I was chatting with a friend about kendo, specifically about the need to swing smoothly without tension slowing one down.
You can’t relax because people tell you but instructors are always saying, “Relax your shoulders, swing smoothly. As if just saying it will make it so.
To loosen your shoulders you need to accept the fact that tension exists. Just “relaxing” doesn’t happen. To relax certain body parts in order to fulfill a function requires that the tension is soaked away. It just doesn’t magically disappear by force of will.
In terms of sports, specifically the sport of kendo, the goal is to allow for smooth movement of the arms and legs in a single phase. To do that, the “distraction” of tension needs to be removed.
In kendo we’re told that the ‘koshi” (back muscles in the small of the back, also commonly know as the lumbar region) and the ‘tanden’ (the area below the belly button) need to be in play. Meaning that they are tensed when executing any movement.
Along with good posture and breath control (breathing out slowly but continuously), these action taken as a whole, dissipates the tension from the upper body, allowing for smoother and more efficient strikes. Less energy is required which is then better utilized for speed, stamina, and power.