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Clare Din
03-09-2016, 09:58 AM
Okay, I've taken 77 classes so far (since last July) and I'm not up for 5th kyu testing yet. What am I doing wrong? I asked Sensei for a critique of how I was doing so far. He said he wanted to see more flow between techniques and better footwork. "You have to reach deep down inside you and make the Aikido your own," he said. But wait... here's the thing... we do these versions of the techniques I've never seen in any video on the net or anywhere and that's what we're being tested on, so my studying Yamada, Waite, Weiner et al isn't going to help me! In Sensei's classes, strangely, sometimes I don't know what I'm doing wrong and when I do something right, I don't know why it was any different than what I was doing wrong. I'm 77 classes in and don't understand why I'm still making mistakes at this point. I'll likely never have a quick first step to get my arms up in Ikkyo because I'm 48, not 20-something or even 30-something, and I'm not athletic and have never had lightning fast reflexes. I think I would've benefited greatly from being assigned a mentor, much like what happened with me in yoga. One of my yoga teachers took a great interest in me and pushed me harder each time I took her class and somehow I thrived in that environment and ultimately became a yoga teacher.

My stubbornness says to just stick it out for some more months. My other side says maybe this isn't the school for me. Really, I don't give a damn about the rank, but when I was given my 6th kyu after only 11 classes, I felt a sense of accomplishment and I wanted to feel that way again. I often thought that maybe I'm just not jelling with my Sensei. I could do the techniques on anyone my size, but not on him. In other classes not taught by him, I do a lot better. The teachers are more encouraging. I've practiced the 5th kyu techniques over and over and have never been criticized as strictly as in Sensei's classes. My partner says maybe he's holding me to a higher standard. I look around my class and there are 3rd kyus making the same mistakes, he's correcting them, and yet I'm the one who is still 6th kyu.

Sorry for ranting. This is mighty frustrating to me.

nikyu62
03-09-2016, 10:32 AM
Hello Clare, I think I understand your frustration....almost every time i hear "I don't care about rank" it really means the opposite....everyone wants to feel that they are progressing, and rank is the measure established to show progression. It is not an objective standard, however. You didn't mention what style you train in, they all have their own standards. Maybe you got moved to 6th kyu (too) quickly and now your sensei is making you wait longer for the next step because of that. In the long run, those beginning steps are just that. If you enjoy aikido, just focus on that. If you are having an issue with getting validation from your sensei, that is a different thing. One of my teachers was held back and made to go through many additional steps in his training by his teacher; he ended up being a very excellent high ranking teacher. I wish you well.

Clare Din
03-09-2016, 10:57 AM
Hello Clare, I think I understand your frustration....almost every time i hear "I don't care about rank" it really means the opposite....everyone wants to feel that they are progressing, and rank is the measure established to show progression. It is not an objective standard, however. You didn't mention what style you train in, they all have their own standards. Maybe you got moved to 6th kyu (too) quickly and now your sensei is making you wait longer for the next step because of that. In the long run, those beginning steps are just that. If you enjoy aikido, just focus on that. If you are having an issue with getting validation from your sensei, that is a different thing. One of my teachers was held back and made to go through many additional steps in his training by his teacher; he ended up being a very excellent high ranking teacher. I wish you well.

Hi Steven,

Thank you for your response! Rank meant something to me for a period of time when I thought to myself that maybe I could teach this (Aikido) someday. I've always been a teacher of sorts, having taught at the high school to graduate school levels and now yoga. When I get into something, it is like an obsession. I purchase as many books and videos on the subject as I can and read and study everything, so I'm not some silly person complaining for the sake of complaining. I'm in an Aikikai school, so the bare minimum classes beyond 6th kyu to test for 5th is 40 classes and it's 60 minimum total for 5th kyu, which is why I feel at 77 classes (at 1.5 hours each) there should've been something done to correct my mistakes by now. In my yoga classes, if I saw someone doing something wildly wrong in a class, I'd correct it right away and not let it go for 70+ classes.

Yes, perhaps I was given my 6th kyu too quickly. It was more for my proficiency in rolling than anything else and I will admit that I always throw myself into a situation, meaning I overexert myself beyond my current capabilities. I still do. It's in my nature to keep pushing myself because I've always been the smallest/weakest/least athletic one in my class.

Dan Rubin
03-09-2016, 12:53 PM
...sometimes I don't know what I'm doing wrong and when I do something right, I don't know why it was any different than what I was doing wrong.

HA! Get used to it.

Really, I don't give a damn about the rank.

Do you read your own posts?

I purchase as many books and videos on the subject as I can and read and study everything.

Stop watching/reading videos and books! They're making it harder for you!

When I get into something, it is like an obsession.

Obsess on this: Go slow! Accept frustration! Fifty percent of your practice is as uke, the partner who is defeated; can you learn to accept defeat? That will be the most difficult and most important lesson that aikido can teach you. I wish you luck.

Dan

kewms
03-09-2016, 01:51 PM
I'm 77 classes in and don't understand why I'm still making mistakes at this point. I'll likely never have a quick first step to get my arms up in Ikkyo because I'm 48, not 20-something or even 30-something, and I'm not athletic and have never had lightning fast reflexes.

Get back to us when you realize you're still making mistakes after 7 years... At this point, your biggest issue is the idea that you *shouldn't* be making mistakes after 77 classes. How much yoga did you know after three months?

A "quick first step" has nothing to do with speed or fast reflexes. It has to do with initiative. If you know when and where the attack will be, it's easy to be there first. But that's not a concept I'd expect someone to master in three months, either.


My stubbornness says to just stick it out for some more months. My other side says maybe this isn't the school for me. Really, I don't give a damn about the rank, but when I was given my 6th kyu after only 11 classes, I felt a sense of accomplishment and I wanted to feel that way again. I often thought that maybe I'm just not jelling with my Sensei. I could do the techniques on anyone my size, but not on him. In other classes not taught by him, I do a lot better. The teachers are more encouraging. I've practiced the 5th kyu techniques over and over and have never been criticized as strictly as in Sensei's classes. My partner says maybe he's holding me to a higher standard. I look around my class and there are 3rd kyus making the same mistakes, he's correcting them, and yet I'm the one who is still 6th kyu.



Personally, I don't think I've ever met a beginner who I'd promote after 11 classes, in part because of the risk of creating exactly the unrealistic expectations that you seem to have. In our system, you wouldn't even be eligible for 5th kyu until you'd been to 90 classes (30 for 6th kyu, then 60 more for 5th).

I don't know your instructor. But generally speaking, when a teacher holds a student to a higher standard it means that he is trying to push that student to reach their potential. Because of your yoga experience, you probably move differently from a true beginner -- true beginners usually have miserable structure and body awareness, for example -- and so your teacher may feel that you are ready for more challenging aspects of the art. Why don't you ask?

Katherine

Clare Din
03-09-2016, 01:51 PM
HA! Get used to it.

Do you read your own posts?

Stop watching/reading videos and books! They're making it harder for you!

Obsess on this: Go slow! Accept frustration! Fifty percent of your practice is as uke, the partner who is defeated; can you learn to accept defeat? That will be the most difficult and most important lesson that aikido can teach you. I wish you luck.

Dan

But hold on. I replied to my response about rank. I care about progress and the thing is I don't think I'm progressing. Like I said about my being a yoga teacher, I would never, ever let someone continue making the same mistakes again and again after 70+ classes. To further my point about not caring about rank, I'm at a point where I just want to take one class a week with my favorite instructor rather than devote myself to 3, 4, or even 5 classes per week. Why? Because it's not enjoyable any more, especially with a teacher who makes it so frustrating.

Watching videos and reading books should add to someone's growth, not hinder it.

You are right about accepting defeat. I never accepted defeat. It's my stubbornness that prevents me from accepting it. That's why I'm still taking these classes. But at some point, you have to say to yourself, maybe, just maybe, it's not the student. Did you ever take a college course with a professor you found to be totally unenlightening? Do you continue to take courses with that professor because you have no choice? No, there are always other options. Other professors, other schools, etc.

kewms
03-09-2016, 01:58 PM
But hold on. I replied to my response about rank. I care about progress and the thing is I don't think I'm progressing. Like I said about my being a yoga teacher, I would never, ever let someone continue making the same mistakes again and again after 70+ classes.

Yoga is not a partner practice. A critical part of aikido is responding to the specific person and specific attack you are facing at that moment. NO ONE is able to do that consistently after 70 classes. Not me, not you, not my teacher, not Ueshiba Sensei himself.

Be gentle with yourself. This is a journey of years.

Katherine

Clare Din
03-09-2016, 02:17 PM
Get back to us when you realize you're still making mistakes after 7 years... At this point, your biggest issue is the idea that you *shouldn't* be making mistakes after 77 classes. How much yoga did you know after three months?

