View Full Version : "Peaks" and "Valleys"

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11-09-2000, 11:27 AM
Most everyone experiences those periods during their training where there are the "peaks," where they definitely perceive that they have improved, and the "valleys," where they feel like they aren't making any progess at all. My question is, how do you deal with the "valleys" and what do you do to continue to motivate yourselves to keep training through them?

11-09-2000, 11:42 AM
Last night's class was definately a valley and all we were practicing was basic seburi!. In answer to your question... I just keep practicing. How's that for an unsatisfying answer? These thoughts help me when I'm journeying through the valley...
There is no such thing as a shortcut
Practice and you will get better
Having a long term goal is akin to having a lighthouse during a storm
Remember how far you could see at the peak even though you see little from the valley
...and probably the most important thing to remember in all scenarios... This too shall pass!

11-09-2000, 12:49 PM
Just keep things in perspective.

After practicing aikido for a little more than a year, I have already been through some of those peaks and valleys. When I find my self in a valley, I step back and realize that I just finished coming over a peak. But now it is time that I must learn something new and I focus my energy there. I may have learned how to do shihonage, but what it seems like is that I can't do it right. However, what actually is happening is that my sensei and sempai are actually fine-tuning my technique. My valleys are the most important time for me. Because that is when I am learning and that is where I improve. The peaks just show me that my hard work pays off.

The peaks and valleys are just the process of learning. If you remind yourself of this, then the valleys won't seem so bad.

Anne Marie Giri
5th Kyu, Florida Aikikai

11-09-2000, 02:23 PM
These so-called "valleys" are exactly what are necessary in order for any of us to improve. No one ever keeps improving.

A good book to read on this subject is George Leonard sensei's "Mastery."

-- Jun

11-09-2000, 02:55 PM
I find the following thought helpful when I'm in a valley:

Perfecting your Karate is like cutting the corners off a cube: for every large one you cut off, several smaller ones appear; and though to a less advanced student you may appear as a perfect sphere, you are often painfully aware of the many angles that still remain. -Elmar Schmeisser, Advanced Karate-Do

What I take from this is that as we improve, our flaws become more and more apparent to us. This does not mean that we've gotten worse--rather, we have sharpened our perception.


11-09-2000, 03:27 PM
Always remember this in your training;

"One sees great things from the valleys, only small things from the peaks!"

Dan P. - Mongo

11-09-2000, 05:11 PM
arrrggg I'm well aware of these valleys you speak of. They seem to come incredibly quickly for me about every 3 weeks I go through an up and a down. Does this mean I am improving? Just as I am beginning to feel satisfied and that I am improving, the box is whisked away from under my feet and I'm left there hanging painfully by a thin thread which very quickly snaps along with my confidence and will to train. But I must be strong, and unlike anything else I have ever done, not give up!

The peaks are fantastic, the valleys discouraging, but you can't have a peak without a valley can you???

11-09-2000, 11:05 PM
It means you are learning. In learning we improve. Yes, it still is frustrating because at the time it seems like you are getting no where. But once you get to the top of peak you feel the exhileration of your hard work.
But realize soon after you will be heading down the peak into another valley.

I believe the best way to deal with cycle is to realize that until you "master" aikido you will always have peaks and valleys. Just accept it as part of your training. That is what I did. If you get stuck on a plateau, then worry.

The analogy of turning a cube into a sphere is great, too.

Anne Marie Giri

11-09-2000, 11:22 PM
That sounds WAY too much like programing.

11-10-2000, 02:22 AM
Relax and keep practicing. This is your aim. You should not bother about being good or bad in a technique. The way is your aim. Be content with practicing Aikido or whatever you do. This is my way to go through my up's and down's.

All the best,


PS: "Set your spirit free, it's the only way to be"
Spice Girls

11-10-2000, 09:26 AM
How about the analogy of an advertisement for Thomas' english muffins? I quote (not precisely):

"What makes them so good is all the nooks and crannys!"

I think of it (aikido or even life) sometimes as a road; wouldn't it be kind of boring if it was always on the same incline? I used to live in Colorado, and loved to just go for drives in the mountains. What made these drives so enjoyable was all the ups and downs and twists and turns in the roads, combined with coming around a turn or over a hill and seeing some astonishing scenery all of a sudden. Or driving across a valley or plateau straight toward an incredible mountain range or set of peaks, getting closer and closer. As you got closer, you would be able to see more and more details of the mountains, and then in a few moments, you would either be going over them or around them, and onto the next set of peaks or down into another valley, beginning the cycle all over again.

Anywho, just my two cents worth...

Mike Collins
11-10-2000, 09:45 AM
Life is a series of peaks and valleys, unless you insist on being in the middle, where there is little flavor, color, or sound.

Aikido, or probably any martial art is a reflection of your life, I think. The trick is not so much in not having peaks and valleys, but in viewing them in such a way that you don't mind them, or better yet, enjoy them.

Realize that they are a thing that is part of the deal, and in their own way they're a positive thing.

And as said above "This too, shall pass"