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.

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