Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: quickness & accuracy
Quote: "A few common once that I noticed, for example, were laughing and treating the drill as a game, wincing, ducking, turning away, taking very wide and big steps back away from the attack."
This is very common. In my experience, it is done for many reasons but it always carries with it the same meaning: an attempt to disengage from the drill in effort to reduce the drills efficacy at revealing the small self and/or experiencing the small self in an open and communal setting. For example in regards to laughing (listing some possibilities among many), some people laugh to hide, or disguise, or to cover-up, and/or to "reduce" the disparity between their perceived self-image in regards to their martial skill and their actual skill level as it is revealed to them in being unable to stop someone from hitting them in as advantageous and as pristine a setting as the dojo. (Often these folks tend to talk about how the drill is unfair and/or how they would in reality do something different -- e.g. hit someone getting that close; enter; grapple; etc.) In this sense, laughing can be a habitual reaction to pride. Other people laugh because the violence (not matter how controlled) touches parts of them that they are not ready to confront or to reconcile and/or to expose so openly and/or obviously. Hence, you can also get the attacker laughing for a similar reason. (Of course, crying, and many other emotions, can also happen on both sides for this reason as well.) In this sense, laughing can be a habitual reaction to fear. Others start laughing because they have no idea what is going on, no idea why it is going on, and/or what they are supposed to do while it is going on. It is like they are flooded by a wave of absurdity and/or meaninglessness while they have burdened themselves with finding sense and meaning -- yet they themselves are at the center of that absurdity and/or meaninglessness. In this sense, laughing can be a habitual reaction to ignorance.
What is really interesting to note, aside from what is obviously being revealed at a personal level, is how so little of this stuff, or how none of this stuff, comes up in standard Kihon Waza training. Many of us are quite comfortable in Kihon Waza training -- we do without these demons day after day. There is little pressure to disengage from the training in an effort to reduce the effects of self-revelation. This is one reason why you can get folks that have no problem participating in even very intense Kihon Waza training only to act completely otherwise within this type of training environment. For the rest of us, folks that did have a lot of similar pressures within Kihon Waza training, even if initially we may have experienced some moments of anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty, whatever it was, it was nowhere near this other level of self-revelation/exposure.
Quote: "This why I'm not sure I want to repeat the experiment in a class that I lead, I don't think I can offer that support. I might prefer to ask a few people and just train by ourselves at free practice time."
I do no think that any one person can support such self-examination. This is my opinion. Really, it is a group effort -- one that demonstrates the reason why all viable systems of self-reflection always made good use of a community (i.e. like-minded individuals coming together for reasons of support and guidance). This does not mean that we do not benefit from a mentor, but it does mean that a mentor cannot be expected to support everything and every one in total. It might be a good idea to simply start out with a smaller group -- one from which you can learn the various ins and outs of such training -- things you can use to then go on to address the needs of larger groups of people. Not a bad idea at all.
Quote: "I asked my husband to try this today, at home, actually. Now he wasn't willing to really hit me, but OTOH he has the advantage of not being shy to touch me anywhere. Tickling can be very startling. I could keep my gaze level but it felt "hard", it felt like I created a lot of mental space between us that I didn't like, especially with someone I love. The experience I had in the dojo was similar, and I wonder if it's possible to not have that mental pushing away (I dunno if that describes it well) but to be more open towards the attack, in a way. I didn't find it hard to keep calm and facing the attack (up to a certain level of intensity), but the difference between open and closed calm, so to say."
This too is a very common reaction to the drills. I would tend to understand this "mental pushing away" in a manner similar to what was mentioned above -- even if we want to define it as a difference between open and closed calm. In my experience, it represents a kind of resistance to the present in which we are finding ourselves (for whatever reason). In addition, like what was mentioned above, it also says something about how we can train in Kihon Waza just fine without experiencing this resistance (which is really the source of all resistance -- in my opinion). It might be saying that we are non-resistant only under controlled and/or what some have called "fair weather" conditions. However, under more pressing matters, our habitual reaction to resist, to not accept, to not blend, to not harmonize with, to not "welcome the attack and the attacker" (as Osensei said), comes to the forefront. We are really talking about an amazing relationship between the mind and the body -- one we must uncover and reconcile before we go on to practice Aiki martially (i.e. in real life). The really interesting part is this: When you can still practice non-resistance against an attacker (e.g. not mentally pushing away your training partner in this type of drill), the level of intimacy is even greater than if you were practicing non-resistance under fair weather conditions in Kihon Waza with a "partner". For this reason, in actuality, should you come to reconcile this the source of all resistance, you would actually generate greater, closer, more intimate relationships with those others in your dojo. At least this has been my experience.
Anyways, because of your level of insight, your willingness to expose yourself to such pressures in your own training, and your candid honesty, your integrity of character, etc. -- you sound amazing to me and you have come to inspire me a great deal more in my own pursuits. For this, and for sharing in this discussion, I am very grateful.