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*****help*****
03-18-2010, 08:33 AM
is it just me being useless.... or is this a common thing
i've been practising for about 7 months now and feel in some classes that i am/feel worse in my execution and understanding of techniques than after the first few months of training.. i know 7 months training is nothing but surely things should be starting to feel slightly more natural...?? techniques just seem to be getting harder, even though the same as 7 months ago...
my main noticable difference is my core muscles have increased substantially and i understand principles slightly more, but just have a harder time in execution??? help!

dps
03-18-2010, 11:11 AM
is it just me being useless.... or is this a common thing
i've been practising for about 7 months now and feel in some classes that i am/feel worse in my execution and understanding of techniques than after the first few months of training.. i know 7 months training is nothing but surely things should be starting to feel slightly more natural...?? techniques just seem to be getting harder, even though the same as 7 months ago...
my main noticable difference is my core muscles have increased substantially and i understand principles slightly more, but just have a harder time in execution??? help!

You have hit a plateau.
It is a common psychological problem that may happen throughout your Aikido training.

Definition of plateau.

" Plateau -- is a transition stage, which is only a temporary stagnation phase where the rate of improvement in learning is at the minimum. With appropriate corrective measures, this stage can be overcome. The duration of plateau stage varies from person to person.."

The above quote is from Dr. Smt. Jolly Ray, a Scientific Officer at the Sports Authority of India, Bangalore.

It is from a Hockey Coaching course of the Karnataka State Hockey Association, Bangalore, India chapter 12 titled " Mental Toughness"

If you read the whole article it may help you understand and solve your problem.

http://www.bharatiyahockey.org/gurukul/class12.htm

David

Rob Watson
03-18-2010, 11:35 AM
is a common thing

I've found at about 6-8 month cycle where things get worse then they sort themselves out and fall into place.

I think what is happening is over the course of a few months we gradually acquire new abilities and integrate more different elements into our movements and at some point we get over loaded with just too many elements and that results in a getting worse as we try to balance all these elements in an new or higher level.

There are so many things going on and sometimes we get a bunch of them just so at just the right time and things really seem to 'click' while at other times the timing or coordination is just slightly off and things fall apart.

10 years into it and it still happens on this 6-8 month cycle for me. I see it similarly happen to others. Even sensei goes through cycles it is just harder to see the 'slip' and sensei is able to recover much more quickly (like milliseconds).

See my blog about the moon cycles as a way to systematize dealing with the ebb and flow of things. Just one more straw to load up on the camels back.

ninjaqutie
03-18-2010, 12:01 PM
I think it happens to most people, if not everyone. This has happened to me a few times, but I haven't felt that way long. Usually it is just a class or two. Last night I felt as if nothing was working for me. I got frustrated and then just let it go. That seems to work for me. The more I got corrected last night, the more I tried to let go of everything. Just try to do what he said and didn't worry about the outcome. I figure I will get it right in due time. My body just needs to digest it all. Sometimes the digestion of the material is quicker then others. Last night my digestion of material was at a stand still........ it was UGLY!

James Davis
03-18-2010, 12:31 PM
When techniques are difficult, you're learning. When things come easily, you're doing something you already know how to do. When you struggle, you are progressing. :)

chris crull
03-18-2010, 12:53 PM
just keep training; you'll get past it, and then it will happen again. just keep training.

it could also be that your fellow aikidoka sense that you are improving and are not being as easy on you.

lbb
03-18-2010, 01:36 PM
It's a common enough thing. It's when most people quit. It's what sorts out the people who can be comfortable in the discomfort zone, from those who can't.

BWells
03-18-2010, 01:45 PM
I highly recommend Sensei George Leonard's book Mastery. It deal directly with plateaus.

Good luck and good training
Bruce

phitruong
03-18-2010, 02:29 PM
is it just me being useless.... or is this a common thing


so you are expecting to be less useless, right? that's the problem, right there! i, on the other hand, whichever the other hand that's not the other hand, have not experienced such thing. every time i show up at practice, i told myself that i am useless, that way i start at the bottom, thus, no longer need to look down, but up and work my way up. most folks believe that they are useful which when confronted with the possibility of being useless would crumple their fragile ego, which results in quitting, giving up, years of aiki therapy (which involves joining the local bjj :D and talking smack about aikido), and so on.

so here is the short answer: you are useless (just like me) and will be until the day you are no longer walking among the livings (zombies are pretty useful bunch).

