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Ray Marshall 07-02-2008 07:19 AM

Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Hello. I'm new to these boards and new to aikido. About a year ago, I became interested in aikido because I wanted a physical hobby that was balanced with a spiritual dimension. I have found this in aikido, but I'm facing the basic problem of simply not wanting to drag myself to the dojo three times a week to train. Over the past year, I have started and stopped aikido three times. About a month into the training, I begin to lose my motivation. Here are the usual thoughts and feelings I encounter:

[1] Going to the dojo for three days a week (2-3 hours each) doesn't seem like much time, but training does seem to take most of the evening when you factor in driving to and from the dojo, showering after your workout, etc. I sometimes feel like my time to just rest from my work days is being compromised.

[2] It's difficult for me to be Zen about training. I find my mind wandering to the future, thinking that there really is no end to aikido. If I truly want to learn it, it will not just take a few years, it will take a lifetime. And even if I were to ever earn a black belt, I understand that you would have to continue training and learning. So when I'm faced with a lifetime commitment, it's rather daunting.

[3] I'm a perfectionist, so I sometimes doubt training three times a week is even worth it. I have in my mind that to be truly good at aikido--or any martial art--you have to practice many more hours than I currently am. I feel inadequate, then, in my current training state. I feel like if I'm not going to give as much dedication and time to this art, then what's the point in what I'm doing right now?

So those are the three central thoughts/feelings I'm dealing with right now. I would appreciate some feedback. I'm sure others have felt as I do, and I would like to read how you overcome these or how you work through them.

Thank you

Amir Krause 07-02-2008 09:07 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
There is only one way to overcome - train, and then a little more. decide you enjoy it (or any other M.A. or active hobby) and stay with it. If you do not really love it, I doubt any solution can be suggestd to you, except for continuing your search until you find the thing you will love.

Note, in your search, do not look at the name of M.A. just try it and see if it captures your heart.


Paul Schweer 07-02-2008 09:19 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?

Ray Marshall wrote: (Post 210158)
I would appreciate some feedback.

I recommend you quit.

Paul Schweer

DonMagee 07-02-2008 09:49 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
1) Why is your recreational activities not rest? Sure I work out hard when I get home from work, but this is FUN and RELAXING to me. If it wasn't at least fun,then why waste your time on it?

2) This is the case for all things in life. You don't stop learning in any area, you are never a master. My father has been a mechanic his whole life, he knows more about cars then I could even imagine. He still goes to training. Life is a never ending series of learning and growing. Just take it a single step at a time.

3) First, 3 times a week is enough. Second, you can either learn to put your perfectionism aside (and thus help perfect yourself) or you can channel it into perfect small aspects of aikido once piece at a time. The best method I have found is to just focus on a very small part until you get it right, then I add the next part. Normally when I teach people, I just let them make mistakes and offer advice. The problems clear up over time. I also let them lead the way in how they want to learn a technique. I show them the form, explain the principles, give them drills to work with. If they want to just break it down and work on it one part at a time, then that is what they do.

In the end, just ask these questions.

1) What do you want from this activity?
2) Are you on the path to get what you answered in question 1?
3) Are you having fun?

Question 1 may change from time to time, but if question 2 and 3 are not both yes, then you are doing something wrong and need to change until they are both yes (even if that means switching activities).

Janet Rosen 07-02-2008 10:16 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Sounds like you are doing aikido because you have framed it as an activity that you should be doing because it is good for you.

If you aren't actually enjoying the process of doing it two or three times a week, if you don't feel good enough afterwards to look forward to doing it again soon, then its probably just not for you.

Aikibu 07-02-2008 10:35 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Congrats newcomer....

You've hit your first mental wall. The question is now that you have been into it for a while will you push through it or allow it to make you quit practice?

I have been doing this Martial Art thing in one form or another since I was a boy and I am now into middle age. In every practice I have reached a place where I don't want to train anymore or "it's no longer fun"

My suggestion...It's easier to act your way into right thinking than to think your way into right action...IOW if you just keep taking your body to practice sooner or later your mind will follow and it will be "fun" again

There are many reasons to take a break from practice Family Work School and Surf Trips :D so don't get me worng. However this "It's no longer fun thing" is a test...

