011) Week of November 9, 2008: Shoulders, Elbows and Wrists
Many people (myself included!) struggle with learning how to not add tension to the connection between myself and the attacker so that I can maintain a state of harmony between us. This necessitates that we focus on core body movements instead of tension-based movement from our extremities. Since much of the beginning practice that we do is from a static attack (UNREALISTIC but a necessary starting point), we can learn a pattern of progressive relaxation in our arms that allows us to maintain a state of harmony as we execute techniques.
I have been developing a “Mantra” in which I repeatedly tell people relax your shoulders, elbows and wrists. This progression frees up “blockages” that prevent Ki from flowing out through our hands.
Shoulders are typically the first place that we tense up when our arms, wrists, or shoulders are grabbed or struck. It is critically important to allow your shoulders to relax down and back so that the shoulder blades relax into the core structure of the spine. The core of the body is the strongest part of the body. Why try and match arm force with arm force when we can utilize the weight and musculature of the core body?
Elbows are typically the second part of our arm structures that tense up when grabbed or struck. Locked elbows place your elbows and shoulders at risk of being locked out and torqued to a point of injury. Relaxed elbows and shoulders allow force to be redirected into our body structures and even into the ground.
Wrists are usually the last place that tense up when grabbed or struck. Locked wrists place the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and shoulders are placed at risk from injury from torquing.
Once we can relax all of these three joints, we not only enable force to pass through our bodies, but we can then learn to move in a totally different manner. We have to relearn how to move our arms in all directions by focusing in on our core body muscles to guide the movements. A good starting place to “rewire” these movements is to have a person grab your arm and focus on one movement (moving your arm up, down, in, out, across in front, or across out from the body). Now you need first feel your shoulders, elbows and wrists relax. Then feel your core body muscles fire so that movement in the arms follow while maintaining a state of relaxation in all three of those joints. This sounds simple, but it is a very difficult process that will require a lot of time and practice to refine so that it is done without conscious thought.
We are going to spend the week focusing in on how we can use this foundation to execute techniques so that the attacker does not receive tension-based feedback that allows the attacker to respond in a timely manner to the movements contained with the techniques.
Marc Abrams Sensei