Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting started with relaxation

The first step to doing wing chun, or really anything, and moving naturally is to first just “be”. What that involves is relaxation. We need to engage the body as little as possible. Most people are unaware of the tension they carry around all day that affects all their movements and interactions.

Relaxation is one of the most important concepts for learning wing chun or any other skill. Everything must be as effortless as possible from the beginning. If not, later when movement is involved it will be jerky and less effective and smooth. Basically you will reach a point where you stop improving. So first we need relax as much as possible while doing nothing.

Exercise 1- Let go
Lie down on the floor or a bed and relax all your muscles. Now tighten up your all your muscles and let them go again. Pay particular attention to tightening and relaxing the face, jaw, neck, shoulders and upper back. Now wake up your mind as much as possible and pay attention to what’s around you…the smells, sounds and what you see. The point is to take the body as close as possible to zero effort or maximum relaxation while the mind concentrates on the environment as much as possible. This may sound simple, but it is very important to actually do it a few times (or for the rest of your life). Next try doing the same thing while sitting or in other positions.

Exercise 2.- Standing
For this exercise, I just want you to stand. Standing requires muscles to hold you up and to keep you balanced. What we want to do is figure out how to use as little effort as possible while remaining standing. Stand and start relaxing until you start to slump. Now, imagine that there is a string holding the top of your head up for you. Let go of as many muscles as possible until you start to slump. Think of your body as a Jenga set that is precariously balanced and delicately move your bottom over your feet and your chest over your bottom and your neck over your chest and your head over your neck. The more all these areas are in alignment, the more balanced you will be so you can relax more. Later, I will talk about the wing chun stance and how that can help you relax even more and why it is the way it is.

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