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Prometheus 07-26-2001 03:23 PM

beginner's learning curve
 
Hello All,

I've just begun my Aikido training (coming up on one month now) and it is at once exhilarating, challenging, fun, and frustrating. I have the privilege of training at a dojo with many senior students, all of which are both gracious and helpful to those of us new to the art. It's a good thing, too, because I've never felt so uncoordinated in my life (ok, left foot goes here, other left foot goes here, hands up, turn, oops, I've left myself open to a devasting groin kick, etc.)

My question is this: how long did it take you before you felt comfortable with your body movement and footwork so that your techniques began to flow more naturally, rather than having to follow a running alogorithm in your overloaded brain? I understand, of course, that it will take years for my mind and body to develop a healthy working relationship, but there must be some point when things "start to click."

I guess what I'm really asking for are anecdotes about your own experience and learning curve as beginners and the moment(s) you began to feel a bit more comfortable with your abilities.

Even though I'm about to complete my Ph.D., trying to learn aikido makes me feel like a complete idiot! :)

Thanks!

David Brookshire

michaelkvance 07-26-2001 03:32 PM

I asked two similar questions to a senior student at our dojo (he actually runs his own dojo, too) when I began my training.

"How many forward rolls before you feel comfortable?"

"Ten thousand."
"How long before your tenkan is good?"

"Ten years."

Keep up your practice,

m.

Brian Vickery 07-26-2001 04:05 PM

Re: beginner's learning curve
 
Quote:

Originally posted by Prometheus

My question is this: how long did it take you before you felt comfortable with your body movement and footwork so that your techniques began to flow more naturally, rather than having to follow a running alogorithm in your overloaded brain? I understand, of course, that it will take years for my mind and body to develop a healthy working relationship, but there must be some point when things "start to click."

Thanks!

David Brookshire

Hello David!

...Well, as I remember it, it was just after passing my first kyu test (...not my Ikkyu test, but my initial test, 5th kyu) that I started to feel less clumsy, things finally started to feel 'right'! Perhaps just having that first rank under my belt gave me the confidence to walk out on the mat with a much better mind-set.

...Good luck with your training! ...you definitely picked a fantastic dojo to join!

Regards,

guest1234 07-26-2001 04:05 PM

How is it you ended up with only two left feet? I know I had more than that, all tangled together, my first month. I think it gets better when it gets better.

Juan Alberto 07-26-2001 07:00 PM

Re: beginner's learning curve
 
Quote:

Originally posted by Prometheus
Hello All,

I've just begun my Aikido training (coming up on one month now) and it is at once exhilarating, challenging, fun, and frustrating. I have the privilege of training at a dojo with many senior students, all of which are both gracious and helpful to those of us new to the art. It's a good thing, too, because I've never felt so uncoordinated in my life (ok, left foot goes here, other left foot goes here, hands up, turn, oops, I've left myself open to a devasting groin kick, etc.)

My question is this: how long did it take you before you felt comfortable with your body movement and footwork so that your techniques began to flow more naturally, rather than having to follow a running alogorithm in your overloaded brain? I understand, of course, that it will take years for my mind and body to develop a healthy working relationship, but there must be some point when things "start to click."

I guess what I'm really asking for are anecdotes about your own experience and learning curve as beginners and the moment(s) you began to feel a bit more comfortable with your abilities.

Even though I'm about to complete my Ph.D., trying to learn aikido makes me feel like a complete idiot! :)

Thanks!

David Brookshire

Don't think in Ph.D. terms just natural movement it's alot more like walking than you can believe. Keep up the hard training if I can do it you CAN too.

Sincerely,

Juan Alberto

Steve 07-27-2001 09:43 AM

Re: Re: beginner's learning curve
 
I was a year into my aikido study before I felt I could roll backwards competently, although I could fall on my face like nobody's business the first night. -- Steve

Nick 07-27-2001 11:10 AM

David, expect to feel like an idiot for a while... not very uplifting, but, as George Leonard puts it, "Your first few attempts at diving are likely to be belly flops, and will likely attract the attention of everyone at the pool"... you'll get better, just train hard and give it time, and I'm sure you'll be fine...

Nick

Estproph 07-27-2001 01:11 PM

Re: beginner's learning curve
 
Quote:

Originally posted by Prometheus
Hello All,

I've just begun my Aikido training (coming up on one month now) and it is at once exhilarating, challenging, fun, and frustrating. I have the privilege of training at a dojo with many senior students, all of which are both gracious and helpful to those of us new to the art. It's a good thing, too, because I've never felt so uncoordinated in my life (ok, left foot goes here, other left foot goes here, hands up, turn, oops, I've left myself open to a devasting groin kick, etc.)

My question is this: how long did it take you before you felt comfortable with your body movement and footwork so that your techniques began to flow more naturally, rather than having to follow a running alogorithm in your overloaded brain? I understand, of course, that it will take years for my mind and body to develop a healthy working relationship, but there must be some point when things "start to click."

I guess what I'm really asking for are anecdotes about your own experience and learning curve as beginners and the moment(s) you began to feel a bit more comfortable with your abilities.

Even though I'm about to complete my Ph.D., trying to learn aikido makes me feel like a complete idiot! :)

Thanks!

