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Tension /Relaxation (Shin Chook)

It seems today that stresses become a main factor in our daily lives. We are surrounded by events in our lives that cause us stress both mentally and physically. The situations can happen at work, in our family life, and social life. The media continually reminds us of the stress that surrounds us. Their multitude of self-help books out now the deal with stress and its effects on us on all levels. In the martial arts, we given situations that help us learn how to deal with stressful situations. During our training, their stress this placed upon our body physically but more so mentally. In martial arts, training us is constantly trying to harmonize our body and mind together while trying to eliminate stress. One of the common factors it helps us deal with stress in the martial arts is the ability to control her breathing. From the very beginning of our training, we are taught techniques to help control our breathing during movement. In the martial art of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, we have been given a series of exercises that help us control our breath any situations. The Moo Pahl Dan Kyum or Marshall, 8, level, techniques are series of techniques that work different areas of her body both internally and externally.

Our founder, Hwang Kee saw the value and importance of these exercises and wanted to incorporate them to help better understand the Nae Gung, or internal part of our training. By utilizing the breathing techniques that are also incorporated in many of the forms that we practice, we begin to understand how to harmonize our movement of her body and reduce stress during his practice. These come from the Chinese set of breathing exercises called the eight brocade of silk. He reformulated these exercises so that they would be suitable to the martial side of the art. The key in the martial arts about utilizing breath and body harmony comes from the connection of the breath with movement. In the beginning, this takes a conscience effort to be able to meld these two areas together.

We can see the effects of stress are placed on our body. People complain of headaches soreness in her shoulders and even lower back. By practicing simple reading exercises is one of the first ways to be able to help to reduce stress. Many times I have had students come to me that it had situations in our lives or stress is causing a negative effect on them. This could be as simple as taking exam at school, or trying out for a team. Therefore, I showed them some of the breathing exercises that will

help reduce the level of stress. A very simple technique that you can use to reduce stress in a situation is called for corner breathing. This technique is as follows; sit or stand and allow your body to become relaxed for a moment. Slowly taking the breath over a period of four counts while inhaling to the nose. Next, hold the breath for four counts. Then exhale through the mouth over a four-count period. Then do nothing for four counts. The cycle is repeated as needed until you start to feel your heart rate slowed down in your muscles become relaxed.

One of the most second, techniques used help to reduce stress in your body are meditative techniques. This in the beginning is not always easy for individuals to accomplish because they allow the thought process what stressing them to divert the action of reducing that stress. Therefore, in practicing a meditation exercise when the very first things at you want to try to do is allowing those thoughts and your mind and passes freely through. This is something that takes practice on a daily basis to accomplish.

When the simple techniques that I like to use personally is every morning when I get up to take my shower I stand under the running water and allow my body to start to relax. I try to envision the water as it runs over my head, to my shoulders, to my waist and finally down my legs a sense of washing away the stress of my body. This can be done in the morning or when returning at night from work. I found it to be very refreshing and relaxing both mentally and physically. Water, to most people is a symbol of relaxation. We can all think of the time that we were at a beach, or sitting next to a lake or pond and the feeling that we get when we remember that and how relaxed we felt.

Scientific studies have shown the effects of stress on the human body. It can cause heart disease, headaches, muscle and fatigue. Therefore, it is important that we learn what is it that is causing our stress and second how to control that affect. We can see stress as an enemy to ourselves, and then approach it were we have a sense of control over the situation. Stress, is usually associated with our feeling of no control. Because we do not have a control of the situation and know how to respond, it then in turn creates stress both mentally and physically. The by starting to recognize what causes a stress we can then develop tactics to be able to control the situations. Many times we have heard the saying “take a deep breath” before we do something. This simple technique actually works very well. It allows us time to be able to analyze the stresses placed upon us, and see how we want to manage it. There many times in our lives were stresses placed upon us in a situation that we cannot control, nor did we expect it to happen. However, once we recognize these things we start to become more in control of the situation. This like many other areas of our lives takes preparation. The founder of our martial arts system, Hwang Kee has stated “in preparation there is no fear”. This is such a very true statement on many levels. It is because of our preparation we mentally start to deal with the situation as it occurs because we have already thought of how we will deal with the situation before it does occur.

In the martial arts, we are constantly training with this in mind. We are put in situations where someone might attack us in different manners, and we develop techniques to control that attack. Is then through repetition of practicing these tactics that we become confident in dealing with these types of stressful situations. In class I like to call these the “what if” situations. One exercise that I like to do with my students is to describe a situation that might occur, and then instead of teaching them a technique to deal with the situation right away have them think about how they would handle the situation. They then experiment with the technique that they developed to see if its function would work. Most times and he situations the techniques that they try to use are excessively complex and ineffective. Therefore, when they start to see that the situations can be deal with in a very simple manner they start to understand that simplicity is the key.

In our lives we have to come to the understanding that are certain things we cannot control, however, we can learn how we will respond to those situations. That is something that we always have a control over both physically and emotionally. Most times in our lives the stresses placed upon us is emotional. If we pause before taking action, the outcome is always better.

