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Wrapping and tension - What is the right amount of tense?

Sifu Kelley,
I have a question regarding relaxation (as is explained on pg 26 of the ILC manual) and wrapping. I understand such relaxation to be at a level that allows the maintenance of correct structure. So, there is some tension implicit here – i.e. that which is necessary to maintain the structure. When I practice wrapping, I have the intention of rotating hands and feet outward and this intention adds a layer of tension. I can assume basically the same structure as I do in wrapping, but instead, relax into my structure – when I do this I feel less tension than with the wrapping exercise. 
Am I adding unnecessary tension to the wrapping drill or are wrapping and relaxation intended to be different?
If wrapping implies more tension, then to what purpose?
Thank you


Great question!

Relaxation is the balance of yin and yang on the body. Wrapping is to feel how force moves across the joints. Tension is the result of imbalance. Simple. Use tension to more clearly perceive imbalance. Adjust yin and yang imbalances with alignment using all the joints. There is nothing wrong with using this structural tension. We need tension to balance the structure. Let go of everything you can. The tension that remains is your personal indicator of your current understanding. Most longtime neijia practitioners whom I have taught are suprised at how much imbalance this method reveals. This exploration is the essence of wrapping practice.

As for the purpose for tension, all movement is the result of unbalancing and recollecting. No unbalance, no movement. If you are unclear on your limits of strength you cannot recollect. Therefore with more tension comes more clarity. Wrapping with maximum physical tension conditions the body to increase capacity to recollect under duress. It is also very good for your health. 

It is less clear when we look at the mental characteristics of relaxation. We want that feeling of effortless power. Effortless power is the result of placing our attention differently on the structure than what is usual. We begin and end this long process with the 13 points. Getting to this understanding and maintaining this perception is very difficult. Along the way, there is much mental and physical discomfort. Is this essential discomfort wrong? Most avoid this challenging path.

It has been my experience that mental ease is what we get when physically relaxed.  Ease is what being able to 'change with the change' feels like. Focus on maintaing mental ease in the face of all conditions. Use awareness of physical tension to balance the structure. Use physical discomfort to increase your capacity to let go. Daily wrapping practice will help clarify all these seemingly contradictory sensations. 

arthur deich's picture

Got it - thank you