A "quick first step" has nothing to do with speed or fast reflexes. It has to do with initiative. If you know when and where the attack will be, it's easy to be there first. But that's not a concept I'd expect someone to master in three months, either.

Personally, I don't think I've ever met a beginner who I'd promote after 11 classes, in part because of the risk of creating exactly the unrealistic expectations that you seem to have. In our system, you wouldn't even be eligible for 5th kyu until you'd been to 90 classes (30 for 6th kyu, then 60 more for 5th).

I don't know your instructor. But generally speaking, when a teacher holds a student to a higher standard it means that he is trying to push that student to reach their potential. Because of your yoga experience, you probably move differently from a true beginner -- true beginners usually have miserable structure and body awareness, for example -- and so your teacher may feel that you are ready for more challenging aspects of the art. Why don't you ask?

Katherine

It's been 7 months, not 3 (July to today), but, yes, I get your point about initiative. But to answer your question about how much yoga I knew at 3 months, not a lot, but at 7 months (actually at 6), I was recommended for teacher training. This usually isn't recommended to anyone with less than 2 years of yoga practice. I practiced almost every day and saw progress because my yoga teachers kept pushing me harder and harder every time I came in. I didn't go to teacher training until many months later (about 1.3 years into my practice) because I didn't feel ready yet. The thing is I've felt ready for my 5th kyu test for at least 2 months now. I practice with 1st ad 3rd kyus regularly and practice all the 5th kyu techniques with them before class and they think I'm ready, so, again, it's very frustrating.

I do appreciate yours and Dan's responses. I think I would've benefited from slow and steady progress than a quick promotion.

Clare Din
03-09-2016, 02:24 PM
Yoga is not a partner practice. A critical part of aikido is responding to the specific person and specific attack you are facing at that moment. NO ONE is able to do that consistently after 70 classes. Not me, not you, not my teacher, not Ueshiba Sensei himself.

Be gentle with yourself. This is a journey of years.

Katherine

Some yoga forms are partner practices (see below) :)

http://claredin.com/yoga/images/acroyoga_032915.jpg

No, no, I wasn't referring to being able to respond to any attack after 70 classes, but rather mistakes of where my feet should be, my hips should be, my hands and arms should be, etc.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-09-2016, 02:40 PM
Slower the progression, more money spent in training fees.

And, BTW, we're talking about 5th kyu aikido skills... anybody who can tell his left hand from his right foot has them.
.

Cliff Judge
03-09-2016, 02:59 PM
Seems like you are experiencing some conflict in your Aikido journey, facing some unexpected resistance.

Hmmm...what to do about that. If only there was some type of philosophy of how to deal with such issues...

robin_jet_alt
03-09-2016, 03:01 PM
It took a year for me to take my first grading. Eventually I got up to 1st kyu before changing styles when I went right back to 6th kyu for 4 years. You will get little sympathy from me about your rank.



But hold on. I replied to my response about rank. I care about progress and the thing is I don't think I'm progressing.



Why aren't you progressing? What are you doing wrong?


I'm at a point where I just want to take one class a week with my favorite instructor rather than devote myself to 3, 4, or even 5 classes per week. Why? Because it's not enjoyable any more, especially with a teacher who makes it so frustrating.


How do your teachers make it frustrating? In my experience aikido is inherently frustrating... If I ever found a teacher who could take away the frustration, I would deeply distrust them...

kewms
03-09-2016, 03:05 PM
No, no, I wasn't referring to being able to respond to any attack after 70 classes, but rather mistakes of where my feet should be, my hips should be, my hands and arms should be, etc.

But because aikido is a dynamic partner practice, you need to worry about your feet, hands, etc. *relative to* a partner. The "correct answer" to those questions is relative, not absolute, and you have to find it over and over again in each unique situation while, especially at the beginning, trying to remember the details of each individual technique.

Katherine

kewms
03-09-2016, 03:07 PM
This usually isn't recommended to anyone with less than 2 years of yoga practice. I practiced almost every day and saw progress because my yoga teachers kept pushing me harder and harder every time I came in.

Like your aikido teacher is doing?

Katherine

rugwithlegs
03-09-2016, 05:18 PM
When I started, 6th kyu did not exist.

I trained from September to May for my 5th kyu, and I had to learn 32 separate kata for it including koshinage and nine separate pinning postures.

Today, the entire 5th kyu test for Aikikai Hombu has four techniques, with two of them likely being with two versions, so six. You can prepare and test in 30 days.

In the USAF, there are no specific requirements after Nikyu.

Enjoy learning the basics - at some point all too soon, no one else is teaching you anything, or giving you an actual lesson very seldom - but judging you anyway ;)

I submit you might be making some progress that you do not perceive. Frustration and feeling that the basics are being done poorly means for many students that they are becoming better aware of what they are doing wrong and the literally millions of corrections that make the different between the basics and the advanced material (which are virtually the same in terms of gross motor movement).

If the technique feels perfect, usually there is still some way to pull it apart and start again.

Politics can play a role, and be clear for yourself if you are genuinely being encouraged to do more, or if you are being held back for worthless reasons. If you are ABSOLUTELY certain these are not good reasons after talking with your Sensei, quit and be grateful you learned this at 5th kyu and not 5th Dan.

But, we train for training, not for testing. Testing is a silly addition to a martial tradition - every single time, every second, you succeed or you should've died. Everything else is fairy dust; smoke and mirrors.

rugwithlegs
03-09-2016, 06:56 PM
I've asked Sensei for a critique of how I was doing so far. He said he wanted to see more flow between techniques and better footwork...I don't know what I'm doing wrong and when I do something right, I don't know why it was any different than what I was doing wrong...I'll likely never have a quick first step to get my arms up in Ikkyo because I'm 48, not 20-something or even 30-something, and I'm not athletic and have never had lightning fast reflexes...

I have some yoga experience, less than you, but I do remember my yoga teacher telling that that yoga (maybe just her yoga, I can't say) was about take opposite extreme postures so that the normal everyday felt better and more easy. I liked the idea.

When I teach Taiji and Aikido, I do mention what my teaching of these arts focuses on - exploring everyday normal. Not to everyone, but I see dancers and gymnasts and yogis come on occasion and I offer this to help them understand the difference. While this set of postural principles came from "How do I hit someone harder?" It's also how do I have better balance, how do I generate more power for heavy doors, heavy grandkids, groceries.

The postures in, for example, the Sun Salutation are good Yoga but poor martial arts - even the Warrior poses are for flexibility and strength but don't explore good posture for combat.

There are variations and disagreements out there, but for me:

Feet should never be so far apart that I cannot completely and easily shift 100% to the other foot at any time. No jumping, no gathering up energy to step. Can you always lift one foot off the ground without adjusting your posture in any way? There should be no sense of a stretch. It should absolutely never feel like a workout to get off line or close the distance. IMO

The back should be upright and flat, with any push on my shoulders going to my feet. No thrusting the chest upward. No straight locked joints anywhere - dancers, figure skaters, gymnasts in particular have years of training for super dramatic minimal base and straight legs with the chest thrust outward. It is beautiful. Every part of every posture for combat should feel like power is still in reserve.

If you have a combat integration, shifting your weight on the soles of your feet moves your entire mass forward and backward. Good integration is more muscles in a single movement working together, and the body's entire mass (or as much as possible) behind it with no joint held in an extreme position. It ain't pretty. But at 46 I am able to arrive faster than some of the 16 year olds and 26 year olds I get to play with because I try to start in one piece, and when I arrive I try to be all in.

Good integration means all joints are already aligned to move so it really is faster. Already in one piece means there is no adjustment, no step to start to develop structure for power because I try to be there already from the start, no need to think about blocking as my hands are already there. Lately I try to set the pace.

Just some random thoughts. Telling yourself you will never be faster, that you're old and slower - might mean you are mentally refusing the lesson that could make you faster and stronger. Than anyone in the world? No, but can you be faster and stronger than untrained you; or are you truly at your absolute peak of your abilities?

A gymnastics example - a gold medal can mean permanently getting crippled by landing pretty. Martial Art training is different.

Sorry for the length. this is what I give to students who have similar background to you. I hope it helps, even if you don't stay.

Cliff Judge
03-09-2016, 08:49 PM
But, we train for training, not for testing. Testing is a silly addition to a martial tradition - every single time, every second, you succeed or you should've died. Everything else is fairy dust; smoke and mirrors.

Well Aikido does have a performance / demonstration component to it that is pretty important. We wouldn't all be on here chatting about this if Ueshiba only taught hands-on.

