Breathe in, technique
Breathe out, repetition
As a counselor and psychotherapist (and teacher), I often tell people that life is about three things; (1) knowing what you want, (2) knowing what you have to do to get it, and (3) getting up every day and doing it.
Technique: (1) procedure of skill required, (2) treatment of basics, (3) skill possessed, (4) special ability, (5) the method, system, or procedure practiced to gain or enhance skill acquisition and performance
In the dojo, each art, style, organization, and teacher has their own way of physically doing a technique. It is interesting that we can find very similar techniques executed somewhat differently between styles, systems, schools, and instructors, yet the basic technique will be the same. Perhaps to learn a technique in the beginning we need to focus on the basic fundamental sameness. We can get lost in the details too soon. Understanding the technical application is the basic technique. We need to know specifically what to do. Under stress, we lose a lot of fine skill, so we need to wire in the gross motor skills first by staying focused on the basic techniques and the distance/connectedness that make them effective.
In life, perhaps our most important task is to become aware of what is most important. What are the basic needs of life? Of course, we all know that we need air to breathe and food to eat. We also need a sense of safety, a sense of inter-connectedness, and a sense of caring/compassion. As a counselor, I talk a lot about the existential angst of feeling that we are all alone or that no one cares about us. Often this is a mis-perception/interpretation based on early experience. Often relationships start in a positive conversation and many fail in negative or lack of communication. We lose our connectedness and feel alone. We take that fear/pain out on the person we are trying to re-connect with (pushing them further away). Perhaps the basic technique of life is staying open in the closeness/connectedness and communication necessary to maintain a relationship.
Repetition: (1) repeating of something, (2) something same as before, (3) procedure of stating something again, (4) repeated words. (5) recurrence, replication, or duplication
In the dojo, even the advanced practitioners will always return to the basics and keep refining and redefining what that means. When I started in Aikido, the most repeated phrase I heard (and perhaps the only phrase I heard) was "No, again." We would spend the entire class on a single technique doing it repeatedly. Even with an understanding and acceptance the skill acquisition is a process of refinement and repetition, I did not always appreciate the process. Each time we repeat a movement we wire it into the motor and neurology system -- the neurons that fire together wire together. Slight variations on the basics actually help the bundling effect as long as the variation is seen within the context of the basic technique. Therefore, we never actually repeat the same technique, we repeat (sometimes endlessly) slight variations and refinements of the basics until it becomes the new normal and natural, until is automated.
In life, we often repeat the same thoughts, feelings, and behaviors either expecting it will get us the same results (if we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we always got) or something completely different (if at first it doesn't work, try the same thing harder). Life is filled with repetitive patterns and processes that give our lives a sense of consistency, stability, and predictability. Many of these patterns originated in our early experiences in our families of origin or in past generations handed down as family or cultural rules and roles. We create, cultivate, and perpetuate these schema and scripts by unconscious emotional identification that we pass on through modeling to those who identify with us. They say we never step in the same stream
twice because with each repetition the roles and rules of communication become more ingrained and more unnoticed. The need for variation is to keep the same message fresh so that we stay mindful of its expression as both sender and receiver. How do we remind ourselves every day of what is important and how to repeatedly cultivate, facilitate, and perpetuate its acceptance, appreciation, and expression?
Persistence: (1) the quality of persisting, (2) act of persisting, (3) long continuance of something, (4) resilience of organism, (5) perseverance, determination, diligence, or resolution
They say that all things come to those who wait. They also say that early bird gets the worm.
In the dojo, it is easier (and faster) to learn something right the first time, such as a new skill then to quickly learn it wrong and have to unlearn it to relearn it correctly later. The daily discipline of getting to the dojo, suiting up, bowing in, and practicing the same thing is not easy to look forward to and maintain consistent and persistent training enough to experience the joy of progress well deserved. For many people it is the progression of belt colors that are the outward signs of internal progress. It takes persistent practice of basic techniques that works. We have to trust the practice and its accumulative effects. People often ask how I stayed involved in martial arts all my adult life. I am having a good time.
In life, everyone is looking for quick results and the quick fix. Usually the fastest way to do something is not the right way or the way that will produce results. So perhaps the fastest way is to do it right the first time. They say that if you do not have time to do it right, then you do not have time to do it over. If we did not learn how to do it right in our families of origin, we did not learn it right the first time. We probably persistently repeated the patterns we experienced and were taught even if we consistently failed. Once we learn the basics of having a healthy and happy life and relationship, we have to persist mindfully in its practice, accepting and appreciating setbacks and failures until it clicks and we get it. Negative mental, emotional, and behavior patterns are not easy to overcome, but overcoming them is easier than living with them for the rest of our lives doing damage every day. Persistence comes from repetitively reminding ourselves of what is important and repeating only those actions that move us in that direction.
Breathe in, technique
Breathe out, repetition
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity of being 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 lives with his wife and trains on the Florida Gulf Coast (chasing grandchildren).