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A: Awareness, Ability, and Assertiveness
A: Awareness, Ability, and Assertiveness
by Lynn Seiser
A: Awareness, Ability, and Assertiveness

Breathe in, awareness
Breathe out, ability

Aikido is an interesting art. It is referred to as noncompetitive, nonaggressive martial art that uses an opponent's force or energy against them by using a circular strategy.

When I first heard of Aikido, I must admit I did not believe the stories. When I first read a book about Aikido, I thought the book was promoting an art and a person, but appeared to have little real martial application. When I first saw an Aikido demonstration, I was not impressed. Perhaps I was limited by my own back ground in martial arts. Perhaps I had spent too much time bashing to appreciate what Aikido had to offer. It was years before I would return. When I came back, I came back a different person with a different perception and appreciation. Perhaps I came back on a different path, a different direction, a different awareness.
awareness: (1) watchful, (2) realization, perception, or knowledge, (3) conscious, (4) vigilant, (5) awake, (6) alive, (7) mindful
We are often made conscious of how our own awareness can limit what we perceive. I remember an Aikido seminar in which the Shihan kept reminding us that we were simply doing what we had always done and practiced and not what he was showing us. I also remember going to another workshop where a man would do a magic card trick and then we would tell him what we saw. None of us saw what he did. Even when we were told, most of us hung on to our previous (inaccurate) perception and conceptualization of the magic trick. Few of us wanted to believe it was truly magic, but just a sleight of hand on his part and a sleight of mind on ours that made it appears to be magic.

They say that if you do not believe in something you will not perceive it. Awareness is limited by the boundaries of our beliefs. Awareness is not the object of what we are aware of but the actual process of perceiving and becoming aware.

Like any other skill, awareness is learned. While many of us have learned a limited focus of awareness, these are simply learned boundaries. By beginning to understand that we are only consciously aware of what we are focused on and paying attention to, we can begin to accept and appreciate that there just might be a whole new world out there that is currently beneath our conscious awareness just waiting to be discovered and explored.

A good training exercise is to take a moment and reflect on what you are consciously aware of at the moment. Now slowly, and at your own pace, look around and see what you had not seen before, listen to sounds you had not heard before, and feel what you have not felt before. This works best if you relax your body and quiet your mind. Awareness cannot be forced. You cannot "make" yourself more aware, you have to "let" yourself become more aware.

In the study of any martial art, awareness is very important because by definition we are usually attacking or being attacked. This adds an intensity to the situation and training that usually narrows our awareness and attention when it is probably wiser to broaden it. In training we must stay aware of and control our own internal mental and emotional processes as well as our physical movement, responses, and reactions. We must stay aware of intent and intensity of the individual we are training with. We must also stay aware of our surroundings.

As we limit ourselves less and become more aware, we are able to be sensitive to and open up to the possibilities of making finer and finer distinctions and learning new more subtle skills and abilities.
ability: (1) skillful, (2) more than able, (3) a quality or state of being, (4) physical and mental powers to perform, (5) competence, (6) skill, (7) an acquired proficiency
They say if you can dream it, you can become it. The body tends to follow the dictates of the minds awareness and beliefs. If we only use 2-10% of our mental abilities, then we use less than that in our physical abilities. The mind often does not believe we can learn what we can imagine. Yet, imagination is connected to intelligences which is connected to learning. A big part of learning a new skill is to believe you can. I often mentally tag the word "yet" to the process of any new skill acquisition process. I remind myself that I cannot do it "yet". The implied message is that I can and will learn it someday, just not today.

Like awareness, ability is learned. Artificial intelligence (computers) are based off of who we are. Since we modeled after ourselves, we can extend the metaphor. The hardware in most computers is basically the same. Hardware does nothing with the software or programs. If we take the software from one computer and put it into another one, that computer can do it too. Likewise, if one person can do something than any person can do it too, if they know how.

I often tell clients that there are three things to figure out. First, what do you really want? Second, find out how to do it. Third, keep doing it until you get it.

So think of an ability or skill in Aikido you want to master. Find someone who knows how to do it and model after them. With enough practice, you will have that ability too.

We train first in the ability of self-control. Then we train in the ability to control the context and situation, which in turn is the ability to take charge and control the relationship with other people. Rather than us reacting to them, we cultivate the ability to respond in a healthier way, letting them find their own balance.

Expand your awareness and you expand your abilities. Both expand your assertiveness
assertion: (1) to state or declare, (2) to demonstrate, (3) to affirm
Your expanded awareness and expanded abilities makes a statement about who you are. Look at your current level of living and skill. What does it say about you? What does it tell other people about what is possible for them? They often say that if you argue for your limitations, they will be yours. They also say that if you believe you can than you can and if you believe you can't then you can't. Either way you are right. We believe our own internal assertions.

Many of us live by the self-talk (that internal auditory track in our heads). It can jeer at us like the best heckler or rally us like a cheerleader and pep-squad. Many of us have taken voices from our past and rerecorded them in our own voice, telling us what we can and cannot do, what is and isn't possible, and what is true and what is false. Just because it they could not, did not, and will not doesn't mean the same for us. But first we have to change their limiting assertions and affirmation and replace them with our own that not only gives us permission to think it is possible, but to keep training until it is probable, and then producing the awareness and ability we wanted (and maybe a bit beyond).

Many people confuse assertion with aggression and arrogance. Both aggression and arrogance are fear based emotions that compensate and defend feelings of inferiority. They are expressions of force, not true personal power. Assertion is simply a statement of fact. It comes from a position of strength and personal internal power.

In training and in life, your actions will always speak louder than your words. Your posture communicates and asserts your intent and intensity in any situation. Take a ready stance that demonstrates your level of awareness and ability. Assertions are not spoken, they are shown.

Awareness, ability, and assertiveness are very learnable skills that can and will improve every aspect of life if you apply them.

Breathe in, awareness
Breathe out, ability

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:04 PM   #2
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
Re: A: Awareness, Ability, and Assertiveness

Hi Lynne.
Nice column. I'm sorry to say there is nothing in it that I disagree with and so nothing to debate with you on. Ha,ha.

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Old 09-27-2011, 10:19 AM   #3
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
Re: A: Awareness, Ability, and Assertiveness

Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Nice column. I'm sorry to say there is nothing in it that I disagree with and so nothing to debate with you on.
Thanks for reading and responding.
IMHO, some of our best discussions and debates have been about what we agreed on.

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 09-28-2011, 06:51 PM   #4
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
Re: A: Awareness, Ability, and Assertiveness

Now that comment hit me right between the eyes in such a good way. Thank you and thanks for the reminder.

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