“No Pain, No Gain” is Against the Grain

植芝盛平(Ueshiba Morihei, 1883 - 1969)

植芝盛平(Ueshiba Morihei, 1883 - 1969) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meet Karl Geis, (10th dan aikido, 8th dan judo, 9th dan Jyodo) who says, “When we endure pain for the sake of enduring pain we oppose nature. The true art of aikido can never be found in an atmosphere where pain is a part of the practice.”

Wait.  Pain is against the grain?

I recently read about an “ultimate” aikido program where pain seemed to be a rite of passage.  Oxford poet Robert Twigger,  joined the brutally-demanding, year-long  Tokyo Riot Police course in aikido budo training.  One of the results was a book called Angry White Pyjamas. His approach to pain during the harsh, daily physical training was philosophical.

He explained that much of the course was about:

  1. coping with pain,
  2. losing the pain,
  3. experiencing pain
  4. getting the pain under control

“If you train until you faint you lose the pain element.  If you stop when it hurts you may be doing the safe thing, but you are not commanding your body, it is commanding you. There may be a time and a place when your life depends on who is in command,” he says.

I’ve thought about this a lot and my current relationship with pain looks like this:

  1. it IS a relationship, and like all relationships, requires some conscious decision-making
  2. there is some level of pain that just goes with the practice
  3. efforts to ‘avoid pain at all costs’ usually result in pain
  4. pain associated with practice is just part of the path and not something to endure simply for the sake of being seen as a tough guy.

What’s your attitude toward pain?


One Response to ““No Pain, No Gain” is Against the Grain”

  1. It is interesting to see what happens if we don’t make it ‘my’ pain and don’t bring in a lot of mental commentary.

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