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Old 11-18-2003, 07:46 AM   #1
Juho Karppinen
Dojo: Aikiken
Location: Finland
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Lightbulb Find your flaws through aikido

(First of all I'd like to apologise for my abundant use of obscure metaphors. I don't really know what's causing it but my doctor is working on the problem...)

I've practiced aikido for just about three months, and a few days ago I realised I had become rather arrogant towards the other students. I felt they didn't train hard enough and that they weren't very serious about learning the art. This arrogance was something I hadn't noticed in myself before starting aikido (which is not to say I haven't been arrogant in the past).

I believe my training has not only improved my physical abilities but also nurtured my mind's shortcomings such as lack of self-discipline, bad self-esteem and the aforementioned arrogance or lack of respect for other people. Tiny seeds have grown into weeds sprouting from the ground. This, however, is a good thing, since you can't pluck a plant you can't see.

Thus, the first -- and rather obvious -- thing I learned through training is that you can only improve yourself if you know and accept your flaws. I regard this "lesson" as my first step on the Path.


With respect,
Juho K.


PS. My 6th kyu test is on thursday, wish me luck.
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Old 11-18-2003, 08:42 AM   #2
Greg Jennings
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Hi Juho,

Just wanted to pass on something my instructor told me:

"All your s*** will come out on the mat".

I've found it to be so true.

Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 11-18-2003, 10:07 AM   #3
Jeff Tibbetts
Dojo: Cedar River Aikikai
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Yeah, I think Greg is right (or rather his instructor.) I think that, in such a harsh environment where there is no room to hide emotionally or psychologically, any of the barriers that we throw up in our daily lives come crashing down. We lay ourselves bare, or we don't advance. Certainly not everyone does this as much, but I think that to get the most out of training you have to. This could be one of the reasons that so many people quit. It's not easy to really take a long, hard look at your psyche and see how it works. You realise that it's not everyone else's fault, like you assumed it would be, and you have to do it on your own. That's no fun. But the rewards are worth it. I think you see this now, and it's absolutely wonderful that you noticed it, addressed it, and have hopefully grown stronger because of it. Thanks for bringing it up, it's nice to have to think about it again.

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 11-18-2003, 11:01 AM   #4
Thalib
 
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I feel the same way Juho-san. I, too, have the same problem. Dealing with it as we speak, or as we write/read for that matter.

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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http://funkybuddha.multiply.com/
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Old 11-18-2003, 12:17 PM   #5
Nacho_mx
Dojo: Federación Mexicana de Aikido
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Three months is way too soon to feel delusions of superiority, you should at least wait after your first exam! Congratulations in advance, my dear 6th kyu shihan
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Old 11-18-2003, 02:12 PM   #6
Juho Karppinen
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Quote:
Ignacio Jaramillo (Nacho_mx) wrote:
Three months is way too soon to feel delusions of superiority, you should at least wait after your first exam!
What can I say? I'm a swift learner...
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Old 11-18-2003, 07:46 PM   #7
sanosuke
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Re: Find your flaws through aikido

Quote:
Juho Karppinen wrote:
(First of all I'd like to apologise for my abundant use of obscure metaphors. I don't really know what's causing it but my doctor is working on the problem...)

I've practiced aikido for just about three months, and a few days ago I realised I had become rather arrogant towards the other students. I felt they didn't train hard enough and that they weren't very serious about learning the art. This arrogance was something I hadn't noticed in myself before starting aikido (which is not to say I haven't been arrogant in the past).

I believe my training has not only improved my physical abilities but also nurtured my mind's shortcomings such as lack of self-discipline, bad self-esteem and the aforementioned arrogance or lack of respect for other people. Tiny seeds have grown into weeds sprouting from the ground. This, however, is a good thing, since you can't pluck a plant you can't see.

Thus, the first -- and rather obvious -- thing I learned through training is that you can only improve yourself if you know and accept your flaws. I regard this "lesson" as my first step on the Path.

With respect,

Juho K.

