Being told to "relax" during kata even when I am relaxed

Monkey Turned Wolf

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You hit it right on the noggin. I always warm up with a "relaxed" version of my kata but it comes out looking weak. I'll try that exercise + consider what Simon mentioned (I've never actually had a massage :oops:).


I've asked him on countless occasions and gotten quite in-depth answers but even targeting these problems has caused minor improvements at best.
The relaxed version should be more powerful than the tension filled version, just FYI. Can take a long time to get there.
And massages definitely help. Back when I was fencing, one of my friends had an issue where he could not release his tension. Before matches, I'd give him a back massage, and he'd do immensely better.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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To relax your body like a pile of mud is easy. To relax and still be able to generate power is difficult. If your energy can be sent through your shoulder joint, elbow joint, wrist joint, and finally reach to your finger tips, that's the kind of relax that you want to achieve. How to achieve that? It may require a lot of training.

Here is one suggestion:

Stay in horse stance.

1. Rise your right palm next to your right ear. Chop to the left side of your left knee (loose shoulder joint).
2. Bend your right elbow and straight your right elbow in front of your chest but still keep your wrist bend (loose elbow joint).
3. Swing your right arm 45 degree upward to your right and straight your wrist (loose wrist joint).
4. Drop your right hand straight down next to your right knee with finger tips pointing downward (send energy to the finger tips).
5. Repeat 1 - 4 on your left arm.

When you can do this so fast that your arm is just like a blur, you will then achieve true relax mode (you can't move this fast if you are not relax).

This clip is not the same but similar.


摮典云喳箸砍2---銝訛曇悖閫憸
Just tried this-flowed naturally with my right arm, not so much with my left. Good training to do.
 

isshinryuronin

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Op. Do you spar? Because that might give you the foundational relaxation that apparently you are missing.
Light sparring would likely help him, yes. The reason is that it would take his focus off of the technique's execution (which I believe is his main problem) and focus on the application instead, as well as not getting hit. Op's problem isn't physical, but more mental as I explained, thinking too much on body mechanics rather than body feel.

Edit- Just had a great idea to relax while doing kata: Sing a song while you do it. This will bleed off some concentration on the technique and, as a bonus will give you a melody which is relaxing and will provide a tempo for your form.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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I always warm up with a "relaxed" version of my kata but it comes out looking weak.
Try to jump up in the air, throw 3 punches before your feet land back down on the ground. You can't do this if your body is not relax.

Can you punch/kick that you relax 90% of the time and only tense 10% of the time?

 
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drop bear

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Light sparring would likely help him, yes. The reason is that it would take his focus off of the technique's execution (which I believe is his main problem) and focus on the application instead, as well as not getting hit. Op's problem isn't physical, but more mental as I explained, thinking too much on body mechanics rather than body feel.

Which is very hard to do with no context.
 

punisher73

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You hit it right on the noggin. I always warm up with a "relaxed" version of my kata but it comes out looking weak. I'll try that exercise + consider what Simon mentioned (I've never actually had a massage :oops:).


I've asked him on countless occasions and gotten quite in-depth answers but even targeting these problems has caused minor improvements at best.
What specifically did he tell you? That can help us direct advice.

I did a post on relaxation awhile ago for someone else. I will try and dig it up and post it.
 

punisher73

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The post I had mentioned:

I am assuming that you already know how to "technically" perform all of the techniques. By that, I mean you know how the body should move and work when throwing a technique.

One of the drills I used to have my students do when they were very stiff or trying to muscle everything. Was to adapt a "tai chi" attitude with their kata. Perform your kata very slow and relaxed. Notice where you get tense when you move. Analyze this, is the tension necessary to the movement? For example, if I have my hands at my sides and my arms are hanging naturally and I just lift my arm straight out to the front. There should be no tension at all in the biceps or triceps, JUST the deltoid.

Do this for the whole kata, move slowly, analyze any tension you feel. Do NOT put in any "kime" at this point. Eventually, when you can go through smoothly and without excess tension, add in the "kime". At the point of impact, tighten your entire body and then immediately relax. Analyze: Are you tightening up before impact and putting the breaks on your technique? After impact, are you keeping muscles tense that don't need to be? You can also do the reverse of this (Sanchin if you know it), do a dynamic tension throughout and then after point of impact, relax completely after that. Analyze if there is any tension.

It is a yin/yang thing of tension versus relaxation.
 

