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Old 02-07-2005, 10:17 PM   #1
Ma_ai
Dojo: Yoshinkan Ken Shin Kai
Location: UK
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Relax!!!

Does the forum have any advice on how to relax whilst doing technique?

Someone said if I do weapons training it will help, what do you guys think

Ma_ai
Simon. M
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Old 02-08-2005, 01:35 AM   #2
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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Re: Relax!!!

A couple of things that have worked for me and my classmates:

--Don't look at the attacking hand (foot, whatever). Look at the whole person. This makes a surprisingly big difference.

--Breathe. If you hold your breath you tense up automatically.

--Bear in mind that you are trying to move yourself, not your partner. If you focus on moving your partner, you're likely to tense up and pull or push him.

I haven't found weapons training more helpful in this than unarmed, except that if you practice weapon versus unarmed the point about not looking at the attacker's hand (or weapon) becomes *really* important and is easy to work on. For some reason, looking at the oncoming knife is a sure way to get tagged by it.

Mary Kaye
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Old 02-08-2005, 01:57 AM   #3
creinig
Dojo: Yoshinkan Würzburg
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Re: Relax!!!

Quote:
Simon Mindle wrote:
Does the forum have any advice on how to relax whilst doing technique?
Continue training and don't worry so much. The biggest factors in being able to relax are IMHO (1) being familiar with the technique (i.e. not having to actively think about how to move) and (2) not worrying about how fast you "progress", how much you'll impress the girls etc.

Oh, and have fun
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Old 02-08-2005, 02:12 AM   #4
Ma_ai
Dojo: Yoshinkan Ken Shin Kai
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Re: Relax!!!

More likely to distress them, rather than impress. But seriously I do find that I am always thinking about the technique and trying to do it rather than just doing it.
Someone suggested taking up yoga or tai chi as a supplement to Aikido, but just not enough hours in the day.
Would doing ukemi more help?
I am noting all advice thank you

Ma_ai
Simon. M
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Old 02-08-2005, 02:29 AM   #5
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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Re: Relax!!!

Simon, generally agree with the "just keep training" as often the lack of relaxation is because you're not fully conversant with the technique - once you can trust yourself to be technically correct, the relaxation comes easier.

Having said that, what I've found sometimes helps me is to focus on a part of the body which you normally ignore - for example if I'm tense in the shoulders, I'll try and relax my thumb. For a stiff upper body I focus on my neck etc.- just play with your own mindset to fond what works for you.

Finally, not worrying about the technique working has always been a plus for me
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Old 02-08-2005, 02:40 AM   #6
PeterR
 
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Re: Relax!!!

Relax - a word often used in Aikido in lieu of any tangible advice (ie. somethings wrong but I have no idea must use magic word).

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:01 AM   #7
Mat Hill
Dojo: Kaminari Shooto Dojo
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Re: Relax!!!

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
A couple of things that have worked for me and my classmates:

--Don't look at the attacking hand (foot, whatever). Look at the whole person. This makes a surprisingly big difference.

--Breathe. If you hold your breath you tense up automatically.

--Bear in mind that you are trying to move yourself, not your partner. If you focus on moving your partner, you're likely to tense up and pull or push him.

I haven't found weapons training more helpful in this than unarmed, except that if you practice weapon versus unarmed the point about not looking at the attacker's hand (or weapon) becomes *really* important and is easy to work on. For some reason, looking at the oncoming knife is a sure way to get tagged by it.

Mary Kaye
Great post. I would say, however that I can't agree with your third point. To me aiki is not about just moving your partner's body, and neither is it just about moving your body, it's about merging the two and moving them both until such time as it becomes impossible for one or other of you to continue. It's like the quote about Brazilian jujutsu (no idea where from): BJJ is liked being mugged by a straightjacket!

So in terms of relaxation, in some ways you have to mould your partner, so while not focusing solely on your partner is important, so is not focussing solely on yourself.

Another way you can relax is by weight-training/interval training/cardio. (Oooh, it's a shoulder-high chicken-wing shihonage, he's made it into the air... there's a gasp in the crowd... will he make the ukemi safely...!??? ). Maaaaaaybeeeeee, not a popular answer... but it is one way!

