Borrowing a thought from Bruce Lee in his book, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, relaxing is the first step towards acquiring a skill involving movement. This relaxation is something to find in the movements of the martial arts we practice. Depending on your connection with your body, this sense of relaxing with the movements and forms may take seconds or years. Sometimes we can find our connections rapidly or it may simply take years of practice to elicit the sensation of relaxation for a particular movement or movement within the form.
The second step is to practice the feeling until it can be reproduced at will. Master Moy often said we have to practice a correction 100 times before we can understand it or show it to others. I don’t think the number of times matters so much as the repetition until we can readily produce the movement.
Over time our practice leads to the third step of producing the feeling voluntarily in potentially tension-creating situations. We gain neuromuscular skill when we have acquired relaxation, reproduced the feeling and then use that feeling outside of the practice or form. This is where we begin taking martial arts to heart and is true of neuromuscular conditioning or connecting to the internals. When we use our skills in everyday situation, we begin the journey of mastering of ourselves.
A master is nothing more than someone who has acquired, practiced and applied the forms both internally or externally in their lives. When a master is gracious enough to share some of the wisdom, we all benefit.