I'd argue that getting students up in front of the rest of the class to face the stage fright and all that certainly has its place.

rugwithlegs
03-09-2016, 09:12 PM
Well Aikido does have a performance / demonstration component to it that is pretty important. We wouldn't all be on here chatting about this if Ueshiba only taught hands-on.

I'd argue that getting students up in front of the rest of the class to face the stage fright and all that certainly has its place.

Good point. I would say the test is it's own form of training.

Janet Rosen
03-09-2016, 10:04 PM
Wait a minute.
Fifth kyu test should demonstrate FLOW????? Most dojo don't look for that until somewhere around second kyu.
Fifth kyu is, in my experience (which being an aikimutt involved seeing testing in several dojos in different organizations) do you know the names of the attacks and techniques we are asking for and can you demonstrate the gross movements. Period.
Forget the testing. Keep training and trust the process a while longer. You're building the basic vocabulary and some of the syntax at this point. You may try to build sentences and want to build paragraphs, but yeah most of the time you will come out with phrases :-) Then one day there will be a CLICK and you will have some sentences.....
If you truly feel you are not making ANY progress - not because of not being deemed ready to test, but really truly not ever improving - you could quietly visit and observe other dojos in your area to see if there may be a better fit elsewhere.
But my guess is you are impatient with yourself and the relatively slow integration of body/mind in techniques.

Janet Rosen
03-09-2016, 10:07 PM
Oh and Katherine is totally right about reflexes and speed not being the thing, being prepared earlier to move is the thing. I was a 41 yr old beginner who was totally nonathletic and for several years I always entered late. I'm 61 now and with accretion of minor disabilities still a relatively slow human being but my entries are generally when they need to be because of being able to read my attacker.

Mary Eastland
03-10-2016, 06:54 AM
Hey, Clare are you having any fun?

phitruong
03-10-2016, 07:24 AM
wrote this on another similar thread awhile back http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23225

6th kyu - you discovered you got two left feet or possibly two right feet
5th kyu - you realized you actually have a left foot and a right foot. you also discovered you have two left hands or could be two right hands
4th kyu - you can actually move your feet in some sort of direction, but usually in the opposite of everyone else. still can't figure out which is left hand and which is right hand.
3th kyu - you move in the same general direction as everyone else, but for some reason it seems to be in the next planet. and you discovered your left hand actually on the left side and your right hand, right side of your body.
2nd kyu - you discovered that your ass is too large, because it kept sticking way out the back.
1st kyu - you waddle like a penguin or maybe a duck and you realized you actually have a head, since you keep smashing it into other folks hands.
shodan - you tripped on your hakama and hurt yourself by trying to go through the mat with your face
nidan - you developed a beer gut and that smooth out the waddle
sandan - you started to recognize those strange chicken scratches on the wall is actually meant "Aikido" and wondering why in the hell name someone didn't write it as "Aikido" in the first place.
yondan - you realized you don't have to wear anything under the hakama and nobody care, and that makes going to the bathroom easier.

as you can see, you are at the very early stage of self-discovery. give yourself time and hakuna matata. don't take things too serious, since you won't get out of life alive.

forgot to mention, that i found a pattern where folks who excel in some other physical endeavour, who tend to believe that they would be good at a different physical endeavour like aikido. more often than not, their belief was a hot air bubble.

lbb
03-10-2016, 08:13 AM
Hi Claire,

I see a lot of people in this thread posting about their various training experiences and how they differ from yours, and I hope you're using those experiences to get some perspective -- but also that you keep in mind that they're describing different circumstances than yours. The obvious difference is the number of hours for this rank or that rank -- it's also rather beside the point; you really cannot look at someone else's time to rank, at some other school, in some other system, under some other teacher, and form any expectations for when you should be testing (and don't say "Yes, but...").

So forget the damn hours. Also forget not making mistakes. Most importantly, forget making progress. At this point, you're like someone who is trying to get somewhere you've heard about, but you don't have precise directions, or a complete map, the road signs are in a different language, and you don't even know how you'd recognize the place once you got there. If you were in that literal situation, in the physical world, would you charge full speed ahead? Would you complain about not making "progress"? Not if you were wise. You'd first try to figure out if the destination was a place you wanted to go, and -- since you'll never really get a concrete account of it -- you'd figure out if the journey was worthwhile. Not the journey ten miles down the road, where you imagine you'll see a beautiful vista: the journey right in front of you, right now, the next step, the 78th class. Is that worth it? Is it? Because, to be honest, as far as I can tell that's all it ever is. Aikido is your training, right now. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow doesn't exist. Now has to be sufficient. If it isn't, then don't do it.

As for your prior experiences with yoga, eeeesh...this is going to sound very disrespectful, I suppose, but I've heard of a number of people fairly new to yoga who were encouraged to enter teacher training, and it strikes me as a bit of a racket. While I know people who practice yoga on a deeper level, the cynic in me says that this is a way for a studio or organization to make money, no different than the exercise fad du jour where people take a series of classes or two and then pay more money to become instructor certified. And hey, for all I know maybe it's somewhat functional -- maybe someone at that level really can learn to teach others. But I don't think it's a good idea in a martial art. We had a joke in karate: "No one knows as much about karate as a green belt (a rank that most people get after about 9 months of training). Just ask one." At that stage, a reasonably bright and diligent student knows enough to be "getting it" on some level, and for some people, developing understanding manifests itself in an urge to teach others. I really see this as a dangerous impulse. To use an aikido analogy, it's the same danger as grabbing onto uke's arm instead of simply maintaining kokyu: when you concretize your understanding in the way that people tend to do when they feel the urge to teach others, you run the very real risk of locking onto something that isn't really the thing you should be focused on (insofar as you should be "focused on" anything). Stop trying to "get it". Keep your focus soft. Just train, stop chasing it, and let aikido come to you.

Clare Din
03-10-2016, 09:56 AM
I like the recent responses so far. One thing they all have is a large amount of experience behind them. This I see as a good thing. Like in yoga, the ego can get in the way of the goal ahead and goals can change over time.

I did visit another dojo last night. The teacher was a lot more dynamic, moving from student to student, pairing up beginners with more experienced students. No one was left behind or left to feel like they're in a sea of befuddlement. The teacher is a student of one of the greats in Aikido (you've all seen him before) and that alone should be reason enough to switch to a new dojo. I swear the experience just made me cry just watching how good this guy was. When he demonstrated his falls and rolls, he was soft as a feather. It was like he was on a cloud of air all the time.

Mary, you are right that yoga is a big racket, but the same can be said about a lot of martial arts dojos, too. Many dojos want to give students that first rank right away to pull in monthly fees. It's a business after all. If it were a non-profit, it would be a different story. What I can tell you about my yoga journey is my studio wasn't teaching the teacher training course. In fact, I went against their recommendation to take a certain teacher training (Bikram Yoga) and took a teacher training with an entirely different organization (evolation yoga) and I still ended up being successful teaching in my studio so there were no incentives/kickbacks for my studio to send me to teacher training.

I have a martial arts friend (an ex-karate black belt instructor) who will be watching my class tonight so he can give me insights on what he thinks of my dojo.

PeterR
03-10-2016, 10:25 AM
We grade relatively quickly and make no bones about it. The first grade is a welcome, you know enough to train safely. Specifically its 20 hours (give or take), three techniques and basic footwork and ukemi.

Its not to suck someone into the fold or part of a racket - but people do feel they were outside and now they are more inside.

Point is grading has always had more purpose than just recognizing proficiency.

To the OP - people learn very differently. I've seen people grasp the early stuff very easily and hit a wall soon after. These are often the worst to deal with because they don't recognize their own limitations. All of us hit a wall somewhere along the kyu grades, and we all struggle with the why.

Mary Eastland
03-10-2016, 01:42 PM
The teacher told you exactly what you needed to do. I guess you did not like that answer. It sounds profound to me.

When I don't like what my teacher suggests I stay and I do what is suggested so I can change and grow.

For my students, if they respond to my suggestions I give them more ...if they ignore them I leave the students be.

Clare Din
03-10-2016, 02:49 PM
I'm still sticking it out, although I will say that once I pass, I will think and reflect upon my entire experience. Maybe it will be a positive one. Maybe it will be a growth/maturity experience. Who knows? If I feel like it, I know there are other options in my city. I live in a big city and there are many options available here. I mean, who wouldn't want to learn from someone like Yamada's uke? I visited his dojo last night and was awestruck by one of his students teaching the basics class. The students in that class could roll and fall rather well and the teacher moves like he's got wings.

Now, if I keep getting frustrated again and again and keep moving to different dojos, then I know that Aikido really isn't for me.

