R: Resistance, Relaxation, and Resolution
Breathe in, resistance
Breathe out, relaxation
I have often heard that the hardest things to learn are often the most important. Even though it is simple, it does not mean it is easy. I also heard that finding peace is simple; it is find simplicity that is hard. I have often been kidded that I am simple. Guess I am lucky that way.
Resistance: (1) confrontation, (2) opposition, (3) refusal to give in, (4) ability to withstand damaging effect, (5) ability to say no to temptation, (6) force opposing another force, (7) repression of thoughtsA confrontation may be a fight, a battle, a struggle, or a conflict. Opposition may be a refusal to accept or go along with, defiance, or a challenge.
Some would say that what we resist is what we already know is true.
In the dojo, it is often hard to tell who is resisting who. Each person is attempting to impose his or her will and intent on the other person. It is often a question of who is in charge. In competition, it is important not to fall for your opponent's fight plan but to make them play by yours. This is certainly easier said than done. Most of us start martial arts to overcome some fear or to avoid being victims. I wanted to learn how to hit people; I did not want to learn how to be hit. I was not resisting my training partner's physical approach and attack, but a basic rule of training. For them to learn, I had to allow them to be successful. I resisted the idea of nonresistance. This wasn't conscious, it is just how I was raised and trained. If you got pushed, push back. If you got hit, hit back. If you were knocked down, get up and knock them down. Simple rules that did not make life any simpler.
In life, as an individualist, I thought resistance was necessary and a good thing. I may have been a bit stuck in my adolescent developmental rebellion, but it felt right. If I wanted to be independent, I had to resist and fight against other people (with all good intent and advice) telling me what to do. This oppositional and contrary position in thinking and acting got me in more trouble than it ever got me out of. I am fond of quoting Einstein saying that the type of thinking that creates a problem is never the type of thinking that solves it. Resistance is actually just more of the same. Resistance may actual facilitate and perpetuate life's problems more than they resolve them. In program we say that what we resist, persist. I often resisted hearing what I needed to hear and doing what I needed to do.
Relaxation: (1) enjoyable activity or recreation, (2) loosening process, (3) lessening of severity, (4) reduction in intensity, (5) return of system to equilibrium, (6) way of solving equationsIn the dojo, I first learned to use my muscles. That is how I learned the alignment and mechanics of punching and kicking, blocking and locking, grabbing and gouging. It was later that I learned the principles that make those attacks even more effective and efficient. I remember being told that if I were more relaxed my body would not resist my own movements. I could hit and move faster and with more power. All I had to do was relax. Relaxation is a not-doing activity. I did not have to learn to be relaxed, I had to learn how not to tense. How do you learn what not to do? Besides, I had to learn to trust that my skeletal alignment would actually hold me up. I thought if I relaxed, I would simply fall down on the ground as a blob. Learning to relax and internally trust myself was a tough lesson. To become and stay relaxed while under physical attack seemed way beyond my physical and mental skill set.
In life, things were tense too. My teeth have been ground down relatively even due to the stress of grinding them. I would think of things I did not like or agree with and I could feel my body (especially my neck) tense up, often to the point of headaches. I thought the outside events, circumstances, and situations were the cause of my tension, stress, headaches, and anger. This internal response appears to be normal and natural reaction to external things beyond my control. Many of the things were beyond my control. My reaction to them was not. It is amazing how you feel, think, and respond much more appropriately and productively when you do not add to the tension of a tense situation. I used to say, "Shut your mouth and breathe". I would breathe in and breathe out letting my body and mind relax. Instead of reacting, I started responding. Instead of creating, facilitating, and perpetuating the problems, I started to resolve a few.
Resolution: (1) process of resolving, (2) decision, (3) determination, (4) solutions, (5) expression of collective opinion, (6) quality of detail in image, (7) separation into constituent parts, (8) subsiding of symptoms, (9) harmonic progression, (10) final note, (11) part of narrative when conflict if resolvedIn the dojo, I use to think that the correct and appropriate resolution of any engagement was me winning and someone else losing. I was standing and they were not. It was a win-lose proposition that is still very useful in some situations. Some physical confrontations are not going to be resolved peacefully. Some predators will only stop when someone stops them. However, to get in a position to better resolve a situation, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Being a good uke, or training partner, was harder for me than learning how to perform the techniques effectively. Yet, by relaxing and going with the movement, rather than resisting it in some power-struggle, I could actually reposition myself and use their force and momentum to take their balance and resolve the situation. It was not just learning how to counter a technique; I was actually learning to connect with it and redirect it.
In life, if I tried to connect and reposition myself so I could see the other person's point of view, I could attempt to resolve the situation with empathy and compassion rather than power and control. Often in relationships, for me to win I simply had to make sure the other person won. Sometimes resolving a situation is not creating it to begin with. Learning problem-solving, conflict-resolution, and communication-de-escalation skills is very important. Many times life brings up some situations and circumstances that we simply cannot anticipate. We have to respond during or after the fact. In the midst of confusion, conflict, or chaos we can learn to let go of resisting and pushing away people. We can learn to relax and come from a place of physical, mental, and emotional calm. We can learn to re-solve many of our deepest repeated destructive life patterns because we did not solve them before or learn how not to re-create them again.
Breathe in, resistance
Breath out, relaxation
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance and Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
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