KunTaoKid

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On one hand, I am putting forth almost a daily effort to training kata, not just through training the katas themselves but through improving my physical fitness. Not only that but I am specifically working on improving my relaxation during kata. On the other hand, I keep being told to "relax" when I do kata.

This confuses me, not just because I make a conscious effort to relax and contract with each movement, but I also consciously use my lower body to drive my upper body's techniques, which is what I am supposed to be doing to achieve this relaxation. I use every trick in the book, i.e. contracting the lats, pushing off the back leg, hip vibration vs. rotation, not moving the shoulder, sinking with each movement, etc. I have been studying/training kata as well as kata-related mechanics for years. And yet for some reason I keep being told that I am doing it all completely wrong by tensing up, even though I feel absolutely no tension in the places that should be relaxed.

Keep in mind that I am not some casual practitioner who mindlessly makes rookie mistakes; I am someone who is consciously aware of what not to do and yet for some reason people keep telling me that I make these mistakes, even though I do not see or feel them at all.

This is getting extremely annoying. Does anyone have any advice
On one hand, I am putting forth almost a daily effort to training kata, not just through training the katas themselves but through improving my physical fitness. Not only that but I am specifically working on improving my relaxation during kata. On the other hand, I keep being told to "relax" when I do kata.

This confuses me, not just because I make a conscious effort to relax and contract with each movement, but I also consciously use my lower body to drive my upper body's techniques, which is what I am supposed to be doing to achieve this relaxation. I use every trick in the book, i.e. contracting the lats, pushing off the back leg, hip vibration vs. rotation, not moving the shoulder, sinking with each movement, etc. I have been studying/training kata as well as kata-related mechanics for years. And yet for some reason I keep being told that I am doing it all completely wrong by tensing up, even though I feel absolutely no tension in the places that should be relaxed.

Keep in mind that I am not some casual practitioner who mindlessly makes rookie mistakes; I am someone who is consciously aware of what not to do and yet for some reason people keep telling me that I make these mistakes, even though I do not see or feel them at all.

This is getting extremely annoying. Does anyone have any advice?
Well I'm not sure how much this will help but my old man did tai chi and tried to get me to do it but that shits for when I'm old anyway one of tricks was to act as if all of your weight went to your feet and that definitely helped me with tai chi
 

JowGaWolf

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And yet for some reason I keep being told that I am doing it all completely wrong by tensing up, even though I feel absolutely no tension in the places that should be relaxed.
The best way to understand this about yourself is to see someone who is relaxed and then watch a video of yourself. If you are being told to relax then you probably aren't. Energy flows different when someone is relaxed and it's easier to see from the outside than to feel. The only recommendation that I have is to video yourself training so you can see what others are seeing. More than likely the relaxation that you think you are feeling is not the same as what is really going on.

Edit: I just saw your video Watched it twice. You aren't relaxed. The issue that you have doesn't seem to be flexibility one. It seems to be cause by your body movement not being in sync. Power comes and relaxation is easier when your body moves together. Your chest is tense. Your waist, chest and drawing back your arm while moving one forward is out of harmony. It's like looking at a person with bad rhythm trying to dance.

This power disconnect. Relax more and your body should be able to move together and drive your power better

I am someone who is consciously aware of what not to do and yet for some reason people keep telling me that I make these mistakes, even though I do not see or feel them at all.

This is getting extremely annoying. Does anyone have any advice?
Yeah Relax.

If you take martial arts you are going to make mistakes a lot of them. Sometimes the teacher doesn't do a good job in explaining it. Tai Chi does a great job in pointing it out with push hands. I trained Tai Chi for about 4 years and everyday I would tell myself to relax. I still do it today when I practice my Tai Chi forms.

Just accept it as a reality of Martial Arts. The day you learn how to relax is the day you'll say "oh so that's why they kept telling me to relax."
 
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JowGaWolf

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The application of this idea might be to do your kata while letting your arms hang by your body.
I do this from time to time to help me remember how to drive power. If I get it right then my arms will swing in the direction that my body is driving the power
 

JowGaWolf

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I'll try that exercise + consider what Simon mentioned (I've never actually had a massage
Getting a massage may actually be of use for you. The one's that I've had were all the same. "I'm too tense"
 

JowGaWolf

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I've asked him on countless occasions and gotten quite in-depth answers but even targeting these problems has caused minor improvements at best.
Tightening a loose screw is a minor improvement at best, but yields great results. Not measure improvements as minor or major. In martial arts the minor parts are often the most important but boring to train because there is no visible action. It's all internal.
 