Rob Watson
03-18-2010, 02:43 PM
(zombies are pretty useful bunch).

Don't even get me started on zombies!

Seriously though one thing that has happened recently a few times is my jo feels totally alien. I can tell my jo from any other simply by touching/picking it up. At least three times in the last 4 months when I picked it up it just did not feel right and I could not do any techniques/kata without fumbling. The next day no problem.

I has been very unsettling to have something so familiar feel so completely 'wrong'.

Ron Tisdale
03-18-2010, 02:45 PM
(zombies are pretty useful bunch).

Not against fire!!! :D

Nice post!
B,
R

Eric Winters
03-18-2010, 03:30 PM
It will happen the rest of your aikido career. It happens to everyone who is actively trying to learn. I have been training almost 20 years and I am just now staring to get over a plateau lasting 2 or 3 years! This admission of mine will either make you feel better or really depress you.:) I hope it helps you and makes you feel better.

Best,
Eric

Eric Winters
03-18-2010, 03:32 PM
I highly recommend Sensei George Leonard's book Mastery. It deal directly with plateaus.

Good luck and good training
Bruce

Great book!

aikidoc
03-18-2010, 06:40 PM
When plateauing focus on basics.

SeiserL
03-18-2010, 08:21 PM
Agreed.
Plateauing common.
Relax, breathe, and focus on basics.
Leonard's Mastery is excellent.

Eva Antonia
03-19-2010, 04:02 AM
Hello,

oh, how I know this plateau issue. I think I pass half of a year on such plateaus, and sometimes I doubt that the level of the plateaus increases or if I always fall back to the same low level.

Currently I have the feeling I just emerge from such a plateau, and it is just now that I will have to travel a lot so cannot really benefit of this deliverance.

What happens when being on a plateau?
- I am horribly awkward and completely at a loss when new techniques are to be done
- The techniques I do already badly when being in good shape (like yokomen uchi tenchi nage) go completely astray.
- I stop every dynamic technique
- Techniques I normally do well (all grab-and twist techniques) work less because I am in the wrong position, forget tenkan & tai sabaki, bend my arm, don't step out of the line or do anything else to find myself in the wrong distance.

Very reassuring to read that this will continue throughout the entire aikido carreer!!! :confused:

Best regards,

Eva

crbateman
03-19-2010, 05:29 AM
You can look at a plateau in different ways. It might be helpful to think of it not as a frustrating obstacle to your progress, but instead as a resting point along the way, where you can relax, refocus, review the basics, and renew yourself for the next opportunity to continue the journey.

Anita Dacanay
03-19-2010, 06:13 AM
It's good to read from the experienced people that the plateaus will continue to come and go - yay! lol

It was indeed exactly 7 months after I had started practicing that I reached that first plateau/crisis point. My internal dialogue included a lot of stuff about how badly I stunk at Aikido and why was I fooling myself that I could ever be a martial artist, blah blah.

Then I had to question WHY I was training, and get very clear about my personal goals. If the goal was to be better than somebody else, some other random person who was "better" than me... well, that was a pretty ego-based and pointless goal, I concluded. There will always be someone who is better than me - a whole lot of someones!

In the end, I think I got back to the fact that practicing Aikido is something that I enjoy in the moment, whether I am doing it well or doing it poorly. Of course it is frustrating on the days when I can't seem to get anything right, but it is frustrating for good reason: because Aikido is not easy to learn, and because it is very valuable to learn.

So, to quote Dory from "Finding Nemo" I decided to: "just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

dps
03-19-2010, 06:41 AM
When plateauing focus on basics.

It is a part of getting your mind and body to work together efficiently. You do not learn linearly or in a straight line of progression. You need to circle back now and then to review the basics and how what you have learned fits in with them.

David

Michael Vlug
03-19-2010, 07:14 AM
Hi Anita,

My thoughts (and experiences) exactly! :p

Rob Watson
03-19-2010, 11:12 AM
When plateauing focus on basics.

Just this morning sensei reminded us to always start with basics and end with basics.

Basics are not something to return to but are constantly present in every moment - when we lose sight of the basics we falter.

