View Full Version : Poll: Would you push someone past their "limits" in aikido training?

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12-29-2002, 12:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of December 29, 2002:

Would you push someone past their "limits" in aikido training?

I don't do aikido

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=146).

12-29-2002, 12:53 AM
Define limits.

I've taken people and pushed them past that "I can't do that" point but have never pushed anyone beyond the "they can't do that" point. It's been clear a few times where that latter point is but then I move in small steps.

L. Camejo
12-29-2002, 08:09 AM
Unless we push past our comfortable limits in any endeavour there can be no progress. There are times when the body says "no more" when it attains a comfortable limit, but if given a little coaxing by the mind and others it can achieve more.

The key is to push past the comfort state in a gradual way so improvement is made, not to attempt a quantum leap to a place where training becomes dangerous as one is placed way outside their current capacity.

Safety should be the primary concern when pushing limits. One should be able to detect the difference between shaking up a person's comfort zone to bring about improvement, as against pushing the person into an area of true danger, beyond the limit of their maximum ability at the point in time.

I remember how challenging my very first grading in Aikido felt, at that point Dan anything was a delusion of grandeur... funny how now my dan gradings tend to have the same degree of relative difficulty that my kyu grades did at the time. Gradual pushing of the limits I guess.

Just my 2 cents.


Fred Younger
12-29-2002, 08:42 AM
In Aikido training, as with many aspects of life. people often impose self limitations that inhibit their growth. This frequently happens without their even realizing it. A caring instructor or sempai will help this type of student break down these self-imposed roadblocks to help that student achieve things they never thought possible. These roadblocks can often times be more that just the fear of performing a physical technique. They can also manifest themselves in both the mind and spirit of an individual, and affect their view or perception of Aikido, and life off the mat as well. Identifying these self imposed, growth limiting roadblocks, and helping that individual work through them in a safe, positive manner, is the sign of a true sensei.

Looking back on my youth, I always admire and respect the teachers I had then, who at the time, seemed the toughest and pushed me the hardest, making me do things I didn't think possible.

Or, I could be totally full of beans.

Bruce Baker
12-29-2002, 10:50 AM
Push someones buttons?

Yank the chain so hard you give the other person whiplash?

Everyone draws a line at how far they will go to train.

One of the new guys walked out the other day, because no teachers showed up, so we went though our drills with Bokken and Jo as not to have throws without a teacher present ... insurance and the policy of our host, the Saint Francis Community Center where we train.

I asked my daughter why he left, and she said that he doesn't like weapons training, and since a teacher didn't make the class, he might as well go on his way.

Was practicing what we normally go through with our Sensei beyond his limit, his line of how far he would go to practice Aikido? Maybe.

I have a shorter line as to how far I will go to train ... physical limitations.

How far will I go?

Until the room spins, my guts are waving like an angry sea, or until I am a danger to myself an others ... which these days ain't as far as it used to be. Do I push people beyond their limits? I would like to think I don't, since I have trained dozens of teenagers over the years in Vocational Tech for Marine Trades who came to work in the after school programs. Not quite the same as Aikido, but teaching is a variation of experience, and knowledge.

How far is that line?

I would think ... most of us invite others to do practice better than we can so we can go back to plain old practice, which is why most of us like to do rather than teach.

Push someone over the line?

I guess that would depend if you are measuring either mental fatigue, physical fatigue, or plain old common sense of knowing when to say "NO."

The line? Know when to say 'NO'.

I don't blame the fella for leaving, but I would have thought his line was a lot farther than where he drew it that day.

... but that is life.

12-29-2002, 12:47 PM
Here is my thought on this topic:

Part of the goal of AiKiDo seems to be about learning what our limits really are and, if possible, expanding them. We can do that my edging closer and closer to them from the 'safe' side, or we can push ourselves 'too hard' and find out where they are being realizing we've crossed them. Unfortunately, the second way is the way of pain and injury. It is the way of not being in harmony with yourself and not working with the you that you are right now. So, even if it seems more 'efficient' in some ways, I believe that it is ultimately less productive.

Just like beating someone in a fight may be a way to teach them a lesson, but I've come to believe that there are usually better ways, so I believe in myself (and in others when I'm teaching) that it is best to work with the limits we feel and not against them.

12-29-2002, 02:54 PM
Usually we are nowhere near our limits and were are not aware what our limits are (mentally, physically). Hard and constant training will make us aware of them over time and with new confidence we may test those limits. I agree with Peter, pushing someone beyond that "he/she canīt possibly do it" (not enough experience, flexibility or skill) point is just dangerous and irresponsible.

Bruce Baker
12-31-2002, 08:40 AM
I thought about it some more ...

Everytime we try to explain something we have learned, or we expose someone to something that they have not practiced or encounter before .... we have pushed them beyond their theoretical limits.

In the broad sense of breaking barriers, extending limits .... I would have to change my vote to a big .... YES.

That is, barring physical exhaustion, or turning someone into a basket case either mentally or phsically, that would be plain mean.


Since I have become a gorilla, weighed in over 250 pounds and showed many grey hairs, people have been quite a bit more polite than when I was somewhat skinny?

There must be a physical fear factor in there somewhere?

