View Full Version : How long until the "magic" starts happening?

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04-20-2004, 08:38 AM
I remember a quote from Angry White Pyjamas where Robert Mustard Sensei said that it took him 10 years to get to a point where the "magic" started happening.

I assume the "magic" he is talking about is where the riai of Aikido became so ingrained in him that he could manifest it at will and in any circumstance. This is just my definition of it though.

I realy want to hear from the more experienced Aikidoka on this forum, how long did it take you to get the "magic" happening? How do you define the "magic" and what is the particular fundamental principal which you finally grasped to get it to happen.

It often feels like I'm training in an ever expanding spiral. I would start off concentrating on my breathing and attempt to see all techniques in this context, then I find that my hips are not as steady as I want them yet and I start seeing techniques in this context, then I start concentrating more on breaking balance and so on until I finally get back to breathing with a better idea of the big picture.

I would also like to know, what if any was the driving force that fueled your passion for Aikido, what kept you coming back to the mat and did you ever feel discouraged? To me at the moment it is still after almost 2 years, to prove to myself that it actually works, I often have doubts and then I read a section out of Aikido Shugyo and it soothes my doubts but I am not yet at a level where I can actually make use of the tips and hints given in Aikido Shugyo, I also suffer from severe, chronic self doubt and low self esteem and Aikido is good therapy for this I think.

04-20-2004, 08:49 AM
IMHO, the problem with magic is that as soon as you get there it's not magic anymore. But, you can see the magic farther down the road. Relax and enjoy the scene from where you are because it will change, oh yes, it will change.

Yann Golanski
04-20-2004, 08:51 AM
Magic? What's that? ...

However, if you are referring to effective Aikido techniques then I know a little about it. After 8 years of training, in free practice (compliant uke) I manage to get about 40/50% of my techniques right. By right, I mean that I take uke's balance and throw him without effort in a proper technique. In randori (uke resists), the whole thing drops to about 10%. Which does show me what I need to work on.

Aikido is not easy. It takes time and hence the saying: "Don't quit, don't die" and you'll get there.

John Boswell
04-20-2004, 10:45 AM
As I see things, the more you focus on one aspect of aikido, the less attention you put on the others and thus you will always find something lacking or better worded: needing improvement.

Try to look at aikido for what it is: way of harmony. Rather than focus on an aspect and trying to improve that one thing, focus on "practice" as a whole and work to get all of it actually IN HARMONY. Footwork, handwork, lowering and using center, extension, capturing uke's balance, good hand position, etc. Learn to let go and move with the flow of the moment.

Relax and breath... then do it all over and over again. It'll come. It has to! ;)

Janet Rosen
04-20-2004, 11:48 AM
I have experienced moments of "magic" from the start; they are those flashes of something suddenly happening between me and my partner, where it suddenly "works" and then of course it's gone...but it is one of the many things that keeps me coming back day after day, year after year...

Ron Tisdale
04-20-2004, 11:54 AM
Having met and spoken with Mustard Sensei several times, I'm not sure he would say the 'magic' happens at will all the time. I particularly remember one seminar where he said that he still has 'bad' days, where things just don't seem to gel.

You also have to remember that he took a very hard road...he went to japan and trained long term with one of the hardest instructors in the yoshinkan...5 years under that instructor full time is probably worth 10 to 15 years once or twice a week under your average instructor. Commitment pays.

As to getting discouraged...I'm often discouraged, and often encouraged. Just the way it goes. Just keep getting back up. If you fall seven times, get up eight. That's all there is in aikido, and in life.

04-20-2004, 03:40 PM
I have experienced moments of "magic" from the start; they are those flashes of something suddenly happening between me and my partner, where it suddenly "works" and then of course it's gone

Occasionally I get something a little right, and manage to lead the uke to the mat without it taking any effort, and when I know that the uke is not just falling for me. Then I am amazed at the Magic of it all. The next throw I am lucky if I don't fall on the uke at the end of the technique, after powering through the whole thing with me shoulders... ;)


04-20-2004, 07:04 PM
5 years under that instructor full time is probably worth 10 to 15 years once or twice a week under your average instructor.
It's worth a lot more than that.

Anyway there is a strong correlation with magic and confidence. You have to believe in your self and then things start to come together. Those moments I think can appear quite early.

Duval Culpepper
04-20-2004, 08:19 PM
Ever have a technique work so well or watch Sensei demonstrate a move so logical/cool/effective that you get an irresistible dumb smirk on your face that you can't shake...

I love Aikido.

Ian Williams
04-20-2004, 09:22 PM
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that says "Magic Happens".... I think that says it all really.