Will you pass? :)

Good Luck and maybe I will see you on the mat someday. :)

William Hazen

jennifer paige smith 07-02-2008 10:40 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
I'm fascinated by 'the ego', which I spose is a good thing since I definitely got one. But I know I have one because of how much it has broken down and I can see so many pieces of what used to be my 'very important thoughts' laying on the ground and dissolving through constancy. I approach your post from this angle because one exercise that is a good 'ego dissolver' is to decide to train for an X period of time(say 3 months) and then tell your resistant self every time it barks at you that you have aready made a decision, for now. Compared to the steady soul the ego is a whining child and being a 'good parent' to ourselves can help get some perspective on the whining child like ego. And then aftre your experiment you will have a better perspective on what you feel, not on what you're resisting. And then you can also say, I did it.
My ego would have me sit on my ass everyday cluthching to precious time spent doing jack, all to get me to wind down after my important.......whatever lame thing.In preperation for my next day of ....nothing. All the while I'd be developing very important opinions about how other people should live and adorn their bodies or some other bs that comes from too much free time.

Basically, keep the kid in you out of trouble by putting him in an aikido program for a few months.

Good luck with the 'wrestling match'.

brunotex 07-02-2008 12:07 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Just quit.

Michael Hackett 07-02-2008 12:16 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
To sort of paraphrase Jennifer, there are some nights that I'm sitting on my lazy fanny at home and can think of at least a gazillion reasons why I shouldn't train that evening and stay home instead. Most of the time I manage to get up and go train anyway and those are the best training sessions of all. Within just a few minutes I'm having fun and I go home refreshed and content. Besides, on the nights I'm absent, Sensei always teaches one of the secrets of the universe and I miss it.

As for seeking are doomed to failure. Aim for excellence and you may achieve it now and again. What eluded you in today's class will come to you tomorrow or Thursday or next week. It will come if you show up and train.

If, in a couple of years or so, you find that you aren't enjoying your training, find something else. Just don't give up on yourself too soon. It is always easy to quit, but it eventually becomes easy to stick with it too.

mathewjgano 07-02-2008 01:36 PM


Ray Marshall wrote: (Post 210158)
So those are the three central thoughts/feelings I'm dealing with right now. I would appreciate some feedback. I'm sure others have felt as I do, and I would like to read how you overcome these or how you work through them.

Thank you

Discipline. That's the easiest way to work through anything. Maybe you're thinking, "sure, but how do I get more discipline?" If so, the answer is very easy: just do it.
That said, maybe you need to read a little about the concept of the "Tyranny of the Should" by Karen Horney (pronounced "horn-eye" :D). It helped me put some things into least, it gives me a counterbalance to all the things I continuously feel I should be doing. It reminds me that people like me who not only have a wide range of interests, but want to perfect them all (perfection is a relative term in my opinion) must realize a degree of compromise is inevitable.

DonMagee 07-02-2008 01:44 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
I guess I'm not a serious martial artist. If my training ever lost its 'fun' I would change my training, or switch to a new hobby that was fun. Lucky this has been fun for years and years.

Sure sometimes I don't want to go. But deep inside I know it will be fun when I do. Even on my worst days when I go feeling like crap, leave tired, hurt, and beaten, I still had fun.

If I ever leave a class and think "That took too long.", or "That was a waste of time", then I would never go back. I always leave thinking "i can't wait to do that again!". Even on the days where I hate what my instructor is putting me though.

lbb 07-02-2008 01:50 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Hey Ray,

Your concerns make me think of the analogy of hiking up a mountain, a rather tired analogy that's a bit less tired when used by people (like me :D ) who actually do hike up mountains, as opposed to talking about it. For some reason, you decide to start hiking up this mountain. Maybe you got a look at the peak and said, "Yeah, I wanna be up there!" Or maybe you heard that Big Bad Mountain was the ultimate studmuffin challenge, and you want to be known as someone who climbed Big Bad Mountain. Or perhaps someone told you that if you climbed Big Bad Mountain, you'd attain enlightenment. Whatever. You started hiking up the mountain.

Before you go very far, however, it becomes clear that it's not all beer and skittles. It starts to get hot. Bugs bite. You drink your water and wonder how long it will last. The trail steepens, your legs start to burn, every three steps you take forward you slip two steps back.

Do you quit?

