View Full Version : Should I go back? Need advice.

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Peter Wong
08-25-2007, 01:03 PM
This is a bit embrassing for me, but here goes.
I first started Aikido over ten years ago. I like to think I gave it an honest try. I would go to class 3-4 times a week and I did this for over four years. But I just couldn't get it. It was always one step forward, two steps back. The problems were that I'm very, very tense. I move like Frankenstein. I hold my breathe alot and...my Ukemi is pitiful. My unbendable arm seems to collapes as soon it touches the mat. It got to a point that some of the other students told me and/or the teacher that they perfer not to partner with me, because I was very uncooperative. That and it was getting harder and harder to get up from the mat (I"m an AARP member). I start to slowly stop going to class. It's been about five years since I've gone regularly. I have gone back many times thinking to myself I"m going coincentrate on relaxing, I"m going to breathe deeply, I'm going to keep that arm unbendable. But each time it only lasted for about 20 seconds and I was back to my old self.
So should I go back to class again or am I just hopeless and should just move on. Your thoughts...

Many thanks,

Mark Uttech
08-25-2007, 01:38 PM
Your life is your koan. If you keep going back to the same dojo and the same thing keeps happening, you should know by now that if you keep going to the same dojo the same thing is going to happen.Maybe if you take a little side trip into studyng Naikan therapy, things will blissfully come to an end. These are my reflections.

In gassho,


Ivan Sekularac
08-25-2007, 01:38 PM
Go to the classes again... your breathing was a result of stress and frustration... take it easy and enjoy yourself... don't over think it just do what you are asked and relax... in Aikido, as in many other things, repetition is the key to success...

Ulises Garcia
08-25-2007, 01:48 PM
Hello there, Peter. I have a couple of thoughts. If after 4 years of training you still felt like you couldn't get it, I think I would blame your teacher. It seems like he was not guiding you properly through your "stiffness" (and through the art). After all, it's not practice what makes perfect. It's perfect practice, what makes perfect. So, probably you need to look for another dojo. Secondly, perhaps the fact that your sensei didn't know how to break through to you made you feel more tense, making matters worse. Third, at some point you must have enjoyed your training. If you didn't, your chances of "getting it" would be even smaller. So, unless that one was the only dojo in your city, I'd recommend looking for another one...


08-25-2007, 02:08 PM
I would say if you truly like Aikido and want to learn, don't quit just beacause you are having difficulty.
My guess would be that you would not be here asking this question if you really did not want to go back.

So go back, relax, realize you are in it for the long haul and take the journey 1 step at a time.

You may want to consider the advice of looking at a different school. Maybe visit a few and watch classes and see how the instructors deal with people who are catching on slower, having difficulties or are just older.

As for students not wanting to partner with you, that is a problem with them that the teacher should address. I'm sure that everyone of them that does not want to work with you you, would not be where they are now if not for someone working with them.

08-25-2007, 02:38 PM
I'm more or less with those above.

If you enjoy the training then keep on going... if you just *want* to enjoy the training, but really don't, then stop.

Aikido is great fun, but it isn't for everybody and there are many other really cool and very satisfying things that you could be doing with your time instead.

That said, it's important to keep in mind that there is no 'end result' in Aikido. Ask ANY good teacher how they feel about finally knowing it all and they'll probably drop dead from laughing directly at your feet. It's really all about enjoying the process of learning, of having a regular practice that you take pleasure in and that helps you to grow as a person and just generally improve the joy you take in your life.

For me Aikido practice has been pretty good at all of that, but a lot of other things have too and you've really got to be honest with yourself. If Aikido isn't fulfilling those goals then you should find something else that will, if however it *is* but it's just *tricky* to figure out then hell... try not to sweat it as you're just like everybody else.

Good luck sorting things out!


08-25-2007, 03:17 PM
AARP? Aikido Against Real People?

As card carrying AARP member, welcome back.

Learning to relax the mind, not just the body, is IMHO the actual discipline of Aikido. If you choose the hang in there long enough, you will get it too. See, we old dogs can learn new tricks.

08-25-2007, 03:57 PM
Hmmmmm....Well... Why not try it one practice at a time and let your experiance be your guide. :)

William Hazen

08-25-2007, 04:10 PM
The change has to come from within. I know lots of people who can't relax. It's something no teacher can give you.

My advice, if you think its important, then do it. If you think it's not important to your life let it go.

Four years is a large investment of time. If haven't gotten it by now repeating the same things over and over again arnt going to do it for you. You should (if you want to learn to relax) let go of all notions you have. Including "This time I'm going to relax", because holding that agenda is not relaxing either.

