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Old 04-04-2005, 05:56 PM   #1
"anonymous"
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is anger ever appropriate?

This is in response to the 'Anger on the mat' thread.

There is an older man at my dojo, a former judoka who has taken up aikido because he damaged his body too much to continue with judo. He's a perpetual white belt and seems content with that, training because he enjoys it. He's so stiff that it's amazing he can walk, but unfortunately he can also be quite arrogant. Some of his enjoyment comes from feeling superior, as a former judoka, to the aikido students at the dojo.

The problem comes when he has no idea what the hell we're doing. If he dosen't understand the technique, he just makes something up; sometimes this is so ineffective that it's almost laughable, but sometimes he gets a joint just right and it becomes quite dangerous. Often he yells while he is doing this. He does it more often on some days than others.

Once, a couple of years ago, he was doing this while I was training with him and getting worse and worse every time he was nage (sometimes this can indicate that one's technique has been too hard, but iirc I wasn't being hard on him). I got more and more angry each time; I felt like he was being totally disrespectful of my body, my time, my training, etc. Finally he got me into one of the effective locks - I had to take some of the best ukemi I've ever done in my life to get out of it intact, but when the dangerous part was past I whipped around and was as close to punching someone other than my brother that I've ever been in my life. He was totally vulnerable (as he ususally is, though he dosen't seem to notice) and I could have done some serious damage. He finally saw that, and I think he saw how close to snapping I was. We spent the rest of the day training very politely together.

Now: I was upset then, and remain unhappy, that I lost control to such a degree. Philosophically I should have stopped him earlier and said, 'Calm down, dude!'
But it worked. The guy not only has treated me with more respect, he hasn't messed around as much with other dojo members either - he's less dangerous. Sometimes he still breaks out a little, but not nearly to the same degree. I'm not sure that speaking to him would have gained the same respect.
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:40 AM   #2
Joezer M.
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Well, it isn't the best solution, but sometimes a show of force (or anger) would seem to be the only way when dealing with some people... Basically, you're saying: "If you don't play nice, we can be not-so-nice-and-maybe-a-bit-angry-but-not-so-much too", or, such as in your case: "I'm human, I have my limits, if you push me too hard I'll snap, and that wouldn't do any of us good"... It happened once or twice in my dojo...
Just my half baked opinion...

Regards,
Joezer

I AM in shape... Round is a shape...
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Old 04-05-2005, 09:25 AM   #3
Amir Krause
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Anger is an emotion too, just like love & hate. Anger is deeply routed in our system. Sometimes one should know to ride the wave rather then absorb it inside.


Amir
(I do not claim to be any better at this then the next man)
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Old 04-05-2005, 03:23 PM   #4
basil
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

I'm young, with a lot of miles; and new to the forum. This is important to me, though. Anger is an emotion just like any other, and the fact that it can be more easily turned into action by even the youngest child hints at it's strength. Look to the cause...is it simply anger, or is it fear? The answer to this seems to require us putting aside our ego, so be carefull where your immediate answer comes from.
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Old 04-05-2005, 03:44 PM   #5
"anonymous"
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

well, yes, it was scary. The guy nearly broke my elbow. That's not, however, why I posted the question.

Perhaps rephrasing will help: has anyone else ever accomplished something through anger, specifically in the context of the dojo, that they think would not have been accomplished otherwise? How much of a fluke was this?
Also, has anyone had a *negative* outcome from nearly losing (or actually losing) their temper on the mat?
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Old 04-05-2005, 04:25 PM   #6
Fiona D
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

anonymous wrote:
"1) has anyone else ever accomplished something through anger, specifically in the context of the dojo, that they think would not have been accomplished otherwise? How much of a fluke was this?
2) Also, has anyone had a *negative* outcome from nearly losing (or actually losing) their temper on the mat?"

To answer those in reverse order:

2) Fortunately not but, as a point of interest, our syllabus list in the Jiu Jitsu style I train in has a section on grading conditions, in which it is specifically stated that anyone who loses their temper during the grading will automatically fail.

