I recently attended an Aikido seminar, where the Shihan (Master Instructor) who was teaching relayed a maxim that he was taught, which goes “Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World”. That statement struck me as it applies to Martial Arts training. I often tell the students at Aikido of Nebraska that if they really care about their training partner, they must try to “kill” them. Really. No Aikido student wants to train only to find out that his/her techniques don’t really work because they never got real attacks when they were in the dojo. Thus, in the dojo, the student must focus on delivering accurate and true attacks to his/her partner, so that they may respond appropriately. The student is not truly doing technique if they never got attacked “for real”.
In the modern world, with ever-increasing demands placed on us from work, kids, commuting, spouse, etc. it is a true gift to come into the dojo and do nothing but work on yourself. It is a true maxim that what you put into your training is what you will get out. The real trick is to make training more and more difficult for yourself. You need to get more precise with your footwork, connect better with your partner, shift your balance more precisely, control your emotions better, and have your partner deliver increasingly difficult attacks. In this fashion, as you are able to handle the increasingly difficult training, an attack on the street will seem easy by comparison. And guess what? Your real-life stresses will seem easy by comparison as well.
Now, this strategy requires some common-sense as well. You need to increase your difficulty along with your ability to do the technique. A beginning student cannot expect to take a real attack from day-one, and expecting too much of your performance will only get you frazzled and burned-out. However, over time, “Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World” is an excellent strategy to become more successful in and outside of the dojo.