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jgrowney
11-10-2003, 03:57 PM
I was just wondering how others find the motivation to continue training. I have just had a friend quit who seriously had some real talent for learning aikido. Needless to say this was very disappointing to me.
Once he had gotten a grasp of the basics, I think the shiny newness of aikido wore off, and his motivation to continue training was drastically reduced.

I'm sure every one has been through this. I know I have. But I'm curious to know how others find the drive to continue through these really difficult training periods.

Is it inspiraton from your teacher?
Is it pride in your self discipline, determination, and dedication?
Is it your other training partners who kick you in the a**?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback on how... not necessarily why you keep moving forward.

Sincerely,
Jim

Chuck Clark
11-10-2003, 04:15 PM
Jim, I've been training for over fifty years now. Steady with only a few months off due to unavoidable circumstances, but always training mentally when not in the dojo for awhile.

I can't answer your question and I don't think anyone else really can. It's something you must deal with. It's a struggle sometimes and very frustrating to say the least. You are the only one that can make the ongoing decision to continue on the journey.

You can't leave it up to others to entertain you, teach you, inspire you, entice you with promises, etc. You also can not blame it on others if you quit. It is up to you.

Gambatte!

fvhale
11-10-2003, 04:36 PM
Dear Jim,

I have no talent for learning martial arts

or any sports, for that matter.

In fact, I have a serious visual handicap.

Since I first entered a dojo

some 30 years ago, almost everyone quits.

Maybe I quit, too,

but I'm too stupid to realize.

I just keep going back to dojo,

train hard, sweat.

Don't talk too much.

Sensei not especially "inspiring,"

just sensei; run dojo; teach students.

My pitiful attempts at self-discipline,

determination and dedication are a source

of shame, not pride.

Training partners do "train hard" with me,

and I say, "Thank you."

I think I'm just stupid.

I just keep going back to the dojo,

train hard, sweat.

Maybe I'll quit tomorrow. Who knows?

Martial arts training is just part of me.

I'm not any good at it.

Not even possible to be good.

I will never be good at martial arts.

Brain defect in visual cortex.

Train hard. Sweat. Bow.

Peace,

Frank

Janet Rosen
11-10-2003, 05:01 PM
Frank, thank you for saying it so eloquently.

While my time in the art is decades less (coming up on 8 yrs) I have no innate talent for learning things involving body-in-space and had significant time off the mat due to injury/surgery (as Chuck Clark notes, still training after my own fashion too).

Yet while I have considered and accepted a future in which I may decide not to train, to in the 'now' not train has never entered my mind as something I want to do. Even on the most frustrating nights, driving home banging the steering wheel.

There is still too much joy in it when just briefly its 'on', and too much facing myself whether its on or not, to walk away.

sanosuke
11-10-2003, 07:31 PM
what can i say? simply i already found a good teacher to look up to.

senshincenter
11-10-2003, 07:47 PM
Frank. Love the reply. Truly sublime. Thank you for sharing. dmv

aikidoc
11-10-2003, 08:29 PM
For those who truly love the art, there is no need for motivation-the issue of not training is not an issue. As Chuck said, even when off the mat your train mentally.

Jeanne Shepard
11-10-2003, 10:44 PM
I don't have any talent at physical activities, but I'm blessed with a sort of stubborn persistance. it hasn't occured to me to give it up, but I sure hate it some nights.

Jeanne

Daniel Blanco
11-11-2003, 12:04 AM
If you love the art then you will train, sometimes it just takes you to take a couple of days off to give you body rest. Then you can return with more motivation you must be patient in this art its not Karate, no direspect this is just different.

Bronson
11-11-2003, 01:06 AM
Saw a bumper sticker once that read: "Get involved! The world is run by those who show up." It started a weird chain of thoughts in my head which ended up with me realizing that the great masters of today had no more or less raw talent than anybody else. They just stayed around long enough to get good.

