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SeiserL
09-21-2010, 12:17 AM
Breathe in, train hard and remember
Breathe out, forget and remember again
"Oh yeah huh"

When my son was a young boy he didn't always remember everything that he was supposed to. He would forget. He had a lot on his mind. Not everything that was important to me was important enough for him to understand. When I would remind him of the things he forgot, he would tilt his head and say "Oh yeah huh".

As a teacher I try to remind the students of all the things they need to pay attention to. Because I am a bit of a compulsive perfectionist, the list of things I want them to remember is often far too long for them to actually understand and perform, much less actually remember for next time. There are the physical mechanics of the body and the mental concepts and principles that together give Aikido its body and mind unification. It is the body and mind unification that is the goal of Aikido. "Oh yeah huh"

I too remember learning and feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with too much information too soon. It is hard enough to coordinate my own body and mind, let alone when its connected to someone who is attacking me. But that is the craft of Aikido. We must learn our craft before we can learn our art. "Oh yeah huh"

In the past I have talked about the four levels of competence. The first level is unconscious incompetence where what you are doing doesn't work, but you don't know it. The second level is conscious incompetence where what you are doing doesn't work and you know it doesn't work. This is where we start training. The third level is conscious competence where we can make it work but only when we pay close attention. This is where we train the skills of our craft. The fourth and final level is unconscious competence where what we are doing has been trained into our bodies and mind so that we do not have to pay attention to it. This is the start of expressing our art. "Oh yeah huh"

Our consciousness is rather limited. An old article suggests that we can only process seven plus/minus two bits of information at any one time. With seven plus two (or nine) bits of information we become overloaded and shut down. With seven minus two (or five) bits of information we become bored and shut down. While I have never been bored in Aikido, I do know the feeling of too much or too little information. The trick is to find the balance between our craft and our art. "Oh yeah huh"

With training, when our teacher/Sensei points something out, we remember and recognize what we already have learned and know. A lot of training is just that. Practicing through repetitive rehearsal both physically and mentally so that we can remember what we have forgotten by having it pointed out to us yet again. In the early years of our training we are overloaded with new information. It's a very frustrating time. This frustration lets us know we are learning new things and moving outside of our comfort zone to becoming more mentally aware and physically coordinated. As human beings we are physically designed so that we cannot see our own faces. This is why we need others to act as mirrors and reflect back to us what they see. For that reason we have to pick our mirrors/teachers wisely. "Oh yeah huh"

I often tell people that if we quiet the mind, we already know the truth and what the right things are to do. We all know that we need to stop the use of intoxicants and violence in all forms and practice mindful clarity, empathy, and compassion. The Aikido dojo is a sacred place to train a calm, quiet mind in a relaxed and peaceful body. Aikido does not deny the loudness and destructiveness of our everyday life, but gives us a new model and means to respond (not react) to it without adding more noise or destruction. Einstein said that the type of thinking that creates a problem is never the type of thinking that will solve it. To solve confusion, conflict, and chaos, we must develop courage, clarity, and compassion. "Oh yeah huh"

Breathe in, train hard and remember
Breathe out, forget and remember again
"Oh yeah huh"

As we train together, we share our bodies, minds, and spirits with each other. It is a very intimate craft and art. Recently we at Roswell Budokan lost a good friend who never forgot her mission to empower women and children through love and martial arts. She was our constant mirror and model. Susanne Serwotka will always be a part of our dojo, our training, our Aikido, and our lives. I dedicate this column and my "Oh yeah huh" moment to her, remembering that if we are born we will someday die (making the only thing that matters is the quality of our brief time together and remembering each other).

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.

crbateman
09-21-2010, 04:03 AM
A good column, Lynn-san, and food for thought. Personally, I need repetition (because the inbox is small, and the trash can is enormous ;) ). Continuously hammering on the fundamentals makes for a better foundation.

Very sad to learn of the loss of your dojo-mate. It seems she left a lasting impression, and that's all one can really hope for, after all. We should all take stock from time to time of what we would leave behind... Some of us (most notably me) have a lot of catching up to do...

Janet Rosen
09-21-2010, 10:55 AM
"Practicing through repetitive rehearsal both physically and mentally so that we can remember what we have forgotten by having it pointed out to us yet again. "

Oh man, out of a very good column, that one sentence just rings so so true.....

SeiserL
09-22-2010, 02:00 PM
Personally, I need repetition (because the inbox is small, and the trash can is enormous ;) ). Continuously hammering on the fundamentals makes for a better foundation.
Osu,
Yes, as creatures of habit,I only know one way to wire it in. They say it takes 3,000 to 30,000 conscious voluntary repetitions to wire it in. Being slow, I aim for the high count.
Rei, Domo.

SeiserL
09-22-2010, 02:01 PM
Oh man, out of a very good column, that one sentence just rings so so true.....
I have often been told that because I love the one-liners writing was going to be very difficult for me.
I never knew how difficult.
Or how difficult Aikido was going to be to learn.