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My Path Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-08-2009 01:55 PM
Linda Eskin
My path to and through Aikido. Observations on Aikido, fitness, happiness, horses, & life, by a 53 y/o sho-dan.

This same blog (with photos and a few additional trivial posts, but without comments) can be found at www.grabmywrist.com.

I train with Dave Goldberg Sensei, at Aikido of San Diego.
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 242
Comments: 367
Views: 869,326


In Testing "Were you nervous?" Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #108 New 11-18-2010 02:14 AM
"Your form was fine." Sensei said when he came to discussing my 4th-kyu test. He was giving us each feedback in the post-exam circle of promotion candidates. "Were you nervous?" he asked.

Huh... Nervous? I had felt really well prepared. I hadn't been afraid I would screw up any particular techniques (but of course I did anyway). I knew I was really focused. Intent on giving it my best. I had sort of half-assed my previous test (5th kyu), and had instantly wished I could've done it over - done it right. But there aren't do-overs on tests. This time I was doing my darnedest to nail it.

"Yeah..." I allowed, as best I can recall saying, "not totally freaked out, but I was probably a little nervous."


I was totally freaked out. The weird thing is that I didn't recognize it. Sure, I made a couple of mistakes on jo suburi - the one thing I thought I really had down, and there was that one technique where my back heel came off the ground and I noticed my leg was shaking... I didn't recognize that I was nervous. It's not OK with me to be nervous. Nervous is fearful, uncertain, and weak. I don't get nervous.

What I did recognize was a feeling, one I'd had after my first and only piano recital as a teenager. I had played "Come Sail Away" by Styx. I played it just fine. But when I was done and sat down I had to ask someone how I'd done. It was like I hadn't even been there when I was playing. At the end of my test I'd had the same feeling. I thought I'd done basically OK, aside from a few dumb mistakes, but it was like I wasn't quite in the same room with my body when I was doing it.

Not present.

I was almost surprised, when I watched the video afterward, to see how many people were there on the mat. For the most part I'd been unaware of them. I think the walls of the dojo could have fallen away and I would not have noticed.



I have learned that Sensei sees right through me. When he offers what seems like a casual observation, it's worth taking a good look at it.

One of my reasons for practicing Aikido in the first place was to learn to stay present and relaxed in the face of overwhelming physical threat, and take effective action. Hmmm... Instead, in the face of a kind teacher, a supportive group of dojo mates and a limited set of techniques I had been reviewing and refining for weeks, I went away - out of my body and out of the room, was wound tight as a high E string, and screwed up things I knew like the back of my hand.

"Were you nervous?" "Oh, wow... Yes, I really was!"

Sounds like I have something to work on.
Views: 3534 | Comments: 8

RSS Feed 8 Responses to ""Were you nervous?""
#8 11-19-2010 08:09 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
Thank you Niall. :-) I am loving every minute of training.
#7 11-19-2010 01:19 AM
niall Says:
Very nice post and clear and objective self-awareness. You will improve very fast, Linda.
#6 11-19-2010 12:01 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
With each test I discover (or it is pointed out) some big issue to work on through the next test. I'm thinking relaxation, breathing, fluidity, consciousness... - that whole constellation of things - is what I'll take on for the next 6-8 months (or however long it is).
#5 11-18-2010 12:22 PM
Shadowfax Says:
For my last test I was so amped that I trained really hard for the half hour pre -test class and then kept on training during the break. Sensei commented on it afterward. I did that on purpose just to take some of the edge off so my test would go smoothly. Oh yeah I get really nervous during a test, but the adrenalin makes me hyper aware rather than tuned out.
#4 11-18-2010 11:06 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
A fellow student, one who is in law enforcement, sent me this link, about Flight, Fight, or Freeze: http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/07/...ficers_co.html . Interesting.
#3 11-18-2010 11:05 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
Thank you Paulina. :-) Actually, I did mostly carry on anyway, except for a few mistakes. My heart wasn't pounding, my hands weren't sweaty. I had been visualizing the whole thing as part of preparing for it, so that helped. But there was definitely some fear/tension there that got in the way. I like your idea of just letting yourself freak out. I'll have to give that a try. :-)
#2 11-18-2010 06:01 AM
2...The thing to do next time is - don't try to calm yourself before a test, or to not feel nervous. Allow yourself to "freak out", just do it beforehand. Welcome the nervousness well before you have to perform. Let the adrenaline start surging already on the way to the dojo, or during warm ups, or the class before tests if there is one. You'll find out that after the first unpleasant feeling of shakiness, it will give your more energy. Congratulations again, btw! Pauliina
#1 11-18-2010 06:01 AM
1. What you experienced was an effect of adrenaline. Shaky limbs, sort of tunnel vision. Maybe your hearing was also affected? It's something I experience every time I perform. But it bothers me much less nowadays than it did earlier. It's not something you did wrong, it's a normal physical reaction in a stressful situation. And the solution isn't to get rid of the reaction, but to learn to live with it and to carry on anyway...

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