View Full Version : need a piece of advice

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03-09-2004, 03:00 PM
ý have been attending aikido lessons for approximately one month. but still ý am having difficulty in understanding the techniques that sensei taught. and this situation discourages me from doing aikido. ý said this one of my friend and he told me that this is normal in the beginning. do you really think this is normal? ý really seek for your advices. should ý go on training or quit?

Hanna B
03-09-2004, 03:44 PM
Sounds very normal to me. Aikido is confusing in the beginning. Just go with the flow, and care less about what you learn or not.

03-09-2004, 05:10 PM
Sounds very normal to me. Aikido is confusing in the beginning. Just go with the flow, and care less about what you learn or not.
Except for the no caring about learning or not, I agree.

Unlike karate, e.g., where you spend a great deal of time moving against air rather than a partner, in aikido you have all those uncomfortable variables to deal with, things like where the partner is, where he's moving, whether your own movement is in accord, etc., etc.

I don't know what your teacher is doing, of course, but what might help is spending some time after class going through the night's techniques with a partner while forgetting about completion. Concentrate on the beginning element, the original taking of balance. After you get balance, technique is much easier. Slow down, break things down, experiment with small differences in direction and angles. Try to get a partner who won't talk at you while you're doing this experimentation and work it out for yourself.

Good luck.

Janet Rosen
03-09-2004, 05:29 PM
Aydyn, welcome to aikido and welcome to the forums.

I was totally confused for many months when I started, but I always enjoyed the training--I used to say "I feel like a happy idiot." (Well, I still have days like that)

You are asking your body to move in different ways than it ever has, and at the same time, if you are in a typical dojo, you are being exposed to many techniques every time you show up. Don't expect to "learn" them; do each one the best you can in class, then the next time it shows up in a class, you will recognize some part of it, and after the n-th time, you will say "aha! I know that!"

oh, and do have fun.

Michael Young
03-09-2004, 10:54 PM
Your friend is absolutely correct, the frustration you are feeling is completely normal and common. It would probably be uncommon if you didn't have those feelings of discouragement. I agree with all of the above comments, they all hold some good advice.

I think 90% of us had many misgivings and confusion when we started practice, in fact many of those things will plauge you for years to come...the only difference is you get used to it and even come to love it if you stick around. George Ledyard Sensei has a sign on his shoe rack that you see when you first walk into his dojo, it reads "Aikido is a series of frustrations." I got a good chuckle out of it when I saw it the first time. If this stuff were easy, we'd all get board of it and move on to something more challenging. Part of the trick of continuing to practice is learning that the frustration is a natural part of the learning process and just accepting it ...then for some strange reason it isn't so frustrating anymore :D .

Be careful that you are not comparing yourself to others when judging your progress or lack of it. If you are judging whether you are "getting it" by looking at people who have been around a few years, you'll always be frustrated, and if you're judging yourself by another beginner who seems to be "getting it" quicker than you, trust me they aren't...there is a lot more to Aikido than the outward physical movements...those are just the first steps, and sometimes pure athletic ability will become more of a hinderance later on (I speak from experience on that one). Like the other responses have said, just keep going to class; learning to have patience with yourself is one of those benefits of Aikido you didn't read about in the brochure ;).I would reccommend giving it a minimum (and I do mean minimum) of at least 3 months before you decide if Aikido is "for you" or not.

Good luck aydyn, and don't give up!


03-09-2004, 11:40 PM
This is normal in ANY martial art. Why do you think (some) people spend their whole lives trying to master just one art?

Aikido is especially difficult. If you think about what you are really doing, even with something as simple as a forward ukemi, you are actually doing a number of complex things all at once.

If it makes you feel better, I feel the same way after 3 years.

03-10-2004, 08:40 AM
Here is an article I wrote for our newsletter. In short, yes it is normal. I wanted to quit every day for almost 3 months when I started Aikido. I'm glad I stuck with it.

03-10-2004, 09:41 AM
I'll give a slightly dissenting view.

Each dojo has its own teaching style. I started in one that was very "talky" and explained everything verbally. It was hard, but I felt as though I was making progress.

When my home dojo was closed, I spent 3 weeks, about 10 classes, at one which taught primarily by "watch and imitate" and secondarily by having someone physically nudge you through the movements. I found this *much* more difficult; I felt clueless most of the time, even on material I thought I should be able to learn. Apparently I'm a verbal learner, and really need the explanations.

