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Old 12-12-2007, 03:38 PM   #1
hullu
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Pain

Is it possible to train to handle more pain than before? Of course if you always punch yourself in the nuts it will become easier. But that is just one part of the body. So any suggestions?
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Old 12-12-2007, 04:02 PM   #2
Tambreet
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Re: Pain

Quote:
Paavo Nurmi wrote: View Post
Is it possible to train to handle more pain than before? Of course if you always punch yourself in the nuts it will become easier. But that is just one part of the body. So any suggestions?
I'm not an expert, but I think so. Some martial artists will repeatedly strike trees or other hard objects as part of their training, which will dull or kill the pain receptors in that part of the body.

Also the brain can reduce chemicals (such as endorphins) which will reduce the amount of pain you feel. One of the effects of adrenaline is to release endorphins, which will dull/prevent pain. As you train through pain, your body will get better at that.
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:08 PM   #3
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Re: Pain

Yes, you can learn to tolerate higher levels of pain through body and mind conditioning, but IMHO its better to get off the line and not have to tolerate pain at all.

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 12-13-2007, 09:16 AM   #4
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Re: Pain

Once you understand the difference between pain and injury, to put it in a cheesy movie cliche "Pain don't hurt".

When I started aikido, I was in constant pain. When I started bjj it was even worse. I'd tap to the knee on belly position, I'd tap to crossfacing, I'd turn away from strikes, etc. Eventually, though sparing, I learned what was dangerous, and what was annoying. Example, I can tolerate a choke on my chin or crossface on my nose. I understand that it hurts, but it is not dangerous, so I just suck it up and keep going. Now I can get just as intense pain from an armbar, but I realize when it is on the verge of poping and I tap out.

I think I've reached a point where physical pain really doesn't slow me down all that much. I'm basically in constant pain. Once you see the difference between injury and pain, you can push yourself a lot further.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:30 AM   #5
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Re: Pain

Perhaps pertinent to this thread, here are two polls I took a few years back on the subject of pain:

"Is enduring physical pain necessary in getting better at aikido? - 10/9/2004"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=241

"Is inducing physical pain in others necessary in getting better at aikido? - 10/16/2004"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=242

-- Jun

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Old 12-13-2007, 09:52 AM   #6
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Unhappy Re: Pain

Quote:
Paavo Nurmi wrote: View Post
Of course if you always punch yourself in the nuts it will become easier. But that is just one part of the body.
1. Actually I'm pretty sure that "nuts" are at least two parts of the body.

2. Have you actually tested that theory?

Quote:
Paavo Nurmi wrote: View Post
Of course if you always punch yourself in the nuts...
2. Always??? Really? Holy Moly!

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration...

ART! - http://birdsbeaks.blogspot.com/
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:01 AM   #7
Joseph Madden
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Re: Pain

Quote:
Paavo Nurmi wrote: View Post
Is it possible to train to handle more pain than before? Of course if you always punch yourself in the nuts it will become easier. But that is just one part of the body. So any suggestions?
After studying aikido for the past 7 years, I can say without a doubt that it does indeed get better. After a while, your wrists and elbows and shoulders and....etc get conditioned to the pain. Or rather, your brain becomes conditioned. Its either brainwashing or bodywashing. As one of our fellow posters mentioned studying BJJ, you know what you can tolerate and what you can't. I've seen people walk out of our dojo after trying to do backward rolls. Something about "breaking their necks".If you can learn to take a bloody lip and continue to roll with the punches, you can pretty much take anything.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:13 AM   #8
Keith Larman
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Re: Pain

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Paavo Nurmi wrote: View Post
Is it possible to train to handle more pain than before? Of course if you always punch yourself in the nuts it will become easier. But that is just one part of the body. So any suggestions?
Darwin awards...

Seriously, impact to the naughty bits is never a good idea for your health.

