How Much Tension?

 

There’s muscle use, and there’s muscle use!

 

A question was put to me in our forum regarding the use of tension in the hand.

This is something I would like to share with you and elaborate on if I may…

 

The question was:

 

“I have been pondering something you said several weeks ago.

You caught me throwing out my Bongs with too much tension in the hand and fingers.

What is the right amount of tension that should be there?”

 

Now before I get into answering this, I suppose we need to know what we mean by tension, as this can be so easily misunderstood.

 

Whenever I refer to an excessive use of tension, I am referring to anything more than necessary to maintain a position.

It is impossible to be completely relaxed unless your intention is to be a bag of bones lying limp on the floor.

 

‘Anatomically, in order to create a shape, a certain amount of muscle use is essential,

Creating excess tension after that, is not.’

 

In the past I have had students say that if they relax, then won’t their arm will fall, obviously this is being a little too relaxed, this comment is also usually met with my question,

 

‘So if you tense does your arm begin to lift up?

No it does not.’

 

When explaining his process for training elbow energy in the first section of Siu Lim Tau,

Ip Ching once said to me:

“Tension in the hand, develops energy from the elbow.”

 

Now this phrasing is SO easy to misunderstand.

Initially a student will usually hear this and instantly form rigid fingers, using the principles of dynamic tension, this is NOT what was meant.

 

In order to encourage the need to use forward energy, it is best to convince ourselves that there is something needed to push against, a case of simulate resistance to stimulate the ‘need for‘ energy, this is done by creating the correct shape within the hand, a Tan Sau for instance, is formed by rotating the wrist, pointing the heel of the palm upwards and slightly straightening the fingers.

 

‘And how do we form this shape?’

 

‘Anatomically, in order to create a shape, a certain amount of muscle use is essential,

Creating excess tension after that, is not.’

 

What was it Ip Ching said?

 

“Tension in the hand, develops energy from the elbow.”

He just didn’t say how much or how little tension would be needed.

 

 

So to go back to the original question:

“I have been pondering something you said several weeks ago.

You caught me throwing out my bongs with too much tension in the hand and fingers.

What is the right amount of tension that should be there?”

 

We have briefly looked at what may be meant by tension in the first place, now we need to look at what amount of tension we need, when we use it.

 

The simple answer to this is:

‘As soon as you use it, lose it.’

Holding onto energy serves no purpose but to slow down your ability to use it again,

and it will always by needed again.

 

Here is a clip from a very old livestream class which can add some more light on to this.

 

Please forgive the poor audio, I usually mute everyone during these sessions so as to eliminate any background noise, but at the point in the class when this question was asked, we had just been interacting with each other and I forgot to re-mute.

 

I do hope you get something from this,

 

Thank you

 

 

 

Start typing and press Enter to search