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Fred Little 09-08-2006 09:48 PM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
Quote:

Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
If a teacher has faith in his art, why would he feel it needs to be protected from outsiders or outside influences? If the teacher has faith in his students, why would he try to micromanage their behavior and control who they interact with and how? Even if the stated goal of Aikido wasn't so altruistic, I don't see how behavior that is so obviously motivated by fear has any place at the top level of a martial art.

Kevin,

Your questions really answer themselves. Your closing line makes me recall something Terry Dobson said during the last series of classes he taught at Bond Street Dojo.

"I will submit to you that every individual who entered into aikido practice, or the practice of any martial art, did so because of fear."

In principle, I concur with your judgement, but as a matter of simple observation, I must ask why we should expect that aikido politics and the personality structures of aikido leaders would be any less driven by fear than actual politics and the personality structures of actual leaders with genuine authority to exert martial force?

Fred Little

Erick Mead 09-08-2006 11:44 PM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
Quote:

Fred Little wrote:
Your closing line makes me recall something Terry Dobson said during the last series of classes he taught at Bond Street Dojo.

"I will submit to you that every individual who entered into aikido practice, or the practice of any martial art, did so because of fear."

In principle, I concur with your judgement, but as a matter of simple observation, I must ask why we should expect that aikido politics and the personality structures of aikido leaders would be any less driven by fear than actual politics and the personality structures of actual leaders with genuine authority to exert martial force?

Some train to conquer the subject of fear and some train to conquer the object of fear.

By their fruits you will know them.

Kevin Wilbanks 09-09-2006 02:26 AM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
I don't know that much about Terry Dobson, but I enjoy reading stuff about and by him precisely because what I have read shows me a fearless questioner and seeker of truth. I love it when someone says something that makes most everyone cringe because it is both so unxpected and so true. In the US, we have a proud tradition of comics who have done this, from Lenny Bruce through George Carlin down to Chris Rock today. They have served as our philosophers and radicals when no one else would step up to do the job. Today we see Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert filling this role, to some extent. Speaking truth to power is often left to the jester.

Mike Sigman 09-09-2006 08:46 AM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
Quote:

Fred Little wrote:
"I will submit to you that every individual who entered into aikido practice, or the practice of any martial art, did so because of fear."

Dammit, this is one of my favorite subjects and, while I agree to a small degree with the "fear" thing, I also disagree with it somewhat.

Many people who go into martial arts go somewhat because of "fear", but for many males, underlying that fear (or even quite apart from any fear) is a desire to be able to compete in the herd for breeding partners. Most of the things we are compelled to do in life can ultimately be attributed to breeding competitions or getting noticed in a way that makes us desireable as a breeding partner. As one stage actor related a conversation he'd had with Sir Lawrence Olivier when he'd wailed, "Oh Larry, why do we do it? Why do we give so much of ourselves for the public?"

Olivier replied, "We do it for 'look at me', 'look at me', 'look at me'."

Many things are done for that reason, including martial arts. It doesn't have to be fear. ;) Watch the dojo politics sometime and see how much of it can be explained by breeding rituals, including pecking order, etc.

My 2 cents.

Mike

Fred Little 09-09-2006 09:50 AM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Dammit, this is one of my favorite subjects and, while I agree to a small degree with the "fear" thing, I also disagree with it somewhat.

Many people who go into martial arts go somewhat because of "fear", but for many males, underlying that fear (or even quite apart from any fear) is a desire to be able to compete in the herd for breeding partners. Most of the things we are compelled to do in life can ultimately be attributed to breeding competitions or getting noticed in a way that makes us desireable as a breeding partner. As one stage actor related a conversation he'd had with Sir Lawrence Olivier when he'd wailed, "Oh Larry, why do we do it? Why do we give so much of ourselves for the public?"

Olivier replied, "We do it for 'look at me', 'look at me', 'look at me'."

Many things are done for that reason, including martial arts. It doesn't have to be fear. ;) Watch the dojo politics sometime and see how much of it can be explained by breeding rituals, including pecking order, etc.

My 2 cents.

