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Unregistered
03-28-2004, 11:07 PM
Hello,

I need help with an aspect of my training. Basically, I feel very competitive and resentful towards another person at my dojo. We are both 3rd Kyu, and will probably be grading for 2nd Kyu together later this year. The problem is, firstly, there is a bit of a personality clash betweeen us, and secondly, I attend training a lot more than they do and can't help but feel irritated that this is not acknowledged, in a faster grading or any other way. Unfortunately, this issue has started to affect my training, in that I will be thinking about this other person and being cranky rather than focusing on what I am doing! I hate it - I know I am being stupid, and it's my own fault, and I know Aikido is not supposed to be about competitiveness, but I can't seem to get past it. Has anyone had similar problems or any suggestions for what I can do about this??? Please help!! (FYI, I've already tried telling myself to just get over it, didn't help.)

SeiserL
03-29-2004, 09:14 AM
I know I am being stupid, and it's my own fault, and I know Aikido is not supposed to be about competitiveness, but I can't seem to get past it. Has anyone had similar problems or any suggestions for what I can do about this??? Please help!! (FYI, I've already tried telling myself to just get over it, didn't help.)
Greetings,

IMHO, most people have this problem of comparing themselves to other and either feeling "better than" or "less than".

My compliments that you already know you are creating your own competitiveness and suffering. Pay attention inside your head as to "how" you create it. Is it through self-talk or through visualization? Is this attached to something else in your life?

As you realize its your own cognition that create your suffering, gently bring your mind back to your training. It maybe more important for you to learn patience and humility than for you to win this competition in your head.

IMHO, to progress faster, slow down and pay attention to your own training. This is the spiritual part of the training that can transform you if you let it.

Hang in there, you'll get it.

Robert Rumpf
03-29-2004, 10:40 AM
I find this to be an issue that has cropped up often during my training (probably because I'm so particular and judgmental), and so there are several different responses I've tried. They all have worked for me at different times.

A first way is to take your own training up a notch in terms of seriousness and precision. Focus yourself on training towards an ideal, and look less at your progress with respect to peers. Examine your own mistakes... that way you don't have time to hyper-examine others.

I find this to work best at times when I am in positive mood (things outside Aikido are all okay). However, if I am feeling down on myself in general, and my frustration with apparent Aikido inequity can be a symptom of this, then this technique can intensify the problem.

A second way that can be complementary to the first is going to less Aikido classes. If you are at a level of training that is excessive for you, personally, it is easy to get yourself in the practice of hyper-examining your Aikido seriousness versus others. Aikido should be fun, and it is sometimes easy to forget that if you worry too much about making progress.

Taking time off gives you more perspective. That way, when you are on the mat, you are so excited about training that you will naturally downplay personal conflicts. It'll actually take an act of will for you to do this, because part of your training could be caught up in self-righteousness "I'm going to prove that I'm better than this person by showing greater commitment."

Choosing not to compete in this sense will help you in the long term. I've found that moving away from my personal competitiveness is helpful for learning from others. In addition, personality conflicts will cool with separation.

A third and potentially most Aiki way are to sit and think about all the virtues that your antagonist has. Focus on the good things about them and their Aikido and life and what you can learn from them. Terry Dobson is quoted with respect to this approach in “It’s a lot like dancing…” and his explanation is better than mine would be.

This third way is something I still can't do gracefully, but I hear that it works... :)

I've also found it useful to concentrate on the non-partner parts of Aikido when this type of resentment happens. Clean the dojo to the best of your abilities, practice lots of rolls and in general vent your frustration into something positive.

Cleaning (and this goes for cleaning your ukemi up too) seems to help me when I have frustration problems in life. I think physical cleaning helps with mental and emotional cleaning and is a very important part of martial arts training in general. Call if misogi, if you want.

Going to a seminar can also help this problem: it forces me to focus on a time-limited intensive training experience and breaks me out of my usual Aikido patterns.

I hope that helps, and sorry for the longwinded response.

Rob

Janet Rosen
03-29-2004, 01:26 PM
IMHO, to progress faster, slow down and pay attention to your own training. This is the spiritual part of the training that can transform you if you let it.
I agree so much with this. To me, the negative parts of me that come up in training are sometimes unpleasant but they represent an opportunity to work on being a different person, somebody I'd rather be.

Don't beat yourself up or call yourself a bad person for these feelings: recognize them, look at them.

Try to find a way to practice that helps work them out: it sounds paradoxical, but sometimes I find the best (and hardest) training is to seek out the person I'm having problems with and make it a point to tell myself good things about the person and to make it a point to -- say when I am nage -- to relax, smile, and offer my hand or head not to be attacked but more in the spirit of offering an invitation to come to my space.

Sounds silly but it seems to help over time...

John Boswell
03-30-2004, 11:29 AM
Anonymous,

This is totally my opinion and I'm not a black belt, so take it as you will, but...

Any negative thoughts you have towards others come from ego, sub-conscious mind, etc. and have NOTHING to do with the other person as it is only your perception of them you are focused on.

Aikido itself should help you get over this issue, but you need to focus more.

Do you meditate at all? When I introvert and over analize stuff/think too much, I slow down and focus, clear my mind of ANY thought whatsoever and get back to the task at hand.

Do not focus on rank. Belts and rank can be a sign of accomplishment, but they can also be tokens handed out to readily. Forget about them.

Do not focus on the ability of your fellow classmates in comparison to your own. Instead, find your "one-point" and DO the technique! If your not getting it, ask your sensei for advice. If your thinking about it to much, STOP (takes less than a second to stop) center yourself and do it again. Then do it again. And after that... do it again.

When I find myself frustrated with my uke, 9 times out of 10 it was because I wasn't doing something right on MY part.