So if you stick with aikido for several months (I'd say around 4-6) and it's still hard to grasp, you might consider sampling classes from other teachers to see if you can find a better match to your learning style.

Mary Kaye

03-10-2004, 10:05 AM
People learn in different ways based on their "style". Neuro-linguistic programming used the model of connecting with the world by visual, auditory or kinesthetic (VAK) means.(smell and taste are also other senses -but I don't want to go there :).

Try to determine your teachers main teaching style-lot of visual (shows things -watch and immitate), explain a lot verbally (auditory), or make you feel or work things out physically (kinesthetic). If your instructor is visual for example and you are a kinesthetic learner, this might create difficulty for you in picking up on the techniques. This is a way for the brain to relate to the outside world.

I know when I teach I have to watch myself since I am auditory in my main style. So I have to take care to try and present things visually, auditorily and kinesthetically to make sure I reach everyone. It helps but still doesn't get everyone. If you are a different predominant style you might want to find a partner of similar learning orientation and do the after class work. You could also ask the instructor to explain things another way or try to represent what is being taught in a way you can relate to it better.

Just some thoughts.

graham butt
04-01-2004, 11:35 AM
I personally think we are all confused at the beginning of our training. I found it difficult get to grips with becoming totally relaxed and keeping sticky to tori.

My advice is to keep training and one day you will get better.

Juana Hernández
04-01-2004, 12:11 PM
Don't worry, you`r not some kind of Alien

Life Form if you are confused!

This is normal in any martial art and also in life...how do you feel the very first time when you ride a bycicle???

I fall down one time and another, and one time and another I keep on tring. I was nine years old. That age was good because the childs NEVER give up, so they learn fast and well!

Just try to be a child again without

disappointments and with a strong wish of learn, don´t give up of your practice!

One nice tip to learn the technics: watch the feet´s movments of your sensei.I mean, he´s doing Irimi, Tenkan...??

If you have this on mind while your tring to imitate the movement, probably you can make it!

I hope that you'r not asking to yourself what the hell is Irimi??

See you later!

David Yap
04-25-2004, 09:46 PM
I'll give a slightly dissenting view.
Each dojo has its own teaching style. I started in one that was very "talky" and explained everything verbally. It was hard, but I felt as though I was making progress.

When my home dojo was closed, I spent 3 weeks, about 10 classes, at one which taught primarily by "watch and imitate" and secondarily by having someone physically nudge you through the movements. I found this *much* more difficult; I felt clueless most of the time, even on material I thought I should be able to learn. Apparently I'm a verbal learner, and really need the explanations.
Mary Kaye

Hi all,

Firstly, to Arif - this is only your first month at aikido - I agree with others that it is quite normal. Like a child learning to tie shoe lace at pre-school it will take sometime before you get the hang of it.

On the subject of karate, actually it can be categorized into two types - sports/PE karate and traditional/Budo karate. The traditional karate practiced in Okinawa, like aikido, also has beginners doing two-man drill (tegumi); so, it is not just about punching or kicking air.

On the "watch & imitate" teachers - would you pay good money to the pro at the driving range to learn to swing your golf clubs the way he does and hope to play to his handicap. Watching & seeing are two different things. I had a geography teacher when I was in Form Three (Grade 9 to you American folks). She would come into class ask us to turn to a particular page of the textbook and asked one of the students to read. Then, she would stop the person reading and instruct the class to underline what was just read. Every class was the same, the students were required to memorize every sentence that was underlined as these would be asked in the exams. Then, in Form Six (Grade 12), we had a stand in teacher fresh graduated from university and she made us realized that we actually lost valuable time spent reading and memorizing paragraphs of text which most time do not come out in the exams/tests. She showed us that generally we only need to know and understand certain elements - latitude, proximity to ocean currents (hot/cold), water bodies (great lakes), wind directions at certain time of year - and we would be able to deduce the climatic conditions of a particular location on earth. I believe the subject of Aikido is the same, learning is not difficult, finding and having a good teacher is. A technician is not necessary a good teacher. Aikido is not about styles, it is about your learning path and having a good guide who will honestly care to point you in the right direction and take into consideration the limited amount of rations you carry to ensure the journey.



