Can I get past my Ego?

Can I get past my Ego?

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Do I need my Ego in Aikido?

I recently have begun to examine my own ego to see how much it is preventing me from achieving peace in my own life and my Aikido.

To a degree, my ego has been my driving force when it comes to committing and perfecting the things that I choose to do.  I can trace it back to perfectionistic tendencies from early school days.  Wanting to be the first and the best in school is a sure sign of an imperfect mental make-up.

But surely there is something in this in that it has allowed me to perform well in school and given me the dogged determination that when I start something I have to be good at it.  I’m not sure that I have ever really defined “Good”, so I wonder what the end goal was really.

Suffice to say, I can truly appreciate how limiting my ego is when it comes to perfecting Aikido and moreover whether I can get past this.

So, my ego has been great motivation and a fantastic tool for allowing dogged determination but in the end is there a better way…

Sometimes in training I am faced with a truly poor performance of a technique.  Interestingly it can be something which I have much success in the past.  Unfortunately, this is where the ego comes into play and I throw myself back into the technique with the same mindset and continue to make a mess of it.  It can be quite frustrating as you know you have to reset but the competitive part of you continues to persist with the current mindset to no avail (the definition of insanity comes to mind).

I know I have to reset and start again, almost as if I haven’t begun at all and I have that fresh mind that is keen to practice something which I feel I am good at.  Can I get past this?  I’m not sure, but it would be lovely to approach each technique as though I am doing it for the first time in that training session.

So for me it is easy to understand the idea of a non-combative approach to training in which there is no winner and you can just enjoy the training.  In a sense, suppressing some parts of the ego with a general training philosophy is a good thing.  But where does it leave me?  On the one hand my ego has been highly beneficial in my pursuit of learning new things.  On the other hand, I believe that the ultimate goal cannot be achieved until I no longer want it.

However, all of this may just be attributed to middle age (46 now) and it is time to let go and just enjoy the process.  But I must be ever mindful that whilst this may be a good approach for me now others will be at different stages in their own journey and I cannot foist my idealogy onto them.

In the end it is only a set of words trying to describe a feeling.  Perhaps I should take up Knitting instead.

Love to hear a little on other peoples mental journeys…There is a comment section below


  • Corky Quakenbush

    Thanks for this inquiry! I have posted the following at aikiweb as well as here:

    I have been developing an aikido training model I call Aiki-Lab for the past ten years that is designed to eradicate the influence of “ego” during a conflict engagement.

    Instead of attackers providing collusive ukemi, which is necessary for the learning of “techniques” which are really just complex chains of elemental movements, in Aiki-Lab attackers provide authentic attack intention (without the intensity of a real attack to avoid injury during the learning process). This allows the attack to remain realistic in regards to the effects attack has on the central nervous system while the aikido partner learns to recognize the automatic hard-wired and conditioned defense responses that his body implements in reaction to the perception of threat. Through recognition of these involuntary reactions and the states of being that precipitate them, the state can be transcended to one of “beneficent intention” or compassion – really any state of love.

    If you think of ego as the part of the psyche that is charged with keeping the body (self) intact as long as possible while maximizing satisfaction and minimizing pain, it can be relegated to the background in order to express higher consciousness states like compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, etc.

    Aiki-Lab training reprograms the conditioned responses to perception of threat to come from a place where ego can still exist but not be calling the shots.

    When practicing this way, one soon becomes aware of how this training modality’s operating principle is masakatsu agatsu (when translated as “true victory is victory over oneself”) because the only time a “throw” or “fall” takes place is when that state of transcendence has been reached. The works throw and fall are in quotes because in Aiki-Lab practice ukes will never go to the mat unless the transcendent state is maintained throughout the engagement.

    We have seen that this practice method is actually conditioning the “letting go of ego.” It permits the manifestation of spontaneous aikido without any set form or “technique.” In fact beginners never learn any techniques, but over time start seeing the ones practiced in technique emulation models showing up out of the blue without any instruction or drilling of them. This practice mode also creates the embodiment of transcendent states in non-physical conflict as well as physical attacks.

  • lifestylemanoz

    Yeah, I think disqus was passing incorrectly

  • Hi Lifestylemanoz, I just clicked on the link and it took me to my article in Aikido Academy USA, Practicing Patience, anyway here it is again

  • rupertmja

    For me – getting rid of ego is getting rid of caring that someone is better than you, especially if they are younger or have trained less. All that matters is that you do it – even progress is not exactly the aim. You train, almost for no reason. Almost, not even for the purpose of getting better, just, in fact, to train properly, not even because it is fun, simply … because it is what you are doing right now, and there is no point doing anything unless you do it to your best potential no matter the level you are at. Of course, you will improve in anything if you just keep at it. But to worry and fret about it is of no use. As Nike would say, Just do it … From your blog – I’d say you get it.

  • lifestylemanoz

    Hi Carina, Thanks for your comments. Your link above is broken. Can you resend..

  • Hi lifestylemanoz, Aikido is really about fighting with oneself, your article is true, you are 46 , but I’m 58 and thinking alike, I had experiences about that lately, to not bother you with big explanations here is my article about it

    You know, what it is recycling in a new dojo and then go back in the old one and also back to the old form of doing aikido, because the peers of the old dojo didn’t evolve, I just went for a month and am now thinking what to do.