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After Training...  Friends
After Training... Friends
by Lynn Seiser
10-27-2009
After Training... Friends

Breathe in, throw someone
Breathe out, be thrown
After training friends.

It is always interesting to me that after training with a total stranger for a brief period of time on the mat, it's easy to go have coffee with my new friend. Training does that to me.

Now you have to remember that I am one of those people who doesn't play well with others, is rather socially awkward and shy, and just doesn't like people too well. Guess I've spent too long living and working with the wrong class of people.

I remember training at an Ikeda Sensei seminar in San Diego. My brother lived there and since I didn't know anyone at the dojo, I asked if he wanted to meet for lunch. He asked if he could meet me early to watch. He was impressed not just with the movement on the mat, but the respect everyone had for each other. When I bowed out I was still engaged in several conversations while folding my hakama. My brother reminded me that I had said I didn't know anybody there. I told him that I didn't before I got there and trained. I have gone there several times since too.

I have experienced this connecting-bonding phenomenon in other martial arts as well. In the heat and sweat of an intense intimate interaction of trying to knock each others blocks off, there is a respect, a commonality, and appreciation for each other. Some times that can get lost in the competition of martial sports. But more often then not, it's there.

I remember stories about a bar fight. Two groups really started to get into it. The two quiet ones from opposing sides finally stepped up and stepped in. There was a sudden pause and one asked where and who the other had studied with. They laughed, shared a beer while watching the fight continue without them, and traded training stories.

When I told my wife that I didn't know what I was going to write about, she offered the suggestion she saw on my Facebook page twice a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays it usually reads, "Aikido, Escrima, friends".

It was originally called the Breakfast Club and was there before I relocated and joined the Dojo (Roswell Budokan). After training early in the morning (zero-dark-thirty until 0800) they would go to breakfast as friends. Now we wait until 0900 because we have added an Escrima class for an hour after Aikido. So now that we have thrown each other around, locked each other into submission, and bashed at each other with sticks, knives, and hands, let's grab a cup of coffee. Go figure. Many times after night training several people go out together. Before Saturday morning practice of Iaido and Aikido several people meet at the local Starbuck's for their morning cup of meditation. I would join them, but I am already doing Tai Chi/ Chi Gung.

Before I left California, there were several of my training partners at the Westminster Aikikai (Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong) that became my close friends. We still keep in touch and they are always with me in training when I bow onto the mat. They will always be a part of my training wherever I go for as long as I train (which I hear will be sometime after I am already dead -- I am already making plans for the next time around).

So what is there about training that stimulates, facilitates, and perpetuates this close bonding?

Perhaps it's just nice to be among kindred spirits that you don't have to explain yourself to. I know there are a lot of differences between us, but there has got to be some common characteristic that brought us all together, doesn't there? In a world of sheep and followers, there are a few who want to step up and take a stand. And training seems to be one of the doors on that path, aimed at a direction of protection instead of the mass fear and hysteria. If this is true, that there is a sameness factor, then I don't have to explain it to you because you feel it as well and already know what I am talking about.

Perhaps it's the respect for the courage it takes to just train. Martial arts is not an easy road to travel. It's filled with sore muscles, ice packs, and Tiger Balm. When I lived out in California I participated in several endurance events and was always impressed by the respect and appreciation the elite athletes gave us "back of the packers". They seemed to know the hours we all spent alone on the road to pay for the privilege to line up on the same line and finish on the same line (though hours later). Anyone who signs up, shows up, dresses out, and bows in gets my respect. They are no longer a spectator but an active participant in life.

