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Old 02-08-2002, 01:39 PM   #1
AikiWeb System
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Discuss the article, "Facing One's Internal Demons" by Chuck Gordon here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/training/gordon4.html
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Old 02-08-2002, 02:52 PM   #2
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
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Interesting article

I enjoyed the article. It is not very PC but I am well aware of my own capacity for violence. I once described this capacity in the terms of a prince song ( how sad is that?) as " I've got two sides, and they're both friends". Aikido has frightened me, enriched me, frustrated me, made me a different person.and helped me through two years that no-one should have had to endure. Most of my social circle are Aikidoka and they know exactly what they're capable of and they are extremely comfortable with it. Sorry, fairly rambling but it's late and I'm very very tired.
Have fun

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 02-08-2002, 06:08 PM   #3
mle
Dojo: The Dojo (www.the-dojo.com
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Re: Interesting article

Quote:
Originally posted by Jim ashby
I enjoyed the article. It is not very PC but ... Have fun
Jim,

Wellll, I ain't very PC. Emily defines PC as reality-impaired.

And yes, we have Big Fun.

Thanks for reading and responding.

We're hoping to visit friends in the UK sometime next year, big bloke named James Baldwin (actually a few others, too).

Take good care, train hard and enjoy!

Chuck

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Old 02-09-2002, 02:43 AM   #4
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
Location: Coventry, England
Join Date: Mar 2001
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Come Visit

If you're in the UK, come visit us. Our Dojo is in the grounds of a pub, and Coventry is, of course, the hub of the universe.
Have fun

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 02-09-2002, 02:50 AM   #5
do32
Dojo: The Aikido Center
Location: Sacramento
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Thumbs down

A great Article and even better title! It really made me consider my thoughts about Aikido. Often before i go to train i find that a part of me internally resisits going to train.It is not physical laziness or that i have other things to do. I think it is resistence to facing the internal demons that aikido teaches one to confront. I have also noticed this in the faces of fellow Aikidoka when they are walking up to the dojo. Many anad i mean Many times i will see faces that are pensive and serious. it as though they know too that they going to face themselves andas they are walking to the dojo they are processing this challenge that lays before them. Ofcourse after several hours of trianing their spirits are lifted and their expressions seem lighter. I can't tell you how many times people have said "I am so glad i decided to come today" despite the fact they did not feel like or that they had other engagements...


Great Article let us all keep confronting our demons.....

Armando
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Old 02-09-2002, 03:13 AM   #6
unsound000
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I've found in training in different dojo's over the years that few are able to emphasize both safety and "realism". Yet, it can be done. I find it sad that dealing with unnecesary pain and injuries is seen as a given in this article both to yourself and to others. I agree with the point though, that you should keep training and that we face our own demons on the mat. Maybe the author should also think more about practicing more safety or practicing at a different dojo.

Quote:
Originally posted by AikiWeb System
Discuss the article, "Facing One's Internal Demons" by Chuck Gordon here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/training/gordon4.html
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Old 02-09-2002, 09:16 PM   #7
mle
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The author's reply ...

Quote:
Originally posted by unsound000
I've found in training in different dojo's over the years that few are able to emphasize both safety and "realism".
Good for you! Sad fact, people get hurt on the mat, somewhere, every day. My wife, Emily (I'm posting on her account right now), practiced in a very soft aikido style for many years and has had a couple of fairly serious injuries, once she was off the mat for more than two months (crutches for several weeks, a cane for several more). Despite that, she went on to earn shodan ranking in that dojo.

Frequently, injuries, accidents and such get swept under the mat, so to speak. That's even more worrisome than the very idea of getting banged up in the dojo.

Yet, it can be done. I find it sad that dealing with unnecesary pain and injuries is seen as a given in this article both to [/quote]

Yes, given. After 27 years on the mat, I've seen folks in very hard styles and very soft styles. Seen folks in every kind of dojo situation you can imagine.

If you're training the body, you stand a chance of injury. Period. It's a human thing. We break. True, an eye toward safety is required and you can train hard without injury, but somewhere, sometime, somebody's gonna get hurt.

The article in question, BTW, was in response to a friend who was considering quitting aikido training because she was afraid _she'd_ hurt someone.

Truth: If you put the human body onder the kind of stresses budo training engenders, people are going to get hurt. We can reduce the incidence, keep BAD accidents to a minimum, improve our safety -- and trust me, in my dojo, we practice hard and with a very vigilant eye to safety. We get some bangs and bruises, but in the dojo, things are pretty safe.

point though, that you should keep training and that we face our own demons on the mat. [/quote]

And that was, exactly, the point.