If you have children think of how you pick them up. If you draw or paint think of how you hold the pen or brush. If you ski think of how you let your body ride over the bumps. When you're in a car, I'll bet you don't sit there ridged and bounce around in your seat. But you don't have to think "relax in the seat".

08-25-2007, 04:29 PM
Sounds like my body experience and I'm not an AARP member.

Roman Kremianski
08-25-2007, 06:05 PM
If you been doing this for 4 years and nothing has worked out, then I doubt any "Keep going, don't quit" advice would do you any good. Maybe some people weren't meant for Aikido?

Kevin Wilbanks
08-25-2007, 06:49 PM
4 years. Something is wrong. It could be you, or it could be the dojo. I have been to several dojos where there were so many people grabbing so hard and resisting throughout throws that I never would have learned to relax if it was the only place I had ever trained. It sounds to me like finding another dojo is the next thing to try. If it's not about Aikido and you really want to learn to relax more just for life purposes, you might want to seek out something like Feldenkrais or the Alexander Technique, or even theater groups that do contact improv...

08-25-2007, 08:03 PM
Always go back. Never stop training. In spite of what some people may think, aikido is for everyone. The point is to continue training, without goals and without thinking about yourself or progress. You can do it.

08-25-2007, 08:34 PM
I move like Frankenstein. I hold my breathe alot and...my Ukemi is pitiful. My unbendable arm seems to collapes as soon it touches the mat. It got to a point that some of the other students told me and/or the teacher that they perfer not to partner with me, because I was very uncooperative.

I think you have a low self esteem and you let what people say/think about you influence you deeply, this student/teacher who told you they prefer not to work with you can go to hell dont let people's opinions waste your 4 years of hard work I agree with the previous posters and think that there is an issue with the dojo you go to and you need to find another place plus you realy need to work on your very low self esteem man.

Jess McDonald
08-25-2007, 09:36 PM
Dude, I don't think that's very cool to say someone that they have low self-esteem. That's not your place and I doubt it's what the threader wanted in posting such an honest piece. Not cool dude not cool. :straightf

Anyhoo, go with the gut, always...it's the force communicating with us!!! Good Luck and keep your head up; there's always got to be somebody out there that's worse than you!! :D ;)

Roman Kremianski
08-26-2007, 12:00 AM
Always go back. Never stop training. In spite of what some people may think, aikido is for everyone. The point is to continue training, without goals and without thinking about yourself or progress. You can do it.

Way to keep it subtle.

08-26-2007, 06:27 AM
I think trying a new Dojo is a good advice, maybe even another style of Aikido?
I've attended a Ki-Aikido seminar where the teacher paid extra attention to relaxing and demonstrated all sorts of exercises they practice to improve on that field, stuff I didn't run into yet in my 3 years of Aikikai, Just for example.

There are allot of different teachers and approaches out there, find one that fits you.

Mary Eastland
08-26-2007, 07:54 AM
Perhaps, Peter, you are comparing yourself to others. Are you more relaxed than when you started?
Some people will never be really relaxed. But if you are different than when you started.... Aikido is for you, too.

Nick P.
08-26-2007, 04:38 PM
Spoiler ahead for subtlety-seeking posters.


And keep going, no matter what anyone (here or on the mat) might say.

Remind yourself why you started in the first place; if that interest/spark/love still exists within you, you owe it to yourself to keep going.

Carl Thompson
08-26-2007, 07:00 PM
What does aikido improve in a person?

The problems were that I'm very, very tense. I move like Frankenstein. I hold my breathe alot and...my Ukemi is pitiful. My unbendable arm seems to collapes as soon it touches the mat.

Surely these are all reasons to do aikido. The very fact that these things are difficult means you need to improve them. Correctly taught and sincerely studied Aikido improves relaxation, movement, balance, ukemi and all of these things.

Having evaluated yourself, all you have found are reasons why you should go back to aikido in my opinion. There's no shame in the length of the path you have to travel. Others should help you walk it. You haven't identified anything you are doing wrong other than poor attendance due to an accrued lack of confidence.

You can do something about that, but in addition, as has been suggested, I would recommend that you also evaluate these things:

Training partners

You may have to find another dojo, or maybe just adjust your mindset. Gamanryoku (patience/endurance) is also a part of aikido training. Another thing to think about is that as long as you are sincere, you will be helping your training partners, even if they don't realise it. We need to be able to blend with everyone, not just the smoothly-flowing super-skilled people.

Good luck.


