In praise of TENSION

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.

Partner play

  1. 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.
  2. Tense up only parts of the body and repeat the getting hit drill.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Strength movements:

  1. Stand on one leg, squat down taking 10 breaths to the down movement and then rise on one breath. Repeat 10 times per leg.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Enjoy and share with your partners.

Staying Hip

The hips are the center of the body.

Moving them well contributes to all other movements and connects them in an enhancing chain of small and greater movements.

Begin:

  1. Place yourself in the pushup position and rotate your hips while in this in one side and then the next. Note your preference and always start the movement with the breath.
  2. Place yourself on one fist/hand and turn your body sideways to the ground. Repeat the hip rotation and release your eyes as well as you breathe and move. Do this for both sides.
  3. Place yourself on both fists/hands with your chest to the stars and repeat the rotation both ways. Consider how movement under slight pressure helps us learn to move all things as one.

Continue:

  1. Place yourself on one fist/hand and opposing side foot – repeat the hip rotation and work to let the movement balance you, rather than tension and bracing the movement chain. Water does not break, ice does.
  2. Place yourself on fist/hand and the same side side foot – repeat the hip rotation and focus on breathing excess tension out.

Further on:

  1. Do a handstand with a partner or with your legs on a tree trunk and rotate your hips. Focus on the reversed blood flow and let the mass sync itself in balancing out movement and activation.
  2. Hold yourself on a tree branch or a pull up bar and rotate your hips. Let the body unwind and let it smile.

Enjoy.

CHAIR POISON

Our bodies are a wonderful evolution. Generations of gathering, hunting, building and fighting with each other and ourselves.

Sitting is a common poison we administer to our bodies. It shortens our tendons, creates tension and blocks the flow of blood and other systems in the bodies. It is a part of almost any day so daily undoing is required.

Drills to undo sitting:

First – Don’t sit when possible or sit using a position that undoes some of the position damage. For example, a kneeling chair.

  1. Lie on your stomach. Inhale and raise all limbs and head in the air and arch the spine off the ground. Exhale and release. Repeat sixty times.
  2. Lie on your back and bring your heels to your behind. Inhale and extend your feet downward to bring your hips forward. Exhale and release. Repeat sixty times.
  3. Lean against a wall with your arms straight to the sides. Inhale and press the shoulders and then arms against the wall to bring the body off the wall. Exhale and release. Repeat thirty times.
  4. Stand a step away from the wall and place both hands on the top of your head. Place them on the wall and walk in a circle in place so the body rotates on two axis, the ground and the wall. Repeat ten times to each direction.

Enjoy the freedom and never forget to appreciate your health and freedom.

TENDON STRENGTH MONTH

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Enjoy the movement.

Ten minutes of movement

Repetition is important but so is intensity.

Here is a ten minute well spent:

It is not the repetition that creates the change, it is the focus that each one brings. Moving slowly increases awareness to positions within the movement and helps build better tendon and joint strength.

  1. One push up – moving one minute down and one up
  2. One sit up while keeping the spine straight moving one minute down and one up
  3. One leg raise overhead so the feet touch the ground behind you – moving one minute down and one up
  4. One squat while keeping the knees and toes pointing in the same direction and the spine upright -moving one minute down and one up
  5. Hang on the pull up bar in the top position for one minute, descend as slowly as you can and spend the rest of the minute if there is time in the bottom position.

The bridge defense

The human body is an amazing mechanism when treated with care.

Balance is overlooked these days. We try to become strong but mirror strong or strong toward just a few tasks and not for life.

Here is an imbalanced plan to help balance the spine activation and power arches. To stand tall, we must build two arches. One to pull forward and one to pull backwards. In the middle we find our balance.