04-20-2004, 11:03 PM
Hi, I like the thread!
First I would like to say that to me the real magic happens when you walk in the door :D . We have all seen how many people magically disappear over the years :freaky: . I have only been training for about 4 years and I can say that some times I do have the magic. really what I found was the trigger was is confidence and a deeper belief that aikido works. a few of us have talked about it and really the biggest difference between many of the people who have been training for some time is belief that aikido works and that they can do it, those who do think that have much better Aikido in my opinion. I started to teach and well it was one of those things eather do it or don't, and I made a decision that my aikido would work. still does not all the time (to say the least) but it is much better then it was.



04-21-2004, 03:30 AM
Well, that's now my fourth year of Aikido and sometimes, what some call the "magic" happens, but I daresay it doesn't last very long!

04-21-2004, 06:36 AM
I had spent a bit of time training to integrate the techniques and be repsonsive to uke, and several months later a jujitsu person was 'wrestling' with me and trying to do throws - every throw they went into looked obvious and the counter technique slipped in effortlessly and without concious effort. I realised from this i. there are no counter techniques (it is the same as responsiveness to uke) and ii. all the techniques form one integrated whole. For me that was a bit of unexpected magic.


04-24-2004, 09:50 PM
I am not sure if this is magic or not, but... :)

It has happened only one time and it surprised me. My stance was strong and my timing perfect and my uke flew, literally, on the irimi. I never actually did a waza, only the first entering movement. Only he was more surprised than me. I have not been able to repeat it again, yet. :blush:

I strive to repeat that moment.
Thanks for listening ;)

Alan Lomax
04-25-2004, 10:06 AM
Now this is has started out out as a good thread.

The original question posed a great potential for being high jacked right off the bat, but it hasn't been. The thoughtful answers to the question really seem to be sincere and have kept things fresh.

The "Magic" happened for me the first time I was invited to watch Phong Sensei. It happened again when I was invited to Uke for Iida Takeshi Sensei and again while Chiba Sensei was guiding me through some waza for the first time.

My point is, I realized from seeing and feeling Aikido from these folks, I could some day manifest my own interpretation.

Peter, as usual the few words you used speak volumes. Only those who put themselves through the rigors of daily training, over periods of years, under the direct scrutiny of such concerned and focused teachers/mentors will have a real grasp on just what that entails. What Mustard went through is rare it is hard to say just how many years of "regular" training would be equal. Personally, I don't think any amount of "regular" training will equal up to the kind of training Mustard found. It seems like apples and oranges to me.

Ian, I particularly like your answer. You seem to have found a description of what could be the "Magic". It is at the very least part of it.

Marty, yes I think you put your finger on a very interesting point. The "Magic" that differentiates those who show up practice after practice and those whom simply disappear.


04-25-2004, 02:58 PM
When I started Aikido, one of my instructors told me, "You'll never get any better than you are now. The only thing that will change is that the beginners will become worse."

04-27-2004, 10:30 PM
This is a good, positive thread. I just came from my 7th class, and was frustrated at the fact that there is a 3rd class member who is performing much better than I already. He has military background where I have no previous experience in anything, although I'm not sure that helps much or not. I was having doubts about practice in general, and after reading this thread, I know the "magic" happens when it will happen, and that it cannot be forced.


04-28-2004, 05:14 AM
My most magical moments lately have come from my attitude towards training and my level of focus during class rather than from physical acomplishment. I find that if I put 110% of myself into the training, keep a sense of humor, help my partners laugh and smile, and focus on ENJOYING every moment on the mat, it doesn't really matter whether I'm "getting it" or not at any given moment.

Of course, this is much easier after a few years of training (I have about 5) but I think it can happen any time. So hang in there, and look for magic everywhere, not just in the fancy footwork and complicated wrist manuvers! It will come soon.

04-28-2004, 09:32 AM
Gaia, I totally agree!

At Monday's practice, I aggravated an injury I'd gotten on Sunday which turned out to be much worse than the pulled muscle I had believed it was. One minute after bowing in, I was in agony, and miserable... but I decided not to go home. And after about a half-hour of walking, stretching, and sitting to observe techniques while I stretched, I was invited to come up and play.


I had to move very very carefully, but the technique itself didn't require me to do much with my injured hip... and I not only got to learn stuff, I got to explain stuff that I understood better than one of my fellows. At a couple points, everything just flowed -- I wasn't thinking about anything except what I was doing, and what it felt like. The image I like to use, of a dance, keeps coming back to me whenever I think about it. :cool:


AND I got told "good ukemi" by Matt-sensei. Yay again!

So, husband was worried that this injury (not aikido-related) would convince me to back out of going to dojo. Certainly it was painful and scary enough... He was really pleased to hear me say I'm going tonight, even though I'm on doctor's orders not to play. I don't think he'll be able to keep me away, frankly. :D