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Old 04-26-2004, 04:01 PM   #1
PeaceHeather
Dojo: hopefully Purdue Aikido Club
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Eek! Emotions on the mat

Hi all,

I'm not sure whether to put this in the Training thread, the Spirituality Thread, or what, so I'm putting it here.

I can't believe how worked up I am getting over attending my next aikido lesson. I am really scared! Last week was frightening, but I managed, although I was nauseous from the rolls (yes, sensei DID let me stop whenever I needed to), in tears at one point for no definite reason, and so on.

Tonight, my lesson will be with Soke instead of the student Senseis who teach on Wednesdays, and I am so intimidated by that thought that I can hardly think straight.

Does anyone else ever encounter this? Er, I should rephrase - I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes through this, but I need some reassurance now. What emotions come up on the mat for you, personally; how do you deal with them?

It's hard to remember "compassion" and "serenity" when you're stuck in "OH MY GOD I"M GONNA DIE".

Help.
Heather
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Old 04-26-2004, 04:18 PM   #2
mantis
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Re: Emotions on the mat

WOW, I hope you can get past this.

When I'm on the mat with a higher rank, I completely focus on what's happening. I don't think of anything else, and I live in the moment, not thinking about what might or might not come next.

So all I can offer as advice is to focus on what's happening, and not on your performance.

Good Luck!
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Old 04-26-2004, 04:26 PM   #3
Chris Birke
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Relax... woooooowoooooooooooooooooooooo phew. Wheee. OK... Relax. =)

You can take care of yourself. And they are lookin' out for you. You're safe!
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Old 04-26-2004, 04:34 PM   #4
Mark Jakabcsin
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather,
Thank you for posting such open and honest feelings. While you might not feel it, your actions demonstrate a great deal of courage and I commend you.

I have two bits of advice.

First, go to class as often as possible, confront your emtions and fears. In time you will learn to put these fears in proper perspective and not just as they relate to Aikido class. It is normal to feel intimidated in new situations, heck it is normal to feel fear or worry about about your ability to succeed. This is all ok. Simply realize that these emtions are normal but these emotions don't control us. Accept them and move forward, always forward. Deal with life as it comes not as it MIGHT come.

Secondly, try to see the big picture. No one is there to hurt you. Your instructors are there to help you and to teach you. Be as happy about the situation as possible.

You only live once, enjoy each moment. Don't allow fear to limit your moments.

mark
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Old 04-26-2004, 04:41 PM   #5
Erik
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Re: Emotions on the mat

At the dojo where I started they did a lot of exercises related to connecting and feeling your partner. It was a very intimate experience and about the last thing I expected in a martial art class. It didn't terrify me but all that intimacy and connecting with a partner did make me pretty uncomfortable.

Your post also reminds me of a fellow student who was terrified of testing. She literally shook during her 4th kyu test. She came from another school where she was ranked without testing and it was her first test. At the time I thought it was the most courageous thing I've seen on the mat. Some talk a lot of nonsense about being warriors etc., but her doing that test is what courage is about in my opinion.

Anyways, in my case, I just kept showing up and eventually it got easier.

Quote:
It's hard to remember "compassion" and "serenity" when you're stuck in "OH MY GOD I"M GONNA DIE"
Could you clarify this statement a bit, just in case? If there is something physical going on that makes you feel at risk then maybe you need to step back a bit. I know a lot of places that wouldn't even expect you to do a back roll in your first class. Some do expect it and some even expect forward rolls but your comment on rolling made me want to ask. Your fear might also be there because you are putting yourself at risk in a way you aren't trained for. This probably isn't what's happening but like I said, just in case.
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Old 04-26-2004, 05:47 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Quote:
Erik wrote:
Could you clarify this statement a bit, just in case? If there is something physical going on that makes you feel at risk then maybe you need to step back a bit. (SNIP)This probably isn't what's happening but like I said, just in case.
I had the same wondering. There is a lot of stuff that can come up on the mat that is scary, both physically and emotionally. But if there is something specific to the situation that is causing you to have a gut reaction of feeling unsafe, as in not taken care of by the instructors/more senior students, best to really examine it.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 04-26-2004, 06:46 PM   #7
Qatana
 
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather, my experience was very similar to Erik's, however , this was exactly what i started training to experience! I had to be intimately connected to a bunch of strangers who Really Cared about me, and it was terrifying!
I spent several months having to leave the mat and cry for a while & just jumped right back every time.
It does get more comfortable. I don't know if it ever gets easier!

