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Old 11-15-2009, 06:20 PM   #1
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

I spent this past weekend in a Systema Punching seminar taught by Kaizen Taki from Seattle, Washington.  It was a remarkably powerful seminar for me and reminded me of the importance of using our training for self-betterment.  This process was brought to light by helping us to get in touch with our fears as they manifest themselves in our body.  One of the important aspects of our training is to learn how not to be governed by fears that might manifest themselves in our thoughts, feelings, or body tensions.  These fears prevent us from being able to cleanly use our own energy, perceive and connect with other people’s energy and use to connection between us in an efficient and effective manner.
For many of us, we first become aware of our fears in Aikido when it is time for us to go to the ground.  Some people have a very difficult time teaching their bodies to experience actions and reactions that allow them to connect with the ground in a soft manner that feels both comfortable and protecting.  It is important to allow these people to actually get comfortable rolling and moving on the ground.  For them, teaching them to roll from the ground up is helpful.
For other people, different levels and types of physical contact evoke fear responses in our bodies.  This is typically revealed through excess tension or out-of-balance flight responses.  Unless a person is able to work through these fear responses, successful execution of techniques become difficult at best.  I find that having students not hit the “reset button” when the a technique is failing is an important way of developing some understanding of what is happening inside of us that is causing problems.  These problems typically emerge from some fear-based issues.  Developing proper body movements help us to overcome these “hard-wired” responses that occur before we are even consciously aware of them.
I would like us to spend this week focusing in on what we do in practice that results in our experiencing fear-based responses.  I would them like us to open up a dialogue, both through talk and body work to help our bodies experiencing some alternative response sets that can help our bodies learn to work through body-based, fear responses.
Marc Abrams Sensei


(Original blog post may be found here.)
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:55 PM   #2
Linda Eskin
 
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Sounds like a very interesting and thought-provoking seminar. Thank you for sharing about it. I hope you'll post some comments later about your work this week.

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"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 11-16-2009, 12:58 PM   #3
gregstec
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Hi Marc,

Sounds like it was a very interesting seminar at Howard's - I am sorry I missed it, but I was out of town on vacation.

Anyway, interesting comments on the fear points. I understand that we all have subconscious reflexive actions associated with attacks, but I never thought of them as being fears. To me fears are conscious and therefore should be controllable with some form of mental effort, etc. Curious as to how that was presented,

Greg
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:43 PM   #4
Marc Abrams
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
Hi Marc,

Sounds like it was a very interesting seminar at Howard's - I am sorry I missed it, but I was out of town on vacation.

Anyway, interesting comments on the fear points. I understand that we all have subconscious reflexive actions associated with attacks, but I never thought of them as being fears. To me fears are conscious and therefore should be controllable with some form of mental effort, etc. Curious as to how that was presented,

Greg
Greg:

It is impossible to create the kind of distinction between conscious thought of fear and fear itself. Your body actually responds to fear (pre-conscious) before you actually are aware of the thoughts and feelings associated with fear. We did an interesting exercise this weekend where you could feel fear at a muscular level. This response would trigger regardless of whether we were aware of that sensation and/or tried not to "react" to that sensation.

There are whole areas of therapy/psychiatry/... related to this area. Links back to an evolutionary, survival response set that predated the development of conscious thought in a species.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:27 PM   #5
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Thanks for sharing Marc.

Not sure how my experience might be related. But probably the biggest fear I face is of heights. I have a irrational fear of heights at anything above 40 foot where I am not anchored by a rope or something.

I am scared to the point of my knees get weak and I tend to freeze up kinda fear.

So you might wonder how I can be on Airborne Status with the Army and do rappelling and stuff like that.

Well, it is through training and making some basic things habitual. I have never really been able to reduce the fear in these situations much, but I recognize it for what it is and have developed the ability to simply push through it by going through a series of steps and sequences I learned as part of the process.

It is literally something I have to overcome, I have to make myself standup, hook up my line, and then walk down the aisle and turn the corner and jump. I have to will myself to do this.

Not sure if that fear will ever really go away, nor do I really want it, I feel safer with it.

The funny thing is once I am out the door and my chute is open..I am perfectly fine!

So, for me, I think it is 1. recognizing your fear, learning what causes it, what are the conditions surrounding it. 2. Embracing it, learning that it is going to happen so manage it. 3. Developing a set of steps/procedures that help you get through that process. 4. Rejoicing once you have accomplished conquering it. 5. Begin again.

I think some fears are reducable, like speaking in front of groups etc, that one I am good with most of the time. However, something that is so completely overwhelming like heights, fighting, etc...not sure if you ever really reduce it much, but learn to control and channel it.

sounds like a great seminar.

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Old 11-16-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
gregstec
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Greg:

There are whole areas of therapy/psychiatry/... related to this area. Links back to an evolutionary, survival response set that predated the development of conscious thought in a species.

Marc Abrams
To me that sounds more like an instinctive reflex; which I am sure fear can trigger - but does fear have to be the motivator in all subconscious defensive actions? I guess maybe the answer might be in your definition of fear - interesting subject.

Best

Greg
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:51 PM   #7
Marc Abrams
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post

I think some fears are reducable, like speaking in front of groups etc, that one I am good with most of the time. However, something that is so completely overwhelming like heights, fighting, etc...not sure if you ever really reduce it much, but learn to control and channel it.

sounds like a great seminar.
Kevin:

I think that you are close to the core of the issue. Kaizen put in nicely when he said that developing comportment in mind and body is a main goal. Fear is a body-based process that has obvious evolutionary benefits. Allowing ourselves to not be constrained & overly governed by our fears is what is important. Learning to use fear in a functional manner is a difficult process. Kaizen accurately pointed out that many aspects of systematic desensitization therapy are contained within the training paradigms of Systema. Learning how to control and channel fear is a major feat when we start from a point of having fear control and channel our thoughts, feelings and actions. The more severe the fears and reactions, the more difficult it it becomes to help the person lower the level of intensity of the fear response. It can be done however.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-19-2009, 11:22 AM   #8
Marc Abrams
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Quote:
Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
Sounds like a very interesting and thought-provoking seminar. Thank you for sharing about it. I hope you'll post some comments later about your work this week.
Linda:

This has been a fascinating week! People have exerted more psychological energy than physical energy towards identifying how and where they have fears. We have spend a lot of time focusing on using your breathing to restore posture, focus and outflow of energy. I am considering following this week up with a blog on a type of breathing to use in helping to address the adrenalin cycle that gets kicked in when confronting threats.

Marc Abrams
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:54 AM   #9
Linda Eskin
 
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Re: 061) Confronting Our Fears: Week of November 15, 2009

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
...I am considering following this week up with a blog on a type of breathing to use in helping to address the adrenalin cycle that gets kicked in when confronting threats.
I'll be looking forward to reading it! One of my original goals in taking up Aikido was "to be able to stay present and take effective action in the face of overwhelming physical threat." (In my case that might mean not curling into the fetal position and grabbing mane when my horse starts bucking.) Sounds like this would be an important aspect of staying present to explore.

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