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DavidK
11-07-2004, 10:47 AM
I'm 29 and brand new to Aikido. I've always been pretty athletic and I'm also a lifelong musician who has enjoyed a good amount of success in that field. I am used to feeling very confident and competent in front of people but I have to say that Aikido has been pretty humbling. To tell the truth, I feel like I've made a complete ass out of myself in my first two classes. I've struggled with reversing techniques and I feel completely lost at times. I have to say that the black belts at my dojo were quick to come to my aid and were extremely patient and gracious. Still, I feel incompetent and I'm just hoping some people can share similar stories about when they started out so I don't feel like I'm alone here.
Also, any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks

Qatana
11-07-2004, 11:30 AM
Reversing techniques? What kind of dojo is making Brand New students Reverse techniques before they can walk?
David, just keep training. Everybody feels the same as you when they are beginners. i have twio years & two tests under my belt and believe me, we will be beginners for a long, long time. But as you train things will start to make sense. Your musical training will serve you well.
Beginners reversing techniques! really.

SeiserL
11-07-2004, 11:58 AM
I spent my first year wanting to get back to a style that would let me go in a straight line and hit somebody. Relax and be patient. One of Aikido's greatest skill is its ability to produce ongoing humility.

Don_Modesto
11-07-2004, 01:10 PM
....Aikido has been pretty humbling. To tell the truth, I feel like I've made a complete ass out of myself in my first two classes....I'm just hoping some people can share similar stories about when they started out so I don't feel like I'm alone here.
Also, any advice would be very much appreciated.

What was said above works for me too.

FWIW, I've spent years working around techniques I couldn't do. Then something would click, usually a new perspective such as moving 90 degrees instead of 180 e.g., and then I'd improve the impossible technique.

Advice--difficult. My teachers, principally Saotome and his students, present a lesson progressively with one technique building on the one before. When something starts going wrong, you can simply drop back to the last exercise where things were working and build back up to the difficult one. That's what I do. I'm not desperate that THIS technique will work NOW. If UKE stuffs my technique a couple of times, that's learning. That's healthy dialog.

But not all teachers are so systematic. If your teacher's lesson jump around, then you don't have a foundation in the lesson to fall back on. In that case, I'll often work through to the point where things start breaking down, gaining what satisfaction from things well done that I can. The rest of it I consign to another day's victory.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

graham butt
11-07-2004, 01:19 PM
Don,

Whats 'FWIW' stand for... i'm not so up to date with my modern day internet language....
hehehe

kaishaku
11-07-2004, 01:33 PM
FWIW == For What It's Worth.

Everyone's always lost at the beginning. Just keep going :D

aikidoc
11-07-2004, 02:30 PM
So, did the first time you picked up your instrument did you automatically play at your current level? Or the first time you played your sport of choice were you automatically at your current level. Be patient, we all had two left feet in the beginning.

Janet Rosen
11-07-2004, 03:31 PM
When I started training I characterized myself as a "happy idiot." Abandoning any sense of how "competent" one is, what one looks like, how one's progress compares to another person's, seem to be pretty important parts of just taking each class as it comes!

maikerus
11-07-2004, 07:52 PM
We were all there...and sometimes we think we still are. It all depends on who you are comparing yourself to.

Just keep training and listening and thinking about what is being said. Think about what different people say and what is consistant between people...that's the stuff to focus on.

In a few months there'll be another beginner in your club and you can watch them and think "hey...I have gotten better". Then you can go over and commiserate with them on how tough it is to learn to walk again and let them know that improvement is possible (as your black belts are doing with you).

The best feeling is when you suddenly realize that when someone suggests "keeping the back leg straight" it actually means that you should "keep the back leg straight". I don't know how many times a seemingly obvious statement like this actually is the catalyst for a leap in understanding. "Ah...when they said ... they meant it". You'll understand when it happens ;-)

cheers,

--Michael

Nick P.
11-07-2004, 09:29 PM
It's not called ea-sy-do for a reason, and that humility mentioned above is one of the hardest things to cultivate/build in yourself. What adult what's to admit they have no idea what they are doing, and realize what they are doing is "awful" compared to those who have been doing it for a while (freakish gifted people who get everything the first time, keep quiet!). Relax. Enjoy.

Stories? My friend pinned a protruding portion of his partner's anatomy to the mat with his knee while finishing nikyo; there was a yelp, she looked like she was in a lot of pain, and he looked mortified.

Another friend spent the whole class with his jacket on inside out, and when he bought his first Gi spent the whole first month with his pants on inside out: "Why is the belt loop on the front of the pants on the inside, like the kneepads?".

Sempai number 2 and Sempai number 1 are....well, they know who they are ;)

Hang in there, rejoice in the next noobie's blunders, and help them out ...just get some chuckles in before you do.