There's no right answer. Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do. In the mountain analogy, if you sprain an ankle or run out of water before you're a quarter of the way up, that's probably time to turn back. But apart from obvious signs like that, the challenges provide both the opportunity and the imperative to re-examine your reasons for being there. Nobody who starts out on a lengthy journey really understands what it's going to be like, and the goal that made sense when you were reading about Big Bad Mountain on the internet might seem a lot less important when you're climbing it.

We tend to start endeavors, like training in aikido, for "mountain peak" reasons. We see the ultimate goal from afar and think they're cool places to be. We don't see the close-up details of actually being there, and we don't see what it will take to get there. Having known a lot of people who fixated on far-off goals, only to be less than pleased with what they found when they got there, I'm a big supporter of questioning those "mountain peak" goals, or discarding them altogether. When the climb starts to steepen, certainly it's a good time to look at where you wanted to go and ask yourself whether that still makes sense. "Getting a black belt" isn't a goal I have, or ever have had. On the other hand, somewhere in that first section up the mountain...I may just discover that I really, really like hiking.

Three evenings a week is a lot of time to spend, particularly if you have other obligations like caring for a family member, household chores, etc. If the time is instead coming out of discretionary time, it's really up to you whether it's time well spent. You're not going to be rewarded in some way for every evening you spend in the dojo. The only reward there is, really, is the doing of the thing. At the heart of it, if you don't enjoy the training itself, that one-foot-after-another-up-the-mountain, then it's probably not for you.

Aristeia 07-02-2008 02:35 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
One question.

When you walk out the door at the end of class what's your state? How are you feeling?

SeiserL 07-02-2008 02:36 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
If I thought the way you did, I would have troubles sticking with training too.

Listen (okay read) all the "yes, but" excuses you make. You are mentally sorting your training for its negatives. Seldom works. If the mind is negative about it, it is hard to make the body do it. Eventually, the mind will win, and your training loses.

Sort for the positives in both the short and long run. Go to have a good time. Go to train your mind out of its negative perfectionistic.

See how to talk yourself out of it?

Either quit listen to the mind and go have a good time training, or listen to your mind, quit, and live with that.

For me, yes its a life long commitment to having a good time and making my life better. I don't always want to go before hand, but I am always glad I went.

mathewjgano 07-02-2008 03:41 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 210193)
Hey Ray,

Your concerns make me think of the analogy of hiking up a mountain...

I do so love a good analogy. I think that's a great one...speaking as a hiker myself. ;)
Take care,

bkedelen 07-02-2008 04:38 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Here is an interesting piece on dedication:
Hard work is its own reward. Not working hard offers not much reward, especially when you realize that you could have at least spent the time with your family instead.

Walter Martindale 07-02-2008 05:00 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Demons and Endorphins... There have been times I've felt quite a bit like packing it in.
During my early judo days, I was in university with several math courses, practicing judo 6/week, tired all the time, and flat-arsed broke - 8 years of the judo, followed by a year off (well, working out but with an unstable knee). Then I took up rowing. Initially it was 3-4/week, all at 6 AM, followed by the mad dash to university for the classes I was attending in the master's program (lots of exercise physiology, biomechanics). Later it was 90 minutes training in the morning, studies and research followed by weights and/or running in the afternoon weekdays, 2 sessions Saturday, one Sunday.
Now, Aikido is 2/week - not enough.
However. When I've had a very long day at the office, or leading a coaching seminar, or in meetings, or behind the steering wheel, I generally feel like a bit of brown stuff clinging to the sole of someone's shoe. Frequently feel like skipping Aikido to go home, flop in front of the idiot box, and drink the evening away. Instead, when I get to Aikido and get past the first 10 minutes of being there, I can get focused on what I'm doing while there, put the office away for a while, get thumped to the floor a few times, marvel at how the movements seem to flow with little effort (and at the amount of effort it took to get to the "aha" moment where it no longer takes effort). After practice, usually pretty wiped out physically, this ageing carcass usually feels pretty good, but before practice it was a battle to get there. Oh. I've been in Aikido since 1993, and still get confused quite easily...

Of course.. I've been lucky, mostly, to have good judo, rowing, and aikido environments and instruction. There was a spell where I very nearly packed it in because I didn't feel that the environment was conducive to learning, and some important friends (one of whom is a sensei) felt that instead of advancing, my Aikido was regressing. So - it depends a bit on your environment - who's instructing, what the sessions are like, and whether or not you've learned enough to get a good sweat going and experience one of those "aha" moments. For me, it's the post-session relief that the endorphins bring and the occasional "aha" that keep me coming back.

