“We were having a discussion after training one night as we most often do and began discussing the importance of continuous stress training, not only of the body physically but also mentally. In order to have any technique actually be useful we need to be able to deal with stress.”
We train by putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone and on the spot and over time we will develop the ability to handle stress and stay calm. This is a skill developed from patience; it is not simply something that a person is going to be naturally brilliant at. (I’m sure there could be exceptions out there.) We need to be tested randomly and without prior notice in varying situations with varying and unknown attacks. I’m not talking about belt tests either, we need to test ourselves in a non programmed routine way where we are put under large amounts of stress from unknown or multiple attack situations. We need to have the basics down well enough that it is our first instinct to put the attacker on the defensive instead of them attacking you. I’m not just talking about the basic techniques that form the aikido curriculum either; those can be learned by anyone at any time if they put some effort into it. (Of course I’m not talking about the Aiki refinement of them, that’s a different topic). I’m referring to martial basics that include proper body positioning from different attacks as well as practicing taking the initiative so we are not reacting to attacks since our reaction time is too slow. The martial basics will be of more use to saving your bacon if developed properly. By taking the initiative and moving to the proper location you can effectively take the balance of your partner and neutralize any attack they may have been trying to do. In turn not only is this excellent martial training it also makes Aikido techniques much more effective since you will have effectively destabilized your attacker, thus giving them no base to conduct a proper counter to your movement.