If you have very weak muscles, it makes moving your body harder, which in turn makes it harder for you to relax. It also makes it harder 'guiding' somebody else into a throw. Plus the very process of these exercises will tire your muscles and make it impossible for you to rely on them alone for your technique. Then your mental budgeting system will push your physical activity towards structure, positioning and timing rather than muscling it through.

If you want to make such training more aiki specific do the sword kata/suburi/stick kata etc with a suburi bokuto and wrist weights. If you are cutting correctly in a circular motion the hyperextension of the elbow that's often a problem in kendo and other arts shouldn't present such a problem.

If you do do weights or whatever though, make sure you make time to have a full stretching programme afterwards too.
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:03 AM   #8
Bridge
Dojo: Slough Aikikai
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Re: Relax!!!

It always does my head in, this being told to"relax" thing. The more I am told to do it, the more tense I get, the worse the technique gets! Argh! Perhaps it is being told to relax that makes you self conscious because it implies they are watchnig you closely enough to know you are not relaxed.

It does help if I focus/distract myself on some other aspect of the techniques, then I'm not trying too hard to relax. Then relaxation takes care of itself. Or so I find.
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:14 AM   #9
taras
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Re: Relax!!!

Saotome Sensei said that your instructor cannot answer through your intelect the questions your body is asking. That's why very often they tell you just to keep training.

When ukeing for senior grades try to feel how they relax and how the technique flows. this is the best way I know to learn things through your body.
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:25 AM   #10
batemanb
 
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Re: Relax!!!

Every time you practice any specific technique, at the instant you start moving, try doing a random sum in your head at the same time, e.g. 67567-454 or 76123 divide by 67

i.e. shift your train of thought away from the technique

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-08-2005, 04:22 AM   #11
Ma_ai
Dojo: Yoshinkan Ken Shin Kai
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Re: Relax!!!

Quote:
Bridget Chung wrote:
It always does my head in, this being told to"relax" thing. The more I am told to do it, the more tense I get, the worse the technique gets! Argh! Perhaps it is being told to relax that makes you self conscious because it implies they are watchnig you closely enough to know you are not relaxed.

It does help if I focus/distract myself on some other aspect of the techniques, then I'm not trying too hard to relax. Then relaxation takes care of itself. Or so I find.
That happens to me all the time. I think im doing pretty good then I hears those words "drop your shoulders" "sink to your center" then everything goes pear shaped and I'm like a puppet with strings.

I have tried not thinking, but the technique is still bad coz now I am thinking about trying not to think, then I forget how to do the technique, which was my initial plan but by this time I'm like the tin man from wizard of Oz.

Ohh to train

Ma_ai
Simon. M
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Old 02-08-2005, 05:32 AM   #12
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
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Re: Relax!!!

A simple practical answer:

1. Understand it is not important to succeed in performing the technique.
2. Practice more slowly and with Uke who is willing to assist you and correct your mistakes so the technique will work.

After some time of practicing this way, you will find you are much more relaxed as Tori. It is important to slowly change the behavior of Uke at that point, or you will miss an important factor - It's being relaxed under pressure in Aikido.


Amir
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:30 AM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Re: Relax!!!

Slow down, practice getting the feel of the technique.
Breathe.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-08-2005, 01:21 PM   #14
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
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Re: Relax!!!

Get laid, smoke dope and stop voting conservative before class When your instructor tells you to relax completly, find a sofa and go to sleep.

Seriously, I find working a technique through slowly, with someone you like and trust, in a truly non competitive way at first helps, then trying to keep that feeling as you move on to others (hopefully there aren't too many others). The stress response is basically about your mindset towards your partner, if its a friend who's there to help then why get tense?

Which bits are not relaxed? If like most of us you are trying to develop movement from the hips and knees then arm swinging and tori-fune exercises could well be useful in moving your attention and body movement habits from the upper body.

More specifically, if I feel a particularly muscle is tense I try and relax it on the out breath by breathing through the muscle - if that makes sense. Like the letting go sensation you get when you sit in a bath/arm chair after a long day at work. Sometimes it can help to tense it as much as you can first so the difference is easy to feel. Visualization, smiling and tree hugging stuff optional for Yoshinkan Orcs.

Good posture helps as ever.

A lot of people have mentioned practice and repetition, and while there's certainly some truth in this ("grinding out strength" as one of my teachers put it), kids and beginners can be more relaxed then many of the dan'osaurs on the mat, so I think some kind of conscious practice is necessary.

