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Occasionally I will get (inwardly) frustrated during class, usually when I cannot seem to make heads or tails of an advanced technique.

After class I'll work with a senior student to practice the technique, but during class I sometimes get frustrated that I'm not getting it. This causes me to lose concentration on the instructor, which of course means I continue the trend :D

I'm looking for suggestions on how to effectively refocus my mind and let my frustration go in the heat of the moment. While I do want to be able to concentrate on the instructor, I am also concerned with maintaining a proper attitude during class, I think this is very important for the "sanctity" of the dojo.

To be clear, I have no external indication that I am showing my frustration, and I don't get frustrated often, but I'd like to train myself to deal better with these situations.

Thank you!

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All great answers, thanks everyone. –  Jeremy Nov 13 '12 at 18:59
    
You are welcome. Let us know if any suggestions were helpful down the line. –  Sardathrion Nov 14 '12 at 10:41
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5 Answers 5

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Your teachers do not expect you to get it right. They know you will get it wrong. What they expect is that you try. As long as you do that, you will progress. Focus on that.

Go back to basics. There are no advanced techniques: just a way to combine basics in an unexpected way. Take a step back and look for patterns that you know in the technique. Then look for the differences from those techniques that you do know. In other words: use your brain to figure out what is going on. Then let your body find its way around the technique.

Finally, do the technique slowly. No, more slowly than that! Maybe at a tenth of the speed. This allows your brain thinking time to let your body know what to do. Once you master that, your body will execute the moves much faster taking your brain out of the process: This is where skill comes from.

Otherwise, just chill out. Let go of your ego (do not be afraid to do techniques wrong!) and just learn. That is the number one proper attitude that sensei should look for in their students.

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That ego comment is key - a lot of times, we get frustrated because we believe "we should be better." That's ego talking, not pride. Don't stop getting frustrated by mistakes - that's fuel you can use to get better; but do let go of the belief that you should somehow magically be awesome right from the get go :) –  rjstreet Nov 12 '12 at 19:44
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I would suggest that you are losing focus because you are over-thinking what you are doing and putting too much pressure on yourself.

Relax and try to maintain a state of almost-no-thought - similar to how your mind would be during meditation, aware of everything but fixing on nothing. You don't want to be totally in this state, you still want to maintain enough focus to achieve the exercise at hand.
When you have de-tuned and cleared your mind you can then start to increase your focus on what you are doing. Once you've started this process, instead of focussing on just the moves, start to think of applications for the moves - focus on what you are doing with the moves rather than the moves themselves - this should help you assimilate the moves and memorise them a lot easier, all without trying too hard.

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I like the other answers, so read those first, but I wanted to throw more ideas your way.

I really understand getting frustrated when attempting a technique, new or old. It's the same frustration when your fingers hit a wrong note when playing an instrument. When it seems like all you can do is play wrong notes, who would want to continue!?

In that sort of situation, don't try to NOT be frustrated, because if you can't 'un-frustrate' yourself, you'll get MORE frustrated! See instead if you can channel that frustration into slow, total perfection (of course you may not achieve it, but the point is NOT to achieve perfection, but rather to get as close as possible in that moment). Concentrate on a single aspect of each movement individually - while accepting that certain aspects may not be of the quality you desire.

There are a few specific aspects of a technique you can concentrate on at once, before you put it all together without thought.

First is balance - throughout the technique, go very very slowly, and hold your balance as perfectly as possible. There is a walking style called Namba Aruki that should help you with this - one of the things they never teach you in Aikido (and other martial arts) is that the walking style is completely different than standard Western walking. It requires a lot more resting tension, but a lot less energy overall, since you don't have to catch yourself for each step. It's a lot easier on your knees, too, though ease into it at first.

Second is effort - often we'll hear that Aikido should be effortless. When doing techniques slowly, though, it's far easier to exert force and use muscles. Focus totally on reducing the amount of energy you're putting into the technique. Think about aspects such as levers and fulcrums and how they work in Aikido. Aikido (and a lot of martial arts) is ALL about levers, fulcrums, and using those principles to your advantage.

Third is Extension - this one is more interesting, because it involves tricking yourself. Remember that each move in Aikido is either Forward (Irimi), Backward (Tenshin), or Pivot (Tenkan). It's doubtful that you'll reach the point of perfection, only performing those three movements (the closest I've seen is a 7th Dan from Japan - all he did was in, out, and spin - literally nothing else, and people went FLYING). When doing a technique, a lot of people will be watching themselves internally and thinking, "ok, hand goes here, then pivot, then step". Instead, break it down into those three movements (in, out, pivot) and then when you have to do those movements, visualize that you can move a mile in each step - so you aren't just stepping forward, you're stepping through. And for pivot movements, visualize a cylinder with a belt around it - you move into the pivot point, holding perfect balance, pivot around an imaginary vertical that runs from the center of the earth to the tip of the sky, and then move on. But the pivot, the rotation movement, doesn't exist outside that pivot point.

I hope these ideas can help you with your practice, but no matter what, hard work and dedication will be what propels you to the next level. But remember, there will always be a new level to achieve, always something to improve.

Have fun!

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There's a chinese sign hanging on the walls of where I practice which means

Patience and perserverence. Tolerance and humility.

I've gone back to that phrase many times over the year, especially when Im getting frustrated about not picking things up quick enough.

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I understand exactly how you mean. For me there are on and off days where i could execute advance techniques on the first try, and then those days where i couldnt complete basic ones.

Times when i get lost, i would just step back and take big and deep breathes and after that slapping both my cheeks lightly but strong enough to feel a short sharp pain and then do a deep 'kiak'.

This basically wakes me up and help me concentrate. After a while, i've seen many students at my dojo imitating these. They confessed that at first they find it very weird when i do this, but after trying if they find that it helps.

The breathing part helps be relax, slapping cheeks wakes me up, and the kiai vents my frustration out. I hope its helps you.

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