how to maintain strength in kata without being tense?

Recently I saw a video of myself doing kata (for karate) and I looked as though I were just gliding along. I am not sure of the correct terminology, but I know this is because I am not using my muscles, simply just putting my limbs in the correct position.
When I do use (flex??) my muscles, I become rather tense and rigid rather than strong. How do I stop this? How can I have a strong stance and technique without being tense and rigid?

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7 Responses to how to maintain strength in kata without being tense?

  1. rylak407 says:

    kata is just a bunch of moves that work together in a specific situation, most involving swords and what not, otherwise are adjusted to fit a real life situation. You don’t need to use strength until the last second striking them with quick and precise. Instead of doing it all the time use the muscles needed for that specific move. Otherwise maybe you should practice doing it in your free time and have your body learn to do it fluidly by doing it over and over till you dont have to even think when you are doing it, which i suspect is the problem anyway when you say you tense up.

  2. katana172 says:

    Practice, practice, and did I mention practice? What you are trying to acheive with kata is to get to know it well enough that eventually it actually becomes second and even third nature.

    The way to learn to do kata without being tense is to do it slowly and relaxed with correct technique over and over. Once you have done it enough where you do not have to annalyze and think about every move, you will start to do it strong and hard without tensing.

    You will also start to visualize what you are doing with each motion, and it will become less and less of a dance. Add in working the actual kata motion with partners using progressive resistance and you will have very strong self defense.

    Do not forget proper breathing, as that is essential to maintain your relaxation. Speed and relaxation are a way to compensate for smaller people with less power.

    Practice slow and with good form and focus on relaxing, then practice some more, and then practice even more. I am a fairly large guy who used to like to power everything, and this was how I learned to relax. Might not work for you, but it is one direction to go.

  3. Sensei says:

    Hi Kenken;

    The purpose of kata is to teach you all the techniques of your art.

    There are grappling techniques, throws, vital point strikes, sweeps and many other techniques that are characteristic of your art.

    In practicing your kata, you must be relaxed but firm at the same time.

    Here is an example of a person who has learned his kata properly and executes it correctly…

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=matsubayashi%20ryu&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv

    and one of the beginner forms…

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1503318620275877666&q=matsubayashi+ryu&ei=P4otSID-Caj2rAK9i_WGCg&hl=en

    You will see that he is relaxed but explosive.

    The Chinese call this expression of power – Fa Jing.

    The power that is supposed to be generated in martial arts is not from your muscles. It is from your breath and intention, moving your body.

    Strong muscles just makes the strike hurt much more and protects you from getting hurt. It is like hitting someone with a chopstick as opposed to hitting that person with a ruler.

    Relax and EXPLODE! This is from the Yin Yang theory, which is one of the fundamental theories associated with martial arts.

    If you still have a hard time doing it, message me and I will give you an exercise to develop this. Study the videos carefully. Look at his execution, body shifting, whipping, etc.

  4. Big Erv says:

    Think of your movements like a whip. When the whip goes out it’s relaxed just until it strikes the end when it hits extremely hard. When doing kata, feel the energy flow from your stance to your hip and all the way to the strike or kick. Know where the energy is at all times and learn how to make it move to concentrate your power.

    Doing a kata over and over will build muscle memory so it will become strong over time.

  5. wolve_ryne says:

    Practice.. patience… practice…

  6. Hawkster says:

    When you practice your kata, one of the things you want to concentrate on, is relaxing, but also putting power in the right place at the right time.
    The only time you want tense your muscles, is at point of impact. So, execute your techniques as you have been; fluid, and relaxed. Don’t tense the muscles until the punch, kick, or block is fully extended. As far as your stances are concerned, they’ll need to be rigid while your legs are supporting your weight, but once you begin to throw a kick, use the philosophy I just mentioned. It’s a good thing that you’re inherently relaxed. This makes your techniques faster. If you try to tense up WHILE you throw your techniques, it’ll slow you down, and you’ll tire more quickly. Whereas when you’re relaxed, and only tense at the end of your technique, you’ll have speed, and power, and you won’t be as winded.
    To further help you, think of the difference between swinging a club ( stiff and rigid always ), and swinging whip with a heavy ball at the end ( tense at the very last split second ). Hope this helps.

  7. Aaron J says:

    The first thing I would mention is slow down. You might be rushing a little. Then again maybe not…

    Don’t think of the other people watching you… Imagine you are on a lone hilltop getting ready for your final duel to the death. All the people watching are just lumps of wheat and trees. Face your opponent who has just challenged you to death.

    If you imagine fighting real people when you perform it, you will begin to see them attack and you defend. This might change the performance a little but not too much. By changing the performance of the kata I mean that your breath movements might last a little longer and your flurries might be a little quicker or the beat might be different and you’ll have a slight pause between strikes, nothing too noticeable aside from your Sensei. If he sees that you are actively engaged in battle then he will not correct you, instead he may come to you and commend you for seeing the spirit of the kata.

    Relax, you’re not gonna die if you don’t get it just right. If you keep that mentality and let the kata feel itself for you you will be a little better.

    The fa jing thing Sensei mentioned was a nice touch, though if you’re not getting your kata down it’s a little early for you to work on that type of technique.

    The biggest thing I would mention is just don’t rush and don’t see the people watching. who cares if they do or not anyway, it’s all for your own good.

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