Mike


Mike:

I agree. This is just a question of labelling and drawing useful analytical distinctions, not of the underlying phenomena.

We could talk past each other for years if we obsess on the labelling.

I would just suggest that the flip side of "desire to have/desire to get" is "fear of not having/fear of not getting/fear of having and losing."

Obviously, or maybe not so obviously, I'm glossing over a huge area involving a biologically identifiable "fear response," pecking order and reproduction based triggers, and more culture-specific triggers that invoke those underlying mechanisms.

Like suffering, fear is an interesting phenomon because it can arise through anticipation or remembrance in ever more subtle forms.

Ah well.

Best,

FL

gdandscompserv 09-09-2006 11:11 AM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote:
Many people who go into martial arts go somewhat because of "fear", but for many males, underlying that fear (or even quite apart from any fear) is a desire to be able to compete in the herd for breeding partners. Most of the things we are compelled to do in life can ultimately be attributed to breeding competitions or getting noticed in a way that makes us desireable as a breeding partner.

You mean chicks dig me because I do aikdo? :D

Kevin Wilbanks 09-09-2006 11:34 AM

Re: iwama note, censored?
 
I think reductionist explanations of human behavior based on wild evolutionary speculation are mostly nonsense. To start with, humans and their evolutionary precursors are not and never were herd animals. Next, plenty of women are competitive, yet according to this type of thinking they should be programmed to sit around and preen or something. Plenty of humans are happily monogamous yet still ultra-competitive - they already "competed" for their mate and won the one they want, yet they still go on to try to get the most money or win at sports, etc... The list of potential objections goes on and on.

The primary problem with all this evolution-based fad thinking is that we really don't know jack about how people or pre-people behaved tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago. What we have is a few bones and tool fragments and a whole bunch of made-up stuff.

The secondary problem is with reductionism in general. When you reduce the complexities of a system - in this case human behavior - down to a few simple principles, you end up with a cartoon that has little explanatory power. The rationalizations needed to stretch the model to fit all the objections become increasingly convoluted and eventually ridiculous.

This time its evolutionary this-or-that, last time around it was Freudian-based, with everything reduced to phallic symbols and the desire to screw one's mother, before that it was a rationalist model that posited all human behvior could be boiled down to logic. In a couple decades, the new reductionist fad will look just as silly as the old one.

Mike Sigman 09-09-2006 03:46 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
OK, OK.... my original objection was to the blanket use of the term "fear". Sort of like I heard someone on TV the other night assert that many people have "poligamiphobia" because they don't like poligamists ... i.e., they "fear polygamy". It's easy to lump too many peoples' reactions under "fear", when actually it can just be a distaste or a dislike of a given circumstance.

Someone may well decide that Aikido (or any martial art) is a good thing to do, for some reason, but the suggest that it is "fear" causing them to want to learn martial arts is probably categorizing too much under the topic of "fear". I took Aikido out of curiosity... and I'm sure a lot of people have varying reasons.

FWIW

Mike

DonMagee 09-09-2006 04:31 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
I started martial arts as a kid because I wanted to be a ninja turtle. My adult return to martial arts was not because of fear. It was because I was looking to do something cool and get into shape. Though that I found competition and judo/bjj. I found I loved competition and now I am where I am today.

I'm sure a lot of martial artists get into martial arts because of fear. Some also never test themselves and let the fear build into something very uhealthy. I had a conversation a few weeks back with a kid who started at my bjj club. After about a week of training we were talking and he said he wished bjj was more realistic in a street self defense arena. I asked him what he ment and he talked about how sport oriented it was and how he wished we talked more about dealing with groin stirkes, eye gouges, leg pinches, and pavement. It was at that moment that I realized he was actually afraid of getting attacked on the streets. I asked the guys I trained with if they were worried about self defense. I found that most of the guys in gym didn't even concider self defense as a reason to train. Some where there for fun, some for money they win in the ring, some for the coolness factor, and some because they loved the sport and wanted to make something of themselves. I asked if they thought they could defend themselves on the street, and they said either that they felt they could handle a single guy no problem, or they wouldn't want to fight on the street because there might be a gun or weapon. This is a stark difference from a few clubs I've visited in my area that train in non-sport martial arts. These guys seem to focus all of their energy on self defense. They talk about how dangerious the streets are, they talk about getting home alive. They talk about how stuff they do is too deadly for the ring. Very few are honest enough to admit they would not do well in a ring. They want to belive they are deadly no matter what the encounter. This is arrogance and fear. This is the trap we all need to be watchful of. It is fine to concider self defense an important issue and to train for it. But we need to always keep honesty in our training. Honesty is the most important thing we have. Otherwise we are just dancing and telling ourselves we are bad dudes.

