View Full Version : Poll: Is feeling fear in your everyday aikido class a good way to grow?

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AikiWeb System
04-06-2003, 12:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of April 6, 2003:

Is feeling fear in your everyday aikido class a good way to grow?

I don't do aikido

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=160).

ze'ev erlich
04-06-2003, 01:53 AM
Dear Jun,

The polls are always interesting.

Excuse me, but what do you mean my "fear in Aikido class"?




Leo Posmetny
04-06-2003, 02:03 PM
I think its fear of something that you dont know how to do or you think you not oing to be able to do. I beleive it is a good way to grow because if you will face things that you afraid of eventually you wont be afraid of them and will face then as any other thing.

I'm a senior in high school and good example will be when I have huge paper due usually I would be afraid to do it because I would thinik its too hard and I wont be able to do it, and put it off to the last minute and then rush toget it done. If you face that fear, you not going to think if its hard or not, you will just simply do it.

colin slider
04-07-2003, 04:33 AM
i'd say that if you feel 'fear' in your 'everyday' class then chances are you would quit pretty quickly.

just as in almost any activity when new things come along there may be a certain nervousness/worry about making mistakes etc (and a certain amount of this can sometimes be a good thing as it makes you more aware of what is happening around you)- but if it gets to the point of being fearful then i'd suggest that perhaps you're not ready for whatever the 'new thing' is.

regards, colin

04-07-2003, 05:08 AM
I believe that fear does not provide the correct environment for spiritual growth. I myself cannot feel relaxed when I'm afraid. I feel tensed up. And according to the teachings of my sensei (and what I also feel as one of the best advantages of Aikido) you have to be relaxed in order to practice Aikido to the best of your advantage.

Peace be upon you!

Michael Neal
04-07-2003, 07:03 AM
It depends on what the fear is based on.

04-07-2003, 07:33 AM
In my view fear is something that either is or is not present. If it is present then rather than supressing it by forcing a more centred state, I try to embody it and feel the sensation of fear. As Leo said I think that one can feel fear of many things, it may be of looking uncoordinated or clumsy, it may be of getting hit or hurt. I have found in my club that many people feel a fear of not being able to do a technique a certain way. This is certainly present in some beginners but also in many seniors such as myself who sometimes allow our fear of failure hamper our growth. I certainly become tense when I am fearful, but I find that if I observe the sensation of fear there is flow within this tension. It's something that I've begun to respect and work with.
On the point of spiritual growth and tension -IMHO I do not think that spiritual growth itself does not always lie in relaxation, even if the end may. The fact that I carry tension means that this is part of my being now. It is something that I must work with. Of course in Aikido practice there must be compromise, it is no good if one is so tense they literally cannot move. In this case it would be good to consciously breathe and invoke a centred response from the body. For this reason I find still meditation very helpful as I can embody sensations that literally give me temporary paralysis without having a tsuki hit me in the face ;)

Chuck Clark
04-07-2003, 09:22 AM
Is feeling fear in your everyday aikido class a good way to grow?
I think the answer to this question is really determined by the nature of the fear and what causes it.

Budo practice is a form of desensitization and then resensitization. Eventually, we can become so acquainted with our fears that we become less fearful and even comfortable in the midst of what used to make us uncomfortable. By doing this and gaining more experience with a wider view we can become more creative and successful in our problem solving.

Erik Young
04-07-2003, 10:00 AM
Fear is an interesting phenomenon. It is the mind/body's natural way to help protect us nto so bright Homo Sapiens (c'mon...we're the only creature on Earth that, when faced with death due to head-braking activities...invented the helmet so that we could conitnue engaging in head-breaking activities. :) ).

In moderate doses, fear keeps us alive. Fear keeps us from poking Grizzly bears with sticks.

However, chronic fear is very debilitating. It is also one of the more treatable psychological conditions one can have.

So, a little fear tells one that something harmful is nearby and/or happening. Ti is a cue to deal with that situation. HOwever, the question involves chronic fdear...having fear *everyday* in Aikido. This, IMHO, is not healthy...it poses an obstacle that can hinder growth. Chronic fear is hard to overcome/deal with...if there is chronic fear, then there is a chronic problem.

Anyway, fear is something 5to be respected, understood, and possibly overcome....overcoming only comes with understanding.

Now that I've rambled off my stream of consciosness, I'll return to lurking.


*cloaking shiled on*



04-07-2003, 01:05 PM
I think its fear of something that you dont know how to do or you think you not oing to be able to do. I beleive it is a good way to grow because if you will face things that you afraid of eventually you wont be afraid of them and will face then as any other thing.
I agree that this is a good thing, but I would not call it fear. It will not hurt me if I can't do a particular technique or exercise(worst case somebody will laugh at my hopeless attempts to do it), so there is noting to be afraid of.

I woted "No", I interpreted fear differently. For example, if during the class you constantly afraid that you will be injured, that would be called "experiencing fear", and it's not a good thing.

04-07-2003, 10:33 PM
Interesting post guys! I liked Johans and Clarks.

