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Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)
Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)
by Lynn Seiser
07-20-2007
Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

There are students of martial arts, there are martial artists, and there are martialists.
There are students of Aikido and there are Aikidokas.
Which are you?
What is the difference between being a student of the martial arts, a martial artist, and there are martialists? The first is what you do and the last two are who you are. Students of the martial arts studies but the subject material are separate from their lives, their identity. A martial artist is an artist who expresses himself through his discipline of training, fighting, competition, and as a way of life. A martialist is a soldier, a warrior, whose identity is the training and practice of war, combat, as a discipline of death. If you are a student of the martial arts, you are not necessarily a martial artist, but if you are a martial artist, or martialist, you are by necessity always a student of the martial arts. (Don't even get me started on the difference between those who ignorantly get into fights and flail and those who are real fighters and brawlers.)

What is the difference between being a student of Aikido and an Aikidoka? One is what you do and the other is who you are. . If you are a student of Aikido, you are not necessarily an Aikidoka, but if you are an Aikidoka, you are necessarily always a student of Aikido.

This applies to everything in life. There are people who play musical instruments and there are musicians. There are people who run and there are runners. There are people who have sex and there are lovers. There are people who study human beings through many different disciplines, and there are humanitarians. There are those who study, teach, and preach spirituality and then there are spiritual people. The activity is the same, but the intent and intensity is very different. What makes the difference? Identity.

What is identity? Usually we think of identity as a noun that represents something that actually exists. A Zen Master would ask you to put your identity on the table so he could take a closer look and fix it if necessary. When you search and search only to realize you cannot find it, he would declare it fixed. Identity is the nominalization of the active verb identifying through the process of identification. Identification is the learned cognitive association, attachment, and integration process leading to personification. We learn who we think we are, our identity, from our family of origin and our society.

Therefore, if identity is learned, it must be unlearn-able, and relearn-able. Meaning, we are able to change at a very basic level. Everything we think, feel, and do is generated out of a sense of who we think we are, our identity. If we just change what we think, feel, or do, but never change the underlying identity, we are bound to have relapses, repeated failures, and recidivism.

How do we change? We all change all the time. We each have our own way. Think of something you used to do that just does not make sense to you anymore. How did you do that? If you have every changed religious or political affiliation, how did you do that? If you were ever a first grader and somehow graduated high school, how did you do that? We change identity all the time. Part of it is the decision. The other part is the discipline.

The quickest way, the shortest route, is through repeated in-depth study, reflection, training and discipline. Why is that the quickest way and shortest route? Because it is the only way that any of us have a chance of actually getting there. You do not get to the destination unless you are willing to follow the route and do the work. There are no short cuts, no secrets. There are only lazy people who have excuses, never get to the goal, or see beyond it.

How do you evolve from a student of the martial arts to a martial artist? Sign up, show up, shut up, and train. How do you evolve from a student of Aikido to an Aikidoka? Sign up, show up, shut up, and train. Not very difficult is it? Moreover, you already knew it. There is nothing more profound than the common sense of what we already know.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!

Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan) Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 37 year. He currently trains and hold the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), and the (2006) Advanced Aikido Concepts and Aikido Buki-waza for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appears in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, and abuse living in Marietta, GA.
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Old 08-13-2007, 03:25 PM   #2
Trish Greene
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

This is a great column Lynn! Thank you very much for these thoughts, it has given me a lot to think about.

"Aikido is nothing but an expression of the spirit of Love for all living things."

Morihei Ueshiba
www.aikido-kajukenbo.com
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Old 08-13-2007, 04:31 PM   #3
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Osu Trish,
Thank you for your kind words. I always hope to give people something new to think about, or at least from a different angle.
The idea to unify/harmonize intent/identity with body/behavior facinates me.
Thanks for the comment.
Rei, Domo.

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 08-13-2007, 07:21 PM   #4
Qatana
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Great column, Lynn, This is the essence of how we train in my dojo, examining who we are and who we become with every single technique, with every single (and multiple) training partner. For me this is with an eye towards someday being to treat Everybody the way I do my training partner, to become to everybody who I am to my partners...
I have a small problem with this phrase though:

"A Zen Master would ask you to put your identity on the table so _he_ could take a closer look and fix it if necessary. "

In my experience with Buddhist meditation is that You put your identity (problem, crisis, behavior) on the table, You examine it and You Accept it, and sometimes the problem or crisis just goes away, or transforms. I have never heard of a Zen master or master teacher "fixing"anybody.Showing people how to become who they are, yes, but not "fixing".Likewise, I wouldn't say my sensei is fixing me, but showing me how to become more than who I think I am.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 08-14-2007, 06:48 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Jo,
Agreed.
There is no-thing to put on the table.
There is no-thing to fix.
Identity is a myth, but a useful one.

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 08-26-2007, 10:11 PM   #6
Shannon Frye
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Excellent column indeed. I'd love to post this on our bulletin board at the dojo, with your permission. Most of our students don't have net access.
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:45 AM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Permission to duplicate and freely distribute humbly granted with appreciation.