Because of my sport training I know my physical limits. I know exactly what I can and can't do. I know the limits of my cardio, strength, speed, technique. I can look at a guy and determine if he will give me trouble or not in a matter of a few seconds with fairly good accuracy (looks can be deceiving now and then). I also have the honesty to say what I am and am not prepared for. How many people train death strikes but really do not have it any them to take a life. Regardless of if the technique works, what is the point of training something you would not have the heart to use? Why carry a gun you never shoot? I know exactly what it takes to do what I do, and I know I am prepared to do it because I do it on a dialy basis already.

I didn't want to write self defense vs sport but I aways seem to end up talking about it. So I'll shut up now and leave you with this. No matter how you train, or what you focus on, make sure you are prepared to do what you train to do for real, and make sure you know what it takes to do it, and be honest with yourself.

Kevin Wilbanks 09-09-2006 04:36 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
I would apply the same objections to reductionism to Dobson's statement. I don't think it's true as a blanket statement, but I like the fact that he said it. I think fear of being victimized by someone else is definitely among the main motivations behind peoples' interest in martial arts.

In the US, this kind of fear is wildly exaggerated for many people. Fear of crime is a major cornerstone of our culture - the subject of innumerable movies, tv shows, and political campaigns, and of course now we're moving on to terrorism. Statistically speaking, if our fears were rationally based on the actual odds of suffering horribly or dying most of us would live in fear of smoking cigarettes and overeating. Then we'd move on to environmental toxins and clumsy behavior around the house... there would barely be room on our fear roster for worrying about getting jumped by thugs in the street, and getting killed in a terrorist attack would rank somewhere down near getting hit by a meteor.

Kevin Leavitt 09-10-2006 08:28 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Fear is an interesting concept. One where semantics come deeply into play. I think there are things that we tend to label as "fear" that are rational in nature. It is good to have a healthy respect for fire for instance. There is a rational base for that. Some might say that rational respect is fear. I don't think so, I kinda label it common sense (based on rationality).

What I call fear is assumptions and actions taken based on ignorance of the unknown. Many of our actions related to the terrorist attacks fall into this category. In the dojo we presumpt attacks with action when we are fearful of the presumed consequences of waiting. We may not possess the knowledge or the skill to respond more appropriately with the right action.

I think aikido/martial arts are a wonderful allegory and practice for helping us understand the basis of fear. As we practice to gain the knowledge of experience, we can be much more skillful in our actions and expand our ability to conquer the fear and see things for what they really are.

Not an easy feat. But I think if more people tried to "seek to understand, before being understood", as Steven Covey puts it, we would be well on our way to conquering fear in our society. To me, it is really as simple as that!

However, much that in our society is geared toward perpetuating fear or capitalizing on it. "buy this item or you will not be "in" or "cool". "no one likes fat people, buy our products and you will lose weight". "you too can be happy and free...just 39.99 a month!".

Even many of our religions are based on fear based. "you will go to hell, unless you repent". I suppose this is okay if your base belief is that God is something to fear, but frankly I think that practices should be based on love and moving towards God with compassion, than using fear as the base of motivation.

Anyway, interesting conversation on a core topic of what is important about aikido and martial arts.

Mike Sigman 09-10-2006 08:35 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Acknowledging somewhat the dangers of reductionism (although I hasten to point out that everything is rightfully subject to certain amounts of reductionism), I think the problem is the overwide use of the term "fear". Still, there's one related use of "fear" that I constantly refer to and which I find often useful in decision-making involving people:

People decide to do things either out of fear or out of love; most people do most things out of fear.

