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Mary Eastland
06-03-2012, 06:56 AM
I just read The Mirror for this month. Thank you, Katherine. The part that struck me was the idea of noticing change in one's self.

I have recently noticed in myself a renewed commitment to really paying attention in the moment. To seeing my uke, before, as they strike and then feeling the connection between uke and myself after the strike and during the throw. It seems like my uke becomes almost glowing in those moments of extreme attention. I notice when we are connected and when I am impatient or judgmental and mostly am able to let go without entertaining blame of either of us. So much happens in those few seconds.

Have you noticed and changes in your training and practice?

Mary Eastland
06-03-2012, 07:35 AM
That should read:

Have you noticed any changes in your training and practice?

Dan Richards
06-03-2012, 10:35 AM
When I stopped measuring, and dividing, and separating.

When I understood the answer to the question, "How long is the coastline of England?" I realized that measuring is an infinite loop of tail chasing. So, I stopped.

I noticed a transformation when I realized there no longer was, nor was there ever - an uke.

That sort of, "I am the universe." stuff. "I and the father are one."

Chris Parkerson
06-03-2012, 12:15 PM
I love this question as there are so many angles to it. While I agree with Dan's experience, we all return to differentiation on a regular basis. Defining things from time to time reminds me that words themselves measure things by definition.

How do you measure success if you:
1) practice aikido with a third leg (a wooden crutch). One of my favorite aikido teachers in Columbus, Ohio has this challenge/gift.
2) face a daily challenge of being in your body. I once had a private kenpo student who literally could not remember the simplest technique from week to week. I grimaced each private session he bought, wanting not to waste my precious time with him. I spoke with Master Brian Adams about it and my perspective was changed. My time with this guy assisted him in connecting to his body. This was one of my greatest successes once I really observed it outside of my own agendas.

I could go on and on....

lbb
06-03-2012, 03:43 PM
It seems like I never notice changes until I realize that they happened somewhere back there. It's sort of like driving in an unfamiliar town in Massachusetts: "Oh yeah, that street/landmark/milestone I was looking for, I guess I already passed that a while ago."

Journaling effectively is tough. So is self-reflection. In both cases, it's too easy to become self-conscious and to fall in to a writing style that projects your idealized self-image, or the person that you'd like to be, or the edited version of yourself that you consider acceptable for public consumption. I think Katherine's recommendation to keep the journal private is important, but you can lose your authentic voice even in private writings. Staying in touch with yourself and your changes is one of the valuable functions of a journal, but to accomplish that, you have to stay honest -- and staying honest, consistently, is a hard thing to do. One thing that helps is to cut yourself some slack for not thinking noble thoughts every second or having epiphanies every day. Be patient: with yourself, with your situation, with your progress. I used to work in a resort where entitled yuppies would routinely declare, with an immense air of self-righteousness, "Well, that's just not acceptable!" -- usually about something that was beyond anybody's control. Yes, well, the lifts are not running, because the wind is blowing 50 MPH, and so you're not going skiing today, and you can find that "not acceptable" if you want, but the "that" in question is reality, and reality doesn't change because you refuse to accept it. The wind will die down when it dies down. What does any of that have to do with changes happening on the mat? Well, as I said, I usually notice them in the rearview mirror -- probably because I'm not looking for them. All things considered, I think that's probably for the best.

hughrbeyer
06-03-2012, 04:51 PM
I used to work in a resort where entitled yuppies would routinely declare, with an immense air of self-righteousness, "Well, that's just not acceptable!" -- usually about something that was beyond anybody's control. Yes, well, the lifts are not running, because the wind is blowing 50 MPH, and so you're not going skiing today, and you can find that "not acceptable" if you want, but the "that" in question is reality, and reality doesn't change because you refuse to accept it. The wind will die down when it dies down.

LOL. My son has worked as a liftie, and while he hasn't come home with quite that story I sure recognize the situation.

...practice aikido with a third leg (a wooden crutch). One of my favorite aikido teachers in Columbus, Ohio has this challenge/gift.

You talking about my former sensei? Tomiki Aikido? Used to take ukemi for his students regularly. The first time you threw kotegaishi on him he'd look you in the eye and say, "Keep your back straight!" When you heard that club whistling by your ear you'd know why. :eek:

I don't think he ever had a problem measuring success. While I was with him he got on to Wally Jay's Small Circle Aikido and treated us all to a range of finger lock techniques. "Look--you can't keep it on for more than a second because then uke habituates to it, so you have to keep changing." "Thanks Sensei, ouch--ouch--thanks Sensei--ouch--ouch"

Me, I alternate between being Superman and being the klutz who can't do anything right. I've gotten to the point where I look forward to the klutz phase, because then at least you know what you're supposed to be working on. When you're Superman, it's easy to get lost.

