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08-14-2016, 10:14 PM
Hello Everyone, so I will try to sum up this little aikido story as much as I can.
Along with being an Aikiodka I am getting ordained this weekend as a Priest in the Liberal Catholic Church starting in 1915, and I am recalling some things, situations I must confess, one is my aikido experience and I feel it necessary to make confession and try to get over this.
I discovered Aikido about 2 years ago and started at Aikido Ai then Ki Society of Orange County , then worked with a small dojo in Santa ana. Well I Loved it an wanted to further my study but like anyone else I had my problems. I remember last time I wrote it was in regards to my ukemi and rolling. Well I found a wonderful new dojo in Monterey park where I joined, enjoyed it and was eventually accepted to an Agatsu Deshi program. Well as I got immersed into it and there came many responsibilities, I have my OCD moments and always made sure the Dojo was clean and all things settled before I even thought of extra training (after Class). I participated in all things, but eventually i noticed a change in my Aikido, I was becoming more aggressive because I was angry I was forgetting everything, like atemi, and certain steps, and whenever Sensei would correct me and just make one little correction I would get angry and take it out on my Uke. I hated who I was becoming this angry, then came the Seminar and I was required to attend and do my duties, well I felt like a fool, taking falls I could not feel confident in and embarrassing myself and then I would do what most of us do, try to execute a technique so fast that no one would see i missed a step. I got a lot of clout from other aikidokas and I felt so embarrassed! Never in my life did I feel so sad and not to mention hurt, as in physically, my right leg barely got feeling back because I couldn't feel it, and some break falls the other aikidokas made me take literally knocked the wind out of me. Well I began to cut classes and feel depressed, eventually resigning. What put the nail in the coffin was I wanted to test, I just needed some extra practice, other people were getting extra practice with Sensei, but its like I was not in the "In" club, and the I asked for extra help, no one really cared, and then Sensei originally wanted me to test but then allowed someone else whom couldn't even remember the techniques, I at least had a general grasp but needed to make my movements more fluid. I was upset because its like why allow someone else to make a fool of themselves in the test but avoid me where I may have a good chance of being victorious. Well as soon as I resigned the person whom was up to test dropped out.
After resigning I started training at other dojos in the area, I was just having fun, but realized i want to be a dedicated student, not like bee that flies from one flower to the next and leaves. I have found a wonderful Sensei and he welcomed me with open arms, and I really want to join because I see his passion and concern for Aikido, but I also really I have a grudge because of that overlooking me for testing. I hear of some people waiting 6 years just to get 6th kyu? But overall I feel just angered by this whole thing and am afraid if I go back to Aikido I will become the person I was, frustrated, angry, and not cultivating this Peace I thought I saw but ended up not achieving. Any advice, I am prepared to be humbled by the Yudansha here and pray that maybe I can find a way to just focus on my Aikido without my insecure self.
08-14-2016, 10:30 PM
I don't really have an answer for you because the whole situation seems so strange to me. I wouldn't have a clue whether the dojo is at fault, or you are at fault, or some combination of the 2. It's just so far outside my experience. If you lived a little bit closer, I'd say come and train with us and we'll see... Sorry I'm not much help.
08-15-2016, 07:33 AM
I am a yudansha. I have been training for many years and have the rank of 7th dan, for what it's worth.
It took me nine years to obtain shodan, mainly because I was following an academic career and trained at dojos close to the universities where I was studying. So I took my shodan test in London, where I was doing my PhD at University College London (UCL). Even a 'life-changing' martial art / way like aikido had to be subordinated to my plans for an academic career, teaching and researching in universities. My last university was Hiroshima University, where there was a flourishing aikido club, and in a city where was a network of about 20 dojos.
Well, it took my 9 years to obtain shodan and this was my very first aikido test. So I do not really understand why you need to 'confess' anything. I did not ever want to be a 'dedicated' student and I suspect that this is a psychological trap that some students fall into. I never thought about my instructor's 'passion' for aikido. His name was Chiba and he had it in spades, but he was a very forbidding teacher, who did not suffer fools at all -- not even gladly. I really hated the hero worship that his students gave him. Later, I got to know him very well, but I am not really sure he ever regarded me as his student, though I was so recognized by the other Japanese instructors who were his contemporaries. When I came to Japan, some instructors said 'You are a Chiba student,' but I do not really think I ever was.
Personally, I do not think you have reached a situation where you need to be humbled. I think you should abandon any ideas of becoming a dedicated student (There is too much emotional baggage involved in being one of Sensei's deshi and seeing his / her 'passion' for aikido. If the sensei is any good, you take his her passion for granted and not even think about it.)
I do not really understand why you make the connection between being a priest in a religious community like a church and aikido. Aikido is an art and I think it is a major mistake to equate it with religion, be it Japanese shinto or Buddhism, or western Christianity. Any ethical superstructure that aikido might have (in western terms) is secondary to its structure as a Japanese martial 'way'.
