View Full Version : Losing the drive?

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02-22-2004, 11:20 PM
Hi all,

Don't know how to describe what I'm talking about other than I've lost the drive to go to aikido lately. I don't think it's anything specific, I just can't find the motivation to make the drive every other night to go to the dojo. Part of the problem I think is that I'm in a money crunch right now and transportation is not free where I live. But if that were the only thing, I'm pretty sure I could car-pool with somebody. It's more like the surge of energy I used to get from keiko is not there anymore. I don't feel energized anymore, just tired. Is this some indication that I'm losing the small grasp I had of aikido? I know this sounds trivial to some, but aikido is one of the best things to happen for me in a long while, and I don't like the idea of losing out on the satisfaction it once gave me. Any insight will be welcome.


02-23-2004, 01:16 AM
Most of the people I know who've practiced for a while have gone through this, sometimes more than once. I went through a burnout period for a few months until the desire to train came back. For me I was just in the dojo too much. I'd go to classes 5-7 days a week in two different cities. My body and brain couldn't keep up and classes became a chore. When I started back I limited myself to two classes/week as student and I eventually added two as teacher. This seems to work out well for me and I actually progress more with a little less training time :confused: It really is about balancing it with the rest of your life.

I would really recommend you pick up George Leonard's book Mastery. It talks about this type of thing. The highs, lows, and plateus associated with learning, what they signify and how to recognize them for what they are...
stages in the learning process. You can pick it up at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0452267560/qid=1077520334/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-5782355-3209412).

Hope you can stick it out.


02-23-2004, 08:44 AM
After over 12 yrs of practice, I lost my drive as well. Why ? Well, getting older, different priorities, the hard as hell tatami mats seem even harder. But really becuase of the instructors - I don't feel any of them can "move" me forward in my training anymore. They can't bring me up to the next level and I feel stuck. I have outgrown their abilities - and this isn't braggin' or anything, it's just the way it happens to be.

Brian Vickery
02-23-2004, 09:35 AM
Hey, I know exactly what you're talking about & going thru ...I too am 12 years into my aikido training ...I went thru this a couple of years ago, that feeling you're having toward your instructor. I had come to the point of either quitting all together, or finding some way to advance my training beyond what I 'felt' I was getting from my instructor. (...of course all these feelings had to do more with me that what was actually happeneing in the dojo, my instructor had much more to teach me, I just wasn't mentally willing to learn at that point) What I did was turn to an outside source for additional training, something TOTALLY different than aikido ...I went to RMCAT (Rocky Mountain Combat Application Training), the Peyton Quinn camp in Colorado which teaches full speed, full strength attacks against an amoured assailant. I found out that my aikido training was effective, that I could hold my own against an all out attack ...I also found a few shortcomings in my training too ...since I completed that course, I have a completely differnt outlook on my aikido training ...and I've been told by other students and instructors that my aikido has changed since then, it's much stronger, much more efficient ...I haven't 'changed' any of the techniques that I've been taught, the only thing that has changed is my mental outlook, it gave me a 'spark'!

I'm not telling you to go to RMCAT, you might find this 'spark' in some other area, some other art ...take a look around to see what truly interests you ...go do it ...them bring that excitment back to your aikido training!

Best of luck to you!

02-23-2004, 10:03 AM
well what i will say might sound a little bit stupid, but i get my drive fromm watching steven seagal movies , he makes really wanna be better in aikido, also my sensei gives me this drive every time i talk to him, he has been in japan fo 4 years and in that time only he learnt to speak japaneese fluently!!!!!!!!!!!!!! isnt that amazing, so i kinda look up to be like him

Robert Rumpf
02-23-2004, 12:46 PM
I've found that Aikido has occasionally started to wear on me if I take too many classes per week over a long period of time. This problem is exacerbated if all my classes have the same instructor, or instructors who are very similar in technique and teaching style.

I would recommend cutting back to two-to-three times per week. I would also recommend (especially if you only have one instructor or are the instructor) that you re-examine your training style. Try to start learning from your ukes instead of your instructor, and try to read between the lines into what the technique could be instead of what is taught. That changes the tone up a bit, and has helped to get me out of ruts in the past.

I've also found that going to a seminar with an instructor who is sufficiently different from my regular instructor can re-energize me. Probably many of those cross-training Aikidoka can cite their other martial art as a similar boost.