Here is what I love though... when I see Christian Tissier, Yoko Okamoto, and Ryuji Shirakawak move, I am awestruck. They flow so well. See, I can accept knowing how to flow at their level, but at my level, every 5th kyu test I've seen, I've never ever seen flow. I've seen some crazy strange versions of what the techniques are supposed to be... and that's fine because it's a 5th kyu test and not 3rd kyu where you're supposed to flow better.

rugwithlegs
03-10-2016, 03:27 PM
http://youtu.be/NPEYFCVhgHU

Just to contrast with the pic of the Yoga partner practice. Tomoe Nage is as close as I could imagine a paired martial practice coming to that exact posture. One person on their back, picking up the hips of the other with the soles of their feet while holding the arms.

Aesthetically beautiful in both cases, but there is a difference.

robin_jet_alt
03-10-2016, 03:55 PM
I did visit another dojo last night. The teacher was a lot more dynamic, moving from student to student, pairing up beginners with more experienced students. No one was left behind or left to feel like they're in a sea of befuddlement. The teacher is a student of one of the greats in Aikido (you've all seen him before) and that alone should be reason enough to switch to a new dojo. I swear the experience just made me cry just watching how good this guy was. When he demonstrated his falls and rolls, he was soft as a feather. It was like he was on a cloud of air all the time.



I didn't like your reasoning before, but you've just given a very good reason why you should change dojos. Go with your gut.

Janet Rosen
03-10-2016, 05:40 PM
I didn't like your reasoning before, but you've just given a very good reason why you should change dojos. Go with your gut.

:)

kewms
03-10-2016, 07:48 PM
Here is what I love though... when I see Christian Tissier, Yoko Okamoto, and Ryuji Shirakawak move, I am awestruck. They flow so well. See, I can accept knowing how to flow at their level, but at my level, every 5th kyu test I've seen, I've never ever seen flow. I've seen some crazy strange versions of what the techniques are supposed to be... and that's fine because it's a 5th kyu test and not 3rd kyu where you're supposed to flow better.

I don't know your teacher, so I have no idea what he is looking for in a 5th kyu test.

Here, we like to see the 5th kyu techniques performed from a moving attack. All the 6th kyu techniques are done from a static grab. So, relative to 6th kyu, 5th kyu demonstrates "flow."

Relative to a shodan, much less to the likes of Tissier Sensei? Not so much.

Also, something to remember about aikido in general. I believe I have demonstrated shomenuchi ikkyo on every single test that I've done. But I suspect (and hope!) that there was a vast difference between the version on my most recent test and the version way back on my 6th kyu test. This is why people laughed at the suggestion that you should have eliminated basic mistakes after 77 classes. Even in the most basic techniques, there are endless layers, endless possible refinements. There will be many steps forward, but also many steps backward and many long, frustrating plateaus.

Certainly some teachers are more encouraging, more able to help you see your own mistakes and recognize even incremental improvements. But the art is inherently difficult.

Katherine

Dan Rubin
03-11-2016, 11:27 AM
I did visit another dojo last night. The teacher was a lot more dynamic, moving from student to student, pairing up beginners with more experienced students. No one was left behind or left to feel like they're in a sea of befuddlement.

That is great news. I think you should move to that dojo. After you're there for a while, during casual conversation with a friendly senior student, you might ask how long it takes to reach shodan (1st degree black belt) in that organization. The answer will probably be something like 6-8 years, and that a shodan student is considered merely a serious beginner on the aikido journey.

In other words, I hope you join and do well at that new dojo, and I also hope that you are able to accept and benefit from the fact that aikido is a journey, and a long one, and that someone starting her journey at 48 years of age will never be as good as Donovan Waite or Christian Tissier.

I wish you well on the journey.

Cynrod
03-13-2016, 10:16 AM
Hello Clare,

Having a very good relationships with your instructor helps a lot in so many ways. Without that you'll be having a lot of obstacles in your path to Aikido. Masakatsu Agatsu is what you have to remember also. Patience is a virtue is one thing that you have to practice and it will help you in your million miles journey.

You said that you went to another dojo and how you enjoyed the instructor and the training there. Dynamic and technical is what you're looking for? Maybe that's one contribution that you've been missing after your 6th kyu. Some instructors like it mellow and slow and some like it more dynamic and technical. You have all the rights in the world to do whatever you want and nobody can stop you from doing the choice that you're looking for in your training.

I am not advicing you in any ways as I've made a lot of mistakes in my early years also. Just quit your old dojo and move to the new one. You said that you enjoyed the class there. Start your training on a clean slate but it has t be in a right way. It will be easier for you this way but don't bring your old ego to the new dojo. You can ask the instructor of the new dojo if he will accept your KYU rank to his school and if not, then nothing to lose. Start in the right way the most important thing in building your base/foundation in Aikido.

Goodluck in your journey.

lbb
03-14-2016, 08:30 AM
I'm still sticking it out, although I will say that once I pass, I will think and reflect upon my entire experience.

The "once I pass" rings a small alarm bell for me. There's a phenomenon I call "testing tunnel vision", where someone postpones needed thought/decisions/actions until they pass a rank test. Stop. Think about it. Why does it make sense to wait until after you pass the test to think about your training experience and whether it's worth it to continue, at your current dojo or anywhere? If you wait until after the test, and the outcome of your reflection is that you decide that you need to go elsewhere, what will you have gained by waiting? You shouldn't assume that you'll go into a new dojo as a fifth kyu -- you probably won't. A more likely scenario is that you'll train there for a while without any rank, and then the sensei may award you a rank if he/she thinks your aikido is at the level that they want to see at that rank.

So, staying at your current dojo just to get the 5th kyu isn't a good reason; it's possibly just throwing good training time after bad -- ok, that's a crap analogy, but I hope you get my point. If moving on is the right thing to do, it doesn't make any sense to wait another day. And if staying where you are is the right thing, you won't know that if you don't pause to reflect. What doesn't make sense is to continue doing the same thing that's got you in a state of discontent and frustration. So, don't wait until you test -- stop and take time to reflect now.

Mary Eastland
03-14-2016, 10:14 AM
I have a feeling the same issue will come up for you wherever you are training. But another dojo might be a better fit for you. I like to have open communication between instructor and student. If someone asks me a question about their training I answer the best I can and encourage them to ask more if they do not understand.

robin_jet_alt
03-14-2016, 06:44 PM
I'm still sticking it out, although I will say that once I pass, I will think and reflect upon my entire experience.

If you are thinking about moving, then you might want to check with the other dojo about whether they would recognise your old rank. If not, there is not a lot of point grading in a style that you are about to leave anyway. You might as well just leave now.

Clare Din
03-15-2016, 12:25 PM
If you are thinking about moving, then you might want to check with the other dojo about whether they would recognise your old rank. If not, there is not a lot of point grading in a style that you are about to leave anyway. You might as well just leave now.

At this point, I'm not worried about whether or not they'll recognize my old rank. I'm willing to start again the right way.

The reason why I'm staying for the moment is to finish up the month (or two) depending on this contract. Apparently, I have to give 30 days notice to cancel my membership at this dojo. I still have a favorite teacher I'd like to learn from at this dojo. It's a shame he only teaches on one night. In his class, I do very well. He knows I can do all the 5th kyu techniques, but his techniques are not the way Sensei teaches them. For example, in Shomenuchi Ikkyo Ura, you normally spiral uke around and end up kneeling next to uke. Sensei wants us to finish standing up with both feet against uke and extending our arms down to pin uke's arm (so we're kind of bent and standing over uke's arm). This is a new "feature" Sensei just asked me to do after months of getting me to spiral uke down to the ground.

Remember I said "once I pass" in my statement. I didn't say I was going to pass. You would assume that given 30 days more time, I should, but there are never any guarantees. I should've said "if I pass."

I have this one friend in class who is unranked at the moment. I see a lot of me in the very beginning in him so I do see that I have progressed a bit. He was having trouble with the techniques so I broke down the technique we were practicing into a step-by-step recipe and we talked through each step. That made the experience a lot more fun. We did it again yesterday. Sensei was watching us and he wasn't making any corrections, so we knew we were onto something.

robin_jet_alt
03-15-2016, 05:18 PM
At this point, I'm not worried about whether or not they'll recognize my old rank. I'm willing to start again the right way.


Fair enough then.


The reason why I'm staying for the moment is to finish up the month (or two) depending on this contract. Apparently, I have to give 30 days notice to cancel my membership at this dojo.


That sounds like a racket to me.


He knows I can do all the 5th kyu techniques, but his techniques are not the way Sensei teaches them. For example, in Shomenuchi Ikkyo Ura, you normally spiral uke around and end up kneeling next to uke. Sensei wants us to finish standing up with both feet against uke and extending our arms down to pin uke's arm (so we're kind of bent and standing over uke's arm). This is a new "feature" Sensei just asked me to do after months of getting me to spiral uke down to the ground.