Yours, from the couch,

Mark
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Old 02-08-2005, 02:38 PM   #15
DCP
 
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Re: Relax!!!

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
Every time you practice any specific technique, at the instant you start moving, try doing a random sum in your head at the same time, e.g. 67567-454 or 76123 divide by 67

i.e. shift your train of thought away from the technique

Bryan
Now I'm more tense because I have to do math. I hate math. This is the worst advice ever. Is math going to be on the next rank exam?


A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:47 PM   #16
thomas_dixon
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Re: Relax!!!

I would try the "Don't think, just do." approach.
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Old 02-08-2005, 06:03 PM   #17
Karen King
Dojo: Albuquerque Aikikai
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Re: Relax!!!

I have found the following things helpful over the years:
1. Zazen...the mind is the source of the tension, after all
2. Suburi...but make sure you're using the right muscles...not the upper arm. Feel the weight of the bokken and add energy only by squeezing the pinky/ring finger of both hands on the way down (kind of tricky)
3. Roll back and forth 50 times before starting class (tired bodies are less tense)
4. Connect with your center not only on the mat but all during the day...drive from the center, sweep from the center...this helps build an awareness of which muscles are getting in the way...I know this sounds nebulous but it worked for me
5. I agree with all the above who said slowing down and really exploring the technique vs. being concerned with throwing
6. Lay off coffee
7. Having a sensei who tells you to relax every day for a year doesn't hurt either...sooner or later it starts to sink in
8. Some yoga schools offer specific classes on breathing...I never took the whole breathing thing seriously...I mean we kind of do it from birth, right? But exploring the breath can help relax the body...
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Old 02-08-2005, 06:59 PM   #18
Ma_ai
Dojo: Yoshinkan Ken Shin Kai
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Re: Relax!!!

Some great comments and I will try some of those suggested. My sensei say's we are lucky as humans in that we are habitual and in time it just happens, as long as we practice regularly.

Ma_ai
Simon. M
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Old 02-09-2005, 12:48 AM   #19
batemanb
 
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Re: Relax!!!

Quote:
Daniel Pierson wrote:
Now I'm more tense because I have to do math. I hate math. This is the worst advice ever. Is math going to be on the next rank exam?


Hey Daniel,

Like practice, you don't have to get it right every time

I'll have a word with your instructor, get him to add it it to your syllabus

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-09-2005, 10:33 AM   #20
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Relax!!!

Quote:
Yoshinkan Orcs
...

I like that...

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 02-09-2005, 11:54 AM   #21
bcole23
Dojo: Eagle Rock Aikido, Ammon, ID
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Re: Relax!!!

I agree with the above post.

In my class we do 50-100 rolls, with me only being able to do 50 most of the time.

You're body get's all the relaxation it needs. If it's mental, then the above posts are a great help. Stop worrying and just practice.

%us = map { $_ => q{belong} } @your_base;
http://www.eaglerockaikido.com
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Old 02-09-2005, 06:05 PM   #22
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: Relax!!!

Karen and Brandon's posts reminded me of one of the ways that some of my instructors taught us to relax.

We'd do about 30-40 minutes of back breakfalls so that even just standing there we were wobbly. Then they'd tell us to do a technique and yell at us about form (because we were still too wobbly). The trick we learned from this is how to push enough effort/power into our posture so that we wouldn't get yelled at...it also turned out to be the right amount to relax by if we hadn't done the back breakfalls. "Remember the feeling"...we were told.

I'm not sure I recommend this...but it does work.

--Michael, YoshiOrc

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 02-10-2005, 01:55 AM   #23
Mat Hill
Dojo: Kaminari Shooto Dojo
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Re: Relax!!!

Ah of course... I haven't done that kind of breakfall practise in a long long time so I wasn't thinking of that... but it's another one in line with what I was thinking of tiring yourself to rely on your structure.
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:29 AM   #24
Bronson
 
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Re: Relax!!!

Something that helped me: I found it difficult to pay attention to everything and keep it all relaxed. I found that if I could just keep my face relaxed the neck, shoulders, and torso would follow. So I just paid attention to keeping the muscles of my face relaxed and let everything else take care of itself.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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