If you want to get a better grip on dealing with pain just take a few months of boxing followed by a few months of judo then some BJJ. You'll get scraped, bumped, punched, bashed, tweaked, twisted and generally banged up. You'll also learn that under stress pain is often not something you're all that aware of. A few years ago I was on my way to the dojo and saw a horrific car crash (the guy went head on into a light pole). I ran out of the car to the guy, made sure the leaking gas wasn't going to ignite, and held a compression on a really bad head injury for him until the paramedics arrived. Once they got there and got him stabilized the second paramedic told me to sit down because he needed to take care of me. I had no idea what he was talking about until he pointed down. I had been driving without my shoes on (hot California summer) and I had run across broken glass and apparently a shard of metal to help the guy. I never noticed that I had a series of nasty gashes on the bottom of my feet. No pain at all. Until the nice paramedic pointed them out. Then they hurt. A lot.

Your body has some pretty amazing systems in play. Adrenaline and endorphins will be your friend (and sometimes maybe a hindrance) when it comes to pain. It is all part of the systems that allow you to function. What may help is training hard in some of those things I listed above -- you will get a few booboos doing that stuff. But you quickly learn that while they aren't fun, you can deal with it and pretty much ignore an amazing amount of things when you need to.

But I wouldn't try repeated shots to the nads myself. Unless you want to become sterile and/or impotent...

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Old 12-13-2007, 10:16 AM   #9
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Re: Pain

The pain reduction and strengthening of body parts over repeated strikes and grabs is called Wolf's law, specifically targeting the bone structure. It's the real reason why people are able to perform wood/brick breaking techniques without seriously injuring the limb. Also evident in the conditioning of a muay thai fighter's shins.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:10 AM   #10
Dan Richards
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Re: Pain

Quote:
Paavo Nurmi wrote: View Post
Is it possible to train to handle more pain than before?
hullu, what is your level of training and why do you ask this question?

The idea of training sane, effective aikido is that you'll experience less pain as you train longer. And much of that has to do with executing the kata - especially in the role of uke - with cleaner technique.

The people in aikido whom I've constantly seen experience more pain are the beginners. You have to get over the hump of learning to roll and fall. You have to get over the hump of learning to take nikkyo, sankyo, gote kaeshi, etc while remaing relaxed. Generally this can be achieved - at least the big hump of it - with a few months of training.

After that, the more relaxed you become and the cleaner your technique is executed - the less pain you'll experience - and greatly lessen the possibility of injury. Drunks get hurt less in accidents simply because they're too out of it to tense up.

Keep in mind, too, that joint lock techiques in aikido go with the natural direction of uke's body instead of against the joints, as in some other martial arts. Pain in aikido - like wasabi (a type of Japanese horseradish) - tends to come on sharp and fast, but dissipates quickly, leaving no afterburn. And moreover, should leave you energized and even more relaxed.

We just had an Aikido Friendship day a few weeks ago that included about four hours of total training. The next day I woke up feeling good, like I'd had a massage, and ready for more. Two of the beginners told me the next day that they felt like they'd been hit by a truck. They nursed their soreness and skipped the next two training classes that week.

I've been to week-long training camps with with several hours of training per day, and everyone up and on the mat for iai at 6:45am. People from about sankyu level on up didn't have much problems.

The idea is not train more to be able to handle more pain, but rather to train more so that in your training you do not experience as much - if any - pain at all.

More relaxed and pliable state = less pain and chance of injury.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 12-13-2007 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:33 AM   #11
Joseph Madden
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Re: Pain

Excellent points Dan, however I must point something out that occurs at our dojo on occasion. We have students that "escape" the technique constantly. They are not willing to have the technique executed on them willingly and therefore rarely feel any pain (or any technique for that matter).
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:05 PM   #12
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Re: Pain

Learning to relax and breathe through and into the discomfort of nikkyo taught me how to, off the mat, do the same through pain of injury or illness. This is very important, because anxiety and tension create a chemical cascade that both increases the pain and makes healing more difficult.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:11 PM   #13
Marc Abrams
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Re: Pain

I frankly believe that true budo is like the holiday spirit.

Tis better to give than it is to receive!

That certainly applies to pain!

Seriously:

Pain is a signal event. It is an evolutionary-based signal that signals a need to create some change in order to protect the body. We can become inure to the signals through constant exposure, analgesics, etc... It is important to listen to the pain and act accordingly to stay safe.