Don't stress about different people teaching different variations. I can do a whole bunch of different shomenucni ikkyo uras, some end up standing, some end up kneeling, some take subtly different directions, some begin with different entries. Yes, the syllabus only includes one, but that doesn't mean the others are wrong.


Remember I said "once I pass" in my statement. I didn't say I was going to pass. You would assume that given 30 days more time, I should, but there are never any guarantees. I should've said "if I pass."


Oh, if you stay long enough, you WILL pass. I had assumed you were going to stay there until you did.

rugwithlegs
03-15-2016, 06:47 PM
I am glad you are moving forward and happy with your options.

Only one thing to add. The first time I ever posted on this site, I can come across a letter from a guy who left another dojo to join ours, had some questions about the differences between associations, left our dojo, started some other myriad things, started to dojo bash on social media, then came back to our dojo. Multiple times. Each time acting like he expected none of the rest of us knew what the Internet was. His comments got much worse on other social media, but he would say he wanted to teach Aikido some day. Eventually, after enormous tolerance by several instructors, he quietly left.

It's okay to make a choice to leave, or to stay. I am now training at my fourth Aikido dojo, and I've had six different Taiji teachers and a couple of Karate teachers too, and one Baguazhang teacher. And, I've found myself in towns with no Aikido and trained in Judo or TaeKwonDo or Krav Maga. Work used to move me around a lot.

For me, It's just worthwhile to leave on good terms and to have friends in schools that I don't train in every day anymore. I feel there's a lot to see by the friends and enemies I have, and I prefer to have enemies I can be proud of.

I guess, I like it when a student doesn't feel the need to burn bridges or force an ultimatum or have a showdown. Leave or stay, it's worth it to do this respectfully to all your teachers.

rugwithlegs
03-15-2016, 07:06 PM
Too late to edit: really, respectful to yourself and all parties involved, if possible.

lbb
03-15-2016, 08:35 PM
That sounds like a racket to me.


Not necessarily. Some dojos use online payment systems -- among other things, it's a good way to get paid on the first of the month, and not have to nag students who keep forgetting their checkbook (remember, the dojo's bills come due on the first too). Also remember that dojos are run by volunteer labor, and if you withdraw, someone has to process that -- and it ain't that person's day job. Requiring 30 days' notice means you don't have people showing up on the last day of the month wanting this change and that change, and dumping it all on some person who's now going to have to work late to deal with it. This lets people know it's on them to cancel in a civilized fashion and not simply vanish into the night.

Clare Din
03-15-2016, 08:59 PM
I am glad you are moving forward and happy with your options.

Only one thing to add. The first time I ever posted on this site, I can come across a letter from a guy who left another dojo to join ours, had some questions about the differences between associations, left our dojo, started some other myriad things, started to dojo bash on social media, then came back to our dojo. Multiple times. Each time acting like he expected none of the rest of us knew what the Internet was. His comments got much worse on other social media, but he would say he wanted to teach Aikido some day. Eventually, after enormous tolerance by several instructors, he quietly left.

It's okay to make a choice to leave, or to stay. I am now training at my fourth Aikido dojo, and I've had six different Taiji teachers and a couple of Karate teachers too, and one Baguazhang teacher. And, I've found myself in towns with no Aikido and trained in Judo or TaeKwonDo or Krav Maga. Work used to move me around a lot.

For me, It's just worthwhile to leave on good terms and to have friends in schools that I don't train in every day anymore. I feel there's a lot to see by the friends and enemies I have, and I prefer to have enemies I can be proud of.

I guess, I like it when a student doesn't feel the need to burn bridges or force an ultimatum or have a showdown. Leave or stay, it's worth it to do this respectfully to all your teachers.

You are right and that's why I chose not to mention which dojo I'm at. I know a few people in my dojo who also train in other dojos around town by just paying for the day's mat fees. (I know this because I looked at the sign-in book at the other dojo and recognized a bunch of names from my dojo). I think that would work well for me. I like this one teacher here so I'd be glad to pay for just his class. Also, I will proceed slowly in the new dojo by just taking classes with the teacher I saw first to get acclimated to the new school.

lbb
03-16-2016, 09:34 AM
You are right and that's why I chose not to mention which dojo I'm at. I know a few people in my dojo who also train in other dojos around town by just paying for the day's mat fees. (I know this because I looked at the sign-in book at the other dojo and recognized a bunch of names from my dojo). I think that would work well for me. I like this one teacher here so I'd be glad to pay for just his class. Also, I will proceed slowly in the new dojo by just taking classes with the teacher I saw first to get acclimated to the new school.

Two points: first, as John pointed out, you haven't been commenting anonymously. With a couple clicks, anyone can see exactly what dojo and what senseis you've been training with.

Second, about paying mat fees and hopping from teacher to teacher and dojo to dojo, this is acceptable if you're looking for a dojo. Longer term, I think most dojo are going to have a problem with it. If you're going to an exercise studio, it's normal and expected behavior: you take a class here, a class there, and if you're a "member" it has a very different meaning. What you contribute is your money, period. You walk in, do your thing, and leave. Even if you're in a class, you're all by yourself -- you don't depend on the presence of others to practice. If you don't show up? So much the better, more profit for them and you won't be missed. The economics of exercise studios depend on a large number of people paying fees and a smaller number of people actually using the services. Dojos, on the other hand, depend on member participation to survive. Economically, most dojos just get by: they can't afford a paid staff for cleaning and maintenance, so it has to be done by students and senseis (students cleaning the mats isn't just some quaint custom, it's a practical necessity). And in terms of the practice, a dojo needs members to support each other's training. How would you have fared in your first weeks if there were no other, more experienced students for you to train with?

Hopping from dojo to dojo really is a path to remaining "6th kyu forever". It may work as a temporary necessity, but it's not the way forward.

Clare Din
03-16-2016, 10:01 AM
Two points: first, as John pointed out, you haven't been commenting anonymously. With a couple clicks, anyone can see exactly what dojo and what senseis you've been training with.

Second, about paying mat fees and hopping from teacher to teacher and dojo to dojo, this is acceptable if you're looking for a dojo. Longer term, I think most dojo are going to have a problem with it. If you're going to an exercise studio, it's normal and expected behavior: you take a class here, a class there, and if you're a "member" it has a very different meaning. What you contribute is your money, period. You walk in, do your thing, and leave. Even if you're in a class, you're all by yourself -- you don't depend on the presence of others to practice. If you don't show up? So much the better, more profit for them and you won't be missed. The economics of exercise studios depend on a large number of people paying fees and a smaller number of people actually using the services. Dojos, on the other hand, depend on member participation to survive. Economically, most dojos just get by: they can't afford a paid staff for cleaning and maintenance, so it has to be done by students and senseis (students cleaning the mats isn't just some quaint custom, it's a practical necessity). And in terms of the practice, a dojo needs members to support each other's training. How would you have fared in your first weeks if there were no other, more experienced students for you to train with?

Hopping from dojo to dojo really is a path to remaining "6th kyu forever". It may work as a temporary necessity, but it's not the way forward.

No, I disagree. I didn't publish my web site link here; John did. I could've said to John that he had no right to publish my web site link here, but I didn't because some will argue that the Internet is all about free speech. Of course, someone who had the wherewithal to use Google search would look for my name and web page and find it, but like I said, most people don't do that because they don't care.

I get the economics of dojos. I get that memberships are what keeps dojos running, but if I truly want to find the right dojo for me, it's better if I take a few classes first to see if a dojo is really right for me and then join. At this point, I'm really concerned about just jumping in head first and joining another dojo again because of what happened the first time. I'm upset and frustrated. I'm sure you'll understand this. I'm familiar with the Wednesday teacher at the other dojo. I'll take his classes first and when I feel right about everything, I'll take other classes with other teachers and then I'll join if it feels right. If you've read the chain of events in this entire thread, it's about "well, I cared about advancing beyond 6th kyu at first, but now I don't care about it. It's about finding the right path."

Janet Rosen
03-16-2016, 10:22 AM
No, I disagree. I didn't publish my web site link here; John did. I could've said to John that he had no right to publish my web site link here, but I didn't because some will argue that the Internet is all about free speech.

There IS an anon. feature on aikiweb that many people in your situation opt to use when discussing issues that they would prefer to keep private in terms of dojos and teachers involved.

Of course we all have a right to google each other and share public information. That is not the issue: The point being made is that you could have very easily chosen to keep the issue truly anonymous/private, and that by using your real name you made a decision not to.

Clare Din
03-16-2016, 10:56 AM
There IS an anon. feature on aikiweb that many people in your situation opt to use when discussing issues that they would prefer to keep private in terms of dojos and teachers involved.

