A technique is what we call a movement pattern that is effective in performance, while conserving energy, ensuring safety, and avoiding wasteful inefficiencies in it's execution.
Good technique can be developed with attention paid to position & breathing, sequence & timing, as well as appropriate tension & relaxation in every movement.
Position & Breathing
Position is about analyzing the form of each skill, learning how to eliminate unnecessary movements and compensations. Breathing is about making sure that your respiration is natural and properly synchronized with your movement. Proper breathing can stabilize your core when lifting, or help reduce the impact when rolling, for example.
Sequence & Timing
The cue for sequence is to ensure that your body parts are moving in concert with one another, and that the whole body is moving together as one to assist each movement. Timing is how you make use of the natural forces that assist each motion in order to create flow and grace in movement.
Tension & Relaxation
The appropriate use of tension and relaxation is about engaging the right muscles at the right time, and allowing muscles that are not part of the movement relax. To tense up the whole body during a movement creates stiffness, rigidity and countless compensatory mechanisms. This is all about using the bare minimum effort to create the maximum effect, and would be something to focus on when the other cues are in line.
As a cue for Self-Coaching
These are a few simple cues that you can apply to develop efficiency in any movement you may want to improve. In MovNat, we begin with a focus on position and breathing. Once the main points of position and breathing in a technique are digested, the focal point can shift to sequence and timing to make better use to momentum, gravity, and the elasticity of our body in transition from one position to the next. Once sequence and timing are digested, the movement will look quite smooth and effective. Effortlessness in a movement can be developed with a focus on tension and relaxation, only engaging the minimum tension necessary to produce the desired effect. This only works when the preceding puzzle pieces are in place.
Whenever I learn a new skill, and am working on my own to improve it, I use these cues, starting with proper positioning, as a basic guideline for self-improvement. When the time comes that I do get to train with an instructor, I can then make better use of our time and by addressing deeper inefficiencies that I can not overcome on my own, or may be unaware of.
I remember when I first started doing work outs at the gym as a teen, it was just putting my body on autopilot while I day-dream through my reps and sets. Daydreaming and skill development do not co-exist. Keeping these cues in mind in every moment I train has me focusing my full attention not only on what I am doing, but how I am doing it. This means I don't end up pushing reps until muscle-failure, because crappy technique happens far before that. If one train crap, one's results are crap, meaning you will either injure yourself, or develop compensatory distortions and abnormal tension to cheat your way to succeeding in those last few reps. So if position and breathing starts falling apart, you're doing too many reps. If you're focusing on positioning, as soon as your form falters, you take a break.
Mindfulness in Movement
Focusing on these cues also brings us to the topic of mindfulness in movement. If you are focusing on these cues, you are aware in every moment of your movement. Voila, mindfulness. Everyone overthinks it!
In Daily Life
We can even apply these cues in the context of daily life. Position and breathing are perfect reminders to move often, avoid slouching in chairs, and breathe fully. Sequence and timing helps us to consider moving with the whole body instead of just using our arms and back for everything. Tension and relaxation reminds us to relax when we are shrugging our shoulders for no reason or trying to correct our posture using too much force.
It's not enough to just work out an hour a day. Movement happens all day and night, and if we want to change the way we move, and get back to moving like a natural human being, we have to let the way we want to move percolate into every aspect of our lives.