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Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self
Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self
by Lynn Seiser
05-25-2014
Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Breathe in, self-defense
Breathe out, self-development
No self

You have probably noticed that I have certain patterns in my thinking and my writing. I am a creature of habit.

The natural basis of life comes from breathing in and breathing out. Our respiratory system is under both unconscious and conscious control. We can express and regulate many of our emotions and feelings through breathing.

The other is transformative and generative change. The idea of taking in a negative and transforming it into a positive sounds like a good everyday practice to me. We cannot control or choose what comes our way, but we can control and choose how we respond to it.
Self: (1) an individual's typical character or behavior, (2) the union of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that constitutes the individuality and identity of a person, (3) one's nature or character, (4) the total essential and essence of a person, (5) the cognitive constructs of the learned ego identity.
Defense: (1) to drive danger or attack away, (2) capability of resisting, (3) to support or justify, (4) to protect and defend, (5) to shield and safeguard
There was an old story about a castle that decided to use guard dogs. The dog handler said they would need five dogs. Four dogs would be used on each wall: north, south, east, and west. (I'll finish the story later.)

In the dojo, we learn techniques for the defense from external attacks. Someone comes at us and strikes at us or grabs us with the (pretended) intent of doing great bodily injury and harm. In Aikido, we learn to get off the line, go with the force rather than resist it, redirect, take the attacker's balance, throw it away or take the attacker to the ground in compliant submission signaled by their slapping out. Then we get up, bow to each other, and reverse the roles. This is repeated exactly, or with slight variations, with enough frequency that we have the illusion that in a real fight, in the real world, if someone really struck at us or grabbed our wrist that we would automatically, and with deadly effectiveness and efficiency, take them down to the concrete until they said uncle.

In life, we often live from the same very defensive position. We take most things personally and very negatively. We have been conditioned to not like ourselves, to surround ourselves with people who agree with us, who we invite (or insist) to attack us, and when they do we defend ourselves. We have learned that this is not a safe world and that we need to be self-defensive and self- protective in all we do. We learn to think, feel, and behave based on fear. Because we believe it is a fearful world we can rationalize and justify our defensive move. With practice, we do not even know we are doing this. It was passed on from our parents and as parents we will pass it on to our children. If there is a ray of light through the illusion of fear we only need turn to the media for further reinforcement that this is a fear-based unsafe world so we can stay in the safety and seclusion of the illusion of our defensive caves fortified with the interpretations and skills we learn from some well meaning (but equally fear-full) counselor or psychotherapist.

Is this how we really want to train and live?
Self: (1) an individual's typical character or behavior, (2) the union of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that constitutes the individuality and identity of a person, (3) one's nature or character, (4) the total essential and essence of a person, (5) the cognitive constructs of the learned ego identity.

Development: (1) to set forth or make clear, (2) to make visible or manifest, (3) to work out the possibilities, (4) to cause to unfold gradually, (5) to go through a natural process of growth and differentiation
When asked about the fifth dog, the handler said that most castles fall from the inside.

In the dojo, we only get so far in effectiveness and efficiency unless we integrate and incorporate the underlying principles and processes into our own attitude and movement. After a while we learn that the real attacker is the limits we place on ourselves. It is not what we are doing with others, but how we are doing the entering, connecting, and executing within ourselves. In Aikido they say to relax and train in a joyous manner. How do we do that when we are practicing being attacked? Perhaps we have to remove the fear and victim-mentality within ourselves before we can see the attack and attacker clearly. From a point of clarity and calmness we can see that the attacker is acting out their own fear and pain. This provides us an opportunity to practice empathy and compassion by controlling the situation and bringing it to a non-violent resolution. Perhaps this is more about self-development than self-defense.

In life, it is really no different. As long as we are fear-based, we will never find happiness or love. We will push away the people who love us and embrace the people who will hurt us. We may have learned from our families and society that love is a lot of work or that it is a battlefield so we pick people who will act out these scenarios with us. We are perpetuating our history (or the history of our parents) and not developing or growing. Again, we have to gain clarity to see through these fear-based illusions and change our perception of ourselves, our relationships, and our world. Reality is so much more an internal subject perception (or at least this is the only piece we can control and change) than an external objective fact (which we could not change even if we could perceive it). Perhaps the development is to stop focusing on the perceived unsafe fear-based world that we do not want and start focusing on the safe love-based world we want to live in, love in, and pass on to our children.
No: (1) refusing or denying, (2) to negate

Self: (1) an individual's typical character or behavior, (2) the union of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that constitutes the individuality and identity of a person, (3) one's nature or character, (4) the total essential and essence of a person, (5) the cognitive constructs of the learned ego identity.
What does self-defense and self-development have in common?