Today's posting brought ot you by Sam Adams Double Bock. Not responsible for the contents.

lbb
06-03-2012, 06:56 PM
LOL. My son has worked as a liftie, and while he hasn't come home with quite that story I sure recognize the situation.

Heh, I'll bet you do! And as irritating as the situation is when you're in it, I would not trade the lessons it has taught me for anything.

Me, I alternate between being Superman and being the klutz who can't do anything right. I've gotten to the point where I look forward to the klutz phase, because then at least you know what you're supposed to be working on. When you're Superman, it's easy to get lost.

Yeah...maybe because we expect it to continue, or we want it to be our normal state? It's natural enough to desire to be at the summit, but to be at peace with the valley and the long slog up...that's ultimately what gets us through.

My biggest success in aikido -- and I don't expect this to ever change, no matter how long I train -- was to be the person who kept trying.

Today's posting brought ot you by Sam Adams Double Bock. Not responsible for the contents.

This evening's posting brought to you by Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Rail Pail Ale. Not responsible for anything!

Chris Parkerson
06-03-2012, 09:26 PM
Hugh,

You wrote
"You talking about my former sensei? Tomiki Aikido? Used to take ukemi for his students regularly. The first time you threw kotegaishi on him he'd look you in the eye and say, "Keep your back straight!" When you heard that club whistling by your ear you'd know why."

Yes. That's him. From the get-go he had to measure his success, not by how well he could mimic his sensei's movements, but how he could creatively find similar results using his own distinct assets. Thus he will often use his crutch to accomplish an effect when he cannot place his body where others could.

hughrbeyer
06-03-2012, 10:03 PM
That's right. He had a set of pins which involved planting that crutch in the mat and wrapping your arm around it like a noodle. Got your attention in a hurry.

That's it for me today, off to research Steel Rail Pail Ale...

Janet Rosen
06-03-2012, 11:21 PM
I once had a private kenpo student who literally could not remember the simplest technique from week to week. I grimaced each private session he bought, wanting not to waste my precious time with him. I spoke with Master Brian Adams about it and my perspective was changed. My time with this guy assisted him in connecting to his body. This was one of my greatest successes once I really observed it outside of my own agendas.

To me THAT is the crux of it: not being attached to a particular outcome, whether it is within the specific encounter ("I must do kotegaishe and I must throw my partner!") or within the realm of what I think I'll be focusing on myself in a particular class. I may bow in thinking, well I'd like to play with weighting tonight, and find that either what the instructor is presenting us with or a particular training partner's issues just isn't conducive to my "plan."
And like you, it was very much brought home when my late teacher had me work 1:1 - in my case, with an autistic, pretty out of his body teen during the few classes he showed up. Simply having him model the body movement I was doing was a huge success. I was able to read, and have him confirm, that touching a partner was way out of his comfort range. So we just worked on movement and mirroring.

Dan Richards
06-04-2012, 11:17 AM
Yeah...maybe because we expect it to continue, or we want it to be our normal state? It's natural enough to desire to be at the summit, but to be at peace with the valley and the long slog up...that's ultimately what gets us through.

My biggest success in aikido -- and I don't expect this to ever change, no matter how long I train -- was to be the person who kept trying.

Mary, why is the summit anymore desirable than the valley, or any other place on the mountain. Does there have to be a mountain at all? Maybe it could be a brewery or a field full of marshmellows.

Do you ever see a day when you are no longer "training" and "trying," but simply being and doing - with no peaks and no valleys - just experiencing and witnessing an eternal joyous flow...

If aikido means something along the lines of "the way to harmony with spirit," or "your relationship with spirit/god," then wouldn't it make sense that at some point you realize that when you allow spirit to express through your less-to-non-resistant body/mind, that you are witnessing and manifesting spirit/god.

Enlightening article about energy and faith... http://www.pastornet.net.au/response/articles/133.htm

This morning's posting brought to you by Cafe Bustello espresso.

lbb
06-04-2012, 12:22 PM
Do you ever see a day when you are no longer "training" and "trying," but simply being and doing - with no peaks and no valleys - just experiencing and witnessing an eternal joyous flow...

"eternal joyous flow", ha. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Right now I'm doing pretty well with it. Statistically, that won't last. For people with rheumatoid arthritis, what you call "simply being and doing" is training and trying. That's something that healthy people just don't get. You make your plans and your goals -- or, alternately, you experience some epiphany that takes you beyond wanting or needing plans and goals. Either way, you have the choice. I live in a different world, that's all.