Maybe the author should also think more about practicing more safety or practicing at a different dojo.[/quote]

Not necessary and no, I doubt seriously I'll be practicing in another dojo anytime soon (except for visits and seminars, of course). Thanks, for your concern, though.

Chuck Gordon

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Old 02-09-2002, 09:30 PM   #8
mle
Dojo: The Dojo (www.the-dojo.com
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A few more thoughts form Chuck

Quote:
Originally posted by AikiWeb System
Discuss the article, "Facing One's Internal Demons" by Chuck Gordon here.

(This was a followup to the original article)

"My thoughts: if you want sport, go play with a ball. If you want fitness, join a gym. If you want therapy, find a support group."
-- Chuck Gordon (http://www.aikiweb.com/training/gordon1.html, 09-25-97)

"Now, shut up and get back to training. You'll never find better therapy."
-- Chuck Gordon
(http://www.aikiweb.com/training/gordon4.html)

Contradiction? Nope.

I've seen people come to the dojo looking for training because they think it'll fix their lives.

I've seen folks who claim doing XYZ art (and folks, there's a LOT of this in some aikido circles!) will cure the world's ills, heal all trauma, make us more enlightened beings and clear up our acne.

It won't. Period.

What WILL budo training do? It gives you an avenue through which you can examine yourself, learn more about yourself, challenge and build yourself. Will it clear up that nasty rash and make you irresistably popular? Nope.

It will give you a set of tools that are kinda like those nifty Leatherman multi-tools (think of a Swiss Army knife on steroids designed by Tim 'Toolman' Taylor), they're useful on many levels and can do many things.

What _you_ do with those tools is what will affect your life and spiritual evolution.

Budo training is not panacea. It will not cure you of anything (except maybe doughnut-itis or couch potato fever -- and that still requires self motivation and self discipline).

It will offer ideas, principles, concepts that can _help you_ deal with your problems.

You have to take the initiative. The training, the teacher, the dojo, will not, cannot do it for you.

Is training good therapy? Hell yeah!

Should you come to the dojo JUST because you think you'll be HEALED? Hell NO!

I had an inquiry about our classes from a very earnest young man a couple of years ago. He was looking for some medium through which he could attain his manhood, verify his vitality, become more attuned with the universe. As we talked, I came to believe he was really looking for a substitute for the
salvation he felt had eluded him in mainstream religion. He talked about his disdain for Christianity and his disillusionment with Western culture, he said he thought Zen or maybe Buddhism was a better route and that he knew he could reach enlightenment by training in a good dojo.

My first thought was "Cut the crap. We're ARE talking about budo here ..."

But I thought about it a bit and ya know ... according to much of the hype spewed all over the place, the public perception of much of the martial arts practice in today's world is just that. It's supposed to fix what's wrong, make you invincible, turn you into a superior person, jack up your spiritual sophistication a few notches JUST by walking into the dojo and putting on a uniform.

Sigh. I told the young fellow, as gently as I could, that maybe he was looking in the wrong place for salvation, but if he wanted to learn
something about what we did, to please arrange a visit and we'd be glad to
introduce him to what budo meant to us. He never showed up. I suspect he found a place that would cater to his fantasy and help him along the road to Nirvana (for a modest fee, I'm sure).

Could traiing with us have helped that youngster? Maybe. Probably. But he would have had to give it a chance and would have had to be prepared to lose his self-imposed and popular culture-imposed illusions about what
martial arts training really is about.

What he wanted, I think, was a quick fix.

Budo ain't that. The therapy lies in coming to class. Training. Coming to class. Training. Coming to class. Training. And then repeating that process ... keiko-kokoro-keiko-kokoro-keiko-kokoro ...

The things we learn at the point of the sword, on the end of tori/nage's hand, are immensely valuable, but with very few exceptions (IMNSHO), the lessons of budo are lifetime lessons, and not satori.

So, I stand by both those statements. You want thereapy? Find a good therapist. You want salvation? Go to the church/temple/synagogue/mosque/oak grove of your choice. You wanna learn budo? Come play!!!

Chuck

PS: Just saw a very appropriate sig on another forum:

"Anything you do exposes you to needless risk and liability. So follow this recommendation: Lock yourself in a closet and sit quietly in the dark until you die of old age."

