I’ve caught a couple of episodes of the series, ‘Surviving the Cut’ http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/surviving-the-cut/ and learned about the brutal training these Special Forces soldiers go through, in the comfort of my sofa.
One thing I learned is that everyone has a limit. And these trainings bring these solders to the very edge of their limits. More importantly, these limits are often in our minds, sometimes these limits are beyond the physical conditions of our bodies.
There were so many of these Special Forces candidates who gave up, unable to break through the challenge. They are not up to their physical limits, but the mind thinks so. The incessant punishments tortures the body to a level where the mind capitulate. This is where the flesh is willing but the mind is not.
We also face mental limits in the dojo, as in everyday life. We try to close a sale, and we think that the clients are not keen. Once we think this way, we attract reason to support it, even if this is the least helpful thing to do. It is a timeless paradox, the paradox of ‘reverse psychology’, which I learned in school that there is actually no such thing as ‘reverse psychology’. What happened is that we allow our minds to attract what the mind wants, which is not necessarily what is the best for the situation. The mind always think, ‘what if’ ‘suppose’ ‘imagine’ ‘yes, but’ amongst other things. The mind, like all entities want to survive, but what happens is that the mind is selfish, not knowing that there can be a greater chance of survival had the mind work with the body. The mind, more often than not, will sacrifice the body, or anything deem fit to ensure its survival.
One obstacles that is ever-present in these Special Forces course is water. In drown proofing, many candidates passed out from oxygen deprivation. That is the mind is willing but the body can longer function physically. This is the same as mental limits? The difference is subtle, The earlier example, the mind gave up, before the body, the body still possess the capacity to continue, but the mind broke.
In this instance, the mind continue, but the body gave up. The only way out if more physical conditioning. then again of course there is only so much we can conditioned, until the auto-save, survival instinct kicks in. try to hold your breath and aim to hold it for 30 minutes. if your mind is strong, you can push until you pass out, what happens after you pass out? you start to breath normally again. There you have reached your physical limit.
We have to understand our limits, mental and physical, I injured myself rather badly in a arm-lock because i could take the pain, but the arm can only travel so much before the ligaments, the sinew starts to stretch and tear. So i can ignore the pain, and this comes at an expense.
Aikido is about reality, as in many martial arts, if you cannot go on, admit it, face it. there is a limit, don’t push it when you are not ready. Aikido is not Force Recon selection, we can always try again some other day. That is the forgiving part of Aikido, we come to peace with our limitations, accept what we cannot do, at the same time, giving ourselves time and opportunity to stretch our limitations, at our own pace.
Aikido allow ourselves to fail, accept failure as part of our existence, and allow us to face our failures. If we fail, as in those Special Forces selection, we fail no one except ourselves. The Special Forces fraternity don’t really care if one trooper failed the course, but it mattered to the trooper who failed to get into the fraternity. So it is the same thing, if you ‘fail’ in Aikido, you practically fail yourself, but the difference is, you can always come back and face your failure again and again and again.