June 24, 2024

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Karate Too Tense For Self-Defence!

As a karate practitioner for some time now, I have often had stressed to relax, when doing your techniques you are far too tense.

The maxim of all actions should be to naturally relax without tensing up your body. The echoes of those basic commands can be heard in karate dojo around the land. Indeed, has done so since our empty hand art was first conceived. So why does it seem so new to many students practicing today?

Let me explain briefly, martial arts from long ago used this relaxed way of moving, but over the years and the development of modern sport karate techniques, the need to develop muscle power become ever more popular as people wanted to improve their body strength quickly.

So naturally, changes were inevitable in the way people trained. However, whilst getting stronger as well as building muscle, which is not a bad thing in itself, it does leave itself open to possible injury of the participant. Backs, lower limbs and joints being most prone to injury.

Unfortunately, weight training can force the body to tense up especially if you are attempting to lift a very heavy weight. Too much tension in the body can be harmful to your overall health and therefore, counter productive as far as your karate training is concerned.

As one of the tenants of the martial arts and karate in particular is to develop and maintain a healthy body until old age so you can continue training and have a long-life. You will notice however, learning to use your body more naturally in a relaxed way during training suddenly becomes more difficult. If as a complimentary exercise to your karate you’ve been weight training which by definition requires you to tense up as you attempt that heavy lift using the weight and bar.

You see, too much tension in your body can cause injury to yourself whilst training. That said, however, there is no reason modern training methods for strengthening the body and karate cannot work hand in hand together.

It’s true, tense muscles do not come from weight training by itself, and I realise that it might contradict what I have said before, but the important point here is incorrect use of the body during training can cause injuries. Therefore, learning correct training methods combined with an understanding of how your body works are most important.

It appears that when a student east or west tries to do karate techniques they become so excited that they forget to relax their muscles whilst performing the said move. You see, the problem is if you try to attempt a technique while your body is tense you will pay the price in the speed in which you do that same technique. What I mean by this in brief is, if you try for power all the time your muscles will be tense all the time, you must learn to relax your muscles and use your natural energy to get more power into your technique.

Also you will find that you are unable to gain speed in your technique because of this excess tension in your body. More importantly, lack of speed could mean the difference between a win or defeat either in a competition or on the street where, by the way, you won’t get a second chance.

In order to do good karate you must try to use soft and hard correctly, trying always to avoid rushed techniques and tense muscles. Take a look at how many older karate masters do their kata and other techniques and see how relaxed they are whilst performing them. Why do you think karate masters of old or other martial arts masters do not seem to have big bulging muscles but trim, lean muscle and not a big frame at all? That’s what this article is all about so I hope the answer speaks for itself.

Anyway, back to the subject in hand, an understanding of karate is important to develop the correct technique, kime, timing combined with the proper and natural use of your body. I’m afraid there are no short cuts to learning any of this just practice, practice, practice. All the above as well as, strength comes from lots and lots of good hard training. In most cases, especially where women are concerned they do not need weight training to be strong enough to cope with men during training. As a woman if you train for a healthy body and enjoy karate, then that’s all that matters.

All students should try to remember, one of your main aims in karate and one of the reasons why you started training in the first place is the simple fact, to maintain enthusiasm in your chosen art so that you can train for a long, long time and maybe even end up teaching and passing on knowledge learnt to other beginners some time in the future just like your instructor did also.

Just bear in mind that to become good you will need to practice every day to help keep your joints loose and your body supple, relax and try not to tense up your body too much if you can, breath from just below the naval, the centre of your body not from the chest.

Relaxing your muscles and learning to use your natural energy along with correct breathing is very important and one of the founding principles when it comes to karate training. Learning to do so will enhance both your everyday life and your karate training, because, without breath there is no life. See my point?

One last passing thought, Karate is an art and should be practised as such. If you study the vital points and train regularly with your body’s weapons you will have effective karate, self-confidence and strength. You do not have to try to be all muscular power. Enough said.

Stay safe,

Buzz Campion.