own opinion. Being unrelaxed means using muscular strength. Using muscular strength means you use upper body strength and the most obvious of this is using shoulder power and improper body alignment. So when doing techniques, be observant and aware if you are using shoulder power. If you are doing this, you are doing something wrong. You need to generate the power/displacement coming from "somewhere else" to avoid muscling through. Avoiding shoulder power is just one way to be relaxed, there are many others. This is one of the many experiments you will need to do in your practice.

sakumeikan 03-20-2012 06:27 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Graham Norris wrote: (Post 306073)
Dear Aikido brothers and sisters

Do any of my fellow student of aikido have and practices or techniques they would gladly share to help me with my quest to be totally relaxed while training etc or is it simply a case of only in time wil the mind body and spirit will be as one ???

graham ....

Dear Graham,
Try this:Take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, drop the shoulders exhaling at the same time.Try and feel the effect of this.Avoid tension in knees and upper body.It takes a bit if time but persevere.I also use a flicking motion [like flicking rain] from my arms.trunk.This also is useful , for me anyway. Cheers, Joe

ryback 03-21-2012 02:49 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
Zazen practice before the lesson starts, jubi udo(spelling?) exercises for the body to relax and open(including breath exercises).During the techniques you should try to "swallow" the shoulders and arms tension in your tanden make the whole movement using the hips.Of course it's not easy, i'm still trying and it works but sometimes a cunning, little tension remains on the shoulders unnoticed...:)

SeiserL 03-21-2012 04:12 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
A simple progressive relaxation technique is to lay down, breathe in and tense everything, breathe out - let go - say the word "relax". Keep practicing until you can exhale, "relax", and the body follows. Its a good way to begin to feel the difference between tension and relaxation.

Standing Alexander Technique - lift up from the middle of the head and down from your center. Breathe, body scan, sense any tension, exhale, "relax". Also good for spinal alignment.

Standing meditation - tree hugging - can help trust the body structure and alignment to hold you up rather than the muscles holding you up.

Tenkan, tenkan, tenkan - letting go of tension.

IMHO, the real internal secret to relaxation is to find out what internal mental belief or habit we use to create and maintain the body tension to begin with - challenge it - let it go.

Hope this helps in some small way.

Benjamin Green 03-21-2012 04:52 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
A few things that worked for me when I was trying to get the feeling of being relaxed in my head:
The simplest way I've learned to release tension in the upper body is to do some simple boxing combinations; jabs, hooks, backfists; and hold a bit of eggshell in my hand while I'm doing it. If you're too tense, then when you punch you end up crushing the eggshell - but once you know what relaxing feels like and that clicks in your head, then you've got something you can train in. (Boxing is mostly a legs sport and if you're tense in the upper body it doesn't work very well.)

I also, from time to time, imagine I'm holding a steering wheel. When you do a lot of driving you end up relaxing your arms and dropping your weight onto the wheel to smooth out the imperfections in the road that you can't really respond to at 70mph. It's similar to when you're holding a sword in front of you and someone tries to knock the point away - if you're relaxed properly, the point just comes right back to true and suddenly they've got a sword in their face.

You might also try leaning against a wall with your arm flat against it and pushing off against it with that arm for a while. When you step away from the wall and relax your arm it will naturally tend to rise a little if you're relaxed properly.
Don't know how applicable any of those might be to you. I found that when I was trying to relax I didn't really FEEL the tension, so someone would tell me to relax and I'd think - well, I'm not tense. But, once I'd found that feeling it was something that I could look at in my techniques and remove relatively easily just by doing them slowly remembering to relax whenever I found myself tensing up until it eventually became just the way I did it.

The biggest things I could say would be to try and find that feeling and to take everything slow. It's really difficult to concentrate on building a particular aspect of skill when you're trying to concentrate on not getting your block knocked off. :p

morph4me 03-21-2012 06:18 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Lynn Seiser wrote: (Post 306128)

IMHO, the real internal secret to relaxation is to find out what internal mental belief or habit we use to create and maintain the body tension to begin with - challenge it - let it go.
.

Can you elaborate on this one a little?

lbb 03-21-2012 06:44 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
I'm not sure if all this advice is going to be helpful, to be honest. "Relaxed" means so many different things, really. It might be more helpful to try and express what you mean by being "totally relaxed while training". Also, why do you think that's a good thing? Have your sensei and your seniors told you to "relax"? In that case, I would think that you'd do better asking them to explain by "relax", why that is good, and in what ways your current practice is not "relaxed".

If by "relaxed" you mean that training is stressful for you and you don't want it to be, time and more practice will cure some of that. Two caveats, though: 1)by definition, if there isn't any stress, that means there isn't any challenge, and that means there isn't a training effect; you might as well be on the couch watching American Idol, and 2)on the flip side, if your current training is highly stressful -- physically, emotionally or mentally -- then you probably shouldn't be doing it. No matter how head-casey people want to get about aikido training being the center of existence, it is a voluntary activity. It is not good for everyone. If it isn't good for you, you should simply walk away from it.