The cause of this frustration and boredom, for me at least, seems to be that if I do too much training without enough time off the mat than I have problems making the changes in my technique and demeanor that the training leads me to in order to progress. I get too close to the problem, and I can't get around it.

There are often simply too many problems with my technique for me to look at them all in sufficient detail, and none of them are in bite-sized chunks. Not only that, but training overkill makes me see the whole mass as being undesirable, unattainable, or both.

For me it is better if I take my time and integrate changes piece by piece, and I can see things more clearly when I'm not beating myself into trying to find my 5th class that week by the same instructor new or interesting.

If I train too much, I also take Aikido for granted instead of finding it fun. This is probably the biggest reason why I never train while I'm on vacation - I like to come back from vacation and be really excited about coming back to the dojo.

Good luck!


(not at 12 years yet, but at 8.5 and still going)

Jamie Stokes
02-23-2004, 03:50 PM
recognise the feeling, particuarly when coupled with a money crunch.

Lack of money or stress in relationship is one of those quiet little worries that do come upon us.

Heres how I tackled it.

Cut back on my classes, but attended at least one class per week.

And then got stuck into working out the money woes.

Its not a be all and cure all.

Once I had the money situation stabilised, I visited another dojo, or indullged myself in something completely different.

Kite flying, photography, gardening, oh, heaps of different things.

You will find the spark, or rather, once you get rid of this current crunch, the spark will find you.



02-23-2004, 04:23 PM

Thanks for your reply. It seems like you know exactly what I'm talking about. I've caught myself wondering if I should take a break from MA for a while and venture into something different. It kinda sounds like that was something you did. My sensei and sempai keep telling me to "just keep coming to the dojo", but right now that feels counter-productive. I don't doubt that I'll go back to aikido at some point, I was just wondering what other people did in the meantime.


02-24-2004, 03:06 AM
Hi Anonymous,

my sensei said that we should gain balance in our life, and that's sometimes include skipping our aikido. If you feel losing the drive to go to training then take a little break from it, forcing yourself to go to dojo and train might only abuse your body and mind. From the way you're saying seems that you don't want to quit from aikido, you just feel a little bored and that's normal. A little break might refresh your body and mind, and hopefully this will bring back the desire to train in you.


Nafis Zahir
02-24-2004, 08:09 AM
After over 12 yrs of practice, I lost my drive as well. Why ? Well, getting older, different priorities, the hard as hell tatami mats seem even harder. But really becuase of the instructors - I don't feel any of them can "move" me forward in my training anymore. They can't bring me up to the next level and I feel stuck. I have outgrown their abilities - and this isn't braggin' or anything, it's just the way it happens to be.
If this is the way you really feel, then it may be time for you to move on. You may want to try a different style. I don't know. Are you in to Aikido for life? Or do you want to move on altogether? If you stay in, a change of schools may be just the challenge you need. But always hold onto what you learned at your first dojo. All Aikido styles, though different, are still the same in essence.

02-24-2004, 08:29 AM
If this is the way you really feel, then it may be time for you to move on. You may want to try a different style. I don't know. Are you in to Aikido for life? Or do you want to move on altogether? If you stay in, a change of schools may be just the challenge you need. But always hold onto what you learned at your first dojo. All Aikido styles, though different, are still the same in essence.
Yeah, I have moved on, other than occasional seminar with the "greats" - different priorities, too, now in life.

02-24-2004, 08:59 AM
Hey , sometimes you have to step back and take a vacation. If training is a chore it will only get worse. I got to that point with one of my instructors and he must have seen the change. A few days later he came up to me and told me to go away for a while. I took my family to Florida and did no training. Came home and it was definitely better.

03-02-2004, 09:49 AM
I've had a similar experience with guys that I train with. Here are some other great thoughts on the topic.

Hope this helps.



03-02-2004, 07:17 PM
The times you feel the least like training are the best times to train! You walk out of the dojo feeling energised and alive!

Don't worry, we've all felt that way. I know I have come home from work and the thought of going and teaching a class has felt heavy!!! Once you are on the mat it changes. It feels great and it carries on after the class.

Like I say, don't worry - it happens to everyone!


03-02-2004, 08:56 PM
If you're feeling that way (not getting the rush), your body/mind is trying to tell you something, IMO. Cut back, or even break entirely for a while. The skills will come back when you finally decide to pick it up again. Besides, you may learn something useful.

