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Old 06-11-2007, 08:23 AM   #1
Erick Mead
 
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Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

Quote:
Richard Fox wrote: View Post
Aikido is structured the way it is so that people can learn the movement and need uke to cooperate in order to do that, I understand. But doesn't there need to be some level where this cooperation is no longer done?
This recognizes the question of frustration and opposition and its place in training. A recent study brought me back to the above point from the "aikido attacks" thread, and I decided to make a new thread to explore this tangent.

"Thinking Straight while Seeing Red." http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/33/5/706 -- The short version is that anger actually makes people think more analytically, rather than clouding their analytic reason. And yet anger seems consistently viewed as a negative in fighting arts.

Even though I find conceptual analysis of physical actions useful in reflecting on training and forms of movement, I tend to view aikido (and nearly all high level budo) in application as moving away from rational analysis (this-and-then-that linear causation reasoning) to intuitive perception and and pre-conscious motivation to action (wu-wei). There is support for this in an article about on sports perception posted in the recent discussion about "zanshin" which has strong elements of fudoshin discussed in it as well.
http://www.wired.com/science/discove...6/ff_mindgames

The "Seeing Red" study cited suggests that analytic thought is facilitated by angry, frustrated mood. Frustration and anger will occur in training. They may occur in different ways in different forms of training, and may be dealt with differently in different forms of training.

It intrigues me that not only may frustrated mood affect how we think about what we are doing, but, more importantly -- affect how we do it. One solution to the problem of frustration in training is the linear solution to the cause of it, in which analytic thinking excels The minimal linear solution to defeat an opposing force, A, is necessarily, A+1 -- but that seems unlikely to lead to what I would recognize as aikido.

I wonder whether this is dealt with in the same way in mainstream (non-competitive) forms of training in aikido as compared with those forms that use some element of competitive engagement in their training?.

Does competitive engagement increase anger or frustration as a state of perception? Should it find ways to decrease the level of frustration, or is this a necessary motivational factor in this form of training?

Should training (of whatever kind) be aimed at increasing or decreasing moods of frustration and anger?

If it should be increased, how does one avoid the "forcing" A+1 logic suggested by linear analytic thought when facing opposing force?

If it should be decreased, does working to sublimate or repress the frustration in training serve the same purpose as provoking it?

Should we deal with it in some other way?

The higher levels of martial action are intuitive and the wu-wei/fudoshin/zanshin action state is not analytic (I think this is inarguable). If competitive training is premised on raising frustration levels (which is arguable, but it is often presented that way) and with it, the disposition to analytic thought -- how is competitive training intended lead to the intuitive action state?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:00 PM   #2
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

Thanks, interesting read.

Got to admit, after 30 years of clinical experience (and too many personal ones), IMHO, anger and frustration provides the opportunity to intervene using analyltical thinking (because that is how they were originally created), but by themselves the heighten arousal state is not necessarily conducive to or enhancing of higher intellectual functions.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:19 PM   #3
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

"Emotional content, not anger." - Bruce Lee, Enter The Dragon

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Old 06-12-2007, 10:14 AM   #4
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

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..... Should training (of whatever kind) be aimed at increasing or decreasing moods of frustration and anger?
The FIlipnos would say "decreasing;" they have a saying, "play to learn." The idea is you lear better by taking the pressure off and having fun doing it -- they PLAY. My Kali instructor says Guro Dan Inosanto has said "Whatever you are doing, make a game of it." And WRT Indonesian arts you see the phrase "Silat Player." It's not that they don't take what they're doing seriously, they do, very much so. "Playing" means to study without gettig PO'ed. And Thai Boxers "play" when they spar all day in a hot and humid country: they go at lower intensities so they can learn from what you are doing. My Kali instructor has set the same goal for sparring -- if you can enjoy it, then you start to learn from doing it.

All of this neatly backs up O Sensei's "Always train in a vibrant and joyful manner," doesn't it?