USD .02

Mike

Kevin Wilbanks 09-10-2006 02:52 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Quote:

Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Fear is an interesting concept. One where semantics come deeply into play. I think there are things that we tend to label as "fear" that are rational in nature. It is good to have a healthy respect for fire for instance. There is a rational base for that. Some might say that rational respect is fear. I don't think so, I kinda label it common sense (based on rationality).

What I call fear is assumptions and actions taken based on ignorance of the unknown.

I don't think I can go along with your definitions here. It seems to me that you are packing it with extra intellectual baggage in reaction to the idea that fear is bad or shameful. I would get rid of all that complication and identify fear as a sort of basic emotion, or maybe even something 'lizard-brained' and more simple and basic than an emotion. You can feel it in your body.

If your house is on fire, you'll probably feel it. It also happens to be rational in that case, as you and/or your loved ones could die, and all the stuff you worked hard to accumulate is in danger of being destroyed. In this case, it is probably helping you by providing you with adrenaline and motivation to take drastic action. This is presumably it's origin: it's like a save-your-ass overdrive mechanism... going back to questionable evolutionary speculation.

If you experience a lot of house fires, it's likely you won't feel it very much anymore. You have become used to the situation, and maybe not feeling fear is more useful, in that you are say, a firefighter and need more informed and calculated responses to what happens. I don't think either case is necessarily more rational.

With issues like crime and terrorism fear, I think the problem is both unconscious and calculated efforts by people involved with various mass media to stimulate the feeling in people for their own benefit. Entertainment often pushes the fear button because it is a strong type of stimulation - it gets people to pay attention to reading materials, shows and movies, which can motivate them to pay for the entertainment product itself or sit still long enough that their attention can be sold to advertisers through commercial placements. Politically, fear can be used to motivate people to vote a certain way that is probably contrary to their rational interests, or to lure their attention away from other things the politicians and their cronies are doing that would be more difficult to get away with under scrutiny.

I really think this is why society seems so irrationally fear-ridden nowadays, moreso than in prior eras where people were faced far more real danger: mass media. If one could come up with a way to quantify and measure how much fear people felt and the extent to which it motivated them, I think studies would show the magnitudes directly proportional to how much time they spend watching TV and consuming other mainstream mass-media products.

Ron Tisdale 09-11-2006 08:38 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Kevin...strangely enough, your last post reminded me strongly of a film by Michael Moore, where he spoke of the fear pushed by the media in the evening news and other venues. While I don't agree with or even like everything he says / does, I have to admit that his comments on the fear mongering media struck a strong cord with me.

Best,
Ron

akiy 09-11-2006 09:57 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
I just wanted to step in and request that this thread please stay on the topic of aikido. Thank you.

-- Jun

ChrisMoses 09-11-2006 10:15 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Quote:

Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
If your house is on fire, you'll probably feel it. It also happens to be rational in that case, as you and/or your loved ones could die, and all the stuff you worked hard to accumulate is in danger of being destroyed. In this case, it is probably helping you by providing you with adrenaline and motivation to take drastic action. This is presumably it's origin: it's like a save-your-ass overdrive mechanism... going back to questionable evolutionary speculation.
[snip]

With issues like crime and terrorism fear, I think the problem is both unconscious and calculated efforts by people involved with various mass media to stimulate the feeling in people for their own benefit. [snip]

I really think this is why society seems so irrationally fear-ridden nowadays, moreso than in prior eras where people were faced far more real danger: mass media. If one could come up with a way to quantify and measure how much fear people felt and the extent to which it motivated them, I think studies would show the magnitudes directly proportional to how much time they spend watching TV and consuming other mainstream mass-media products.

Wanted to make a couple comments, working backwards...