Marie Noelle Fequiere
08-27-2007, 09:38 AM
I suppose that no school (and no Sensei) is perfect. During my training in Shotokan, I reached black belt and I often taught classes. I had all kinds of students. Elderly, deaf, mentally retarded, children with ADHD. I was not a very good teacher, and Sensei was adamant that anything that went wrong was my fault. I made mistakes, but I would have never thought of asking a student older that me to be as fast, alert and flexible as the young ones.
Sensei would have never tolerated a student refusing to pair up with a challenged one.
Now that I have been training in A´kido for almost a year, I took a test in May that I failed. I too have my own issues. I cried, but I could not believe the support that I received from the other students, including those who started after me, and improved faster than me. I am slowly improving, but, more important than that, I love what I am learning, and the new friends I made.
I do not think that my A´kido Sensei would tolerate a student refusing to pair up with a challenged one either.
A martial arts school is a big family, and we are expected to help each other. This is part of the training.
Talk to your Sensei. Maybe he is not totally aware of what you are facing. If he doesn't seem to be helpful, maybe you should try another school.
Being like the others is not the point. I love the American Army slogan: "Be all you can be". If you can do that, you are a winner. You do not need the other people's appreciation. You are training for yourself, not for them. And if they cannot help a friend, this is a big problem that they have.

jennifer paige smith
08-27-2007, 10:25 AM
You should realize what the universe is and what you are yourself. To know yourself is to know the universe.

_ O'Sensei

I think that making friends with your tenseness would be a good thing. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
I used to have a real problem with embarassment. I couldn't stand people watching me and I woud blush the moment I said anything that was really from down deep. I would just break out in Razberry! People would comment and laugh, "gosh, you're turning red. You're embarassed.". Hmm, that didn't do a whole lot to help, reall,.but it was the typical response.
Well, I can tell you, I still have very deep feelings of embarassment and exposure. I still turn red like tomato. It still makes other people nervous and laugh. But I ust smile and look at my emabarssment like afriend I have come to know better than others. "Yes, I always blush" I say and smile. "I turn the color of a beet in the drop of a hat".
Somehow this makes everyone more comfortable and it puts embarassment in a place that I can be with.

08-27-2007, 03:59 PM
Some dogs are just not trainable... those are the ones you have to shoot... ;)

Seriously, if you're are convinced you will fail, then it shall come to pass. If you have implanted copious amounts of tension, then you will have to face it. The best suggestion I can make is for you to explore other schools, other teaching methodologies, perhaps even other arts. Drag in no preconceptions, and just feel things out. As you encounter situations that seem more comfortable, your confidence will increase, and you will loosen up even more. It's a journey, and not everybody takes the same route.

08-27-2007, 04:19 PM
There is an old sayin', "It's not that the student don't wanna learn, it's the teacher who doesn't know how to teach".
Therefore, you had your experience, and it left you a deep empty hole full of guilt, where the problem was never you.

You, such as me and other members around the world, has their inner resources that they can reach and use in time of need it.
The question is, why can't you reach deep inside and turn that knob on and let it burst out. Whatever happened in the past, leave it in the past, and that's just about it.

Now your inner resources will guide you where you need to, and begin with a small research from people here, that may leave in the same area as you do. Ask them which Sensei can really project the essence of Aikido, and which one less.

Mabye all you need is a small group where the attention will not be lost in the crowd of Aikidokas', letting your self really asking your Sensei in time of problem or unknown situations and get that attention you mostly didn't have had.

keep it up man!

Janet Rosen
08-27-2007, 09:08 PM
I'm going to add my voice to those suggesting a change of dojo. Not every student clicks with every teacher, teaching method, dojo culture, etc. It may be that you just have not found the style, teacher or dojo that lets you learn.

James Davis
08-28-2007, 10:02 AM
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't...

...you're right."

Stewie Griffin

jennifer paige smith
08-28-2007, 10:06 AM
I'm going to add my voice to those suggesting a change of dojo. Not every student clicks with every teacher, teaching method, dojo culture, etc. It may be that you just have not found the style, teacher or dojo that lets you learn.

Me, too.

Amelia Smith
08-29-2007, 03:39 AM
Me three.

Try another dojo, and maybe take a yoga class once a week if you want to do extra work on relaxing. Mind you, I've met some pretty tense yoga practitioners in my day, so it's not a magic bullet, but might be worth a try.

Ron Tisdale
08-29-2007, 06:56 AM
I really like the suggestion of yoga. Try that for a while. If you have no health issues, make it a rigorous style of yoga, like bikkram or ashtanga. Something that is relatively fast past paced, and that stresses a lot of weight bearing postures. Perhaps working yourself hard in that format you will start to relax while your body performs hard work. This is a difficult thing to do for quite a few people, myself included.

