Thursday, May 5, 2016

Question Everything: Tension

Almost every taiko workshop I've been in, taught, or observed talks about tension being the enemy.  The same is true for almost every karate workshop I've experienced.  Tension causes stiffness, reduces speed, reduces control, makes things more tiring, looks bad when moving, you don't want it, etc.

But as with most things, it's rarely a black-and-white situation.

I'm not talking about the tension it takes to remain standing, or to keep your head upright.  That's a given.
  • But what about the tension it takes to keep your arm extended and still? What would taiko look like without those visuals?
  • What about the tension generated for the sake of the audience, to make our efforts look even greater?  How much does a little exaggeration make for good entertainment?
  • Could you push off the ground with your feet to generate power or to move quickly without tension?  Without it, how much dynamism are you losing?
  • How good of a sound would you make without snapping at the wrist?  There's a lot of tension generated there.
  • Would you have any sort of a clean strike if you didn't squeeze your fingers at the end of it?
  • And would you be able to control the rebound if you didn't catch the bachi after the first hit?
  • Try to kiai without tensing the hara.  Not going to be much of a kiai, is it?
So, how bad is tension?  When is it unwanted, and when is it needed?

You wouldn't want to wear a tool belt with 100 hammers on it, but you'll want one handy when you find a nail that's sticking out.  Tension is not the enemy, it is simply a tool.  The better you are at knowing when and where you need that tool, the more you might find that you can leave it on the bench...

No comments:

Post a Comment