.-Fear is one of the world's worstest plagues that affects humans, and that have parcially stoped the proper evolution of the race, one of the most wide spread pathetical characteristic that affects millions of men and women is cowardise, wich is directly supported by fear. Just follow the idea, dont rush.

Fear is natural, fear is human, and we all know it and feel it along our lives.

Egotism, ambition, envy, possesion are supported by fear.

Any form of violence from psycological agressiveness to assaulting, raping, murdering, have fear by its primordial component.

So, wich role could play "fear" in understanding and developing of any martial art for physical or spiritual purposes?

What fear have to do in realising Ueshibas art of peace?

The second is an easy one(?), the premise is:

"the time my actions are moved by fear Im moving proporcionally far from peace and harmony"

About the first one Ive to say (I dont pretend to teach you anything, it is supposed you to know it) this:

Fear endures your spirit, makes you to learn fast, fear management can be a powerful tool at the time to highlight those dark sides you have.

Pressure make to pop the best you have on you.

Tension make your body and spirit accostumed to lifes unpredictability.

You can list many others as valid.

BUT listen, There re many disturbed people out there (emotionally and mentally disbalanced, medications,drugs, alcohol, THIS means that trying fear, pressure, or tension used as a tool of growth can have inverse results, ONLY a Qualified person (those who knows what fear is and how control it and used it) surely know how much fear a student can handle and consecuently be applied

on grades for pedagogical purposes.

Regular people and beginners cant handle fear, they try to run out inmediately, but THATS why Martial tranning IS after all.

My conclusion? I believe that in some dojos instructors and students even care for to explore fear and pressure posilities for to matially grow.

To the original question: No, not in actual context and with most people that frecuent dojos today.

Take it or live it, whatever.


Caracas, Venezuela

04-07-2003, 11:27 PM
Depends on the type of fear and the degree.

Are we talking about an ongoing situation where fear is a constant?

I guess some students may be afraid of not getting it right, others of being hurt while some (judging by some forums on Aikiweb) are just plain afraid of other students. The latter two types, I suspect, end up quitting.

I liked Erik's reference to our invention of helmets. The 'butterflies in stomach' make us go on roller coasters and sky dive for no logical reason.

I'm not sure if I see Aikido in relation to the strong definition of 'fear' while learning though. I look forward to my classes (more a of a 'buzz' rather than 'fear') and have only felt actual fear or apprehension in one. I haven't been to that particular class since.

so my vote is 'no'.

Dave Wright
04-09-2003, 03:03 PM

fear is an emotion. I like emotional aikido classes. Its part of the thrill you get from the close proximity to other living creatures.

Someone said once, there are only two emotions fear and love. Since aikido means harmony we must practice harmonizing with the way people really are. some people are scary! Nobody at my dojo though...

Of course, I prefer to practice feeling and making others feel this emotion in a very controlled and consensual way. But I just role alot farther if I imagine that nage might want to step on my head.

feel free to disagree:)


PS: I don't like the fear that comes with a contest of strength though. sometimes you might practice with someone who won't let you throw them or doesn't like the way you do ukemi that day. I guess that means yes and no.

Erik Young
04-10-2003, 06:48 AM
Ironically, from a neuro-physiological perspective...fear and love (at least that intense rush gets when falling in love) come from teh same neuro-chemical systems. Love, fear, excitement, etc... all activate the parasympathetic nervous system (I think...might be the sympathetic...have to check my old psych texts....) and teh physiological response is the same for all those states...it's our congitive interpretation of what is causing the arousal that determines whether we are excited by fear, love, etc...

Just soemthing from my everfull font of useless knowledge.



04-10-2003, 07:49 AM
When someone is attacked, one of three things happen.

1)Fight response

2)Flight response

3)Freeze response

I think it is good to cause the adrenaline dump that can cause someone to freeze up and become rigid.

I tell my students that we train to be as soft and subtle as possible, so if an attack happens, we may become more tense but, not to the point of freezing and not being able to respond, or be effective.

I don't know if fear is the right word...I'm shooting for an adrenaline dump. Albeit, this could be caused by fear, anxiety, stress or a number of things.

Just my thoughts.

Jason Tonks
04-10-2003, 08:45 AM
This is a good question. I believe you need to inject an element of fear into any martial practice. As an Aikidoka progresses he/she must at some point be confronted with atemis that are aimed to hit every time, otherwise a false sense of ability inevitabilty will follow. Even then as we all know this still isn't the same as a street confrontation with the (as a rule) swearing and aggressive body language. Its that that causes the fear/adrenaline to hit the body. The building of a strong spirit and mind through constant hard training will help the individual deal with fear but never free them from it. Having a degree of exposure to an element of fear in training now and again will at least give the practitioner an idea of his/her bodies reaction in a confrontational situation.

All the best

Jason T

Erik Young
04-10-2003, 09:28 AM
In essence, you're re-training the person to reframe the physical symptoms of arousal into something that will be more useful in a given situation. I.E. "I'm shaking, the blood is rushing to my stomach, I feel a little light headed, I have some tunnel vision....I'm not going to die...I jsut need to relax and focus my energy." It's very similar to how one overcomes panic attacks.

