Karateka need to relax during training, but unfortunately many karateka move around like Robbie Robots!
Peoples natural demeaner is sometimes maginfied in the karate dojo. If someone is naturally quite tense, they will sometimes become even more tense because that’s how they have lived their life for many years and at the opposite end of the scale, if someone is very relaxed and laid back, they sometimes find it difficult to practice kime (focus), or strong karate techniques.
People will say, ‘how can you relax in a fight’, but experienced Karateka will say, ‘you must relax in a fight‘. Being relaxed is essential. How many tense boxers do you see? If you are relaxed, you can react and move to the ever changing environment, if you are tense, you cannot move without relaxing first, by the time you relax, it’s too late! Here we are talking about the body and mind, with constant training, automatic reflex will eventually happen and as the legendary Bruce Lee once said, ‘ I do not hit, it hits all by itsself’
In this article we are going to cover the people who are tense and give some tips on how to relax more.
1. Repetition. Drilling techniques hundreds of times, is a great way to relax more, because if you do not relax during heavy repetition, you will collapse!
2. Slowly. Practicing the karate kata slowly will help you relax, as long as you are concious of your body tension, get those muscles to relax, move smoothly through the kata, try not to move in a jerky fashion, which is a classic sign of too much tension.
3. Breathing. Focus on your breathing and when practicing slowly, be sure to take long slow breaths, try moving real slow, almost in a tai chi style of movement.
4. Stretching. People who are naturally tense, tend not to be as flexible as more relaxed karateka, so stretching is great for getting the muscles to relax, just don’t force the stretch, relax into the stretch and hold for a prelonged amount of time.
5. Meditation. Sitting quietly, closing the eyes and breathing slowly, is great for helping people to relax. Try breathing in through the nose and picturing the air like a life force, travelling between the eyes, over the top of the head, down the spine, then coiling like a snake into the bottom of the stomache. When you start to breathe out, picture the air uncoiling and travelling up the front of the body, then leaving the body through pursed lips. To focus on nothing, first focus on one thing, as other thoughts enter your mind, do not dwell on them, simply let them go. A good idea is to try and picture the air travelling in and out.
Relaxing during karate practice is not only essential for good karate, but also great for general health.
A great kumite exercise for helping you relax, is ‘one for one‘ sparring. One for one sparring is where the first person attacks with a single technique, then their partner bocks and counters with a single technique, which the first person blocks and counters with a single technique, then the partner does the same and the exercise continues. This can be practiced really slow at first, then building up to maximum speed and power. A great karate exercise for getting karateka to relax more, because if you are tense, you cannot react to the continuous attacks. Try and get this exercise to flow both slowly and at speed.