Anger and frustration can backfire, too -- you get mad, you don't want to go to certain classes and/or do certain things. I have that problem with sparring: My perception that I am always a "punching bag with legs" leads me to not like it, and that gets in the way! Especially when I spar with someone who hits pretty hard and is fast enough to get past my defenses. I have to work through that to get anything out of it.

The consensus, then, from the broader martial arts world is DECREASE. Or, to put it another way, if you're not in love with what you're doing, don't do it.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:42 PM   #5
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

Getting pissed off on the mat makes my aikido worse every time. Now if someone aggravates me I stop training with them. Not just because I don't want to face the challenge, but the opposite. I want to go all the way. And it's just not worth the pain to me anymore.
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Old 06-12-2007, 04:49 PM   #6
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

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Getting pissed off on the mat makes my aikido worse every time. Now if someone aggravates me I stop training with them. Not just because I don't want to face the challenge, but the opposite. I want to go all the way. And it's just not worth the pain to me anymore.
I train to learn control. If I am truly in danger of losing control, I will step off the mat. When I know I can maintain control I learn immensely in the situations where I am being frustrated and angered. Sometimes slowly, sometimes not.

It is handy, however, to train with seniors who are knowledgeable enough to read the signs and to take responsibility for that as well.

There is no doubt in my mind that good decision making can result from anger and frustration tempered by a relaxed and analytic mind. When anger spills over into rage is when the tool (anger) becomes misused.

People struggle for mushin and to remove anger and fear and perhaps even passion from their decisions and actions. This is admirable, but I think, not the point. I'd much rather achieve a level of mushin that allows me to let anger, fear, and passion to exist in me, but to flow through me and power my actions appropriately.

I don't have any interest in becoming passionless, merely unaffected in a negative way by my passions. Even that is a silly desire because one day I will lose those I love to circumstances and what I feel will certainly be negative; however I wouldn't give up the emotional connection offered to avoid such negative experiences. Why would anyone?

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 06-13-2007, 06:00 AM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

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Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I'd much rather achieve a level of mushin that allows me to let anger, fear, and passion to exist in me, but to flow through me and power my actions appropriately.
Nicely said.
"let" and "flow"
By acceptance, nonresistance, and mindfulness, emotions (energy in motion) can be transformed.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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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 06-13-2007, 10:16 AM   #8
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

I think Buddhist tradition has a long established rule that "being absent of emotion/feeling, being robotic, etc." is not mushin - that it is a misunderstanding, a "beginner mistake," etc.

That said, it is still noted, rightly so, that much of our suffering is self-generated, by our attachment to things like self-identity, our pride, our fears, etc. So, while one is not expected to be "joyous" or "apathetic" at the passing of a child, for example, one is also supposed to realize that one's emotional responses are very often habitual in nature and thus part of the never-ending cycle of self-caused suffering.

fwiw,
dmv

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Old 06-13-2007, 06:36 PM   #9
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

I like the way Lynn and Tarik have said it. We have to accept our lizard brains. Being intellectual types, humans have physiological responses to things they perceive psychologically.

e.g. Someone parks in my reserved space at work; the gut reaction is a slight against me and mine. My resources in peril places me in peril, and fills me with an urge to defend myself.

my solution to the above is really thick tires and leaving lots of broken glass in that spot, but on we go.

That first article was longer than I will dedicate the mental energy to read, but you reflected the gist of what I encountered. Anger motivates and facilitates analysis, but it also motivates decision making in the realm of argumentum ad verecundiam, or with appeal to authority, not one's own willingness and ability to observe.

Anger is all reaction to the point of self preservation physical, mental, or both as is mostly the case right? It might be a reaction well witnessed and rapidly implemented by the angry, but it is a reaction without a willingness to observe a greater perspective. Who could be angry with enough perspective before them?

Quote:
Erick wrote:
If it should be decreased, does working to sublimate or repress the frustration in training serve the same purpose as provoking it?

Should we deal with it in some other way?

