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Old 09-28-2009, 11:28 AM   #1
tim evans
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Relax....HOW?

This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ?
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:34 AM   #2
lbb
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Practice to the point when you are confident of your ability to respond. It's kind of hard to relax otherwise when someone attacks you.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:52 AM   #3
dps
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Re: Relax....HOW?

I have a weird answer.

Physical exhaustion.

Seriously, before class do an aerobic exercise(s). not weight lifting, until you are extremely tired.

David
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:32 PM   #4
phitruong
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tim Evans wrote: View Post
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ?
borrowing a drill from systema. walk around the mat or wherever, have someone and a bunch of someone continuously press their knuckles, fingers, palms, elbows, feet to various part of your body from head to feet. your job is to walk around and breath and stay loose. do that for a while. then have the other folks to start tapping their knuckles, fingers, palms, etc on your body. don't forget to do the head more, because most folks tend to tense up when things head toward their head. your job is the same as before. next up, ask other folks to hit you lightly, with their body parts. your job is still the same as before. have the other folks increase the intensity to the point where you start to tense up, then ask them to back down and continue with the drill. do that for a month or so.

i have two teenage boys who have my permission to hit me at random. if i tensed up, it just hurts, a lot. one of my conversation with my son (5'9" 160 lbs) followed,

Dad: hey son! how's school today?
Son: great, Dad!
Dad: any problem?
Son: Nope. *thud thud thud* (he just delivered three rapid punches to the chest, rib and solar plexus)
Dad: Good! Got your works turned in?
Son: Yup! Missed one question though! *thud* (he threw a punch into the kidney while i turned my back)
Son: I am going to work on my English paper. what's for dinner?
Dad: I am baking some chicken. should have dinner ready in an hour.

as you can see, i have developed an illness which Ledyard sensei called "Low self-preservation syndrome" or something like that. don't blame me if you caught such illness later on.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:52 PM   #5
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Relax....HOW?

It is not easy for sure, but most folks think Relax in the sense of what we do when we sit in a chair or lay on a bed..that is collapse.

I think a better term might be "active relaxation". This has more to do with establishing correct proprioceptions, relaxing in one area while not relaxing in other areas.

For most of us, I think, we tend to see something coming and we tense our shoulders, arms, maybe shift our weight the wrong way, push and pull when we are not supposed to, based on our emotions, habits, and ingrained responses.

"Just relax" or "Move your hips", simply is not descriptive enough of what has to happen in order to move correctly as a holistic unit.

So, relaxing, just doesn't do it for me as a concept.

If you really want to learn this, the most helpful for me has been getting with these IT or IS guys who have a pretty good clue on how to move correctly in a martial/semi-martial environment...and it involves alot more helpful concepts than "Just relax".

If it were that easy, we wouldn't need all this waza!

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Old 09-28-2009, 01:12 PM   #6
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tim Evans wrote: View Post
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the attack come to me without tensing up ?
When your mind is in a confident relaxed state of mind, your body will also be in that state. To get there, train a lot and do it for years. The part out of your control is that of developing expertise. Get really good at what you're doing. If you can do that, you will develop a relaxed state of mind and you will find the tensing up will stop.
Best,
Jorge

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:20 PM   #7
Garth Jones
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Are you tensing because the attack is coming in, or are you tensing because you are worried about how well you will do the technique? I ask because you were recently quite worried about how well you would do on your 5th kyu test. Also, when I was where you are now, that was my major preoccupation!

If you are worried about the attack, then keep practicing getting off the line and hope (trust?!?) that your practice partners will not hit you hard if you mess up. If you are worried about the technique 'working' then try (and it's not easy) to let go of that. After all, there is no technique if you do not get off the line, and there is no pin, or throw, if the technique is not there, so don't get ahead of yourself.

Also, what happens if your technique isn't very good? You get to try it again. And what happens if your technique amazes everybody around you? Same thing, you get to try it again.

It took me several years of training before I could reliably let go of all this stuff (and I still struggle with it) but my practice improved greatly once I did.

Cheers,
Garth
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:52 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Relax....HOW?

This is an area where I find paired weapons training very helpful. You can watch some people flinch and withdraw and others freeze and others have their shoulders go up above their ears.... I'd try to make suggestions that are specific to what body reaction I was seeing but a couple of general ones would include remembering to keep breathing in and out, to focus on the tanden and drop center, and maybe some visualizations (OK, sounds silly, but for me I have a sense of the mat as being the size of the world, me as being able to fill all that space plus the hugeness under it - helps drop center! - and then inviting uke in with a smile as my guest)

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:00 PM   #9
Ketsan
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tim Evans wrote: View Post
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ?
Arrogance. Once in while allow yourself to be arrogant.
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:56 PM   #10
tim evans
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Garth Jones wrote: View Post
Are you tensing because the attack is coming in, or are you tensing because you are worried about how well you will do the technique? I ask because you were recently quite worried about how well you would do on your 5th kyu test. Also, when I was where you are now, that was my major preoccupation!