As to the other stuff, I really don't know you well enough to give really personal advice.


08-29-2007, 08:49 AM
The fact that you are thinking of going back after such a difficult experience makes me think that perhaps there's something in aikido that's calling to you. So, I think it's worth giving it another try, but rather than rush right into the dojo, I'd do a few things to prepare.

1. Get into a routine of doing some non-impact exercise on a regular basis first. Aikido may be for everyone, but it's a helluva lot harder on people with poor aerobic fitness and really stiff bodies -- and if it's your only form of exercise, it will be harder for your body to recover well from the inevitable tweaks you get when training aikido. Do something that will get your lungs and heart going, and that will help you to get used to using your body again, increasing your range of motion, etc.

2. Look at other dojos. Just go and observe some classes. You might find somewhere else more congenial, and if you do, there's no shame in moving on.

good luck with it,

Eric Webber
08-29-2007, 08:49 PM
I would suggest some creative cross-training: Alexander Technique, yoga, Gestalt therapy techniques (focusing your mind on the stiffness, viewing it as a stuckness, and figuring out how to let go of it), then take these into the dojo with you and do them while training.

Recommend not telling yourself what you're going to do, but rather what you are doing right now. (Reflection on your post from above)

Turn your 20 seconds of relaxation into 21 seconds today, 22 seconds tomorrow....

Boblyn Patton
08-29-2007, 08:55 PM
Hello, Peter. :) Please know I don't in any way consider myself particularly worthy of replying as I'm very, very new to Aikido and therefore can't relate directly to the amount of time and dedication you've invested in this art. But I can relate to being tense and rigid and having questionable ukemi, and progressing slowly, and I truly, utterly believe in what I've been taught so far, and that's that aikido is meant to be practiced joyously. There is always good-natured, spontaneous laughter in the classes I attend. (I'm sure this has nothing to do with my being a complete clutz and dodo... :p ) In all seriousness, I wouldn't have made it even this far if it weren't for the atmosphere of my dojo. This being said, with what information you've given, I can't help but agree with most of the folks who've posted. Some of the greatest joys come from being able to accept and embrace our differences and perceived "hang-ups". I honestly cannot imagine stiffness or rigidity being just cause for fellow students and especially a sensei to refuse to practice with you. You used the word "uncooperative". Is this the term your sensei/fellow students used? To me, this word implies that you weren't trying, and I think it is unjustly applied to you. Anyone who dedicates 3-4 days per week for four years is definitely, most certainly and undeniably trying his/her hardest, and that in itself is highly commendable, to my way of thinking. I can say with utmost certainty that no one, not the Chief Instructor or any of my Sempai would ever, ever seek not to train with me just because I wasn't fluid or having a hard time getting up from the mat or not catching on quickly, or because of any other problem I might be having. (And, believe me, I have some problems... :blush: ) If you don't feel accepted at your dojo, then I will be so bold to say that maybe the true spirit and intent of Aikido has gone a little awry.

I wish I could be more helpful. The only other thing I can think to say is to consider exactly what attracted you to Aikido in the first place, and if it still truly offers what you're ultimately seeking. I can't tell if your desire to return is for Aikido's sake or for the sake of conquering what you perceive as a past failure. Maybe what you're really looking for is meant to be found at the end of a different path. At the chance of really making a fool of myself, let me suggest that maybe your dojo/Aikido as a whole is your ultimate uke, so to speak? I'm not sure if it's possible to enter and blend with all opponents, but there must definitely be a certain type of energy there that creates a lot of resistance in you. If you can go to this dojo and feel truly glad to be there and be a part of it, looking forward to going to classes, then I think there's a chance it could work. But if you go and feel sunken or defeated and truly are not happy to see anyone there, then there's got to be another dojo; a fresh start for an old journey...?

I hope I don't seem puerile or contrived. It's just the thought of someone putting so much effort into something that's not meant to instantly gratify and instead is ultimately to be pursued for a great length of time and not being supported is really disheartening to me. Please know I truly hope that whatever your decision, you find relief and assurance.

09-04-2007, 09:36 AM
I think your problem might be not being able to see your progress. I always say to my students, "If I could take a movie of your the first day of class and compare it to a movie of you six weeks later, it would show how much you have learned" but it is difficult for the student to see this improvement.

You might want to ask your sensei for some feedback when and if you do go back. You might be surprised that he/she sees improvement in you. As for relaxation, maybe it's something you can work on. You're looking for self improvement, so don't compare yourself with others.