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Old 07-06-2003, 07:01 PM   #1
Seth Jackson
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
perception of will

I was reading through spirit of aikido and came across some quotes of the founder involving the whole bullet dodging story and he describes seeing pebbles of light that came before the bullets and in another instance the same dots of light comming before a sword attack.
How good are you (anyone) at sensing the intention of an opponent? Is it his/her body language or an intangible something else that says hes about to punch/kick/puke on your left shoe?
keen observation?
disturbances in the force?

thoughts, rants, sushi recipes
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Old 07-08-2003, 08:13 AM   #2
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 420

This is a good question, and I'm surprised that nobody has responded yet. The Spirit of Aikido is a great book.

Another great book actually addresses your question: The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. His main point is that our conscious mind can either create anxiety ot minimize danger (sometimes both). In contrast, our intuition sub-consciously filters through the information collected by our senses, processes that info., and guide us in the right direction. This is what I think of when we talk about perception fo will.

Two examples: (1) When driving, most of us can pretty much divine what people are going to do if we pay attention to the other cars around us. We can tell when the person ahead is going to change lanes -- even when he doesn't use his turn signal -- by the way the car travels in the lane, the spacing of the cars around him, and even by the tilt of his head. Often, we don't even think about all the information we just took in at a glance to make that kind of divination.

(2) It seems that anyone I've talked to who has studies martial arts for a year or two ends up developing a much increased sensitivity to movement. We all have stories of dropping something or seeing something fall, and being able to catch it quicker than would seem possible to bystanders. I once put an empty coke bottle on a desk next to me in class, and as I drew my hand away, ended up knocking it off the desk. I quickly caught it before it hit the ground. It was cool, because I was sitting the the front so everyone saw my "amazing" feat. The instructor even commented.

Anyway, my point is that our training naturally increases our sensitivity to movement and body language.



-Drew Ames
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Old 07-09-2003, 12:00 PM   #3
Dojo: Methuen Aikido
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 97
I think it's a lot like poker in that everybody has a "tell". Maybe they inhale a certain way or tense up just a little or flare their nostrils or shift their weight, but just about everyone does SOMETHING before they attack. I think that we perceive these things without being aware of them and over time we develop a Pavlovian response to them i.e someone shifts their weight a certain way and you automatically expect an attack even if you don't know why you expect it. I think that's why extremely advanced MA practioners can appear lightning fast without actually moving that quickly.
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Old 07-09-2003, 10:43 PM   #4
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,888
IMHO, people tend to have a "tell" before they attack. Like chambering and inhaling. As you train you can begin to perceive their intent sooner and sooner.

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 07-10-2003, 09:40 PM   #5
Dojo: UW-L Aikido Club
Location: La Crosse, WI
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 38
Hey, people. Try this exercise...

One person closes his or her eyes. Two other people will be attackers for this person. On of the attackers will attack slowly and with intent (to be explained in a bit.) The other attacker should circle around the atackee, watching things, and occasionally throwing in an attack (again, slowly and with full intent) from behind.

Attacks should be made at Tai Chi speeds, and the attackers should do 3 things:

1. Visualize that your hand is a bright, intense spotlight shining at wherever you're going to hit your target.

2. Picture yourself hitting the person as you're slowly attacking.

3. Feel ANGER and a sense of I'M GOING TO DESTROY!! (In other words, put emotion and feeling into your attack.)

Remember to follow through with your attack. If you're doing a punch, let your hand go through the space where the attackee was. Don't just stop when they move.

Oh. And everyone should be as absolutely quiet as they can.

The person being attacked should _relax_completely_, and trust his or her body to move to get out of danger. In fact, don't just trust, make a _conscious_decision_ to trust your body. Then pay close attention to what you feel _inside_ your body, especially your center--not what you hear or feel on your skin. You may feel like your body want to fall a certain way, kinda like when you're just starting to lose your balance and fall. Move with it.

Play with that. THEN be skeptical. Relaxation includes relaxing your mind. Keep it quiet in there. Don't worry about if you're doing it right, or if you should move now, or now, or now. Just be quiet and listen to where your body wants you to go, like a little child tugging on the side of your pant leg to get your attention. Put aside any doubts and try the exercise. Then pick it apart.

Behind every flaw in technique is a flaw in the mind or spirit
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Old 08-09-2003, 09:01 AM   #6
Mary Eastland
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Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,440
I have done this excercise with my SD classes. Many people can feel the intention. Other people may have trouble because it feels king of dreamy to them.

My inner voice has become very powerful the more I listen to it. I have a practice that now I acknowledge my inner voice whenever I hear it. I may not follow it's idea but I always say. "I hear you." More often than not I wish I had listened. ;o)

Aikido training has been so important to me because my mind and body seemed so separate. My training has overcome this and mind-body co-ordination is the rule for me now instead of the exception.

Mary Eastland

Berkshire Hills Aikido
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Old 08-09-2003, 09:27 AM   #7
PhilJ's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Bukou
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 240
I like blindfold training. To me, it's more realistic than trying to feel when someone will attack, especially for students who don't grasp the feel idea. We do this once in a while at our place, and using slower motion to avoid serious injury (Especially from the more zealous folks)

Using a blindfold helps you learn to feel the stimulus from the attacker on a physical level, so it is still a 'surprise' attack.

I am not yet at the level where I can feel or sense an attack. I don't trust my eyes, I try to blend with the potential attacker before the attack begins.


Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
An Aikido Bukou Dojo
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Old 08-09-2003, 11:03 AM   #8
Mary Eastland
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Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,440
Blindfold training is very cool because I can actually see the attack with my whole body.

we do it from grabs....and sometines very carefully and structured with strikes.

Mary Eastland

Berkshire Hills Aikido
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Old 08-09-2003, 05:37 PM   #9
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,243
The mind is an incredible organ that allows us to perceive far more in a subconscious way than consciously. I spent thirty years as a cop and while the courts have always held that cops don't have a "sixth sense", I submit that we all do, but are unable to articulate what our senses perceived that allowed us to conclude that we are in danger. It may be an almost inaudible sound, a simple muscle twitch, perhaps even the smell of fear from the pores of an aggressor. Unfortunately, we rarely have the ability to explain to others as we didn't receive the information in a conscious manner. I can recount several instances where the hair on the back of my neck "rose" for no perceptable reason and I took a different path or something and later learned that I avoided an attack.

An exercise that may describe what I'm poorly trying to explain is this: as you are sitting at your computer, tell me what the room temperature is. Until you read those words, you probably didn't think anything of the temperature unless it was overwhelmingly hot or cold. Now that you've thought about it, you probably can estimate the temp within a degree or so. Somewhat like hypnosis where your subconscious mind records details that are insignificant to you conscious mind.

I suspect that the skill can be enhanced with years of training and experience, but the only thing I ever saw when being shot at was me hiding behind something really solid. I did talk to a suspect once who was shot during a robbery attempt. The officer fired a shotgun at him through a wire candy rack when the suspect pointed his revolver at him. The suspect told me that he saw a package of Lifesavers flying at his face, stopping in midair, flying at his face, and stopping, again and again. The next thing he saw was the ceiling lights. He said it was an amazing experience.

Try the temperature thing, either yourself or ask someone around you.


"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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