Lately, the chief correction I’ve been receiving from my various karate instructors (primarily the Wise and Mighty Shihan, and Sensei Chris) is to "relax." I’m told that I have waaaay too much tension, and that this is working against me.
In a purely academic sense, I recognize and concede the point. A person who is tense tends to telegraph his next move — especially when an opponent can read the visuals hidden in subtle shoulder and hip movements, or when he’s skilled in touch-reference reads — and sacrifices speed and power because the tensed muscle has to be released and re-tasked, which takes time and energy.
OK, so I get it. But I usually can’t feel the tension.
I don’t dispute that it’s there; those who see it are skilled in such things. What has prompted some reflection, though, is my difficulty in identifying the tension and correcting it.
Before I changed things up a bit in early 2005, I lived such a high-stress life that my expectation of what constituted stress was sharply adjusted upward. After I left the Herald and grad school, it took me months to be comfortable just coming home from the hospital and not have to do anything.
I thought I had kicked the stress habit. But perhaps not?
Another thing to work on.