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Improving Speed and Reflexes while Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Uncategorized Apr 10, 2019

 Today I want to talk about the importance of building up speed in your reflexes while at the same time learning to greatly reduce stress in your life. They’re actually greatly linked, and if you work on one you can work on the other at the same time.
People often ask me about Tai Chi, if we teach tai chi, and we of course we do in our higher level programs. When other martial artist, especially the MMA guys, they say, well why? It’s a waste of time unless you’re old, right? It’s not really good for fighting, to which I have to disagree. Not necessarily because the moves in the system, but because it teaches you how to breathe and relax, which is one thing we all need more of, much more of. The ability to breathe and relax on command is important for so many reasons. On a combative level for 1, if you can relax during physical combat we will save a ton of strength, so you can fight much longer. When we’re tense we have muscles firing that we don’t necessarily need to perform certain techniques, so it’s a wasting energy. Not only that, if we can relax through controlling our breath we can actually move faster. This seems backward for some people but it’s true. Throwing a punch for example, our biceps work against us to get explosive speed if they’re tense, because they pull like this, if we can relax them we can have only the proper muscles firing out. If you’re relaxed you only use the muscles you need to and not the muscles that work against the movement you want to do.
In self defence, the ability to control your breath is even more important, because in a violent situation, even just a verbally violent one, we have our adrenaline kick in and that launches into what we call our fight or flight state. In this state it’s very difficult to make well thought our decisions or solve problems, because those areas of the brain responsible for that are not active during that state. This can lead to saying things or doing things to worsen our situation. If we can control our breath and relax we can maintain more awareness in this state and possible avoid it altogether so we don’t make panicked decisions when they’re not necessary. This same idea should be applied to how we deal with stress and anxiety. Since when we’re anxious, it’s like being in a partial state of fight or flight, but for a prolonged amount of time, which is not healthy for the body. If you learn to control your breathing and relax you can bring yourself out of that state.
The type of breathing I’m talking about is diaphramic and modulated breathing, which we teach in our beginner program.
But basically, the mind follows the body, and the body follows the mind. If our mind is panicked and tense, our body will follow, and if our body is tense our mind will follow and become tense, it’s a 2 way street. If, however we can control our breath, this will allow us to relieve tension in both the body and the mind, but we have to start that by taking conscious control over our breath. Tai Chi helps with this, as does various exercised in Kung Fu and Chi Kung as long as it’s practiced regularly.

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