When at the hombu earlier this month, sensei reiterated during our bikenjutsu keiko the importance of wielding the sword and our bodies without tension. He emphasised the difference of karatakewari from daijodan, with and without tension. Relaxing is a simple method of dropping the shoulders, loosening our grip a little and breathing deeply into the region of our hara (tanden).
Stiffness in our shoulders, arms and wrists, robs the body of swift and flowing movement. When we tense up, we slow the firing of the muscle significantly. This was more than apparent to me once I experimented when facing off with Mario and Eric. When I was not relaxed through the shoulders, arms and wrists, I had absolutely no chance of getting my cuts or blocks in against their experience and speed. When relaxed, I managed a few times to perform with a modicum of competency. It doesn't sound like much now , but in the moment, the efficiency of movement greatly improved. Relax and you'll be more efficient and much quicker.
Travis de Clifford