If aikido means something along the lines of "the way to harmony with spirit," or "your relationship with spirit/god," then wouldn't it make sense that at some point you realize that when you allow spirit to express through your less-to-non-resistant body/mind, that you are witnessing and manifesting spirit/god.

"spirit", whatever that is, doesn't make it possible to walk. No amount of "harmony" makes it possible to walk.

Enlightening article about energy and faith... http://www.pastornet.net.au/response/articles/133.htm

I skimmed it. It's not relevant, I don't think. FWIW, my sister sent me John Paul II's letter on suffering because she thought for some reason that would be helpful. Well, yeah, you'd think that a guy who got gut-shot would have some valuable insights on the subject, but from where I'm standing, he missed the whole point.

Dan Richards
06-04-2012, 01:05 PM
Mary, if you're doing "well" then you are tapping into spirit. That's what "well" means. Statistically? Who's statics? Who's the authority? Who convinced you that you don't have a choice?

If you "have" arthritis, then you can also not have it. It's like anything else. Do you want to carry all the luggage, or put it down? You do have a choice. Many people you might call "healthy" have not always been healthy. But at some point they did make a choice - to be well. That is "being." And if you're actions spring from wellbeing, wellness is the result.

WIth arthritis, people set up a nice big bundle of resistance. The beautiful thing is, when they decide to let go of the resistance - which is the goal of aikido, anyway - they become well and an inspiration to others. One way to look at the root cause of arthritis is "Feeling unloved, criticism, resentment"
http://www.squidoo.com/spiritualmeaning#module14827352

>> "No amount of "harmony" makes it possible to walk."

If you say so...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIXOo8D9Qsc

Keith Larman
06-04-2012, 02:23 PM
Had a well-meaning young fellow tell me that the pain I was experiencing was "just in my mind". Very spiritual guy. My reply was that he could stuff it up his smug tailpipe -- the pain was my greatly narrowing lumbar spine squeezing down on multiple nerve bundles... Something I've dealt with almost daily for years. And if it's all in my mind I'd be happy to hit him a few times in the spine with a baseball bat and *then* he can tell me all about it being "just in my mind".

A few weeks later I saw him sitting out because he had a minor headache. I didn't bother going over and suggesting that it was all in his head and that he should just ignore it. Although I did get up close to him and loudly ask how he was feeling, hoping it was a migraine... "DO LOUD NOISES HURT TOO?!?!?! HERE LOOK IN TO THE HIGH INTENSITY FLASHLIGHT. DOES THAT HURT? YOU KNOW YOU CAN CHOOSE TO IGNORE THE PAIN!"

In all seriousness, sure, there is an approach that those of us who suffer from chronic pain and/or disease have to adopt in order to cope. But in my experience most of the folk who are so easy with the advice about "just letting it go" haven't dealt with years of debilitating pain. Yeah, just getting on with things is about the only choice. It's not like you have any other. But I promptly shut my mouth the moment someone I know who has chronic pain or disease who decides to sit out. I just smile, shake their hand, and say "Please, by all means. Take care of yourself."

My measure of success? That I can still train and/or teach sometimes. Even with the pain.

Janet Rosen
06-04-2012, 02:47 PM
If you "have" arthritis, then you can also not have it. It's like anything else.

I'm sorry, but to say that a person with arthritis or cancer or whatever can decide to not have it flies in the face of reality.
Yes: we have the power to alter our attitudes and our daily habits. Via those changes, we can and do modulate our immune and neurological systems. And in some cases, diabetes or heart disease, for instance, can be reversed via a specific regimen. But much more typically, the changes in function for the better do not make an underlying disease go away; they let us live better with it.

Talk about blaming the victim...

Janet Rosen
06-04-2012, 02:50 PM
In all seriousness, sure, there is an approach that those of us who suffer from chronic pain and/or disease have to adopt in order to cope. But in my experience most of the folk who are so easy with the advice about "just letting it go" haven't dealt with years of debilitating pain. Yeah, just getting on with things is about the only choice. It's not like you have any other. But I promptly shut my mouth the moment someone I know who has chronic pain or disease who decides to sit out. I just smile, shake their hand, and say "Please, by all means. Take care of yourself."
My measure of success? That I can still train and/or teach sometimes. Even with the pain.

Yep. There is a difference between finding best mental and physical practices and thinking one can "will" something away. In fact, in my experience, accepting the reality of its existence is a huge part of letting go of anxiety, letting go of stuff that feeds its power by setting it up as "the other" and by accepting the reality and intgrating it, one better copes with it. LIke accepting and breathing into a nikkyo vs. fighting it or pretending it doesn't exist.

