1. Simple Story

"You move too much to be effective." Tamura sensei softly shouted at me. "You need to give your opponent a clearer target to strike at."

We were in the middle of studying how to defend ourselves from multiple attackers in an Aikido class for senior students in Japan.

Five ...1. Simple Story

"You move too much to be effective." Tamura sensei softly shouted at me. "You need to give your opponent a clearer target to strike at."

We were in the middle of studying how to defend ourselves from multiple attackers in an Aikido class for senior students in Japan.

Five young college students rushed at me once again, and once again I struggled to cope with them.

"OK, take a break." Tamura sensei said. "In order for the five attackers to actually hit you they have to first reach you. Your job is NOT to run away from them. You need to create a spacing that leads them to all try and grab or hit you at the same time. Think of the attackers as needing to pass through a gate. If they all try and rush through the gate at the same time they will block each others efforts. Move less, do less, and be calm. Give them a clear target that they all reach at the same time."

I had heard similar remarks in the past, but accomplishing this in the heat of the moment requires a moving calmness that takes a while to get the hang of. You know in your head what you are supposed to do, but once your heart starts beating faster and your opponents are bearing down on you, you find it really hard to believe in what you are being told.

"Think of it this way." sensei said. He pulled out a cloth that he used to wipe away his sweat and said, "Here, take this away from me."

As I grabbed for the cloth, he more or less handed it to me. Just as I was beginning to get a good hold on it he let go of the cloth and grabbed onto my wrist and placed me in a painful hold. I immediately let go of the cloth, and he picked it back up with one hand as he continued to keep me subdued with his other hand.

"You see." he said, "I am not defending the cloth, I am defending myself. Better to give you the cloth, and then I have both hands free to do as I need."

"When you move less you offer your opponents a clear target. When you offer them a clear target you will be able to understand how they are wanting to attack. They will attack you in the same manner you reached for my cloth. Confident they will accomplish their mission, because you have made it easy for them. At the last moment, just as they begin to strike or grab, take the target away from them. They will be surprised, and you will have the opportunity to do whatever is necessary."

He got up and invited the five students to attack him. He moved very little, and it was as if he was making each one of them thread themselves through the eye of a needle. Just ever so much of a movement made by him, made them just miss their target.

"This is what happens often in our every day life." he said. "You feel like you are faced with a daunting task, and you make your task harder by moving about needlessly and losing your composure. Breathe deeply, be calm, and know the right moment will present itself to you if you have the faith to wait. Don't force the issue, and don't force the timing. Trust in the moment, and trust in yourself. Take the initiative by doing nothing."

*I offer this simple story in memory of Iwao Tamura, who passed away a little more than a year ago. He was a fine teacher, and a fine human being, and I was blessed to have studied with him.

2. Further Thoughts

My Aikido practice has been a rich source of learning for me. The lessons learned in class have been instrumental in helping me understand how to better cope with life's many challenges.

One of the things I regularly notice in my work with people is that they often get themselves upset and feeling less than fully confident, as part of their preparation for facing a daunting challenge. I can't tell you how many times I have seen people in companies get together for a needed session of brainstorming and they begin by stating how difficult the task at hand will be. This is a sure fire method for draining the creative energy of most people. We would do much better to follow Tamura sensei's advice. "Breathe deeply, be calm, and know that the right moment will present itself to us if we have the faith to wait." And yes, just as I have often found out in my own Aikido practice, knowing what one "should" do, and actually doing it are often two different things.

One of the main tasks that we teach people about in Seishindo is how to enter into a state of living calmness. We often say to people, "Don't begin until you actually begin." By this we mean, don't prepare yourself for a daunting task by getting yourself overworked and nervous. Take the time needed to calm yourself and only begin your task once you are feeling this calm feeling exuding from you, out into the space around you. How to do this? Through ongoing practice. You can begin by making sure you are calm before beginning tasks that you have confidence in accomplishing. Once you get the hang of starting simple activities from a calm perspective, you will find yourself more able to do so when beginning a more challenging task. You get ready for the task at hand by breathing deeply, calming yourself, and waiting for the right moment to appear. Move less, do less, and wait in calmness. Your creative thoughts can only catch up to you if you slow yourself down and give your thoughts the opportunity to reach you. When you calm the body, you calm the thinking mind. When you calm the thinking mind, you will begin to experience creativity and confidence emerging.

You ARE capable. Give yourself the opportunity to excel by trusting in the moment and trusting in yourself. Wait calmly, and you will find that the necessary answers appear before you. Little by little... with lots of practice... and endless patience. Only move when the moment is right. Breathe deeply and begin at the beginning.

Author's Bio: 

About the author:
Charlie Badenhop is the originator of Seishindo, an Aikidoinstructor, NLP trainer, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapist. Benefit from a new self-help Practice every two weeks, by subscribing to his complimentary newsletter "Pure heart, simple mind" athttp://www.seishindo.org/