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senorqueso
11-15-2009, 03:34 AM
When I read Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, one of the points that Westbrook and Ratti really nailed home for me was the "Ethics of Defense in Combat."

In short, there are four panels that are beautifully illustrated. In Panel A, the attacker is unprovoked and kills the victim without warning. In Panel B, the attacker goads or taunts the victim to attack, and while "defending" himself kills the victim. In Panel C, the victim is attacked legitimately, but in defending himself kills the attacker. In Panel D, the victim is again attacked legitimately, but leaves his attacker alive and intact. According to Westbrook and Ratti, "this last and highest level is the goal of all aikido self-defense arts."

This particular passage spoke to me very clearly, yet I find myself in the mindset of either Panel B or C more often than anything else. While I haven't had anything close to a physical confrontation in many, many years, I often find myself yearning for a good brawl.

I work as a bartender in a restaurant, and the large majority of people I serve are extremely nice, easy-going, responsible adults. Even the barely-21 and rowdy bunch that I serve drinks to are respectful of the other people in the restaurant. Unfortunately, I get several abrasive and crass individuals pass through the bar as well. Rude and disrespectful as they are, I'm a very easy-going person and I can let most of them have their drinks and be on their way with no real issue.

But there are a select, small few, some of whom have become regulars because of my perceived 'kindness' (which is nothing more than a learned patience for rudeness), who evoke a violent, passionate rage in me that is almost frightening. I don't consider myself a violent person. I choose only to defend myself verbally when I'm pushed to my limit (though this rarely comes up, most don't want to risk getting cut off ;) )

Never before in my life have I encountered something so powerful. My first instinct is to talk, to befriend someone, to use language and discussion to clear the air, to alleviate any pressure. It almost always works, and when it doesn't I simply walk away. But in this particular case I cannot walk away. I'm forced to simply remain silent and keep as much distance as possible to avoid any kind of confrontation. My issue isn't so much how do deal with the people themselves, but with my own quiet anger. Its almost all internal (though my coworkers and I have a good deal of fun swapping horror stories), and violence has never been an option. But even the knowledge of this fact doesn't stop me from wanting to beat the tar out someone.

I've never heard of this kind of thinking from anyone in any dojo I've been to, and I've never heard any of my senseis address it. O-Sensei said that "Victory over oneself is the primary goal of our training. We focus on the spirit rather than the form, the kernel rather than the shell." I took this to mean, at least in this case, that with practice one can control ones dark side, to acknowledge it and keep it in check. Has anyone else battled their demons, their dark side, their desire for violence? Is this something that I can overcome with practice? Or will it simply take time?

I would love to hear some thoughts on the matter.

Mark Uttech
11-15-2009, 04:49 AM
Onegaishimasu. The thoughts you have are quite common in dojos everywhere. I can recommend a book I recently purchased: "Meditations on Violence" by Sgt. Rory Miller, a veteran corrections officer. Another book is : "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Beck. I am sharing this with you because I think you need to further your study before you come to regrets. Whenever I meet a young man with no teeth, I understand why I have avoided fighting.

In gassho,

Mark

Charles Hill
11-15-2009, 06:43 AM
Hi Jeremy,

I think I understand and agree with what Mark has advised you. An important sentence in your post is "I'm forced to simply remain silent and keep as much distance as possible to avoid any kind of confrontation." A possibility is that someday the compulsion to not engage in violence may be overcome by a compulsion to become violent. If that happens, you might experience the regret that Mark wrote about.

To follow in those lines and with Mark's book suggestions, I recommend Dave Grossman's work on violence and also Marc MacYoung's nononsenseselfdefense.com website. With these two resources, you might get a hint or two about what may happen if you choose to engage in violence.

From my own perspective, I think you have a real opportunity for growth here. You are acknowledging your "dark side" and that is a major step that is rarely taken and rarely worked with. One public Aikido figure that has done this is Robert Nadeau. As far as I can tell, there is no single body of work by/on him, but if you search for interviews and view videos and maybe even seek him out and talk to him, it may be helpful.

Good luck,
Charles

Abasan
11-15-2009, 07:08 AM
Your ego has many parts, anger being one of them. Pride, greed, etc etc make up the rest.

If you can recognise the feeling you're experiencing for what they are, you can choose to accept or reject what your ego wants you to do. After all you are the man here, not your ego.

Also, getting angry because of someone taunting you means you've been baited. Imagine he is actually talking down to a mirror of himself, you can even laugh at his expense, perhaps even put in a few put downs for his benefit. When someone connects with you and expects you to do one thing, he will get severely unbalanced when you do another.

Lastly a word of wisdom. Man is like steel, worthless when it loses its temper.

Mark Peckett
11-15-2009, 08:43 AM
I read your post the same weekend I read this article in The Guardian. It doesn't have all the answers (who does?) but it might help put your anger in perspective and maybe stop you agonising over it quite so much.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/nov/14/change-your-life-anger-oliver-burkeman

Take care,

Mark

Victoria Pitt
11-15-2009, 09:35 AM
And I will offer my completely different perspective because well... I gotta "represent".

In my opinion, those feelings of anger and dislike are okay. Respect is what makes us social animals at the end of the day- if we were rude to each other and smacking each other around all the time, well, there would be no bars, no restaurants, and we'd be in our own little trees/caves/ what have you. The feelings are a natural response to something that you dislike. You were made like that for a reason.

But...

(there is always a but...)

How you react makes you the thinking animal.

(To simplify: how you feel makes you human, how you react makes you civilized.)

This is where for me, I find that working out helps a lot. When I say working out, I do not mean Aikido. After Aikido practice, I feel way too introspective because I've been focusing on not hurting myself or others. Whatever is bothering me? Well that will come back as soon as I get on the train to come home.