Of course we all have a right to google each other and share public information. That is not the issue: The point being made is that you could have very easily chosen to keep the issue truly anonymous/private, and that by using your real name you made a decision not to.

I had no idea that I could post anonymously here. Oh, well. :(

robin_jet_alt
03-16-2016, 04:42 PM
I had no idea that I could post anonymously here. Oh, well. :(

Neither did I when I first joined, and it took me quite a while to work out how to use it. While I understand that looking up Claire's info and posting it on here was merely to make a point, it is also quite counterproductive in that it's effectively disseminating information that you are advising Claire to keep private. Might I suggest that a PM would have been a better idea?

rugwithlegs
03-16-2016, 06:29 PM
I do whole heartedly apologize. I have asked the moderator to remove the link to your own web page. Of course, they are under no obligation to do so - like everyone here, what I post to the public has it's own version of immortality.

Actually Robyn, I did not advocate keeping her thoughts private, or lying to her dojo colleagues.

I was angry to come across a student of mine making far worse comments about my dojo online, and then acting like he thought I had never gone online in my life and read everything he wrote.

Clare, In several years, someone could find your comments to read out to you before your black belt test and how will you feel? Another decade past that, and maybe you'll come across someone you've invested time and effort in describing how frustrating you are to deal with and that they want to break ties with you, and how will you feel?

This is an art that has at it's core a belief in reconciliation, honesty, and openness. Being forthright can be scary and can have unpleasant consequences. Your desires for yourself, your frustrations, and probably yes, your postings - I would be surprised if your teachers don't already know.

Clare Din
03-16-2016, 09:52 PM
I do whole heartedly apologize. I have asked the moderator to remove the link to your own web page. Of course, they are under no obligation to do so - like everyone here, what I post to the public has it's own version of immortality.

Actually Robyn, I did not advocate keeping her thoughts private, or lying to her dojo colleagues.

I was angry to come across a student of mine making far worse comments about my dojo online, and then acting like he thought I had never gone online in my life and read everything he wrote.

Clare, In several years, someone could find your comments to read out to you before your black belt test and how will you feel? Another decade past that, and maybe you'll come across someone you've invested time and effort in describing how frustrating you are to deal with and that they want to break ties with you, and how will you feel?

This is an art that has at it's core a belief in reconciliation, honesty, and openness. Being forthright can be scary and can have unpleasant consequences. Your desires for yourself, your frustrations, and probably yes, your postings - I would be surprised if your teachers don't already know.

Oh, I am sure they already know. Several of my colleagues at my dojo read my blog almost daily. They know how frustrated I am. They have asked me if I'm going to quit and I have said "no, I'm too stubborn to quit" and they were glad I didn't quit. The thing is I'm not quitting.

After reading your comments about your student a couple of times, I understand your disappointment in him and maybe this whole ordeal will cost me something in the end and maybe someday a student of mine will think I'm an a$$, but this is *my* learning process. Perhaps the best thing that's happened to me in this whole ordeal is I get to learn from the collective wisdom of people who know more than I do... that is, all of you. I'm actually quite grateful for that because when I first posted my frustrating rant, I didn't think anyone would respond because all of the messages here were from almost 3 months ago.

I'm pretty sure my Sensei knows of my frustrations. He sees it in my face all the time. I'm pretty sure he reads my blog, too. Just so you know, I've helped his dojo quite a bit by redoing his dojo's web site and posting nice reviews of the dojo and, consequently, that's attracted quite a few new members, which he has praised me for. The new member fees have helped improve the dojo quite a bit over the past few months. Anyways, if any of you would like to talk offline about more of this, then private message me. Maybe that's what I should've asked for in the first place.

Anyways, there's an ancillary piece to the puzzle.... my kids love my dojo because they love their teacher so it'll be weird to go to a different Aikido school than they do.

Rennis Buchner
03-16-2016, 10:42 PM
This is one of those situations where it is difficult to make any sort of meaningful comments specifically addressing the OP's situation without seeing them interacting with their teacher in person. Of course that isn't stopping me for commenting regardless! :D

While I no longer practice aikido, I do teach iai and kenjutsu as well as practice yoga (Ashtanga). I also teach iai to an advanced yoga practitioner and we often compare teaching points and explore the differences in approach between the two arts. Yoga (like Aikido) is so varied that it is hard to make generalizations about it, but John Hillson made a number of excellent points regarding yoga in regards to aikido and martial arts in general that ring very true in my experience. While many aspects of posture to carry over well, much of the movement doesn't and this was a huge issue wth my student when they joined (it still is to some degree). It took about a year of daily practice to start seeing real progress in striping the inappropriate aspects of yoga out of their movement. While some things could be explained easily enough, the bulk of the work was simply doing it over and over, make a recommendation and then repeat. I'm lucky in that my student makes an effort to practice daily (one of the good carry-overs from Ashtanga's tradition of practicing six days a week) so this progress has been made much faster that if they only practiced when they came to class.

Now I have no idea with this has anything to do with the OP's instructor's issues or not, but it is not hard for me to imagine that it MIGHT problem area.

As an aside, one person asked just how much yoga someone knew after x number of months, and again it is a very hard question to answer due to all the flavors of yoga out there, but many traditions follow a tradition of daily practice (in our about 90 minutes to 2 hours a day), so it terms of hours "on the mat" a serious yoga student with one year's experience could very easily have as much time in as a general four or five year martial arts practitioner. Of course there are numerous other factors that could be involved (the the previously mentioned one of money), but this is one reason why "teaching authorization" in yoga can seem to come much quicker than the Japanese martial art world, where we tend to measure things in decades.

Random thoughts for what they are worth,
Rennis Buchner

Clare Din
03-17-2016, 06:39 AM
While I no longer practice aikido, I do teach iai and kenjutsu as well as practice yoga (Ashtanga). I also teach iai to an advanced yoga practitioner and we often compare teaching points and explore the differences in approach between the two arts. Yoga (like Aikido) is so varied that it is hard to make generalizations about it, but John Hillson made a number of excellent points regarding yoga in regards to aikido and martial arts in general that ring very true in my experience. While many aspects of posture to carry over well, much of the movement doesn't and this was a huge issue wth my student when they joined (it still is to some degree). It took about a year of daily practice to start seeing real progress in striping the inappropriate aspects of yoga out of their movement. While some things could be explained easily enough, the bulk of the work was simply doing it over and over, make a recommendation and then repeat. I'm lucky in that my student makes an effort to practice daily (one of the good carry-overs from Ashtanga's tradition of practicing six days a week) so this progress has been made much faster that if they only practiced when they came to class.

Now I have no idea with this has anything to do with the OP's instructor's issues or not, but it is not hard for me to imagine that it MIGHT problem area.

As an aside, one person asked just how much yoga someone knew after x number of months, and again it is a very hard question to answer due to all the flavors of yoga out there, but many traditions follow a tradition of daily practice (in our about 90 minutes to 2 hours a day), so it terms of hours "on the mat" a serious yoga student with one year's experience could very easily have as much time in as a general four or five year martial arts practitioner. Of course there are numerous other factors that could be involved (the the previously mentioned one of money), but this is one reason why "teaching authorization" in yoga can seem to come much quicker than the Japanese martial art world, where we tend to measure things in decades.

Random thoughts for what they are worth,
Rennis Buchner

Aha! Now this makes a lot of sense because one thing that Sensei always said to me was "Why don't you bring your back foot in with your front foot? You're standing in too wide a stance." This is from doing thousands of Triangle poses over the years (see pic below for an idea of the pose):

http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/images/tutorials/bikram-triangle-step5.gif

I keep saying, "I'm trying! I'm trying!" but my back foot invariable wants to stay planted on the ground as I step forward and I can step really far forward with my front foot. When I move my back foot forward, my natural stance is a little wider than most of my classmates. I always felt more stable in a wider stance. After 79 classes, now I'm getting my feet closer, just inches closer, but they are closer. It feels weird and doesn't feel as stable.

I had a friend who was a black belt karate instructor sit in on one of my classes. He said to me "I can see your frustrations with the whole thing, but you seem so tense around your Sensei and when he walks away, you're a lot more relaxed. Just relax and let the process take over. Don't think about things so much!" I believe, and perhaps know, that whenever Sensei is around, I just freeze and mess up because I'm afraid he's just going to tell me I'm doing something wrong again. In other words, I seem to be conditioned to be afraid of him. I'm not this way around the other teachers.

Mary Eastland
03-17-2016, 07:41 AM
It is easy to give power away because of how we perceive someone else.

As to your explanation about your stance, perhaps if you stop trying and just do it you will succeed. When a student comes to our dojo from another style I often hear I can't because of my habits.

