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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > March, 2005 - Intent and Intensity
by Lynn Seiser

Intent and Intensity by Lynn Seiser


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Two words I apply to sport psychology for performance enhancement and training are intent and intensity. Intent refers to mental activity while intensity refers to the physical activities used.

Intent: directed with attention and concentration towards some end or purpose; the determination to act in a specific way; resolve; to do or achieve; aim, end, goal, meaning, and purpose.

Intensity: exhibiting strong feelings and earnestness of purpose; an exception or extreme degree of activity; great energy, determination and concentration; degree of strength, force, energy, or feelings; depth.

As a convincer exercise, I have people stand and put forward their strongest arm. I apply resistance downward while they resist. This is not a power struggle, but a test to calibrate their strength. I ask them to think of something positive and test their strength. Then I ask them to think of something negative. I ask them to think of something that is true. Something that is false. Something that is good for them. Something they know is bad. The positive, true, and good all test stronger. The negative, false, and bad test weaker. The exercise simply illustrates that the mind and body are connected and unified. The body does follow the mind.

As a big guy, most people see me coming and they stop their focus on my body size. They also think they have to give me more power. When they stop their focus at my body, all their energy stops there too. I already have them. I have their minds. When they try to give me more, well I know how to handle more. Like most areas in life, the subtle and gentle takes my balance. When I tell them to focus their eyes and mind through me as if I was not there, they walk right through me.

I was asked to help a Kohai learn to do high rolls. When I watched them I could see that their mind, their intent, was so focused on the obstacle that everything they had stopped there. I told them to look at the far wall. Now run towards it. The body naturally went over the obstacle.

These are powerful demonstrations of intent. What do you intend to do? How far do you intend to go? Your intent will focus your intensity.

If your intent is to learn Aikido as a martial art suitable for self-defense, your intensity on offense and defense will be high. If your intent is to learn Aikido for fitness, movement, social, or self-transformation, your intensity will be different and the words offense and defense may never apply. Your intensity will reflect your intent. The body and the mind are unified.

At first our intent and intensity is haphazard at best. We just try to execute the technique the best we can. After a period of consistent and persistent training, we begin to consciously focus on the intent and intensity to make it appropriate for the situation. Later, we relax, breathe, and enjoy the process of allowing the situation to direct the intent and intensity necessary and appropriate.

Thanks for listening, the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now, get back to training. KWATZ!


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