The higher levels of martial action are intuitive and the wu-wei/fudoshin/zanshin action state is not analytic (I think this is inarguable)
If and when frustration is accepted as it is encountered, wouldn't it sublimate? I would like to know why the last phrase above is inarguable, though I think an inkling is slowly coalescing. Half of it suggests to me that those states facilitate analysis on a macro scale, encompassing more than the needs of the lizard brain.
The other half? Perhaps analytical thought that occurs outside a state of anger allows for rapid processing of in-situ stimuli that have already been observed and analyzed at some previous point. Sounds a lot like training. Also sounds a lot like the point of the Wired article you linked here and, I believe, a few weeks ago when I first read it.

michael.

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Old 06-13-2007, 10:21 PM   #10
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

I think frustration occurs in those who seek to make progress and excel at whatever they do. In Aikido training we use non-cooperative and partially co-operative methods to frustrate that which is possible on a totally cooperative level alone (in mind, strategy, tactics and technique). In this way one is put into a position where it is necessary to perform at a higher level to attain similar results to that attained in a totally cooperative environment.

Honest self evaluation, critical and analytical thinking are very important in reviewing ones performance and weaknesses to ultimately understand the source and reason for any frustrations; and thereby find a way to overcome these frustrations by becoming better at manifesting core Aiki principles. One however does not stay at the level of analytical thinking very long (though this is important to locate areas that need improvement) since it becomes necessary to be able to perform at a higher instinctive level to make any further progress in non-cooperative training. As a result, though non-cooperative type training may in fact increase the analytical approach towards ones training, the analysis itself means nothing unless one can intuitively manifest the insights gained in improved performance when placed under further non-cooperative conditions.

If one is still analyzing when in the midst of non-cooperative practice (e.g. randori) then the likelihood of poor performance is quite high imho as the higher, slower brain functions bring the reflexive, intuitive systems to a grinding halt in the midst of conditions that require quick, intuitive, reflexive responses to be successful. I actually have a couple students who are trying to overcome this phenomenon. Good training.

Imho.

Last edited by L. Camejo : 06-13-2007 at 10:29 PM.

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Old 06-13-2007, 10:32 PM   #11
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

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Anger motivates and facilitates analysis, but it also motivates decision making in the realm of argumentum ad verecundiam, or with appeal to authority, not one's own willingness and ability to observe.
Point taken. Demagogues rely on it -- and the article actually dwelt on the authoritative nature of the proposed sources of information.

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
If and when frustration is accepted as it is encountered, wouldn't it sublimate?
I guess the question is about the relationship of them. Does acceptance and sublimation of the anger provoke the analytic instinct (as the study suggest actually letting anger motivate one directly does do), or does it trigger a different process of awareness.

O Sensei said true budo is love. One of the most systematically analytic minds ever produced by Western culture was Alfred North Whitehead. With Bertrand Russell in the Principia Mathematica he proposed foundational axiomatic reasoning so thorough and extensive that it anticipated the problem of Godel's incompleteness theorem. Notwithstanding that devotion to analytic rigor (perhaps because of it) he said the following of the conception of the root of awareness as love :

"Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is a little oblivious to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its reward in the immediate present."

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
I would like to know why the last phrase above [martial awareness is not analytic] in is inarguable, though I think an inkling is slowly coalescing.
It is my opinion, but I have found no good basis to conclude otherwise. Analysis is linear logic. Reality is non-linear, and martial arts worth the name must address concretely real aspects of violent interaction. The process of abstraction into linear concepts unavoidably reduces the reality of the thing analyzed. Martial action relies often on awareness of things that do not become conscious until we have already acted on them. Thus, martial action depends on awareness that is not analytic. Having said that, analysis is a superior means to finds causes of failure and to describe general principles of action.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:49 PM   #12
Keith Larman
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

FWIW as a guy who worked for 17 years in psych research primarily in the area of psychometrics (before ditching it all to rub steel on rocks) I found this "popular psych" style book was a good gift for a number of Aikido friends. It touches on some of what you're talking about here. It is a bit simplistic, but he brings together some interesting ideas and themes. I've given copies to a couple people now.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

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Old 06-14-2007, 10:29 AM   #13
Janet Rosen
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

Nice post, Larry.

