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Old 09-30-2012, 07:46 PM   #1
Mikemac
 
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Dealing with sudden fear

Hi all...

It's been some time since my last post. I just passed my blue belt exam and seeing the half way mark. Aikido is life long, but technically, it's a half way mark........

Anyway.....I was asked to teach a class in my dojo while Sensei and the others are away at a seminar. I thought I had a plan, but it changed when I had a funny dream last week. Basically, the dream was me walking a girl home and this creep came out of nowhere and walked right up and dug into her purse, like I wasn't even there.

The impact of the dream was how I felt during the experience. I was confused and there was that thing they call "the two seconds of fear". I think this is a great subject to emphasize for the class. Mostly, when we train, we know what's about to happen because we've been prepared for the attack, but I realize that a sudden situation has many possibilities, and add to that the biological chemical reaction like adrenaline.

I wanted to know if the community here can offer some techniques that deal with fear and spontaneity. I had these things in mind:

- Blindfolded technique. Mostly from simple grasps.
- Evasion from two pursuers
- Basic Taisabaki
- Perhaps something about an imaginary circle that is crossed where one knows to engage.

I got a little insight from here on fear from:
The Role of Fear

Fear and Shaking

Anything else that someone can add to this? I need techniques specifically, but philosophy of fear and Aikido would also help.

Thanks in advance and I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

______________________________________________

"Hey! You got your kotegaeshi in my peanut butter!"
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:42 PM   #2
dps
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

In these clips Tony Bauer discusses the first 2 seconds of an ambush and what to do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6CdH...feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0hJv...feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCRS9...feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0hJv...feature=relmfu

and fear management,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-xWl2EzMPA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-xWl...feature=relmfu
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:10 PM   #3
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

Michael,

Such a great subject! I love that you are including practical applications to your aikido techniques such as overcoming fear! This has been a very important part of my training and such an important part of life. Fear is certainly a terrible master to have yet, when controlled, can become a useful servant (yes, I am paraphrasing and stealing from my teacher ) I don't know of any specific technique that I've done to help me overcome fear (save maybe...maybe, jumping breakfalls) but more so an attitude toward training. Fear is a brother to indecision and brought about by uncertainty and lack of confidence. My martial training has helped me develop a martial spirit which, in turn, has helped me mitigate fear in my life.

I attribute a combination of martial philosophy discussion and training with intense spirit to this. Perhaps 'hajime' practice helps in its own way. This is training where you and a partner train in a very intense manner. The uke constantly attacks, with no breaks, going at absolute full speed. No thinking, no hesitation, just completely putting yourself out there, out of body, and completely giving yourself over to your partner. I feel regular training like this is one way to develop spirit...constantly pushing yourself to go longer, and harder, than you thought possible. This does two things; forces the two people training to have no time for fear, and also forces them to trust in their technique and abilities...developing confidence in themselves.

Secondly, it is a great way to completely break down physical training. once the physical aspect of training is torn down...reaching a physical limitation...you only have your spirit to drawn on. This is what forces you past physical limitations and helps develop spirit. Training this way...regularly...develops this spirit just like lifting weights develops muscles.

I will directly relate this to recent experiences in my life. I was once on a night patrol through some opium poppy fields in Afghanistan. Some Headquarter folks came from their base to our area out in the boonies. They wanted to go on a combat patrol to get some combat experience under their belts. In infantry unit or, in our case, a reconnaissance unit Headquarters personnel are typically support people vice actual recon guys. A few hours into the patrol, some of these HQ guys simply sat down and gave up...they could not continue. This absolutely blew my mind! They were basically saying they would rather die, stopping mid patrol, than continue on. I really could not wrap my head around it, and it took some convincing that people in ranger file had simply stopped and refused to move! They were tired, scared, and let fear permeate their soul until they could no longer had physical control of themselves. Now, in the Marine Corps, Recon Marines train to develop this type of 'martial spirit' regularly. They don't vocalize it the same way martial artists do..but that type of training is there, and practiced regularly. They go on practice patrols to the point beyond exhaustion, tread water for ungodly amounts of time, do 1000 burpees...simple things that sound silly but help develop one's spirit. How this is different from me is as follows; while I am a Marine, I am not a Recon or infantry Marine so am not subjected to the same kind of regular training. I was a support guy embedded with a Recon unit for their deployment. I attribute my ability to have the same mindset and abilities through the conduct of an 'outside the wire' deployment to my aikido training (it certainly goes well beyond physical fitness or training. Some of those people that quite can prob run faster and do more pullups than me, or the other guys I was embedded with).

During training, training like 'hajime' practice and other training, we are often told to train with the mindset that we would die if we stopped...shinken shobu...train like you are in a sword duel to the death. While not actually facing life or death situations in a dojo, I feel like this development can still take place as your subconscious isn't aware if you are actually in mortal danger in the dojo.

