Some notes on Relaxation, Speed, Power, Flexibility – a Physical, Mental and Emotional Triangle looking at what we mean by these terms and how they are linked. This piece was written many years ago but I still believe is essentially correct and hopefully a useful piece of the jigsaw.
Relaxation as practised in the martial arts is not a state of collapse! Rather it is a state of neutrality, half relaxed – a 50/50 balance with minimal effort being expended to achieve the body posture or movement required. In relaxed fighting posture we seek to eliminate all conflicts whether mental, emotional or physical leaving ourselves in a state of poise.
To say that speed is about quickness sounds trite but somehow the word speed carries connotations of power and perhaps the idea that fast movement should feel powerful at the same time. In fact it seems true that if an action feels fast in these terms then it probably isn’t and you are probably trying too hard. The true feeling of ‘speed’ has more to do with effortlessness than with feeling ‘powerful’.
The ability to work at a particular rate in mechanical terms can also be seen in the ability for example to break blocks, tiles etc., as in many martial arts films or demonstrations.
Focusing all our energies with total commitment in a specific way enables a great deal to be achieved in a split second. Here perhaps we can find a hint of how this concept can apply in wider areas - achievement. For the point about power in relation to human beings is that what we are really looking for is the ability to achieve, so direction in an effective way is essential.
When the irresistible force meets the immovable object then something has to give. Too much structure with everything tied down too tight leads in the end to grid lock.
Every system needs a certain amount of ‘slack’ to operate in the real world - to be without is to be robotic and even with robots then the more sophisticated we make them the more flexibility we need to build in.