Running/Cycling however? Now that is where I get my aggression out. It not only gets me in better shape but it also makes those people who annoy me more manageable. Call it a superiority complex if you will, but when I've worked out hard, I feel better about myself, I know I am better shape to be prepared for anything, and that extra "twitch" that I have is calmed down immensely.

I can only say what works for me. It wasn't until two weeks ago that I realized as much as I love Aikido, it wasn't helping me at all in feeling better about myself or helping my temper. Ironically, that was the week that I started back to running and cycling. After my first week back doing those activities, I felt much, much, much better about everything in general. Probably because those release more of those "feel good" endorphins. As of yesterday, I started Iaido. It will be interesting to me to see how I feel after practicing Iaido for a while. I just realized that for me, I really need to push my physical body so that my mental one is more flexible to people who are making my life difficult..

And that is just my two cents.

mathewjgano
11-15-2009, 01:31 PM
Has anyone else battled their demons, their dark side, their desire for violence? Is this something that I can overcome with practice? Or will it simply take time?

I would love to hear some thoughts on the matter.

I think it can be overcome through practice. I have to remind myself that some folks are too stupid to understand their own aggression (note I consider the language I used as a bit of a defense mechanism). In other words, I find reason to forgive folks that otherwise deserve a taste of their own "medicine" because I presume them to be lacking in perspective.
In my experience, life is often very tough for The Nice Guy. My whole life I've been accused of being "too nice." I'm usually diplomatic in my responses and being that I seem to dislike less than most of the people around me, I usually defer to what others want. To some folks this implies I can be taken advantage of or toyed with for fun. Several years ago I began to seriously resent that. Here I am trying my damnedest to be kind to everyone; trying to keep the atmosphere around me as pleasant for everyone as I can, and I've got Timmy the Tough Guy acting like a dick, even targeting my kindness as a thing to ridicule. I can't lie: it made me bitter and it spilled over into my general percpetions.
I find I get into these modes of thought where I run through a series of scenarios in my head that usually end with me beating the tar out of someone. Sometimes these thoughts are cathartic, but the more I give in to them, the more I notice I indulge in them. I thinkt he mind is an interesting kind of perpetual motion machine where the more it practices something, the more it practices something. Outwardly these thoughts are pretty harmless, but over time they began to take more and more of a life of their own. I find I have to actively counter them with positive thinking and that the more I do this, the more I naturally think positively too.
I think disciplines like Aikido serve this shift toward positive thinking because they reinforce that idea of being disciplined; of helping to carry the "difficult" task of not smashing someone's face even though they probably deserve it to some degree.

Linda Eskin
11-15-2009, 01:33 PM
Hi Jeremy,

It doesn't sound like you have any trouble controlling your temper, it just bothers you that you have the feelings that you'd really like to beat the snot out of somebody. IMHO, those feelings are entirely normal from time to time.

If they are a constant, powerful distraction, consider that they may be hormonal. I had surgery a few years ago that threw my hormones into serious disarray for a few weeks. During one week I'd be crying at all the holiday commercials on TV (I am not a tearful person, by nature). I kind of expected that, but another week I could totally understand how guys get into fights in bars. I really wanted to clock people for the least little thing. Really. If I hadn't been so physically fragile at the moment I might've tried it, too. :p I had to restrain myself from calling out a guy near me in a theater for talking through a movie, for instance. The "violent, passionate rage" you described sounds very familiar. Fortunately, everything calmed down after a few weeks, and I'm back to my normally even-tempered self. But you might consider that there could be chemical stuff going on. It sure takes the edge off to be able to acknowledge "OK, that's just some random biochemistry at work. I don't need to act on it."

Also, there's not a thing wrong with appropriate expressions of violence. Spending a little time at the batting cages or driving range can be great therapy. Or chopping wood. At one place I worked, we had a heavy bag for the customer service phone reps, because they frequently felt the need to punch something.:D Here in San Diego there is a place you can go into a room to scream and throw dishes against the wall. It was started by a woman who'd gone through a bitter divorce, and had discovered that smashing her ex's things on the driveway at night felt Really Good. :p So maybe find something similar that works for you and go for it. Jo practice vs. a tree? (Wear eye protection, in case you shatter the darned thing.) Have some fun with it.

mathewjgano
11-15-2009, 02:13 PM
This is where for me, I find that working out helps a lot.

That's how soccer and skiing are for me. It's amazing how much of an attitude adjustment those activities can be. Aikido has served similarly for me, but I don't get to get as aggressive as I do on the pitch and mountain.

dps
11-15-2009, 02:42 PM
This is where for me, I find that working out helps a lot.

That's how soccer and skiing are for me. It's amazing how much of an attitude adjustment those activities can be. Aikido has served similarly for me, but I don't get to get as aggressive as I do on the pitch and mountain.

But you might consider that there could be chemical stuff going on. .

Amen.

There is a physical and an intellectual solution to the problem. You already have the intellectual solution.

The emotional and physical responses you have to stress are due to chemical (hormones) releases and reactions.

These hormones are released very quickly but are dissipated over a longer period of time.

A good physical workout daily helps burn off these the hormones .

Lifting weights does it for me.