Aikido is about looking at habits and mastering the body so it does at it is directed.

The correction aspect of aikido never goes away...so you might at well just get used to it.

I looked up your dojo right after first post as I am sure many others did.

tim evans
03-17-2016, 08:49 AM
you have heard the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff" in aikido sweat the small stuff because everything is small stuff . Angle, maii, hips,,and my favorite kokyu and RELAX! I've been a 4 th kyu for going on 5 years just have fun you will do fine.

phitruong
03-17-2016, 09:29 AM
I had a friend who was a black belt karate instructor sit in on one of my classes. He said to me "I can see your frustrations with the whole thing, but you seem so tense around your Sensei and when he walks away, you're a lot more relaxed. Just relax and let the process take over. Don't think about things so much!" I believe, and perhaps know, that whenever Sensei is around, I just freeze and mess up because I'm afraid he's just going to tell me I'm doing something wrong again. In other words, I seem to be conditioned to be afraid of him. I'm not this way around the other teachers.

you have accidentally stumbled upon a less well-know power of the sensei. it called the dork. it's similar to the Jedi's force, but it is more insidious. whenever you come under the influence of the sensei's dork power, you are it! you would feel like a dork, act like a dork, and move like a dork. the obvious way to deal such dorky power is not to be in the presence of the sensei. however, the obvious way have been tried and failed. many students have paid the price for failure with their lives and dues. it was horrible to witness. their bodies littered the facebook landscape, bemoaning the beauty of aikido in their dying breath. the best way to deal with such power is to not shy way from it, but embrace it (it kinda of scary to embrace the dark side but you will get use to it) by become even more dorky than normal when you are near the sensei to the point that the sensei walks away in disgust, which is when you know that the method is working. good luck and may the dork be with you! live long and prosper in dorkiness! :D

GMaroda
03-17-2016, 02:14 PM
Some people come across harsher than they are. Then again, some people are as harsh as they seem.

As for getting constantly corrected, it could be your sensei sees something worth correcting. I get nervous when my teachers DON'T say anything after watching me!

Clare Din
03-17-2016, 02:25 PM
you have heard the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff" in aikido sweat the small stuff because everything is small stuff . Angle, maii, hips,,and my favorite kokyu and RELAX! I've been a 4 th kyu for going on 5 years just have fun you will do fine.

Holy moly! Thank you for this. It resonates with me because one of my other Aikido teachers always tells me to relax because I always seem so tense when I'm nage.

I've been trying to relax more. That's why I try to make "recipes" out of every technique and verbally step through and say each line in the recipe. That seems to help me relax and have fun with a technique.

lbb
03-17-2016, 09:07 PM
I don't think you get relaxation by trying. It's like Tolstoy's famous example, "Try not to think of a white bear!" You get there by practice, not practicing at relaxing, just practicing.

Mary Eastland
03-18-2016, 07:02 AM
I don't think you get relaxation by trying. It's like Tolstoy's famous example, "Try not to think of a white bear!" You get there by practice, not practicing at relaxing, just practicing.

There are different schools of thought on this. In our style we focus on centering and how to relax. It is the idea of developing correct feeling and then you can do technique with that correct feeling. Emphasis on the do and not the try.

Walter Martindale
03-18-2016, 08:41 AM
To echo many other responses:

Patience, grasshopper... (Are you old enough to recognize that?)

As Phi mentioned, you're still learning the most basic of the basics. Many consider shodan the start of actually knowing enough about a martial art to start to develop an understanding of it. I spent 6 years, in 3 dojo as a sankyu.

After nidan grading, I got a movement correction from the rokudan sensei, saying approximately "what you were doing was OK for a shodan but now you're a nidan and it's not good enough".

Clare Din
03-18-2016, 09:39 AM
To echo many other responses:

Patience, grasshopper... (Are you old enough to recognize that?)

As Phi mentioned, you're still learning the most basic of the basics. Many consider shodan the start of actually knowing enough about a martial art to start to develop an understanding of it. I spent 6 years, in 3 dojo as a sankyu.

After nidan grading, I got a movement correction from the rokudan sensei, saying approximately "what you were doing was OK for a shodan but now you're a nidan and it's not good enough".

Hmmm... I can relate to this. In yoga, we have postures that can never be perfect because a senior teacher will always find some way to correct the posture to make it better. For some reason, I didn't think of it in the same way in Aikido and that's because there are these stupid ranks. I was thinking that I should just practice my techniques so I could be proficient at that kyu rank and then move on. What I failed to see (lightbulb on) is these techniques, even though they are 5th kyu, are going to look much different when I'm a higher rank.

SHit. (lightbulb moment)

You guys have made me realize something. For all the ranting I made, here are the reasons why I decided to study at my dojo:

1. My kids study here and there are some nice people in this dojo who have helped me learn difficult concepts.
2. Sensei, for all of his unorthodox versions of his techniques, performs all of his techniques flawlessly and they are beautiful to watch.
3. The other teachers that I like here are all giving me supplemental material that I may or may not use, but at least I'm getting different perspectives. Some of these perspectives may work well for me, others not, but I'm getting it all here.
4. There is a wide range of ages among the students, people from 18 to 60+ (in the other dojo, not a single person was over 30, except for the teachers)
5. I saw a place that had lots of potential and was on its way up. That's where we're at now, from 4 students per class to 2x or even 3x more.

Part of my bitching may have been subconsciously influenced by the growth in class size. When classes were smaller, more focus was on me, the new student, so I was progressing well. Now that classes are larger, there's less focus on me as the teachers are all trying to get everyone else acclimated to 6th kyu as well. This week I just didn't think about the 5th kyu test at all. I just focused on performing the techniques for my love of Aikido, not for a stupid rank.

The same thing happened to me when I was taking college classes at my workplace. I work at a university so I can take college classes for free. I took 14 art classes because these are the classes my parents didn't allow me to take when I went to college over 25 years ago. After I finished the 14 classes, all of the classes in Penn's photography curriculum, I asked if I could use those towards an MFA degree and they said no unless I quit my job at Penn and enrolled as a full-time student. That made me really upset because if they accepted my classes and gave me part-time status, all I'd have to do was studio classwork, which was just one year of study that could be spread out over two part-time. My point is I was concerned with "rank" even though I started taking those classes with no intention of gaining a rank. This is what happened with Aikido. I got a rank and then I wanted to proceed like a racehorse to get that next rank. It didn't help when Sensei kept announcing "This is for 5th kyu" before every 5th kyu technique because I kept feeling like he was dangling a carrot in front of me that I'd never be able to get. The past couple of classes, I just said to myself, "Fuck the carrot," and I think I actually did better in the past two classes than I did in quite a while.

I still want to study from teachers at other dojos to gain their perspectives. That's why I went to the Christmas seminar. It opened my eyes to the NY Aikikai. Awesome place. I took my kids there so they could see where Aikikai all started on the East Coast. That's where I met Penny Bernath, Donovan Waite, and Steve Pimsleur. I know my ukemi can be improved if I study from this one teacher at Donovan's school. I'm still rolling not in a straight line and I can't breakfall to save my life. We have this new tatami mat and it's been quite a challenge adjusting to it from a cushioned floor.

Janet Rosen
03-18-2016, 01:24 PM
Sounds like you have had a productive week or two :-) Happy keiko

robin_jet_alt
03-18-2016, 10:31 PM
. What I failed to see (lightbulb on) is these techniques, even though they are 5th kyu, are going to look much different when I'm a higher rank.

SHit. (lightbulb moment)


Yep. I'm 2-dan now, and I'm still working on every technique that I learned for my 6-kyu test 14 years ago. I did them a lot better at my 2-dan test than at my first grading, but I can do them a lot better than I did at my 2-dan test now. Hopefully I will get better still before I attempt 3-dan. I'm in no hurry, though.

It sounds like you've had a bit of a mental breakthrough. Well done.

As for rolling in a straight line, I think it is overrated (depending on what you mean by straight).

Currawong
03-20-2016, 03:08 AM
I liken learning Aikido to learning to drive a car for the first time. So many things that have to been focused on simultaneously, from position of the hands and feet to everything going on around one.

I realised fairly early on in my practice that I had to do things like cut down vertically while turning in a circle and maintaining balance. While I understood that mentally, actually doing that while trying to move with a partner when being slightly too close or far or slightly to fast or slow with each bit of the moment can muck it was profoundly frustrating for many years.

