ISAI The Martial Art of Formless Flow: Relaxation in motion

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Relaxation in motion

Many Motion Arts and Martial Arts amongst them speak about relaxation during the motion.  Actually they speak about how to move effectively and economically.  The "relaxation" or better to say "the proper degree of dynamic relaxation" is one of the most important components of the great quality, effortless motion. Without such relaxation the motion becomes clumsy, slowly, not accurate and tiring. 

There are many reasons for such deficit motions. There are inborn or received injures and bodily dysfunctions and also social, psychological and cultural reasons. In modern Western society many people don't move naturally and don't move enough. They live constantly under high stress, sit many hours in the offices, turn to be weak and bad movers. The postures of modern folks also suffer from unnatural way of living and thus make their motion even worse. We see many people constantly bending forward in the upper part of their spine, their shoulders, neck and head are in bad position and affect other body parts and every motion they perform. Others suffer from scoliosis and so on. This bending forward is a compensation for stress, scoliosis is a compensation for bad habit to write and so on. These compensations are good if they have a dynamic nature and disappear shortly after their appearance, but mostly after some short time they become chronic. In this stage they are harmful. They are signs of chronic stress, they are result of chronic stress and they are reason for the chronic stress.  
In most cases motional deficits switch on special compensation automatic mechanisms in order to minimize the deficiency. These mechanisms mostly appear and start to work unconsciously but sometimes it happens as a result of our conscious decision. Even if we imitate deficient motion, for example limping walk, our body will automatically compensate by special lateral inclination and twisting of the upper body and head. Therefore the compensation mechanisms are the integral parts of the motions. Sometimes the same deficiency can be in pack with different compensation mechanisms depending on the meaning or the purpose of the motion. 

As we know our motions differ not only by form and kinetic or kinematic characteristics. The difference can be also by meaning of the motion and its purpose. In these cases even all other external characteristics are same but motions have different meaning they will be completely different and will be controlled by different parts of brain or more specifically by motor-sensory cortex. The invisible activity of the Central Nerve System (CNS) and brain is a part of the motion. In some cases the person with brain damage can't raise his hand following the order. The same person easily will raise the same hand in order to touch a spot on the wall! 

Good motion is an automatic motion. Our conscious is directed toward the purpose of the motion while all other "servant" motions are performed automatically. For example, when we ride bicycle our attention is on the direction and obstacles on the ground. All other activities and motions are done automatically – we automatically bend our upper body if turn to the side, grip gets stronger when we drive on the bad road, we pedaling faster before climbing on the hill and so on. Every our motion switch on ensemble consisting of great number of automatic movements. For example bending to the side on bicycle will be accompanied by rotation of the torso, neck and head bending and rotation, change in the grip of the handle-bar and so on. These motions are called corrections and they play a role of "servants" for the main motion of riding.  One of the most important corrections is the seeking for maximum possible relaxation during different phases of motion.  

During our motions and special movements we apply great number of ensembles of such automations. Palette of these ensembles is very rich and colorful, and reflects our ability to learn new motional skills and our experience.  The real similarity of the motions is not in their external form and velocity but rather in similarity of their ensembles of automatic corrections. In example above the meaning of the order to rise the hand was to change configuration of the body, the relative position of its parts. The order to touch the spot on the wall has absolutely different meaning. It is about touching by hand some specific point in the space. In the Martial Arts the same can be said about different meaning of movement sequence, like Japanese kata or Chinese tao, and real fight movement. The training of automation in the one will not contribute to the other. 
These ensembles of automatic corrections include also compensation mechanisms and form one integral unity with them. This is a one of the main reasons for our difficulties to improve bad stance or bad movement – we have to change too many things all-together. Even after we achieved real improvement in some motion, like kata, and greatly reduced harmful social or cultural motional habit (compensation mechanism) this habit will come back from another motions, let's say walking or siting, where it has powerful position in ensemble of automations.  During these motions this harmful habit will wake up again and stubbornly fight all our efforts in kata. 

Contrary to corrections the compensations cause the chronic changes in muscles tonus, ligament tonus, resiliency and elasticity and joints structure and stability. Thus, through these changes all our previous achievements will be significantly reduced or even completely wiped out. 

How can we be fluent and get properly relaxed motion free of bad motional habits?

The answer is that we have to seek improvements in every motion we perform. We have to look for the similarity of meaning of the motions if we want to get faster and more stable results.

We also have to be as close as possible to the natural manner of motion, based on inborn reflexes. It will provide us with the same ensembles of corrections for all our motions. One of the most important corrections we look for in every skilled motion is the dynamic relaxation. The method to achieve it is implementation of the Self-Annihilating Inertial Motion SAIM). I wrote about SAIM in chapters "Golden ratio and its hidden meaning" and " What is a formless motion? What is a formless Martial Art?".

In this case the way to effortless motion will be short and easy.   

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