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Old habits reappear
Fighting the fear of fear
Growing conspiracy
Myself is after me

James Hetfield – The Frayed Ends Of Sanity

A few years ago I went through a quite big change with my direction in aikido. Again and again I found myself falling into old patterns every time I would encounter a problem. My desire to throw my partner made me use my body in a different way than what I was trying to achieve in my change. I did not know what to do to be able to study the new way to use my body. Every time I had the most use for the new way was exactly when I ended up forcing my way through, to prove that I could do it (both to others and to myself).

The solution I found, to be able to proceed with my new way of practice, was to change my whole philosophy around what I was doing on the tatami. The effectiveness of my waza had to be completely down-prioritized. I would have to accept being unable to do the throw on certain partners (actually most partners in the beginning). This was a quite heavy blow to my pride. After some years of being used to throw people, admitting that I can’t is really hard. However, it gave results, after a fashion.

By studying in a more objective way, with myself and my partner as research specimens without any measure of success or failure, but rather finding out what happens in different situations the way I was using my body changed. However, I lost something in the process. I lost the structure of my body in the process of becoming more soft, but that might be a story for another day. I lost something more subtle which I have been thinking about a lot lately.

When we decide to do something I believe two things are working in our mind together. The intention of doing it and the wish to do it well (and show that we are able), the ego. The pure intention of extending the arm is something by itself that can be a very powerful ally. However, the expectations of unrealistic results and the wish to do it well will disturb the state of the body and the mind, thus sabotaging the extension of the arm. The ego and the intention is bound closely together. When I was training in the way I did my ego became less of a problem, but the intention was weakened. I would like to separate them so I can keep a strong intention while letting go of the ego.

I would like to be able to guide the partner naturally with my intention without having any expectations of the result. The picture is from the seminar with Endo sensei in Púchov July 2012. Photo by Tomas Svec.

Actually I had a very interesting experience doing Gracie jiu jitsu yesterday. I encountered a problem and I ended up falling back to my old way to use my body. The form we were doing was different so I am not used to do this form with the new way of using my body. Being conscious about it is at least a starting point to adopt a more soft way of moving in these forms as well as the more familiar ones.

So back to the separation of the ego and the intention. If I do the extending the arm exercise I will need exactly this (the one in the picture below). I need to let go of the fear of failure and at the same time having a strong intention to be able to extend the arm.

One of my favourite exercises to separate the ego and the intention. From the seminar with Endo sensei in Púchov July 2012. Photo by Tomas Svec.

It is also very important for me personally to take control of my ego. I think incompetence is curable, but arrogance is not. I would not like to be a puppet to the ego, but I would like to have a strong intention. So the separation of the intention and the ego is something I would like to work on in my keiko.

Enjoy your practice! Aikido make people happy!