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Old 10-29-2012, 07:21 PM   #26
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
In regards to that, I do think that day to day activity has us using flexion more. When we lift things, when we pull open a heavy door or pull a chair away from a table. The action of extending isn't quite as common, at least not in my daily life except for training.
I don't either -- and I do notice, since I started practicing aikido, that I've developed those extensor muscles much more than I had previously. Guess I must be "using strength"

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Relaxing and not using strength in doing aikido to me means not tensing muscles trying make something (technique) happen. If I tense anything, I impede my own movement. Doing ikkyo, for example, I try to relax my arms and even my hands when contacting uke in two places. It makes my movement much more fluid than if I grip hard, which sends tension up my extended arms and into my shoulders.
One other habit I think we carry from our daily activities is the tendency to grasp. I see it in myself and in others: the instinct to grab onto uke's wrist or arm or shoulder or whatever, pretty much as soon as it's presented and comes into range --- even in waza that don't call for us to grab it at all. Even when the technique calls for gripping at some point, I think most of us tend to do it much too soon, never mind too hard. But once you've grabbed, it's really hard to extend, isn't it?
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:33 PM   #27
"Strongman, Not"
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
One other habit I think we carry from our daily activities is the tendency to grasp. I see it in myself and in others: the instinct to grab onto uke's wrist or arm or shoulder or whatever, pretty much as soon as it's presented and comes into range --- even in waza that don't call for us to grab it at all. Even when the technique calls for gripping at some point, I think most of us tend to do it much too soon, never mind too hard. But once you've grabbed, it's really hard to extend, isn't it?
Our tendency to grasp? Oh, absolutely! Isn't that what human technology is based on? Grasping and gripping? The opposable thumb? We grasp, therefore we are. But now that we're not swinging in trees, are we trying to find some other outlet to satisfy that instinct, hence, overusing our grip?

Gripping hard essentially traps us up. You're right, it does make it hard to extend when making a hard committed grab. That's what I was saying. It also traps us and makes us vulnerable, that split second it takes to relax and release the grip could be enough of an opening for a counter. It's why I make myself use a relaxed and loose grip when being nage. Not flaccid, but relaxed. There's a difference in having just a slight amount of form or tension to hold the grip in place, but not overcommit to it.

On the other hand nikkyo wouldn't be nearly as much fun if uke didn't get a death grip on my gi.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:35 AM   #28
Robert Cowham
Dojo: East Sheen Aikido and Kashima No Tachi
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

Gripping/grabbing and the sensation of muscular strength become fascinating tools to open up different ways of moving.

I find that sensations of muscular strength mean that you can feel a localised source of said strength - for most of us that is things like the shoulders. The converse is where the shoulders are used in a more transparent manner so that you start to feel the whole body, or (heaven forbid!) the tanden... Localised strength has limits which are lower than unified body (even if those limits can be pretty high for some people!).

We have all grown up using localised strength and it takes a lot of retraining and focussed effort to change things.

Purely on the gripping front, it is worth playing with how you grib a bokken - what happens if you use index and second finger for the grip? Is it different if you use your third and little fingers? Check out flexibility while gripping in different ways - how well you can move. Become aware of how the grip affects the rest of the body. Which side of the arm is affected?
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:23 PM   #29
Rupert Atkinson
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

I know it sounds like a contradiction, but I think you need a bit of strength to learn the mechanical ways the techniques work. Then, as you find slightly better ways to effect the techniques over time, you will begin to use less strength. I think it is easier to learn starting from using a bit of strength than from being too light from the get go (and never go thru the process of using strength). Just my 2c.

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Old 11-08-2012, 09:53 AM   #30
heathererandolph
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

At least you can recognize what is probably holding you back. People who are used to using their muscles often have a difficult time in not using arm muscles. I suggest practicing fully relaxing, being "dead weight." Try to relax as much as possible so you are difficult to move. Think of some actions where you need to use your entire body, such as pushing a car or tug of war. This way, you can remember the feeling.

Have someone hold your arm, and just relax it and let it drop. See your fingers relax and your arm will become heavier. It seems to me that when someone's fingers are tense their body is tense also.

My Sensei was having us become really tired at a seminar and told us that when people are tired their muscles relax and their throws improve. The trick is to notice when things ARE working so your body can remember that. At home you can practice consciously relaxing muscles, and noticing when you are doing similar motions to your goal. Maybe you are thinking of Aikido as fighting? Remember, you don't want to make your opponent fight back so they should not feel they are being fought with. You will see a big improvement in your technique with this change. Good luck on your test!
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:23 AM   #31
Rob Watson
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

Quote:
Heather Randolph wrote: View Post
My Sensei was having us become really tired at a seminar and told us that when people are tired their muscles relax and their throws improve.
Drift alert ...
IME when this tired phase happens uke just stops giving 'real' attacks so as nage I can get away with garbage that normally would not work at all. Things do 'seem' to work better/easier but when I look objectively I just see the collusion factor escalate through the roof.

The only saving grace to the type of training (that I can find) is when so depleted I focus more on how to move myself and tend to just ignore uke - this can have lasting effects but this method is certainly not very efficient towards that end.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:48 PM   #32
heathererandolph
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

Ha! In terms of muscles relaxing, maybe it does the trick.
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Old 11-09-2012, 06:40 PM   #33
Basia Halliop
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Re: "Don't use strength!"

"Have someone hold your arm, and just relax it and let it drop. See your fingers relax and your arm will become heavier. It seems to me that when someone's fingers are tense their body is tense also. "

If you're really entirely relaxed, though, your posture falls apart. And your arms drag behind you when you turn if they're genuinely totally 'relaxed'.

I think there's something everyone is trying to express by things like 'don't use strength' or 'relax' and people who know how it feels know what they mean, but those words aren't really accurate so if you don't know the feeling the words don't really convey it...

(Personally my experience with exhaustion tends towards sloppiness, too... not that practicing when exhausted isn't interesting for other reasons, but for me I don't find it makes my techniques better!).

Personally I sometimes find it helpful to think of being 'correct' rather than 'not using muscle'. I.e., it's not just the absence of using a lot of strength, it's the presence of some other principle. I can't always tell if I'm doing it right but thinking of it this way is for me often more helpful.
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