Marc Abrams
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:52 PM   #14
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Re: Pain

...Why would you want to train to have a higher pain threshold? I know that I personally have a high pain threshold, in part due to training, but when I do train, I train to keep myself pain-free. Of course, I can't always do that, and it's a balance to protect myself, while giving myself to my partner, but I don't really understand why one would want to train specifically to take more pain.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:25 PM   #15
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Re: Pain

Quote:
Maxine Henry wrote: View Post
...Why would you want to train to have a higher pain threshold? I know that I personally have a high pain threshold, in part due to training, but when I do train, I train to keep myself pain-free. Of course, I can't always do that, and it's a balance to protect myself, while giving myself to my partner, but I don't really understand why one would want to train specifically to take more pain.
Because not everyone is an aikido god and they probably thinking worse case scenario just in case you do get struck. Won't hurt as bad

Last edited by Pierre Kewcharoen : 12-13-2007 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:09 PM   #16
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Re: Pain

Or how about this situation. If you have someone on your back, and they are trying to choke you, but they are choking your jaw, it is going to hurt a lot, but you are going to stay awake and will be able to fight them off. If you give to the pain and do what most noobs do and lift your chin up to release the pressure, you will then be exposing your neck, choked and out.

So knowing when to tough it out can be a good thing.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:31 PM   #17
Marc Abrams
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Re: Pain

Don:

I would actually say soft it out. When a person relaxes, they experience less pain (pain is biochemically linked to anxiety and depression). If a person relaxes the neck muscles, it actually becomes harder to be choked out. For example, a good systema person is like trying to hold onto a greased rope. It is very hard to choke someone out when they are always slipping through. Ushiro Sensei teaches an interesting form of expansive tension rather than contractual tension, which allows you to absorb and disperse the force of a strike.

just my 2 cents

Marc Abrams
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:33 PM   #18
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Re: Pain

Hehe, funny you should mention this Don. One of my NCOs who was teaching a class a few weeks back for a Infantry unit had a guy that was big into pressure points and did not believe that the RNC would work on him. he was like 6 foot 8, 300lbs. His theory was that he could use pain/pressure points he learned in Dim Mak to escape the choke.

So, they tested the theory.

My NCO said it hurt like hell, but that he was not going to let this guy get the best of him in front of a group of soldiers and toughed it out for the 5 seconds it took for the guy to take a Nap.

They rolled him over and recovered him and the guy said "hmmm, I guess it really does work!"

the NCO still has a sore jaw!

Pain has it's place, but it is not a pancea nor does it replace good principles of center, control, and temporary loss of blood to the brain when appropriate.

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Old 12-14-2007, 01:29 AM   #19
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Pain

When it really needs to, your body will tolerate pain to achieve an objective at hand. Like the pressure point RNC story Kevin told.

I remember meeting different Aikido who had this idea that the pain from a good yonkyo will hold anyone in place.
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:45 AM   #20
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Re: Pain

Some player of Muai Thai use the famous bottle technique to kill the nerves of their calves (basically rolling a glass bottle continuosly on the calves with a big pressure).
I can understand someone who decides to kill his/her own nerves to avoid feeling pain if that person has decided to carry out a life as professional fighter, but I don't actually see the need for this just to learn an Art and/or for self defence.
Moreover I have a personal belief that killing your pain receptors in the long run won't be very healthy for your body. I can see you doing it while you are a fighter, but wonder what happens when you turn 60/70 years old and the nerves are long gone.
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Old 12-14-2007, 09:51 AM   #21
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Re: Pain

Quote:
Roman Kremianski wrote: View Post
When it really needs to, your body will tolerate pain to achieve an objective at hand. Like the pressure point RNC story Kevin told.

I remember meeting different Aikido who had this idea that the pain from a good yonkyo will hold anyone in place.
I think you need to have developed the mental fortitude. I don't think it will just magically happen when you need it. It has to be developed. Of course adrenaline helps, but it is still not a cure all and has it's own disadvantages.

For example, if you are not used to getting punched in the face, you are not prepared to keep your chin down and the first time you get punched, you are going to start either flailing out, leaning back away from the blows putting yourself off balance, or turn your head away from your attacker exposing yourself even more. It takes a lot of getting punched in the face to learn to keep your hands up and chin down even when getting a lot of pain from the blows.

