Kime and relaxation problems help :)

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Ademadis, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. Ademadis

    Ademadis Green Belt

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    Hi guys!

    I've hit a wall currently where I'm putting far too much strength into all my techniques.
    I know it's reducing my speed, making my kata look like a jumpy youtube video and generally hindering me.

    Everyone who notices it tells me 'you just need to relax more' but I find this incredibly difficult to do, my muscling everything is a very deep set habit and I don't know what it should feel like when I'm doing it right.

    Does any one have any advice on how to get around this? practice techniques, videos etc.?

    Anything would be appreciated :)
    Thanks!
     
  2. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Focus not on the pipe, which is very strong and sturdy. Focus on what flows through it so smoothly.
     
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  3. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Don't do that. :)
     
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  4. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll give you a group of exercises I use with students. You'll have to look for ways to adapt them to your Karate. Some may be too difficult to adapt, but hopefully you'll find something here that "clicks" for you.
    • Practice punches against something very soft, like a pillow (I find down pillows my favorite). Practice striking it so that you penetrate with just the necessary force to make the stuffing move. Any force beyond that is too much - you'll know what it takes.
    • Practice striking a partner's hand, held up as a focus mitt, but without the mitt. His hand should be kept relaxed and soft. Your goal is to place your striking knuckles into the middle of his palm (not into the palm-heel), which will give a lot. You want to do this without bruising his hand, and make his hand move just a little. Speed should be fairly slow (not Tai Chi slow). There's still a little "pop" to the end of the strike, but you're not going for force, just for some slight penetration.
    • Have your partner swing something flexible at you - something that can bend if struck with something below moderate force (softer than a pool noodle - a firm pillow may work for this). He should swing it at a speed where it will not collapse much if you just hold up your arm. Your job is to block it without making it collapse any more than that against an active block. That will require you match the slow speed of his swing and actually soften your block. Use this one sparingly - it's effective, but if you do too much of this, you'll have to re-train part of your block afterward.
    • Practice low-power sparring at 10-25% speed. This is as much a precision drill as it is a softness drill. The idea is to keep minimal tension in your blocks and strikes and keep the speed consistent. If you find yourself (or, more likely, your partner finds you) using more force and/or speed, stop, gather yourself, and start over. This should look like you are doing some hokey underwater fight scene against a jellyfish - nothing hard to block, and all strikes are targeted and firm at the point of impact, but relaxed the rest of the way.
    In all of these, the idea is to keep the muscles as relaxed as humanly possible up to the point of impact (block or strike), and to add the desired tension at the moment of impact. Once you are good at these (you are able to stay relaxed multiple sessions without thinking about it), you can speed them up and gradually add force to the impacts - still maintaining the relaxation during the movements.
     
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  5. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Hi Jake,

    I don't know what system you train, or what kind of instruction you have received. In my opinion, the roots of this problem may lie in deep habits, depending on your training history.

    First, do you do a lot of weight lifting, or other strength training? If so, and especially if you have been doing that before you began martial arts training, you may have engrained some habits that automatically rely on physical strength to do whatever it is you are doing. Strength training can be a good thing, depending on how it is integrated into your martial training, but it can also get in the way. So if this is part of your program, it may take some examination and re-working, to figure out how to re-wire your habits.

    Secondly, technique can be different from one system to another, and since I don't know what it is you are training, my next comments will be broad and general. Proper technique should teach you to power your strikes with a full-body engagement. A punch begins with the feet which press against the ground and push up into the torso causing a rotation that drives out the arm and fist. The whole body gets involved and should not rely on the brute strength of the arm and shoulder, which ought to remain pretty relaxed. But it needs to be taught properly and you need to learn how to train it properly, or else like most people, you will fall back on throwing "arm punches" that rely on brute strength and fail to engage the whole body. There are a lot of little details that need constant attention and correction, before this becomes habit with consistent high quality. This may be an issue with the quality of instruction that you have received.

    Since you mention kata as part of your training, you should view kata as a great opportunity to work on these details. Take your time, get every movement and technique correct. Don't be in a hurry, it is not a race, and neither is it performance art. Kata is a training tool, nothing more, nothing less.

    Have you talked with your instructor about how to correct this, and if so, what has he said?
     
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  6. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    depends exactly what you are doing.

    To much strength is too broad a term for an individual assesment.
     
  7. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    "Too much strength" can indicate one or more of these:
    • Bad technique
    • Weakness - unexplosiveness
    Performing correct technique yet slowing down due to tensing is unheard of for me. I'd say repeat it over and over and over, and maybe even lift some weights — trains your muscles to activate in the right way for movement.
     