Hope you find your solution.

RoyK 07-02-2008 06:11 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
A year into my training I felt the same way. Aikido was no longer a novelty, I wasn't the most talented person in class, the instructor was strict like a Russian ballet teacher (he was actually Russian!) and more often than not I left class wondering why I put time and money into something that makes me feel :uch: :dead: more often than not.
My girlfriend at the time who was the only one who knew about my struggle to keep going back said "I admire your samurai-like spirit, most people would quit by now". Being called a samurai made me walk around with a big dumb smile for a while, but more importantly it helped me realize that enduring through this phase is more meaningful than getting a technique right or being the teacher's pet.

Quitting when it's tough s an easy way out. This phase will pass, and there will be a huge difference if you quit now it or after it. Quitting after the struggle is over means giving up on one after work activity, but quitting during it means giving up on yourself.

JRY 07-02-2008 07:37 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Hi m8
Interesting post :) But I believe everyone has experienced what you're feeling some time or another.

1) It takes me an hour to get to the dojo. mostly because I have to take 2 busses :P but because I love to train and its actually my salvation from the hassels of everyday life.
My sensei gave us a very useful advice, which has helped me whenever I feel unmotivated. Maybe anytime we're out and about, we may get attacked, we can't say 'oh, I don't feel like getting attacked today' We just have to get on and deal with it. I usually find that even when I don't feel like training by the time I drag myself to the dojo and after doing a few techniques I'm glad I went.

2)When you train it is normal to be daunted by the way. When you do a technique try to be in a beginner's mind, in this way the technique is always new and you're always trying to observe yourself.

3)Usually it is our Ego that gets the better of us when we train, and we want to get every technique perfect. This is part of training itself. It is not important if you do something right or perfectly but knowing exactly what you are doing :)

Phew! pls excuse the rambling! :P
sigh.... theory and practice are so different.

There is no secret answer in motivaition or progression in Aikido. Its just training, training, training

Joe McParland 07-02-2008 09:56 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
These advice threads are always amusing; after all, they start with someone coming to a group of addicts for advice!

Try a variation:

Dear AikiWeb,

I've been considering this training. I've been taking classes three times a week. There's a big commute, it's interfering with my other endeavors, and so far it's leaving me with a bit of regret. I'm not sure about taking this on for the next few years... I may have some misguided thoughts about mastering this new thing, but you get the idea.

Of course, all this extra work practicing the digery-doo means dropping aikido...

Oh, AikiWeb, what should I do?


Nick P. 07-02-2008 10:25 PM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?

Do you love training? If the asnwer is yes, you will continue.

If the answer is anything less, stop for now, and do what you love.

1 - It is alot of time. On the other hand, you do have the other 4 days a week to worship at the alter of the sofa and TV.
2 - It is daunting, very much so. So be it. Most pursuits of value usually are.
3 - You are moving towards perfection every time you train (even the times between training).

Two stories helped change how I look at my training, neither of them revolutionary, but both very profound, I believe.

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei: see

and the Kendo Hachi-dan: see
>edit: be sure to watch all 5 parts, I learned the most from the elderly gentlemen...
Both impressed me immediatly, but both also continue to force me to ask myself: what am i doing this for? Finding the answer is part of the journey.....

Good luck.

Dieter Haffner 07-03-2008 02:55 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Sometimes, you need to stick it out just a little longer, because you will get a 'click'.
Sometimes, it is better to quit right away, because you will never get a 'click'.

Ray Marshall 07-03-2008 06:59 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
Thank you all for your thoughts and the time you took to share those thoughts. I appreciate it.

nagoyajoe 07-04-2008 03:20 AM

Re: Having trouble sticking with training...any thoughts?
When in doubt, train and train correctly. This is most important.

Nick P. 07-04-2008 08:28 AM

No, thank you.

Ray Marshall wrote: (Post 210242)
Thank you all for your thoughts and the time you took to share those thoughts. I appreciate it.

Your welcome, and thank you; since reflecting further on your post, and the answers supplied (except Joe, brunotex and Paul - those were just way too honest), it has helped me re-focus on my own motivations, and as such found this quote that sums it up best...

"The longest journey is the journey inward." - Dag Hammarskjold

I humbly add it is also the most challenging, and have changed my signature in these forums to include this quote.

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