Bronson

ian
11-11-2003, 08:59 AM
Great post Bronson,

my thoughts exactly. I get very irritated with students who dissapear for months at a time then wonder why they aren't as good as the people who have been coming regularly. I have thought of having the same agreement that Tessu had with one of his students - if either of them failed to turn up to training they could hit the other one over the head, full power, with a bokken.

As time goes on I realise aikido isn't for everyone. It is pointless trying to hang on to those who are going to give up anyway. Provide good training, and if people want to learn, let them. Tessu was also of the view that it was more important to have one student who was of high quality, than many poor quality students. I think I'd agree.

Ian

SeiserL
11-11-2003, 09:51 AM
Motivation is an interesting topic.

IMHO, its different for each person. Some move towards rewards/pleasure/happiness while others simply move away from punishment/pain/fear. Some have a time criteria that they only stay motivated for the short run (sprinters) while others stay in for the long run (endurance). Some use an external reinforcement, while other use an internal one.

George Leonard wrote a great book on Mastery. It says at the top of the usual learning curve is that plateau where you are not learning anything new and get bored. This is where most people drop out. He suggests that if we continue to train and wire in the past learning through repetition, than this plateau become our new baseline and the new learning starts from there.

This model helps me to understand that the most important workouts may be the most boring. That where I have to practice with true discipline.

Its a temporary barrier, we can all work through.

IMHO, the best way to stay motivated is just to continue to train consistently and persistently whether you feel motivated or not.

jgrowney
11-11-2003, 10:06 AM
Chuck,

I agree if my question was in relation to me. My question however, was in relation to other students. I'm curious to know how you get through the plateaus or really difficult times in your training.

I think my friends original reason for training was self defense oriented. After training for about 6 months or so his motivation to train was reduced by something. Maybe it was a realizatioin that the probability of him being attacked was very low and the time, energy, and effort he was putting in was not worth it. I'm not sure.

My gut tells me that there was no real purpose behind his training. So I think the question really becomes how do you go about leading or guiding someone towards finding their particular meaning or purpose in training?

Frank,

Outstanding post! But how do you go about maintaining the motivation to continue... especially given your handicap?

Ian,

I personally don't get irritated, but can't help but want to know why they discontinue training... and if they come back, why did they?

Sincerely,

Jim

fvhale
11-11-2003, 12:15 PM
Dear Jim,

You wrote:

"But how do you go about maintaining the motivation to continue... especially given your handicap?"

I have no idea.

I don't think about

"maintaining the motivation to continue."

I just continue.

Today.

Today is not yesterday,

or the day before.

How can today be boring?

Only training now is real.

Yesterday's training,

yesterday's sunshine,

yesterday's rain,

might as well be

at Jingde Monastery with Dogen

in 1225 A.D.

When I step onto the mat,

yesterday's are ghosts;

but I am breath.

If I cannot see with my eyes,

or rather, can only see quite deficiently,

does it matter?

Should I stop?

Would you still teach me?

Training is more with the heart

than with the eyes.

(My ears are also very well trained,

perhaps as some meager compensation;

and my beard is quite sensitive to touch;

alas, my head is bald!)

Peace to you,

Frank

twilliams423
11-11-2003, 12:17 PM
rather simple for me :

one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Don't look back, don't look forward, just take that next step.

jgrowney
11-11-2003, 01:12 PM
Good comments by all. However they seem (to me) to be taken from the perspective of people who have never experienced an extended lack of motivation with regard to training. If this is so, then you're very lucky... like me. I'm addicted to training and need it. I really crave it, and can't imagine my life without it. Naturally this is why I'm curious to know more about the other side of the coin.

I think some people begin to ask "what's the point?" after a while doing aikido. This seems to be when they need to find their purpose for training.

I posted the same question on the A.J. message board and got some very different answers. If you're interested take a look here: http://143.207.8.139/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=9&t=002016

Jim

Chuck Clark
11-11-2003, 01:46 PM
After many years of interacting with people training in budo, I realized that about the only impact I have on anyone else's training is this. Do your practice the best you can at all times. Full knowing that some days are better than others, but still doing the best you can each time you enter the dojo. They will make their choices as they will. People come and go... all you can do is make your own choices. Some of the choices others make will break your heart...

