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Old 06-27-2013, 09:53 PM   #1
"Survivor"
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Rape Survivor and Aikido

I am a rape survivor. I was raped when I was 17, and I have had many years of learning what to do to prevent it again. I do not talk to men I don't know and I do not go on blind dates. I have also developed an extreme aversion to being touched in any context other than by someone I am in a relationship with.

I have been studying Aikido for 2 years now, and it was recently pointed out to me that most of my waza issues stem from giving too much of a "holiday" to my uke. Upon further self-reflection, I feel that these technical problems are rooted in my aversion to touching people and being touched in any kind of non-sexual context. (I also do not hug friends, and I genuinely do my best to avoid even a handshake as a greeting.)

I am not looking for therapy, but I would be interested in knowing if there are any women here who have overcome the same issues, or any instructors who have helped their students though these issues.
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Old 06-29-2013, 05:23 AM   #2
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Can you talk about what giving too much "Holiday" to uke means?

I don't understand.

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Old 06-29-2013, 06:05 AM   #3
"Survivor"
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Can you talk about what giving too much "Holiday" to uke means?

I don't understand.
For example, when you are a doing a shiho nage, you have to step in tight to the uke and keep the arm stretched out, otherwise uke can spin out of it, or even kaeshi it and put you into a shiho nage. Some kokyu nages also require a similar closeness. Koshi throws are completely impossible for me.
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Old 06-29-2013, 07:42 AM   #4
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

That's a real conundrum, trying to reconcile your established personal rules about physical contact, with an art that requires physical contact with another person in order to train.
How are you as uke for your partners? Are you letting nage fully engage with you to do her or his techniques?

If the partner-contact aspect of aikido is unpleasant for you, perhaps you could make an arrangement with your teacher and school that excuses you from regular classes and partner training, and allows you to instead use open mat times to focus on solo training, including refining your evasive tactics. You could work with volunteer partners only to practice perfecting your evasions from touch. That way, you can limit your physical contact with others, while not impeding other students' need to train, during classes, with a partner who can fully engage with them physically in order to have good training.

Best wishes and good luck.
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Old 06-29-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
"Survivor"
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
That's a real conundrum, trying to reconcile your established personal rules about physical contact, with an art that requires physical contact with another person in order to train.
How are you as uke for your partners? Are you letting nage fully engage with you to do her or his techniques?
Honestly, I am not sure, now that I have been trying to reexamine my technique. I think that I am, but that is going to require more mat time for me to objectively try to figure it out.

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
If the partner-contact aspect of aikido is unpleasant for you, perhaps you could make an arrangement with your teacher and school that excuses you from regular classes and partner training, and allows you to instead use open mat times to focus on solo training, including refining your evasive tactics. You could work with volunteer partners only to practice perfecting your evasions from touch. That way, you can limit your physical contact with others, while not impeding other students' need to train, during classes, with a partner who can fully engage with them physically in order to have good training.

Best wishes and good luck.
Well, plenty of things are unpleasant, but still need to be done. I don't particularly like cleaning the bathroom either, but I still need to do it. What I am trying to do is overcome my issues on the mat, not work around them. I've been working around them for awhile now. And techniques that don't require a lot of closeness I feel that I am fairly good with. Nikkyo is one of my better techniques, for example, and I am looking to be more uniform across the board, instead of having some good techniques, some poor ones, and some I just can't do at all. Also, I have never told my Sensei about what happened to me. Thinking back on it, I know that I have flinched a few times when he put a friendly hand on my shoulder when I first started, so he may well have figured it out, but I'm not sure that's a conversation I want to have.
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Old 06-29-2013, 08:48 AM   #6
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Good that you are trying to work with your challenge instead of working around it. Maybe the fact that you are aware will help you to gradually desensitize yourself to it, at least enough to be able to really enjoy your aikido training.

