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"Always train in a vibrant and joyful manner." Budo
"Practice at all times with a feeling of pleasurable exhilaration." Kisshomaru Ueshiba's Aikido
"Training must always be performed in an enjoyable manner." From the 1997 issue of "The Aikido" by Aikido world headquarters in Tokyo. Volume 34, #4. (Really, from the walls of the men's change room at our dojo.)
Unlike some of the other Rules, all the translations seem to be on the exact same page this time. We're making a commitment to being in the same room at the same time for multiple days a week, doing the same stuff with the same people. Why shouldn't we actually Not hate the experience?
We come to the martial arts promised a life changing experience. Most of us are hoping this will become a "way of life" - something we do more often, something we think about more often, want to feel more often to the exclusion of many experiences life could offer us. We're hoping to commit to a practice that pervades and influences the quality of our lives, for the rest of our lives. We are hoping this life changing experience doesn't change our lives negatively. And we should. We don't want a practice that robs us of our enjoyment of life.
I've been to the dojo where angry sanctions against a student for minor infractions are the rule and not the exception, and everyone is always on eggshells. Psychological and physical abuse is considered mandatory - usually by people who "already paid their dues" so they have authority sufficient to never be subjected to the treatment they hand out.
I've been to the dojo where the Sensei engages in marathon pontification at the front of the room while everyone else sits seiza. It usually looks enjoyable for the teacher and those "who drank the Kool-Aid." I've seen people who I swear think Master Ken's Enter The Dojo is a how-to documentary.
I've been to the dojo that plays Shikko Soccer, or has a number of tumbling games for young kids. Often adult class is much less oriented towards enjoyment - which means that I have seen only a fraction of kid class graduates who do well in adult classes when they hit their growth spurt.
Games can develop some aspect of certain martial art relevant skills. A number of martial arts went on to make games and competitions very important parts of practice. Competition in excess is no longer fun, and it changes the focus of practice. The game is the reason for training the art, instead of the game training a piece of the art.
There are excellent posts out there already about spending time in the company of abusive instructors and Toxic environments or how we may come to enjoy practice no matter the Discomfort. Googling "Abusive Martial Arts Teachers" today returned over 9 million results. Students may need to be challenged, but not degraded or injured. Break someone's spirit or body, they're a fraction of the martial artist they should be.
The remaining rules for practice already address other issues that may affect our enjoyment of Aikido practice - that we need to find our own way, that practice should be health promoting, that the people we associate with should be sincere and moral individuals.
I never started training just to have fun. I have many reasons that I can give for training, but really this would be why I train now. But, what would I have said ten years ago to someone who said, "I just want to have fun." Such a frivolous answer, clearly not a serious student! How dare they!