Perhaps it's a trust factor. They have trusted their bodies into my hands. I remember after a recent demonstration I thanked my uke for helping me out. He bowed and thanked me for not hurting him. I guess he knows I could, but do my best not to. At least he knew if I did hurt him it would only be by accident and not by intent. I have only met a few people who purposefully tried to hurt me during training. The trust factor goes the other way too. I have had to trust my body into the hands of people who knew what they were doing and those who did not have a clue. But we were training together and it was my turn to trust and fall. You can often feel when someone approaches or touches you if you can trust them or not. It's not just trusting their technique but actually trusting their intent. The connection and trust is deeper that the physical touch. The trust is a mental, psychological, and emotional trust. There are very few situations or opportunities, that present the availability of that experience other than training out there on the edge, upping the stakes, and laughing your head off.

Perhaps it's all of the above (plus several more unidentified unintelligible ingredients) or something completely different. Whatever it is, I like it and it keeps me coming back for more.

For the time being I will get up in the morning and go train.

Breathe in, throw someone
Breathe out, be thrown
After training friends.

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 40 years. He currently holds 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), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:40 PM   #2
SeaGrass
Dojo: Kenshinyokan
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Re: After Training... Friends

Hi Lynn, It's always a treat reading your article. You may not know who i am since we had different practice schedule when you were still at the Westminster dojo. I was only a 3rd or 4th kyu at your book signing way back
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:54 PM   #3
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Thanks Lynn! lately, I too have had these similar experiences, I only wish I could express them as well as you!

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Old 10-27-2009, 04:13 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Bien Nguyen wrote: View Post
Hi Lynn, It's always a treat reading your article. You may not know who i am since we had different practice schedule when you were still at the Westminster dojo. I was only a 3rd or 4th kyu at your book signing way back
Greeting Kohai.
Please tell my Tenshinkai family and friends hello from me.
Everyone is with me every time I step on the mat.
Bow and say Domo to Phong Sensei for me. (almost 15 years now)
Thanks you for reading and responding.
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 10-27-2009, 04:15 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Thanks Lynn! lately, I too have had these similar experiences, I only wish I could express them as well as you!
I always find words so inadequate.
I always enjoy reading you here.
Some day we will have to share space and time.
Thanks for reading and responding.

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 10-28-2009, 12:58 PM   #6
Stormcrow34
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Re: After Training... Friends

Great!

Martial training is the only thing I've experienced that reminds me of my time in the military. People from all over the world that are different in so many ways, and may or may not even like each other based on pre-conceived notions, differences in personalities and cultures. But after training together, after relying on each other to make it through the day, we become like family because we experience things that most people will not. I remember faces, names, and dispositions from boot camp like it was yesterday. But in reality, it was over two decades ago. Like dojo mates, we have something that many simply will not understand.

Thanks for that well written essay, Mr. Seiser. I'm sitting here smiling, remembering some of my old friends. Those were some hard times, but there were also some great times.

Happy Landings, my friends!

Last edited by Stormcrow34 : 10-28-2009 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Michael Crowell wrote: View Post
Martial training is the only thing I've experienced that reminds me of my time in the military.
Osu,

I have been a veteran now 35 years, and yes I remember faces and acts of courage. Heads down, covering each others back, and making sure no one was left behind. Sorta bonds you in a way that only those who have been there would understand.

IMHO, it is the training that bonds many of us whether we will ever actually meet or not. I remember those who taught me and those who shared the training.

Everyone is still with me, every time I train.

Thank you for reading and responding.

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 10-29-2009, 01:08 PM   #8
Shadowfax
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
You can often feel when someone approaches or touches you if you can trust them or not. It's not just trusting their technique but actually trusting their intent. The connection and trust is deeper that the physical touch. The trust is a mental, psychological, and emotional trust
Boy an I ever empathize with that statement. The dojo is one of the very few places I have found I can relax in a group setting and not feel like I need to be on guard.

Quote:
Perhaps it's just nice to be among kindred spirits that you don't have to explain yourself to. I know there are a lot of differences between us, but there has got to be some common characteristic that brought us all together, doesn't there? In a world of sheep and followers, there are a few who want to step up and take a stand. And training seems to be one of the doors on that path, aimed at a direction of protection instead of the mass fear and hysteria. If this is true, that there is a sameness factor, then I don't have to explain it to you because you feel it as well and already know what I am talking about.
oh yes I sure do.