Typically before stepping off on a patrol I would get apprehensive bordering on fear. There comes a decision point where you feel fear creeping in and you either allow it to come to life, or simply choose to drop it. This 'choice', while simple, is not necessarily easy. However I feel that applying this mindset to budo training, again, helped me to have no difficulties in deciding to ignore the kindling of fear inside me. Sayings, or ishi, such as malobashi! (just do it!) and ken o fumo (step on the sword) would come to mind and I simply decided to not allow doubt, fear, and uncertainty control me. Its an amazing feeling, but as soon as you realize you have this choice the 'going down a roller coaster hill' feeling in my gut was replaced with a sensation of warmth and confidence.

I hope this isn't too off-base, and I apologize for its length. I know I am not the best writer and maybe I can answer any questions with more clarity...but I do hope this relates well to the idea of overcoming fear as a practical application to budo training. It is something I am truly passionate about and is critical to the purpose I sacrifice so much for my martial arts training.

I hope your training is beneficial and you have a great time teaching class in your sensei's absence...I hope you understand what an honor it is for your teacher to ask you to fill in for him/her! Give my best to Sato Sensei and I wish the AWA prosperity!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 10-02-2012, 07:37 AM   #4
lbb
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
During training, training like 'hajime' practice and other training, we are often told to train with the mindset that we would die if we stopped...shinken shobu...train like you are in a sword duel to the death. While not actually facing life or death situations in a dojo, I feel like this development can still take place as your subconscious isn't aware if you are actually in mortal danger in the dojo.
Yes, although I think many people would misread this and think it's a game of "let's pretend", of trying to suspend disbelief. That's not it -- those games are matters of conscious thought. I am not sure how you cultivate this subconscious perception you're talking about, but in my limited experience it depends on the conviction that your training partners bring to practice.

I used to study shindo muso ryu jodo - jo vs. sword, the jo always wins. Or it's supposed to. In our practice, reishiki and correct form when ending the kata and withdrawing were at least as important as the kata itself, and my sensei was quite strict about this. One night we were practicing, me with jo and him with sword, and I made a mistake in withdrawing. He told me not to do it, but (I was very fuzzy-headed that night) on the next repetition of the kata, I made the same exact mistake -- basically withdrew my jo before he was out of range. The instant I started to make that motion, two things happened. I had the thought, with total conviction, "I'm dead" -- in a very literal sense, not meaning "I screwed up," but a complete and total certainty that I had just made a fatal mistake and was now going to die. And, as I thought that, my sensei stuck, full speed and full force. His strike stopped a millimeter, if that, from my ribs.

It is so hard to explain or analyze what happened. Did my conscious mind believe that he would harm me? Of course not. But my subconscious mind was completely convinced that I had just made a fatal mistake, and that whether I lived or died in this moment was entirely up to my opponent.

Guess which mind was right?

It's a memory that I cherish. I also think, in some ways, that that experience is antithetical to the type of "training" that I sometimes hear described for "dealing with fear". I know that I noodge constantly about clarification of terms, but this one is as important as any. When people talk about "dealing with fear" as a goal, most of them really are trying to restore their mental comfort -- and the only way to do that is to convince yourself, rightly or wrongly, that there is no threat. You cannot be in a true state of fear and be comfortable in it -- repeated subjection to those conditions is one of the ways that PTSD happens (and PTSD is a normal reaction of a normal, mentally healthy individual to an abnormal situation). The solution to fear is to eliminate it, and there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do that.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:16 AM   #5
Marc Abrams
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

David's links and Adams' post should be taken deeply into consideration. FEW martial arts programs work on severe stress inoculation. Adam points out that the military knows that the best way to address this issue is to incorporate severe stress inoculation training as part of their regular training paradigms. Even then, there is always a percentage of people who, with that training, will still become overwhelmed by the physiological results of stress on the body. Someone I use to train with referred to that moment of realization as "the moment of pooping or playing." Heroes are people who experience fear like everyone else. How they reacted in those moments became the defining factors for the label that was later put on them.

There is plenty of information out there on how to condition the body to best handle severe, sudden stress. If you are seriously interested in exploring that area, that is best done as a separate component of training that can incorporated into your martial arts training as well.

Marc Abrams
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:42 AM   #6
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Yes, although I think many people would misread this and think it's a game of "let's pretend", of trying to suspend disbelief. That's not it -- those games are matters of conscious thought. I am not sure how you cultivate this subconscious perception you're talking about, but in my limited experience it depends on the conviction that your training partners bring to practice.

I used to study shindo muso ryu jodo - jo vs. sword, the jo always wins. Or it's supposed to. In our practice, reishiki and correct form when ending the kata and withdrawing were at least as important as the kata itself, and my sensei was quite strict about this. One night we were practicing, me with jo and him with sword, and I made a mistake in withdrawing. He told me not to do it, but (I was very fuzzy-headed that night) on the next repetition of the kata, I made the same exact mistake -- basically withdrew my jo before he was out of range. The instant I started to make that motion, two things happened. I had the thought, with total conviction, "I'm dead" -- in a very literal sense, not meaning "I screwed up," but a complete and total certainty that I had just made a fatal mistake and was now going to die. And, as I thought that, my sensei stuck, full speed and full force. His strike stopped a millimeter, if that, from my ribs.

