Published: February 15, 2022

Intention Versus Tension

You have heard me speak in class about using intention versus tension in the application of movement in our techniques.

Tension can be contemplated under two categories. External and Internal. When we use tension externally, we are contracting the muscles in order to hit as hard as we can. We deliver what we feel will be a stronger application of the technique. However, by doing so, we actually slow our motion down and we tend to focus solely on the strike and not on the follow-up or the flow. Additionally, we also expend far more energy when we are tense than when are more relaxed.

In addition to the act of contracting a muscle, we also hold tension externally through stress whereby our muscles are never fully relaxed. We feel this tension often in our shoulder blades, lower back, and necks to a name a few places.

Internal tension in this regard is the state of mind of the martial artist. If we are tense or in a rage, we develop tunnel vision and limit our awareness of options and of actions around us. A centered, focused mind, even in a violent situation will be more open to options and insights in the midst of the confrontation than if the mind is tense or in a rage. As above, mental tension will fatigue as well, leaving us in a depleted energetic state.

Intention comes from the mind and the will. It is a force unto itself when properly developed. Intent can be defined as a purposeful and determined state of mind that accompanies an action or a determination to act in a certain way.

There are three internal harmonies that we focus on in martial arts. The first is the harmony of mind ( intent) and the heart. The second is the intent and our chi. The third is chi and power. The intent is in part a function of the will. It also incorporates resolve, determination and focus.

When I move with intention, I move with focus, resolve, and determination. My mind is what generates the action and the movement itself. The act of intention gives me a path to follow and creates the follow-through of the action.

When you step- move with intention- not force, not power but use the power of your heart/mind to see, initiate and follow through.

When you strike, strike with intention- with focus, clarity, and intent.

Using intention instead of tension when applying application builds and releases a resolve in you that enables you to be more effective and efficient.

Give it some thought!

Renshi White

Published: February 15, 2022

Categories: Martial Arts