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Old 02-10-2002, 07:16 AM   #9
guest1234
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I have a few (probably unpopular thoughts on this topic. If the student in question was considering quitting Aikido over 'fear of hurting someone', I think that fear needs more exploration other than 'well, people get hurt' (and I have some unpopular thoughts on that as well, later).

Why is she so afraid? Has someone hurt her on the mat? Does she have trouble controlling violence within herself? People that have that degree of fear of injuring someone, in my experience, are wither very large and/or hot tempered, and have hurt others a lot in the past (off the mat, intentionally or not), or they've been unduly pounded as uke, or their ukemi is shaky enough that they associate training with getting hurt. I am one of the most pacifistic students around, and have sat out techniques when instructors want us to hit uke after we have them subdued, but I do not worry about hurting someone. Now this may be due to the fact that I am small enough that my punches don't mean much, and I feel like I can control my technique enough (poor that it may be) so no one gets hurt.

As for the inevitability of training injuries---yes, people may occasionally get hurt, but it is very very rare, or else a dojo is not stressing appropriate ukemi enough. Ukemi is what saves us when things go wrong, that and training at the level of our partners. I think that part of Aikido is an understading of our partner, and sensitivity to them as well as caring about them. If all those things go into training, it should prevent most training mishaps. So rather than take the view that 'well, if you train you hurt and get hurt' I'd take the view that 'if you train with sensitivity and connection, and if you have to, go really slowly, no one should get hurt'.
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Old 02-10-2002, 08:02 AM   #10
mle
Dojo: The Dojo (www.the-dojo.com
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
Chuck here, posting from Emily's account, since I can't seem to turn off the danged cookie and get logged in on this machine as myself ...

I have a few (probably unpopular thoughts on this topic. If the student in question was considering quitting Aikido over 'fear of hurting someone', I think that fear needs more exploration other than 'well, people get hurt' (and I have some unpopular thoughts on that as well, later).

Colleen,

I'm sure there many other reasons for her fear, but the fear of hurting someone on the mat shouldn't be cause for her to quit training.

She is not my student, BTW, and is not even on this continent. She has continued training and is coming to terms with her personal demons.

one of the most pacifistic students

Umm, Colleen, you're a military officer aren't you? Hmm.

around, and have sat out techniques when instructors want us to hit uke after we have them subdued, but I do not worry about

I'm not sure I understand WHY you sat these techniques out ...

But, I can understand your need to adapt your training to your own needs and desires. Here's a bone we'll have to agree not to argue over. I believe if you're on my mat, you'd better try do what I'm teaching,unless you are simply _physically_ unable to do so.

As for the inevitability of training injuries---yes, people may occasionally get hurt, but it is very very rare, or else a dojo is not stressing appropriate ukemi

Unfortunately, it is not rare and it has nothing to do with how much the dojo stresses ukemi. Then, of course, we drift toward semantics and have to define rare and injury ... sigh.

The training in my dojo is vigorous and the system of budo we practice is a bit more robust and varied than most aikido syllabi. However, injuries on my mat are rare ...

I stand by my statement that ANY training involving the human body and the things that are done to it in a martial paradigm (be it aikido, kendo or jujutsu) can cause injury and the caveat is that it requires tori/nage AND uke to take responsibility for what happens.

those things go into training, it should prevent most training mishaps.

Operative word being _should_ ...

I'd take the view that 'if you train with sensitivity and connection, and if you have to, go really slowly, no one should get hurt'.

Then we have to define sensitivity, connection, et al. We're saying the same thing, Colleen, just using different approaches and words.

Chuck

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Old 02-10-2002, 12:27 PM   #11
guest1234
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I think we are just be defining 'hurt' differently...

I AM a military officer, and that fills any martial need I have 24/7. Personally, I didn't come to Aikido for any warrior aspect or tradition---the USAF has kindly already provided one for me.

As for gratuitous pain infliction:

Once I know someone is interested in teaching me how to hurt someone I already have under control, it is usually the last class I attend, either 'ever', or for a long long time... I'm looking for how to control myself, but I recognise that is not everyone's goal... I don't say they shouldn't teach 'hit them when they're down', just saying it doesn't interest me.