The teacher's friendly hand on your shoulder, and other kinds of benign contact, make you flinch now, but maybe if you let these things happen and remind yourself that they are benign, the flinching will eventually stop and you'll be able to relax. It's like getting used to cold water... step in toe first, grimace, adjust, go in up to your ankles, grimace, adjust...etc. Same with aikido technique. Nikkyo is a good "minimal contact" technique -- just hands and wrists. It's the toe in the water.

I don't pretend to be an expert in this area, but I do believe that arts such as aikido provide a safe and controlled venue for working through personal challenges such as touch aversion. I'm not sure, though, that it's a good idea to try to accomplish this on one's own. While it isn't necessary to tell your teacher your whole story, it might be productive to tell him that you have problems with touch aversion that you are seeking to overcome, and let him help you devise a way to work through it within the context of aikido training. Having an ally in your training will make your burden a lot lighter, IMO and IME.

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 06-29-2013 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 06-29-2013, 08:48 AM   #7
Dan Rubin
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Why did you choose to study aikido (as opposed to a different activity), and why have you continued with it for two years?
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:16 AM   #8
Marc Abrams
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

The only way to change the present experience from being a replay of an old tape is to act in a manner that is mutually exclusive to the established behavior. Your training can be this opportunity that will push buttons, be scary, etc.... The opportunity to move in a new manner that results in a safer, more secure outcome changes your present and future.

As a psychologist and martial arts instructor, I use this awareness to help some very brave students create a new present and future. In absence of a teacher with a high level of awareness as to what you are going through, I would look to supplement your current training with some work with a therapist who is relatively intelligent about the nature of your training. Good Luck!

Marc Abrams

ps- Today is only yesterday's tomorrow....
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:21 AM   #9
Mark Freeman
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
I don't pretend to be an expert in this area, but I do believe that arts such as aikido provide a safe and controlled venue for working through personal challenges such as touch aversion. I'm not sure, though, that it's a good idea to try to accomplish this on one's own. While it isn't necessary to tell your teacher your whole story, it might be productive to tell him that you have problems with touch aversion that you are seeking to overcome, and let him help you devise a way to work through it within the context of aikido training. Having an ally in your training will make your burden a lot lighter, IMO and IME.
Hi Cody

I think this is sage advice to "Survivor" and hopefully she will find a way of expressing this to her teacher. If nothing else, aikido teaches us to relax on contact, where a normal reaction would be to tense up, resist or retreat and from this relaxed and centered state, deal with the problem/issue at hand.

I think that over time, with patience and a commitment to work with the inevitable discomfort, then a stronger, healthier state can be achieved.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:44 AM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

This is essentially what I would say so just want to add my voice of support.
To the fellow asking then why is the OP even doing aikido...some folks are led somehow to what they need in life, and sometimes that something is a safe space in which to slowly explore what pushes one's buttons. It's NOT therapy or a replacement for it but a sort of living laboratory for controlled experiments in changing one's reality and one's self. At least that's my take on it.

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Good that you are trying to work with your challenge instead of working around it. Maybe the fact that you are aware will help you to gradually desensitize yourself to it, at least enough to be able to really enjoy your aikido training.

The teacher's friendly hand on your shoulder, and other kinds of benign contact, make you flinch now, but maybe if you let these things happen and remind yourself that they are benign, the flinching will eventually stop and you'll be able to relax. It's like getting used to cold water... step in toe first, grimace, adjust, go in up to your ankles, grimace, adjust...etc. Same with aikido technique. Nikkyo is a good "minimal contact" technique -- just hands and wrists. It's the toe in the water.