Is there some kind of close connection between this new dojo that you've found, and the prior one where you didn't test? If not, why would you be carrying the baggage of past experience into a new place? It's like being angry at the bus driver because the train was late.
08-15-2016, 03:41 PM
Thank you all very good responses to think about. I especially love the quote of "being angry at the bus driver because the train was late".
The best thing as I have gotten is to just move on and do Aikido, and yes I agree I fell into a trap into thinking somehow I was supposed to be dedicated student, maybe even experienced burn out from just trying to hard. I am most grateful for the good responses and see I must move on and just train.
08-15-2016, 05:48 PM
I trained around the Orange County dojos for 12 years. Great experience.
Being a psychotherapist by profession, my recommendation would be to pay attention to any cognitive distortion/dissonance that come up in training.
The question may be how do you stop yourself from being the person/student you want to be.
Just my thoughts after 20+ years.
08-18-2016, 02:48 PM
I have a parallel experience to yours.
I am fairly new at Aikido myself, only 8 years or so. My view on my practice of Aikido is constantly changing. When I first started, it was simply a hobby and to kill time. After about a year or two I joined as an uchi-deshi/live-in student. The mental challenge outweighed the physical practice. I wrecked my body plenty trying to live up to whatever ridiculous expectations I had upon myself. I had arguments with other uchi-deshi's because of false expectations that I had placed on myself and them. It was a learning process. Through it all (2 years as a live in), I learned that Aikido to me is just a hobby, but one that I am very passionate about. However, I practice it for myself.
At the end of the day, I only have one body. I am not going to ruin it trying to do what I think people want me to do. I train safely so I can continue training. I practice at my own pace and let my partners know to slow down a throw because I can't physically the ukemi that fast or in whichever way they want. I learned that I don't have to breakfall out of everything, the aikido flop is fine. Practicing slow and soft is fine. If people want to crank on me, I tell them to stop it. I learned to respect my own training and communicate it to people. It's not the art, it's how I practice it. I enjoy the movements and the body development, but I don't care if I don't get any kind of other benefits from it spiritually/martially/real-life/dark alley way scenarios/etc. I don't care for testing either. If you don't want to test, don't test. Why test? What's the purpose of testing? Can't you just train for the enjoyment of it?
Train for you, don't train for other people. Find out why you truly like Aikido and continue doing it or if you don't like it, find something else. I mean that in the best of ways, because it's your practice, time, energy, and body.
08-19-2016, 12:03 AM
Wow thank you very much Hung Le, it sounds like you have had quite an experience with Aikido, and on top of that you have Wisdom, for someone to say what you described as Aikido being to you is Wisdom and a great discovery.
I admit I have bought about the other martial arts, I did some Kenpo Karate and some Tae Kwon Do, but don't really like the striking arts, in a martial way I would prefer to just know how to get myself out of a bad situation and reconcile. I thank you for your honest wisdom and insight, and its nice to know that none of us are alone, as aikidokas were family, thus I have a positive attitude and now cannot wait to get back on the mat!
I admit I have bought about the other martial arts, I did some Kenpo Karate and some Tae Kwon Do, but don't really like the striking arts, in a martial way I would prefer to just know how to get myself out of a bad situation and reconcile.
Well, as to that...people come to martial arts seeking many different things. The typical newbie student walks in the door with a big bag of needs, real or perceived. Without disputing the validity of any of these needs, I honestly believe that in the modern world, there's an easier/more direct/more foolproof way to get any of them. Self-defense, fitness, relaxation, de-stressing, spiritual awakening, whatever - for any of these, there's a better way than martial arts. So if your reason for training is to "reconcile" with a hypothetical attacker, it would be worth reconsidering the problem without presupposing any particular solution, and see what that gets you. If that's your goal, likely aikido is not the best (or at least most direct) solution. You won't get there soon, you may not get there ever - there's no such thing as unilaterally "reconciling", after all. If you want to train in a martial art, then train for the practice. Train for what you do on the mat, for what you get out of it in the training, not what you imagine you might get out of it somewhere else some day.
08-20-2016, 12:57 AM
Thank you Mary for your very honest Wisdom, I have reflected deeply into what you have said. I am trying to clear my head to get myself to go back into training, but after you explained everything I feel..... I don't really know, just that I really want to travel this path, regardless of anything. I especially like that you said "If you train in a martial art, then train for the practice". With that said I try asking fellow aikidokas what is Aikido to see do I really fit in the mold, Im sure you can only imagine the answers I get, (one says Budo, other says Marital Arts, another says Spiritual awakening etc.). All through this I can only say I Love what I see, experience and feel. However something seriously did go wrong in my past experience, maybe Im wrong but I don't feel like someone should be feeling that angry or aggressive on the mat, but thats my own opinion.
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