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:12 PM   #8
giriasis
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather,

I'm wondering the same thing as Janet. I have faced a lot of fear of having to learn to roll and breakfall to the point that it was stagnating. In my first dojo, I was thrown into breakfalls on my SECOND day. Not a good course of action. Any how this developed into a lot of fear of going to class. Now almost 5 years later and being in a very supportive dojo (and different one from my first) helped a lot. Please don't think just because "sensei says" that you shouldn't listen to you intuition. Like the others said, listen to your self and your internal signals they might be telling you something.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:22 PM   #9
PeaceHeather
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Re: Emotions on the mat

For Erik and Janet (and anyone else who worried),

Thank you. No. Soke doesn't intimidate me in that sense, and the two senseis are utterly cool (one of 'em's a real hottie ). What to say about Soke... this guy is so amazingly good, I've watched him stop uke without touching them... the Deadly Finger Point of Doom... (As in, you come at him, he sweeps his arm out and points to one side, or up, or down, and you find yourself following where he points and completely losing your attack. It's amazing to watch.) The entire class is full of laughter, trust, and cameraderie.

Also, Soke would never ever beat up on an uke who couldn't handle what he was dishing out; I've never, ever seen him go beyond a student's capacity. But when his favorite uke is Matt-sensei, and Matt-sensei can take a LOT... it's scary to watch even when you know you're safe.

I observed lessons in this dojo for a couple weeks, to make sure I was in a good place. I was having fun and learning just by watching! And I, expecting to be a fly on the wall and not interrupt things, was surprised and gratified when Soke would step off the mat and explain what I was seeing while the rest of the class, led by both senseis, did their thing.

Even so... I am very hard on myself. I grew up in a household where, um... okay, Mom fit the textbook definition of verbal abuse... so I tend to expect criticism and judgment, and will imagine that it's there even when it isn't. It doesn't help that I was one of those kids who could get straight A's in school with almost no effort. I expect things to work the first time, and when they don't, even though I'm allllll grown up now, there's still that tiny moment of "freakout" that I have to face.

So, the entire thing is mental with me; my marriage counselor, personal counselor, husband, and I are working on the various factors that play into this. (Yes, you heard me, I'm seeing two shrinks simultaneously. I do things like this. It's a GIFT. )

I made sure that my first lesson was on the one night of the week that Soke does not teach, because I needed to not have that mental hurdle to overcome. As Phil-sensei put it, "You already did the hard part; you came in alone. When I started ten years ago, four of my friends were already on the mat."

So, tonight, my second lesson, was my first with Soke also on the mat, and as it happened everything was as fine as all my observations had led me to think it would... but it was still scary as hell UNTIL I got out on the mat. I'd built it up in my head until I was freaking out... hence "oh my god I'm gonna die."

I've rambled, and lost the ability to reply cohesively to a specific post, so I'm going to break off here and go respond elsewhere.

Heather

PS - For what it's worth, if you feel like reading my latest post to my "introduction", I described tonight's lesson in more detail, and I *did* say I thought I was really courageous to stick it out. I even had fun, once the hairy stuff was over.

Peace, y'all, and thanks.

Last edited by PeaceHeather : 04-26-2004 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:29 PM   #10
PeaceHeather
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Quote:
Chris Birke wrote:
Relax... woooooowoooooooooooooooooooooo phew. Wheee. OK... Relax. =)
Hee hee. Thanks, Chris. Thanks also for the reminder that I'm safe. One trick I have for facing this mental hurdle is to stop looking at it like combat -- 'cause, really, who am I fighting? -- and to look at it instead like a dance class. I've done a little bit of folk and country dancing, so the image works for me. You have a partner, you try not to trip over your own feet or theirs, you laugh when you mess up, you laugh more when you get it right, and next thing you know you're teaching someone else the steps.

Thanks again.
Heather
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:34 PM   #11
PeaceHeather
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Quote:
Mark Jakabcsin wrote:
Heather,
Thank you for posting such open and honest feelings. While you might not feel it, your actions demonstrate a great deal of courage and I commend you.
Thank you, Mark. I'm not sure if I'm courageous or just stubborn, but I don't want to let my fears defeat me in this. I'm really pushing HARD to get myself to dojo... in fact, I almost wonder if the only reason I have such strong fear is because I want to face it all at once, rather than gradually over time. If that makes sense.