David Brookshire

Hi David, fellow new Aikidoka/DC'er/soon-to-be Ph.D'er:

I'm I think right about the same place as you are. I've been studying aikido a little over a month now, and still have 2 (or more) left feet (10 thumbs too). I will say this: at this stage, practicing as often as possible seems to help me in understanding technique. I've been able to practice 4 or more times a week the last couple of weeks now, and, although I'm very sore, I feel like I'm picking up technique much faster than I was just a couple weeks ago. Of course, I still have a LONG way to go...
It's the same principle as grad school. At the outset, it looks like it will take forever to get to where you want to be, but if you keep at it, eventually you get there.

GBBaez 07-27-2001 04:30 PM

Hello David,

thanks for posting. I think a lot of novice people have read in your words THE question eating their brains: 'Am I the only idiot in the world'? :confused:
I am one of these novices and now I feel much better knowing that this uncoordination is a common first step in learning.
Again, :) thanks!

Guillem.

Ari 07-27-2001 06:20 PM

Quote:

I've just begun my Aikido training (coming up on one month now) and it is at once exhilarating, challenging, fun, and frustrating...It's a good thing, too, because I've never felt so uncoordinated in my life (ok, left foot goes here, other left foot goes here, hands up, turn, oops, I've left myself open to a devasting groin kick, etc.)
I've been training for about 6 months (haven't graded yet) and I still feel exactly like that ;) Every time I think I've gotten the hang of a technique, my uke gives me a more committed grip and I can't budge them.

Good luck!
Ari

JJF 07-30-2001 07:43 AM

I've been at this for a couple of years, and I have had the experience, that now and then I begin to feel comfortable with what I do, and then all of the sudden everything falls apart and I go back to feeling akward again. I used to fool myself into believing that this is a natural fluctuation where we get the hang of doing what we know and then we learn something new to incorporate. It might not be completely true but the thought helps me getting trough, when nothing seemes to work.

However: I think that in a few months time - maybe half a year depending on how much you practice - you will begin to feel less mystified. Most of the techniques will begin to be not completely unfamilliar to you and that's when it get's really tough.... ;) That will be the time where you begin to focus on other parts of your training than just moving your legs and arms in the generally right direction. You will probably begin to work with your posture, your KI, your flow, your 'one-point', your weapons work or whatever other aspect will be presented to you at a time where you are ready for it. A lot of new aikido-ka's stop when they reach this point. Perhaps they can't accept the huge amount of knowledge they suddenly realise they are about to acquire. Perhaps they just don't like Aikido that much after the first affection cools off.

Just remember: whenever you begin to feel comfortably about anything in Aikido then you know for sure that you are not looking hard enough ;)

Most importantly: Have fun (and loads of it)

cbrf4zr2 07-30-2001 08:24 AM

Prometheus -

Here's something that may help. Obviously certain things work for some and not others. Do technique with your eyes closed. Obviously, this is only going to work at first on grabbing techniques. We've done this in class (the whole class) and sometimes I will do it on my own and just feel how it's supposed to flow. Sometimes I find it better that way. You dont worry about "oh this foot has to go here, and then I have to do this, and then, oh wait no that other thing comes first." You just sort of feel the steps and the circles and I think that by feeling it sometimes that can help some people. I know with me sometimes I "feel" the technique better if I have my eyes closed and I'm not trying to see where everything is supposed to "go." Give it a shot - see what happens - it can't hurt, unless of course it's a shomenuchi, munetsuki, or other sort of striking attack :D

BC 07-30-2001 09:03 AM

I remember the story that one of my sensei's senior students tells:

He (the student) had been practicing for around twenty five years (he had and still has his own dojo) when he was talking to Sensei (who at that point had been practicing over forty years). The student said "Sensei, I've been practicing aikido a pretty long time now, and sometimes I still don't get it." Without hesitation, Sensei replied "Me too."

mj 07-30-2001 09:43 AM

I was being taught by a 4th dan last year. During class he came up to me and said that he had just attended a course with his teacher... a 7th dan (70+ years). The 7th dan had come up to him and said - "You know...I think I'm on the edge of a breakthrough on this!"
In some ways it's just depressing ;)

fiona 08-02-2001 02:29 AM

Hi prometheus,

I started my PhD just four months back. I've been doing aikido for three years now - I started training just after I finished my Masters degree. I have my 1st kyu certificate framed on my office wall - and I'm more proud of it than I am of my under or post grad degrees. Why? Because its just so damned hard to learn! The nice thing and the fun thing is that once you learm to fall properly (and hence stop hurting yourself all the time), aikido training is about constant learning. Its challenging stuff - frustrating sometimes - but as far as I'm concerned learning is fun, and the more you learn about something, the more fun it gets. If it had been easy, I guess I would have given up training long agi. As it is, I think I'll be doing aikido for a very long time.

Steve 08-02-2001 12:30 PM

Last year I clipped an article out of the newspaper that detailed new research about how humans learn. The main point was that we need a period of rest to incorporate new physical skills into our brains for retrieval later on. This allows the skill to be recorded in such a way that it starts to become reflex. That is, after the skill is incorporated then we can perform it without thinking about how to perform. During this rest time it's important not to learn any other new skills or these will overwrite the one we want to keep. The authors of the research discovered that the best way to learn a new athletic skill is to practice it, then go to bed. That works well for me because my aikido club meets in the evenings and sometimes I'm tired enough to go straight to bed after hitting the showers. Hmmm. If this is the best schedule for learning aikido, I kind of hate to think about how slow my progress would be if I practiced in the morning, instead.


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