Eric, I agree that, at least experientially, there is a difference between the analysis with which we ponder things and the way we respond in the situation - what is called intuition but really to me is a synthesis of all the experiences AND analyses a person has integrated, whether consciously or not.

Re: acceptance = sublimation. I don't necessarily agree. Maybe we are talking apples/oranges here, so if my take is tangential I apologise. The way I think about accepting anger and frustration is the same way you may have read posts from me about chronic pain or fear: Many people automatically objectify these things that are difficult to live with, seeming to breathe their own separate life into them, so that (metaphorically) they seem to stand next to the person. This has the result of setting it up as a tangible something that can be opposed (I'm struggling against it...I'm trying to overcome it...). It also gives enormous power to that anger, fear, whatever.
To me "acceptance"of, say, my anger does not mean "I like being angry and you'd better learn to live with my anger". It means that I understand it is an integral part of me right now, not some external thing for me to struggle against, and that because it is also only one part of who I am, I have a say in how I respond to this part of me.
When I was a teenager I realized that I was angry all the time and that I didn't know what to do with the anger. I was able to start figuring out how to accept living with anger as part of me, and suddenly I wasn't hardly angry anymore....I don't think of it as sublimation, I think of it as learning other responses, learning to be a different person.
To me "acceptance of anger" does not necessarily lead to linear analysis, but it does lead to a calmness that allows more choices, including to engage in linear analysis. Of course, being enraged also can result in linear analysis - but probably with blinders on.

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Old 06-14-2007, 04:17 PM   #14
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Analytic Anger and Frustration in Training

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Re: acceptance = sublimation. I don't necessarily agree. ... Many people automatically objectify these things that are difficult to live with, seeming to breathe their own separate life into them, so that (metaphorically) they seem to stand next to the person. This has the result of setting it up as a tangible something that can be opposed (I'm struggling against it...I'm trying to overcome it...). It also gives enormous power to that anger, fear, whatever.
The issue of objectification is key to the study's observation -- as well as Larry's point about training (which I will address below).

Analytic thinking works on objective entitiesconstrianed by externalities. Intuitive thinking deals in organic wholes as internally motivated subjective entities -- literally -- "to see in," "insight." Most of the time, we wander around with muddled mixes of objective and subjective thinking in our heads. We anthropomorphize animals or even objects that are not living, which is a sort of a tendency to subjectification, but only to a degree. They have two general tendenices, one of which is affirming and the other of which is negating, but neither is really apart from the other. (In-yo, go figure).

Intuition is seeing and affirming in one moment the actuality, the whole of the situation. Analysis is negating:: "Eliminate the impossible and whatever remains however improbable is true." The critical question is what is that very sharp tool is serving to negate. In other words: What am I choosing to directing my destructive anger towards? If it is not spent it will pile up on me. So it needs a proper target so as not to become unmanageable.

The objectification/subjectification process can be means to project our own trivial subjective feelings onto those entities, considered as objects. In the worst sense, this becomes a puerile deflection of our fears/desires onto external objects (trying to disown that part of ourselves), or conversely a manipulation of those entities as objective tools to serve my fears or desires (trying to own them), even the human ones. In that way we enlarge our own sense or image of self only by negating the self-hood of others or by negating the actuality of our own.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
... "acceptance"of, say, my anger does not mean "I like being angry and you'd better learn to live with my anger". It means that I understand it is an integral part of me right now, not some external thing for me to struggle against, and that because it is also only one part of who I am, I have a say in how I respond to this part of me.
When I was a teenager I realized that I was angry all the time and that I didn't know what to do with the anger. I was able to start figuring out how to accept living with anger as part of me, and suddenly I wasn't hardly angry anymore....I don't think of it as sublimation, I think of it as learning other responses, learning to be a different person.
Or maybe to conceive of myself as a larger person. Or of Self as larger than me, even if only dimly and intuitively.

