This past month we’ve been working on some self-defense applications of basic Aikido principles. We practiced lowering our center (“get heavy“), extending our energy (“mule kick” and “exploding”), and blending (“wet blanket”).
As we focused on escaping from a bear hug from behind we learned that it’s important to be persistent as well as tenacious. Those two words are key to your survival in the event you are ever assaulted.
Persistent means that you never give up. You stick with something until you get it. It can be frustrating when something doesn’t come easily, but by being persistent (sticking to it) many times you are rewarded with success. This is extremely important when you are defending yourself. As long as you can move you can do something to help yourself escape. Don’t ever give up, keep trying.
Tenacious means to hold firmly, to never let go. It’s another way of saying persistent. I think of a fish caught on a line as being tenacious. It does everything in it’s power to get off the hook and back in the water. When defending yourself you must be tenacious to help yourself escape. You must do whatever comes to mind with all of your might and keep doing it until you escape.
The mind is a powerful thing. What you think about you bring about. That means the mind leads the body. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself or escape from someone your mind is going to determine the outcome. Train your mind to be persistent and tenacious and you’ll succeed.
Luckily we can train ourselves to be persistent and tenacious through our everyday lives as well as on the mat. Practice persistence by setting goals, making a plan to reach them and then sticking to it. Be tenacious when working on a problem, struggling with a conflict, or trying to do something physical. Give it your all no matter what it is and you’ll see results.
Teresa Mastison Sensei
There’s a time and place for everything in your training. But remember to take each moment of training as that – training. There are times when we slow things down. We break down a technique, work just one aspect, or do the technique over and over and over. And then there are times when we are moving so quickly through technique that you feel there’s no way you’re getting anything out of it. Both of these times can provide valuable training opportunities.
I learned many years ago that I had to let go of the idea that I really only learned something if I could do it at my pace. I got easily frustrated when we moved onto something else and I wasn’t ready. I got equally frustrated when I felt we had worked a particular technique so much that there seemed little more to be learned. Both these times, in hindsight, showed me that I allowed myself to get distracted because it wasn‘t going my way. I still get this way occasionally, which means I need more training and not just in Aikido.
How you move, how your uke responds, and how it feels are the things to focus on when you are going slower. It’s almost harder to feel successful at a slower pace because momentum is not as big a factor. You really have to concentrate on what you are doing and not so much on making your uke fall. It’s good to go slow as it gives you the opportunity to internalize the technique and learn what really makes it work.
Seeing the big picture and how everything works in concert is the focus when going faster. When things move along at a quick pace then that is the time to focus on fluidity, continuity of motion, paying attention to how momentum factors in, and blending. It’s easy to get frustrated when things get going too fast, but that’s when you can make real progress. Take a deep breath and blend with whatever is coming at you and just go with it. Easier said than done, I know, but a worthy goal to be sure.
Regardless of what level you are at in your training everyone can gain something by keeping their minds open and taking advantage of the various speeds of practice. Dismiss frustration by focusing on what Sensei is asking of you and empty your mind of preconceived notions. Allow yourself to see each training opportunity as another opportunity to grow.
Good luck in letting things go and blending with whatever comes your way.
Teresa Mastison Sensei