Perhaps much of the sorrow and suffering we experience and perpetuate in the world comes from the perception and conception of an individual separate sense of self that needs protecting and preserving at any cost.

Self-referencing and ego-centric thinking is developmentally common and appropriate during childhood and adolescence. Supposedly, we grow out of it and realize not everything is about us and that the collective self is more important than the separate self is. If I win and everyone loses, I still lose. If everyone wins, I win as well. We often refer to self-ishness as a negative trait but self-lessness as a positive. All the while we are pretending that the individual self is the sole and soul frame of reference and priority.

To defend one's self implies that there is a self to defend. In aikido we suggest we get off the line so that the target being aimed at is no longer there. To develop one's self implies that is a self that needs developing as if it is not already as it needs to be. Without a sense of self depreciation we would feel the need to develop self appreciation. In life and love, in the dojo or on the streets in the real world, we only find ourselves by losing ourselves.

Breathe in, self-defense
Breathe out, self-development
No self

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 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and 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, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
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Old 05-26-2014, 05:37 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Typo-Alert: If we breathe in, we breathe out (not our). No matter how many time I proof read, life is still imperfect.

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 05-28-2014, 04:28 AM   #3
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Thank you for the awesome article. As a person in recovery, I can relate to it a lot, and I'm finding that Aikido has been a HUGE help to me in changing my internal environment and learning how to extend love rather than fear.

Bret L
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Houston, Texas
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Old 05-28-2014, 10:05 AM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Quote:
Bret Lynn wrote: View Post
As a person in recovery, I can relate to it a lot, and I'm finding that Aikido has been a HUGE help to me in changing my internal environment and learning how to extend love rather than fear.
As a friend of Bill W, is all about losing the self and being of service to others.
Compliments ...

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 05-28-2014, 10:06 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Typo-Alert: If we breathe in, we breathe out (not our). No matter how many time I proof read, life is still imperfect.
Looks like my editor has made the correction for me. Appreciate.

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 05-31-2014, 04:17 PM   #6
JP3
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

I would have thought it would have been written this way?

Breathe in, Self Defense
Breathe out, Self development
Know Self

I personally like that ending better for my own philosophy this week than "No self."

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 06-01-2014, 03:56 PM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Quote:
John Powell wrote: View Post
I would have thought it would have been written this way?
Breathe in, Self Defense
Breathe out, Self development
Know Self
I personally like that ending better for my own philosophy this week than "No self."
Yes agreed.
Perhaps a prerequisite to no-self is to know-self.
IMHO, if we seriously look into the learned ego identity its made up of incorporated introjects of our external role models.
Like a car disappears when you take it completely apart, if we know-ourselves we may actually realize there is actually no-self.
But, read it how its most useful and applicable to you.
Thanks for reading and responding.
Any thoughts anyone/

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 06-15-2014, 10:04 AM   #8
JP3
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Lynn, you went with a car, but you could go with a Dexter reference, too.

I can take all my pieces-parts out and set them aside one at a time in an attempt to Know Self, and when I'm done and all has been set aside, I am left with No-Self.

But, I have a mess on the floor.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 06-17-2014, 05:40 PM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: Self Defense, Self Development, and No Self

Quote:
John Powell wrote: View Post
Lynn, you went with a car, but you could go with a Dexter reference, too. I can take all my pieces-parts out and set them aside one at a time in an attempt to Know Self, and when I'm done and all has been set aside, I am left with No-Self. But, I have a mess on the floor.
Greetings,
I love Dexter, so it works for me. LOL
Many people think of constructing the self as being greater than the sum of its parts/pieces.
Only a few are brave enough to de-construct the self to the point that they see without the parts/pieces there is no self.
Either way, I am still (and always have been) an absolute mess. LOL
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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