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Old 02-04-2003, 08:17 PM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 427
the timid

~~So, let's say you have a truely timid student who is learning Aikido for self-defense. Over time (a year or two) you come to realize that it probably won't matter what they learn because when push comes to shove, they'll buckle. How would you address this issue of timid nature? Suggest they see a therapist? Shrug and figure it'll all work out? Assume that they're getting something from Aikido even if it's not their spoken need? Introduce them to a makiwara?
~~Any thoughts?

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Old 02-04-2003, 08:34 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 40
There are a number of salient factors to consider in this situation.

First, (and I'm assuming from your post that you are this person's instructor) there needs to be balance in the student-teacher relationship. As this person's teacher, you are responsible for, among other things, teaching them the necessary skills to defend themself should such a situation arrive. On the other hand, you have an equal obligation to respect their own innate "hardwiring" and their will and ability to direct themself. I think you pretty well aknowlaged this in what you said; I just wanted to lay it out.

Second, it's important to figure out exactly what factors into this "timid nature." I personally know of a number of people who use this attitude in many social contexts, but who will likely (again, I have seen this) respond quite violently if pushed to far in a physical confrontation. If you think this is the case, I think you should probably not really worry about this and just continue to instruct this person in the basic taijutsu curriculum, along with whatever else it is that you feel that it is important to teach. It, on the other hand, you feel that this person truely will not be able to work out this "hump" when it counts, I suggest
  • Working on good posture. Strange as it seems, I have found taht good posture goes hand in hand with good self esteem and therefore good technique, judgemetn, etc.
  • Suggesting therapy. If you do choose to do this, I think it of utmost improtant that you do this tactfully and make it clear that (If this is the case) you still have teaching to offer them and that they still may train
  • Not worrying too much. This personl will probably deal with this the rest of their life. They will do it better than you ever could imagine.
Hope some of this helps. Seriously, I don't think it will help to worry too much. The compassion and concern is most definately good; don't get me wrong. Go with your heart.

Have a good day.


Last edited by mattholmes : 02-04-2003 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 02-04-2003, 09:49 PM   #3
JW's Avatar
Location: San Diego CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 561
Re: the timid

I like your question, because I was that very student, although I guess I wasn't a really exaggerated case or anything..

I thought martial arts practice is supposed to deal directly with this sort of thing! It did for me. 2 things that I think are good to consider:

1. Aikido firmly asserts that it is not right to get stomped on. I think aikido classes help a person believe in this themselves, because each technique is a demonstration of how you can avoid getting stomped on while not being required to be a big macho stomper yourself.

2. Jiyuwaza! Randori! As you get better at this you feel really confident and happy. Confidence in yourself and your technique means that you no longer look at an effective evasion, or an effective pin, or etc, as some big impossible load of effort to squeeze out. Instead it is something you do a little of all the time, like walking or talking .. I think substantiated self confidence is important in not letting timidness get the best of you.
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Old 02-04-2003, 10:39 PM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 40
Having just re-read my post after coming home from class, I would like to add that I think that gentle, occasional prodding in a basic technique is quite beneficial as well.

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Old 02-05-2003, 12:27 AM   #5
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,888
IMHO, if after a couple of years you are still "timid" in your technqiue, than just straight Aikido practice is probabaly not going to correct the situation.

This is where the mental discipline comes directly into play. What fantasy in your head to you use to create "timid"? How do you stop yourself mentally from being less "timid"? What is the positive purpose in being "timid" you may want to preserve while still allowing yourself to be more effective and efficient in your Aikido waza?

Many people neglect the mental introspection as if it is implied and will be addressed strictly through the physical practice.

Until again,


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 02-05-2003, 08:38 PM   #6
JW's Avatar
Location: San Diego CA USA
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 561
Lynn Seiser (SeiserL) wrote:
What is the positive purpose in being "timid" you may want to preserve while still allowing yourself to be more effective and efficient in your Aikido waza?
Pretty important, I think.
I agree that getting rid of the timidness can't be the goal, as this quote suggests. I just think timidness needs to not manifest itself in BAD ways.. for example:

-A timid extension is just not right.. extension needs to be strong and assertive.
-On the other hand a blend is not entirely assertive, and if you were trying to always be assertive you could not properly RECEIVE an attack.

So, trying to eleminate timidness I think is counterproductive. Rather, a timid person just needs to gain some confidience that may be lacking. (Add confidence rather than subtract timidness)
What I was getting at in my post is that hard training that challenges you and requires that you learn to do something difficult with confidence makes you better equipped to not fold under pressure.