I only trimmed your advice out of this quote because I didn't want my reply to get too long. I plan on reminding myself of what you've said -- since, after all, the best advice is usually the wisdom that you already know yourself.

While I appreciate all the warmth and encouragement I am receiving from everyone, I originally started this thread because I wanted to hear from other folks about any emotional things that you might have find yourselves facing on the mat.

Got stories?

Peace,
Heather
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:46 PM   #12
PeaceHeather
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Quote:
giriasis wrote:
Heather,

I'm wondering the same thing as Janet. I have faced a lot of fear of having to learn to roll and breakfall to the point that it was stagnating. In my first dojo, I was thrown into breakfalls on my SECOND day. Not a good course of action. Any how this developed into a lot of fear of going to class. Now almost 5 years later and being in a very supportive dojo (and different one from my first) helped a lot. Please don't think just because "sensei says" that you shouldn't listen to you intuition. Like the others said, listen to your self and your internal signals they might be telling you something.
Jo and Anne Marie,
Thanks so much for your words. On my first day (last week), it was explained that The Mat Is Your Friend and that learning to land well is a good thing, and we started on simple, slow-motion, low to the ground, forward rolls. At one point when I was getting too dizzy, we switched to different footwork things, ways to step and turn and so forth. Everything was taken at a pace I felt comfortable with.

Phil-sensei showed me back rolls after a bit, for variety's sake, but I didn't feel comfortable doing those quite yet, so we didn't. No worries.

Jo, as for the emotional stuff... I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression when I say this... I've wanted to do something with martial arts for a number of years now, and now that I'm in counseling, aikido feels like the next logical step. I don't want people to think that I'm taking all my baggage onto the mat and expecting sensei to solve it -- it's more like, I'm taking the things I'm learning with my counselor and moving them out of my head and into my body, via aikido. Does that make sense? AND I'm doing something I've wanted to do for years.

At any rate, I expected to see at least a few emotions come up, as I "confronted" my partners on the mat, as I got frustrated with my lack of instantaneous progress, and so forth. I still do expect to see those things; I'm just looking for a: a place to share them, and b: tools to handle them.

Thanks again.
Heather
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:38 PM   #13
Ian Williams
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Re: Emotions on the mat

I have related this tale in another thread, but I'll post it again here anyway...
I practice JuJitsu, but the point here is the same.

I was asked to go uke for a higher belt who was practicing a series of leg reaps in different stance positions in readiness for a grading. This involved between 30 and 40 leg reaps, one after another. I had had some breakfall training/practice but not a lot, and foolishly said "yes" when asked by the sensei if I minded being uke here.

I probably did a successfull break fall about 50% of teh time, but that still ended up with me being VERY sore by the time I went home, and, I'll admit it, scared and a little in shock. (leg reaps can be substantial throws, and I don't like being thrown backwards at the best of times).

I ended up that night with mild concussion and my back hurt severely everytime i got out of my chair for a week. I was in tears that night after the lesson in the shower because after a few bad falls, I was quite scared. It's my fault for not putting a stop to it earlier and saying I didn't feel comfortable, but thats aussie male macho crap for you. I almost gave up that night. I felt scared, humilated, and down right sore. It's only because I love training so much that I went back the next night and the next etc.

A couple of months down the track, my breakfalls are a LITTLE better, but I would not allow myself to be used in that training situation any more. I would just say no. After all, it's your personal safety and well beingyou need to look after. Don't allow yourself to be put into a situation you don't feel comfortable with.

I guess the point of this rambling is to let you know that even a rough tough aussie bloke can feel shattered emotionally after a training session, and be in tears.. but you can get up! dust yourself off, and try again, if you're really motivated about training!
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:44 PM   #14
Robert Jackson
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Re: Emotions on the mat

I hate pressing the wrong button and erasing a freaking long post! Anyway as I originally said.

When you fear something you have to do two things. First, look and see if there is something to fear.(you already said there is not). If not you need to look inside yourself and figure out what you are fearing. In aikido this can be numerous things "What if I take the fall wrong", "What if I humiliate myself by not doing the technique properly." or as one of the newest members of our dojo recently said "No one's going to want to work with me anymore". Once you find your answers it's time to face them (by going to the classes you are already doing that.... and as said above that is very commendable.) Just realize everyone was new at one point in time, your Dojocho was a beginner dependent upon his sempai to help and teach him.

