The last few class we have taken the gloves off aikido progressively by putting the boxing mitts on. Whilst tsp tempting to go 'all out ' with each other to se if the art stacks up the problem with this approach is that our form tends to break down and ecome brawling and also the injury count increases. Thus the strategy with these classes is to progressively step up the stress on nage whilst maintaining form.
Physiological and psychic stress in humans is now quite well understood thanks to research on combat and law enforcement (not much experience here), psychophysiology (I used to do this) and evolutionary biology (my undergraduate days coming back to haunt me) and skill acquisition and performance understress with elite athletes (my current area of professional intreats using technology).
Robert Winstons 'Human instinct' is a fascinating view of how our bodies behave and why. Citing the savannahs of Africa why freeze, fight and flight strategies can be better understood we understand how and why our body responds that way we do. UNderstanding doesn't always mean we can do anything about what our bodies are doing but we can at least control our fear
'On Combat' by Grossman details in extraordinary detail what happens to soldiers and with little know facts like the fact a high % of them wet their trousers despite being highly trained.
From Psychophysiology we know that the eye doesn't perceive movement in the centre but from the peripheral vision and that 0.3ms is the time it takes for the brain to see something happen and tell your body to do something. Also we know that to speed this up the brain (frontal lobeanyway) can be bypassed and things happen by reflex. Thus explaining why we practice something all class but then whence do tanninzugake it all goes out the window
How we learn our aikido skills is as important as et skills we learn to ensure they are robust under stress, something well understood by elite athletes and the subject of a forth coming blog.
So what happens under stress, probably you already have a good idea if you have a narrow miss or a traffic accident, have to do some public speaking, sit an exam, have a job interview or ask someone out on a date. The body prepares itself for fight or flight, blood is retracted from the limbs (to stop bleeding if that get cut), adrenaline is dumped into the blood stream and thus shaking may start and you lose fine motor control, respiration goes up (you can control this through breathing exercises deepening on the state you want to achieve),you may experience auditory exclusion (be unable to hear), tunnel vision as the body shuts down your peripheral vision and mentally enter a heightened state where everything happens in slow motion (or very quickly)., here are what soldiers report.
Sometimes call operant conditioning, sometimes stress inoculation special training can be undertaken to prepare people for life and death encounters (and perhaps the reason why special forces have almost as many accidents training as in live scenarios). This kind of training needs to be carefully controlled - the literature is replete with old ladies having to be pulled off protectively suited up veterans as hey enter a primal state and become extradorinarily strong.
My interest in these series of classes is not to enter this black zone but to just step up our training a bit as a means of improving the robustness of our kata and understanding of the origins of our art as a battlefield art.
We have been able to explore ikkyo under stress of body contact, multiple stirs and attackers. Next time i hope to suit up with helmets to obscure our vision, increase respiration through physical exhaustion (not too much but a little bit), wear boxing gloves to limit fine motor skills and for those that bring mouth guards along a bit more body contact. probably will explore using the urea side and iriminage
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