DavidK
11-07-2004, 10:31 PM
Advice--difficult. My teachers, principally Saotome and his students, present a lesson progressively with one technique building on the one before. When something starts going wrong, you can simply drop back to the last exercise where things were working and build back up to the difficult one.

Things are, in fact, presented in this way at my dojo. I think that the problem is that I don't know when it's appropriate to ask if I can do something differently. i.e. just do the very very first part of a technique several times, or just stay with the right technique a few times before switching to the left. Things just move very fast, and I think the problem is simply that I've been the newest guy there for these two classes and so I really felt behind.

DavidK
11-07-2004, 10:39 PM
So, did the first time you picked up your instrument did you automatically play at your current level? Or the first time you played your sport of choice were you automatically at your current level. Be patient, we all had two left feet in the beginning.


In response to the question about how I learned music as a beginner, I think it's a fair question - No, I wasn't immediately adept at playing many instruments. However, when I was new to music and I had to learn a difficult song I could run over the first measure several times alone, very slowly before moving on, but in the Aikido method it seems I'd just have to fumble through the whole first verse (accompanying another musician mind you) and eventually fix the bad notes while simultaneously adding in the chorus and subsequent sections, etc...this is a more difficult approach for a beginner (I haven't lost everyone with the stupid music analogy have I?) Again, there seems to be such a fast pace to the training with everyone switching back and forth between Nage and Uke and switching between right and left attacks. I can see how this method will be very effective for refining the techniques, once I get them down. I guess I'm just being impatient with myself.

Thanks again to everyone here for the advice and encouragement - I'll post again after a few more classes and I'm confident I'll be feeling a bit better about things.

Christy S
11-07-2004, 10:42 PM
Welcome to the Aikido community! I know I have been training a while and rarely do a technique completly perfect. There is always something to work on within each technique and more room to grow. The key is to stick with it and not give up, someday it will just click and u'll understand how to perform the technique better.

DavidK
11-07-2004, 10:56 PM
Thank you. Yeah, I'm not even concerned with perfection at this juncture. I just want to turn the right direction or step with the correct foot! I can see and understand the techniques well when they're demonstrated, but then it's as if I have no clue where my own body parts are located once I'm doing the technique. A lot of it is probably nerves and again, I think I'm just being impatient. I'm sure things will click - thanks

JJF
11-08-2004, 02:33 AM
.... I am used to feeling very confident and competent in front of people ... Aikido has been pretty humbling. ....

Well done young grasshopper... first leasson learned - first level achieved... ;)

Anyway - that's what Aikido often do to us. I had five years of karate and a few years of Kendo and Iaido behind me when I started Aikido, so I leaped into it with the firm belief that I would be a natural and that I was bound to progress rapidly through the grades.... Guess what ! Today I owe at least a couple of my extra pounds to eating humble pie.... I have simply been taken down a peg now and then by realising that this road is long and there are no shortcuts - so better try to enjoy the scenary when your hiking...

....I feel like I've made a complete ass out of myself in my first two classes....

Yeah... It will do that.... .repeatedly :D

xuzen
11-08-2004, 02:41 AM
I'm 29 and brand new to Aikido. I've always been pretty athletic and I'm also a lifelong musician who has enjoyed a good amount of success in that field. I am used to feeling very confident and competent in front of people but I have to say that Aikido has been pretty humbling. To tell the truth, I feel like I've made a complete ass out of myself in my first two classes. I've struggled with reversing techniques and I feel completely lost at times. I have to say that the black belts at my dojo were quick to come to my aid and were extremely patient and gracious. Still, I feel incompetent and I'm just hoping some people can share similar stories about when they started out so I don't feel like I'm alone here.
Also, any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks


Hey, this sounded so much like my situation when I tried to take up golf... Despite my many years of aikido (hip power etc...) I can't drive a straight ball. :(

Boon.

batemanb
11-08-2004, 03:09 AM
Hi David,

Two lessons! What`s the race?

I have a friend who joined my beginners class recently, so far he has also only attended two lessons. He was very surprised at his inability to grasp anything from the techniques, i.e. he told me that he was always very good at sports and couldn`t figure out why he can`t move the right way.

Most Aikido moves are deceptively simple, though not necessarily easy. Whilst we aim to move with the body, and continue to guide it in the way it is moving, there is a lot of subtle redirection and rotation going on at different levels, and on different planes. In the beginning, and continuing long into the path, it is not always obvious when you are watching the Sensei demonstrate the technique, it is not always obvious when you are practicing with a high level black belt. It is something that you have to feel with your body, and only starts to become clearer after years of continued practice.

Keep at it, there has been some good advice in the above posts, I agree a lot with Don, don`t get bogged down with disappointment at not getting it, just come back next lesson and try again, I promise that things will become clearer over time, but only if you invest the time.