Quote:
I've wanted to do something with martial arts for a number of years now, and now that I'm in counseling, aikido feels like the next logical step. I don't want people to think that I'm taking all my baggage onto the mat and expecting sensei to solve it -- it's more like, I'm taking the things I'm learning with my counselor and moving them out of my head and into my body, via aikido. Does that make sense?
This makes perfect sense. Your "baggage" is a part of you as will be your aikido. Aikido is very philosophical and will probably be a very big contribution to your therapy.

A challenge is always good. With a challenge you do not have the feeling of "Oh another A.... whoopdie freaking do" But you'll get the feeling of "OH MY GOD.... I DID THE MOVE CORRECTLY" which, if you haven't experienced it before will be a great emotion that gives a very good sense of accomplishment. You won't look back and wonder why you did something you were able to breeze through instead you'll look back and see all the work you put into this accomplishment and be able to tell where it went and where it came from. To many people never push nor challenge themselves. To many people never understand what the word accomplishment means. I hope if you were one of those people Aikido will give you a new out look on life and what it truly means to fight and work to get something done.

Well enough of my rambling. I hope I made sense if not.... the original post I accidentally deleted before I hit the back short key was a lot better...... (seriously it was!.... no seriously!!!)


Robert.
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Old 04-26-2004, 10:28 PM   #15
shihonage
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Thinking "relax!" is not going to help you relax.
"Just relax" is advice often given to beginners.
I really don't know WHY it is given to beginners, because it never helps them.

How can you relax when you don't know which foot goes where and you're intently monitoring your every hand and foot movement ?

You can't.
You can't relax, Heather, but what you can do is continue attending the class.
Just stick with it, and the ups and downs will slowly mellow out and your emotions during class will become more even.

Also, I think you're on the right track regarding the mindset.
Although Aikido is certainly not a dance class, the main point is correct - the techniques will only work when you don't antagonize your practice partner in your head.
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Old 04-26-2004, 11:04 PM   #16
Janet Rosen
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather, if you look at the first aikiweb column by the Mirror, the introduction, you may find the round robin helpful. Yes, anybody who is honest with him/herself is confronting personal barriers and fears on the mat and, hopefully, using the training as a tool (not as therapy, but as a tool for change). People who are not willing to train with that honesty, in my opinion, are the ones that run the risk of becoming unmindful and hurting partners. Gee (she says, scratching her head....) kinda like in life off the mat, too!
FWIW, I think you are on the right track.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 04-27-2004, 03:17 AM   #17
cuguacuarana
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Re: Emotions on the mat

It sounds like you are confident that you are in the right place, which is a good thing. Your posts on this thread have indicated to me that you are at least self aware enough to recognize that most of these emotions are coming from certain undesirable mindsets you may be carrying. I think you are very brave to be facing these mindsets in this way, and I am impressed at your ability to hash these issues out by thinking about them and posting here. I assure you that you have my support. Here are my suggestions:

Both of the Dojos that I have experienced were very open to varying skill levels and various levels of comfort. In my experience most will respect your need to sit out and chill if you need to. But as many people have said, and as I am sure you are aware, progress comes from confronting and working to resolving these issues. Don't feel like you have to go way beyond your comfort zone right away. instead expect to run into these fears and face them whenever you can. Remind yourself that every time you are afraid, and confront it that it is usually not as bad as your mind thinks it will be, and how great it feels when you jump in and push yourself farther than it seemed you could go. I hope you have experienced the sense of pride and accomplishment that goes along with pushing yourself a little further than you thought you could go. I imagine that it will not take long before you start to feel more comfortable. I reccomment Gakku Homma's book "Aikido for Life," He talks some about what it means to push yourself. it also contains a number of other good lessons. Its easy to read, and great for beginners.

Good Luck!
Austin
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Old 04-27-2004, 06:53 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Welcome to the martial arts, the place where you confront your worst attacker, yourself. Yes, IMHO this is normal.

Try to pay attention to the negative fantasy you are running in your head. What is the visual movie? What is the auditory dialog? Your body/emotions are not responding to Aikido, but your fantasy about Aikido. Change you mind and you'll change your emotions.

Relax, breath, get out of fantasy land, and enjoy yourself.

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 04-27-2004, 07:02 AM   #19
wendyrowe
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Re: Emotions on the mat

I've definitely had that "Oh my God, I'm going to die" feeling on the mat. I know I'm not REALLY going to die -- but the adrenalin really gets pumping when I'm called on to do randori with Sensei or when I'm swapping throws with one of the very skilled and fast students. When I started aikido, that feeling was overpowering. But as I get more used to people coming at me and as my aikido reactions get more ingrained, I find I am able to empty my mind of expectations and really use aiki.