Aha! Now this makes a lot of sense because one thing that Sensei always said to me was "Why don't you bring your back foot in with your front foot? You're standing in too wide a stance." This is from doing thousands of Triangle poses over the years (see pic below for an idea of the pose):

http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/images/tutorials/bikram-triangle-step5.gif



When I saw this, the first comment that came to mind was that you might be better suited to Yoshinkan Aikido, or one of it's offshoots, as they start their training with exercises that use very wide/deep stances. I tried a bit of Renshinkai (an offshoot) and one of the students was practicing Yoga and doing well with both.

Here are a series of videos of the basic techniques: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJdoI14_rss&list=PLA5C15C822A2C09B6

However, it is very linear in form and practiced step-by-step with almost no flow at the lower levels, so it is not as beautiful. The techniques are also heavily standardised now, so they don't seem to allow much, if any, variation.

It's very masculine, to me anyhow.

Aikikai style is very feminine, in that you have to feel the techniques more so. What I tend to find lacking is is some of the physical structure Yoshinkan style has. After my Reshinkai experience, now when I guide students in my Aikikai classes I encourage them to find hanmi inside the movements of their techniques to use as anchor points. This helps them build the structure of their movements through the techniques.

We have a few members who started Aikido around your age who haven't practiced any kind of sport for decades and I have a lot of sympathy for their frustration.

All the best! :)

rugwithlegs
03-20-2016, 04:19 PM
I do see what you're talking about Amos, but with respect, I do not equate Shumatsu Dosa with the Triangle pose. The one is for learning how the hips and hands coordinate can lead to more issued power, and it all arrives like a freight train. The other is one of my favorite hip opening exercises.

http://youtu.be/4bIeBfm8Z40 Shumatsu Doza Ichi.

There's another area that Yoga and Aikido are a little different Clare, but it still comes down to intention. Your teacher is the person you have put in a position of judgement over yourself. While I remember yoga being a very supportive and affirming activity, martial arts can be for the opposite reasons. No one was there to give me affirmation when I worked for EMS, or the Fire Department, nor when I worked in Corrections, and not when I work in the hospital now. People are scared and angry - and can I move forward anyway? Our clients, business partners, and opponents aren't always making us feel supported. Even our friends and people we trust don't always leave us feeling better about ourselves. In a combat situation, the opposite party is there to make me feel bad on many different levels!

Stress and emotions do change how you move - and how you sleep, digest, focus, breathe, fight infections and a thousand other things. Part of what martial arts are for is moving forward anyway. There's always another patient in the next room who deserves better than me melting down, the bills don't stop coming, and my family is still there and needing me. It's not easy and it doesn't make anything suck any less.

Someday you'll fall and you'll not be doing a generalized startle reflex when you lose your balance and the fall will just be a fall instead of a slurry of thoughts and emotions overwhelming you and spilling into muscle movements. Someday, you're going to be in front of your teacher who has power over you and can judge you or fail you, and you'll just stand up and turn anyway. Maybe a whole audience cheering you on, or who won't be on your side, or who aren't even paying attention, and you'll just do your best anyway.

Good luck.

lbb
03-20-2016, 06:19 PM
This is why we need a "like" button. John, may I quote?

I do see what you're talking about Amos, but with respect, I do not equate Shumatsu Dosa with the Triangle pose. The one is for learning how the hips and hands coordinate can lead to more issued power, and it all arrives like a freight train. The other is one of my favorite hip opening exercises.

http://youtu.be/4bIeBfm8Z40 Shumatsu Doza Ichi.

There's another area that Yoga and Aikido are a little different Clare, but it still comes down to intention. Your teacher is the person you have put in a position of judgement over yourself. While I remember yoga being a very supportive and affirming activity, martial arts can be for the opposite reasons. No one was there to give me affirmation when I worked for EMS, or the Fire Department, nor when I worked in Corrections, and not when I work in the hospital now. People are scared and angry - and can I move forward anyway? Our clients, business partners, and opponents aren't always making us feel supported. Even our friends and people we trust don't always leave us feeling better about ourselves. In a combat situation, the opposite party is there to make me feel bad on many different levels!

Stress and emotions do change how you move - and how you sleep, digest, focus, breathe, fight infections and a thousand other things. Part of what martial arts are for is moving forward anyway. There's always another patient in the next room who deserves better than me melting down, the bills don't stop coming, and my family is still there and needing me. It's not easy and it doesn't make anything suck any less.

Someday you'll fall and you'll not be doing a generalized startle reflex when you lose your balance and the fall will just be a fall instead of a slurry of thoughts and emotions overwhelming you and spilling into muscle movements. Someday, you're going to be in front of your teacher who has power over you and can judge you or fail you, and you'll just stand up and turn anyway. Maybe a whole audience cheering you on, or who won't be on your side, or who aren't even paying attention, and you'll just do your best anyway.

Good luck.

rugwithlegs
03-20-2016, 07:25 PM
I'd be honored Mary.

jdm4life
03-22-2016, 06:34 PM
Practiced for 2.5 years....still dont have a f***ing clue what Im doing. Why do I put myself through it? Thats a question Im yet to answer but hopefully will soon because Im tired of the frustration.

I must have got 6th and 5th kyu for attendance.

If you want different coloured belts every few months....do karate.

Currawong
03-23-2016, 07:48 AM
I do see what you're talking about Amos, but with respect, I do not equate Shumatsu Dosa with the Triangle pose. The one is for learning how the hips and hands coordinate can lead to more issued power, and it all arrives like a freight train. The other is one of my favorite hip opening exercises.

http://youtu.be/4bIeBfm8Z40 Shumatsu Doza Ichi.

Cheers for that John. In the limited time I had experience with it, I learned the importance of starting the movement from my centre (hips) but it is indeed something I haven't explored deeply enough. Unfortunately I had to stop training in that dojo as the different way of taking ukemi ended up causing me injury.

Back to Clare's query...

Clare Din
04-13-2016, 02:20 PM
An update... well, I finally tested and passed my 5th kyu test and with it I have a deeper respect for everything that this art requires. During the test, which literally took every ounce of sweat out of me, I realized how much I know and how much I have yet to learn. I discovered that some of my movements are a lot more fluid than others. I discovered that I favor one side over the other. I also discovered in a high-pressure situation, my instincts took over and I think my best Aikido came out for a short while. My Sensei praised me at the end of the test ("That was a prime test," he said) and when class ended, I sat down on the couch in the lounge area and was exhausted. I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower with my gi on! I just closed my eyes and rested for several minutes. Normally, you would think I would jump for joy, but I sat there with the realization that "Wow, it's over. I did it. Lots of work to do." I was not happy, I was not sad, I was just... at peace. I know this sounds corny, but the experience would've made more sense if I was totally exhilarated or crying because I was happy. I got changed and left the dojo as if it were just another day. When I came back to class the next day, my classmates who watched my test were more enthusiastic about my promotion than I was.

I'd like to thank all of you for helping me out of my misery and making me realize that good things take time to develop. Nothing should ever be rushed, especially Aikido.

lbb
04-14-2016, 09:13 AM
Niiiiiice, Claire. That's exactly the outcome that I would have hoped for you.

Another realization that I've had about testing is that (like anything you anticipate and build up in your mind) it's never what you think it will be. Oh, sure, after you've tested a while, you'll be familiar with the particulars -- but how it affects you, what you feel during it, how you feel after...unpredictable. And often indescribable. If you test, and afterwards you feel settled rather than euphoric, I think that's probably a good sign.

rugwithlegs
04-14-2016, 04:14 PM
Congratulations!

Some tests are about verifying what you've already learned. Some of my most memorable tests opened my eyes to insights that I still come back to years later. It sounds like you had a great test.

Susan Dalton
04-14-2016, 08:30 PM
I have really enjoyed this thread. Congratulations, Claire. Forgive me, but I hear my younger self in your words. For years I thought my yonkyu test was horrible, worst ever, an embarrassment to the dojo. However, I was quite proud of my nidan test. A few years ago I saw tapes of both tests and they both looked like run of the mill tests for that rank. What had I gotten so worked up about? But that process of getting worked up and then figuring out why I didn't need to be was an important part of the practice for me. I also remember one of my teachers visiting from Japan and watching as I practiced a few days before a test. Making polite conversation, he asked me if I was testing for 5th kyu. I was highly indignant that he couldn't tell I was testing for 4th kyu!!
Susan

robin_jet_alt
04-15-2016, 01:07 AM
I'm really happy that it's working out.

edshockley
11-18-2016, 11:40 AM
There was no "6th kyu" when I started. Everyone had to be at Aikido at least 60 days before the 5th. At "Aikido of Philadelphia" it was a Saturday and after Shihan Henry Smith 6th dan would wait until several kyu were ready. For example..I went always five-seven days each week. My son could only be there Tuesday - Thursday (Morning) Friday and Saturday. We both did the 5th kyu. I loved that because I could see Shihan with any questions for my kid. Exercise and learning is everything.