I took a Social Psychology class recently and they talked quite a bit about the phenomenon you're describing. People have heightened fear reactions to things that (among other things) are particularly terrible/traumatic or that they hear about frequently though the media. This is one reason why anecdotal evidence is terrible. You might hear about two muggings in a park, but you won't hear about the 10,000 people a day who pass through the park safely (pulling that example from nowhere by the way). Remember in the 80's when *everyone* was getting kidnapped? Apparently the rates weren't highter than the 60's or 70's. But national news coverage carried those stories more frequently. Same thing with violent crime rates. Even though it's been shown that people are more likely to report violent crime today, and violent crimes take up a much greater percentage of our news coverage (particularly TV) the rates have been on a general decline for quite some time (and in most areas). An example of the first phenomenon is airplane travel. The thought of falling to your death in a failing and flaming airplane is terrible, so despite the fact that you are statistically more likely to die in a car crash, more people have a fear of flying than driving. I ride a motorcycle and while the statistics could be better, one study recently suggested that I have a much better chance of dying from a hospital mistake than riding my bike.

Second, I got to experience a bit of PCS on Saturday night when I caught someone trying to break into my house and confronted them. While many people have a fear of a break in, during the encounter, I didn't feel scared at all. I felt really really amped, and could recognize the signs that I had a huge adrenaline hit (my legs were trembling but stable, but it seemed to be mostly confined to my lower limbs, I didn't have any tremors in my arms and my fine motor skills seemed ok). The event was limited to a verbal confrontation and he wasn't able to get into the house and I chose to call the police rather than follow him and put myself at any greater risk. It's funny how often the things that we are most scared of don't feel scary when we are in the midst of them.

All for now.

Mike Sigman 09-11-2006 10:22 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Quote:

Christian Moses wrote:
It's funny how often the things that we are most scared of don't feel scary when we are in the midst of them.

It's sort of like a fear of public speaking... the best way around it is to do a lot of public speaking and the fear tends to go away. I think the Aikido dojo's that have regular end-of-class freestyle practice will tend to do a lot to help people get used to adrenaline rush and how to handle it in a real confrontation like you mentioned. In that sense, the idea of taking Aikido to help reconcile some perfectly normal "fears" isn't wrong.

FWIW

Mike

Luc X Saroufim 09-11-2006 10:47 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
unfortunately i suffered two minor shoulder injuries doing some bad Ukemi. i'm still in my first 10 months of training. fear takes many shapes and forms. even when we're just warming up, it's always in the back of my mind: "maybe this is the time i hurt it again".

Dennis Hooker 09-11-2006 10:58 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
I do not believe fear had anything to do with why I started boxing and martial arts. And I started Aikido as a way re-socialize myself and make me a person fit to live in society and be a better father and husband, I believe it worked.

Kevin Wilbanks 09-11-2006 11:28 AM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Believe it or not, I stumbled on the general idea of Aikido in a dream, and it had a big effect on my fears of assault.

I had dreams all through my childhood and occasionally into adulthood that I would be in some kind of fight or situation where I needed to hit someone, but couldn't. When I tried, the air was like gelatin or sand and it deccelerated my limbs, rendering punches and kicks far too weak to do any damage - a variation on a classic dream. I also had zombie dreams where I had destructive power, but the zombies were nearly indestructible. The zombies had to be pretty near annihilated before they would quit. The dream would get really gross and I would get tired of doing gruesomely violent things to the them and wake up before I really got many to stop coming for me. I guess I can thank 'Night of the Living Dead' for those.

Anyway, one time I had a dream where several guys stole all my tools. I tracked them up to a second floor apartment. I wasn't scared of them because I was determined to retrieve my tools, I think. I burst in on them, and when they attacked me, I simply threw them out an open window, one by one. What I did was sort of like kokyu throws, although more simple and not really spiral, but circular and horizontal - a couple of times I swung a guy in a complete horzontal circle before tossing him out the window. It was nearly effortless and I felt good, and I don't think I ever had the weak punching dreams again. I may have still had some of the zombie dreams, but those eventually died out too.

At this time I had heard and maybe read a little about Aikido, but not much, and I don't think I even started practicing until at least two years later. It was interesting that in my mind I was at some sort of impasse with the idea of fights, which perhaps even had some symbolic and deeper psychological significance having to do with fear itself. I didn't run from the 'fights', but I couldn't win them. Then a third way came up, either borrowed from suggestion or 'discovered', in which I used a very Aikido-like strategy and movement principle, and in one dream the problem was gone.

