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Old 11-15-2010, 06:50 PM   #1
Thomas Osborn
Dojo: Aikido of Northampton
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How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

11/15/10 NOTE: This might be the next-to-the-last entry in this blog for a while. I've been "laid off". I don't know how you lay off a volunteer, but someone or ones in Ward 8 decided that with program changes, etc. they did not have a time when they could offer Aikido. Whatever! I don't want to try to figure why this actually happened, but as most of the key staff are "shrinks" of one kind or another, I don't think they place much credence in the therapeutic value of physical activity or that they understood the mental/motional the practice of Aikido can have..
This happened back mid September, and I haven't posted anything because I wanted to take this time to define why I think Aikido can particularly useful in helping people deal with PTSD as a critical part of a "treatment plan", and not just physical exercise or to merely amuse or occupy time. My belief, and experience, is that properly taught, Aikido can complement and amplify more traditional therapies and be used by therapists in grounding their more intellectually based, "talk therapy" efforts.
I'm going to take some time and try to write out exactly why I think this is true. I have a lot of ideas, thoughts, theories and vague hunches so I need to clarify this mishigas, and bring it together into something concrete. When I get this done, once again I will rely on your feedback and criticism.


(Original blog post may be found here.)
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:08 PM   #2
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

Many psychiatrists are steeped in the traditions of Freud. Lots of couch time.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:50 AM   #3
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

I experience aikido being a wonderful approach or method to deal with psychologic issues on a somatic base. Nearly everything that is put in words as the classical way does, can also be expressed with the body, posture, movements, contact, dealing with equilibrium and so on.

Interesting enough in my biography:
Years ago I started practicing aikido and my professional education of pastoral psychology on the basis of gestalt therapy on nearly the same day.

On to this day I see and experience the parallels (and the benefits) of doing aikido and doing psychotherapy or pastoral counseling. Fortunatly the approach to aikido of Endo sensei and Tissier sensei supports this understanding.

But I also experienced two deep - and to me an my professional practice important - limitations:

All this does truely not work with aikido-beginners.
And especially not with people who didn't take up aikido because of being "hungry" to practice a japanese budo.
The mentioned benefits or parallels only develop within the longyear practioner. A beginner will not and can not grasp and feel this for a long time.

Second:
Practicing aikido will (according to my knowledge and experience) nearly not help when treating psychiatric deseases or disorders.

[Third:
I remember you didn't teach ukemi? In my experience taking ukemi, being pinned and even more being thrown, doing rolls and tobi ukemi is a very very important thing when trying to find psychological issues in aikido practice.]

I myself do not work with people suffering from PTSD. But I consider endurance sports like running or walking, swimming etc. to be more suitable because the somatic effects they induce do fit very well and - different from aikido - unintermediate and support the healing process from the first moment on.

Carsten

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 11-16-2010 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:36 AM   #4
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

Hello Carsten,

The two shihans you mention were both very serious students of Seigo Yamaguchi. I also studied under Yamaguchi Sensei and so I am curious about why his approach, which you have seen in the training of Endo and Tissier, lends itself to aikido and counseling.

I am well aware that people have criticized Yamaguchi Sensei's aikido as being unsuitable for beginners and I accept this. However, as a pastoral counselor, do you think that a different approach might be more suitable for beginners?

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 11-18-2010, 03:26 AM   #5
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
The two shihans you mention were both very serious students of Seigo Yamaguchi. I also studied under Yamaguchi Sensei ...
:-)
Yes, I'm aware of this.

Quote:
and so I am curious about why his approach, which you have seen in the training of Endo and Tissier, lends itself to aikido and counseling.
First: I really don't know, whether the relationship of aikido and counselling is specific for the way I've learned aikido or whether this fits with "aikido in generall". (Not depending on teacher or "style".)
Second: I want to make clear, that I never trained with Yamaguchi sensei (my teacher did) and Christian and Endo are not direct teachers to me.

Having said that, some points of interest for me:

In aikido, as I got to know it, self-reflection is an important point of how to learn, how to grow, how to go further on. Endo sensei often asks: How does this feel or that? Why do you move this way or that way? He actually doesn't expect answers. But he expects the students to be aware of themselves. So this is a bodily way of introspection or self-perception.