If you are worried about the attack, then keep practicing getting off the line and hope (trust?!?) that your practice partners will not hit you hard if you mess up. If you are worried about the technique 'working' then try (and it's not easy) to let go of that. After all, there is no technique if you do not get off the line, and there is no pin, or throw, if the technique is not there, so don't get ahead of yourself.

Also, what happens if your technique isn't very good? You get to try it again. And what happens if your technique amazes everybody around you? Same thing, you get to try it again.

It took me several years of training before I could reliably let go of all this stuff (and I still struggle with it) but my practice improved greatly once I did.

Cheers,
Garth
Garth, my answer is both during class and my test.During my test I was extremely winded some of my senior instructors said I was winded because I wasn,t relaxed tensing up on the atacks.During class trying to get all aspects of the atack instead of rushing to the conclusion.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:37 PM   #11
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Ok so maybe you need to breath. A lot of times when I am having this problem whether it is as Uke or a Nage I just stop for a moment. Take several slow deep breathes and allow myself to relax. Deep breathing actually can induce relaxation in the body. As you breath out allow all of the tension to drain out of you.

When I do this I generally will close my eyes a moment and go completely still mentally as well. The get to work. It only takes a moment but it does seem to really help me refocus and let go.

It helps if you practice doing this at home and at other times so you get your body trained to respond.

When you are breathing concentrate on filling the lowest parts of your lungs and emptying all the way to the lowest parts of your lungs. Feel yourself fill your lungs form the bottom up and empty them form the top down. When you inhale of your chest rises yo are not breathing deep. You want your belly to expand and bulge outward and your rib cage to move out sideways and upward.

Another kinda cool exercise is to learn to inflate only one lung at a time. It just helps you become more aware of your breathing.

And as Garth mentioned.... regardless of what happens, you are in a controlled environment. Nothing bad is going to happen to you and you are going to get to do it 100 more times. It is a lot a matter of desensitization. The more you face the situation such as being attacked and nothing bad happens the more your self preservation instincts begin to learn to not lock up your ability to think.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:40 PM   #12
crbateman
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Re: Relax....HOW?

I have had good luck with visualization. First, I try to imagine myself as a wall of water, able to flow around an attack without contributing tension. Then, I try to visualize the attacking fist, foot, weapon or whatever, from the rear perspective, as if from the attacker's point of view. Works for me, maybe for you also.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:52 PM   #13
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Physical exhaustion.
I personally don't like this method, as it seems to ignore the process through which a student must go in order to learn to consciously relax under stress. They key to learning how to appropriately release muscles doesn't lie in physically exhausting the muscles themselves, but in learning to control the job orders issued to those muscles.

Doing hundreds of repetitions to the point of physical exhaustion is more of a test of spirit and will than a path to correct technique. It can be a very useful tool, but when muscles are fatigued it's no longer really a choice to relax them.

It also goes without saying that I don't have time to physically exhaust myself in the fraction of an instant before an attack occurs. It's kinda like needing to stretch out before I can throw a decent kick. :-)

The way I deal with this situation is to have a student train very slowly so that they can learn to gradually release any tension that doesn't need to be there for the particular job at hand. If necessary, I point out specific muscles and help them learn to release them. As senior side, I also control my attack so as not to exacerbate any existing anxieties in a student.

Once they can handle things pretty well, I start gradually turning up the heat (speed, power, intent, etc.) so that they can learn through a process of graded desensitization and re-sensitization.

Michael Hacker
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http://renshindojo.com/

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Old 09-28-2009, 09:16 PM   #14
dps
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tim Evans wrote: View Post
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ?
The muscles fibers that become stiff and tense when you see attacks coming are the same muscle fibers that are used for mobility in the body. By fatiguing the mobility muscle fibers (before they become tense) your body then has to rely on the muscle fibers that are primarily used for stabilization. The feeling you have at this point is active relaxation and a goal to be consciously reproduce without fatiguing the mobility muscles.

Predominantly using the abdominal muscles for breathing instead of the chest muscles is very important.

David

Last edited by dps : 09-28-2009 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:00 AM   #15
tarik
 
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tim Evans wrote: View Post
This is a weird question but I have been struggling with it always being stiff and tense when atacks come how do I let the atack come to me without tensing up ?
Slow down. Ask your partners to slow down. Speed comes with repetition.. if you practice stiff and tense, you will get good at stiff and tense and may not even notice how stiff and tense you still are.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:22 AM   #16
tarik
 
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Slow down. Ask your partners to slow down. Speed comes with repetition.. if you practice stiff and tense, you will get good at stiff and tense and may not even notice how stiff and tense you still are.
FWIW, when you slow down, you have time to identify which muscles are holding undesirable tension and release it. You have time to experiment with releasing different muscles and seeing what the results are when you do.

Ideally, your teacher will also point out which specific muscles to release instead of just saying stupidly "relax!" Because relaxing completely isn't the answer either, unless you're a possum.