1) Anger, frustration and general adrenaline can definitely be channelled constructively. I had a brush with this during my 1st kyu grading on Saturday. We had a line of ukes coming in 1 at a time with hard fast punches and had to defend ourselves using wristlocks only. All was going well until I completely failed to evade one of the punches, which got me square on the nose, causing a substantial cut, bruising & general nosebleed. As I received first aid for this, I was feeling very angry and frustrated - not with my uke of course, after all he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do! - but with myself for not blocking properly and with my nose for taking what felt like an eternity to stop bleeding. Anyway, I wasn't terribly aware of it at the time, but my ukes later told me that my technique was sharper and my evasions and atemi-waza much more decisive after I returned to the mat, and my facial expression during my other randori looked like I was harnessing some serious rage!
(I should add that (a) I didn't lose control and (b) I did manage to pass after all that....)
Also, in other gradings I've been able to use the adrenaline rush to do certain techniques & certain ukemi that I have a lot of trouble making myself do in regular sessions.
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Old 04-05-2005, 06:17 PM   #7
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Feeling anger and losing one's temper are not the same thing. Anger can motivate us to do some constructive and not necessarily destructive things.

Personally I would refuse to train with such a dangerous partner, and I would let him know why.

Jeanne
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Old 04-05-2005, 07:09 PM   #8
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

I agree with Jeanne. I find that sometimes my anger and "darker" sides rise to the top while practicing aikido, but lashing out against your partner is not the answer.

Anger on the mat is something I have to deal with. The answer is to look deeper within oneself to determine what triggered your anger. Is it fear of being injured? Then tell your partner, no matter their rank, that they are hurting you or came close to hurting you. Are you angry over a partner resisting you? Ask them what they are trying to show you. I've seen partners seem to get flustered over my ukemi and I tell them that I'm trying to resist but holding back out of fear of the ukemi as I'm still slow on the uptake in a couple of throws. Any how, it's interesting to notice that they slow down and stop acting frustrated with me.

If someone is acting out violently on the mat and hurting you, then that is something to worry about. Bowing out and telling your sensei is best thing to do. They might be having a bad day or the sensei might need to give them a serious talking to.

If it's dealing with your own anger, it's important to tell your own partner that you need to bow out and chill out for awhile. Sometimes I have senior ranks (sandans, yondans) who really push me past my limits. It's hard to cope with that at times. With the sandan, we've come to the understanding that when I say "I'm getting frustrated" that he knows it's my signal to not push any further, and I've learned to laugh at myself more than to take myself too seriously. Recently with the yondan, I just had to bow out to him, as I was really having a bad day and was at the point of tears because I just couldn't get past his resistance. I told him such and bowed out instead of acting out. He told me to let go but it just wasn't going to happen that night.

It's funny how a couple of thoughtful words helps ease conflict on the mat.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 04-06-2005, 05:24 AM   #9
thomas_dixon
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Quote:
well, yes, it was scary. The guy nearly broke my elbow. That's not, however, why I posted the question.

Perhaps rephrasing will help: has anyone else ever accomplished something through anger, specifically in the context of the dojo, that they think would not have been accomplished otherwise? How much of a fluke was this?
Also, has anyone had a *negative* outcome from nearly losing (or actually losing) their temper on the mat?
If he was as well an established Judoka as you say, wouldn't he have known to some degree how far he could apply a lock before the joint hyper-extended?

Did you happen to ask him if he ever competed? What his rank was? Or even if he could show you a few things?
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Old 04-06-2005, 08:45 AM   #10
Jake Karlins
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

[quote=Anne Marie Giri] I've learned to laugh at myself more than to take myself too seriously.

I really liked your post, Anne Marie. I totally agree about taking yourself too seriously- I'm working on this one too. My sensei talks about uke expecting to find a solid object(ie resistance) when s/he comes in, and not finding it (little or no resistance, like the tenkan rushing-through-a-door feeling). I think this connects. It's easy to get puffed up and offended about lots of stuff (especially for me ), but this doesn't happens so much if you can laugh at yourself- less resistance, less being so solid.
Also, I really liked the idea of taking a little time to regroup once you get frustrated. It takes courage to admit that (esp when it feels like we're all supposed to be so serene and enlightened-seeming ). I'd never thought of taking time to calm down (and communicating verbally with uke- also a good idea every once in a while!).
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Old 04-06-2005, 04:34 PM   #11
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Quote:
Thomas Dixon wrote:
If he was as well an established Judoka as you say, wouldn't he have known to some degree how far he could apply a lock before the joint hyper-extended?