Another flaw of our society, and theory of natural selection?

Another subject for another thread.

12-31-2002, 09:08 AM
IMHO, if its truly "their limit", then I can't push them past it. I will certainly provide them with the opportunity to push themselves past it.

Until again,


12-31-2002, 01:28 PM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of December 29, 2002:

Would you push someone past their "limits" in aikido training?
I myself would say no. I would never push someone past their limit, but I do take them TO their Limit, or what I know it to be, in order to help them see themselves. I think it is up to the individual to take themselves past their physcological limit. I do think physical limits are entirely different and takes much more time to overcome, but are definately easier when the "mindset" has already overcome it. Changes from person to person really.



01-01-2003, 05:26 AM
One way in which I help students over come and cross limits is in Ukemi, which is usually the biggest hurdle most people have when they start Aikido. When they have never taken a big fall and I feel they are ready for it I train one-on-one and we practice koshi-nage (hip throws), where I take them up and over quite high, but cradled, and place them softly on the tatami, NOT slam them down. I have found that this helps them get over the disorientation (physical) and achieve the level of confidence (mental) Ukemi requires.

There are ways to cross limits safely.

01-01-2003, 06:27 AM
Hi Lynn;

I have to disagree with the statement. The worse case I saw was a serious crash and burn on a ski slope where the "coach" should have pulled the person back. It was obvious to many that the victim was being pushed well beyond what they could safely do.

There is stepping close to the edge and there is so far over you can't do anything but fall down.

I must say I have seen few Aikido practices where this is the case.
IMHO, if its truly "their limit", then I can't push them past it. I will certainly provide them with the opportunity to push themselves past it.

Until again,


01-01-2003, 02:17 PM
Hi Lynn;I have to disagree with the statement.
Peter, I don't think we disagree, I would certainly pull an Uke back from and unsafe act.

Until again,


01-01-2003, 02:41 PM
Peter and Lynn,

I think you are both facing what is the heart of Jun's question. If it was really 'safe' to push ourselves arbitrarily close to our real physical limits, the question would be easy. But it's not really safe, and so each of us has psychological limits that we develop (or are born with) to protect ourselves. Sometimes, these psychological limits are over-protective and, from the outside, it is clear that a person could go well past the limits they perceive. This is when the temptation to push a person 'past their limits' comes up for us. Like I said earlier, I believe it is healthier to respect the limits -- psychological or physical -- because it is better to work with what is their than to work with what ought to be there. Still, I'm not stranger to the compelling logic of the other point of view.

In fact, sometimes I wonder whether this acquiescence to working within limits is an over-protective psychological limit that I impose on myself.

01-01-2003, 02:57 PM
I think it depends on the student. For some, I would never dream of pushing. Upon crossing their limit, some would leave class upset and never return. Some will feel a victory and go home 10 feet tall, itching for the next lesson to come around.

I remember being about 10 or 11 and receiving Tomenage from my Judo teacher. He didn't tell me what he was going to do and the next thing I saw the floor and ceiling fly by and then I landed on the tatami. I went home feeling great.

01-01-2003, 08:51 PM
An interesting question; particularly since the poll results are so even; that makes it a great topic of conversation. :)

For myself; I agree with Peter: define 'limits'. There are two; which has of course already been stated; a person's percieved limit; where he feels he can't go farther, and his actual limit, where he actually can't. I've yet to see a single Aikido class that took anyone anywhere close to their actual limit; while the percieved has been crossed many times.

I also agree with Si Wilson; it depends on the student. In our dojo, for instance, there are a few - myself included - who learn best when under pressure; who like to push the boundaries of what we can do. As I've said before, this gets me into trouble sometimes when I try something and wind up over my head. Still, that's how I learn. There are others in the dojo whom I would never push, even if it would ultimtely help them, for this reason: For an instructor to take a student beyond his percieved limits, he must use a certain amount of aggressive tactics. However well-meaning, supportive and lighthearted, these tactics are still aggressive, and some students simply either don't want that or aren't willing to deal with it - Aikido is as relaxing to them as it is stimulating to me. Attempting to push these folks would spoil their experience, if not drive them away entirely, IMO. :)

01-01-2003, 09:11 PM
Peter, I don't think we disagree, I would certainly pull an Uke back from and unsafe act.
I'm absolutely sure you would. It's the wording I was commenting on.

01-02-2003, 09:08 AM
In fact, sometimes I wonder whether this acquiescence to working within limits is an over-protective psychological limit that I impose on myself.
IMHO, the problems created by being over-protective are easier to work out than the problems created by being under-protective. I would always choose to error on the side of safety.

Until again,


Richard Harnack
01-03-2003, 10:33 AM
I answered "Yes" with the understanding derived from being an old time cross country runner (back when the distances were measured in miles, not kilometers, thus a 5 mile race was a 5 mile race.) During the early parts of training and getting in shape my legs would ache ceaselessly, and my lungs felt as if they would burst. But as I got into shape, those things which "challenged" me early no longer did.

Should we endanger a student? No.

Should we push them past self-created limits? Yes.

The great runner Wilma Rudolph suffered from polio. She was challenged to exceed her limits and became a champion.