As others have said: it gets better, just keep at it!
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Old 04-27-2004, 08:46 AM   #20
jxa127
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather,

I'm quite sure that most of us, at one time or another, been scared on the mat. For quite a while I had to deal with the fear that I couldn't keep up with the rest of the class. I'm overweight and not in as good a shape as a lot of the folks I train with.

To some extent I still dread our regular class warm-up period where we do a lot of ukemi and I get really winded. It used to really cause me anxiety when I anticipated that part of the class. Now I'm learning to look forward to that particular part of class. It's a chance to really work on problems that I have with ukemi (still have, after more than four years of practice). It also feels pretty good to get winded and really exert myself.

One key change to my attitude came when I realized that (1) everybody has something that they struggle with in aikido (most of us have several things we struggle with), and (2) my instructor and classmates don't think poorly of me or judge harshly as long as I give it my best shot. They feel, like I do, that partners with different ability levels are a blessing to work with.

Just some thoughts.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 04-27-2004, 09:34 AM   #21
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Emotions on the mat

As another big tough male, I also would like to encourage you to keep up your efforts. As Drew said, we all have our problems. I'm 42, and have a nasty habit of smoking. About a week ago on a thursday I was training for two hours with a group in the area that trains VERY hard. I had pretty much exhausted myself, and came pretty close to feeling that I was on the verge of some kind of physical collapse (I don't know, heart attack, angina, simple exhaustion, something...). It was pretty scary for me there for a while. But I made sure I trained with my regular group on saturday, another 3 and a half hours. I got through it...and for most of the classes, didn't even think about it. Mostly it hits between the 2nd and 3rd classes...do I push on, do one more...then again before some free-style with the 4th dan after the last class...do I try to take ukemi for him when I'm this tired...

Each time I've made the choice to push a little more, my practice gets a little better, and so far, my fears have never been realized. Limits are there to be pushed. Do it carefully, under competant supervision...but do it.

The intensity of the relationships on the mats can be very intimidating to both men and women. Its a strange thing...but I've found by facing it I'm better able to face other things...a girlfriend with cancer, a father with alzheimers...all kinds of things.

I hope you can keep training.

Ron
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Old 04-27-2004, 11:59 AM   #22
PeaceHeather
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
I guess the point of this rambling is to let you know that even a rough tough aussie bloke can feel shattered emotionally after a training session, and be in tears.. but you can get up! dust yourself off, and try again, if you're really motivated about training!
*snrrk*

Okay, I now have this image of whatsisname that played Crocodile Dundee in the movies... gi, hakama, leather hat, scruffy beard.

Some days I love living in my head.... strike that. I LOVE living in my head. It's very entertaining here.

Anyway, thank you for your story, and for the reminder to only push past what I *think* my limits are, as opposed to pushing past my real, safe limits.

Heather
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Old 04-27-2004, 12:28 PM   #23
PeaceHeather
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Robert: Yes, you made perfect sense; thank you for reminding me of something I already knew. (A favorite quote of mine, from a book by Richard Bach -- "Isn't it amazing how often we already know the answer, if we just ask ourselves the question?")

Quote:
shihonage wrote:
Thinking "relax!" is not going to help you relax.
"Just relax" is advice often given to beginners.
I really don't know WHY it is given to beginners, because it never helps them.

How can you relax when you don't know which foot goes where and you're intently monitoring your every hand and foot movement ?

You can't.
Er, um... actually, I can. What I never got around to saying in my intro is that I'm turning 32 at the end of May, and I've done enough work in both mental things like counseling, and physical things like massage and chiropractic (as a patient) that when someone says "relax" I often can take a deep breath, release the muscles that are tight, and flow a little bit better. It doesn't last long, granted, especially if my mind is all worked up, but up to a point, that reminder really is helpful to me.

Quote:
You can't relax, Heather, but what you can do is continue attending the class.
Just stick with it, and the ups and downs will slowly mellow out and your emotions during class will become more even.
Thanks for this! As it is, I'm miffed that a weekend injury, which I aggravated yesterday, is going to keep me off the mats till next Monday. I'm still going to go to dojo, because I've been surprised by how much I learn by watching and listening, even if I can't participate. (Heh, also, I'm not participating so there's no intimidation getting in the way of my learning.)