Talking of and understanding ki as kimochi, feeling, sentiment, sense leads to taking ones feeling/s, ones sentiment serious. To accept feeling as a real, a essential criterion instead of just being a "accessory". If I get it right, the understanding of kimochi transcends the spheres of body or mind? So this "understanding of ki"-kimochi is a bodily way of learning how to find answers to the questions life asks.

Then „freedom" is an important issue: Practice should lead to freedom. Not by getting rid off whatever but by being oneself, being centered and upright, knowing oneself, trusting ones own feelings, … . The aim of practice / keiko / performing kata overandoverandover is freedom. Freedom to do whatever, freedom to be oneself, to have possibilities.
So this aiming to (first technically spoken) freedom is a bodily way, learning that we can create our life.

Christian also often talks about "creating the situation", to use the experience of keiko to lead uke by creating the setting. And being confident: This will work. And he also uses the phrase of having an image, a „dream" of a technique which can be realized. So this is a bodily way to learn to specify our dreams and wishes and to make them come true.

Then there are some points like the role of shizumaru (I don't speak Japanese, but I don't know the right word in English.) is very interesting: A bodily way of becoming calm, centered, upright, and the opposite of being upset.
Being permeable, using the arms to feel, to sense, to perceive and not to do. A bodily way of learning empathy.
The connection of uke and tori by atari, musubi as Endo teaches it again and again in his classes. This "technical" relationship is a bodily way of learning to communicate, of learning about the connection and relationship of I and You.

Puuuh, not so easy to express my thoughts in English. And I am not sure, whether I gave you answers to your question ? …

Quote:
I am well aware that people have criticized Yamaguchi Sensei's aikido as being unsuitable for beginners and I accept this. However, as a pastoral counselor, do you think that a different approach might be more suitable for beginners?
No. I don't think so.
It is a very long and intensive way to incorporate aikido and to feel at least a little effect of keiko. This is not only about the aikido of Yamaguchi sensei or the aikido of someone else ...
It's about aikido in generall, I think.

For example:
Standing in hanmi is a very good exercise, it does something with your body and with your soul/spirit/mind. But to learning to stand hanmi (at least in such a way it "gives something") requires quite some time of training.

Best wishes,
Carsten
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Old 11-18-2010, 01:37 PM   #6
Thomas Osborn
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

Carsten
Thank you for your extensive comments. One of the drawbacks to blogs is that it is very difficult to read them from the beginning. In thiw case over a year ago. Way back in the beginning I tried to make it clear that I did not see Aikido as therapy but in my experience it can be therapudic, an aid to a program of therapy. I've come to believe this even more.
I also explained that I do not teach falls and rolls as our "dojo" mat is 1/4 inch of rug on concrete. We do do take downs and ground pins. However, I still believe that falls and rolls are rarely useful in the real world. In 42 years I have never had to do either off the mat, but have blown a shoulder 3 times during practice, twice from my own stupidity and once because a beginner threw me into a weapons rack.
Anyhow, thanks for your comments, I agree with them in general.
Tom Osborn
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Old 11-18-2010, 02:30 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

Thomas, having followed your blog from the beginning, and read the kind of comments your folks make on the progress they feel, I'm sorry to read that your program, for now, is ending.
I must say, contrary to your experience, I have saved myself from injury falling on the street twice by automatically going into a soft back breakfall only because it was thoroughly ingrained, and I personally can think of four other people who believe they avoided much more major injury in motorcycle, bike and horse accidents my automatically tucking and rolling.
So I agree that it is not strictly necessary to roll and fall in order to train in aikido adapted for those with disability, but I strongly disagree there is no real world application for the skill. As a nurse working w/ seniors I am working on developing "comfortable on the floor and surviving falls" as part of the energetics class I do w/ middle aged beginners.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:04 AM   #8
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: How Do You "lay Off" A Volunteer?

Quote:
Thomas Osborn wrote: View Post
I also explained that I do not teach falls and rolls as our "dojo" mat is 1/4 inch of rug on concrete. ... However, I still believe that falls and rolls are rarely useful in the real world.
Yes, I am aware you told that before.

But I presume this especially is a part of practice, which is very important when teaching aikido in a therapeutic context (in the widest sense).
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