David

senorqueso
11-15-2009, 02:54 PM
I think it can be overcome through practice. I have to remind myself that some folks are too stupid to understand their own aggression (note I consider the language I used as a bit of a defense mechanism). In other words, I find reason to forgive folks that otherwise deserve a taste of their own "medicine" because I presume them to be lacking in perspective.
In my experience, life is often very tough for The Nice Guy. My whole life I've been accused of being "too nice." I'm usually diplomatic in my responses and being that I seem to dislike less than most of the people around me, I usually defer to what others want. To some folks this implies I can be taken advantage of or toyed with for fun. Several years ago I began to seriously resent that. Here I am trying my damnedest to be kind to everyone; trying to keep the atmosphere around me as pleasant for everyone as I can, and I've got Timmy the Tough Guy acting like a dick, even targeting my kindness as a thing to ridicule. I can't lie: it made me bitter and it spilled over into my general percpetions.

Wow, you really nailed it with that one! Another bartender and myself have run into the same problem, where not only do we have to put up with some ridiculous crap, but we're both finding ourselves being pushed out of our "nice guy" zone.

One particular instance occurred when a man came in and was working on his laptop. He seemed a little frustrated and asked me if I knew anything about computers. I said sure, (my major is computer information systems), and helped him with his problem. He was more than grateful, and after he finished his meal and drinks, he left generous tip :D . I felt good about myself! He came in a few days later, because he didn't understand something that I set up for him, so I explained it again. He seemed to get a better grasp of it, thanked me again, left a good tip and was out the door. I still was happy that I helped someone :) .

Another few days went by and I saw him again. I was a little busy this time, so I couldn't jump around the bar and help him out, but I gave him advice as to what he should do (something concerning music on his iPod, I think). I kind of gave him instructions as I worked, and after he got everything working, he decided he wanted to try another approach of his own. I said sure, and went about my business. This was really the beginning of the end, even though I didn't know it yet. After that day, his visits became more and more frequent, and he became more and more demanding of my help. When I was finally pushed to stop helping him (it didn't take too long), he became irritated with me and would just sit at the end of the bar and grumble to himself. That was 6 months ago. He's still a regular, and is really a nice guy, but I think Ahmad put it succinctly:
When someone connects with you and expects you to do one thing, he will get severely unbalanced when you do another.

I'm not becoming grizzled and bitter, but I can definitely say that I've "hardened" a little. This has happened many times before, and now being taken advantage of is something that I'm constantly on the lookout for. I try to be nice when I can, and I do a lot of things for people simply because I want to help them out, but I'm wary when someone says "thanks for that, can you help with this now?" several times.

Thanks Matthew, Victoria, David and Linda, I think the exercise thing is really where I need to release that pressure. I go the the gym 3 days a week, and days that I go to the gym after work I feel much more..."at peace" than days that I simply go to class after work.

Thanks to everyone for your replies!

donhebert
11-15-2009, 06:58 PM
This issue has always interested me. I can't help but recommend "A Little Book on the human Shadow" by Robert Bly.

I have recently determined that my own spiritual path is the "Way of the Mench" ( I just made that up). Every true spiritual path is fraught with danger. My own can exacts a terrible price when the life-giving force of the shadow is denied in the name of being a good person. For me, this doesn't mean giving into violence - something deeper is being asked for. I'll be curous if you return to write about some of the directions your questions take you.

Best regards,

Don Hebert

Shannon Frye
11-15-2009, 11:38 PM
Incredible to find your post today. I just had the SAME conversation with a bartender in a local city here. Locals taking advantage of your tolerance - happy go lucky until something doesn't go THEIR way, and then it's because YOU'RE the jerk. You can't let it get to you. At work, I keep repeating the phrase "I'm an hour, none of this will matter."

Fortunately for me, I'm the bouncer at the bar - so when kind words and tolerance come to and end, there's additional options for me that the bartender and wait staff don't have.

Last night, as he was quite disturbed about how the night had gone, I told the bartender the story of the 2 monks (1 old, 1 young) that came across an angry lady that demanded they carry her across a river. The older one lifter her up, and she complained the entire way across. On the opposite bank, he set her down, and continued his journey. 30 minutes later, the young monk questioned the older as to why he even bothered with the complaining woman. His reply was "I set her down 30 minutes ago - why are YOU still carrying her?"
I love that story!

Keep calm - member that it's only a job, and not personal - and that in an hour, none of it will matter. Might also want to suggest hiring a bouncer!

chillzATL
11-16-2009, 11:06 AM
When I read Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, one of the points that Westbrook and Ratti really nailed home for me was the "Ethics of Defense in Combat."

In short, there are four panels that are beautifully illustrated. In Panel A, the attacker is unprovoked and kills the victim without warning. In Panel B, the attacker goads or taunts the victim to attack, and while "defending" himself kills the victim. In Panel C, the victim is attacked legitimately, but in defending himself kills the attacker. In Panel D, the victim is again attacked legitimately, but leaves his attacker alive and intact. According to Westbrook and Ratti, "this last and highest level is the goal of all aikido self-defense arts."

This particular passage spoke to me very clearly, yet I find myself in the mindset of either Panel B or C more often than anything else. While I haven't had anything close to a physical confrontation in many, many years, I often find myself yearning for a good brawl.

I work as a bartender in a restaurant, and the large majority of people I serve are extremely nice, easy-going, responsible adults. Even the barely-21 and rowdy bunch that I serve drinks to are respectful of the other people in the restaurant. Unfortunately, I get several abrasive and crass individuals pass through the bar as well. Rude and disrespectful as they are, I'm a very easy-going person and I can let most of them have their drinks and be on their way with no real issue.

But there are a select, small few, some of whom have become regulars because of my perceived 'kindness' (which is nothing more than a learned patience for rudeness), who evoke a violent, passionate rage in me that is almost frightening. I don't consider myself a violent person. I choose only to defend myself verbally when I'm pushed to my limit (though this rarely comes up, most don't want to risk getting cut off ;) )

Never before in my life have I encountered something so powerful. My first instinct is to talk, to befriend someone, to use language and discussion to clear the air, to alleviate any pressure. It almost always works, and when it doesn't I simply walk away. But in this particular case I cannot walk away. I'm forced to simply remain silent and keep as much distance as possible to avoid any kind of confrontation. My issue isn't so much how do deal with the people themselves, but with my own quiet anger. Its almost all internal (though my coworkers and I have a good deal of fun swapping horror stories), and violence has never been an option. But even the knowledge of this fact doesn't stop me from wanting to beat the tar out someone.