  1. Lie on your stomach and on the inhale, raise your head upward and to one side. Exhale and relax downward. Repeat this right and left ten times.
  2. Lie on your stomach and on the inhale raise one arm straight up till the body rests on the opposing shoulder. Relax down on the exhale.
  3. Lie on your stomach and raise one arm and opposite side leg to form a straight line on the inhale and slowly relax downward on the exhale.
  4. Lie on your stomach and raise all limbs together in the air to form an X on the inhale and slowly relax downward on the exhale.
  5. lie on your back with all limbs in the air. Breathe and move to balance on one side (balancing on the side of the body) with all limbs in the air and then the other with no bounce or sway.
  6. lie on your stomach with all limbs in the air. Breathe and turn to balance on one side and then the other with no sway or bounce.
  7. Lie on your back with your knees together and your heels touching your behind. Inhale and arch up to a shoulder stand and release on the exhale.
  8. Lie on your back with your knees touching the ground and your heels touching your behind. Raise your hips upwards on the inhale and release on the exhale.
  9. Lie on your back with your legs straight together upwards and parallel and touching a wall or a tree. Inhale and arch your hips up and backwards to form an arch with the heels on the wall and one shoulder blade on the ground. Exhale and release.
  10. Stand a step and a half facing away from the wall or tree. Arch back and do push ups with both hands touching on the support. Move from almost touching the wall with your behind to fully extended away.
  11. Stand two steps away from a wall or tree and walk your hands down into a hand bridge and back. Focus on starting each step with a breath and shift the weight from one leg to another. Walking is a full body motion.
  12. Stand a step away from the wall and place both hands on it. Step aside and turn to face the in the other direction in a slight arch and repeat this movement until fully comfortable. Repeat with increasing distance from the wall and no small children passing underneath 🙂

Movement is the new constant.

Racing against time

Simplicity is in the depth of what we do.

This is a very simple thing to do but it has within it the bearing if you excuse the pun, of our own mechanism.

Place yourself in the static push up position and go half way down. Start a timer and close your eyes and aim to keep inner time going so you know how long you are holding the position.

Once you open your eyes and sync with your timer. You know how in tune you are with the world.

There is no understanding without understanding of self.

The half way hold – Strength Mobility

The tip of the wave can be sharp and as such we tend to avoid it.

Fighting can be a clash if we ignore the tip of the wave in our training.

Here is a hold which is not fun in the beginning but builds a lot of staying power and connective tissue strength and that allows us grace and power in conflict application and in life.

Place yourself in the push up position and on your fists.

Lower yourself so your elbow joints are at ninety degrees and your wrists are straight as your back.

Breathe and count your breaths until your reach 300.

That is it.

Repeat this a few times a week and modify for your needs as you wish.

One modification I enjoy is using one hand at a time so the body learns to balance more and spread the needed tension throughout.

The work is a reward.

Stand straight and smile

There are many ways to correct things. One of the best is to show that there is an alternative to an imbalance.

We hurt in the shoulders neck and back due to posture and movement and more. To heal it, we begin in alignment and how to heal movement patterns from the base.

Begin in sitting on your behind and placing your hands at the sides of the body. Raise the knees up and keep the body from the knees to the shoulders parallel to the ground for 30 breaths and relax down. This is a start in reclaiming your balance of muscle activation back.

Continue to the same hold only with body straight from the ankles all the way to the shoulders with just the hands and heels touching the ground.

Continue to the same hold only with palms facing away from the body for the same amount of breaths.

Continue to placing a sliding surface under your heels ( a plastic box on a rug or an expensive exercise device, you decide and with each inhale, push up to the straight hold and relax down on the exhale. Repeat 60 times.

There is very little our bodies cannot do with the right guidance and care. Care for your body and 🙂 Come to my class.

How to learn and improve from injury/illness

We are sick and injured from time to time and it is a hidden gift in reminding us of our mortality and we learn to move with and around those areas and come out of the tunnel even stronger and in better neural and mental shape.

Examples:

The cement mixer: torso

Sit on your behind and have your legs together and your back straight in the air. Use your breath as tempo and rotate your legs in the air in small circles in one direction and then in the other. It may help to do circles with your arms as well.

The doorway into heaven: shoulders

Stand in front of a stout door-frame. Place your palms on the inside of the frame and do a standing push up as you press the arms outward.

Repeat the push up with the back of the palms and then with the sides of the hands and alter the angle to fit the tension needed.

Rope ladder: Legs and arms

Hold a looped rope in one hand straight overhead and place the bottom of the loop to hold the middle of the sole of the opposite leg. Press the leg downward as the arm and shoulder deliver resistance and reverse it on the way up. Keep your spine and head neutral to keep the work where you want it to be.

The exorcist: spine, back and leg tension balance

Lie on your back with your behind almost touching a wall and your legs straight but not locked resting on the wall. Inhale and roll your shoulders out as you raise your hips up and push your heels against the wall into a bridge that is wall supported. You can do this two legged or one leg at a time and even roll from this to your stomach. Keep your head from pressing to the ground and let your spine and hips decompress.