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I used to have this problem where I flinched and stiffened up when attacked. Then I remembered how many times people from Kato Kiyomasa to Miyamoto Musashi to Yammamoto Tsunetomo have said "You're going to die; get over it" and then I formulated my own version.
"The way of the Aikidoka is found in getting hit" and from then on everytime I faced being hit I simply accepted that I was going to be hit and there was nothing I could do about it. Occasionally I even let myself be hit, mainly to check that the kohai are attacking properly, but ever since I adopted the habit of accepting I'm going to be hit I find that I no longer flinch and I can move freely.