PS. My 6th kyu test is on thursday, wish me luck.
I don't know what to call it, either it is arrogance, or....you are serious in learning aikido and expect people to at least treat it positively. I have similar feeling with you, only the difference is i really,really,really don't like people who train and quitting halfway. when (most of) my friends quitting aikido halfway suddenly i'm losing interest hanging out with them, especially talking about aikido/martial arts.

so, don't worry Juho and Kamal, for two of you is serious in learning aikido and eager to gain positive improvement from it. Even if our feeling is called arrogance, it's the positive kind of arrogance.

For Juho:good luck, may the ki be with you...
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Old 11-19-2003, 02:07 AM   #8
johanlook
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Sometimes the "all your shit will come out on the mat" philosophy is abused. I don't believe in tolerating endless bs from either the instructor or students. The dojo can definitely be a mirror but I'm not too fussed at admitting that I'm reacting to someone elses bs. I've seen to many inflated egos trying to turn it around on others by using the "you should be thanking me for helping you defeat you internal demons" line - while taking no responsibility themselves.
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Old 11-19-2003, 03:10 AM   #9
PeterR
 
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What does searching for flaws have to do with Aikido?

Self developement comes from training hard not subjecting yourself to nail biting angst best served on an analyst's couch.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-19-2003, 04:08 AM   #10
johanlook
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I've gotta say I'm with you on that one Peter.
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Old 11-19-2003, 05:00 AM   #11
actoman
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Could'nt agree more Greg.

I am also pretty much a newbie, a yellow belt. But I have also noticed, not just on the mat but in every day life that I am more docile, listen more to my surroundings, and when someone is negative or sending a negative 'vibe', instead of countering it with another negative, I have found ways to make it a positive, no matter how tough it may be. Weird but true.
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Old 11-19-2003, 05:23 AM   #12
Michael Karmon
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
What does searching for flaws have to do with Aikido?

Self developement comes from training hard not subjecting yourself to nail biting angst best served on an analyst's couch.
Training hard is assential but you can not advance until you have faced and dealt with your emotional problems.

I could not stand giving Ukemi, I found it to be humiliating, so I obstructed, being bigger and stronger then most only the stronges Nages could convince me to move (= "move or I'll dislocate your shoulder" kind of convincing ). It took me a while to realize that it wasn't a weak Nage, poorly performed waza or lack of dojo space (all excuses I made to Sensei for not giving Ukemi properly) but it is MY flaws of laziness and arrogance (= I go down for no one) that made me a poor uke. Today my Ukemi is acceptable for may rank (thats another thread Hehehe). Furthermore I feel I can take corrections and remaks from others with less emotional resentment both on and off the matt.

Eat, Sleep, Exercise and watch out for cars
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Old 11-19-2003, 09:21 AM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Yep, where ever you go, there you are. You can't just talk the talk in Aikido without someone talking your balance in the walk. A very humbling art.

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 11-19-2003, 10:25 PM   #14
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Michael Karmon wrote:
Training hard is assential but you can not advance until you have faced and dealt with your emotional problems.
Emotional problems??

You may not advance until you adjust to the training methods employed in your dojo. This is a far cry (excuse the pun) from emotional problems - more like preconceptions. If you have anything more than that best get help elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong - especially between the period of Ikkyu and Shodan I was subjected to a lot of adjustment and this says nothing of the period before that and what still goes on. Never has anyone one declared it was a character flaw or an emotional problem and I would be very suspicious of anyone who did so. It was simply a matter of "in this context this is what we do".

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-20-2003, 01:40 AM   #15
Michael Karmon
Dojo: Aikido Jerusalem
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
Emotional problems??

You may not advance until you adjust to the training methods employed in your dojo. This is a far cry (excuse the pun) from emotional problems
Peter San - By the phrase emotional problems I am refering to the veriety of psychological, conceptual, cognitive and atitude imperfectness we all carry.

