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Old 01-06-2006, 02:03 PM   #17
Budd's Avatar
Dojo: Taikyoku Budo - NY, MD
Location: Williamsville, NY
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 932
Re: Fight or Quit: there is no choice

I train at the Itten Dojo (where Mr. Wolfe, author of 'Fight, or Quit', is the dojocho).

We have another saying in our dojo with regard to our physical conditioning -- "Work to Failure", which doesn't mean that we should embrace failure -- or even consider it as a legitimate option, but that if you don't keep working to and beyond your limits, you're likely not maximizing your physical development.

Here's a simple example: one of the exercises we do involves a feet-slightly-wider than shoulders stance and bending on each side (keeping your back straight) as you attempt to sit your rear to the foot-heel of each side (while keeping both feet flat on the mat). We go all the way down on one side, back to neutral, then all the way down on the other side.

Rinse, then repeat.

This exercise comes towards the end of the conditioning set after several other exercises. Some people have blown through their first wind and are on their second. Others are pushing just to keep up with the group. Most everyone is sweaty and breathing heavily.

It should be noted that one of the things we emphasize is proper form because we're building the core strength and flexibility that will enable the students to appropriately move through the aiki practice with relaxed, precise and proper movement. A big point is made to beginners that the number of reps is of secondary concern, but proper form is primary.

Regardless, a number of folks (I've been in this boat myself) are so concerned with trying to match the rest of the class, rep for every rep, that the form of the exercise is lost. In the specific exercise I listed above, there are people that simply lean from one leg to the other, completely out of alignment, and not doing much of anything towards building the requisite body focus and mobility that will be required, for a basic example, when applying nikkyo as nage maintains the connection with uke as they drop straight down.

Where this "Work to Failure" axiom leads, in my opinion, is the acceptance of our built-in limitations as we constantly work towards improving our form, endurance, functional strength, body sensitivity, partner sensitivity (the latter two being more with regard to "What am/are I/they doing?" as opposed to "How am/are I/they doing?"), etc. Every person has a breaking point, this is acknowledged going in - part of what's trained is the ability to identify that point and begin to work through and expand it.

I think that "Fight, or Quit" involves acknowledging what's at stake, what your limits may be, but not allowing them to dissuade you from getting the job done. From my perspective, if you've spent time on the mat "Working to Failure", you'll be better equipped to work past it when important matters are on the line (and this applies to far more than just aikido).
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