I don't pretend to be an expert in this area, but I do believe that arts such as aikido provide a safe and controlled venue for working through personal challenges such as touch aversion. I'm not sure, though, that it's a good idea to try to accomplish this on one's own. While it isn't necessary to tell your teacher your whole story, it might be productive to tell him that you have problems with touch aversion that you are seeking to overcome, and let him help you devise a way to work through it within the context of aikido training. Having an ally in your training will make your burden a lot lighter, IMO and IME.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-29-2013, 01:40 PM   #11
Dan Rubin
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
To the fellow asking then why is the OP even doing aikido...
I didn't ask "then why is the OP is even doing aikido," I asked why she chose to study aikido and continues to do so. I think that her answer to that question might provide clues toward helpful advice.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:13 PM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
I didn't ask "then why is the OP is even doing aikido," I asked why she chose to study aikido and continues to do so. I think that her answer to that question might provide clues toward helpful advice.
Dan, I apologize for my paraphrase which I did change the tone of your query.
I both read quickly AND was using aikiweb on my little iPod, which makes it impossible to scroll back up once I've hit "quick reply."

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:19 PM   #13
Dan Rubin
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

You're forgiven.
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Old 06-29-2013, 06:09 PM   #14
"anomaly"
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Yes, I have used aikido to work on issues of touch and proximity. I am a survivor of sexual trauma. You are not alone. Keep moving forward and appreciate your progress.
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:17 PM   #15
"Survivor"
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
Why did you choose to study aikido (as opposed to a different activity), and why have you continued with it for two years?
For Dan and Janet,

I actually studied karate from the age of 12 to 17. I received my shodan a month before I was raped, and I never returned because I was too ashamed to go back to class. I was looking to go back into martial arts, and I stumbled into Aikido. The dojo cho is a very kind and honorable man, and I felt safe going to classes with him. After studying with him for about a month, it was Aikido itself that I fell in love with, in terms of philosophy as well as the martial aspect.

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
I don't pretend to be an expert in this area, but I do believe that arts such as aikido provide a safe and controlled venue for working through personal challenges such as touch aversion. I'm not sure, though, that it's a good idea to try to accomplish this on one's own. While it isn't necessary to tell your teacher your whole story, it might be productive to tell him that you have problems with touch aversion that you are seeking to overcome, and let him help you devise a way to work through it within the context of aikido training. Having an ally in your training will make your burden a lot lighter, IMO and IME.
I hadn't actually considered that Cady, thank you. I hate the thought of people seeing me as a victim, and this is a conversation I have only had with three people, all of them men I was in long term relationships with. My family doesn't even know what happened.

And Marc, where does one locate a psychologist who is also familiar with martial arts, specifically Aikido? This isn't sarcasm, I just don't even know how to go about finding someone who would have that kind of experience.
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:58 AM   #16
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

I don't know why exactly, but I'm also uncomfortable with close physical contact with people outside of my own family. I guess it's partly cultural. Hugging people outside one's own family is not very common in my country, especially for men.

For me koshinage is ok, but the iriminage version where you put your partner's head against you shoulder (like holding a baby to your shoulder) feels uncomfortable.

What helped me with this technique, is that my teacher specifically said to us all that it may be somewhat uncomfortable for some to be so much in close contact with our partner. So the fact that he acknowledged my issue helped me. He doesn't know that I'm uncomfortable with it, he just knows that some people are. Anyway, gradually I'm feeling less uncomfortable when we do this. But my uncomfortableness is probably a lot less than yours, so I don't know if this would actually work for you.

I think it's quite understandable that you don't want to tell your teacher the reason for your touch aversion, and I don't think it's really neccessary. But you might tell him that you are uncomfortable with it, whatever the reason.

Oops, I'm basically repeating what Cady Goldfield said in post #6
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:05 AM   #17
Marc Abrams
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
For Dan and Janet,

I actually studied karate from the age of 12 to 17. I received my shodan a month before I was raped, and I never returned because I was too ashamed to go back to class. I was looking to go back into martial arts, and I stumbled into Aikido. The dojo cho is a very kind and honorable man, and I felt safe going to classes with him. After studying with him for about a month, it was Aikido itself that I fell in love with, in terms of philosophy as well as the martial aspect.

