Re: Poll: How often do you find yourself having to suppress your own natural responses as uke during aikido practice?
I have a small problem with the term "counterintuitive". People throw this term around a lot but I don't think many really understand the implication of what they are saying (or writing).
Let me begin with a bit of a disclaimer, this is by no means any type of attack on Patrick's post, just a comment on the use of the word "counterintuitive" which if you bear with my long-winded manner of presentation actually relates to the topic at hand.
If you throw a cat out the second story window (I'm not advocating animal cruelty, and don't specifically recommend that anyone actually conduct this experiment, this is meant purely anecdotally), it somehow manages to land on its feet. The cat's reaction is not intuitive, it's instinctual.
Intuition has to do with knowing something without knowing how you know; it has to do with perception and awareness. Aikido is all about intuition. There is nothing counterintuitive about Ukemi or Nage waza. You have to be intuitive to know where you are going and what is happening to you or around you.
Instinct is about reacting to external stimuli without cognitive functions. It is both inherent and learned. Aikido is all about instinct; specifically, understanding our own instinctive responses to our intuitive knowledge, and changing them to better suit ourselves.
Most of our perceived "natural" responses are actually learn instinctual behavior. Think about this, the first time you were ever pushed, you most likely just fell down. You didn't push back, because you most likely were only 1 or 2 years old at the time. Now, though the immediate reaction, is to push back. If instinct is 100% purely, naturally inherent and ingrained in us since birth, the first time you got pushed, you would have pushed back. Knock a baby over (again not advocating child abuse here), it doesn't try to break its fall by locking its arms out. It just falls down. That's why children hit their heads rather than break their little arms or collar bones. However; over time, we learn the value of trying to "catch" ourselves during the fall and learn to try and "brace" ourselves against the impact. That's part of the reason why adults tend to break.
What we often believe is an unlearned, "natural" response or behavior is often not. That is why in most martial arts you have to "unlearn what you have learned" in order to progress. This is apparent in many other aspects of life as well as just the physical.
An open mind, open heart, relaxed posture with keen awareness gives us the truest form of our natural state, and it is only from there that we generate our most "natural" responses. But 99.99999% of us have never been there since we were babies.....