How To Relax in Karate
When you practice a sport, you can come across a lot of obstacles, one of which is stiffness (rigidity).
In this article we are going to see specifically how to relax in karate, but some of these techniques can be applied very well to any other discipline!
If you want to find out everything there is to know about this martial art, we have written an entire article of more than 3500 words on karate.
Table of Contents
Why do I have to relax?
Being relaxed while performing a movement leads numerous karate benefits:
the technique will result faster, cleaner and much more natural.
And what does a fast, clean and natural technique means?
A great execution of it.
Being more relaxed reduces fatigue and consequently you will be able to achieve a performance to the maximum of your possibilities.
Imagine a whip and a baseball bat.
Which one will snap better?
Obviously the whip.
Let’s see the differences:
The whip starts relaxed and when it reaches the maximum extension, it tenses (contracts).
The baseball bat starts stiff and arrives stiff at the end, with no variations in tension.
Now let me ask you another question:
Which one is faster?
Again, you’ll answer the whip.
So when you perform a technique, try to imagine that instead of arms and legs, you have whips! (AND NOT BASEBALL BATS!!)
What are the reasons behind my contraction?
The reasons that lead to the contraction can be several. The most common are:
– an incorrect posture during the execution of the technique.
– incorrect breathing
– a tense mind, stressed by ordinary problems and issues.
– being unable to understand when to relax while performing the technique.
The bests techniques to relax
We talked about the reasons of contracting and the benefits of relaxing. Let’s see now the best techniques to relax.
The Jacobson Technique is a relaxation technique that consists of contracting a specific group of muscles in sequence at regular intervals of time.
Put yourself in a position of your choosing: lying, sitting or standing; you decide!
Contract a specific group of muscles for 5/10/15 seconds and relax twice as long (10/20/30 seconds).
Familiarize yourself with both contraction and decontraction situations and learn to recognize each condition.
You can do it as many times as you want, whenever you want, but above all, anywhere you want!
One of the most crucial aspects of muscle relaxation is correct breathing.
To relax, try the following exercise:
Put a hand on your stomach.
Breathe deeply through your nose and feel your belly expand. Hold your breath for a few seconds
Let the breath passively come out through the mouth without using abdominal power.
When the air has gone out, hold your breath for a few more seconds.
To increase the relaxing effect, exhale more than when you inhale.
Repeat the exercise at least 10 – 15 times.There are many books that explain how to breathe properly and the benefits that it provides.
We recommend you the following:
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
By James Nestor
Before any training or competition, develop the habit of listening to your favorite songs, preferably light songs that will help to relax your mind!
Relaxing music can potentially help to relax your mind and body during karate training or competitions.
Music has been shown to have a range of psychological and physiological effects, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and promoting relaxation.
Listening music before or during karate training can potentially help to calm your mind and relax your body, which can improve your performance.
Some people find that listening to music with a slower tempo and calming melodies helps them to relax and focus more effectively.
That being said, the effectiveness of music as a relaxation aid can vary from person to person.
Some people may find that music is a helpful tool for relaxation, while others may prefer to train in silence or with other types of auditory stimuli.
It’s important to experiment and find if it works for you.
Work on your mindset
The brain is where relaxation begins. A free mind without thoughts allows the body to move more freely.
When performing a performance, don’t think about judging your movements, just focus on what you are doing without thinking about anything else.
When someone tells you to relax, don’t be hard with yourself thinking “I can’t do it”, instead, relax your mind and concentrate on what you’re doing, you’ll see that the rest will come by itself.
Makiwara or punching bag
It’s important to relax but remember to contract before impact or you will injure yourself more than your opponent.
To learn how to manage the relaxation and contraction phases, you can do repetitions at the punching bag or, even better, at the makiwara.
ATTENTION! Before using the makiwara or the punching bag learn how to punch correctly to not injure yourself!
You will learn to contract the muscles just when necessary by repeating the technique numerous times.
One of the most underrated tips that are given all the time is stretching.
Stretching can potentially help you relax in karate by reducing muscle tension and preparing your body for physical activity. Stretching can also help to increase flexibility and range of motion, which can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury during karate training.
Stretching can be particularly helpful if you are feeling tense or anxious before a training session. Taking a few minutes to stretch and loosen up your muscles can help to relax your body and calm your mind, allowing you to focus more effectively on your training.
It’s important to remember that stretching should be done slowly and gently, without forcing your body into uncomfortable positions.
If you feel pain or discomfort while stretching, stop and seek guidance from your instructor or a healthcare professional.
Stretching should be a comfortable and enjoyable experience that helps you to relax and prepare for physical activity.
While you’re training, don’t worry about throwing hard and powerful punches and hurting the opponent, instead think about executing the technique cleanly, quickly and naturally, then the rest will come by itself.
Keep in mind that:
when you are contracted, you are slow.
when you are relaxed, you are fast.
Before you leave the article, remember:
Always imagine that instead of arms and legs you have whips!