04-26-2004, 07:38 AM
Yep, gotta agree with the "its normal to be confused" group.

IMHO, Aikido is very different than other things we have done. Therefore its hard to get our heads around new concepts and new ways of moving. Learning new things is like that.

You may be taking yourself and your training far too serious to think you are going to get it too soon. The added presure will only slow down your progress.

Relax, breath, and enjoy yourself.

04-27-2004, 07:10 AM
Hi Arif, join the club! I was definitely one of the more confused among the confused beginners when I first started and cdn't even do the v elementary body movements correctly for ages. It definitely improves with time and lotsa practice :).

James Thompson
05-07-2004, 09:22 AM
Don't worry. If you "got it" straight away it would be no fun. :D

Everyone learns Aikido at their own pace, those that find it very easy don't usually stay very long maybe only five or ten years.

Ultimately, its whether you need Aikido or not. After fifteen years I'm still surprised by how confusing things can be or how deep some aspect is. And there is always some element that is just out or reach.

Good luck with the training.


Mark Uttech
05-16-2004, 04:43 AM
O Sensei, the founder of Aikido said: "Learn and forget, learn and forget" With that in mind, I'd have to say you're doing great! I hope you continue and continue.

dan guthrie
05-16-2004, 10:17 AM
As another beginner - 9 months - I would advise you to talk to people with just a little more time than you. They will tell you that everyone has the same feelings. When you have six months and someone new comes into the dojo, you'll know what I'm talking about.
If you train with empathetic people they'll tell you the same thing. Most of the people in my dojo just look at me and smile when I apologize for my lame ukemi and poor coordination.
In some ways it is a test of your commitment. If you can endure the frustrations of a beginner then you're probably able to understand the basic frustrations you'll be facing for the rest of your training life.
From what I've been told, it never gets any easier and it never stops. That is, unless you're channeling O Sensei.

05-16-2004, 12:54 PM
I have been practicing for about a month as well and I get it all confused right now too. Sensei will do something and ask us what it is called. For the life of me, it all sounds alike when I am in class. Now, I can distinguish techniques in my mind or if I see the word written, but for some reason when I hear the Japanese terms, they all get jumbled in my brain when I am in class. I think it will pass in time and we will move on to other things to be confused about. Since I am a more visual learner, I have found that it helps to look at the words and read the definitions so that when I am in class, I recognize what sensei is saying a little bit more often.

05-16-2004, 05:09 PM
Sounds very normal to me. Aikido is confusing in the beginning. Just go with the flow, and care less about what you learn or not.

I would agree, except I've been at it for three years, and it's still confusing! :confused: Just keep at it, and don't forget to enjoy yourself :D

Sue Trinidad
05-16-2004, 05:12 PM
Thanks for this thread--I have been training for 2 weeks. Week 1 was fantastic, really fun, and then this past week I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. . . no one thing I could name, but suddenly it just seemed like waaaay too much to try to take in and do all at once.

I am also the only complete newbie in my class, which contributes to my feeling frustrated and "behind"--even though the other students range from fairly patient to extremely helpful when they get stuck training with me.

Anyway, this thread gives me some hope that it will start to make sense to me if I just keep training!

05-16-2004, 06:30 PM
Basically this is one of the best arguments for testing. Look to the advanced people for inspiration but also look to those one or two grades above you for reality. They recently were where you are now and it wont take much for you to get there.

Lachlan Kadick
05-16-2004, 08:07 PM
During my time of studying Aikido, I have slowly been making a small list on the basics of Aikido and constantly simplified it, but what it seems to come down to is three things and in this order:

1) Don't get hit; dodge or deflect as much as you need to
2) Keep your balance and your center; once you loose these it is far too easy for your attacker to injure you
3) Try to prevent your attacker from being able to have all of the above.

These are just some things to look for in your technique, the specifics always depend upon the technique, but these seem to always be held as true.

Jeanne Shepard
05-16-2004, 11:14 PM
Oh, and bend your knees MORE!


dan guthrie
05-17-2004, 07:34 AM
I was always paranoid that some people were avoiding me because I was new. Some of that was partially true, but a lot of it was because they were just a few weeks ahead of me. There will be people who will avoid newbies at all costs.
On the other hand, I avoided one shihan because he intimidated me: he is very intense. I don't avoid him anymore because he's a perfectionist and that's great once in a while.