Diana Frese
06-04-2012, 03:08 PM
Just chiming in before studying the posts in detail, as they are very valuable. Mary mentioned in her OP about being in the moment, and Francis kindly mentioned this in a comment to my blog post, so that's two people making the same point and I am remembering to check myself on that from time to time.

Fortunately I have learned to, at least sometimes, take advantage of an opportunity. I mentioned dropping into Ray's dojo early morning class even though I had just gi and no hakama, when my husband decided to try aikido again. Then other things in daily life and work intervened but at least I grabbed the opportunity twice.

Which brings me to injuries. For goodness sake don't injure yourselves. Tell the instructor, tell your partner and work around whatever the problem is. I did and had a marvelous time practicing with the friendly blurs once I took my glasses off. Even without rolling or falling. They adapted to me! Yes arthritis and spine stuff is real. I am so grateful I don't have much pain if I remember to be careful.

As an older person, if anyone wants advice, it is be careful and enjoy whatever you CAN do

I could go on, but this is just to say hi, great thread and thanks to the posters on it.

Dan Richards
06-04-2012, 03:14 PM
I'm sorry, but to say that a person with arthritis or cancer or whatever can decide to not have it flies in the face of reality. .

Who's "reality," Janet?

Talk about blaming the victim...
Victim? I don't see any victims here. There are an infinite number of "realities" that do not contain "victims." There are an infinite number of realities where people (not victims) move away from disease - cancer, diabetes, arthritis (or whatever label you choose to put on resistance) - permanently. I've seen it too many times. I've experienced it in my own life.

Sorry, but words like "victim" and "blame" really aren't part of my vocabulary. "Compassion" certainly is. And I agree with Keith's, "Please, by all means. Take care of yourself." That is hugely profound.

Keith Larman
06-04-2012, 03:29 PM
I sincerely hope you never get something you can't fix with a healthy attitude. But if you do, I sincerely hope you remember what you wrote today.

Dan Richards
06-04-2012, 04:09 PM
Keith, where did you ever get the idea about the "healthy attitude?" I never said anything about that. I've been writing about healing.

I'm also not in the it's-all-in-the-mind camp, either. It's not all in the mind. It's also in the physical body and the emotional body.

>> I'd be happy to hit him a few times in the spine with a baseball bat and *then* he can tell me all about it being "just in my mind".

Those are your words, Keith.

graham christian
06-04-2012, 04:10 PM
Dan. I know where you're coming from. Both things are true. Bodies get old etc. vs. the amazing reality of what you say.

Which brings me back to the thread. We have a good joke at our Aikido and we call it the 'Yoda' effect.

I measure this effect as a success also.

All visitors find the atmosphere almost mesmeric and relaxing. Some ask if they can come just to watch and soak up the atmosphere, they say it makes them feel so good.

The 'Yoda' effect as we call it is a physical phenomenon due to the way we do Aikido. People come with all sorts of ailments etc. but once on the mat they disappear. They even do it as a test sometimes. They can be at home with some ailment which bars them from doing Aikido and yet once they arrive and start it disappears.

Myself, being used to what you mention above have turned up with what felt like sciatica or arthritis, being in pain, not being able to even bend to tie my shoelace and yet in my mind I know I don't need drugs or painkillers or two months off, I need Aikido. So I get there and it dissappears. Later when everythings over and everyone's gone home I go back to as I was before. Like yoda turning up with walking stick and all bent up, then turning into a young kid, then, fight over, back to old yoda again.

It is just like putting back on the old clothes.

So the more people realize just how much they themselves can do spiritually to alleviate or help their own conditions is one of my measurements.

Peace.G.

Chris Parkerson
06-04-2012, 05:07 PM
I sincerely hope you never get something you can't fix with a healthy attitude. But if you do, I sincerely hope you remember what you wrote today.

Keith, I feel your pain. I was born with structural issues. I searched out every internal practice and alternative medicine and yoga that I could find and afford. In my 20's, Tai Chi and Chi gung helped open the gate a bit. But now age and genetics are setting in.

My idea of success....
Finding ways to compensate. Ways to get maximum effect. My structural imbalance is a gift that helps me think out of the box.

This week, I have a nasty biceps tendon issue. Time for T-Rex techniques. Small arms; big legs.

Chris

aikilouis
06-04-2012, 06:34 PM
"Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
John Wooden

Chris Parkerson
06-05-2012, 12:15 AM
So, I think I figured out what Success is not... You cannot, with all your efforts, get immortality. Not with new age manifestation or ancient rostrums or internal yogas.
We are all in a process of a decomposition that leads to death.

