How do you teach them that, though? I'm assuming there's more to it that just explaining those words to them, but I'm wondering what the teaching looks like in practice, if they aren't actually dealing with pain when they're training. Is it like, they are taught and practice not pushing back and the goal is to make it enough of an automatic habit that it they do encounter pain, they already have the right habit of how to respond? Or there is occasionally some pain, it's just very mild, but it's enough that they can try out ways of responding and learn the correct response that works and cement it into the automatic part of their brain? Basically, if they don't encounter pain when they're training, how do you prevent the panic response when they do encounter pain, where they get surprised and respond in a way that makes it worse? Or have I misunderstood what's meant by not causing pain?
It's actually kind of like acquiring a foreign language. It's best done in the country where it's used all the time so you can spend every moment swimming in it. In other words, my sad attempts at explaining it on the internet are ineffective when compared to spending 30 minutes on the mats would be. Once you have that physical context, the words will make a lot more sense. Without it, they aren't of much use. The best way to learn this is to find someone who has the "stuff" and plug into them as often as possible.
Earlier, I said "Don't push back." I take this to heart. Literally. I don't want to fight your technique with physical strength (unless I have a specific lesson or experiment in mind). If you push me, I turn. If you pull me, I enter. I never want to push back or try to stop you with muscular force (i.e. "resist"). I've worked for quite a while to get that monkey-brain-level instinct to push back out of my system. It isn't completely gone by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a little more under control now than it was.
If I shove you, what is your natural response? Likely, it will be to push back (resist). That response might work if you're stronger or have superior position, but it ceases to make sense if the "push" is a knife to the chest or a finger to the eye. This said, how can you, in the 'heat of the moment,' decide to change how your body is going to respond on an almost subconscious, cellular level? You can't. It has to be part of your training in everything that you do so that it becomes the new you. You can't dabble. It's in how you train every moment, how you open doors, how you play with a puppy, how you make a peanut butter and jelly sammich... There are no tricks. There are no "moves." There is only a reprogrammed you.
Mr. Miyagi wrote:
Walk on road, hmmm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, [squish] get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do "yes" or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so"... [squish] just like grape. Understand?
We teach this idea of not fighting... not pushing back... from day one. It's ingrained in our approach to teaching people to receive force with their bodies and emotions (i.e. ukemi). Water doesn't fight... it flows and finds the cracks. But, if everyone (and I mean everyone) you train with isn't on the same page (at their respective levels), you may be doomed to failure while attempting to learn this.