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Aikido and how to learn from failure

We live in a historical moment in which we believe that the top for each is success. So we do our best to win, to be a successful person… and to spend at the best out time to get some big results.

When we join a martial art club, an Aikido class for example, we think is very important to be a “good” student, and to do our best to not disappoint teacher’s expectations. I think this is a pretty normal and often unconscious process: the teacher is there to point us the way to ride… should be something of very stupid to not pay attention to his/her experience and do things following only the voice in our head!

But as the external environment of course become important (Sensei, Dojo, uniforms, ranks, etiquette, etc), we start to experiment some sense of frustration, because is not always easy and fun to stay on the path we
choose. Sometimes we feel acceptable this sense of frustration, other times probably will not… and we go home with a lot of conflicting thoughts in the head: “Why I’m feeling like this? Why I failed in those exercises? Why the Sensei corrected/appealed me in that way?”

So frustration could become an important issue, that normally follows our human activities and relationships… and of course Aikido will not make exception from this dynamic.

But in a life in which frustration is so common and heavy, why to engage ourselves in an activity like Aikido, who gives us more and further opportunities of frustration?!
The question is good, now let’s explore together some possible and interesting answers…

The stress, seen like and heavy and unwanted stuff, is often called “distress”… but when it is something able to help and support us to get our personal goals… is called “eustress”: so the “stress” is something that can polarize in two different objects… and one of these – the second one – is not so bad, if you think a bit!

So, from stress is also possible to learn something, if you know how: actually I define my Aikido classes “a place in which is possible and useful learn how to fail”, just for this reason.
A place and a time reserved for us for doing good mistakes… and learn from them. To be nice, successful is good and to follow your teachers’s guidelines is fine too… but all the difficulties you will find on you own way will probably be the best Sensei of your life!
Just listen to them, instead of just hating and disappointing the moment in which you feel yourself under pressure.

What is the problem: fear? Inconclusiveness? Inability? Frustration?
Welcome aboard to the most beautiful and full of sense carousel ride… called “life”!

Look at the past, and study the lives of all the persons that build our history: are there humans being who never met something of hard and difficult… or are there who were able to surf on the big obstacles they’ve found?

Have you never thought that the greatness of a person is often misused on the ability to deal with difficulties?
It’s not a sentence, but simply a positive relation with conflicts and be ok with the perspective of failure in itself.
Doing an exercise, any exercise… we deal with expectation (of doing it “right”), with judgement (have I done it “right”?), with projecting outside something that comes from inner world: this process could be very difficult, heavy, painful, stressful… inspiring, liberating, lovely, deeply sane… at the SAME TIME. So, probably is not really matter of “failing” or to “get wrong”, but mostly about the perspective under which we perceive these experiences. And how to blend in the best and helpful way with them?

Just LISTENING to what could be judged “a problem”, without loosing the sense of the choice: we choose to let ourself stay in a process, sometime not easy, but always useful.

It’s important to not forget that we choose to stay there, probably because the most hidden and deep part of us already knows that there is something of sane in being there… something that is not possible to explore without being there.

So, also if is not always easy… try to thank each time you feel yourself “a looser”, because this require to be really brave at the same time… and the brave is you!
Facing the stress, the failure… you will deal with a part of YOU that probably you don’t know yet… so, at the end of each process, you will know better and better yourself.
There is an old sentence which says: “In the world there are no enemies, and no friends… but only teachers”… I’m starting to think trough the practice of Aikido that is really like this, and more…
… each time I failed and I feel myself knocked down and disappointed by my experience, probably I’m only trying to teach to my self the best and quick way to be a better person.


Marco Rubatto

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