My sensei doesn't use the word "relax" so much, which I like -- I don't find it helpful to put someone in a situation of stress and action and then telling them to relax, which is generally defined as a passive thing. Instead, he talks about the specifics of whatever's wrong: not what you aren't doing, but what you ARE doing that should change. "You're stuck," is something he says to me all too often, and this may be what people mean much of the time with the constant exhortations to "relax". Being stuck means being stopped, becoming fixed, which means that before you can move or respond, you've got to start the motor up again -- it may be just a momentary pause, but it's there. It's a moment that a skilled opponent can take advantage of. In part it is mechanical (stance becoming fixed), in part it is mental (getting your mind stuck on what you want to do and not dealing with the situation as it is). And, having noted that I'm stuck, my sensei can always demonstrate how to avoid the stuck points in that situation. But it's very much something that's learned on the mat, not in an internet forum.

sakumeikan 03-21-2012 08:41 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Jason Casteel wrote: (Post 306082)
go find someone, even outside of aikido, who can teach you the basics of internal strength and you'll be well on your way.

Dear Jason,
How about getting lessons from a couch potato?Flop in a well padded armchair with a cool beer removes all my tension. Cheers, Joe

SeiserL 03-21-2012 12:24 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Tom Quinn wrote: (Post 306130)
Can you elaborate on this one a little?

IMHO, tension can be fear based.

Living in a constant and chronic state of fear (conscious or unconscious) can produce a constant and chronic state of readiness and tension.

The body does what we tell it too.

Kevin Leavitt 03-21-2012 12:57 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
I think you have to be careful with the concept of relaxed. I think it sends the wrong message sometimes. Actually most of the time. Agree with Mary.

In martial practice or situations you don't so much want to be relaxed but have the correct pressure and tensions in the right areas. Unfortunately most of us under stress revert to old ways we have learned to respond to pressure and tension exerted on us. We have a tendency to externalize our energies and push pull from our extremities vice our core and ground.

In practice we are instructed to relax these ares which IMO sends the wrong message and concept. It is not so much about relaxing, but transferring and shifting to areas where we can actually do something better than where we are.

This of course must be learned not from someone telling you to relax, but someone that actually has the ability to teach you how to develop your skills in this area.

IMO telling someone to relax is like instructing someone to drive a race car by telling them to "drive".

morph4me 03-21-2012 02:16 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Lynn Seiser wrote: (Post 306161)
IMHO, tension can be fear based.

Living in a constant and chronic state of fear (conscious or unconscious) can produce a constant and chronic state of readiness and tension.

The body does what we tell it too.

I hadn't considered that. An interesting perspective worth exploring. Thanks

Dave de Vos 03-21-2012 03:15 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
I have a hard time understanding what people mean by relaxing in aikido context. There are some practisioners who allways tell me to relax when I'm nage, stating that I am too tense. When I pair up with them I just know they are going to say that as soon as it's my turn to do the technique and without fail they will.
But most training partners never say that to me. And there are some who say I'm a supple uke and some even compliment me for moving fluently as uke and nage.

To me this doesn't add up that different training partners have such different perceptions of how I do things. How should I interpret these mixed messages? Is it just that some are more encouraging or critical by their character? Or is it a difference in taste on their part? Or am I doing things differently with different people? It confuses me.

TheAikidoka 03-21-2012 03:20 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Graham Norris wrote: (Post 306073)
Dear Aikido brothers and sisters

Do any of my fellow student of aikido have and practices or techniques they would gladly share to help me with my quest to be totally relaxed while training etc or is it simply a case of only in time wil the mind body and spirit will be as one ???

graham ....

HI Graham,
Gravity! gravity can help if only you become aware of it. Gravity draws everything to earth, and it can also draw all you tension and stress in the body to earth too, if you allow it.

You focus your awareness on the body, starting with the feet and work your way up to the head and back down again, feel all the tension being drawn towards the earth by gravity. Feel all the excessive strength being drawn to the earth too, any stress or tension in muscles too being drawn down through the body to earth the the gravity.

All that is required to stand and move is the body`s own natural posture alignment, not strength and tension. This is especially obvious when we are in hanmi or kamae, whatever you use for the word stance. :)

Try it out let me know how you got on :)

In Budo

Andy B

NagaBaba 03-21-2012 04:17 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Graham Norris wrote: (Post 306073)
Dear Aikido brothers and sisters

Do any of my fellow student of aikido have and practices or techniques they would gladly share to help me with my quest to be totally relaxed while training etc or is it simply a case of only in time wil the mind body and spirit will be as one ???

graham ....