My cent-and-a-half,


03-03-2004, 03:36 AM
Lot's of good replies above. Just one thought though:

Perhaps you should one day go to the dojo and just watch the class. You can come up with some decent excuse for not participating - bad back or something along those lines.

Just maybe looking at the practice from the outside will initiate some useful thoughts...

I hope you find a way.

John Bach
03-03-2004, 09:00 AM
Greetings, Anon.

I too have experienced what you are experiencing now... but have faith, my friend, it will pass. What I have found valuable in such situations (in addition to the sound advice offered by others here) is to turn to the philosophical aspects of aikido and immerse myself there for a while i.e. reading/rereading the works that inspire me. Practicing with the soul instead of the body for a while... this always works for me. In addition, like stated above, perhaps a little cross-training (if you **need** a physical meditation)... Personally, in such circumstances, I find European fencing a good match to supplement aikido... good for timing and distance training.

I wouldn't worry too much... just keep the faith and the cycle will change soon..

03-03-2004, 05:49 PM
Although I have never lost my desire, here are a few thoughts:

1. Perhaps you are not getting what you want from aikido, perhaps due to the instruction, school, or curriculum.

2. Perhaps after your enthusiam of finding something new has worn off, your body or mind really wasn't all that enthused afterall. Maybe aikido is not the art for you.

3. Burn out is possible but people generally burn out because they have either put too much into something or they are not getting anything back from their efforts.

I enter the mat every time with the mind set that I'm going to learn something new each time. As an instructor that makes the challenge greater, since I have to learn from my students and my teaching. With my thirst for knowledge, I have never stepped on the mat without learning something-even if it is a small distinction. When I can no longer taken the student mind approach, then I too will perhaps become burned out.

03-03-2004, 06:16 PM

That is really negative. We all have times when we drag ourselves to Aiki. If you are saying you have never felt that then you have not been training long enough.

You say you have never had a class where you have not learnt anything - well, I find that surprising, but if that is true, you are the luckiest Aikidoka alive, and probably the only one.

To all,

Don't be afraid of plattos. Progression in Aikido is not a slope but more like a series of steps. Get better - stay the same - get better - etc...

Also, don't worry about getting worse either - it usually happens before a big improvement!!!


03-03-2004, 09:49 PM
Although I have been only been training for a bit over a year now, I've found that - at least for me - keeping up interest and drive is a balancing act: If I go too often I simply get beat. If I go too little the stress of college work and research consumes the time that used to be spent at the dojo.

I've finally found a nice trend that seems to be working rather well: open-hand training two days a week and bokken once a week. With my busy schedule this works out well for me.

I also completely agree with those who say that sometimes you just need to take a break and explore other areas. Whatever you learn can always augment your training in one way or another and everyone needs a change of pace once in a while.

Good luck!

03-04-2004, 03:33 PM
Mark-I've been training over 16 years; it's a mind set. I was not intending to make it negative. Sometimes the art is just not for everyone. I have never been burned out even when I was training 7 days a week. I also learn something-even if it is a small distinction, even when I am teaching, every time I step on the mat. I approach it with that mentality and it has never failed me. I'm sure there are others. The only time I ever felt like not training was with a serious injury-I just wrapped it up and went anyway. When I had knee surgery from 7 days a week training, I did standing weapons katas and suburi. Maybe I'm odd that way but I never did not want to train. I had a period when I could not train-money, school, etc. but even then I kept my books and waited unti I could do it. When I was able to do 7 days a week it was not easy-had to attend 3 dojos one of which was a 45 minute drive 3 days a week. It was just in my blood I guess. Sorry if I came across negative I was just trying to be realistic.

03-04-2004, 05:40 PM
Hi John

I don't want to play the numbers game, but I am 20+ years of martial arts, but only about 10 of Aikido. I have been around the world with it and got to train under many fantastic people, but sometimes I have dragged myself to training!

I have come home from work and napped to get my energy up, soaked in the bath, downed Red Bull, etc. I have had lots of time the feeling that I just want to stay at home, not train. Now, that is being realistic.

Now, as for Aikido, it is absolutely for me! I train every day, dojo or not - well actually that should be dojo or "dojo"!


03-04-2004, 09:41 PM
I too train every day-dojo or not. I've burned out on other things but never aikido. It may not be realistic but it's a fact. I'm lucky I guess.