Erick Mead 09-11-2006 01:20 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Quote:

Dennis Hooker wrote:
I do not believe fear had anything to do with why I started boxing and martial arts. And I started Aikido as a way re-socialize myself and make me a person fit to live in society and be a better father and husband, I believe it worked.

I don't know that I sign on to Dobson's premise entirely, either. However, not to be too presumptuous, Sensei, but fear is not always directed merely toward external possibilities. Given a certain personal history, killing may become entirely too easy a recourse for moral comfort. History in general shows that it is by no means difficult or rare for this to happen in a society. This is a point that seems to been deeply concerning to O-Sensei in his creation of aikido from experience in the consequences of both.

It is a point allowed by, but may not have been meant by, your statement.

Lyle Bogin 09-12-2006 04:19 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
But in a sense, Mr. Hooker, weren't you afraid of not being a good husband, father, or citizen?

Perhaps that's just semantic....

Fear was a big motivator for me, after being on the receiving end of violence with no ability to respond. But that fear is gone.

Basia Halliop 09-12-2006 04:39 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Quote:

But in a sense, Mr. Hooker, weren't you afraid of not being a good husband, father, or citizen?
If we're talking about fear in the wider sense of the word, then can't almost any motive be described as fear of its opposite? Fear of being unhealthy, fear of letting your mind dull, fear of having a boring or meaningless life...?

Without knowing the original person who said it, I don't know if they meant it in that very general sense or if they meant something more specific (i.e., fear of violent physical attack as a motivator for learning a physical method of self-defense). My own hunch would be the latter, though. In which case, I really don't think I agree, unless people (myself included) are awefully good at hiding their true motives it from me.

Gernot Hassenpflug 09-12-2006 07:25 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Many time fear comes out of ignorance, out of lack of understanding. In order to conquer that fear, which is many times a component or extension of confusion, we seek knowledge. I think ignorance and confusion most directly transmute into fear when they are on the physical level, based on our instincts as living beings. Intellectual-based confusion does not as easily move to fear (even if we are at risk of losing our jobs owing to some degree of intellectual incompetence, to take an extreme case). A martial art is an easy target for a fearful/confused person, not so different from the desire to own a gun or other weapon. This is, I think, because at least initially, such a "reaction to fear" sees the solution as an external appendage. This is necessarily the case if there is ignorant confusion, i.e., lack of understanding. However, with a martial art, ideally weaponless, the training should teach basci body skills which give understanding through experience, leading to less confusion and ignorance, and thus less fear. Fear becomes rational. I have met many people in martial arts for whom the art is still an external thing, and who still suffer from the same confusion as before. It is a matter of time and dedicated practice, combined with proper teaching, to change such individuals into confident persons. This is a great benefit of the practice of martial arts, and I think this can be seen as a very spiritual thing also.

jonreading 09-13-2006 01:10 PM

Re: Fear in Aikido
 
Don't confuse fear with anxiety. Anxiety is that worrisome emotion that is similar to fear, but not fear. Fear is an immediate state of being, "I fear driving." Anxiety is a predictive state of anticipation, "I am anxious about driving tomorrow." I think many people misdiagnose anxiety for fear. Fear should not be a constant emotion in your life. If you can substitute "fear" with "worry," you probably are more accurate in your diagnosis by doing so. I may worry about being a good dad, but I do not fear being a dad.

If you have acrophobia, your life is altered by that fear. Acrophobiacs do not fly, they do not lean over railings, they do not climb mountains. Every day for their entire life, acrophobiacs experience fear when they use the esclalator, or look out of a tall building, or climb a ladder. Fear changes who we are and how we live. Most of us don't truly experience fear, we experience anxiety. We worry about looking fat, or being uncool. We worry about what clothes we wear, or if traffic will make us late for work.

In aikido, many students that train from a state of fear are the products of violence. A condition altered their life such that they experience fear when they walk down alleys, or past shadows. There are so many reasons to train aikido, I do not believe fear is the pre-dominant one.


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