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Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


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Using Aikido as an Effective Coping Mechanism
by James Loeser

  Page Three


Aikido, literally, the way of harmonious blending of internal, life energy, provides a framework enabling us to retrain our mind. First, we turn unrecognized movements into the effective, natural movements that Aikido is predicated on. Second, we turn cumbersome mental processes into flowing, effortless thoughts, also known as having a "mind like a mirror." Third, we learn to integrate or "blend" our natural, flowing movements and thoughts with another person’s movements and thoughts, in other words, we blend our Ki with theirs. Fourth, we learn to effectively join the two life energies of the attacker and the attacked into one inseparable extension of universal energy. Thus, when attacked, an experienced Aikidoka spontaneously responds to the attack, joining energy into a positive, peaceful resolution of the initial conflict.

The trained Aikidoka translates his prudent reaction to an attack and blending into an extension of universal energy to everyday situations, including worldview altering predicaments, such as learning of a debilitation, degenerative illness. By doing so, he responds to the attack on his worldview expediently. The trained Aikidoka is aware of his surroundings at all times, never dumbfounded by unanticipated situations, and while the situation may be completely unfamiliar, the equanimity of the Aikidoka is omnipresent. Of course, composure and equanimity is cultivated by many years of intensive training and self-sacrifice. Thus, over time, the experienced Aikidoka has retrained his mind and no longer thinks conventionally, i.e., he does not follow the steps outlined above in a worldview altering predicament. When the trained Aikidoka meets a personal struggle or situational conflict, he jumps directly to acceptance, and, by doing so, he eliminates struggle, resolves the issue spontaneously, receives a revivifying charge of self-existence, and carries on with the positive aspects of our life.

On the other hand, an inexperienced person meets an attack in much the same way a undisciplined mind greets a worldview changing experience, such as losing a loved one or contracting a debilitating illness. The untrained individual will struggle against the attack and use force against force to try to maintain his original position, similar to the first stage the typical coping mechanism: denial. The untrained individual will attempt to resist the changing situation, which is a futile endeavor given the nature of the mutable world and the reaction of an inflexible mind. When resistance fails to produce a desirable outcome in the confrontation, the inexperienced individual will experience anger, the second stage in coping. This angered state of the inflexible mind arises because the inexperienced person is perturbed and confused at how the situation came to be. So the untrained mind will attempt to change the situation back to the way it was –an impossible endeavor, given the ever-changing nature of reality. However, an angered mind acts irrationally; and an irrational mind acts irrationally, which in turn drives the body to act similarly. The body’s energy reserves are limited; and when the body acts irrationally its reserved are quickly consumed. As the body’s reserves dwindle, the perturbed mind attempts to process the situation. Thus begins the third stage: bargaining. Given that the body can no longer effectively cope with the situation in its exhausted condition, the mind attempts to figure a way out of the situation. The untrained person will attempt to attract his attacker with some kind of offer to resolve the situation, for example, give the attacker money. This often times fails because the attacker will make his intention known before the attack; if he wants money, for example, he will ask for money and upon refusal take it by force. Alternatively, the attacker may not want anything material from the defender, as is the case with vendetta, and no bargain can be negotiated. Upon realizing the futility of bargaining, the untrained mind will fall into a state of depression. At this point, the untrained individual will succumb to the attacker, and the individual gives up completely. This is the most dangerous time for the untrained person, because he is at the mercy of the attacker and of the situation. However, the untrained individual may spontaneously and effortlessly pass to acceptance, at which point the individual reconstitutes himself and in his situation. Nevertheless, this is not a way out of the situation; rather, it is the "reframing" of the situation: a new view of the world through the eyes of a reconstituted individual. At this point, the individual finds the benefits and fortuitous circumstances of his condition, in other words, harmonious conflict resolution.

(Continued on Next Page)

1999, James Loeser.  All rights reserved

James Loeser has his M.S.from Northwestern University, in Biotechnology - Specializing in Medicinal Chemistry /
Bioinformatics. He is a student of Aikido and a dental student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
(C. Matrasko as uke)
1978 C. Matrasko

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