For example, getting some one to move w/o using muscular force but only by using soft body movement. Technically/phisically speeking it is very easy (a samll side step and a move of the shoulder). But for some of us,even physically appt people, moving another person requires force. The idea of doing it the soft way is hard to conceive on an emotional cognitive level. To my understanding going from hard to soft, not only technically but also attitude wise, is working on your emotional side rather then a phisical problem.

Peter, I will ask you a question, why are you doing Aikido and going to the length of living in Japan? Aerobic kickboxing or the Marathon is probably more phisically demanding and chalanging then Aikido. For self defence a .45 and a 3 week course will serve you fine. I suspect that you are in it to better your self emotionally and phisically

Eat, Sleep, Exercise and watch out for cars
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Old 11-20-2003, 09:10 AM   #16
Kevin Masters
Dojo: Woodstock Aikido
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Personally, I'd just as soon not train with someone who has emotional problems. Just like if somebody came on to the mat with a bad sprain and never bothered to tell anyone. It's plenty enough of a challenge to practice proper respect and protection with your partner if they are physically and mentally up to the task of training. I'm not practicing Aikido to help anybody work through their bad childhood.

"Training hard is (e)ssential but you can not advance until you have faced and dealt with your emotional problems."

This I agree with, however I don't think it's fair to make your partners suffer because of your own emotional baggage.

There are no guarantees at all in life. People start taking classes with whatever intention they have. Some of them stick around, some don't. You can't control that. So are you going to take an attitude of "Oh they're not SERIOUS martial artists, they won't last long." Or are you going to just train and enjoy your Aikido one class at a time? I don't want to fill up my headspace with any of that.

I just want to train because I love to.
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Old 11-20-2003, 01:05 PM   #17
Greg Jennings
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I know when I'm talking about this topic, I'm just talking about things like developing focus, tenacity, dedication, perserverance, channeling or maybe developing one's aggression, etc.

I'm not talking about someone with, for example, serious phobias.

YMMV,

Greg Jennings
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Old 11-20-2003, 06:13 PM   #18
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Sometimes the people who have the most serious problems are the ones who are sure it's all the others.

Jeanne
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Old 11-20-2003, 06:49 PM   #19
PeterR
 
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Well I've got a serious phobia - its called ukeminophobia.

None of the things you mentioned below are emotional problems or character flaws. Terms like flaw and problem suggest something is wrong to begin with and not the mental developement that is part and parcel of Budo. I talk about improving focus, technique, etc., not overcoming a list of deficiencies.

Budo as character developement is just that - you need something there to begin with. I really don't think Budo training is geared towards major transformations.

Even the example of not wanting to go down for tori or muscling of technique. In both cases it is a matter of learning to train and under other circumstance may be considered a positive thing. Ergo not a flaw by any means.
Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote:
I know when I'm talking about this topic, I'm just talking about things like developing focus, tenacity, dedication, perserverance, channeling or maybe developing one's aggression, etc.

I'm not talking about someone with, for example, serious phobias.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-01-2003, 11:57 AM   #20
Deb Fisher
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"I really don't think Budo training is geared towards major transformations."

While I understand and agree with the bulk of this post, I beg to differ with this point. I decided to start a martial art because I was handling some serious health anxiety (both of my brothers died in separate car accidents when I was a child, and a lasting effect of this is an occasional, paralyzing conviction that I am going to die in a sudden and dramatic fashion). Aikido really allowed me to handle my eventual demise a little more gracefully--no more anxiety attacks, fake 'symptoms', or worried trips to the doctor, and it was pretty immediate (definitely by my 6th kyu test it was all gone and hasn't come back).

This was a **major** transformation that I was not able to achieve with talk therapy or even antianxiety medication... and I don't think I bothered anyone else in the dojo while I dealt with it.

Of course Budo was not developed to address existential angst... but since working it out with your body is often so much more useful than talking it out with a therapist (and since aikido is cheaper!)... why not let it happen?

Peter, I guess I'm curious about what you think Budo will lose if we all admit that it can strengthen character or help psychological problems.