Enkidu dies and Gilgamesh (truly a mighty warrior King) looks for eternal life after watching the event. The gods finally tell him:

"The life that you are seeking you will never find. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping

4. As for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Make merry day and night.
Of each day make a feast of rejoicing.
Day and night dance and play!
Let your garments be sparkling fresh,
Your head be washed; bathe in water.
Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand,
Let a spouse delight in your bosom.
—Tablet X Gilgamesh Epic.

Now that is success!

lbb
06-05-2012, 08:26 AM
Mary, if you're doing "well" then you are tapping into spirit. That's what "well" means. Statistically? Who's statics? Who's the authority? Who convinced you that you don't have a choice?

If you "have" arthritis, then you can also not have it. It's like anything else. Do you want to carry all the luggage, or put it down? You do have a choice. Many people you might call "healthy" have not always been healthy. But at some point they did make a choice - to be well. That is "being." And if you're actions spring from wellbeing, wellness is the result.

Well, that's your opinion, but you know what they say about opinions. It's also true that while you can have your own opinion, you don't get to have your own facts. Your opinion is contrary to the facts. I wish you all joy of it...at least as long as the inconvenient facts don't get up in your face. Who knows, they may never do so. And they may do so tomorrow.

As things stand right now, though, you don't really understand what I'm talking about. You're using some of the same words, sure, but they have different meanings for you. Simple words like "try" have different meaning for someone who experiences an occasional ache and pain, and someone who goes to bed at night not knowing if they'll be able to walk in the morning, or pick up a pencil, or stand upright. They can't help but be different. That's why for me, my enduring measure of success is that I keep training. It's a very personal measure, but then, aren't they all? And isn't that what Mary E was getting at in creating this thread?

Keith Larman
06-05-2012, 10:52 AM
Simple words like "try" have different meaning for someone who experiences an occasional ache and pain, and someone who goes to bed at night not knowing if they'll be able to walk in the morning, or pick up a pencil, or stand upright. They can't help but be different. That's why for me, my enduring measure of success is that I keep training. It's a very personal measure, but then, aren't they all? And isn't that what Mary E was getting at in creating this thread?

What Mary said.

I can eat right, meditate, have all good thoughts, and adopt the best attitude possible about my structural problems. While all sorts of things certainly help on many levels, the underlying reality has this annoying habit of, well, not giving a rat's behind about all that. The spinal nerve roots being crushed simply keep on being crushed. Yeah, all sorts of ways of reducing inflammation (breakfast today was a veggie/fruit juice. Lunch will be mostly veggie juiced. Snacks will be lean proteins, mostly fish for the omega 3's, etc.). But these are all bandages on wounds that don't heal. A good friend of mine has long been crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. And honestly I look at him and realize how lucky I am that I'm still moving and not in his braced shoes. And he gets on with life, lives life, works hard, loves his wife, loves his family because in the end you're left with "well, this is the hand I've been dealt, time to get on with things." Inspirational to me.

And we have compared notes on people who like to offer up feel-good advice. I cannot count the number of things people have suggested I try for my back, many of which would aggravate it horribly. My friend and I agreed that mostly we smile when we hear this stuff because people simply do not know better. They don't understand. As Mary said, it's not a reality they get.

We all get old. We all get aches and pains. Hell, I get aches and pains too. But some conditions are different.

I used to give people advice about dealing with things like this. I probably received my share of polite smiles over the years. But once my spine started to show symptoms, well, I saw the other side of that coin. And I don't do that anymore.

Keith Larman
06-05-2012, 10:53 AM
But to the OP, my measure of success is being able to walk upright in to my daughter's room each morning, waking her up with a smile without her immediately asking about my pain level because I look pained. Yeah, some mornings I'm in bed trying to figure out how to get up, hoping the meds will kick in and I can straighten up and won't look like Quasimodo all day. Hoping the pain will only be a dull pain. Hoping I won't have to kick in to the stronger stuff because that stuff leaves me fuzzy.

Aikido allows me to continue to move. Aikido gives me a greater connection to my body and as Chris said above, sometimes the structural problems I have actually inform me of connections. I can feel the connection from my fingertips all the way to my lower back. It's not always a happy feeling, but I can often feel how things connect up because when it starts to pull on certain parts, well, they let me know about it. So Aikido allows me to explore, move, and push myself, keeping myself as healthy as possible in that aspect. Success is continuing to train. Success is each new day. Success is each morning seeing that kid smile when I wake her up.

Janet Rosen
06-05-2012, 11:03 AM
Great post, Keith.

Dan Richards
06-05-2012, 01:03 PM
Agreed. Great post, Keith.