Where ever you are... that is your dojo.

Gambatte!

fvhale
11-11-2003, 02:56 PM
I cannot control another

or convince another

(let alone "inspire" another)

to continue training.

But I remember with deep gratitude

everyone with whom I have trained.

Everyone attending an aikido demonstration,

everyone visiting a class,

everyone wearing a gi,

everyone my training partner,

everyone my sensei.

(Even the ones who hid my shoes in the dojo

and made me cry when I was very young!)

Dojo and schools and students and sensei

all come and go

through time.

(Me, too!)

If I train with them now

or no longer know where they are,

if they are older and wiser than me

or younger (and probably wiser) than me,

I remember them all

with deep gratitude.

Maybe they got a glimpse

of the reality of aikido with me.

Maybe they think I'm stupid.

But I'm deeply grateful to all.

I am sincere when I bow and say

arigatoo.

If they train no more

(who of us can control our lives?)

I still hold them in my heart

in deep gratitude.

I train with them in my heart.

peace,

Frank

Anders Bjonback
11-11-2003, 09:26 PM
I orginally started training a year ago with the idea that I'd only train for a few years, but now, I hope I never have to give up aikido. My desire to train in the future is messing up my plans for life--being a monk, or gettting some sort of a career with studying Buddhist doctrine, but I hope I never quit. It's the thing I enjoy the most, and I feel like I get a lot out of it.

Jeanne Shepard
11-11-2003, 11:35 PM
Hi, James,

You can't make anyone want to do anything. Sometimes thats hard for a teacher to deal with, especially if they have alot to offer a motivated student.

Jeanne

jgrowney
11-11-2003, 11:36 PM
Frank,

"I cannot control another

or convince another

(let alone "inspire" another)

to continue training."

Somehow I don't believe this... as I find your posts inspiring:-)

Jim

Alan Lomax
11-14-2003, 07:18 PM
James,

Great line of questioning and exposing your thoughts as edible chunks for all to feast. I have been training in Martial arts for just a little over 30 years. I have had no real sustained ability to drag anyone else along with me. I have found you can realize some peopleís temporary interests from time to time, but YOU canít make them motivated for the same things as you, past their own natural disposition. Of course I am only using this line of thinking in regards to situations were in we are discussing a free choice scenario.

I canít quote this exactly but I believe I have the gist of it. Some artist once said something along the lines of, I donít carve the stone into a statue, I simply remove the pieces of stone that are not and only the statue that was there all along remains.

In my own words, there are lots of rocks (people) that we encounter (me included and my status as a rock is often verified by the folks I work with). Over time if these rocks remain exposed to experiences that chip away the pieces that are not what they will eventually turn out to be, we will eventually learn what the rocks truly have inside them. Some will be shaped as we would like them to be and some will not.

I do not have a greatest love for a particular Martial Art. I am motivated by a desire to posses within myself an integrity with a basis in ability, confidence, security, patience and discipline. I continue to work on this daily because this is the route I have recognized and chosen to gain the cherished acceptance that provides a great deal of the fuel of my existence. It is a work in progress that I believe has no conclusion during my lifetime, so I must continue and do.

I couldn't foist that kind of thing off on some other unsuspecting soul, it just wouldn't be right. If the normal reactions of people is any indication, most people just won't have that kind of pressure thrust on them by others by choice.

As far as the rock analogy, I have been chipped down to a pile of sand, yet still no statue, I continue anyway.

Regards

MaylandL
11-14-2003, 11:29 PM
This is a very interesting thread and somewhat close to home. I've experienced a time when my motivation to train was at its lowest and I took a break of a couple of months.

There have been a number of very interesting comments by Messrs Clark, Hale, Dodkins and Seiser which I wholeheartedly agree with. Infact its given me some insight as to why I continue to train.

I went through a period where I was trainig about 3 times a week (about 6 hours) without much progress. I had hit the wall or the plateau. There were other factors in my life then including increased work commitments - new job, promotion. All of these things create pressures and demands on your time and can contribute to a assessment of personal priorities.

