A simple but Essential Exercise to loosen up Shoulders and Overcome that annoying Stiffness, typical of the Martial Arts Beginner.
How many times have you been told by your Master / Sensei, especially when taking your first steps into Martial Arts, things like “You are tense!” or “Loosen up!”…?
The thing is that your body naturally reacts with tension towards everything that is un-known, un-expected, and un-natural.
- Unknown: Freezing is the product of facing whatever is unknown; on the other hand, if a Martial Artist is ready to everything, then his or her mind is set to “always ready”, freezing is no longer an issue. Best training for this point: Life.
- Unexpected: tensing up is the natural reaction of the body when facing unannounced situations. The time needed for a trained Martial Arts Practitioner to reduce his tension to zero is something that comes only with Technical Training and Meditation-based practices.
- Unnatural: our reptilian brain is led to react with simplified gestures, not complex and elaborate techniques. Best training for this point: Application-based training (self defense or boxing).
The Sandbag Trick – How to Loosen up your Shoulders.
Another good way to set your body to “no-tense mode” is to condition your shoulders to a new standard: the martial standard. Try to think about driving your car with the handbrake on, as this is just the best metaphor to show how your body reacts when your shoulders are tense. Thanks to the simple routine showed in the above video your body will adapt to the new standard as it will make it “the default one” for the future.
Why holding that stance?
The exercise could be easily performed by just standing straight, but we want to give our mind another reason to be stressed, so we will hold a Horse Stance (mabu) throughout the entire duration of the exercise. Yes, you read me right: you have to resist by holding the position lower and lower, as it’s always a good practice for a Martial Arts Practitioner to train as many body parts together as possible, just as a Musician is trained to engage both his brain and body in more and more complex and challenging ways. Because otherwise there’s no progression.