One way I do measure my own success is by being able to eat my own mistakes, and turn them into something positive.

Apologies all around if I derailed this thread from its intended purpose.

Janet Rosen
06-05-2012, 02:06 PM
Agreed. Great post, Keith.

One way I do measure my own success is by being able to eat my own mistakes, and turn them into something positive.

Apologies all around if I derailed this thread from its intended purpose.

Dan, thread drift is a given on aikiweb.... In rereading your post, I think it may have been more a matter of semantics and how you said what you did rather than the intended meaning, if that makes sense.

lbb
06-05-2012, 03:37 PM
Agreed. Great post, Keith.

One way I do measure my own success is by being able to eat my own mistakes, and turn them into something positive.

Apologies all around if I derailed this thread from its intended purpose.

I think you did the opposite of a derail, actually. Look at the title of the thread -- "Measuring success". That's what we're talking about, and I think it's useful. I know that in the past, I've gotten stuck when I didn't perceive myself as making "progress" by some definition of the term, and failed to see the progress that I was making. So, "success" means different things, and our definition of success changes. And it's not just that our bodies eventually fall apart. Bodies falling apart is just one way in which things change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, and much of the time just...different.

My boss is a very interesting guy. He was considered something of a prodigy, went to medical school at a young age (people used to call him "Doogie"), got into his third year and...realized he didn't want to be a doctor. It happens that way sometimes. We look at a distant goal and think that's what "success" is, but as we get closer to it, we see things we didn't see before. Maybe it's different than we thought, maybe it's exactly the same but we understand it more, maybe we've changed, maybe all of the above. What do you do when you approach "success" and everything is telling you that this is not where you want to be, that this "success" is no longer a success for you?

My boss walked away. Took the hit, dealt with other people's anger and disappointment and disparagement and lack of understanding, started finding his way to where he should be. Today he's the co-owner of a small software company that is the best place I've ever worked. He is a great mentor and a great boss, the leader of a proud and happy company, and if you're more or less in the Boston area and looking for work as a software developer, give me a shout, because I might have a good place for you to work.

But I digress. I think the point that Mary E was trying to make when she started this thread is, success is where you find it. For myself, I'd add that when your definition of "success" changes, or when someone else's definition of "success" isn't what yours is, it's not necessarily a matter of settling for less. Rheumatoid arthritis took away my option of one type of goals (I will train x days a week, I will test for y rank, I will "master" such-and-such technique). It left me with one goal that I knew would remain within my grasp: to keep trying, to keep training, as best I could, and never mind how "good" that was. I met that goal and continue to meet it. Paradoxically, I think that in doing so, I've made more progress toward the other type of goals! I don't know, maybe this is one of those things that you have to let go of in order for it to come to you. But that's part of aikido, for us former karateka -- a constant exercise in keeping our hands open :D

ken king
06-05-2012, 04:23 PM
Having recently started training at a new dojo, under a Sensei who does the same things completely different, I measure success in my ability to let go of what I knew and start over.

Mary Eastland
06-05-2012, 05:14 PM
I appreciate what I read. Thank you all.

David Orange
06-05-2012, 06:19 PM
I used to give people advice about dealing with things like this. I probably received my share of polite smiles over the years. But once my spine started to show symptoms, well, I saw the other side of that coin. And I don't do that anymore.

Keith, have you tried Feldenkrais?

I was walking with a cane at age 38 in Japan. Couldn't lift my heel off the floor. Two sessions of Feldenkrais and I was walking easily without pain. Several more and I was back on the mat with the Japanese black belts.

After that, a lot of it is what not to do.

But a great start is some good Feldenkrais hands-on treatment and a lot of solo work with Feldenkrais methods.

If you haven't tried it yet, please do.

Best to you.

David

Keith Larman
06-05-2012, 06:47 PM
Yes, I have. Enjoyed it. Was a good thing to do.

But the simple fact is that the hard stuff in my spine the nerves pass through are narrowing increasingly pressing on the nerve bundle. Good posture and movement is critical to reduce problems and of course makes a huge difference when you avoid doing things that aggravate the issue. But just like good body work on the surrounding tissues can help due to tightness and inflammation, the reality underlying it doesn't change. One day a doctor asked what I found could aggravate the area. I only partly jokingly said "being alive". I did learn to improve my posture. I did learn to carry myself better. But that's all more or less palliative rather than curative. Of course it matters as it helps you get out of the vicious circle of pain / inflammation / inflammation causing pain / carrying yourself differently causing more inflammation / rinse / lather / repeat.

