View Full Version : Why do you do Aikido?

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01-24-2015, 08:11 PM
Greetings all, - just interested to know why you have chosen to train in Aikido? Of all the various activities in which you could devote your time to, why do you choose to step on the mat on a regular basis and train with fellow practitioners? Why did you originally start? Why do you continue? Have your reasons changed over time?

01-25-2015, 12:22 AM
Back when I was in high school, a friend of mine and I were discussing martial arts and what we might take up to develop self-defence skills. Aikido sounded appealing as we'd heard from a friend that it used the opponent's force against them.

When I asked my practicing friend the usual "What happens if I go to punch you in the head?" his response, when I motioned as much was, to my surprise at the time, to step behind me instead of just block it. I thought that this was quite remarkable and signed up soon afterwards.

The benefits of training -- faster reactions, less walking into furniture at home and the development of uncanny coordination kept me going with it through university, along with a developing appreciation that allowed me to see the good in the bad and the bad in the good, along with a period of feeling something of an (idealistic in hindsight) "love towards all beings".

I stopped for some years after my shodan, however, due to a combination of politics, work, personal issues (I didn't want to be considered "senior" in my dojo when I felt I had a lot of issues that I needed to overcome) and moving to a different city. Starting again, as much as I might write an essay about my thoughts on practice, self defence and self-development, maybe the most honest reason is that going to training with positive people, fantastic teachers and making concrete progress over the last few months simply makes me feel great about myself.

01-26-2015, 05:41 AM
I think it boils down to three reasons for me.

1. I end up feeling more chill in my life in general. Whether this is due to the philosophy of aikido, the physical practice of aligning my body (the way yoga is said to bring emotional stability through practicing physical stability), or something else, I couldn't tell you.

2. I like the people. Mostly everyone on the mat is into both the physical and the mental sides of this art and it makes for good conversations. And absolutely everyone contributes to the cooperative team atmosphere we have going on.

3. I like building physical competency. Though I definitely appreciate the self-defense aspect of it, I also like knowing that I can probably fall on the ice without getting hurt, that it's not such a big deal if I trip down the stairs, that I can be aware of where the knife point is when I'm chopping vegetables.

Besides, it makes martial arts movies more interesting when you can see a little more of what's going on.

01-26-2015, 05:34 PM
A karate-ka said I should and a horse trainer showed me why. While it seemed to me to be completly out of character for me I decided to give it a shot. Turned out the karate-ka and horse trainer were right.

Susan Dalton
01-26-2015, 08:34 PM
I had no intention of doing aikido. My 5 year old son wanted to be a Ninja Turtle and someone I trusted said aikido was the best martial art for him. So I sat on the sidelines and thought, "I could never do that. I could never do that either." Then my son decided he was the worst one in the class, but if I joined, I would be. And I was. Rolling made me sick. I puked during or after every class. Why did I stay? I don't know. Twenty four years later I'm still here, glad to be here.

01-27-2015, 11:00 PM
I started ibecause I wanted to take advantage of the university resources and Aikido seemed different from the punchy-kicky stuff that everyone else was doing or the rolling around on the ground thing that was getting repopularized at the time.

I left and came back because the other arts I tried just didn't feel right in terms of long term commitment.

I stay because Cherie Cornmesser would beat me up if I left.

Mary Eastland
01-30-2015, 10:47 AM
My pick up basketball game was cancelled. Cute guy was teaching. He demonstrated unbendable arm. I could do it. It was the start of a beautiful thing. 28 years later... here we are married and still training.
I continue to train because I would be very cranky without it. Besides being fun, It levels out my moods.

01-30-2015, 06:31 PM
"Why did you originally start?"

A: I was 8 years old and had gotten beaten up by a couple kids from school. My mother found me a martial arts school, looking for anything, and the first thing she found was a traditional aikikai school. I trained there for 2 years until my Sensei, a relatively young man, had to follow his professional path (physical therapist). That was the end of aikido for a period of 23 years, during which time I found that I enjoyed the martial arts a LOT, and went into, in order, Okinawan karate, taekwondo, muay thai, hapkido, then judo, returning to aikido after that circuit of ranges and philosophical differences.

"Why do you continue?"

A: Heck of a good question... probably because I enjoy it. The driving force is still that psychological thing about getting beaten up by the other two kids way back in the day, though my own viewpoint on that is much more reasoned now than then. Self-protection, self-preservation, self-perfection (the "perfection is a road, not a destination" type). And, I find I enjoy teaching a great deal. It's a good time, the camaraderie with the students, the joy in watching people devlop skils and maturity, and the rush when you can literally see/feel the growth of new skill & confidence in someone else. THat's neat-O!

"Have your reasons changed over time?"

A: See above, same answer pretty much applies.

Janet Rosen
01-30-2015, 09:45 PM
1. Exercise that wouldn't bore me.
2. I had to leave twice and never could well adjust to life without Aikido.
3. Things I had always considered deeply intrinsic to Me (like painting) ended up playing second fiddle to the training.

04-07-2015, 08:20 AM
Good question, been trying to figure that out since I started it a few years ago.......? I think I have a love hate relationship with it, always blowing hot and cold....losing interest.

I keep getting very frustrated at the lack of progress and just think I should the quit.........again. I had over a year off last year and have questioned what the point is most times Ive attended this year so far.......more recently been trying to get back into it.

2 hours of practice once a week...........isnt enough to get anywhere fast, but is a good recipe for annoyance, impatience and a place for my perfectionism to manifest.

Anybody else struggle with a once a week class?

04-07-2015, 08:42 AM
It's an addiction.

04-13-2015, 02:20 PM
When I started, I was looking for a way to keep fit that had a practical aspect to it. The gym never did it for me - I got bored! I was also looking for something that would give me more self-confidence in my physicality. My history with athletics in general was...acrimonious to say the least. I remember reading up on various arts and their philosophies, and the ideas behind Aikido made a lot more sense to me than the others.

Why I stay is a harder question. Some days I ask myself that, usually when I've had a rough practice. The answer is complicated, but I'll list some of my thoughts.

I think that sticking with Aikido requires a certain degree of masochism - on some level, you have to enjoy being thrown, pinned, joint locked, yonkyo'd, etc
I've got enough sunk costs in terms of time and effort that I don't think I'd want to quit now.
Most of the time, practice feels good - I've got a sedentary day job, so getting up and moving around that much is a nice contrast
Working to internalize the physical and philisophic lessons of Aikido makes me feel like I'm progressing positively as a human being

Keith Larman
04-15-2015, 09:08 AM
Same reason I enjoy going to movies. Same reason I enjoy going out to dinner with family and friends. Same reason I used to play tennis (before the knees protested too much).

I suspect that most people, when pushed, will come up with some rationale for why they do most things in their lives. I also suspect, however, that these reasons given are usually mostly ad hoc, justifications picked out of the ether for the big *why* question. In reality, most of the time, we do what we do because it's what we do. Sometimes this can be a bad thing, of course, but often it is simply the case that we don't have highly specific, focused reasons for many things like these. We simply enjoy them.

It's what I enjoy. It's what I do. It's where I work through things. It could be this or it could be crossword puzzles. Or tennis. Or throwing clay.