Did you happen to ask him if he ever competed? What his rank was? Or even if he could show you a few things?
I have no idea what his rank was, or whether or not he competed. I don't know what kind of shape he was in while he did judo, but his body isn't very good now; he's legally blind (can't drive, can't read, can only see blurry white shapes for a partner),can't feel his feet, and has very bad knees and elbows; I suppose some of his posturing/lack of awareness of his openings and other people's bodies is because of that. I doubt very strongly that he could show anyone his old judo techniques without seriously injuring himself.

The incident I described actually happened a couple of years ago - I was just reminded of it by the 'anger on the mat' thread. Since then he's been calmer with me and I've learned to take advantage of his strengths in training with him.
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Old 04-06-2005, 08:01 PM   #12
NagaBaba
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Anger always is a weakness. It is a sign of incompetence. However, sometimes one can fake being angry for pedagogical reasons. Good instructors do it sometimes.
Quote:
I felt like he was being totally disrespectful of my body, my time, my training, etc. Finally he got me into one of the effective locks - I had to take some of the best ukemi I've ever done in my life to get out of it intact, but when the dangerous part was past I whipped around and was as close to punching someone other than my brother that I've ever been in my life. He was totally vulnerable (as he ususally is, though he dosen't seem to notice) and I could have done some serious damage.
Training on the eadge is a NORMAL mode of practice. Aikido techniques are dangerouses. There is nothing to be excited about.

Of course, it works on both sides, if somebody decides to push me to my limits, he must expect I will do to him exactly same thing. Such practice is difficult, but without that, one can't develop martial spirit.

As to vulnerability, I would be very careful. In a dojo where I practice there are some folks with great experience on street fighting. They are normally very gently, and make a lot of mistakes and are awkward to apply aikido techniques. Sometimes they enter in the mood of "fighting" and execute techniques in quite dangerous way. However, I would NEVER point out their "vulnerability". It is only our illusion, cos the techniques are prearranged, the attacks are prearranged, and all interaction is completely artificial.

I'm very grateful to be able to practice with them.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:40 PM   #13
xuzen
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Question: Is anger ever appropriate?
Answer: No

Question: Is showing emotion ever appropriate in the context of aikido?
Answer: Strictly my personal opinion - No. I strive to be Wuxin (no mind ) and Wuwei (No mindful action) during my mat practice.

Cheers,
Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 04-08-2005, 04:28 AM   #14
ian
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Your sensei should stop this behaviour. First tell the person, and explain that this does not aid training. If this doesn't help tell the sensei.

The dojo is for training. Some people say 'you have to be realistic' well this is just rubbish; they mean you have to be realistic within my rules. If they want realisim you could just hit them repeatedly and violently when they are partnered with someone else (which is more 'realistic').

On your point, I think anger is a natural reaction and can be useful (anger is often a method of telling someone just how serious you are about how you feel). However I tend to loose respect for anyone who requires me to be violent before they change their behaviour; it suggests that they will only conform to people who can dominate them, rather than doing what they believe to be correct.

Last edited by ian : 04-08-2005 at 04:31 AM.

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Old 04-08-2005, 04:32 AM   #15
ian
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

PS. Boon, would you not say that anger can arise from wuxin? After all it is a natural emotion.
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Old 04-08-2005, 06:45 AM   #16
"Different Stroke"
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
PS. Boon, would you not say that anger can arise from wuxin? After all it is a natural emotion.
Ian,

I read his line as he strives to train with wuxin (or Mushin, Japanese). I believe that techniques are not all he seeks at a dojo. Besides polishing his techniques, he is also polishing his spirit - disciplining his mind as well. The purpose of ones training is learning to be calm and relaxed - unemotional.

Am I right, Boon?

Different Strokes
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Old 04-08-2005, 07:13 AM   #17
"Different Strokes"
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:
Question: Is anger ever appropriate?
Answer: No

Question: Is showing emotion ever appropriate in the context of aikido?
Answer: Strictly my personal opinion - No. I strive to be Wuxin (no mind ) and Wuwei (No mindful action) during my mat practice.

