Tension comes in many shapes and forms. Tension can be used for the good, such as; dynamic tension to strengthen muscles and tendons, tension can be bad, such as; headaches and over stressed muscles, and tension can be ugly, such as; tensing up to block or strike.

Tension can shorten our life span, can lead to physical and mental problems, but in relation to the ma's it can slow us down, drain power from strikes, and break up proper body mechanics.

As we all know, when we execute a punch, the power generates from the whole body, from the ground up, all our weight is set in motion with our strength, and the muscles are used in unison, one firing off the next. In the CMA this is often referred to as using "jing", to put this in simple terms, we move our bodies naturally to enhance blood and oxygen flow and nuero transmitters to function to our benefit. When proper correlation is not achieved it can be referred to as losing "jing", but it is easier to say we are stopping the unison of our whole body, and this is mainly caused by tension.

If you stand in any stance and throw a strike normally, then clinch the fist as hard as you can, and while keeping the fist tightly clenched you throw the same strike you will see it lose power and speed. This is a no brainer for most; the harder points to see are the shoulders, hips, and legs. Try the same strike with your glutes as tight as possible, with the bicep as tight as possible, with the calves as tight as possible and you will see a difference.

When striking the whole body must not only work in unison, but it must also be kept relax, but often relaxed will be interpreted as sloppy. This works with all things, grappling is done in a relaxed manner until there is the point of submission then it is executed like a croc waiting for its prey, in joint locking, it is done relaxed until the lock can be applied then it is applied like a snake's deadly strike.

So tension and relaxation work hand in hand, they are the yin and yang of motion, too relaxed and the move is worthless, too tense and yet again we have made it worthless.

So don't tense up, relax, but don't relax so much that you have no tension. (What? I knew that guy was a little off!!!)

Author's Bio: 

Jay Shrewsbury is a father of 3 and has been studying and researching the martial and health arts for over 3 decades.