Besides, as a small nage, it seems to me to be in my best interest to not give a bigger uke a reason to rejoin the fight: if I'm going to inflict pain anyway, what have they got to loose. But, as in all things, I could be wrong...
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Old 02-21-2002, 05:17 PM   #12
SimonW11
Dojo: Bristol University Dojo
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
I have a few (probably unpopular thoughts on this topic. If the student in question was considering quitting Aikido over 'fear of hurting someone', I think that fear needs more exploration other than 'well, people get hurt' (and I have some unpopular thoughts on that as well, later).
It was
Quote:

Why is she so afraid? Has someone hurt her on the mat? Does she have trouble controlling violence within herself? People that have that degree of fear of injuring someone, in my experience, are wither very large and/or hot tempered, and have hurt others a lot in the past (off the mat, intentionally or not),
or they've been unduly pounded as uke, or their ukemi is shaky enough that they associate training with getting hurt.

Well she is a strapping lass. She had been practiseing daily for about six months for couple of hours a day without injuring anyone . She had been injured herself in the past and brushed it off. I suspect that she was shocked that she had both injured someone and not noticed it. Her first indication being a email from the visitor thanking her for an enjoyable practise and mentioning he still had bruising.

The Victim himself had pretty much brushed it off as one of those things. To his credit as soon as he realised she was agonised he made a point of returning to the dojo to practise with her.

It was I suspect the first time that she realised in her gut she could harm another.
Untill then it had been a game.

Quote:



I am one of the most pacifistic students around, and have sat out techniques when instructors want us to hit uke after we have them subdued,
Striking after they are subdued? how bizarre.
Perhaps you mean after they are pinned?

To strike someon who is subdued sounds both un aikido like and illegal for self defense.

Quote:



but I do not worry about hurting someone. Now this may be due to the fact that I am small enough that my punches don't mean much, and I feel like I can control my technique enough (poor that it may be) so no one gets hurt.

I practised with a woman of about five foot last week Her yokumenuchi was capable of harming me. fast and hard I narrowly avoided biting me tounge countering her was dificult as delicate as a bird. If you are anything like her I suspect you will one day realise in your gut that you also are capable of injuring someone. and pacifistic as you are you may well respond similarily

Quote:



As for the inevitability of training injuries---yes, people may occasionally get hurt, but it is very very rare, or else a dojo is not stressing appropriate ukemi enough. Ukemi is what saves us when things go wrong, that and training at the level of our partners. I think that part of Aikido is an understading
of our partner, and sensitivity to them as well as caring about them. If all those things go into training, it should prevent most training mishaps. So rather than take the view that 'well, if you train you hurt and get hurt' I'd take the view that 'if you train with sensitivity and connection, and if you have to, go really slowly, no one should get hurt'.
Shrug personally I think accidents should be about as common as in a badmington club.
I am sure the student is practising more safely than previously. As I dont usually practise in her club I cant really comment on their safety record.

I do note that injuries are common and accepted in many sports and MA where they are not signs of animalistic savagery.

Simon

Simon
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Old 03-04-2002, 08:27 AM   #13
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
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Quiting Aikido? Soft approach

The essence of what Chuck says is the spirit of the young warrior who, like the old knock this chip off my shoulder adage, trys to instill confidence through vibrant speech's and eye filling techniques. That is one way to inspire, but what about the other way?

The soft approach?

My teacher, is about 5ft8in/140lbs to my 6ft 280lbs, uses the soft approach to teach. He gently, slowly shows all his students the fine points slowly, until they gain greater levels of skill that allow the techniques to work on me and much larger people than me. Aikido was not designed to be the psycho-analysis solution to everyones problems, but it does keep the old tired body moving and the old style Jujitsu from hurting others.

My reason to learn Martial Arts was to learn NOT to hurt others. Understanding the minimum force needed to FEEL the submission of an opponent, rather than waiting for the sound of bones snapping, or physical damage being related to sounds of pain, my training has led to greater depth of actually feeling the sensitivity of each submission as the joints and muscles respond to nerves being activated by technique rather than brute strength.

When I began Martial Arts, in my thirties, the preferred method of defense was to grab and twist until pain or the sound of breaking stick was heard ... not very technical, but the way of ignorant youth, I guess. This type of behavior carried on, to lesser degree in Karate/ Jujitsu training until I began Aikido. Only when I began Aikido did I begin to learn the strength of its lessons. In th beginning I used to tighten locks until firmness resulted in tapping, slapping, or pain submission ... not good if the uke resists and inflicts more pain? So, the first few months of Aikido were marked by uke's who sometimes resisted, while I would tell myself " ... gentle, be gentle..." until the image of Budo being loud and boisterous became that of soft and passive to the observers eye.