Its nice to find out that there are other people out there that think and feel that way. For the first time in a very long time I feel like I fit in someplace.
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:36 PM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Its nice to find out that there are other people out there that think and feel that way. For the first time in a very long time I feel like I fit in someplace.
Osu,

Its so good not having to explain or apology for who I am.

I guess we all fit some where. We just have to give up trying to find it where we just don't fit and don't really want to.

Friends seem to like us just the way we are, and we have stopped trying to talk them out of it.

Thanks for reading and responding.

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 10-30-2009, 12:35 PM   #10
Stormcrow34
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Re: After Training... Friends

I hear you loud and clear. Somtimes when asked by various people about how my weekend or week went and I talk about about my training in Yoseikan or GJJ....they always seem to back off and treat me a little differently. Like I'm some wierd sideshow oddity. Anyone else here have experiences like this?

Last edited by Stormcrow34 : 10-30-2009 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 10-30-2009, 04:13 PM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Michael Crowell wrote: View Post
...they always seem to back off and treat me a little differently. Like I'm some wierd sideshow oddity.
Osu,
Yep, get that reaction all the time.
Given the source, I take it as a compliment.
We are different, and that is a good thing.
Thanks for reading and responding.
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 10-30-2009, 09:35 PM   #12
Shadowfax
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Haha! Michael Ive always been treated that way. The cool thing is no finally realizing just why that is. The more I learn about Budo and the more I train the more settled into myself I become....Its like I am being reminded constantly of who I am after a long bout of amnesia.

Recently read a book called Living the Martial Way....boy that sure did open up a wold of information for me. Being different is good, as Lynn said.
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:34 PM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Recently read a book called Living the Martial Way.
Major Morgan did make some good points. Agreed, a good read.

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 10-31-2009, 05:12 PM   #14
Susanne Serwotka
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Michael Crowell wrote: View Post
I hear you loud and clear. Somtimes when asked by various people about how my weekend or week went and I talk about about my training in Yoseikan or GJJ....they always seem to back off and treat me a little differently. Like I'm some wierd sideshow oddity. Anyone else here have experiences like this?
Yes, I know this response as well, I tell people I train Aikido and they step back a little and look me over like I just admitted I belong to some strange occult sect......I think that's because people who know Martial Arts mainly from action movies don't know what to expect. Maybe afraid you might jump into a fighting stance next moment and start to kick and punch, or try to suck them in like those people that come to the door and start a religious discussion. I have found it hard to convey the kind of comradeship and connection that develops between martial students to someone who usually works out at a gym. So I just explain the four basic principles, and that the dojo is a big part of my social life as well, because you get to know people well in partner training. More often than not, people seem to decide I might be a normal person after all and want to know more about Aikido.
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:20 PM   #15
Stormcrow34
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Major Morgan did make some good points. Agreed, a good read.
Although I think Mr. Morgan went a little overboard with the whole "warrior" thing, I agree that it is a good book that I would not hesitate to recommend. BTW. Is it your birthday Mr. Seiser? I hope you enjoy yourself and experience many more.

Thank you Cherie and Susanne. It's nice to know it's not just me.

Last edited by Stormcrow34 : 10-31-2009 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 11-01-2009, 06:12 AM   #16
SeiserL
 
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Re: After Training... Friends

Quote:
Michael Crowell wrote: View Post
BTW. Is it your birthday Mr. Seiser? I hope you enjoy yourself and experience many more.
Yes, as a matter of public record, 10/31/50 is my birthday.

To illustrate our point.

I woke up next to a beautiful woman and then went and trained with my friends. A great day. Ended by handing out candy to cute kids in cute costumes.

59 and still training. Enjoying the journey with friends is important for making distance.

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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