JowGaWolf

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Another way to be relaxed, is to do your kata after a lot of cardio and have no more energy to fight yourself.

In Kung Fu I would do a form 12 times (once facing North, East, South, West). The real training only started once my strength and endurance left me. I had to use more of my body to send my techniques. This helped me a lot. It's like lifting weights where you can barely lift the weight, you being to throw more of your body into it. While that's not recommended for weight training. It worked wonders for my kung fu forms.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Just tried this-flowed naturally with my right arm, not so much with my left. Good training to do.
That is the famous Zimen system "loose 3 joints" training. You have to move your arms so fast that you can't even see your own hands. You can't achieve this if you are not fully relax.

I have tried many different training in my life. This training is one that I strongly recommend.

The praying mantis system is always famous for it's speed training. One day a Zimen guy challenged a praying mantis master and won. This training was famous after that day.
 
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_Simon_

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@ThatOneSyrian just found another great vid... highly recommend doing these sorts of exercises. I know I've mentioned to you Hotton Sensei before many times haha... but his take on Shotokan is so different, being much more relaxed, connected and natural, and I wouldn't mention it as much as I do if I haven't truly benefited from them.

This one's great (as well as all of them on the channel):

 

Hyoho

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On one hand, I am putting forth almost a daily effort to training kata, not just through training the katas themselves but through improving my physical fitness. Not only that but I am specifically working on improving my relaxation during kata. On the other hand, I keep being told to "relax" when I do kata.

This confuses me, not just because I make a conscious effort to relax and contract with each movement, but I also consciously use my lower body to drive my upper body's techniques, which is what I am supposed to be doing to achieve this relaxation. I use every trick in the book, i.e. contracting the lats, pushing off the back leg, hip vibration vs. rotation, not moving the shoulder, sinking with each movement, etc. I have been studying/training kata as well as kata-related mechanics for years. And yet for some reason I keep being told that I am doing it all completely wrong by tensing up, even though I feel absolutely no tension in the places that should be relaxed.

Keep in mind that I am not some casual practitioner who mindlessly makes rookie mistakes; I am someone who is consciously aware of what not to do and yet for some reason people keep telling me that I make these mistakes, even though I do not see or feel them at all.

This is getting extremely annoying. Does anyone have any advice?
It took me 1 1/2 years of fighting daily, being pushed every until I could not stand until my body accepted the fact that the best came out of relaxation. For my body to realize that aggression could be utilized with smile on your face. To be able to see people prancing around using wasted unnecessary strength and stamina. It's a stage we all have to go through to reach a reasonable standard not just in fighting but in kata using creative visualization to fight that invisible enemy.
 

_Simon_

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Hey man, hope training's going well!

Just stumbled onto this video, good ol Jesse haha, but you may find it helpful or maybe not, but worth a look and a try of the exercises. Helps you really tangibly feel the difference.


I've also noticed something in my practice over the years I forgot to mention. Whenever someone is watching me do kata (especially the instructor), tension would increase alot. It may just be a human thing of being watched and guarding against attack (in the form of what we perceive as judgement, fearing loss of approval), but doing solo kata practice and trying to transfer that more relaxed feeling into when you have to do it while being watched is something I've had to work on.
 

Hyoho

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Speaking as professional teaching in Japan most of my life and training others to win national championships, there are no short cuts. The body and mind associate aggression with tension and stress. Most of that you can work out by training until you drop on a daily basis. but even then in competition when you start to get winded its all out of the window again. The main thing is that you should be natural born fighter in the first place. You cant make a silk purse out of a pigs ear.
 

Oily Dragon

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Speaking as professional teaching in Japan most of my life and training others to win national championships, there are no short cuts. The body and mind associate aggression with tension and stress. Most of that you can work out by training until you drop on a daily basis. but even then in competition when you start to get winded its all out of the window again. The main thing is that you should be natural born fighter in the first place. You cant make a silk purse out of a pigs ear.
"Every living being is capable of attack if sufficiently provoked. Assault lies dormant within us all. It requires only circumstance to set it in violent motion. I ask you for a verdict of not guilty. "
 

Hyoho

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"Every living being is capable of attack if sufficiently provoked. Assault lies dormant within us all. It requires only circumstance to set it in violent motion. I ask you for a verdict of not guilty.
That would really depend on what you consider the arts to be. That of defense or attacking someone. In the case of Japanese arts the former is why they do it. Not to assault people.
 
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