Hitting People with Sticks
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The relaxation problem – aikido

I’m beginning to dig into a tricky subject in martial arts – the ability to maintain appropriate level of relaxation.  Too much tension, and you give your opponent something to fight against, something to use against you.  Too much relaxation, and you end up being a floppy corpse.

As someone who’s dealt with a life-long anxiety disorder, I don’t have a lot of experience with anything resembling “appropriate relaxation”.  I’m constantly tense, even when I sleep.  Wrapping my head around the idea of being relaxed while attempting to accomplish something that jacks up my adrenaline is an intellectual exercise at best.

Or so it seemed, anyway.  Little tiny gains are being made with every class I take, every tiny epiphany leading to a tiny grain of understanding that stays with me for the next class.

This musing comes out of last night’s aikido class.  Johnson sensei mentioned his own technique for remembering to relax just enough – being aware of his heartbeat while doing techniques.  I’m not sure whether it’s a bit of meditation or just something with which to distract the mind from focusing so hard on the goal, allowing you to be in the moment.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter, so long as it works.

I have this tendency to try to muscle through techniques, and sometimes it works – what with all my stick training, I have pretty strong arms – but when I remember to relax properly, the technique is smooth and fluid, and requires a lot less effort.

If I can get past my little plateau, not only will the martial arts classes become easier and more productive, it might also give me a leg up on dealing with anxiety.

Which, honestly, would be the biggest benefit of all.  Martial arts, you are my therapy.

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One Response to “The relaxation problem – aikido”

  1. […] concentrating on not getting so revved up, gassing out quickly and unable to think and plan (see my previous post on aikido for more on that).  The problem is that while that was moderately successful, I was concentrating […]


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