I hadn't actually considered that Cady, thank you. I hate the thought of people seeing me as a victim, and this is a conversation I have only had with three people, all of them men I was in long term relationships with. My family doesn't even know what happened.

And Marc, where does one locate a psychologist who is also familiar with martial arts, specifically Aikido? This isn't sarcasm, I just don't even know how to go about finding someone who would have that kind of experience.
Survivor:

When you meet a therapist, you are interviewing that person as much as they are interviewing you. Explaining your situation to the therapist and listening to the responses will tell you a lot about whether the person is aware of the trigger points that need to be "de-activated."

You are not a victim. Everybody is a survivor of some type of negative experience. Obviously, some experiences are far worse than others (with the potential of longer lasting consequences). As I stated before, you have an tremendous amount of bravery and courage to be facing these experiences. There is never any shame in being courageous and brave. You are more than welcome to e-mail me directly and I might be about to help you find a good therapist near you.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-30-2013, 01:20 PM   #18
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

To a certain extent, I dealt with a less severe sensory 'touch' issue by making most of the peopel I train with into honorary 'family members' in my own mind. There are still some people whom I have a difficult time connecting with, and I see that as part of my shugyo: how to connect with people one doesn't really want to connect with, while still maintaining one's independence and integrity.

It's hard for me, and (I'm guessing) for Survivor, to not experience physical contact as a simultaneous mental/spiritual/emotional contact; to allow all-and-sundry in, then, requires either the ability to separate the physical from the mental, or the ability to purify uke's action (any uke) through the movement of aikido.
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:51 PM   #19
Krystal Locke
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

I wouldn't waste a lot of time on finding an aikido friendly therapist. Aikido isn't the real issue. You can very likely find a therapist who specializes in assault and rape recovery. You can explain your relationship with martial arts within the therapy itself. Far more important that the therapist be competent around your core issues than even know what aikido is. He or she will just remind you of the tools and resources you have around and within you so that you can help yourself.

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
For Dan and Janet,

I actually studied karate from the age of 12 to 17. I received my shodan a month before I was raped, and I never returned because I was too ashamed to go back to class. I was looking to go back into martial arts, and I stumbled into Aikido. The dojo cho is a very kind and honorable man, and I felt safe going to classes with him. After studying with him for about a month, it was Aikido itself that I fell in love with, in terms of philosophy as well as the martial aspect.

I hadn't actually considered that Cady, thank you. I hate the thought of people seeing me as a victim, and this is a conversation I have only had with three people, all of them men I was in long term relationships with. My family doesn't even know what happened.

And Marc, where does one locate a psychologist who is also familiar with martial arts, specifically Aikido? This isn't sarcasm, I just don't even know how to go about finding someone who would have that kind of experience.
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Old 06-30-2013, 10:43 PM   #20
Michael Hackett
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Contact Lynn Seiser here on AikiWeb. He is in Georgia, and may be able to refer you to someone he knows and trusts. Lynn is not only a therapist, but is yondan in aikido as well. It is a small world and he may know someone near your community.

Michael
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Old 07-01-2013, 12:56 AM   #21
ryback
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I am a rape survivor. I was raped when I was 17, and I have had many years of learning what to do to prevent it again. I do not talk to men I don't know and I do not go on blind dates. I have also developed an extreme aversion to being touched in any context other than by someone I am in a relationship with.

I have been studying Aikido for 2 years now, and it was recently pointed out to me that most of my waza issues stem from giving too much of a "holiday" to my uke. Upon further self-reflection, I feel that these technical problems are rooted in my aversion to touching people and being touched in any kind of non-sexual context. (I also do not hug friends, and I genuinely do my best to avoid even a handshake as a greeting.)