I've never heard of this kind of thinking from anyone in any dojo I've been to, and I've never heard any of my senseis address it. O-Sensei said that "Victory over oneself is the primary goal of our training. We focus on the spirit rather than the form, the kernel rather than the shell." I took this to mean, at least in this case, that with practice one can control ones dark side, to acknowledge it and keep it in check. Has anyone else battled their demons, their dark side, their desire for violence? Is this something that I can overcome with practice? Or will it simply take time?

I would love to hear some thoughts on the matter.

I'm not sure what you're seeking that you haven't already found? It's foolish (no offense) to think that Aikido is going to wipe all selfish and violent thoughts from your existence. Everyone has these thoughts. Heck, even O'sensei was known to often fly into a boiling rage only to quickly calm and seem as though nothing had ever happened a moment later. If O'sensei can be set off like that, any of us can. It's human nature! It's simply a matter of what you do with those feelings and how fully you let them dominate you. You obviously do not let them dominate you. So in my opinion you've succeeded where others might fail and it likely had nothing to do with Aikido and everything to do with who you are as a person.

Aikibu
11-16-2009, 11:34 AM
I'm not sure what you're seeking that you haven't already found? It's foolish (no offense) to think that Aikido is going to wipe all selfish and violent thoughts from your existence. Everyone has these thoughts. Heck, even O'sensei was known to often fly into a boiling rage only to quickly calm and seem as though nothing had ever happened a moment later. If O'sensei can be set off like that, any of us can. It's human nature! It's simply a matter of what you do with those feelings and how fully you let them dominate you. You obviously do not let them dominate you. So in my opinion you've succeeded where others might fail and it likely had nothing to do with Aikido and everything to do with who you are as a person.

Perhaps...Aikido of and by itself will not change my character...However it can be a tool to help me change...It all depends on intent...It is the intent of my practice to turn "swords into plowshares." That is why I came to Aikido...I wanted to learn something I felt was different from some of the other Arts I was experienced with...Resolving Conflict by connecting and blending appeals to me...I already know how to fight and hurt folks...One of the two above methods just feels better too, and does not get me quite as upset when I have to apply it. :)

Progress not perfection...or in other words... Practice Hard and if if your intentions are good You will find what you are looking for, :)

William Hazen

Shadowfax
11-17-2009, 08:34 AM
If they are a constant, powerful distraction, consider that they may be hormonal. I had surgery a few years ago that threw my hormones into serious disarray for a few weeks. During one week I'd be crying at all the holiday commercials on TV (I am not a tearful person, by nature). I kind of expected that, but another week I could totally understand how guys get into fights in bars. I really wanted to clock people for the least little thing. Really. If I hadn't been so physically fragile at the moment I might've tried it, too. :p I had to restrain myself from calling out a guy near me in a theater for talking through a movie, for instance. The "violent, passionate rage" you described sounds very familiar. Fortunately, everything calmed down after a few weeks, and I'm back to my normally even-tempered self. But you might consider that there could be chemical stuff going on. It sure takes the edge off to be able to acknowledge "OK, that's just some random biochemistry at work. I don't need to act on it."

Also, there's not a thing wrong with appropriate expressions of violence. Spending a little time at the batting cages or driving range can be great therapy. Or chopping wood. At one place I worked, we had a heavy bag for the customer service phone reps, because they frequently felt the need to punch something.:D Here in San Diego there is a place you can go into a room to scream and throw dishes against the wall. It was started by a woman who'd gone through a bitter divorce, and had discovered that smashing her ex's things on the driveway at night felt Really Good. :p So maybe find something similar that works for you and go for it. Jo practice vs. a tree? (Wear eye protection, in case you shatter the darned thing.) Have some fun with it.

Linda be glad it only lasted a few weeks. Ive dealt with that for most of my life. PMDD is a very difficult thing to live with.

I usually found that if I could just go break something and indulge in being violent for just a moment it seemed to help an awful lot. Love that you provided a way for people to do that in your office and that ladies idea of a special room is awesome.

years of trying to bury and deny the so called "dark side"has only resulted in more frustration and sometimes near loss of control. It was not at all good for my mental state. Realizing why I felt those things did help a great deal. Hormonal and chemical shifts can really create havoc. But the energy still had to be discharged some way.

These days I've found Aikido to be a perfect outlet. I get to be violent in a controlled and appropriate atmosphere on a regular basis. My employers and co workers greatly appreciate the change. :)

Eugene Leslie
01-21-2010, 01:21 PM
Hi Jeremy...

That's a good post; thanks for sharing. I also struggle with the nice guy syndrome.
I envy folks that can let stuff slide off their backs like water on a duck.

Unfortunately I'm a product of a poor developmental childhood in a westernized, alpha-male, Machiavellian society where one learns that one must have self-centered ego to acheive success.
I'm searching for my true self at this point in life and Aikido and the dropping of ego, as is wont in most eastern cultures, is very helpful in this. I've met many like-hearted people in Aikido. :)
There were many great replies in this thread to original post and it all helped me gain new perspective. Thanks everyone!