Recovery from plateau is when we 'rediscover' the different elements of the basics and are able to integrate more of those elements into a single whole. Lather rinse repeat. My 2 cents to share.

*****help*****
03-19-2010, 11:34 AM
wow... well when i say i want to stop feeling useless, i really mean that i want to try and feel more confident with the basics and not feel that every move is still unnatural after 7 months.. i realise this could be a long process after your comments lol...
i'm by no means uncoordinated and have probably improved to an extent but its such a weird feeling thinking about breathing, leg work, moving offline, keeping centre, taking uke's centre, posture... blah blah... i get so frustrated sometimes that even walking through things can seem imposible.... :(

Walter Martindale
03-19-2010, 02:03 PM
My most recent plateau started about 2 months before my nidan test, lasted right through the test (late November) and may be clearing now, but I'm not so sure.

Confused, in even my most lucid moments.

I go to Aikido in the full anticipation that something we do in the session will confuse the heck out of me. Rarely disappointed.

Walter

Anita Dacanay
03-20-2010, 05:35 AM
Michael,

Glad to know that I am not alone!;)

dps
03-20-2010, 06:25 AM
Basics are not something to return to but are constantly present in every moment - when we lose sight of the basics we falter.


I think those who lose sight of the importance of the basics are the ones who are disgruntled with Aikido and go outside of Aikido to find what they feel is missing. The things they find where always there, in the basics.

David

lbb
03-20-2010, 08:20 PM
wow... well when i say i want to stop feeling useless, i really mean that i want to try and feel more confident with the basics and not feel that every move is still unnatural after 7 months.. i realise this could be a long process after your comments lol...
i'm by no means uncoordinated and have probably improved to an extent but its such a weird feeling thinking about breathing, leg work, moving offline, keeping centre, taking uke's centre, posture... blah blah... i get so frustrated sometimes that even walking through things can seem imposible.... :(

Well, you'll either develop patience and stay with it, or you won't and you'll quit. That's pretty much the way it goes. Most people who try martial arts wash out within their first year, including some of the people who were most gushingly enthusiastic when they started -- in fact, I have a gut feeling that those early enthusiasts may wash out at a higher than average rate. Their expectations are high, and when the early glow wears off and they're facing the plain hard work, they get discouraged and quit.

"But I'm willing to work hard!" is the typical response of someone in this situation. That's fine, but are you willing to work hard even if you're not constantly getting rewarded with some new achievement, some new breakthrough, the certainty that you are getting it? Are you willing to live with not feeling "confident with the basics"? Because, really, seven months is no time at all to be feeling confident.

Training in martial arts isn't like training a dog, where the dog is constantly rewarded with snacks. In martial arts training, you go a long time between dog biscuits. They're tasty when they come, but they're just not going to rain down you with any frequency, and most people are simply not cut out for that.

Anita Dacanay
03-21-2010, 06:21 AM
Mary, I have to say that I experience training differently from what you described. I don't think I am particularly patient. I continue training not because of the rewards that will come down the line if I continue training, but because of the rewards I feel in the moment through enjoying the process of training.

Anonymous, I think it's really important to be clear about your personal goals. Why are you training at all? Someone else started another thread on this subject, and I think it is a good thing to think about at length. Once you come up with the answer, then you should know what to do.

lbb
03-21-2010, 07:44 PM
Mary, I have to say that I experience training differently from what you described. I don't think I am particularly patient. I continue training not because of the rewards that will come down the line if I continue training, but because of the rewards I feel in the moment through enjoying the process of training.

But most people don't perceive that reward. That's my point.

Lorien Lowe
04-11-2010, 05:42 PM
I think I usually feel good while *in* a plateau, and start to feel like c##p when I'm at the end of a plateau headed into a learning slope. It's when I start to be able to see things with finer gradation than I had: for example, my awareness of balance might have improved, so all of a sudden I'm noticing the places where I've always been off balance, but didn't have the perception to detect. It really feels terrible, but it means that you have a new capacity to improve that you didn't have before.

Shadowfax
04-13-2010, 07:02 AM
As per several suggestions on this thread I picked up and read Mastery. Have to say I see plateaus in a whole new light, as a good, if frustrating place to be. Plateau is where the real learning is actually taking place he tells us. ;)

To the OP... I counted back and yeah at about 7 months I was in the same fix.It lasted a good while. Pretty much from right after my first test in October until about mid January I think. I'll be testing again next month. It will be interesting to see if I bottom out again like that. As everyone else said just keep going, eventually it ends.

lbb
04-13-2010, 07:45 AM
As everyone else said just keep going, eventually it ends.

