Re: relaxing during technique - how?
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.