Really at the current level of understanding of this the issue is learning to deal with it. Learning to protect things. Learning to take care of it. But the condition underlying it doesn't get better. At best it will stay the same. More likely it will continue to get worse. And most of the treatments if it gets worse are in some ways worse than the condition IMHO. So... You get angry. You feel old. You feel crippled. Then you pull on your hakama, get on the mat, and do what you can... Shrug.

Chris Parkerson
06-05-2012, 08:33 PM
Kieth,

I have a form of arthritis in my low back as a result to trying to be physical in a frame that has not been built for it. Each year brings more pain and constriction. Diet helps some. Using muscle brings swelling and thus more arthritic pain.

Thus, some may say my art doesn't look like aikido anymore. But I say it is a creative use of Aikido principle made to work for Mr. McGoo.

David Orange
06-05-2012, 10:07 PM
Yes, I have. Enjoyed it. Was a good thing to do.

But the simple fact is that the hard stuff in my spine the nerves pass through are narrowing increasingly pressing on the nerve bundle.

Yeah. That's beyond what Feldenkrais can help, I'm afraid.

Well, I hope you can have some relief.

Best wishes.

David

Janet Rosen
06-05-2012, 11:45 PM
Keith, have you tried Feldenkrais?
I was walking with a cane at age 38 in Japan. Couldn't lift my heel off the floor. Two sessions of Feldenkrais and I was walking easily without pain. Several more and I was back on the mat with the Japanese black belts.

Good outcome!
The weird thing about advice like this - and I mean NO disrespect or criticism specifically aimed at you, David, I'm just riffing off of it - is that it will be worthless for as many people as it is helpful and there is no way of knowing without trying. I know very good Feldenkrais practitioners. I just don't respond to that modality. The next guy will. I might respond really well to acupuncture, the next guy won't. Repeat for virtually any specific therapy....it's part of what makes it impossible for the average doctor to really go outside his familiar box of meds-PT-surgery (which all too often don't work either....) - there are so many potentially helpful things and no way to predict what will "click" for a given person...so we are each left to our own trial and error. And yes, following up on leads such as your's is helpful.

Janet Rosen
06-05-2012, 11:47 PM
I was about to write more but a lot of it will be in my June The Mirror column :-)
Yeah, for me success is getting to the dojo and being able to participate in an entire class (with my adaptations of pins and rolls) w/o sitting down to let the knee, neck, thumbs or wrist rest...

Janet Rosen
06-05-2012, 11:49 PM
So... You get angry. You feel old. You feel crippled. Then you pull on your hakama, get on the mat, and do what you can... Shrug.

I got over the angry a long time ago. Getting over feeling second-rate or being embarrassed, that has taken much longer, Most days, am ok with it/me. Now and then, not.

davoravo
06-06-2012, 04:48 AM
While searching for solutions to my (minor in comparison) back problems I came across this article. I appreciate the advice in this article only applies to those of us with osteoarthritic, ligament and/or tendon problems rather than the severe rheumatoid issues ME and KL are suffering from. I am posting it because it says some really interesting stuff about skill and effective movement from a Western physiologic/biomechanic point of view.

It also repeats what some posters have said above, that many prescribed exercises make things worse rather than better. This is the summarised wisdom of years of research and practical experience. On the downside it is also a little bit of an extened advert for his book.

Some interesting quotes

My physio gave me flexion stretching exercises for my back but ...

For example, the flexion intolerant back is very common in todays society. Giving this type of client stretches such as pulling the knees to the chest may give the perception of relief (via the stimulation of erector spinae muscle stretch receptors) but this approach only guarantees more pain and stiffness the following day as the underlying tissues sustain more cumulative damage. ... Realize that the spine discs only have so many numbers of bends before they damage.


[The following is an exercise my physio taught me which turns out to be wrong. I am now trying to "brace" my abdomen whenever i lift a load.

Do not perform abdominal hollowing techniques as it reduces the potential energy of the column causing it to fail at lower applied loads ... Adding the specific transverse abdominis [hollowing] training reduced efficacy! Instead, the abdominal brace (contracting all abdominal muscles) enhances stability.


Some stuff on abdominal muscles which may sound familiar

The [rectus abdominus] muscle is not designed for optimal length change but rather to function as a spring. ...People rarely flex the rib cage to the pelvis shortening the rectus in sport or everyday activity. Rather they stiffen the wall and load the hips or shoulders if this is performed rapidly such as in a throw or movement direction change, the rectus functions as an elastic storage and recovery device.


some interesting stuff on effective motion.

measuring the great athletes always shows that the power is generated in the hips and transmitted through the stiffened core.

and something that is possibly profound to finish

Many train speed by using resistance exercise for strength gain. But speed usually requires superior relaxation .... Speed comes from compliance and relaxation. At the instant just before ball contact, the farthest ball hitters in the world then undergo a full body contraction which creates a superstiffness throughout the entire linkage. Then, just as quickly the stiffening contraction is released to allow compliance and speed in the swing follow through .....So the rate of muscle contraction is only important when the muscle can be released just as quickly only a few in the world are able to do this.


