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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 Four


As we consider Bill’s case, we find that he will go through the typical coping mechanism identified by Kübler-Ross. Bill will resist. He will tell his doctor to rerun the test because surely there is some kind of mistake. As the doctor assures Bill of the accuracy of the test and as Bill grasps the reality of the situation, he will become angered. Bill will ask himself, "Why me?" He will tell himself that he hasn’t does anything to deserve this form of punishment. Bill envisions dozens of friends and coworkers that have worse behavior and less concern for their health than he does. So, this disease should befall them, not him. Being in a highly perturbed state, Bill will take action: he will change his diet, workout more, quit his job, start a drinking binge or some other pleasureful or deleterious activity. He will expend energy and occupy his thoughts with one or more activities in an attempt bury the reality of his predicament. Upon depletion of physical and mental resources, Bill will appeal to a higher power. He will bargain with god or with himself for a way out of his predicament. Upon realizing that miracles form in the imagination of youth and are unwittingly maintained in adulthood (and in Hollywood), Bill will move out of his self-delusion and discover the erroneous nature of his thinking of an appeal to a higher power . At this point, he will enter a state of depression. In a state of physical inactivity and emotional despair, Bill will question his belief system and analyze his worldview, and in doing so, he will raze definitions, justifications, and explanations of how he views himself. This is the most dangerous stage for Bill, because this is the most debilitating stage and he may fall back into denial and start the whole process again, or he will vacillate between depression and denial or between depression and some other stage. However, the strongest personalities who have spent a lifetime questioning their belief systems and who have devoted great effort into developing a generous way of life, will spontaneously and effortlessly accept their situation. These trained personalities will readily accept new events or circumstances, such as learning of Huntington’s chorea, and move on with the positive aspects of their lives.

Aikido provides a framework in which to train our mind and our body that constantly "reframes" our way of viewing the world. As we meet an attack spontaneously and with no mental effort, we will meet the challenges and vicissitudes of life with similar grace, using Aikido as an effective coping mechanism. Even situations which would put great stress on the belief system of a strong personality, such as losing a limb or losing a loved one, are accepted by the trained Aikidoka as an opportunity for positive growth.

Are any of us going to contract Huntington’s chorea? Probably not. Nevertheless, we will experience events and circumstances that challenge our worldview. We should welcome the challenge with acceptance. Because in the end, we all share the same fate. Living is like climbing a mountain to reach the moon. Since we can never reach the moon, it doesn’t matter how high we go or how long it takes us to get there, what matters is that we enjoy our climb.


© 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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