I don't think it has to do with killing pain receptors. That always seemed silly to me. But rather with learning to tolerate adversity.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 12-14-2007, 10:32 AM   #22
Keith Larman
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Re: Pain

I think the point a lot of people are trying to make ends up boiling down to both experience (get hit a few times) and also the notion of our emotional reaction to the scenario in which the pain occurs. I've tapped out on the mat because a Yonkyo hurts. Yes, it hurts. A lot when done by some people. But I've been in situations where I've had a lot more pain and it just pissed me off (to be coarse about it). The difference was that the latter wasn't in a training situation -- the person was trying to hurt me. I'll tap out because something hurts. But if someone is trying to hurt me, oh, well, that's a different mental attitude now. Heck, I severely jammed/dislocated my thumb recently doing a technique (the infamous thumb in the gi-sleeve technique). The problem was the fella was moving fast and so was I in the opposite direction. I still finished the technique, laid him down, and then reached down and grabbed my hand only to feel my thumb go "whump" and back to where it was supposed to be. Now I don't know if it is my own personality or what, but when I do things like that it is usually that I'm aware I just did something stupid and have injured myself. I usually find I get so annoyed with myself that I keep going, finish what I was doing, then survey the damage later. I get so annoyed with myself about screwing up that I keep going.

The point here is that it isn't about "deadening" your nerves. That's fine for those guys whacking their shins on trees and jamming their hands into hot sand. Unless they're also slamming their faces repeatedly into walls to deaden their faces they're probably still not going to be immune to the pain of being punched in the face. The point is learning to retain your focus and finish what you're doing even though you are finding yourself getting hit back a few times in the process. It is about learning to control yourself and your emotions. It is about keeping a clear, focused mind. All the "pain training" in the world won't matter if the moment you feel threatened you start back pedalling in panic. It is all about controlling yourself including your reactions to pain. Don has mentioned some very good points about how someone being punched will often "open up more" after the first good one. The point here isn't about deadening yourself to the pain but learning that it is transitory and you can still function even in pain. And that sometimes your "normal reflex" to the pain may not be the best idea. So you learn to control yourself and continue with what you've been trained to do. That's why we train so much in kata, etc. To learn the movements to make them part of yourself. That's why it takes so long too -- you've simply got to make these things "natural" parts of your very fiber. Toss in a reality check now and again and you'll be better for it in the long run. Get out there and spar a bit with someone strong and capable. Push things. Accept a few bashes, bumps, punches and bruises and learn from it.

Heck, I teach an advanced teens class in Aikido and I expect them to go full speed sometimes. And one thing they are told (invitation only class, parents fully informed) is that since we're going at full speed they might get clipped. And I often see it as a good experience in the end. Suddenly getting hit isn't quite so scary anymore once you've been hit a few times for real. Yeah, it hurts, but that doesn't mean you still can't function. Where I get annoyed is when they get hit and then just stand there. I make sure they understand that they need to protect themselves and finish somehow regardless of what happens (short of someone getting injured of course). That is a really important lesson. There is nothing worse than watching someone go "deer in the headlights" the moment someone connects. But it ain't about deadening yourself to pain in a physical nerve damaging way -- it is about learning to control yourself and remain focused on what you're doing. I like to tell the kids that when they're in a bad situation they need to deal with the situation all the way to completion. You can always fall apart later into a crying blob of jello. But do that later. Deal with the situation right now. Fall apart later.

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Old 12-14-2007, 10:45 AM   #23
Joseph Madden
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Re: Pain

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I think the point a lot of people are trying to make ends up boiling down to both experience (get hit a few times) and also the notion of our emotional reaction to the scenario in which the pain occurs. I've tapped out on the mat because a Yonkyo hurts. Yes, it hurts. A lot when done by some people. But I've been in situations where I've had a lot more pain and it just pissed me off (to be coarse about it). The difference was that the latter wasn't in a training situation -- the person was trying to hurt me. I'll tap out because something hurts. But if someone is trying to hurt me, oh, well, that's a different mental attitude now. Heck, I severely jammed/dislocated my thumb recently doing a technique (the infamous thumb in the gi-sleeve technique). The problem was the fella was moving fast and so was I in the opposite direction. I still finished the technique, laid him down, and then reached down and grabbed my hand only to feel my thumb go "whump" and back to where it was supposed to be. Now I don't know if it is my own personality or what, but when I do things like that it is usually that I'm aware I just did something stupid and have injured myself. I usually find I get so annoyed with myself that I keep going, finish what I was doing, then survey the damage later. I get so annoyed with myself about screwing up that I keep going.

