THE SERIOUS student of muscle-control will soon become aware of the fact that his will- power had become greater, and his mental faculties clearer and capable of increased concentration.
Thus it will be observed that the controlling of the muscles reacts upon the mind and strengthens the mental powers in exactly the same proportion that the control of the muscles strengthens the body and limbs.
Most teachers of physical culture will tell the student to keep his mind concentrated upon the muscles. As the movements are usually mechanical, the advice is necessary, though useless, for monotony tires and jades both body and mind.
The mind is bound to wander during the performance of any exercise that is mechanical, and requires many repetitions.
When, however, an intelligent effort is being made to control a certain muscle, a definite object is being aimed at, and the mind cannot possibly wander. The interest is sustained, and the power of mental concentration gradually but surely developed.
As I have mentioned upon another page, the use of mechanical exercises is necessary for the full development of the whole muscular system, but these may be combined with muscle-control in such a manner that no drudgery of monotony will be apparent.
For lasting and practical results in exercising, it must be pleasurable and energizing; not monotonous and exhausting; and I assert without prejudice to the other many excellent methods of exercising in vogue today, that the greater advances made with the all-powerful march of civilization, the greater will the need of muscle-control become; for a great brain will not be at its best in a debilitated or unfit body, and there will be little time for sports and games, saving for the few. The fight for supremacy will become too keen, and the fit body and quickly-working, responsive brain will be the greatest assets of the bread-winner.
Turning to games of skill, the power of the controlled muscle is undisputed.
Why is it that two men of equally good build, intelligence, keenness, and sight will differ in “form” absolutely?
As an example, take two golfers. They both know exactly where the ball ought to go, but perhaps only one of them can get it in anything like a true direction at every stroke.
One has his driving muscles under control, and the other has not. It may be that the surrounding muscles are hampering or causing a deviation of the muscles required for the particular stroke; but in any case, perfect control and suppleness are not present, or he would make the same stroke in precisely the same manner, and with the same result, as many times as the endurance of the muscles would allow.
The endurance of a controlled muscle is very great indeed.
Firstly, because plenty of blood is available for its use, and secondly, because the blood- flow is unretarded by pressure from the surrounding muscles, for these are all relaxed, and soft also.
The stiff gold student is the despair of the professional instructor. Often one hears the remark: “That fellow will never amount to anything, for he keeps himself stiff, and will not allow the muscles to relax.” I agree. He will never amount to anything if he tries to get rid of his stiffness by learning gold or any other game. How can he possibly concentrate his mind on his stroke or game, if he has to think of his muscles as well?
If they had been got into perfect condition by muscle-control, and kept so by a few minutes’ daily attention, he would relax automatically, and his whole mind would thus be centered upon his stroke, the correct muscles working unhampered as soon as they were required.
Therefore it must always be born in mind by the student that muscle-control must be regarded in its widest meaning, which is: to relax, restrain, govern, direct and contract the muscles; not only in groups, but singly as far as the connections and adhesions of the other muscles, tendons, and ligaments permit.