I always hope that my simple offerings are of some use and have been humbled to find them posted on other sites and in dojos.

Anything I can do to assist.

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 08-27-2007, 11:06 AM   #8
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

This is a great column!!
Thank you very much.

I will share i with my friends. Martial artists, students of martial arts, martialists and everyone else...
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Old 08-27-2007, 02:25 PM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Bruno Teixeira wrote: View Post
I will share i with my friends. Martial artists, students of martial arts, martialists and everyone else...
Watch what you share, because it reflects on you and I will not take any responsibility for it. LOL

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 08-28-2007, 06:07 AM   #10
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Oooops... What a difference a letter makes.
If my wife read that post, I am in real trouble..lol.

Back to your column. Really inspiring. Simple and wise.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:56 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Bruno Teixeira wrote: View Post
Simple and wise.
KISS: Keep It Simple Seiser.
And the "wise" is usually followed by the word "a*s".

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 08-28-2007, 11:01 PM   #12
Don
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Just out of curiosity, by extension of your column, would you say that "character determines conduct" or "conduct determines character"
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:09 AM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
Just out of curiosity, by extension of your column, would you say that "character determines conduct" or "conduct determines character"
IMHO, I would say that sequentially the identity frame of reference (I) defines the character (cognitive thoughts, values, concepts) which defines and directs emotions (feelings), and conduct (behavior).

"I" feel, "I" think, "I" do, and "I" am. All lead from the central elusive and possibly mythical "I" as a common denominator.

Change them all separately, or just change the "I".

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 08-03-2011, 11:12 AM   #14
Janet L.
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Smile Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Seiser Sensei, this little article is the best thing I've read on identity in ages, superb, bordering on inspired!

I realize I'm very much a latecomer here, but this was really, REALLY good.

- Janet.
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Old 08-04-2011, 04:02 PM   #15
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Janet Lowther wrote: View Post
Seiser Sensei, this little article is the best thing I've read on identity in ages, superb, bordering on inspired! I realize I'm very much a latecomer here, but this was really, REALLY good.
Thank you for your kind words.

Of course, I cannot identify with them.

Thanks again.

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 08-04-2011, 05:52 PM   #16
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Labels? Assigning a label is like trying to define what art is.

-

-It seems to be all about semantics!
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:12 PM   #17
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote: View Post
I have a small problem with this phrase though:

"A Zen Master would ask you to put your identity on the table so _he_ could take a closer look and fix it if necessary. "

In my experience with Buddhist meditation is that You put your identity (problem, crisis, behavior) on the table, You examine it and You Accept it, and sometimes the problem or crisis just goes away, or transforms.
I is not always easy to examine and recognize your true self. But it is sometimes even more difficult to allow others to see you as you really are.

Enjoyed this post thoroughly Lynne. Especially having recently come through a period of self examination; learning to recognize, and learning to let others see, the real me.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:16 PM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote: View Post
Labels? Assigning a label is like trying to define what art is.
Yes agreed.

Labels/words is how I tend to define what some thing is for and how I try to communicate that definition to others.

While labels/words are useful they are never adequate and is only the map representing the territory.

Thoughts?

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 08-08-2011, 06:18 PM   #19
SeiserL
 
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
I is not always easy to examine and recognize your true self. But it is sometimes even more difficult to allow others to see you as you really are.

Enjoyed this post thoroughly Lynne. Especially having recently come through a period of self examination; learning to recognize, and learning to let others see, the real me.
Yes agreed.

On a psychological level we examine the self.

On a deeper level there is no self to examine or let others see.

Both are true.

Thoughts?

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 08-08-2011, 08:12 PM   #20
Mike Sigman
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Yes agreed.

On a psychological level we examine the self.

On a deeper level there is no self to examine or let others see.

Both are true.

Thoughts?
No thoughts when we are in true Mushin.

Mike Sigman
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:43 PM   #21
phitruong
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
No thoughts when we are in true Mushin.

Mike Sigman
wouldn't that be a blond moment?
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:53 PM   #22
Mike Sigman
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
wouldn't that be a blond moment?
You have obviously not been brainwashed enough, coming from your foreign environment. Please submit yourself to the Purser at the front of the Trireme.

Mike
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:31 AM   #23
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Yes agreed.

On a psychological level we examine the self.

On a deeper level there is no self to examine or let others see.

Both are true.

Thoughts?
I remember as a kid I read that you are 3 people.

1 The person you think you are.
2 The person others think you are.
3 The person you really are.

I'm sure you can change the first 2 but the last one never changes.

-

-It seems to be all about semantics!
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:50 AM   #24
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Re: Identity: Yet Another Internal Strength (or weakness)

Quote:
Tim Jester wrote: View Post
I remember as a kid I read that you are 3 people.

1 The person you think you are.
2 The person others think you are.
3 The person you really are.

I'm sure you can change the first 2 but the last one never changes.

-
IMHO (and clinical expertise), yes you can.

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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