Janet -- yup, read both columns by The Mirror, loved them... in fact, they helped make the decision to become a member on this forum.

Austin, thank you. I just hope I don't become the mighty brave aikidoka on the forum, while still being the screaming white belt newbie on the mat.

Lynn, oh trust me -- I'm a-listening. Still trying to figure out where all of it comes from, but definitely listening. That is a large part of *why* I started aikido in the first place... and why I chose aikido. Listening inside, being compassionate toward myself as well as my partners, all of that forms part of my personal spirituality right now. I hope to keep it and to become more skilled at it.

Drew, thanks for your story also. I'm not overweight, but I'm neither as strong nor as flexible as even the rest of the white-belts right now, since they all have several months of training on me. On the other hand, I'm nowhere near as ticklish as my fellow white-belt who was there last night. He's a youngun, teenaged, and really skittish about being touched in general -- in pressure-point technique he'll leap out of the way before you even get your hand in contact with him. It's kinda fun.

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Each time I've made the choice to push a little more, my practice gets a little better, and so far, my fears have never been realized. Limits are there to be pushed. Do it carefully, under competant supervision...but do it.
You know, Ron, it's getting to where I look forward to reading any post with your name on it. Your advice has yet to NOT be solid and exactly in line with the things I need to hear. I'm not into the gung-ho "just do it rrrargh" model of learning -- hearing you say "push your limits CAREFULLY" makes all the difference.

Quote:
I hope you can keep training.
At this point, I alternate between having so much fun I want to go back, and being so grimly determined not to let my fears beat me that I refuse to stay away. So there you go.

Thanks, everyone. Now, who else has a story?
Heather
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Old 04-27-2004, 12:53 PM   #24
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather,

Osu!

Thanks for the kind words. They were actually needed just now.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 04-27-2004, 12:59 PM   #25
skyetide
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 27
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Re: Emotions on the mat

Heather,

I can relate. You are basically forcing your body to do things that seem very unnatural and dangerous. I hope that you are taking baby-steps with your ukemi…rolling from your knees, etc. I experienced panic with rolls, breakfalls and especially dive rolls (still have not gotten over those. It's like my mind is asking my body to go against instincts of self preservation by throwing myself on the ground. Someone may as well be asking me to jump in a fiery pit than ask me to dive roll…and then saying "relax, relax".

My emotions have ranged from fear (literally shaking) to utter frustration because I can't get a technique right. It's hard to manage those feelings and "just relax" as people always tell me. Frustration also comes when I constantly compare myself to other students and to my own high expectations. This allows my self-criticism to overtake my ability to appreciate where I am and how far I really have come. It sounds like you have a touch of this as well? I wish I could give you a quick solution. It is something that I continually work on by being conscious of what I am feeling and by trying to calm my mind and just keep moving. I also think "get over yourself" sometimes, which lightens my mood. Don't forget to laugh at yourself sometimes.

The other thing I wanted to touch on is what you said "I don't want people to think that I'm taking all my baggage onto the mat and expecting sensei to solve it --" I totally understand. I thought I was joining the dojo for strength and balance in my life. I thought it would be a place of solace where I could escape stresses. (true, but…) What happened with me is that Aikido sort of magnified any problems that I faced outside the dojo, but it also gave me the strength to face them. The problems you face outside the dojo are really the problems you face within yourself, so they inevitably come into the dojo with you.

I remember a seminar taught by Sato Sensei where he was demonstrating a technique on a student and wanted to make the point that one faces the opponent straight on. He grabbed the guy's gi and pulled his shoulder square as he said "you must face your reality". That hit me hard and from then on I have tried to do that within the dojo and in my life. So you are fearful. Do you fear injury? Do you feel people judging you? Do you fear failure? So? What do you do next? Roll from the ground so there is very little chance of injury. Build it up slowly. What else is part of that reality? What are your strengths in Aikido? Your strengths are also part of your reality. I think that when we face pain in any form we have two basic choices…to stagnate or to move through. Which are you doing? If you are moving through it, however slow, that is good. Give yourself credit. I agree with the other posts that it takes courage to even take part in class, to move through fear, to seek out answers as you are doing now. I know it doesn't feel courageous when you are filled with panic at the thought of throwing your body into a roll. Don't focus on your weakness though, focus on moving through and on what you have accomplished. Of course, I know this is easier said than done. I wish you the best in your search for answers, and in your Aikido!
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