The other side of this concept is relaxation. They are connected, and have to work in harmony with each other. We cannot erase stress from our lives; we can only learn how to deal with it. Therefore, to counterbalance all the stresses placed upon ourselves both mentally and physically we have to come up with ways that we can use relaxation to counteract its effects. There many different techniques for this, from listening to music, taking a walk outside, or trying to sit and do absolutely nothing, which is one of the most difficult things to do. Exercise helps our mind to become free of stress also. So support in their daily lives we have some form of exercise. This can be as simple as taking a walk or some type of cardiovascular workout, but it has to has something where body is allowed to move freely thus allowing her mind to shift from the stressful situation upon us.

Scientific studies have shown that exercise helps to maintain different chemical balances in our body both mentally and physically. This can be seen in various types of sporting activities, such as running, yoga, tai chi, and other exercise activities. Obviously, your age and physical abilities will determine what type of exercise is going to be best for you. Therefore, you have to explore what will work for you not against you. You do not want to do something that can cause harm to your body is then that in turn will increase the stress. Now it has not to say that when you begin an exercise program anything is going to be easy. It has to be approached slowly and carefully as to make it a positive experience rather than a negative experience.

As a martial artist one of my favorite things to do for myself to help reduce stress, is to find somewhere in a local park away from everything where I can just practice my forms all by myself. I can take my time, enjoy the fresh air, and just feel a sense of harmony of nature that surrounds me. I find this quite gratifying to myself. Seen that most of the time I work indoors this becomes a treat for me to be able to step outside of my normal daily routine. I can take my time and make my workout a short or as long as I need to. Many times, I lose track of time when I am training this manner. There is no set schedule, which is another big factor in most of our daily stresses.

It’s interesting to see and listen at my studio to parents that make the following statements,” hurry up we got to go”, “we are going to be late”, “you still have homework to do”,” I’ve got a make supper” are things I hear all the time.

It seems that parents want to fill up their children schedules with all kinds of activities. Children need time just to be kids. This allows them the chance to reduce stress in their daily lives, by using their imagination to create all on their own. It is important the children are involved in an activity bold individually and in a group setting. This teaches them many lessons that can be then utilized throughout the rest of their lives. Dealing with other people, time limits, and organizational skills. Many times when giving a lesson to students in my studio, they always seem to want the answer right away. Nevertheless, my response is usually to have them think about it. This goes along with preparing for situations in our lives that can play stress on us and how to deal with those.

Simple technique of using a martial arts based on potential scenarios where we would have to defend ourselves, is to picture yourself in a situation before it occurs. How are you responding to it? How is your physical and mental demeanor? Do you see yourself victorious in a situation? By preparing ahead of time, we then have seen the stressful situation and have developed a plan of action on how to handle it. We understand how to handle the situation are stresses reduced. As I stated before the saying “never allow anyone to steal your energy, including yourself” comes to play again when dealing with stress.

The balance in our lives, how we live, eat, rest, enjoy every day activities is key to being able to handle the stresses placed upon us in our lives. As I teach my students, it is important to train hard, but also to play hard. They have to have a balance in both areas of our lives. There are times that take diligent hard work both mentally and physically to accomplish our goal. However, we have to have a counterbalance to that that allows us the chance to relax and enjoy life. We have to take each moment and fully enjoy what we are doing. Even when we are given stressful situations and re-approach them as a learning tool, we then do not see it as a negative situation the rather something positive. It allows us the chance to deal with the situation under our own terms. Even when the outcome is not what we expected, because we have predetermine how we will respond to that situation we see ourselves in control, and thus see it as a victory rather than a defeat.

Finally, it is important to approach stress not so much as in any but as a learning tool about ourselves and how we control situations in our lives that it first, we may not see that we have control. Then, we must learn how to balance this out with proper relaxation techniques. It is vital that we create the balance in our lives both mentally and physically to help us deal with whatever life sends our way. During her Masters testing, individuals that are testing for master instructors degrees are put in a situation where they have to teach a class with individuals they have never met before lobbying evaluated but a senior Masters. Obviously most people when put in a situation become very nervous. However if they predetermined to what they are going to do and how they are going to do it and move with a confident attitude the outcome is always better.

So to help them step often a right foot prior to their class, they are surrounded by all the other members who grab them by their belt and hoist them into the air while using the Korean term “Il So, Il So, Il Ro Il Ro” which basically translates as to one smile long life , one frown short life. In addition, I think this is a very valuable statement to remember to smile in our lives and allow ourselves to enjoy each moment of her life. We have to be present moment to be able to deal with situations in a daily basis. When we worry about things that are to come, it starts building stress in our body and our mind because we always think it is going to be worse than it actually is.

Most times in these situations, the outcome of what we worried about is never as bad as we thought. The by using the techniques that I described through breathing, meditation, exercise, and pre-

planning certain situations in our lives we are given the tools to build to reduce stress and allow relaxation to be part of our daily routines.

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