Not IME. It's always hard. There's no magic fix, it's just a question of whether you're cut out for an activity that has endless capacity to make you feel -- no, to make you know -- that you don't really know what you're doing.

Shadowfax
04-13-2010, 04:08 PM
Not IME. It's always hard. There's no magic fix, it's just a question of whether you're cut out for an activity that has endless capacity to make you feel -- no, to make you know -- that you don't really know what you're doing.

oh... you mean life? I guess I'm just resigned to the fact I'll always feel that way. :D

lbb
04-13-2010, 04:44 PM
oh... you mean life? I guess I'm just resigned to the fact I'll always feel that way. :D

And that's the secret, isn't it? Becoming comfortable in that "don't know" state.

ruthmc
04-23-2010, 09:06 AM
its such a weird feeling thinking about breathing, leg work, moving offline, keeping centre, taking uke's centre, posture... blah blah... i get so frustrated sometimes that even walking through things can seem imposible.... :(

Hi there,

You are not more useless, you just have a far greater understanding of how much you have still to learn now than you did in your first few classes :)

The new student's journey

Stage 1: You learn how to move your arms and legs in vaguely the right direction in order to apply technique.

Stage 2: You learn how to do the above while keeping your own balance.

Stage 3: You learn to do the above while remembering to breathe.

Stage 4: You learn to do the above while avoiding getting overpowered by the attack.

Stage 5: You learn to do the above while remembering the name of the technique.

And so on.... taking uke's balance, maintaining your own centre, moving smoothly etc etc all come at later stages, and as you progress through them your understanding of just how all these elements come together to enable you to apply techniques increases, and you feel there's still so much to learn... This for me is partly why I think Aikido is so great - you never stop learning :)

After this first 'plateau' (or giant leap in understanding ;) ) you will emerge with an improvement in your Aikido. You may not be personally aware of it (most of us are not) but ask your sensei for feedback on your progress and you will be surprised at how much better he/she thinks you are than during your first month at the dojo :)

Ruth

Janet Rosen
04-23-2010, 10:48 AM
This is a natural part of learning anything, like Ruth wrote.
When I was about a yr into my self-taught Spanish, I was doing basic home hospice intake interviews, apologizing often for my mangling of the language, and of course sticking to the present tense.
Now that I know all of the tenses and rules, and have about 10 times the vocabulary, it seems I get MORE tongue-tied sometimes because 1. there are so many more choices/decisions to make and 2. all that knowledge still hasn't been fully integrated by practice, practice, practice.
Coming back to the dojo, its why after my 4th kyu test, and every test since, I say "My aikido sucks at a higher level."

lbb
04-23-2010, 08:56 PM
I was just reflecting the other day that for me, when things suddenly seem hard, it's usually a sign that I'm being my own worst enemy...and also, usually, that I need to get back to basics somehow.

Budd
04-23-2010, 11:38 PM
I was just reflecting the other day that for me, when things suddenly seem hard, it's usually a sign that I'm being my own worst enemy...and also, usually, that I need to get back to basics somehow.

This is very, very well put. And true, in my experience.

RED
04-26-2010, 10:54 AM
is it just me being useless.... or is this a common thing
i've been practising for about 7 months now and feel in some classes that i am/feel worse in my execution and understanding of techniques than after the first few months of training.. i know 7 months training is nothing but surely things should be starting to feel slightly more natural...?? techniques just seem to be getting harder, even though the same as 7 months ago...
my main noticable difference is my core muscles have increased substantially and i understand principles slightly more, but just have a harder time in execution??? help!

Why would you be ashamed to admit this and have to be anonymous?
This is a common feeling... we've all felt that way. I've felt this way.:o :o
I felt this way after my 5th kyu and 4th kyu exams specifically. You just plateaued. work through it and you will hit new ground... it is all part of the learning process IMO :/

Heck I know that in my dojo there is this weird 3rd kyu drop off. People get to 3rd kyu, then they drop out of school. I think it is the plateau effect that gets them. Either that, or they think they already got what they wanted from the art.