Talking about relaxation too early in the process of practice is counterproductive. First you need to develop a strong solid basis, based on right use of muscles as Kevin described. It may take many years.
Most of ppl who are telling 'relaxation' stories have no idea what they are talking about. They develop sloppy, weak body, horrible posture and very poor techniques and you can see it on their videos. So forget about relaxation, develop strong power of techniques.

gregstec 03-21-2012 05:12 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
As others have already stated, relax can mean more than one thing; as defined below:

"relax [rɪˈlęks]vb1. to make (muscles, a grip, etc.) less tense or rigid or (of muscles, a grip, etc.) to become looser or less rigid
2. (intr) to take rest or recreation, as from work or effort on Sundays, she just relaxes she relaxes by playing golf
3. to lessen the force of (effort, concentration, etc.) or (of effort) to become diminished
4. to make (rules or discipline) less rigid or strict or (of rules, etc.) to diminish in severity
5. (intr) (of a person) to become less formal; unbend"

In aiki arts, normally the focus is on definition 1 above - however, many confuse the objective with the other definitions.

Personally, I use the term 'un-tensed connected extension' to describe what I mean for relaxing muscle tension without collapsing into a noodling type of movement.

Greg

Mario Tobias 03-21-2012 06:40 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Relaxation is a catch 22 IMO. Agree with Mary on her post.

Relaxation can only come if you know how to get "unstuck", be free of the restrictions in a given form (technique). On how to get "unstuck", you need to know the technical details of the art which is the objective of your training. If you don't know how to get unstuck, the only other way is to muscle your way through.

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with muscling your way through in your beginning years because you will start to understand how your techniques evolve from a coarse technique (muscled) to a refined one (relaxed). If you can't discern the difference then there is an issue.

I think 100% of us at some point in time have been told by a sensei or partner while doing a technique "You must relax!". I didn't understand whenever someone said this and it still doesn't make sense to me now. It's only recent that I understood that relaxation only comes from knowing how to be free. It doesn't work the other way around.

Janet Rosen 03-21-2012 07:02 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Mario Tobias wrote: (Post 306183)
But there is absolutely nothing wrong with muscling your way through in your beginning years because you will start to understand how your techniques evolve from a coarse technique (muscled) to a refined one (relaxed). If you can't discern the difference then there is an issue.

That is not an acceptable learning paradigm for those of us who canNOT muscle through.
I almost always have had instructors, yes even as a relative newbie, who could suggest alternatives to correct my technique that did not involve muscling through. And it is those alternatives I must suggest to my juniors when I'm in a senior role, since I cannot teach muscling through.
The generally involve corrections to position or angle relative to center line, to connection of center to hand/arm, to posture, to movement or to extension.

Mario Tobias 03-21-2012 08:03 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 306184)
That is not an acceptable learning paradigm for those of us who canNOT muscle through.
I almost always have had instructors, yes even as a relative newbie, who could suggest alternatives to correct my technique that did not involve muscling through. And it is those alternatives I must suggest to my juniors when I'm in a senior role, since I cannot teach muscling through.
The generally involve corrections to position or angle relative to center line, to connection of center to hand/arm, to posture, to movement or to extension.

I am just saying this is the natural progression in the training, using muscle strength to using aiki. It's not a learning paradigm, you can't prevent it from happening. All of us have used muscle strength when we were beginners, even now at mid-yudansha level people I know with some techniques because some of the technical details have yet to be discovered. Even if a sensei is excellent in teaching how to get unstuck, a student can only take so much information and progress so much Good progress can only happen through a lot of repetitions, self-analysis and self-correction.

I've never met anyone who was a beginner and never muscled his/her way through a technique once resistance is offered. Otherwise, the uke is being too compliant and they are just fooling themselves. Pretty dangerous situation if you'll need to apply it in realistic situations. Yes, you can teach muscling through but you also need to teach the aiki way.

IMHO, we need to be able to differentiate between a muscled through technique and one using aiki, otherwise, how would we start to understand the concept of aikido and how could we teach the correct technique to the juniors? For me, it's easier for somebody to understand if I teach it 2 ways: the wrong and right way but its just how I work. Teach only the correct way and they are bound to partner with somebody later who can resist their technique and later find out that the"correct" technique is not entirely correct.

Nozza74 03-21-2012 10:38 PM

Re: Relaxation
 
Dear aikido brothers and sisters

I thank you very much in your responses to my question i will certainly take them on board over time as i train in aikido , if i did not make myself clear in my original post i do apologize the relax element i referred to was part tension but this is not done on purpose as i dont think i am tense ?? and the rushing of techniques more so in in randori and i know it is only early in my stage of learning after 4 months ( but it comes more from excitement than fear )

graham ......

Mark Freeman 03-22-2012 08:21 AM

Re: Relaxation
 
Quote:

Lynn Seiser wrote: (Post 306161)
IMHO, tension can be fear based.

Living in a constant and chronic state of fear (conscious or unconscious) can produce a constant and chronic state of readiness and tension.

Hi Lynn,

I completely agree with this, as fear is the driver of so much negative 'tense' behaviour.

Quote:

The body does what we tell it too.
Oh, if only this were true...:(

regards,

Mark


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