I found that after a couple of months of not training, I missed the interaction with other aikidoka and the joy that I derived from training. Training for the sake of training and the enjoyment of movement. Consequently I went back to training the very next week. All in all I have been training for over 10 years and now train up to 5 times a week (about 10 hours). Ultimately, for me I continue to train because its fun and its a release from the stresses of work. I enjoy the interaction I have with other aikidoka regardless of affiliation and style.

As for continuing training when the initial motivation is self defence. I've been with my main dojo (I train at two dojos) and see various people come and go. The most amount of turnover is from people who learn aikido for purely self defense reasons. The style at our dojo is aikikai and its not a style that is conducive to quick results from a self defence perspective and its not taught with that as its primary purpose.

Some of these people have indicated that they can't see the application in self defence and that is why they left. Unfortunately, I have had to defend my self and it does work as a self defence but that has only come about from over 10 years of training.

IMHO, I don't think that taking on a martial art from purely a self defence perspective is sustainable in the long run. There needs to be a more long term purpose in mind such as personal development and a real passion to learn about and improve yourself, learn about aikido.

Happy training all :)

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
11-15-2003, 07:39 PM
I heard that a certain sensei (not giving name, since I'm not sure of the authorship, and don't want to misquote) remarked:

"You have to be a little crazy to study aikido."

Sounds about right. Not many people are going to be naturally interested; kind of two qualitative categories, perhaps.

Abasan
11-15-2003, 11:20 PM
"Tessu was also of the view that it was more important to have one student who was of high quality, than many poor quality students. I think I'd agree."

No doubt that would be ideal. Unfortunately, most senseis have to eat too... :)

Rather then hoping for the greatest of senseis to teach you, i hope to become a great student. But since i have a life outside of aikido, i guess i'll just settle for being a plain student.

jgrowney
11-18-2003, 10:55 AM
Mayland,

So I gather that your real answer to my questioin was for you to take some time off to realize what exactly aikido had ot offer you. Sounds like your focus shifted from something goal oriented or progress oriented to process oriented. You just enjoyed the process of training and learning and let progress come as it may.

This is how I started out. Just wanting to train. I never started testing until earlier this year. I've been training off and on for about 8 years now. Took me six or seven years to find "my teacher".

Paul,

I think you're right. However I think the myth perpetuated in this country is that there is some objective standard as to "normality" to base "crazy" off of.

I think America is one giant celebration of the individual. Everyone is special... just like everyone else:-) Very few (particularly in our youth) feel any sort of belonging, and it creates a lot of angst. Witness Columbine.

I think we all have varying levels of dysfunction.

This is why aikido appeals to me. Aikido is about a culture infused with duties and obligations as opposed to rights and privilages.

Jim

MaylandL
11-19-2003, 06:45 AM
Mayland,

... Sounds like your focus shifted from something goal oriented or progress oriented to process oriented. You just enjoyed the process of training and learning and let progress come as it may.

...
That's about it in a nutshell. Part of the learning is the brickwalls or plateaus that I've hit along the way when nothing seems to work right. Its a real buzz when you work your way through them. That's where I've done a lot of my learning and understanding. For me that's very motivational. I guess I'm just plain stubborn. My wife says that I'm stubborn and contrary but I don't agree with that ;)

Happy training :)

Misogi-no-Gyo
11-20-2003, 09:20 PM
I like to think of how my teacher answered this all for me... He said, "I see that point high on the mountain top. I am not sure how long, nor what it will take to get there. I move forward each day, and get a bit closer by following along the path carved out by those who came before me - not in their footsteps, but rather in my own." As for teaching, or as he calls it, "leading others" he added, "While on my path, I am aware that there are others who follow behind. While on my path, I keep my eye on the goal, and do not glance back to see who is following, how close they may be, nor gaze upon them with any malice or contempt should they pass me by."

