Body tension lengthens reaction time and reduces speed and power, so the body should be kept relaxed. Physical tension also encourages mental tension, which further slows reaction time. When you are relaxed, the muscles move smoothly in unison to reduce drag and generate more power.
All muscular movement is controlled by the mind. A relaxed mind creates a loose, relaxed body. To relax your mind, it must remain placid while still being focused and aware. To do this, you need to relieve your brain of the job of thinking while fighting, which means your must train until your actions become instinctive.
Being relaxed while fighting means you are never static. As long as you are either receiving energy (yielding) or transmitting energy (striking), you are in a continuous state of movement and flow. This flow is interrupted when you:
- Strain or grapple
- Execute a technique (because you are thinking)
Relaxation helps increase your speed and power, but extreme relaxation, such as used in tai-chi or yoga, does not protect against hard impacts. Such extreme relaxation may:
- Leave you unprotected if you do not keep some part of your body between your opponent’s weapon and its target.
- Leave you with no power since it is not connected to the ground.
- Allow your limbs to be twisted into positions from which it is impossible to launch a counterattack.
To allow relaxation to generate speed and power, you must keep it rooted to the ground so you may transfer energy through a punch or kick from a balanced connection to the ground. If you are unbalanced, you have no root. If you are stiff, you have no root. If you carry your body weight too high, you have no root.