6/12/10 NOTE: A brief note on the issue of “relaxing”. This morning in class at my dojo, Todd Martin Sensei was talking about posture when taking ukemi and the need to give up your balance an stay relaxed so that you can protect yourself and flow with the technique. When a student asked how to relax while being spun around and thrown, Todd had us stand, take a deep breath, and picture our muscles “unlocking”, starting with the scalp and moving down through the face, neck, shoulders, and on down. I tried it, and have tried it a number of times and in a number of situations [sitting here typing for example] and it works even better than my usual relaxation techniques. Probably because I am fairly visually oriented and I can picture actual little locks in my muscles opening up and the tension and excess energy draining down to my center.
For me, anyhow, this effectively resolves the linguistic oxymoron of relaxing without collapsing. Somewhere, in some language there must be a word that really describes this phenomenon.