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Home > Training > Facing One's Internal Demons
by Chuck Gordon <Send E-mail to Author> - 7. Feb, 2002

Sometimes you are the breaker, sometimes you are the breakee ...
      -- Dennis Hooker

Here there be dragons ...
      -- Old maps, in uncharted waters

If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
      -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Budo training involves violence. Yes, even aikido. There is little more violent in this world than being hit with, well, this world.

Budo training is also about learning to step into that place and confront the violence, accept it, deal with it and learn to overcome it. Unless we come to terms with our own capacity for violence, we can never control it. We might deny it, hide it, run from it, but can never control it.

Budo training, to me, is ultimately about facing those monsters inside. It has been, for me, support, therapy, healing, exploration, education, entertainment and (quite probably) salvation. It has been agonizing, it has been glorious. It has torn me to pieces and left me shattered and has given me tools to make myself stronger, better, happier, more compassionate.

In an ideal dojo in an ideal world, we'd never have injuries on the mat. However, this is the real world and sometimes we do get hurt and sometimes we hurt those we train with. And if we have any shred of compassion or humanity, the injuries we do to others -- those who have placed their bodies and lives into our hands -- hurt us far more than those we injure.

What do we do? What should we do? Quit? Run away? Lay down sword and dogi and leave budo behind?

No. There are too many out there practicing what they call budo who are too eager to hurt, too eager to pervert this gift we have. Thank the gods for your compassion and fear! Use that to make your training even better, to refine your spirit, to enhance your relationship with your partners.

We owe it to those who have gone before, to those who teach us now, to our training partners and juniors to continue practicing, to continue growing, to continue using the tolls budo offers to become better students and teachers. Every lesson, whether its the joy of flying across the mat or the utter despair over having hurt a training partner is precious.

If you decide to quit training, do it because you have ceased to love the art, not because you fear your internal demons. Those damned beasties are a blessing in disguise. They offer up the chance to polish our spirits, make keener the blade of the soul.

And you might as well face them and tame them here and now, because ultimately, as the bikerdude in Road Warrior said: "You can run, but you can't hide ..."

Now, shut up and get back to training. You'll never find better therapy.

Who has been broken and has, sadly, done some breaking, too.
The Dojo

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