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Old 08-09-2006, 12:58 PM   #1
aikidoc
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Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

I have been reading a book by and watching the National Geographic Dog Whisperer show with Cesar Millan. The question crossed my mind: what would be an ideal state of mind for an aikidoka in a real situation?

In my opinion, the calm-assertive mind he claims is the best for pack leaders would apply. Would this be different for different martial arts? calm-aggressive? It would seem to me that victims are in a fearful-submissive state or something approaching it. Put that with a active-aggressive attacker and trouble ensues.

The reason I feel aikido is calm-assertive is the element of controling the situation and staying relaxed. Aggressiveness does not promote relaxation but rather tension.

We make many points about training the body and technique, but what about training the mind? This would seem to be a good thought for teaching self-defense situations.

By the way, for those with pets he makes some excellent points in his book and show.

Last edited by aikidoc : 08-09-2006 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 08-09-2006, 01:54 PM   #2
Michael Brown
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

John--awesome topic--I hope to see lots of thoughtful replies to this thread.

I read some years back a book on the same topic but it was in regards to training and dealng with horses ( I used to wrangle them). If I'm not mistaken, the movie, "The Horse Whisperer," was based on that book I mentioned. Anyway, the same mind-set that one should approach (and establish within) an animal seems to me to be a logical way to deal with our students, each other and the world outside our dojos. Certainly so when things are in conflict. It seems perfectly natural to link that attitude of "calm-assertive" with our favorite martial art. Whether we train a dog to heel or a horse to canter, we are leading them, just like we are to lead our partners intent or energy on the mat. I am an instructor at Aikido of San Jose, and your bringing this up is giving me new thoughts on how to teach more effectively. So, I am guessing the next question here is this: How do we gear the teaching of aikido through a "whispering" style? I never really thought of it in that way, but I can see great strides with this techinique added to all the rest of the ways that aikido is being taught.

Regards,
Mike

Last edited by Michael Brown : 08-09-2006 at 01:56 PM. Reason: removing some repetiton
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Old 08-09-2006, 01:59 PM   #3
markwalsh
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Great question:

Relaxed confidance certainly counds like a good place to start. How about awake as even more fundamental :-)
Some might say mushin or no- mind (or "neither one nor the other") is best - clear like a mirror and all that zen jazz. Called "flow" in Western psyche and associate with peak performance.

I've done some work around comparing people to pack or herd animals before and I'd say the anaology was bascialy flawed, though you can learn a lot from looking at it.

I'm curious as to what's going to come up in this thread. Anyone wana go for drunk? :-)
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Old 08-09-2006, 02:01 PM   #4
markwalsh
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Specific to the horses thing - try a "Leadership and Horses" course with Arianna Strozzi in CA if interested. She's great and gets aikidoka.
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Old 08-09-2006, 02:56 PM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
The question crossed my mind: what would be an ideal state of mind for an aikidoka in a real situation?
Depends on the situation... You knew *someone* was going to say that, right?

The one time I really thought "it was on", the calm-assertive mind worked well. 3 punks in North Philly decided not to try it on. I couldn't run away...my great aunt would have had trouble keeping up in the wheelchair. So I'm glad they changed their minds, and I didn't have to find out if the physical waza was up to snuff.

But I can also see times where going apesnit is appropriate...at least, it worked well for me once or twice in the distant past. Hmm. Very distant. Oh well...maybe not...

I think that mind set *is* trained every time we step on the mat. Just my opinion though.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:11 PM   #6
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
The question crossed my mind: what would be an ideal state of mind for an aikidoka in a real situation?
State of mind? What state of mind? I don't mind at all.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:30 PM   #7
aikidoc
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Depends on the situation... You knew *someone* was going to say that, right?

The one time I really thought "it was on", the calm-assertive mind worked well. 3 punks in North Philly decided not to try it on. I couldn't run away...my great aunt would have had trouble keeping up in the wheelchair. So I'm glad they changed their minds, and I didn't have to find out if the physical waza was up to snuff.