Cheers,
Boon.
Boon,

You should come up to one of the dojo I attended. They have a 4th dan assistant instructor who would be a challenge to your wuxin and wuwei principles. Either you would fear being injured by him or be irritated by his BS lectures and techniques. The fact that he remains an assistant instructor despite his rank is because he might drive away all the students (which he did before), he is too lazy and good for nothing (always borrowing from students) to start his own dojo. His parents own the dojo. In his 30's, he now instructs under supervision by his parents. That too, he is a good for nothing son, always ridiculing his parent's instructions to the students.

DS
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Old 04-08-2005, 08:16 AM   #18
"Unresolved"
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

In my training, I've felt kinds of emotions - lust, indiference, annoyance, anger, joy, frustration, and that vague feeling that I am missing something important. The key is to keep those emotions from taking over, and to express them in a way that is helpful or at least non-destructive.

I'm not 100% up on the concept of mushin/wuxin, but from my understanding of meditation, the point is not to deny or repress thoughts and emotions, but to let them pass by, not to be controlled by them. In my opinion, if I'm not feeling some kind of emotion in my training then I'm not really there. I know that some people say you should leave all your "stuff" off the mat, but aren't we trying to train as whole people?

I mean, even if I'm angry with someone, I can still be respectful of them, still communicaite, still keep the dialogue open. The emotion is mostly a problem when it takes over and becomes all-consuming and disrespectful of others. Normally, it's just a part of ourselves that we should be able to live - and train - with.

And, if someone's behavior is inappropriate or destructive, something should at least be said/expressed about it!

(original poster from the "Anger on the Mat" thread).
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Old 04-08-2005, 09:20 AM   #19
cguzik
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Everyone will feel anger at one time or another, but it is what we choose to do with it that matters.

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
However, sometimes one can fake being angry for pedagogical reasons. Good instructors do it sometimes.
Szczepan has hit the mark with his statement: If I intentionally supress my response to someone else's choice, which has affected me, then I may be doing them a disservice. That is, it may be appropriate to let the person see how their choice has affected me, and by showing them an angry response, it may get them to think about how their actions affect others. Then again, there are times when someone is trying to push buttons or elicit such a response, and in those cases, refusal to let yourself become engaged in that game may be the most appropriate response.

Chris
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Old 04-08-2005, 09:32 AM   #20
jxa127
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Why the heck wouldn't anger be appropriate? The key is (as other have already indicated) what you do with it.

There've been a couple of times I've gotten intensely angry with my instructor. I've not done anything inappropriate, but silence (and maybe some scowling) sent my message pretty clearly. In each case he and I quickly talked it out and things got back on an even keel.

From time to time, I get angry to a lesser or greater extent with my wife, my coworkers, my boss, my parents, the president of the United States, my senators, my representative, the local township commissioners, rude drivers, my graduate school instructurs...well, you get the point.

But this is where I think the "philosophy of aikido" really helps. There's a book called "The Gift of Conflict" by Thomas Crum that really helped me put anger into a useful perspective. Crum bases his approach to conflict on aikido. He makes a few really good points. The first is that for anger to exist, there's some sort of connection, and that even if you go into another rooom, you're still connected to the person with whom you are angry (and visa-versa).

Once you recognize that connection, Crum states that you can approach conflict in a similar manner to how you'd approach an aikido technique. For instance, saying "you may be right" or "I can see how you'd feel that way" is like the off-balancing we do at the beginning of a technique -- instead of responding to a strike with a strike, we make a connection and redirect the incoming energy.

Anyway, read the book. It's good. I'm not sure that aikido is an all encompassing metaphor for all kinds of non-physical attacks (especially passive-aggressive behavior), but it can be a really good way to approach dealing with one's own, or another's anger.

In the same vein, but from a differnt angle, Ellis Amdur has written about using irimi and kiai in non-physical confrontations.