Many people who train in Budo, imagine themselves warriors training to maintain the balance of good in the world ... in some ways that is true. What they lose is the ability to switch to a gentler mode that may look slow and implausible, but it is just as effective as the Aikido that physically damages and kills in war? Although that would not be Aikido anymore as it subverts the very meaning Aikido, doesn't it?

Anyway ... I still get the new Blackbelts at seminars who think that the end of a technique with submission is the most important part of training, but no matter how much they wiggle, or squirm, when I slowly do the technique of the seminar leader, they somehow can not resist? The soft appoach by a big scary, laughing man who bows politely and invites friendliness not fright?

Speed does not mean knowledge, just as training in Budo does not mean becoming Japanese? All martial arts steal from each other, some outright, but ... teaching within the physical capabilities of each student would be withing the tenants of Aikido, wouldn't it?

Please, if you have been injured from rough Aikido, or some throw/technique gone wrong or too far, Speak UP!! You will find that most of your fellow practitioners understanding towards your physical condition. If you truly are injured, let your body heal. You might do some stretching, breathing, most of the lesson from a class, but stop and tell your teacher/ your partner of your limits and work within those limits until you heal!

Over the years I have learned that injuries to one leg, or arm require support on the good arm or leg to relieve the strain put on the good limb. If you don't support equallaterally the points of your body, there is a good chance of having a long term, long time healing injury?

If you can't do Aikido until you are very old, you might as not do it?

I say, do it, have fun, grow very, very old!

Good Aikido practice to all!
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Old 03-28-2002, 12:39 PM   #14
Bruce Baker
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Budo ... The internal demons

I have reconsidered the internal demons from another perspective ... ill health, disease, injury, and the emotional breaks of continuity that follow.

Although we may think we are always in control, able to make sane, clear decisions, that is not always the case. Through numerous posts, I find that Chuck and I, although we may differ in the tone of writing and have differences of opinion, have a simular battle of injury and Meniere's disease. (let alone we have many of the same skills, although mine came later in life after a lifetime of brute force.) Meniere's is insidious because of its physical pains, along with emotional trauma that sometimes causes depression, varied responses that have classified as paranoia/ schitzofrenia, not easy to deal with as an internal demon?

Classically, most people are able to recognize radical behavior that deviates from normal behavior of our society, not so with this undercurrent, sometimes it causes complete personality changes which can range from paronoia, to raging bull ... depending on the particular situation. The demon, which is all of us, is just a little harder to control or recognize as it really is a lifelong effort to fight back urges of thumping people, or in my case, seeing if they bounce? (Something I promised my wife I wouldn't do after I got married.) Point being, we are force to recognize, name, and try to control these demons before they control us?

What I wanted to bring to your attention, is that we all have to face these demons of revenge, overconfidence, rage, and just plain letting it all go without proper restraint because the mind is clouded with whatever emotional baggage you carry that day?

The Iroquois, Haudenosaunee (people of the long house), were taught by Deganawidah to clear the mind, and wipe away the tears. Just as O'Sensei speaks of clearing the mind to the Universal harmony, this is another way to get to the same point. The difficulty of trying to reach this point, with illness or disease, is that we don't have the luxury of becoming well in body, while fighting the chemical imbalance that continually sneaks up on us, The DEMONS.

I have had more than a year to reflect, write, and try to recognize the physical, and some of the triggering demons that have haunted me for more than thirty years of my adult life because they were unidentified, hidden. In that search, with tricks, mistakes, and numerous unintended offenses over the years to my fellow human beings, I began to identify some of these demons ... although the explanation of Meniere's identified the triggers and culprits to a clearer mind.

That is the greatest tradgedy of our time ... allowing the inner demons to take over, without confronting them, identifying them, and learning to understand how they affect our mind, body, spirit.

Never be afraid to apologize, whether you were right or wrong. Don't let those demons destroy the relation of your practice, your friends of Aikido, and lead you to a practice that is purely based on either hatred or fear?

The Haudenosaunee have the right thoughts ... clear the clouded mind to truly see what is, what can be, and what will be.

Whether you find that clarity by meditating, religion, practice, or whatever it takes to clear away the smoke, what I call Brain Fog, find it once and remember it. Just knowing you can think with clarity, clearness ... will be what O'Sensei calls " ..the sword that cuts through the darkness!" (paraphrased, I can't remember the exact quote, damn Meniere's!)
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