But I can also see times where going apesnit is appropriate...at least, it worked well for me once or twice in the distant past. Hmm. Very distant. Oh well...maybe not...

I think that mind set *is* trained every time we step on the mat. Just my opinion though.

Best,
Ron
Which mind? The calm-assertive or apesnit? Yeah, I knew someone would say it. Contingency mind.

I feel like when I am teaching, I am teaching with a calm assertive mind while at the same time a no-mind. By the no mind, I don't mean blank. I mean a mind that has no preconceptions that is relaxed and responsive.

I'm sure there are those that take issue with Cesar's Way and the pack concept. However, he is pretty amazing with dogs and never has to beat them, yell, raise his voice, or do anything aggressive to change their minds to a calm-submissive mind. Kind of does dog aikido.

He equates mind-states to energy levels. He goes on to state energy and power can be focused and controlled. An ideal aikidoka state if you ask me. He defines calm-assertive as being relaxed and confident that you are in control. This would be a good state to be in during a real combat situation as you can turn up the assertiveness (some may prefer to call this aggressiveness) as needed. Calm-submissive is defined as simply relaxed and receptive. It does not mean you are a push-over, zombie or wimp. An ideal state for students I would think as being receptive and calm would make one more able to learn and more likely to follow rules, boundaries and limitations.

I'm thinking outloud here. I don't have any set answers but I like his thinking. He equates the mind states to energy. Aikido to me is an energy management martial art-whether that be physical or mental energy. Controlling the energy and descalating or lowering destructive energy would seem to be one way of looking at aikido techniques.

Last edited by aikidoc : 08-09-2006 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 08-09-2006, 05:40 PM   #8
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

I have often thought that energy follows focus, ki follows mind, intent and attitude is very important. IMHO, we don't train enough in it.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-09-2006, 05:43 PM   #9
markwalsh
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

You can play with this experimentally. I usually find feeling better than discussion.
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Old 08-10-2006, 07:00 AM   #10
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
You can play with this experimentally. I usually find feeling better than discussion.
I often find that the new information provided by discussion can change my feelings and make my physical practice more productive.

Let's keep whispering, body-mind harmony/unity/connection.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-10-2006, 07:14 AM   #11
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Oops, sorry, I think we train the calm-assertive mind.

Best,
Ron

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Old 08-11-2006, 03:21 AM   #12
Mark Freeman
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
We make many points about training the body and technique, but what about training the mind? This would seem to be a good thought for teaching self-defense situations. .
In the long run we all get older and with it physically less powerfull. I believe that it is the training in the mind's that makes older people able to be so effective in martial arts. Of course perfection of technique is important, but for me the control of the mental energy present in the 'conflict' is where the advantage comes from.
Aikido provides a brilliant tool for the less physically powerfull as 'non resistance' is a core principle. As you have said calm assertiveness is the required state of mind to create aikido. Further mental training must focus on 'feeling' the attackers intent, leading that intent, and maintaining the connection throughout. The body is only a servant of the mind, if we control the mind we control the body.

This is where I belive the capacity to stop a fight before it starts resides, not in the ability to beat them on a physical level ( although knowing you can do this, is the underpinning of the confidence needed )

regards,

Mark

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Old 08-11-2006, 08:52 AM   #13
Basia Halliop
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
However, he is pretty amazing with dogs and never has to beat them, yell, raise his voice, or do anything aggressive to change their minds to a calm-submissive mind. Kind of does dog aikido.
It's not really the point of your post, but I've spoken to some respected dog trainers who would very strongly disagree with that statement . Even on TV he sometimes kicks or strongly shock-collars dogs, gets bitten frequently, etc, and nobody who works a lot with dogs seems to ever have seen a happy relaxed dog with him or one who seemed to like him -- they stand still with every muscle tensed and cross a room to avoid him if they are allowed to (not at all 'calm submissive', let alone eager to work with him, which is the norm with decent trainers). Not exactly doggy-aikido, although sometimes what he *says* makes sense, and even he occasionally does something sensible -- just don't try any of it at home -- it's primarily entertainment. TV is an industry.