Myself I struggle with boundaries and where the point of verbal and physical replies are needed. If it's just to protect foolish pride then I usually walk away but stew about the proper degree of reaction later.
It's all about finding your true self and true spirit: not being influenced by external forces. I feel great hope when I meet people who are sincere in their kindness and I strive to be like them.
A positive attitude cannot be underestimated in this arena and I find that it can overcome most all those things but it is easier said then done on a daily basis I admit.
You sound like a nice guy so continue that path and realize there are others out there that have a kind spirit and you're not alone...I'll endeavor to do the same.

Cheers!
Gene

StevieT
01-28-2010, 09:04 AM
Never before in my life have I encountered something so powerful. My first instinct is to talk, to befriend someone, to use language and discussion to clear the air, to alleviate any pressure. It almost always works, and when it doesn't I simply walk away. But in this particular case I cannot walk away. I'm forced to simply remain silent and keep as much distance as possible to avoid any kind of confrontation. My issue isn't so much how do deal with the people themselves, but with my own quiet anger. Its almost all internal (though my coworkers and I have a good deal of fun swapping horror stories), and violence has never been an option. But even the knowledge of this fact doesn't stop me from wanting to beat the tar out someone.

A fellow confrontation-avoider! This would seem to me to be your problem, not the way you deal with anger. Without confrontation there can be no negotiotiation to resolve the problem. It is the frustration of an unresolved and ongoing problem that makes us angry. Confrontation is not necessarily a bad thing. You need to assert your boundaries and this can be done constructively; It doesn't have to be threatening or physical. The problem here is that anger destroys our ability to enter a confrontation constructively. This makes confrontation-avoidance a vicious circle: the anger that we feel at failing to deal with something prevents us from dealing with it.

You are definitely not alone in feeling this way. Almost everybody on the planet does this to some extent or another and it's particularly common in the relationships we really care about. By being frightened of seeming aggressive towards another person, we try to ignore problems until the anger builds sufficiently that we want to tear them apart.

This is not to say that every person can be reasoned with or that every problem can be solved constructively. However, you'll have a much better chance of doing so if the confrontation happens before your anger forces it to happen.

FightFireWithPeace
01-28-2010, 11:39 AM
I know all too well what it's like to be 'The Nice Guy', and to be taken advantage of. I was always picked on, but my patience was mistaken for backing down. Of course, this only led to more persecution.
As my father was a martial artist and passed this down to me, I've always been one as well, but I didn't seriously train. I began to train in competitive fighting arts such as TKD, then to Muay Thai, then onto full blown MMA.
MMA helped ALOT. After fighting everyday, there was no desire to fight anyone on the street. In a weeks time I would fight more than a normal person would in their life, taking beatings from professional fighters and keep going. I no longer had anything to prove to non-fighters. This also had it's drawbacks.
I developed what we in the gym called "The Itch." The itch was a burning desire to get into the ring and let out all your frustrations with your fists. After not being able to get into the ring for a while 'the itch' started to spill over into my everyday life. I noticed myself getting more aggressive, but still controlled. All the more, I didn't like what I was becoming.
I went back and forth between MMA and Aikido, because I loved competition and I didn't understand O'Sensei's qualms with it. Now I'm back in Aikido because I understand a little bit better. Being in the dojo puts me at peace because I don't have to worry about competing with any of my class mates, I focus completely on bettering myself, and being the best that I can. That also leads me to feel better about myself, brightening my life outside the mat. In all that you do, don't try to compete with someone's brash rudeness. Just try to be the best person you can be right now, and afterwards have pride in your commitment to being a step above the rest.
Find your balance, Aikido is about keeping peace, without letting others harm you as well. Stand your ground and defend yourself, but there's no need to lash out and hurt someone.

jonreading
01-28-2010, 12:14 PM
But there are a select, small few, some of whom have become regulars because of my perceived 'kindness' (which is nothing more than a learned patience for rudeness), who evoke a violent, passionate rage in me that is almost frightening. I don't consider myself a violent person. I choose only to defend myself verbally when I'm pushed to my limit (though this rarely comes up, most don't want to risk getting cut off )

Never before in my life have I encountered something so powerful. My first instinct is to talk, to befriend someone, to use language and discussion to clear the air, to alleviate any pressure. It almost always works, and when it doesn't I simply walk away. But in this particular case I cannot walk away. I'm forced to simply remain silent and keep as much distance as possible to avoid any kind of confrontation. My issue isn't so much how do deal with the people themselves, but with my own quiet anger. Its almost all internal (though my coworkers and I have a good deal of fun swapping horror stories), and violence has never been an option. But even the knowledge of this fact doesn't stop me from wanting to beat the tar out someone.


"The Gift of Fear" is a good book that covers this stuff. We have two separate issues to which I would like to respond, so I am gong to separate my comments to address the poster.

Either something bothers you enough that you are indulged to act upon resolving the issue, or not. We get confused because in polite society confrontation is discouraged. So sometimes we do not act when acting is the appropriate response - the result is a situation in which we display agressive behavior passively because our bodies are ticked off our mind choose not to confront the issue.

We sometimes pretend that our intellectual decision to avoid conflict is because we are nice, it sounds better than "that guy would eat my lunch." I know plenty of nice guys (and girls) who have no problem standing up to confrontation; they are polite, they are even-tempered, and they are firm in their resolution to stand up to conflict for a reason. The courage of standing up to confrontation is that occassionally you take a risk of offending someone and escalating the situation. The courage of standing up to confrontation is that sometimes you risk yourself.

This is an important point because to this day the most courageous thing I ever saw was a small boy stand up for his brother on a playground. A bully had beaten up one of the brothers and the other brother stepped in, easily outsized, and confronted the bully to "stop hitting his brother." No fisticuffs, no scuffling, just a simple request. No TV drama - the brother hadn't been trained by Chuck Norris, or raised in a ninja clan - just a simple request was all the brother made because he was not a physcial match for the bully. But he made the request anyway, knowing what may happen to him. The courage that little boy showed to stand up to a bully for someone about which he cared was greater than most adults can muster and I'll not forget that incident.