My experience, for what it's worth, is that a lot of anger comes from one person failing to meet the expectations of another person. Talking ahead of time to clear up just what those expectations should be is a good way of avoiding anger, but we all still get angry from time to time.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 04-08-2005, 09:35 AM   #21
Jake Karlins
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

I totally agree with your last point about mushin/wuxin, Anon. I think you have to slog through all that bad stuff (anger, frustration, confusion) to improve. I try not to grimace too much yeah, like that... I try not to grimace too much if I do get upset in class, but if I didn't show ANY emotion, I wouldn't smile when I was enjoying myself, or laugh either.
But then again, there's also a time for really serious training, no messing around, focusing extra-hard (seminars I've been to seem like this, really intense)- Xu, maybe you're saying you try to train this way all the time, and maybe you're right to do that, but that's not my style right now.
Still... Isn't striving totally contrary to the idea of no-mind? We're getting into religious/philosophical territory here, so it's a little sticky.
Also- almost as often as I've seen teachers serious or unemotional, I've seen them laughing and enjoying themselves (even while executing good technique). Think of all those pictures of O-sensei grinning as he tosses his ukes around like rag dolls...
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Old 04-08-2005, 09:57 AM   #22
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Starting a fight is really going against all of my rules as a person, but if it's the only thing to do, do it politely. To andwer the other question, I don't think anger is ever appropriate but it is ok to have fun while tossing people like balled up paper during randori (also a mispronounciation of "runned away")

Last edited by samurai_kenshin : 04-08-2005 at 09:59 AM.

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Old 04-08-2005, 03:21 PM   #23
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Anger is a natural emotion (as many have already said). The important thing is to recognize it for what it is and what is causing it. This requires some introspection. Once you accept the fact that you are angry and acknowledge the cause, it is important to remove the source that is causing the anger.

That can happen in many ways.

Simply letting it pass is one way. The event may be completely ego driven and be a temporary problem, such as someone cutting you off while driving. Putting yourself in the persons shoes that cut you off may help. Maybe that person is heading to the hospital, or had a personal tradegy that caused them to be distracted. We can then reframe that anger and remove it.

Another way is to confront it. Maybe the source is chronic and won't go away. Avoidance would cause us to lose something that is important. In this situation you must speak up for yourself and let the person know.

Maybe this "old guy" is feeling old. He doesn't want to get old and feels the pain of admitting he can no longer do what he enjoys. Not that his actions would be appropriate, but certainly seeking to understand his pain may help us reduce our anger.

Giving us the ability to empathize give us insight into how we can approach the individual allowing him to feel validated and understood. This in itself may be all he needs.

Another thing...after all this, the person may be truly "toxic" and not "redeemable". Then someone may have to confront him and ask him to leave. Even in this situation, we should be in control. You can feel good about yourself knowing that you tried to do the right thing. There should be no anger or guilt feellings since you handled it appropriately.
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Old 04-09-2005, 01:04 AM   #24
xuzen
 
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Quote:
PS. Boon, would you not say that anger can arise from wuxin? After all it is a natural emotion.
Ian, sorry I do not understand your question hence I have no answer to your question. So sorry.

Quote:
I read his line as he strives to train with wuxin (or Mushin, Japanese). I believe that techniques are not all he seeks at a dojo. Besides polishing his techniques, he is also polishing his spirit - disciplining his mind as well. The purpose of ones training is learning to be calm and relaxed - unemotional.

Am I right, Boon?
Dear Different Strokes, In a nutshell that above would sum my believe. However I beg to differ on the unemotional, the more correct term I chose to abide is unattached or rather non-attachment.

Let me put forth my understanding of wuxin and wuwei.

Wuxin (no-mind) leads to wuwei (non mindful action) leads to open mind leads to pliability leads to principle of ju as in Judo leads to successful execution of aikido/jujutsu technique leads to a happy me.

And lastly...
Quote:
Boon,

You should come up to one of the dojo I attended. They have a 4th dan assistant instructor who would be a challenge to your wuxin and wuwei principles. Either you would fear being injured by him or be irritated by his BS lectures and techniques. The fact that he remains an assistant instructor despite his rank is because he might drive away all the students (which he did before), he is too lazy and good for nothing (always borrowing from students) to start his own dojo. His parents own the dojo. In his 30's, he now instructs under supervision by his parents. That too, he is a good for nothing son, always ridiculing his parent's instructions to the students.

DS
Dear DS, run, run far far away.

Cheers,
Boon.

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Old 04-10-2005, 10:16 AM   #25
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Re: is anger ever appropriate?

Quote:
xuzen wrote:
...In a nutshell that above would sum my believe. However I beg to differ on the unemotional, the more correct term I chose to abide is unattached or rather non-attachment...
Same thing
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let the anger go, say it out loud Bruce Baker Spiritual 8 11-23-2002 01:39 PM


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