087) Acceptance in the Moment: December 2011

Aikido is not an easy art to do well.  We have so many preconceived notions and so many “hard-wired” reactions to events that simply get in our way of doing Aikido well.  It seems to be a never ending battle in discovering how these notions and reactions are messing us up!  It is then an even harder battle to reset the notions in our minds and the reactions in our bodies.  We feel so good when things go right and so frustrated when our minds and bodies do not listen to what we want them to do.  Anybody who thinks that Aikido is a quick and easy way to defend one’s self is truly not of right mind!

I think that one of the biggest notions that needs to be discarded is the one that somehow views a conflict/fight as being apart from our relationships with other people.  This “unwillingness” to work within the confines of that relationship deprives us of a very important tool in our Aikido arsenal.  A fight/conflict is nothing more or less than a type of interpersonal relationship, regardless of whether you want to consider it as such.  The nature of this relationship is dominance-based (inequitable power relationship).  One party wants to be the dominant partner, with the other partner either contesting that position or acquiescing to that position (fight or flight response alternative).  The aggressor has both a pre-conscious and conscious expectation of receiving the anticipated feedback previously described (fight or flight).  If the aggressor does not receive that anticipated feedback, it becomes like the proverbial monkey wrench in the gearbox.  Our ability to positively connect with the attacker has disruptive impact upon attacker which we can then use to our obvious advantage.  I wrote about this process more extensively in a previous blog:  July 5, 2009 Blog .  When you can begin to accept that the attacker is simply trying to enter into a relationship with you, you can begin to see the wisdom of connecting with positive energy.  If you are stuck in the idea of  “this this really happening to me,” you are not in the moment and are not capable of accepting the invitation for the relationship.  The ability to enter into a relationship on your terms in a positive manner is helpful in any kind of relationship.  It seems to be more important that this occurs when the stakes of the relationship are higher.

Changing the nature of our movements tends to be the hardest obstacle.  I view this problem as relating primarily to the way in which our bodies are designed.  Muscle groups that articulate movement tend to exist in pairs in which muscles designed to primarily move something one way are matched by muscles designed for the opposite direction.  For example, our biceps are designed to pull the forearm closer to the body, while our triceps are designed to push the forearm away from the body.  There is a dynamic interchange that exists between these two muscle groups.  Force in one direction sets up the reaction for movement in the other direction.  When two people are connected to one another, they act within that reactive and complimentary system as though they were one mechanism.  The remarkable thing about this process is that we begin to move our bodies in reaction to force in ways that we would not do so without those same forces.  Those reactive movements tend to be less efficient and effective actions, which is not a good process when involved in a fight.  Learning how to move our bodies differently takes a lot of work.  Simply finding someone who can teach you how to move differently is hard enough.  Of course that means that we are entering the controversial field of “Internal Power”…..  The controversy in reality, exists only to those who don’t realize what they don’t realize.  When you learn how to move your body differently, you need to “rewire” your movements, first in absence of external forces and then adding in external forces.  You gradually gain the ability to be in-tune with the incoming forces on a real-time basis, while not allowing those forces to disturb you.  The attacker has expectations at a conscious and pre-conscious level as to what will happen with forces exerted on another person.  The next step that the attacker takes is predicated upon anticipated feedback from the initial forces.  When the attacker does not receive the anticipated responses, the attacker is suddenly behind your movements in time.  You are moving while the attacker is still waiting for anticipated responses in order to effectively respond to changing circumstances.  In other words, the attacker is now on the defensive.  This is a very nice place for the attacker to be…..

Being in the moment takes an awful lot of work integrating the psyche and body to operate in a manner that is not only unexpected, but in a manner that is most effective and efficient in getting the job done-> ending the conflict/attack.  We will try and focus on these aspects of our art as a means of evaluating how we have progressed over this fruitful year of training.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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