Now for the aikido portion. Aikido is a tool we use to cultivate our mind, our physcial aptitude, and our senses to become aware of situations dangerous to us and those about which we care. It tempers our courage to accept the risks and responsibilities of our society and our place within it. Over time, we learn how to confront conflict and resolve it. Each class we create conflicts to resolve. Each day we work through conflicts in our life and learn better ways to resolve them.

That doesn't mean we all have the right to clock anyone who offends us. But let's not kid ourselves, we keep our mouths shut because we're afraid of the consequences of our actions. In the risk analysis, our risk outweighs the benefit of responding to conflict so we avoid confrontation. Aikido helps us to reduce risk to ourselves by making better intellectual choices, training our bodies to respond to confrontation, and learning to better assess conflict situations.

The Gift of Fear convers these topics and more, going into detail about how societal loop holes and predatory behavior prey upon poor intellectual decisions constrained by expected behavior. It does not have an aikido component, but its eye-opening.

lbb
01-28-2010, 12:48 PM
I developed what we in the gym called "The Itch." The itch was a burning desire to get into the ring and let out all your frustrations with your fists.

I wonder how common this is. It's a widely-held belief among non-martial artists -- I'm sure we've all heard some version of, "Oh, you do martial arts, I bet that's a really great way to get your aggressions/frustrations out." But I've never felt anything remotely like this, and I've always thought that it was a misconception. Am I wrong about this?

mathewjgano
01-28-2010, 01:15 PM
I developed what we in the gym called "The Itch." The itch was a burning desire to get into the ring and let out all your frustrations with your fists. After not being able to get into the ring for a while 'the itch' started to spill over into my everyday life. I noticed myself getting more aggressive, but still controlled. All the more, I didn't like what I was becoming.
I recall a conversation here on Aikiweb where a fellow described an aspect of aggression as being the product of manifested behavior. In other words, the more you express aggression, the more likely you are to express aggression further. I believe his example was that in many cases people are given an object to transfer their aggression on as way of channeling the behavior into more appropriate settings (e.g. hitting a pillow instead of a person), but that in many folks this reinforces the initial spark of anger...much like scratching an itch, something which actually reinforces the itchy feeling. I've noticed this tendancy to form from my more aggressive activities.

I went back and forth between MMA and Aikido, because I loved competition and I didn't understand O'Sensei's qualms with it. Now I'm back in Aikido because I understand a little bit better. Being in the dojo puts me at peace because I don't have to worry about competing with any of my class mates, I focus completely on bettering myself, and being the best that I can. That also leads me to feel better about myself, brightening my life outside the mat. In all that you do, don't try to compete with someone's brash rudeness. Just try to be the best person you can be right now, and afterwards have pride in your commitment to being a step above the rest.
Find your balance, Aikido is about keeping peace, without letting others harm you as well.
Nice! It's regularly reinforced to me that when i focus simply on doing my best (masakatsu agatsu), most of the bothersome details fall away and I'm left with a clear mind and purpose. I no longer care about the shortcomings of the people around me and I suck it up and do MY best to make the situation better. Indeed this basic idea is one of the core reasons I was drawn to Aikido because it's ridiculously simple and profoundly effective.

mathewjgano
01-28-2010, 01:25 PM
I wonder how common this is. It's a widely-held belief among non-martial artists -- I'm sure we've all heard some version of, "Oh, you do martial arts, I bet that's a really great way to get your aggressions/frustrations out." But I've never felt anything remotely like this, and I've always thought that it was a misconception. Am I wrong about this?

I think it probably depends on the mind-set driving the actions. Training at Tsubaki dojo I never felt like I was venting frustrations like I would skiing or playing soccer: it was more like, I worked on being calm and that replaced the aggressions. Skiing or playing soccer or slap-boxing with friends felt more like I was spending the aggressive energy instead of changing it. I don't know if that reflects reality, but that's been my impression.
Coincidentally i think both mind-sets are valid ways of reducing aggression, because once I was calmer, that became the behavior I actively reinforced (short-cutting the reinforcement of aggression through its expression).
Hopefully someone with more understanding can fill us in though.

Eugene Leslie
01-28-2010, 02:23 PM
Great replies...I started reading Gavin DeBecker's Gift of Fearbut never really finished it...I think I'll give it a full go after reading this thread...I understand he is a consultant for secret service agencies and law-enforcement as his methods and analysis helps recognize real dangers in society.

lbb
01-28-2010, 03:11 PM
Great replies...I started reading Gavin DeBecker's Gift of Fearbut never really finished it...

I found it to be an extremely disturbing book, although perhaps it is somewhat less so if you're male.

mathewjgano
01-28-2010, 03:52 PM
I found it to be an extremely disturbing book, although perhaps it is somewhat less so if you're male.

Could you give an example? Not to go off-topic: Perhaps it would relate to the "dark side" aspect of the topic?
I've thought about reading it, but the title is off-putting for me somehow. I view fear as a natural thing and all, but I'd be fine if it were kept at a minimum. No more a gift than the time I fell out of a tree: they both promote careful behavior, sure, but at what cost? I can be careful without being afraid...in fact I usually am more so.

FightFireWithPeace
01-28-2010, 03:55 PM
I recall a conversation here on Aikiweb where a fellow described an aspect of aggression as being the product of manifested behavior. In other words, the more you express aggression, the more likely you are to express aggression further. I believe his example was that in many cases people are given an object to transfer their aggression on as way of channeling the behavior into more appropriate settings (e.g. hitting a pillow instead of a person), but that in many folks this reinforces the initial spark of anger...much like scratching an itch, something which actually reinforces the itchy feeling. I've noticed this tendancy to form from my more aggressive activities.