Ignore the others and work on yourself. Rank systems have a way of sorting out the bad from the good on down the line. If they guy that is frustrating you is really not attending as much as he should, he'll get left behind sooner or later and that comes under the catagory of "His problem."

Good luck. Train smarter, not harder.

ian
03-30-2004, 11:54 AM
Utilise the competitiveness to improve, but don't let it hinder you. Maybe this other person is naturally a faster developer than you and you have to work harder to keep up. However don't use other people's judgement as a guide. It is better to work towards perfecting yourself, than for praise from others (which usually comes from you doing what they want you to do).

Ian

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
03-30-2004, 12:42 PM
Two remarks.

One has been indicated above in several posts. I was first told it, actually, by my mother. The way she phrased was, I think, "They're probably nervous too, and if you compliment them for what they did well, they won't think about what you did poorly." Both can benefit from a positive outlook and atmosphere. (And, my more pessimistic side adds, it's a pretty view from the top of Mt. Everest - but what about how to get there?)

A second related method that I sometimes use is to think of you two having a common goal. Imagine if this person became a fantastic aikidoka with great insight. Wouldn't that be a good thing for the world? I figure that for the most part, others growing in aikido ability and mindset can only be a positive development in the grand sense. Think of how much better their life will be because of their training.

Disturbingly, I find this 'common goal' description hard to absorb sometimes. I think there's a "natural" tendency to fear the other person's success, or to worry that their doing well suggests that you're not really on the right track - else, surely you'd be "ahead", right?

It's complicated, I guess. What was it O-Sensei said? True victory is self-victory?

Nafis Zahir
03-30-2004, 11:31 PM
Just train and be the best that you can be. That way, if you grade sooner, you are where you are. If they grade sooner, you're still where you are. Rank doesn't really matter. Be the best aikidoist you can be for yourself. Take that negative energy and use it to train harder.

shihonage
03-31-2004, 12:01 AM
I went through this and it's no big deal anymore. Plenty of people went much faster up in ranks than I am, and it really doesn't concern me in the least. I guess at one point I realized that I was at a crossroads: either I let this issue destroy my training or I let it go and keep training.

Ghost Fox
03-31-2004, 06:37 AM
Just remember rank is a measure of accomplishment not ability. One of my sensei told me that during a similar experience to yours.

justinm
03-31-2004, 07:08 AM
I've been there many times. The best solution for me has been the one that Robert referred to:

"think about all the virtues that your antagonist has. Focus on the good things about them and their Aikido and life and what you can learn from them"

I have found this works for me in daily life as well as on the mat. The fun thing is, you do not even need to believe in the positive things you are saying about the other person. In fact your antagonism may not let you. Just keep focusing on telling yourself positive things about them. Keep doing it. Eventually it will become natural and you will actually feel that way. I think what happens is that you finally give yourself permission to like them, and at that point you realise that the good things you have been saying are actually true.

There have been 2 people in my work life that I have had really significant difficulty with. In one instance we almost came to blows. In both cases this worked for me. I am even friends with one of them now, and I enjoy learning from watching them display the behavior I previously resented.

It takes conscious work. But it is a terrific opportunity for you - this person is a gift to you. Welcome it, and them.

Good luck

Justin

MaryKaye
03-31-2004, 09:09 AM
I train with a small group of similiarly-ranked students--I'm about in the middle of the group--and I struggle with the competitiveness thing, too. If the people ranked below me are asked to be uke for sensei and I'm not, I feel jealous and also insecure--is there something wrong with my ukemi?

The thing that's helped for me is thinking of collective success as well as individual success. It would be great if this group of students was our next generation of yudansha, and I can contribute to that by being a good training partner--taking ukemi well, providing appropriate resistance, giving good feedback, attending regularly, being cheerful.

I find that if I can watch my classmates at tests and say "Yay! All that work he and I did on kokyu dosa is paying off" rather than "Rats! He does kokyu dosa a lot better than me" it's a big improvement in my happiness.

Mary Kaye

Anders Bjonback
04-04-2004, 06:51 PM
It's good that you recognize it's your stuff, or your own fault, but I think it's also important not to be too hard on yourself. Continually thinking, "It's my fault I'm feeling this way," can lead to more problems if you get caught up in it. It certainly does for me. An eighth century Indian Buddhist master, Shantideva, says, "So come what may, I'll never harm / My cheerful happiness of mind. / Depression never brings me what I want; / My virtue will be warped and marred by it." That is one of the most important things for me to learn.

For me, being hard on myself just continues the cycle of negative thinking that I'm being negative about. I like the advice Robert Rumpf gave, particularly focusing on the good qualities of the other person. Mental stuff like that usually doesn't work as well for me, though. What I usually do is go out of my way to be friendly to the person, and soon I realize that my anger or jealousy was unjustified. If not that, I'm not as caught up in my jealousy and find it far easier to let it go.

These sort of emotions come and go, and none of them are permanent. Sometimes we grasp onto them and recreate them in our habitual ways of thinking, but they still pass. That's hard for me to remember some of the time... okay, most, if not all of the time. But I think it's true.

Josh Bisker
04-04-2004, 07:37 PM
I think there's a "natural" tendency to fear the other person's success, or to worry that their doing well suggests that you're not really on the right track - else, surely you'd be "ahead", right?

It's complicated, I guess.
That's pretty insightful.

-josh

Anon
04-21-2004, 01:15 AM
Thanks very much, everyone who came up with ideas - many of them sound very helpful. I had to take a few weeks off training since I first posted as I was sick, and I think being away for a little while helped me remember why I'm doing this in the first place - for me, not anyone else! I've still got to do some work on this, certainly, but the supportiveness and non-judgmental attitude of everyone here has helped a lot - as well as hearing that I'm not the only person who feels this way!!

Thankyou all!!