I still keep a vivid recollection close to my heart, of a guy in track pants desperately trying to swing some one round to do nikkyo ura, it`s not pretty but reminds me that we all start in the same place :)

rgds

Bryan

DavidK
11-08-2004, 12:07 PM
Hey, this sounded so much like my situation when I tried to take up golf... Despite my many years of aikido (hip power etc...) I can't drive a straight ball. :(

Boon.

Please reassure me that Aikido isn't like golf, i.e. Monday you can hit the ball like Tiger and Tuesday you can't get the ball off the ground! :)

Is there anything more infuriating than inconsistency?

Seriously though, thanks again to everyone for the humor and advice. I suppose it's much too early to decide that I am just not cut out for this. I feel deeply that Aikido is right for me, a feeling that I suspect many here could relate to when they began. I'm starting to understanding why the Shodans I've been partnered with in my first two classes just wanted to keep doing the techniques, rather than stop and talk about them or break it down too much. Practice makes...

...well you know the rest - let's not make this a cliche exchange.

DavidK
11-08-2004, 12:11 PM
[QUOTE=Jo Adell]Reversing techniques? What kind of dojo is making Brand New students Reverse techniques before they can walk?
QUOTE]

I just wanted to clear this up because my terminology may have been misleading. By "reversing" I mean simply doing the technique in the opposite stance and turning the opposite direction, when applicable. I don't know if "reversing" is also a term for countering a technique or something of that nature.

Qatana
11-08-2004, 01:58 PM
David just by your comprehension that i *did* mean "countering a technique" tells me that you will do just fine.
On the days when everything "makes sense" i really try to let go of the fact that it makes sense _now- and may not necessarily make sense tomorrow.
Give yourself a year.

Magma
11-08-2004, 03:20 PM
David -
Stick with it. When I started, my story was very similar to yours: I was 24 when I started and I came from a very athletic background (high school and collegiate varsity athletics, as well as athletic hobbies). I was very used to relying on athleticism to get me through those sports. I remember distinctly lining up for the end of class when I was a white belt, looking up at the picture of O-Sensei on the wall and just shaking my head, thinking, "What have you gotten me into, here?"

But you get better. Your athletic background can be a curse, but it can also be a benefit. Everyone brings habits to bear when they step on the mat, the athlete perhaps to a greater extent because of the hours we might have spent training to move in a particular way. These can get in our way if we begin to expect our aikido to feel like what sports felt like. Your physical abilities can be a great benefit, though, too, getting down to what is behind the moves themselves. Once you have the sort of epiphanies people have described here, you understand that at the basis of sports training and aikido training both is maximizing the body's potential through proper and efficient movement. Your athletic background will come into play more as you begin to understand more and practice aikido. Get a little training in under your belt, understand what your instructor is asking of you, and then apply your athletic ability to doing it.

Everyone that steps on the mat for the first time feels self-conscious or as if we've suddenly re-entered adolescence and we are struggling to understand a body that just doesn't want to listen to us anymore. Everyone. We were all there. I tell the people that I see having trouble with this that aikido is just a different way of moving, different from the way we are used to moving in every day life before we start training. You have habits that you need to break in order to perform the moves that are a part of aikido. Give it time.

Looking at it for the long run, aikido will teach you better habits. Then you'll break *those* habits and learn better. Then you'll break *those* new habits and learn better. Again and again. Each break is you making the art your own. In my opinion, the first few tests for rank in aikido test your ability to simply learn the steps of the technique. The next few tests begin to get you to look at the principles behind the techniques so that you understand the new habits you have learned; so that you learn when, where, how, and why they might be broken. This process continues through black belt, when I think that your job is to demonstrate not just your understanding of the techniques and the principles, but how you express them (that is, the better habits you have learned).

Eh. Someone told me recently that I get long-winded in this forum. Maybe I do; maybe you didn't want or need all of that. The bottom line is just stick with it. Your athletic ability may seem like it should help you more than it does, but everyone runs into that. Train hard, and as you begin to understand what your instructor wants of you (and more importantly why s/he wants that), your athleticism will come more and more to bear.

THink of it this way: you have the ability, you're just learning how to use it.

Hope this helps!

Bronson
11-08-2004, 11:36 PM
i.e. Monday you can hit the ball like Tiger and Tuesday you can't get the ball off the ground! :)

Sorry dude, its exactly like that :D

Bronson

DavidK
11-09-2004, 09:50 AM
Thanks Jo, Tim, and everyone. Bronson, I'm going to hold out hope that my Aikido will be better than my golf game :-)

SeiserL
11-09-2004, 10:36 AM
Speaking of golf, when I get asked why I continue in the martial arts I always say its because I don't golf. There was something about those windmills and clown faces that where just too difficult.