Tension is vilified. Tension is maligned. Tension is vital to everyone’s life.
Working with tension is vital to all martial. Resisting partners, heavy tools, hard ground. All these promote our awareness to our own tension and when to use it and when to discard the tension or in my own phrasing, the structure of tension. We tend to brace when something flies into our frame of sight. We sometimes cower or round the spine to instinctively protect the digestive system we cannot do without.
Work from tension helps us become aware and then control and then reign the structure of tension and alignment in our bodies and in our minds.
Tense up and let your partners hit you as you focus on breathing and paying attention. It pays dividends to notice how the tension of impact goes through a tense body.
Tense up only parts of the body and repeat the getting hit drill.
tense the lower body and breathe continuously. Relax on each impact of the partners pushes and strikes. and let the contact move through the body to the ground.
Tense up just the behind and have your partners strike your upper body. Relax upon impact and let your breath and sight shift when you are touched to have the contact slide on you rather then penetrate.
Squat down on both feet flat on the ground and tense the back and sides of the neck. Keep breathing and have your partners push you. On impact, release the tension and roll from the squat to the ground and back into the squat.
Stand on one leg, squat down taking 10 breaths to the down movement and then rise on one breath. Repeat 10 times per leg.
Hang a rope over something sturdy. Hold it with both hands with one at chest level and one straight upwards. Pull up on one inhale and down on 4 exhales. Repeat 10 times per hand.
Lie on the ground and hold something sturdy with both hands behind your head. A sturdy partner will do as well if you cannot locate a pole, a building or something else in sight. Raise the body straight up to a shoulder stand in one breath and lower it straight in 10 breaths. Repeat 20 times.
Lie down and place both hands on the top of your head. Rise into a neck bridge and hold it for 120 breaths where the spinal muscles are tensed on the inhale.
Being in the water is a natural experience. We’ve all spend months in liquid and returning to it is second nature.
Standing neck deep in water is relaxing and can be challenging in the right mindset and conditions. If the temperature is low, then the body needs to contend with the elements and the blood flow and heat generation is getting a workout. If the temperature is mild, the body can receive the same by swimming and diving.
One of the great things in water is they resist all movement and give instant feedback. Clap your hands in front and clap them behind you and feel the water resistance to the movement. Try to do this faster and faster and the water will respond in kind.
Kick with your feet and strike with your arms. Roll and turn, switch positions and height. Shadow fight slow and then faster and faster and you will get a great lesson in movement efficiency and your entire body will learn to move more as one unit and forgo excessive tension and movement.
Breathing wise. When the temperature is low. Direct your breath into the places that warm your body. The locations are slightly different for each person so note where your body is warmer in cold environments and study yourself. This is a focus drill of course and through that, you learn to direct and use your nervous system and visualization to generate actual heat.
Also, Just enjoy the water and watch out for gators 🙂
There is a strong trend in martial art and in life where we claim technique is greater than brute force. In many cases, it is true yet there is no place for us to neglect our force production when we consider the full human or any system we are upholding and wishing to thrive, from computer networks needing bandwidth as well as proper routing tables and rules to humans needing healthy strong joints and muscles to facilitate what the nervous systems wishes it to accomplish.
Here is a snapshot from our Friday focus on power before we worked on grace/technique
600 push ups in variations
600 inverted push ups or ropes
50 rope dips (similar to ring dips but on held rope)
50 rope pull ups (similar to ring pull ups but on held rope)
100 rolls from standing to ground to standing on one leg
50 Leg raises on dip bars
300 breaths in the neck bridge
300 breaths in the upside down bars hold ( see picture) It is a favorite of mine and very healthy when worked in progression into a routine.
Force and health allow us to be graceful. Without force, we are nothing, Without grace, we are nothing. We have to balance it out constantly and never neglect either of them.
A car is powered by its engine and fuel but the transmission carries the power to where it is manifested.
Let’s focus also on our transmission which is our joints and connective tissue.
Here is a three month plan to build up the the tendon mind health and connection. Tendons take longer than muscle to grow and change so take care to listen to your body and never play the music out of tune. Practice the holds and movements below in an alternating manner where you spread them. Do each one three times a week to let the body build itself and come together in a new way of locomotion.
Three times a week:
LOWER BODY – Bend at the ankles, knees and hips till you reach a ninety degree angle at the knees and the feet are under the hips. Walk 120 breaths forward and the same backwards, sideways and turning. Keep your back upright at all times and allow yourself to relax your face and neck.
LOWER BODY – Place your feet on a sliding surface ( a sock on a stone floor or smooth plastic on a rug) as you lie face up on the ground. Inhale and lift the hips up by pressing one foot backwards and repeat 60 times per side and alternate with each step.
SPINE – Lie on your back and arch to for a full body arch with all limbs joining the arch. Breath and rock forward and back for 120 breaths. Repeat while on your stomach and on each side. Allow one arm on the ground when you are doing the sides to ease into the movement. Keep the arch alive instead of stiff and move from your breath.
UPPER BODY – Hang on the bar and sway forward and back for 120 breaths. Avoid straining yourself in the beginning and build to a full 120 breath of swinging forward and back. Once you can do it in one go, advance to playing and swaying in different directions and heights. Swaying is much more taxing than static holds so progress with care.
UPPER BODY – Hang on the parallel bars for a 120 breaths. Sway the body forward and back and again, take your time in getting to doing this in one set. Make sure your shoulders do not sag and on the other hand are not tense and your entire body moves as one.