So, my new measure of success is how quickly I can cycel from tense to relaxed.

tlk52
06-06-2012, 06:32 AM
davoravo wrote "Speed comes from compliance and relaxation. ....So the rate of muscle contraction is only important when the muscle can be released just as quickly -"

interesting, the tai chi teacher I'm studying (William c c Chen)with makes this point all the time. it's basic to his view of how to produce power in a strike.

Mary Eastland
06-06-2012, 09:05 AM
For a couple of years we had a teenage girl that was training with us. She went to Europe as an exchange student for 4 months. Once when she was on a train, there was just one 30ish man in the car with her. As she got up to exit he came at her and tried to grab her arm. She placed her foot in his belly and pushed, her words "from her center." He went flying back and landed on his butt. She hopped off the train.

I think training in Aikido helped her have options she might not have had and that is a measure of success for all of us.

Kevin Leavitt
06-06-2012, 09:41 AM
Interesting you guys bring up feldenkrais. I just had my shoulder rebuilt and going to work with a friend here when she gets back from your Alexander Training Exam at the end of the month. I am looking forward to it.

That said, 2 weeks post op, things are going very well for me, and not sure at this point if there is anything that will really be helpful from Feldenkrais or AT with my shoulder given the fact that it seems to be going back to normal on it's own.

That said, absolutely, I believe there are conditions and situations where these things work well. My thoughts on it right now is correcting/reprogramming "bad habits" things that have been learned and burned in over time. Not sure how much this will apply to a rehab process with an acute injury.

I did work a small time with Paullina several years ago at an Aikido seminar on AT and actually felt the benefits of it for my back and felt that it was very applicable to the bad things I had learned or coping mechanisms I had adopted because of pain.

Janet Rosen
06-06-2012, 10:13 AM
While searching for solutions to my (minor in comparison) back problems I came across this article.

Great stuff - thanks for posting.

Dan Richards
06-06-2012, 11:34 AM
davoravo wrote "Speed comes from compliance and relaxation. ....So the rate of muscle contraction is only important when the muscle can be released just as quickly -"

interesting, the tai chi teacher I'm studying (William c c Chen)with makes this point all the time. it's basic to his view of how to produce power in a strike.
That's interesting, Toby. I've been in Chen's studio in NYC. "Compliance" - that would be something like adherence to intrinsic structure. Alignment. In the universe there is physical structure and non-physical structure. So, the more we align with the already inherent structure that exists - the less resistance we produce, and the more power we allow.

We don't create power. The power already exists. We, through alignment and relaxation (non-resistance), allow the power to move through us.

All these (symbolic) words mean exactly the same thing: alignment, non-resistance, relaxation, compliance, power. ki, spirit, god, love.

That's why a lot of effective healing "systems" begin with very little to no physical movement. In fact, systems that work with movement too much early on - can create more damage than healing. Because, before we start physically moving - we need to align - get into the right place - mentally, emotionally. It is vital that we move from the "right place."

Tohei said it. "Find one point. Relax completely. Weight underside. Extended ki."

Jesus said: Forgive. Resist not evil.

Huna teaches the same thing. So does Abraham Hicks. So does aikido. It's what the IS guys are teaching. Systema...

The reason we don't relax is because we create the illusion that we are separate. As we relax into and comply with universal laws, our sense of self expands. As we relax, mentally, emotionally, and physically, we allow the ever-intrinsic power to flow through us. That is when the healing begins. We are already healed. We just have to realize that. Through, as Chen would say, compliance and relaxation.

Then the energy/power/love/ki flows through every fiber of our bodies - spiritual, mental, emotional, physical. Then we manifest into the physical, what Whitman calls, the body electric. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174740

The physical, when there are manifested problems/dis-eases, if often NOT the place to start or even where to put our attention. By relaxing and finding "one point" Tohei asks us to remove our attention from the physical. "Finding one point" is really more of a mental exercise. "Relax completely" mixes the mental with the emotional "Weight underside" mixes the mental, emotional and physical. Then, when ya got all that... from THAT place.... then you are asked to "extend ki." Then the lights turn on.

And that's why it's given in that specific order.
http://unofficial.ki-society.org/Four.html

Every healing/power system and teacher coming from a higher place of understanding says the same thing over and over and over and over and over again. They all agree. Every single one of 'em.