Thanks,

Deb

Deb Fisher
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Old 12-01-2003, 03:09 PM   #21
PeterR
 
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Hi Deb;

I had to go back and read what I wrote and for those that have noticed I've been a little opinionated lately - your probably right. Tonights excuse is 24 hours straight of little food, lots of coffee, frantic activity with only enough time in between to visit Aikiweb - this is my life.

Anyhow - me saying that Budo is not geared towards major transformations does not mean that examples of that very thing happening do not exist. Personally I get all warm and fuzzy when it actually does (I don't include the childhood adversities of Grand Master Bob).

If I remember correctly what set me off was the insistance by some that what we engage on the mat is a search for character flaws. My contention is that Budo improves what's already there and to consider it in any other way does a dis-service to ourselves. Budo revolves around the idea of long term, gradual change brought about by actually doing your art of choice. Other than thinking how to improve your training the rest should just come along for the ride,

So yes it can strengthen character or help psychological problems but the action is passive.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-01-2003, 04:12 PM   #22
Deb Fisher
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That is a very useful distinction, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. In fact, I think that many activities like aikido (rock climbing, yoga, sky diving, woodworking, welding, sewing, knitting...) are character building *because* they allow you to lose your sense of self, to give up your body in persuit of something that is not it.

Hope you can sleep soon,

Deb

Deb Fisher
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Old 12-01-2003, 05:16 PM   #23
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Deb Fisher wrote:
That is a very useful distinction, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. In fact, I think that many activities like aikido (rock climbing, yoga, sky diving, woodworking, welding, sewing, knitting...) are character building *because* they allow you to lose your sense of self, to give up your body in persuit of something that is not it.

Hope you can sleep soon,

Deb
Exactly - in my sleep deprived haze I had written a meandering post pretty much along the line that there are plenty of activities that can substitute for Aikido. Several Do are very non-physical - unless of course you consider whisking tea strenuous - the key is long term effort and study.

I ended up deleting it because I thought it detracted from the point - perhaps not.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-02-2003, 04:31 AM   #24
Michael Karmon
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
...Anyhow - me saying that Budo is not geared towards major transformations does not mean that examples of that very thing happening do not exist.

If I remember correctly what set me off was the insistance by some that what we engage on the mat is a search for character flaws. .....

So yes it can strengthen character or help psychological problems but the action is passive.
Peter, I agree that anyone trying to regard his budo class as a "cheep shrink session" will not get very far. However, I am a strong believer in that serious budo training will force you to "get your act right" and will have a strong phychological effect willing or not.
I entered budo (Krav-Maga and Kyukoshinkai Karate) trying to learn how to kick-ass, I had no spiritual aspirations of any kind. Today I am a totaly different person and I belive I am a much better one, largly thanks to budo. I laugh much more, I smooth conflicts away, I am more polite and get along with more people. Although physically in a better shape and in a better position to "kick-ass" I apply less force, socially and phisically as I go along.

Another example, In my dojo a young woman started a few months ago. She is a professional dance teacher with flexebility to die fo. But she came in a spoiled daddie's princess if I've ever seen one. The lady had no concept of etiquette, or anything. unfortunately she was not very shy or silent.
For me it was a challange of self control, it is OK by me if you are unable to walk and chew gum simultaneously but you do not yawn when Sensei is talking.

Today the lady is on her way to completely blending into the class, attitude and all. She is a nicer person alltogether.
As I mentioned, she is a dancer so the hardships and discipline of physical work are no strangers to her.

I attribute the change to the fact that when you are dealing with a threatening situations time-and-time-again (the practice is a threatening situation) you have to look inside yourself and lose some extra luggage in order to keep on.

Last edited by Michael Karmon : 12-02-2003 at 04:37 AM.

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Old 12-04-2003, 12:20 PM   #25
Anders Bjonback
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The aim of meditation, I think, is to accept and embody the totality of your experience. Maybe that's the aim of aikido, too, although I haven't experienced that process with aikido. I think aikido, along with meditation, has changed me, though, despite the fact that I've only done it for a year and a half. I have more control over myself and have more awareness of other people. I feel like most of the changes I've gone through are implicit rather than explicit, though.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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