View Full Version : Using Aikido to deal with stress.
07-12-2000, 02:42 PM
I'm going through a rather stressful time right now that is mostly work related. I got to thinking: I can't be the only person in the world dealing with stress. :-) Then, I figured that maybe one or two of you folks are also dealing, or have dealt with, stress. So I thought I'd ask your opinion on how, or even if, Aikido can help one deal well with stress.
Some answers are pretty obvious. Training itself is one of the best ways that I know to start feeling better, more relaxed, and more capable of dealing with the vagaries of life and work. It's pretty well known that exercise of any kind can be very beneficial to one's mood as well as one's health. However, I think Aikido has additional benefits when compared to other forms of exercise.
For example, Aikido training is intellectually stimulating. We are constantly challenged to look at things in a different way. We train our minds as well as our bodies. Another benefit is that we train cooperatively. We focus not only on our actions, but also on how those actions affect our partners. There are, undoubtedly, many other benefits that I haven't mentioned, but maybe you could.
Still, as good as it feels to train, and as good as I feel after I've trained, I spend far more time during the week not training than I do training. What tools do you think Aikido gives us to help deal with stress when we're not actually in class?
One thing I've found myself doing a lot lately is working on sword strokes, either with a "ghost" sword, or in my minds eye. I find that the mental exercise helps me get centered and calm. Who knows, it may even help my sword training. :-)
So, how does Aikido help you deal with stress?
07-12-2000, 04:32 PM
This is Drew! If you are Drew Carey or Dr. Drew from Loveline let me know soon, I'm a big fan of the both of ya's.
At any rate, I've found that I get the most stress relief out of executing pinning techniques. This especially "holds true" 8) for ikkyo, nikkyo and sankyo. The shihonage pin can be quite fun also.
It is important to remember that every partner you train with will have a different pain threshold, so you must learn this and never cross that line. We live by a higher level of trust in the dojo (and ideally outside as well), and I feel that it is this trust which helps make the dojo a true sanctuary; a place for relaxed, alert comfort. Once I can feel relaxed, alert comfort almost always both inside and outside the dojo, I'll know I've reached nirvana/satori/enlightenment/heaven/etc...
-- The better looking Drew --
I know exactly what you're experiencing - I'm going through very much the same thing myself at the moment, mostly work-based also..
The most useful thing I'm finding is kokyu-dosa (breathing technique), though I've been extending this further to a form of meditation based on 'mindfulness' of your breathing.. Essentially it comes down to only focussing on your breathing, in, out, calmly..
If other thoughts intrude, don't try and quosh them, just let them fade away on their own (otherwise it can be like someone saying 'Don't think of the Atlantic Ocean..!' ;))
I'm also finding that helping out with the Junior's class helps, it gives you an external focus, so you don't have time to do any dwelling on problems!
If you do find anything else useful, let me know!!
I personally like ibuki-no-ho, it helps to clear my mind, and it teaches you how to breathe correctly.
07-13-2000, 04:06 PM
I find these replies rather interesting becuase I find the most stress relief in being uke. The instant after you have committed to an attack, you have to give up control of the situation while you take ukemi. If you remain tense, you end up taking bad ukemi. This seems to translate into how you deal with stress in real life. If you dwell on the things that are getting you down, you will never be free of them, but if you concentrate on what you have to do (i.e. take the ukemi) you will usually end up in a good position.
Does this make sense to anyone else or am I just crazy?
The problems arise when you realise that the more stress you're under, the harder it is to relax and just 'do'...
Vicious circle, potentially...
I've found one of the best ways aikido has helped me deal with stress is to remain calm and either maintain or restore my balance (mentally and physically). I find that just as in practice in the dojo (ie, if you tense up and panic, the technique won't work) the same holds true outside of the dojo; both in a street confrontation or in tense situations like work pressures. By keeping calm and balanced, I can assess and react to situations in the most appropriate manner, without letting my emotions dictate my responses, which can often otherwise get me into trouble.
I agree. The more angry you get while doing Aikido (as opposed to, say karate) is abd for your technique. Last night we were working on a technique, and I couldn't get it right, no matter what I tried. I continually got frustrated. Then when Shihan was my uke, he showed me what I was doing wrong and not to worry, and, now that I was no longer angry, performed the technique correctly (on shihan no less... although he was probably falling for me).
I notice that when people in karate get angry, the uke gets hurt. In Aikido, when people get angry, the nage gets hurt.
Such is the truth, such is the philosophy of O-sensei.
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