Well, in my case it came from the activity of fighting specifically. Fighting is fun, especially in a sport fashion, of course it's not for everyone. But as you can imagine, having the urge to fight in the ring transfers quite well to have the urge to fight on the street.

mathewjgano
01-28-2010, 04:56 PM
Well, in my case it came from the activity of fighting specifically. Fighting is fun, especially in a sport fashion, of course it's not for everyone. But as you can imagine, having the urge to fight in the ring transfers quite well to have the urge to fight on the street.

Absolutely! And I imagine having that visceral experience hardwired into your muscle memory has an additive affect, not to mention the feeling that might come from being fairly good at it. The folks I've known who were good at fighting really liked doing it and were much quicker to fight because of it...not to mention how "cool" it is in most societies (Eazy-E fan here).

FightFireWithPeace
01-28-2010, 08:27 PM
Absolutely! And I imagine having that visceral experience hardwired into your muscle memory has an additive affect, not to mention the feeling that might come from being fairly good at it. The folks I've known who were good at fighting really liked doing it and were much quicker to fight because of it...not to mention how "cool" it is in most societies (Eazy-E fan here).

I have the opposite experience with my fighter friends. It's fun to fight people of your level. It's not fun to slaughter some untrained meat head. Anyone that I know that is a high level fighter is slower to fight, but they commit to it more. If they're going to fight, you deserve the knock out you're going to get.

lbb
01-28-2010, 09:10 PM
Could you give an example? Not to go off-topic: Perhaps it would relate to the "dark side" aspect of the topic?

It had a number of absolutely horrible anecdotes filled with truly sickening violence and victimization. They weren't gratuitous, and they were used in aid of the author's point...but they were nevertheless so disturbing that I just had to put the book down, and I'm not easily rattled.

I've thought about reading it, but the title is off-putting for me somehow. I view fear as a natural thing and all, but I'd be fine if it were kept at a minimum. No more a gift than the time I fell out of a tree: they both promote careful behavior, sure, but at what cost? I can be careful without being afraid...in fact I usually am more so.

Well, the title is (perhaps) a bit misleading. As I interpret it, the "gift" that de Becker is talking about comes from fear, but fear itself isn't the gift. The gift is information, and fear is the clue, the symptom, that lets you know that on some level, you realize that there's something badly wrong with this situation. Fear is like the noise that the attacker makes as he walks up behind you: it isn't a good thing, and you'd really rather that the situation was such that you didn't hear that noise at all...but given that the attacker is there, that that's the reality, the ability to hear it (as opposed to not hearing it and getting coshed on the head), and the information that hearing that noise gives you, is a gift.

I dunno, I will have to go back and try and reread that book again. It just really disturbed me.

eyrie
01-29-2010, 01:18 AM
I wonder how common this is. It's a widely-held belief among non-martial artists -- I'm sure we've all heard some version of, "Oh, you do martial arts, I bet that's a really great way to get your aggressions/frustrations out." But I've never felt anything remotely like this, and I've always thought that it was a misconception. Am I wrong about this? Seeing as how I've never heard that one before, it can't be too common... it's usually (coming from the fairer sex) "Oh, so you do martial arts? So, I wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with you then?"

Uh huh... :rolleyes: My usual response is... there could only be two possible reasons I would be in a dark alley with you.. and it ain't for rock-n-roll... so you and I in the vicinity of a dark alley would make you...??

lbb
01-29-2010, 07:52 AM
Seeing as how I've never heard that one before, it can't be too common... it's usually (coming from the fairer sex) "Oh, so you do martial arts? So, I wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with you then?"

Mmmmyeaah, well...that's really just a variant of the same misconception, I think.

fisher6000
01-29-2010, 12:16 PM
I haven't read both pages of responses, so forgive me if this has already been covered. I have two thoughts and a tangent:

1. I think that most of my own "dark side" as you call it behavior and thinking comes out of feeling like I can't take a confrontation, and that the ugliest things I have done to people in my life have been the result of me being "too nice." When I am "too nice" to people, I tend to exist in this world inside my head in which everyone is supposed to be playing by the same rules I am playing by without my need to set boundaries or otherwise shape behavior. So when people don't act as I expect them to, I put up and put up and put up until I overreact with what I feel is justified indignance, violence and fear.

Aikido has served as a fantastic metaphor for not putting myself in that position, has helped me be more capable of managing confrontation before it starts in a way that's loving and fair to both parties. Basically, aikido helps me see that when I don't protect myself, when I put up, I am not playing fair: I am setting up the situation for disaster in the first place.

2. As someone who's tended a lot of bar myself, I think it's hard to stay out of the "too nice" zone when working as a server in the restaurant industry, but it is possible. Setting boundaries with customers is a loving act, and can be done in ways that are not threatening.

I'm going to take the tangent to a new post.

eyrie
01-29-2010, 04:57 PM
I work as a bartender in a restaurant....... I choose only to defend myself verbally when I'm pushed to my limit... But in this particular case I cannot walk away. I'm forced to simply remain silent and keep as much distance as possible to avoid any kind of confrontation. My issue isn't so much how do deal with the people themselves, but with my own quiet anger... But even the knowledge of this fact doesn't stop me from wanting to beat the tar out someone. Put simply, it's not your job to police the unruly patrons - that's what bouncers are for. Even if the unruly patron somehow manages to get over the bar and launch at you, you still have to "be nice" about it - unless you fancy looking for similar work in the industry. Good luck with that. Watch Roadhouse sometime - the start at least.

