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A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, "I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it." The teacher's reply was casual, "Ten years." Impatiently, the student answered, "But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice everyday, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?" The teacher thought for a moment, "20 years."
I'm sure we were all this type of student at one time or another. Very eager and goal oriented. The world we live in requires us to be this goal oriented person to succeed. It is a difficult to leave that thought pattern that we grew up with and switch gears to a more centered approach and purpose in Aikido.
Now, I don't claim any authority on Aikido or life in general. I am a mere student of both. My understandings and perceptions are only from my own experiences.
My dearest father once told me, "To succeed in today's world we need to be competitive." To be competitive means that we need to be goal oriented. We all know that Aikido contains no contests. As O'Sensei states in "The Art of Peace"
"In Aikido, we train the body but also use the body as a vehicle to train the mind, calm the spirit, and find goodness and beauty, dimensions that sports (competition) lack. Training in Aikido fosters valor, sincerity, fidelity, magnanimity and beauty as well as making the body strong and healthy. In Aikido, we train not to learn how to win; we train to learn to emerge victorious in any situation."
One of the hardest concepts a beginner has to understand is that Aikido is not a Win-Lose activity. I see many new people that try Aikido and really want to say "I won". Thinking about it, what did they really win? Did they "foster valor, sincerity, fidelity, magnanimity and beauty", as O'Sensei started. Sadly the answer in many cases is no.
So, to place the student in the right frame of mind when practicing Aikido we use the terms Patience, Cooperation and Harmony.
Many beginners have a very difficult time with this concept. They see the ultimate attainment of a certain rank as a goal to achieve in Aikido. I've come the understanding that if the student focuses on rank, they will miss out on the beauty and true purpose of Aikido.
Simply stated, training in Aikido makes me a better person. In the case of the over eager student, Aikido's lesson is, patience. Mastery of Aikido should not be our primary goal. Understanding Aikido, learning the underlying lessons it teaches us and becoming a better person in the process should be our focus.