Deb Fisher
03-05-2004, 07:56 PM
Just to be argumentative... I am picking up on the same thing Mark is, John.

I have *zero* experience in the dojo compared to you two, but have an art practice, a meditation practice and a yoga practice that I have committed more than ten years to, and man, that's the thing about any practice--at some point, the thrill goes and you have to grind through that, you have to face your own fickle humanity.

It is the most painful thing in the world, facing a lull in any practice, a period of dryness or questioning or lack or faithlessness. And I cannot think of a better way to make a practice richer and more meaningful than to endure those deserts.

I don't trust your easy dismissal and find it as hard to digest as Mark did because the most difficult work of any practice is figuring out what to do with it when you are exposed as a mere human who is frankly bored or disillusioned or distracted.

maki otoshi
03-05-2004, 08:48 PM
Wow. I love your response, Deb. I will keep that in mind next time I hit a slump.

Speaking of which, to the user who started this thread: I have only been doing aikido for two years, but have already found myself falling into little training slumps now and then. On the whole, I am a dedicated (some would say pathological) student: on average, I probably train about 6-9 hours a week (maxing out at 12 sometimes); not a week goes by without practice, bar illness or injury; I attend seminars as often as possible; and my average attitude is pretty gung-ho.

But there are times when I don't feel that "surge of energy" you talked about, when it's all I can do to show up and go through the motions, and I freak out wondering where my old love for aikido went. Doesn't happen very often, and doesn't last long. But even after 2 years I've seen it enough to dismiss it without worrying. The thrill comes back, and aikido is its own justification again.

03-05-2004, 10:20 PM
Sorry you don't believe me Deb. I'm not trying to make light of it. Aikido has always been natural to me. I have never hated to go or had to force myself to go. On the other, if life keeps me from it I get the opposite reaction-I get cranky. It's my catharsis in life. My place where when stressed it all goes away. I do not have bad feelings on the mat or want to avoid getting on the mat. How could I when I find aikido my learning environment and I like to learn. The only time I have ever wanted to not get on a mat was with a serious injury for fear that I might make it worse and be out longer. I just avoided letting anyone get near that wrist for a long time-it was a permanent injury.

Jessie Brown
03-07-2004, 09:27 PM
I've only been training a couple of years but around the six month mark of training in Aikido, I started having to force myself to go to Aikido. I almost always enjoyed myself when I got there, but talking myself into going was tough.

I was resentful of having to account for when I trained. If I didn't train a night when I usually would, my roommate would pester me about it; the next class, everyone would ask me where I was. I hated feeling so monitered. I was resentful of other people feeling that they had the right to make me account for everything I did. That particular feeling has gone away now that I've practiced more and think of nearly everyone in the dojo as my friend.

I still feel guilty, though, if I don't go to class on a night when class is offered or if I go less frequently than usual. Usually I feel the most guilty when I'm doing something I deem "recreational," like non-academic reading, hanging out with my friends, or watching a movie, etc. Although I know that we all need balance in our lives, I still feel guilty about taking days off when I could be applying myself to something more spiritual, noble, and valuable. I guess it's good to realize that I nowhere near as developed a person as I want to become!!

John Boswell
03-30-2004, 11:59 AM
As a student of Sensei Riggs, I can attest to his eagerness for class. It was funny, after the holidays this past December, we all came back and there he was... early, at the dojo and waiting for one class to finish so he could begin ours. The look on his face reminds me of Lan, a fellow student. Those two are like kids in a candy store when it comes to aikido! I joke about them needing to go to AA - Aikido Anonymous. ;)

Point is, though they may be the exception to the rule, they are indeed both exceptional. (pun intended) Lan and I have discussed it in depth and have decided should Riggs ever move, we'd follow him. He might not know everything about aikido, but he knows enough to keep us busy for many years to come.

And seriously, this isn't just kissing up here. Anyone can do that... but when you find someone as dedicated to the art you are interested in, as much as Sensei is, it makes you feel bad when you can't make it to class because you don't want to disappoint him.

My situation, I just got married! Everyone joked about how I need to get right back on the mat and not let the Mrs. run my life. Well, its been three weeks now and I'm still exhausted from everything, but I plan to go it I can suck it up enough to make it. Personally, I DO have my days where I have to make myself go. But I wish I didn't.

Aikido's the best. Glad I have people around me that feel the same way... makes it a joy to practice, dispite a long day/week/month.