The point here is that it isn't about "deadening" your nerves. That's fine for those guys whacking their shins on trees and jamming their hands into hot sand. Unless they're also slamming their faces repeatedly into walls to deaden their faces they're probably still not going to be immune to the pain of being punched in the face. The point is learning to retain your focus and finish what you're doing even though you are finding yourself getting hit back a few times in the process. It is about learning to control yourself and your emotions. It is about keeping a clear, focused mind. All the "pain training" in the world won't matter if the moment you feel threatened you start back pedalling in panic. It is all about controlling yourself including your reactions to pain. Don has mentioned some very good points about how someone being punched will often "open up more" after the first good one. The point here isn't about deadening yourself to the pain but learning that it is transitory and you can still function even in pain. And that sometimes your "normal reflex" to the pain may not be the best idea. So you learn to control yourself and continue with what you've been trained to do. That's why we train so much in kata, etc. To learn the movements to make them part of yourself. That's why it takes so long too -- you've simply got to make these things "natural" parts of your very fiber. Toss in a reality check now and again and you'll be better for it in the long run. Get out there and spar a bit with someone strong and capable. Push things. Accept a few bashes, bumps, punches and bruises and learn from it.

Heck, I teach an advanced teens class in Aikido and I expect them to go full speed sometimes. And one thing they are told (invitation only class, parents fully informed) is that since we're going at full speed they might get clipped. And I often see it as a good experience in the end. Suddenly getting hit isn't quite so scary anymore once you've been hit a few times for real. Yeah, it hurts, but that doesn't mean you still can't function. Where I get annoyed is when they get hit and then just stand there. I make sure they understand that they need to protect themselves and finish somehow regardless of what happens (short of someone getting injured of course). That is a really important lesson. There is nothing worse than watching someone go "deer in the headlights" the moment someone connects. But it ain't about deadening yourself to pain in a physical nerve damaging way -- it is about learning to control yourself and remain focused on what you're doing. I like to tell the kids that when they're in a bad situation they need to deal with the situation all the way to completion. You can always fall apart later into a crying blob of jello. But do that later. Deal with the situation right now. Fall apart later.
I did the same thing Keith just before my shodan test during a breath throw, only it was my pinky and not my thumb. That's why its always better to guide with the hand rather than grabbing the gi,although you don't always have the choice.
Your also right about people who like to inflict pain on purpose rather than pain occurring as a result of the applied technique.
Strangely enough, we have a female student who seems to think because she is blonde and young and cute that she can disregard technique and inflict pain on you whenever she feels like. That is until a senior student didn't like having his tap out ignored and paid her back in kind with a hyper-extended elbow.
Finally, does anybody have a way to stop tears from flowing the minute you get rapped on the nose. How do you defeat autonomic responses. You can ignore the pain, but its kinda hard to make the tears leave quickly.
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:09 AM   #24
Janet Rosen
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Re: Pain

I guess my answer was from the perspective of an Older Person (TM); we get lots of transitory aches and pains and sometimes they do NOT signal a need to do anything.

But also, sometimes, outside of training, or if injured on the mat, it really is important to be able to live with the pain for a while w/o gettting tense or anxious. This to me is very different from setting out to kill off the pain receptors!

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:21 PM   #25
lbb
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Re: Pain

I think you can train yourself to endure more pain; whether that's a wise idea depends on the situation. In whitewater kayaking, for example, you encounter situations where your safety calls on you to endure some discomfort and to ignore what your hindbrain is telling you about what's the best course of action. Body says, "Ow, that hurts!" Hindbrain says, "Get outta here, now!" You need your frontal lobe to override those powerful signals and say, "Whatever damage you took is nothing to what you might end up taking if you run from the pain now; however much you might want to run from this scary situation, you'll be running into something worse. You need to hang in there, stay in this scary and uncomfortable situation, wait for your moment, and then do it right."

That's a good example, and a very stark one, of when it profits you to be able to endure more pain. I would measure any other quest to endure more pain by a similar yardstick: what is in in aid of? Survival is a worthy goal; machismo, not so much. The ability to train more or better, that's somewhere in the middle -- and it can be helped or compromised by enduring more pain.
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