I took this to mean, at least in this case, that with practice one can control ones dark side, to acknowledge it and keep it in check. Has anyone else battled their demons, their dark side, their desire for violence? Is this something that I can overcome with practice? Or will it simply take time? This all sounds very Luke Skywalker-ish... yes, yes, embrace the dark side, and give in to your hate... OR you can simply choose to exercise control of your emotions, or let it control you.

Janet Rosen
01-29-2010, 05:18 PM
I read Gift of Fear years ago and recommend it for anybody who didn't have to grow up w/ "street smarts" - because that's really what it is about, developing and trusting your intuition instead of "being polite" and meekly walking into or alongside danger.

Phil Ingram
01-29-2010, 06:00 PM
[QUOTE= Has anyone else battled their demons, their dark side, their desire for violence? Is this something that I can overcome with practice? Or will it simply take time.[/QUOTE]

Hey Mate
I had to smile when i read this blog,I myself have a terrible temper which i have been trying to master all my life these are my thoughts, when i was in my 20's I studied karate my teacher at the time took 1 look at me and knew i had a anger issue so he made me punch a bag until i could not punch any more then he would say are you ready to train?,I would be like ok he seemed to redirect my energy from negative to positive martial arts for me is a release i need it like i need air it helps me keep control of my turbulent thoughts.

So now i am training in Aikido and thought these moments I find myself happier than I have been in years though pinning someone in Aikido and keeping control of them I feel centered.

You may want to take up some breathing or meditation techniques
to help you when these thought arise.

regards
Phil

tarik
01-30-2010, 12:47 AM
I wonder how common this is. It's a widely-held belief among non-martial artists -- I'm sure we've all heard some version of, "Oh, you do martial arts, I bet that's a really great way to get your aggressions/frustrations out." But I've never felt anything remotely like this, and I've always thought that it was a misconception. Am I wrong about this?

I wouldn't describe it as an 'itch', which I think of as more applying to the 'fun' that Dexter mentioned, but I have certainly had the overwhelming urge on numerous occasions to use my fists to destroy people and/or things, and I'd be surprised to learn that very many men I've met haven't had it, even if they haven't expressed it.

That feeling scared me. That and witnessing other people in my life yielding to such an urge is exactly what It's what brought me to the martial arts as a teen.

I'd say that people train for many different reasons (including me), but dealing with aggression and frustration and can be a very real part of many people's training, albeit not usually all the time.

Best,

JO
01-30-2010, 05:45 AM
Aikido is certainly, for me, about training myself to be less aggressive. But this not like the pressure release model many people think it is. It's not about venting aggression. That type of mentality would be more likely to increase you aggression than decrease it in my opinion. Aikido helps me decrease my agressive thoughts by training me to not act agressively and by putting me in a non aggressive state of mind. That it can do so within the context of martial arts training is a big part of the beauty of aikido.

fisher6000
01-30-2010, 05:55 AM
Put simply, it's not your job to police the unruly patrons - that's what bouncers are for. Even if the unruly patron somehow manages to get over the bar and launch at you, you still have to "be nice" about it - unless you fancy looking for similar work in the industry. Good luck with that. Watch Roadhouse sometime - the start at least.

I can't disagree more. Most bars don't have bouncers, and anyone who's tending bar has the responsibility to manage patron behavior because the patrons are drinking.

As a bartender I have been called names by clients; propositioned for sex; physically threatened; had my ear bent and so on. The bottom line is that sometimes people go to bars when they shouldn't be out, and that sometimes people drink too much, and sometimes people behave badly when they drink. My job as a bartender was to set and enforce reasonable limits on this sort of behavior, and do so in a friendly, easy-going way that is not unlike what we learn in aikido.

When i was a bartender, I struggled a lot with this aspect of my job, just like the OP, and got in trouble a couple of times for allowing things to happen that shouldn't have because I was being too nice. It's hard to react to bad behavior in real time without being overly surprised or offended. But I once got demoted to waiter because I didn't do a good job at this.

Phil Ingram
01-30-2010, 02:05 PM
I can't disagree more. Most bars don't have bouncers, and anyone who's tending bar has the responsibility to manage patron behavior because the patrons are drinking. .

Hey Deb
I totally agree with you,people seem to think they can do what ever they want when they have had a few drinks in them.

But a good bartender will join in on the fun and have a good time with their clients. :)

regards
Phil

fisher6000
01-31-2010, 08:46 AM
Hi Phil,

I agree with you. A good bartender goes with the flow and never escalates conflict, but at the same time is responsible for the entire bar's good time, not just the loudest DB in it, and so must manage behavior constantly.

When I lived in Arizona, there was either a law or a financial incentive for anyone who serves alcohol to take a class called TIPS training, which taught strategies for managing drunkenness in ways that de-escalate conflict. Enlist a less-drunk friend to enforce for you; get the drunk guy to admit to you that he's drunk and should get a cab, and not the other way around; frame enforcement as a personal favor to you and not as a threat. Never just tell a drunk jerk that he's being a drunk jerk. Never get into a power struggle, but do figure out what the escalator wants from you and withhold it until you've got his attention.

It took me much longer than the amount of time I was bartending to figure these skills out, but the experience and the class remains helpful. And this is why I am so drawn to aikido--I think it reinforces similar strategies.

People behave badly all the time in all sorts of contexts, and I have a strong history of letting that bad behavior get my goat and lead me to my own "justified" bad behavior. I tend to respond to conflict in an unbalanced way. But the more I can just respond to behavior in ways that protect myself and are about a constructive outcome, the less of my own "dark side" I wind up seeing.