The idea of "presence" is interesting, though, and something he apparently uses pretty powerfully (some would argue injudiciously, though -- even 'presence' can be used aggressively vs. assertively).

I believe the horse whisperer was an actual "whisperer," though.
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Old 08-11-2006, 09:23 AM   #14
Basia Halliop
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Hmmm... I can't edit.

Oh well, I'll just add that that's just my opinion and no, I can't prove it . But watching a show while blocking out all humans and watching just the dogs for overall muscle relaxation vs tension, neck stiffness, mouth relaxation, posture, pupil dilation, smooth easy movement, attention, etc might be an interesting exercise. And if nothing else, it's a nice exercise to hone your body-language observation skills, some of which (although not all) do overlap with humans.
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Old 08-11-2006, 10:53 AM   #15
aikidoc
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Re: Aikido Mind-Aikido Whisperer

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
It's not really the point of your post, but I've spoken to some respected dog trainers who would very strongly disagree with that statement . Even on TV he sometimes kicks or strongly shock-collars dogs, gets bitten frequently, etc, and nobody who works a lot with dogs seems to ever have seen a happy relaxed dog with him or one who seemed to like him -- they stand still with every muscle tensed and cross a room to avoid him if they are allowed to (not at all 'calm submissive', let alone eager to work with him, which is the norm with decent trainers). Not exactly doggy-aikido, although sometimes what he *says* makes sense, and even he occasionally does something sensible -- just don't try any of it at home -- it's primarily entertainment. TV is an industry.

The idea of "presence" is interesting, though, and something he apparently uses pretty powerfully (some would argue injudiciously, though -- even 'presence' can be used aggressively vs. assertively).

I believe the horse whisperer was an actual "whisperer," though.
I'm not sure if you have watched the show or not. He works with unbalanced dogs-somewhat like someone actually attacking you in some cases. Yes, in the beginning, he is going to get attacked bitten, etc. The "touches" I have seen him execute, and I have watched a lot of his shows, are always more in the category of taps, even when he uses his foot. Behaviorists would call these pattern interrups. As he points out they are corrections similar to what a pack leader would give. For some vicious dogs (dangerous/red zone) he does have to use the collar-a humane one from what I understand to establish his leadership position and thus gain control and settle down the dogs. I do not agree the dogs appear tense or afraid of him. The behaviors exhibited are ones seen in dogs relating to a pack leader. Tail between legs, ears back and submissive to the leaders position. They know their position in the power heirarchy. He makes the strong point that these are not humans and we need to stop using human psychology on them. Not everyone will agree with his methods. I do agree it's not the point of the thread. I was using it as a reference or starting point to generate discussion on mindsets/martial artist or aikidoka mind when in a real situation or during training.

The conflict situation has a lot of issues similar to what he is talking about: violation of rules, boundaries and limitations and a change in the mind energy. When people get into the mindset where they are going to violate these elements, you can see some definite patterns involved in escalation of the violence such as mind energy agitation. I'm sure this has uses in the case of spousal abuse, etc. Skinnerian behaviorists focus of the observable behavior and the change of that behavior through shaping, positive reinforcement, extinction, etc. It would seem to me that the mind leads the body in this case-i.e., the person's state of mind will manifest itself physically whether executing or defending against violence. I'm not a forensic psychologist but have studied Skinner some. I'm also interested in the mind training aspect. As pointed out, when one gets older, the mind may become more important as one's physical skills deteriorate. Recognition of one's own mind energy and that of the attacker might be useful in de-escalating the situation or attack and controlling it if de-escalation is not possible. Adrenalin can be a nemesis here. Recognizing patterns would allow someone at risk to blend with the person's energy and defuse it by shaping or redirecting, extinction by reinforcing incompatible behaviors (verbally or physically), or as the neurolinguist programmers use: matching physiology, matching or mirroring and then de-escalating.

I'm just throwing out concepts, talking outloud again.
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