Re: So I started the solo exercises...
It's hard to argue terminology for a feeling.
As an example: I can use my center to 'pull" on my hands and feet and move and get a stretched 'tug" or full feel. I meet people who say the same thing to me all the time, but then clearly demonstrate tension in their bodies that can be had, whereas when they try to catch or get me I am soft and relaxed with that stretched, or full feel.
There are ways to test for residual tension that are simple; having someone push on your and asking them to do certain things with elbows and knees and see what they can do and what they feel like. WIth residual tension they block themselves from certain ways to use the body. You can also stand in a sumo type stance with each others hands on each others obi or belt and try to hoist each other. The hips (the shoulders of the lower body) are usually a disaster in most MA-even highly accomplished ones, and you can uproot them or toss them with ease. For most people when they try to do these with someone more developed and connected, they feel like the better guy's feet are glued flat on the floor and they cannot off-line them and get them on their toes, heels, or sides of their feet at all no matter what they do to their hips and knees, and then...wham, they are the ones off lined for their efforts.
The feet are a lovely indicator of what is actually going-on in the body; front and back, side to side, they show what the knee/ hip connection is like, and then how it is relating to the upper body and where any tension is. It is one of reasons people get mad when you analyze popular teachers in video and they are demonstrating a loss of balance here and there on their feet in simple waza they have done a million times. It is sooo obvious yet I have sat in a room full of people who don't have clue to what they are missing. Worse yet when you meet and feel these guys and...well..there it is.
There is simply no way to have good aiki, without having a profound held central equilibrium. Usually people learn to mask their weak points and structural anomalies-usually caused from residual tension- with waza at the breaking point. Once your body becomes aiki; opposing forces held in balance, it creates unbalancing effects on them. With ukes it can be intoxicatingly fun and artificial, but with fighters it is hardly seen, just sensed, before they move and try to re-engage. It makes for easier and faster transitions, escapes, entries, strikes and throws.
This becomes even more pronounces when you are moving wih sprial energy in contact with people. There are things you do with any given contact point that can really screw with someone trying to fight you and get in. What I am talking about can either happen residually (by conditioning) or with mental choice, but in eiither case, with any sort of tension? Neither will work and you end up fighting yourself.
So, all that said I don't see any need or reason to train "in tension," when you can accomplish the same feel mentally. Then when more and more tissue gets involved and is being moved; pulled, tugged, energized and filled up from the center there is not tension to get rid of.
So I still say, go slow and go soft, even later on, after many years of training. I know experts who are very fast and loose who still move slow and stand every day of their lives.
Last edited by DH : 05-21-2010 at 10:32 AM.