But there is a different way of subjectifying the world -- the one illustrated by Christ, Buddha, O Sensei and any number of other people who have exemplified this to greater or lesser degree. "Love your neighbor as yourself." Not self-denying -- either objectively or subjectively -- but self-giving. This self-giving is the highest aspect of aikido training that I have experienced, and the purpose of our cooperative form of training. This path seems (fairly consistently, actually) to lead to the most generally acknowledged examples of transcendent humanity.

It is that mode of relation considered internally that comes to an acknowledgement, as Janet says, that I am not subjected to the external object of my own frustration -- I AM my frustration. My frustration is simply a bit of who I am (along with other contradictory parts).

This approach to frustration and practice, it seems to me, makes it easier to grasp the fact, in training, that I am as much a part of my training partner's conflicting movements as I am a a part of my own conflicted feelings, and that my own conflicted feeling are a signal that I am headed the wrong direction in that conflict relation.

Of course the trap of the other mode of subjectifying/objectifying relations is always there and always tempting fall back into. It means that I do not have to take responsibility for conflict that "I" did not start. Conversely, the other and better mode of subjectifying reality presupposes that I take responsibility for the fact of conflict; the "objective" cause of it is simply not very relevant from that perspective.

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
... find a way to overcome these frustrations by becoming better at manifesting core Aiki principles.
Nail -- on the head. These principles are at once physical and psychological, -- training of both both performance and perception -- and the more of one aspect I can grasp the more of the other also, etc. etc. ---

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
One however does not stay at the level of analytical thinking very long (though this is important to locate areas that need improvement) since it becomes necessary to be able to perform at a higher instinctive level to make any further progress in non-cooperative training. As a result, though non-cooperative type training may in fact increase the analytical approach towards ones training, ... likelihood of poor performance is quite high imho as the higher, slower brain functions bring the reflexive, intuitive systems to a grinding halt in the midst of conditions that require quick, intuitive, reflexive responses ...
Yes, with a quibble. The issue for me is what ( or how) does one affirm (holistic) and what (or how) does one negate (analytic) in the training interaction, considered in whole and in detail. If the affirming is in the joining together in participation, the situation tends toward a wholeness of purpose in a larger "I". If the negation is directed at objective flaws in that relation then it is a negation that serves the overall affirming effort of a more perfect whole.

In both directions also lie forms of error. If I affirm all sorts of erroneous things and movements I am adding conflict thereby negating (perhaps without being aware of it) the real and actual things that the false things have replaced. If I negate my partner's subjective reality, his selfhood, into an object to control -- I lose participation in the larger form of transcendent "I" that we may otherwise form.

Conversely, I objectify the smaller "me" also by doing that -- operating as though we were both two mindless billiards tethered with a rubber band and either repeatedly colliding or spinning impotently past and around one another without solid contact. This collectively describes the worst martial arts training I have witnessed, and the same error results equally in aiki-bunnies and aiki-bashers.

Somebody once said he who gives in first, wins. In this, "giving in" does not mean submission to defeat, but giving away sole ownership of the outcome (which is actually nonsensical, anyway, if you think about it ).

Thus, combining these aspects together if I find myself frustrated in my performance, my analytical scheme is to look for one of two things, either

1) I have not given in to what my partner wants in his movement, and so I must identify and negate my own specific intransigence, and/or

2) I have given in, but in the wrong way, and thus adding another conflict that I must identify and eliminate.

In dealing with analyzing my partner, my job is to be as honest with him as with myself and

1) Show him where he is not giving in, and therefore offering me conflict and opportunity for conflict (atemi opening), or

2) Where his choice in giving in still leads him to be yet more open to me or creates more conflict, without need.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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