I am not looking for therapy, but I would be interested in knowing if there are any women here who have overcome the same issues, or any instructors who have helped their students though these issues.
Aikido is a martial art and as such it can teach us how to be effective in a self defense situation. But self defense is not only techniques and Aikido goes further than that. Aikido is about finding one's limits, extending them, breaking any barriers to set a broader self and then you go to break your new limits. Of course waza and daily training are one's tools for getting there.
As my teacher often says, you have to find any amount of courage that you have to push your technique forward. Then you use your new, higher technique level to push yourself forward, you find more courage that you use in your technique and you go on and on...forever because that's how long it takes to learn aikido.
The way I see it you need no therapy or treatment of any kind. You alredy are in the right path, that of aikido. Keep playing and experimenting with your own limits in order to make yourself wider more open and extended and you will overcome your problem.
You see, in a martial context (aikido is a martial art after all) nobody would like to have a close touching contact with a dirty, filthy sick junkie that points his knife to him asking for money, but in aikido we learn how to be able to do that because it might save our lives.
The lesson is the same. It is from the fighting techniques that we learn the application in every aspect of life, so keep on practicing.
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:10 AM   #22
lbb
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Survivor, can I ask a question to clarify your original post? Are you asking how you can address your issues with touch and trust so that you can make better practice in aikido, which you love? Or are you asking how you can use aikido training to resolve various rape trauma issues? It could be either, or both, but it seems to me that the order of operations (if you'll permit a bit of math geekery) is reversed if you pick one vs. the other.
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:46 AM   #23
"Survivor"
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Survivor, can I ask a question to clarify your original post? Are you asking how you can address your issues with touch and trust so that you can make better practice in aikido, which you love? Or are you asking how you can use aikido training to resolve various rape trauma issues? It could be either, or both, but it seems to me that the order of operations (if you'll permit a bit of math geekery) is reversed if you pick one vs. the other.
I am asking how to address my issues with touch so I can be better in Aikido, actually. Hopefully the clarification helps. While I am not strictly opposed to therapy, I see that as a separate issue than that of my Aikido practice.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:07 AM   #24
lbb
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I am asking how to address my issues with touch so I can be better in Aikido, actually. Hopefully the clarification helps. While I am not strictly opposed to therapy, I see that as a separate issue than that of my Aikido practice.
Thanks for clarifying, and boy, do you have my sympathy. That's got to be incredibly difficult. I wish I had some good insight. All I can really do is reflect on how I feel about my practice partners. Some of them are people I'd trust with my life, and then there are those that I consider to have trustworthy intentions but not always trustworthy judgment (for example, people with good will but poor control). And, yeah, once in a great while I've run into someone who isn't necessarily out to harm me but is somewhat indifferent to my safety. This may be no help for you at all, but I think I'm able to train with people in the latter two categories if I can trust my own abilities and judgment to keep myself safe - basically, if I have enough control over the situation. I guess that's probably a pretty common accommodation, otherwise we wouldn't be able to train with beginners.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:51 AM   #25
"Survivor"
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Re: Rape Survivor and Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Thanks for clarifying, and boy, do you have my sympathy. That's got to be incredibly difficult. I wish I had some good insight. All I can really do is reflect on how I feel about my practice partners. Some of them are people I'd trust with my life, and then there are those that I consider to have trustworthy intentions but not always trustworthy judgment (for example, people with good will but poor control). And, yeah, once in a great while I've run into someone who isn't necessarily out to harm me but is somewhat indifferent to my safety. This may be no help for you at all, but I think I'm able to train with people in the latter two categories if I can trust my own abilities and judgment to keep myself safe - basically, if I have enough control over the situation. I guess that's probably a pretty common accommodation, otherwise we wouldn't be able to train with beginners.
Basically what I am seeing right now is the same steady increase in skill in applying certain techniques, and a 0 improvement in other techniques. While that may not be a big difference right now, in a year or two, it is going to be a very glaring deficit in my waza. So I've identified a problem, and I know why some things are improving and some are not, but now I just have to figure out how to fix it, and that's the issue I am running into right now.
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