When I think about it all, it reminds me of a very simple point clearly illustrated in the movie Forrest Gump. Picture the scene when he is jogging coast to coast and back again. He just runs. While aware that others are following, he never makes them the point of his journey. When he finally reaches his own goal, he suddenly stops - much to the amazement and disappointment of those dedicated few who have aligned themselves with what they thought their own goal should be. Therein lays the trap. This helps me to remember that while I may follow my teacher - at least on the path that he has carved out, I always do so in my own footsteps by maintaining my own purpose for my training. Should he stop, I would run right by him and keep moving forward towards my own goal.

While we each may choose to express our aikido in different ways, the spirit which has us continue our training is the common bond which allows us to look upon each other and recognize where we are connected regardless of where, how often or with whom we choose to train.

Chuck Clark
11-20-2003, 11:17 PM
When Forrest Gump was shown in Japan the title was changed to..."Ichi go ichi ei."

Kind of appropriate, no?

"Ah just felt lack runnin..."

Practice for the sake of the practice.

Abasan
11-21-2003, 02:00 AM
"This helps me to remember that while I may follow my teacher - at least on the path that he has carved out, I always do so in my own footsteps by maintaining my own purpose for my training. Should he stop, I would run right by him and keep moving forward towards my own goal."

what an interesting thought.

Chuck, what does ichi go ichi ei means for the illiterate few like me?

Chuck Clark
11-21-2003, 10:16 AM
There are many ways to translate "ichi go ichi ei" with poetic meanings that show it's true meaning.

Simply, one meeting one chance

or Right Here, Right Now - Choose and Act!

or Live in this instant

etc, etc ...

jgrowney
11-21-2003, 02:18 PM
>I like to think of how my teacher answered this all for me... He said, "I see that point high on the mountain top. I am not sure how long, nor what it will take to get there. I move forward each day, and get a bit closer by following along the path carved out by those who came before me - not in their footsteps, but rather in my own." As for teaching, or as he calls it, "leading others" he added, "While on my path, I am aware that there are others who follow behind. While on my path, I keep my eye on the goal, and do not glance back to see who is following, how close they may be, nor gaze upon them with any malice or contempt should they pass me by."<

Maybe it's just the tone in which it's written, but this makes it seem like a lonely journey as opposed to uniting people towards a common goal, and moving forward together as one. I'm sure that combined, these are two sides of the same coin.

Jim

Misogi-no-Gyo
11-21-2003, 05:37 PM
Maybe it's just the tone in which it's written, but this makes it seem like a lonely journey as opposed to uniting people towards a common goal, and moving forward together as one. I'm sure that combined, these are two sides of the same coin.

Jim
Jim-San,

We are all alone in the end. The training is learning to accept that by embracing it in every moment. As far as uniting people, I guess you "could" say that if we all came to that as a realization the world would be a much different place.

fvhale
11-21-2003, 06:18 PM
If I would dare to contribute a thought:

we all start together alone;

we all end alone together.

Perhaps not so much "two sides of the same coin" as two phases of the same journey.

Biologically, none of us starts life alone. All life starts from other life; but at the start of life, we are so self-centered that we are, experientially, quite "alone." Parents understand that, to a great extent, their young children live in their own universes. The children are together with the partents, and could not live apart from their parents, but the child's "reality" is quite distinct from their parent's. We start together alone.

But most people end life feeling alone if not actually alone to some degree, less initimately connected to others, but hopefully with a much greater reality of common humanity. We end alone, but full of the common human experience. We all die alone, as individuals, but hopefully much more connected with humanity and the universe.

We start like babes in the arms of a mother we don't understand; we may end alone like hermits with hearts filled with compassion for all mothers and babes! (You can now decide I'm just an old man babbling...)

The martial arts journey often has these aspects. We all start closely related to others. But most advanced sensei that I know have a distinct sense of "aloneness."

Peace,

Frank

jgrowney
11-24-2003, 08:59 AM
Frank,

Great analogy. Really great analogy. It makes sense in regards to life experiences. However just because the body "experientially" is born and dies alone, does not mean the spirit does.

But I think that's way beyond the scope of this discussion.

Jim