Well, I guess since I am not there I can't tell if what I am saying even applies to the situation or is a moot point already.
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Old 02-05-2003, 10:56 PM   #7
PhilJ's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Bukou
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 240
I have to play devil's adovcate here. Are we suggesting that timidness has no place in the art? Do we have to help timid students "get thicker" to fully appreciate the benefits of training?

I'm not disagreeing with any of the posts -- but I think the focus is misplaced, even though it is certainly on the right goal. I like what everyone has posted thus far, without exception, it's very good.

Being timid isn't something that needs a cure, but rather I suggest it needs to be redirected. Like we say to over-aggressive people, "channel your energy to more productive things"; I think it takes energy to be timid too (being one myself).

I think folks who are a little more withdrawn tend to be more introspective than others. They withdraw because of certain fears (fear of others, fear of their own capabilities like temper, etc.) sometimes.

Sometimes all you need to do is show them what they do under pressure -- place them into a similar situation, but make it SAFE, and give him/her the chance to learn first-hand what needs to be worked on, rather than tell them or wait for a test. S/he may learn by "watching" him/herself after the situation.

This will sometimes work.


Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
An Aikido Bukou Dojo
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Old 02-06-2003, 01:55 PM   #8
Erik Young
Dojo: Wilmington Kokikai Dojo
Location: Downingtown
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24
I'll jump in here as a mental health professional....

There are a few things (some of which have been alluded to here on this thread) that need to be taken into consideration.

First, what is "timid"? The term is not well-defined....does the person make regular eye-contact? Does he/she have problems pracitrcing for fear of interacting with others? Does he/she flinch or jump when an attack is directed at them?

basically, I'm not sure in what way being timid is interfereing with this student's growth in Aikido...that's not to sya that it isn't (I suppose you wouldn't have posted otherwise, but knowing more about the situation (within reason) would go a long way to help suss out how to best address the issue.

Another importnat factor not mentioned i this student's reasons for taking up Aikido. Is he/she studying to be les timid or are there other reasons for training? It may be that being les timid is not a driving goal fo rhtis person and efforts to change this would be misdirected ones.

Finally, and most importantly, what purpose does timid behavior serve ofr this individual? No person exists in a vaccuum. The same goes for behaviors. Everything an organism does serves a purpose for that organism...every behavior has a function. In order to successfully replace (i.e. teach) a behavior, one has to understand what function the old behavior served and make sure there is something there to fulfill that function in place of the old behavior.

For example, I like to eat when I get stressed out. So, eating serves the function of stress-reducer. Now, I'm trying ot lose weight, so I now try to eat less. However, that's a problem when life gets difficult. Excercise (aikido and other activities) seem to help me calm down. Now, rather than eating, I try to do some push-ups or something. I'm less stressed, and I eat less. But only through the use of a viable replacement behavior...something unique to me.

So, it will be very hard to reduce timidness without first understanding it and then helping this person (as self-discovery is so much more effective than having the solutionhaded to you) figure out how best to address the behavior. This is all assuming the behavior is, in fact, a problem for this individual.

Sorry if this seems rushed, I'm dashing this off between meetings....email me if you have other questions.



HAve you heard the one about the agnostic dyslexic? He wasn't sure if he believed in the existence of Dog.
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Old 02-06-2003, 02:17 PM   #9
MikeE's Avatar
Dojo: Midwest Center For Movement & Aikido Bukou Dojos
Location: Hudson, WI
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 407
I have had extremely timid students in my time as an instructor.

And yes, Phil is a naturally timid person.

Now I realize that I am no mental health professional (most of whom I believe get it as a self-help degree--Just kidding, Erik Instead of getting bogged down in symantics...why not take a stab at it?

Often, I have found that people with a pacifist or timid attitude can overcome it.

Most of the time I talk to them and find out what their major concern is. Many times (in my experience) it comes down to a willingness to defend themselves for whatever reason.

The solution I have used with success, is to get them in the mindset of defending others (family, kids, practically anyone). Many times they can see themselves defending others' personal safety and not their own.

So, practice with the intent of protecting their children or loved ones.

I guess it comes down not to changing the person's (what we perceive as) weakness, but, to work with the person to find a way for them to reach their goals in Aikido.

Last edited by MikeE : 02-06-2003 at 02:20 PM.

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
For Movement &
Aikido Bukou
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