Brian Barnard wrote:
If I may, I'd like to touch on a few points:
I agree wholeheartedly that a lot of training in kata with each other is an excellent way to build trust. It is my belief however that that is also part of the problem with these types of drills. To have someone that I know and trust attack me does not seem in order. I believe this is where many of the psychological issues may stem from. In these drills it is necessary, for me at least, NOT to think of my "attacker" as someone I know and trust, and to detach myself from that harmony I share with this person. While it is impossible to create the feelings of "UN-safety" and maliciousness that would be presented in a real life situation, I find it very important to think of these attacks as coming from an opponent. After all I would have to call these drills much more psychological than physical in nature and while we are all aware of the physical effects an attack can have it is difficult to understand the psychological response we react to the situation with unless we've dealt with it before. In order to truly follow the path we must use Aikido both inside and outside of the Dojo. In time do we not change the way we breath, the way we walk, the way we look at the world outside of the Dojo? We begin to take a different outlook on everything as time progresses, of course, because this is the way we chose to follow. If I train as if I was always in harmony, I'd have little idea what to do when my harmony became disrupted.
Also I agree that 2 beginners are more likely to join if left to do so. This has obvious benefits of course such as progressing together. I also believe it is very important for, not only instructors, but senior students to try and bring newer members in. It was difficult for me walking in to understand the relationships between Aikidoka at my school. While there was camaraderie where I had trained previously, it was nowhere near to this. I believe that this too is part of the fundamental nature of Aikido. To bring a new student to this level of understanding is also one of our responsibilities.
I have also seen people leave because they couldn't accept the closeness shared between all those at the Dojo. I've had people I've never met tell me if there's anything they can do to help just ask (people that meant it), and on more than a few occasions been told that I'm welcome to train somewhere if I'm ever in town, even though I don't pay dues there. On a few occasions when times were rougher for me and thought I would have to take several weeks or months away I was told It to "bring what you can when you can". I've even had friends I've known for many years who did not train question the way I interact with other Aikidoka. It has been beyond me to explain these things to them though I try.
Friendship is a complicated thing to explain, but I feel I have a duty to my friends that follow the way (i.e. all of us) to help them to the extant I can along their path. This includes discussing philosophy, listening if they have a problem, or stepping up the pressure when the time is right. I would hope my friends feel the same.
As a former Law Enforcement Officer, it was standard learning to study the adrenaline dump (Through PPCT combat and the effects on the body and mind actually). I do not push this statistical knowledge at anyone, but I found it interesting to study. The content of the material I had was confined to basically Police Officers under duress. As we all know there are many factors to be taken in. By focusing (Centering, staying calm etc..) we can have some effect on the bodies systems. The human is a complex thing and the body can "learn" to do the "impossible". While we must still train the body, my opinion (though it may be wrong) is that it is also as important to train the mind and spirit (or train the mind and spirit to train the body).
Anyone can learn to fight, many can learn to fight and "win". I follow this path not to fight, but to overcome any of life's confrontations by bringing them to my Way, our Way. Sorry if I went a little astray.