A lot about Aikido training is about pattern breaking. The fight or flight response is automatic. People who train to fight are honing that natural instinct. This is fine, but leads to different ends. A really great thing about Aikido training is it can be tailored towards whatever it is you’re trying to achieve as a mindset or as a physical skill. I’m at a place where I’m trying to break the patterns of the lizard brain, which are automatic. If the signals that it’s sending me are automatic, without my conscious thought, and I’m acting on them, aren’t they, in a way, controlling me? In Aikido we can work on overriding these signals. Our techniques are designed against the will of the lizard brain. Our lizard brain doesn’t like them. One thing the lizard brain doesn’t realize is that we don’t, thankfully, need its help much anymore. In a few cases, sure. If you’re dodging a bullet, saving a child from walking in front of a bus , or running from a wild bore, I suppose listening to it would serve you well.
It’s not only the patterns of the lizard brain we can work to break. We can also try to break the patterns of sloppy technique, balance which is off, mindset while training, etc. Maybe you’re not very martial and are trying to do be more technically sound. Whatever they may be, these patterns we should be trying to break come natural. They don’t leave easily. If you train the same way, comfortably, every time, you do nothing but ingrain those patterns. The dojo is a perfect laboratory for this, but can be done off the mat as well. Recognizing those patterns and intentionally breaking them, replacing them with new ones, is where it’s at.