Slow practice also gives you time to develop confidence and to deal with any lingering fear that might also be causing unnecessary tension in your posture and movement. Frankly, good quality slow practice is difficult stuff to learn and I'm still learning it and trying to learn it, but it's better (and gets more constructive results) than most of the headless chicken practice I've witnessed in my day.

Regards,

Last edited by tarik : 09-29-2009 at 12:26 AM.

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Old 09-29-2009, 05:54 AM   #17
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Relax....HOW?

I agree with David. Practice to the point you are physically exhausted. Don't forget to breathe though.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:12 AM   #18
YogaRen
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
unless you're a possum.
ohhh... duh... well, there's MY problem..

Trusting the process.
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:57 AM   #19
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote: View Post
When your mind is in a confident relaxed state of mind, your body will also be in that state. To get there, train a lot and do it for years. The part out of your control is that of developing expertise. Get really good at what you're doing. If you can do that, you will develop a relaxed state of mind and you will find the tensing up will stop.
Best,
Jorge
I agree. I think relaxation isn't taught, but comes with expertise. Rote training in proper movement, posture etc., is the way I learned to relax. People don't just tense up in Aikido, but other activities where certain physical movements are done for the first time are the same. I learned in my experience with other physical activities, it works the same way.

I think that having an improper state of mind can be an obstacle. In my experience, those with minds of confrontation seem to be tense no matter what kind of experience they have. Going around shouting OSS! at every chance, speaking with an aggressive, stern, loud voice and a mean, serious face doesn't help.

One point that I think is important to mention is that after you get to the point of being able to relax and act without thinking, be careful you don't get sloppy; that comes with arrogance.

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Old 09-29-2009, 09:13 AM   #20
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
I agree with David. Practice to the point you are physically exhausted. Don't forget to breathe though.
Actually, I think David was mostly talking about pre-exhaustion before aikido. In that case, I'd have to agree with Mr. Hacker:

Quote:
[snipped...] The key to learning how to appropriately release muscles doesn't lie in physically exhausting the muscles themselves, but in learning to control the job orders issued to those muscles.

Doing hundreds of repetitions to the point of physical exhaustion is more of a test of spirit and will than a path to correct technique. It can be a very useful tool, but when muscles are fatigued it's no longer really a choice to relax them.

It also goes without saying that I don't have time to physically exhaust myself in the fraction of an instant before an attack occurs. It's kinda like needing to stretch out before I can throw a decent kick. :-)
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:24 AM   #21
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Re: Relax....HOW?

I believe there is much merit in training to the point of exhaustion. Lots going on when you do this. One yes, it is training for the "suck" factor, spiritual and all that.

More importantly, I believe it also forces you to have to do things with correct posture principles etc. Once you get the "fight" out, you can let go and begin to move correctly as you are no longer in your own way.

In BJJ we do this alot, especially with new guys that are wrestlers. It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.

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Old 09-29-2009, 10:11 AM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Relax....HOW?

I have to agree w/ Michael Hacker on this one. We need to find a way to train that instills the feeling in us to start with. I think there are a couple of paths to this - a teacher who can actually explain what muscles ARE used, visualization, working slowly and adding pressure (like from a jo) but not speed.
Also, I don't know about you, but when I'm exhausted I don't have good posture. I'm doubled over panting. Seriously. The last way I could learn how to do effective anything is when my heart, lungs, muscles and electrolyte system are overloaded. Maybe it works differently for 20 yr old men than for 54 yr old women.

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Old 09-29-2009, 10:12 AM   #23
Janet Rosen
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Re: Relax....HOW?

I should add that I DO believe there is merit in pushing limits including very hard training to point of exhaustion - I just don't think it is an effective way to teach the issue the OP raised.

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:37 AM   #24
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.
Actually I have to beg to differ on this. This particular method of horse breaking teaches the animal nothing and does not foster trust in humans. Rather than force the horse to submit in this manner it is far easier and has a better result if you cause the horse to desire to be with you and to allow you to take the role as his leader through communication in his language.

Horses and Aikido do indeed have much in comon.

If the horse is afraid and tense he will learn less and more slowly than he will if he is helped to soften and give to the pressures put upon him. Working him to exhaustion only fosters in him the fears and creates in him a desire to avoid the training in the future.

It is very easy to tell a horse that has been trained gently form one that has been "broken" through rough handling.

Some people respond in similar ways. They need to be led gently and firmly until they find the answers rather than forced to find them through overwork, potential injury and exhaustion.
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:01 AM   #25
mjhacker
 
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Re: Relax....HOW?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
It is like taming new horses, you simply gotta ride the bronco until he gives up and starts listening.
The difference here is that broncos don't want to be tamed; you're forcing your will on them. If a student comes to my dojo to train, I assume they come of their own free will and intend to submit themself* to the training. If a student doesn't trust or follow what I'm telling them, they need to find a new dojo.

* How is this not considered to be a proper word by Merriam-Webster?

Michael Hacker
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