View Full Version : Training One Thing At A Time

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Peter Boylan
11-05-2013, 02:14 PM
When you practice, do you just focus on refining the physical techniques, or does your teacher spend any time talking about and working on the mental state you want to train in? I've read a couple of things recently that pointed me to this question, and I ended up writing this blog post about it.

11-05-2013, 10:15 PM
When training in aikido one should be able to achieve "mushin", the state of no-mind. Although in the western perception the very phrase can be related to a no-brains-stupid person, in it's actual application in martial arts, this state is the epitome of concentration and awareness.
The Zen concept of being in the"here and now" during training, not only it can increase the level of learning from lesson to lesson, but it will also diminish the danger of injury in the dojo, and maybe even save one's life outside of it since in a real fight the concept of zanshin, being aware and alert are of the utmost importance.

Carsten Möllering
11-06-2013, 05:29 AM
... does your teacher spend any time talking about and working on the mental state you want to train in? It is not that we are looking for a certain state of mind that is
"needed" or usefull to have and then we practice, "having" or "using" this mental state.

We try to do the waza in a certain way that aims to calm the mind and to experience stillness and movement as one. So yes, sensei is talking about that. But it is the physical technique itself that is used to work not only the body but in the first place heart and mind.

Kevin Leavitt
11-06-2013, 06:21 AM
I agree. I try and get my students to work on one thing. I will add different drills and Kata to provide depth and breadth and keep things interesting, but I am really concerned with them learning some very basic things. I believe in constant drilling. I will begin to load on that one thing and layer as they get more comfortable, but will return to the basics until I feel they are doing it as a ingrained act.

I don't think you can train mushin separately....it is a byproduct of the physical process. As you commit things to muscle memory, you no longer have to think about them, things slow down and you can begin to relax.

I think there is a drive to get there fast and to feed our students to keep them interested. However, until the can perfect the basics, they will always be at a disadvantage and cannot grow.

I spend time on making them go soft, deliberate and slow...connecting the breathing to the movement. It is hard for them to do this as you know. I think they are afraid of the void and the awkward moments when they have time and feel a compelling call to fill that with something. It is hard to not think ahead, to only be in the moment, and have confidence that things will unfold and you will have the right answer when u need it.

Kevin Leavitt
11-06-2013, 06:48 AM
Want to caveat. I think u can apply visualization training. However visualization is an extension of the physical. It is not transcendental. I don't think u can achieve mush in without physical mastery...their is an attachment to the physical. Ie, u cant achieve mush in through meditation alone.

Bill Danosky
11-06-2013, 11:09 PM
That was a pretty good run of brilliance, you guys. I found a lot to agree with in those replies. "Mindfulness" is probably how I would sum up my training state of mind. "Be here now." As Ram Dass says. It's extremely practical, since you learn more and do have less accidents when you're truly paying attention. And esoterically speaking, I find profound differences when I can remain mentally present "in" the technique and don't mentally abandon the moment.

Kevin Leavitt
11-07-2013, 02:38 PM
Bill the only issue I have with mindfullness is that you can't "be here now" if you don't know what to do 'here and now".

Not saying you are saying this, just that I think it gets translated or interpreted wrongly by many in martial training.

Certainly you must pay attention to when you are training and focus on what you are doing.

Love Ram Dass as a Buddhist! Good stuff. I think there is value in meditations etc....but I believe martially, you must simply train, train, train...and the mindfulness follows...not leads.

Janet Rosen
11-07-2013, 02:50 PM
I think one can be present and still be working on something specific. For instance, one day I may be focusing on my breathing and another day on my weighting. However I also (doing my best to) not predict uke and to deal with exactly what he presents, as he presents it.

Kevin Leavitt
11-07-2013, 03:05 PM
Yes, I agree Janet. I like to impose constraints on myself and not let my partners know what I am working on. I think there are many things going on when we are training, breathing, control, emotions, etc. When you do what you describe, you are relegating those things to the second, third or fourth tiers (if there are such things!) and you are working on that "one thing".

Bill Danosky
11-07-2013, 03:42 PM
Bill the only issue I have with mindfullness is that you can't "be here now" if you don't know what to do 'here and now"... I believe martially, you must simply train, train, train...and the mindfulness follows...not leads.

I might not agree, but OTOH, there's a possibility we're saying the same thing- Train, train, train. But when it's time to apply it, focus on observing and let your backbrain call the shots. Your cognition can't possibly keep up.

Kevin Leavitt
11-07-2013, 06:22 PM
yup Bill, probably are.

I think observation or orientation comes from experience. The more experience you have the faster you will process input and allowing for more appropriate decisions and actions.

I really think it is as simple as that. You can be as calm and at one with the universe with a single point of focus, in the present moment and STILL not make the right decisions that lead to appropriate actions.

I think training that is closer to the reality of the situations you are training for provide you the frame work or experience to do this.

I believe it is as simple as that.

Bill Danosky
11-07-2013, 11:24 PM
Now I know we are, Kevin. You have to have the right state of mind in the moment. But without good techniques in your muscle memory and sound tactical doctrine in your subconcious, nothing above average will come out of you. There's no other way to get that than to drill it in.

Hey, I will admit to being a little bit of a training snob if you will.

Kevin Leavitt
11-08-2013, 05:33 AM
lol...we all are Bill! Thanks!

11-08-2013, 09:02 AM
IMHO, systemically, we can only train individual skills (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual - technical/tactical, strategic, environmental) within the context of the whole.

The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.