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  8. Ademadis

    Ademadis Green Belt

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    Aye thank you all for the replies!

    This is essentially what my teacher has told me I have to do, but I'm struggling to find ways to train myself to do it.

    In the past I have done a lot of strength training, I think this is where the issue has come from, and as above the general consensus is that I'm applying strength far too early in any technique and holding it far too late. I need to find ways to relax and only apply strength at a critical point.
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, there is no magic fix for it or simple advice over the Internet that will make the problem go away. I would suggest you work closely with your instructor to examine how you execute your techniques. Pay close attention to how your body engages, and then just work diligently to correct things.

    If the strength training is an issue, then pay close attention to that and see if you can catch yourself falling back on brute strength at the expense of good technique. If you find a pattern or habit there and are able to recognize when it is happening, then you can work on fixing it. But it's a long road, just think of it as part of the training process.
     
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  10. Ademadis

    Ademadis Green Belt

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    Oss thank you! :)
     
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  11. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    Strength training will not cause any of this, unless you happened to train with nothing but machines.
     
  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't see how training with machines would cause this, either. It's a focus (habit) issue, rather than a technical issue.
     
  13. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Of course it can.

    But none of us know for certain, as we have not worked with him directly. This is an Internet discussion, not a face-to-face evaluation. So we don't know anything for certain.
     
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    It could be a focus issue, it could be a technical issue, it could be a combination of these or other things altogether. We cannot diagnose with certainty, over the Internet. This is a discussion in which we are making suggestions.
     
  15. Brian King

    Brian King Master of Arts

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    Jake,
    Have you ever done your Kata's while physically exhausted?

    For example, Wrestle with two or three folks whose job is NOT to lock you up or submit you, but rather their job is to make you work against their body weight, to force you to always be moving and to deny you your strength. This can be a quite invigorating exercise/drill. One 'little' side effect is it teaches your body how to work when strength alone is not enough.

    Jake, have you ever gone through your kata's motions using various physicality models? For example, doing the Kata as fast as possible, then as slow as possible (slower even than Tai Chi). Do them a few times at each, fast and sloooowwwww. Then add the ingredient of doing both the fast and slow kata's with an exaggerated strength, put so much strength (tension) into every muscle that you can find and do the kata. There should be so much tension that even moving a single limb is difficult, there should be strength throughout the whole movement not just at the end of the movement. Think exaggerated dynamic strength training. Do this a few times both fast and slow kata's then switch up and do the kata's with and exaggerated relaxation. To move a single limb using a drunk sloppy feeling can teach a lot about movement and what muscles are even necessary to start and complete the action needed. No anger, no Kai'ing, just moving with an exaggerated almost drunk looseness. Do this fast and slow. All of these variations are difficult and can provide interesting lessons. These variations are not to perfect the kata, not seeking perfection on the techniques, 'merely' as a means to explore and experience different ways of moving. There are dozens of 'variations'. For giggles, do your kata while suspending your breathing on the exhale (empty lungs), do not inhale after exhaling until your kata is completed (then take your time and enjoy the inhale) * Warning do not do this on the exhale (with full lungs) as it raises your blood pressure but you might be able to do the suspension on the half exhale (lungs half full). These are also interesting variations. Then there are others but those are for you to discover and explore. (if and when you find a variation that teaches you something...share it with others)

    Good luck on your journey Jake. Even these 'trials' have their purpose. Learn to enjoy the trail and the trials for the lessons that they can provide.

    Regards
    Brian King
     
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  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Given that the OP realizes he should be doing something different, it's not a technical issue (by the way I define "technical issue" - you may have a different definition).
     
  17. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, what I have described is something that I have needed to address for myself, personally. I don't know what we might be defining differently, but his problem COULD absolutely be technical. Again, none of us know for sure.
     
  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    As I said, I'm referring to how I define "technical problem". When I use that term while teaching, I'm referring to someone not following the steps of a technique or doing something they don't know is wrong (because they're just following steps). So, the way I use that term requires that the person not know what they are doing is wrong. That's why I said the difference is probably just that you use the term in a different way. In that case, we don't really have a disagreement - just a different use of terms.
     
  19. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's how I use it too. It is very possible that his techniques is poor due to lack of understanding. That could certainly lead to excessiv tenseness. Do you disagree with that as a possibility?
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Ah! I see what you mean. I was addressing the tension directly, since he reports it as pervasive in his movement. To me, that's a habitual (or perhaps focus) issue, not technical. If it were technical, it would vary by technique, or more probably type of technique.


    Gerry Seymour
    Shojin-Ryu, Nihon Goshin Aikido123
     

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