Michael Klieman
04-11-2003, 03:12 PM
I trained for a while with a sensei that I was truly afraid of. I was moving to a new city, and had the choice to go to several different ones, but chose a particular city so that I could train with this particular sensei because of my fear. I thought that if I was having such a strong reaction, that it would be good for me to go train with him/her.

My fear was not unfounded, as this sensei sometimes did things that to me now seem inappropriate, just to get a fearful reaction from us--challenging us. I never felt like I could trust him/her when taking ukemi for him/her. One time s/he even popped my shoulder out of its socket during a pin. I don't know if it was an accident or not, but it definitely showed me that I should not trust him/her.

I learned a huge amount with this sensei, and owe him/her a lot for what s/he taught me. My ukemi especially improved amazingly! :eek: ;) In a lot of other ways this person was an amazing teacher, one of the best that I have trained with for a period of time.

Eventually the stress got to be too much for me, and I had to just quit aikido altogether. I thought that I would never go back--I got headaches and strange emotional reactions (shaking hands and intense nervousness) just from doing rolls in the park one day. My body just did not want to do aikido anymore. It turned out to be just a long break (6 years) and eventually I came back to aikido in a new city and with a new, more compassionate sensei.

So, my answer to the question is, yes, I learned an amazing amount from a sensei who purposefully used fear on his students on the mat, but I think that s/he would have been an even more amazing teacher if s/he had not done so. At the very least, I might not have had to take such a long break to recover.


ps: sorry for the "s/he stuff", I'm trying to be discrete...

04-15-2003, 11:24 PM
IMHO, fear as fantasy-experienced-as-real is something that is to be faced and resolved. If you are into your fear, you are not into your training. So, no, IMHO feeling fear in your everyday class is not conducive to learning Aikido or anything else.

I often tell people, you can have fear or you can have love, but you can't have both. The choice is yours.

Joe Jutsu
04-15-2003, 11:54 PM
I admit that my sensei can be intimidating, especially to new students. He is getting older though, and I hear that he is getting softer in his old(er) age.

That said, I've only taken two ranking tests, but found that even though I was not nervous before the tests when I stepped on the mat it was a different ballgame. Performing under pressure and overcoming the adrenal response brought on by that pressure IMHO is one of the beneficial aspects of the testing experience. In my limited experience, I hypothesize that frequent randori practice coupled with the pressure of testing situations (or even taigi in ki society)is a good start to overcoming the "freeze up" that is a natural response to the onset of fear, and intimidation on the part of instructors/sempai is completely unneeded.

Plus:ki: !

04-16-2003, 03:35 AM
I've only taken two ranking tests, but found that even though I was not nervous before the tests when I stepped on the mat it was a different ballgame.

The weird thing about this is that I've seen emergency room doctors, police, & prosecuting attorneys...people who deal with actual-real- world-someone-might-die-or-lose-their-freedom-because-of-my-actions kind of stress freeze up when taking a martial arts test (rokyu or gokyu at that) that doesn't make one lick of difference in the outside world. Passing that test isn't going to get you a raise, or a better house, or a better school for your kids. It's not going to make you a better person or make people like you better. It doesn't really gain you anything. Yet so many people always let themselves get freaked out by it. I find this strange. :confused:

Ok, I'm rambling now. I've been up a long time so I'll shut up now. :freaky:


Erik Young
04-16-2003, 09:04 AM
I think it has something to do with the focus of the person. Studies have shown that people tend to rate public speaking more fearful than death. It's something about the vulnerability of the situation and that it's all about you (the person testing, speaking, performing, etc.)

When I was in music school...I had no problem performing for my teacher or freinds. But when it came time for a public perofrmance or jury performance (graded) I'd have the worst panic attack...adrenaline dump...awful feeling. Anyway, I never conquered it in school..it wasn;t until later when I was playing parties and weddings that I got over the fear of public performance. Basically, I stopped thinking about me and started thinking about those whom I was playing for...it was their party/wedding after all. Same holds true of public performance...teh audience is there to be entertained...it's really not about me and whether or not I play as well as I would like. ANyway, still nervous now...but energized not paralyzed.

In a similar vein, I've developed an informal sub-specialty in crisis counseling dealign with suicide. When I'm with a client, while nervous (it's a terrifying situation), I'm able to let me training work for me..make that connection, establish a life-line...the fear energizes me. However, when I recently had to demonstrate my counsleing technique at a workshop in fornt of my peers in a mock situation...I got really scared and didn't feel that same energizing as I would in a real situation. Again, I was worried about what myu friends and colleagues would think about me. Whereas I'm normally too concerned with getting my client to safety that to worry abotu my ego too much.

It seems to me to be analogous to what doctors, lwyers and cops do. When they're working...they focus is on something or someone else...when you test...it's all about you. That's a ahrd place to be if you're not prepared.

Ok, enough rambling for me too... :)