It is so hard to explain or analyze what happened. Did my conscious mind believe that he would harm me? Of course not. But my subconscious mind was completely convinced that I had just made a fatal mistake, and that whether I lived or died in this moment was entirely up to my opponent.

Guess which mind was right?

It's a memory that I cherish. I also think, in some ways, that that experience is antithetical to the type of "training" that I sometimes hear described for "dealing with fear". I know that I noodge constantly about clarification of terms, but this one is as important as any. When people talk about "dealing with fear" as a goal, most of them really are trying to restore their mental comfort -- and the only way to do that is to convince yourself, rightly or wrongly, that there is no threat. You cannot be in a true state of fear and be comfortable in it -- repeated subjection to those conditions is one of the ways that PTSD happens (and PTSD is a normal reaction of a normal, mentally healthy individual to an abnormal situation). The solution to fear is to eliminate it, and there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do that.
Mary,

I am glad you get that much out of your training. I feel like weapons training is extremely important in aikido because it can put you in that level of awareness and focus. So many people I see learn 'just enough' of their weapons kata to barely scrape by and get through the motions (on a test, for example). It is so obvious, you can see them pause at inappropriate places, look down at their feet trying to remember what's next, and then plod along with no thought to what they are doing and why. No spirit. Its dismaying. Your story just reminded me of another one. A friend of mine was preparing for his yondan aikido test many years ago. He was training in between classes with a very intense 5th dan. This 4th dan candidate was a very solid, intense, and talented aikidoka at the time. He started to review one of our jo kata, but was just going through the motions to make sure he could recall the movement order....not much intensity. His 5th dan partner, without saying a word, walked off the mat, went down to the changing room, put on his street clothes, went back upstairs, and walked out of the dojo. Shortly afterward he called my friend and told him if he wasn't going to take his training seriously they couldn't be on the mat together. This really stuck in my friends mind and, since then, he never 'went through the motions' while in the dojo again. This is an insane level to train at to most people, and very difficult to maintain (it requires help from your peers), but man...that guy is now one of the best martial artists I know, and is a very young and very talented 5th dan, and one of the people I respect most in life...both on and off the mat.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:50 AM   #7
David Orange
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

Quote:
Michael McNamara wrote: View Post
I wanted to know if the community here can offer some techniques that deal with fear and spontaneity.
"Overcome regret and fear through meditation. Join in harmony with the universe through the kata."

Samurai saying.

I once had a dream like you describe. I was walking and suddenly a guy came up to me, reached into my coat from below and fished my wallet out of the inside pocket in an instant and ran. I chased him right into a gauntlet of guys who were with him and they all came at me at once. One guy grabbed me two-hands-on-two-hands from the front and I couldn't do anything. And I woke up in my upper room at the yoseikan, where I was living. Soon after that, I was downstairs on the mat, working with another uchi dshi on dealing with that attack. Very easy.

So take your own feeling of fear and meditate on it, then keep that in mind as you train.

It works.

Best to you.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:27 AM   #8
SeiserL
 
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

IMHO, it sound like you might be referring to what I think of as the fight, flight, or freeze reaction to the startle reflex. (I tend to save fear for a deeper my unconsciously cognitive process.)

Denzel Washington was in a movie (Man of Fire?) where he trains a young girl not to freeze at the starter pistol of a swimming race. Rather than feezing, she learned to leap forward.

A simple beginning exercise would be to have nage wait for an attack (any attack), just before the uke makes physical contact have them shout "NOW!", signalling the nage to move into the technique (any technique). The point is to move into (irimi: enter) the fight/flow rather than freeze or flee from it.

In the long range you would have to raise the level of stress/fear/threat and spontaneity beyond what most dojos could tolerate. It also may require a rewriting of some long held core values and identifications.

BTW: are your people coming to Atlanta?

Until again,
Lynn

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 10-03-2012, 10:49 PM   #9
Mikemac
 
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Re: Dealing with sudden fear

Yes Lynn.......My Sensei and the others will be there in Atlanta. I haven't been yet due to work contraints, but if you see Sensei Dale Eisenberg from California, please tell him Michael back at the dojo says hi and hopes they're enjoying themselves. (That should freak them out).

I love the responses from everyone. Thanks for telling me that story Adam. I'm sure you know much better than I about having to deal with fear, but I hope to make some headway.

I came across this testing video from a dojo in Bosnia. Their evasion techniques are exactly what I meant regarding constant conditioning. I think it would be a great way to start. Ya think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0fRfdbYK58

And Lynn.....Thank you...I am going to use your suggestion as well.

Keep the suggestions coming! I really want to explore this idea in detail.

______________________________________________

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