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Anonymous 08-08-2006 05:06 AM

Changes: Into the second decade
 
Dear all,

I am now a couple of years into my second decade of Aikido, and I have recently felt insecure because of changes taking place in my practice. So I would appreciate some advice from experienced aikido people, and I ask for it anonymously because I would not like to have all this discussed in our dojo and federation.

First, I will give a short account of how I used to train, to give you an orientation -- probably some of it feels familiar: In the last ten years, aikido has been a dominant part for my life. For a couple of years, it even dominated everything else. I trained up to six times a week in what others consider a "tough style", also in another "style" for some years parallel to that. I went to another city for a longer period of study with a certain teacher, went to lots of seminars, had roles in the local dojo administration, taught kyu grades regularly, and so on. I have worked through some of the often discussed problems and challenges all this brings, and known some of the joy and satisfaction. Over all, Aikido has really touched my life in a very positive way.

More recently however, as I am going through my thirties, things have begun to change. A couple of issues keep me thinking:

- I have lost my enthusiasm for teaching newcomers, and that worries me, because I have always seen my attitude towards them as an indicator of my own conviction, dedication and compassion.
- I have found that, concerning the relations between the mind, the body and spirituality -- one area of inquiry that attracted me to aikido - I now learn a lot more in a much shorter time from seated meditation, psychotherapeutic approaches or body work classes than from aikido. At the same time, I am less and less confident about the self defence aspect of our art.
- In this context, I have become disillusioned (I do note that this assumes an illusion…) about our leading Shihan, because I feel he knows not as much about spirituality and personal maturation as he likes to imply in his presentation of the art. Since his example used to be one important source of motivation for me, something is lacking now.
- Generally speaking, I find a lot of the passion I used to put into aikido training a little neurotic these days. There can be much wisdom in having a sunset beer instead of going to train for the fifth time in a week, cant there?
- Finally, I am losing confidence on the technical side. I find that I would have to do so much more training both in the very martial and the very meditative direction even to start to understand aikido technique in a serious way, that I get a little exasperated when I think of it. Of course this last point is probably banal for anybody who takes aikido seriously. However, my growing feeling that my time on Earth passes more and more quickly makes it a somewhat more pressing issue these days. It sometimes almost feels immodest to wrestle with the art of aikido when I could, let's say, help feed the homeless in order to promote compassion and well-being.

Don't get me wrong -- its still great, I am only writing about the aspects I would like some advice on. I have lots to be grateful about when it comes to aikido, and nothing to regret, and I still consider myself very fortunate. But I do wonder whether all of the above is the beginning of the end, and I should just face up to that, or whether it is the beginning of a new way to practice. Most of all, in order to make it a beginning and not an end, I wonder how to work with it. So I would really appreciate some advice, especially from experienced people who have maybe gone through similar phases in their training.

As I do not know how much of a response this will generate, I give my apologies in advance if I should not be able to answer all of it in detail right away, as training and work tend to keep me very busy. Every answer is appreciated, however, thank you very much!

P.

aikidoc 08-08-2006 09:16 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Quote:

- I have lost my enthusiasm for teaching newcomers, and that worries me, because I have always seen my attitude towards them as an indicator of my own conviction, dedication and compassion. P.
You did not explain much about why you think you lost your enthusiam. Are you bored? Do you just not like teaching them?

Quote:

I have found that, concerning the relations between the mind, the body and spirituality -- one area of inquiry that attracted me to aikido - I now learn a lot more in a much shorter time from seated meditation, psychotherapeutic approaches or body work classes than from aikido. At the same time, I am less and less confident about the self defence aspect of our art.P.
Have you tried integrating the meditation into your art-moving meditation?

Quote:

In this context, I have become disillusioned (I do note that this assumes an illusion…) about our leading Shihan, because I feel he knows not as much about spirituality and personal maturation as he likes to imply in his presentation of the art. Since his example used to be one important source of motivation for me, something is lacking now.
- Generally speaking, I find a lot of the passion I used to put into aikido training a little neurotic these days. There can be much wisdom in having a sunset beer instead of going to train for the fifth time in a week, cant there? P.
Perhaps you are moving beyond what your shihan knows of the spiritual/personal side. This area is likely emphasized differently based on the interest and training of the shihan. The Buddhist would suggest you look within for answers and not rely on others. I spent some time under an organization that I felt was not fulfilling my development at all. I took it upon myself to take charge of my own training and evolve my aikido. When the time was appropriate, I found an instructor already in the direction I was headed, albeit slowly. Unfortunately, I had to stick it out under the previous organization much longer than I prefered to do. I realized that they were not going to teach me what I wanted or needed and I was the one responsible for getting it.

Quote:

Finally, I am losing confidence on the technical side. I find that I would have to do so much more training both in the very martial and the very meditative direction even to start to understand aikido technique in a serious way, that I get a little exasperated when I think of it. Of course this last point is probably banal for anybody who takes aikido seriously. However, my growing feeling that my time on Earth passes more and more quickly makes it a somewhat more pressing issue these days. It sometimes almost feels immodest to wrestle with the art of aikido when I could, let's say, help feed the homeless in order to promote compassion and well-being. P.
. Ah, just when you think you're getting it you realize there's a lot more to understand. This can be exasperating or stimulating depending on how you frame it. I personally love to learn new stuff-spiritual or technical. I'm constantly searching for ideas and ways to shift my understanding and evolve it over time. I take the mental attitude that I look forward to learning something every time I step on the mat or pick up a book or something related to the art. I even look at other arts for ideas about aikido. With that mind set, I never get exasperated because my mind wants to, needs to and seeks to learn. My exasperation is that I'm getting older and the body isn't what it used to be.

Something seems to have shifted in how you represent the art to your mind. We all get frustrated with our progress and the process of getting to where we think we ought to be. There's so much to study and understand about the art, which can be daunting. Best of luck dealing with your concerns.

Mark Uttech 08-08-2006 12:27 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
To me, this all sounds like a classic case of Aikido burnout. Trust me, if you practice only once a
week, it will keep you involved and you will also be enabled to pursue social skills that you deem more worthy (feeding the homeless, or teaching children to read). I was surprised at your reluctance to teach beginners in the dojo, that is a real warning sign of burnout; helping people begin an aikido journey that may enrich their life is actually a noble mission and is actually every aikidoka's mission.
I hope you give these words some thought. In gassho

NO NAME 08-08-2006 01:51 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Maybe you should take some time off to reflect on your training and journey in aikido thus far. From here perhaps you will find where you want to go. Sometimes it is really necessary to do this for yourself. Just a thought

Anonymous 08-10-2006 02:28 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Dear Mark, John, Anonymous,

thank you very much for your comments, which have enabled me to see some things I had not realised and draw some connections I had not been able to draw before. The process is still going on. I have written to some of you at greater length giving my full name and details.

In short, I agree that burnout is one thing I have to be careful about, and I will downscale my involvement for a while, especially in administrative roles, train a little less and focus on more joyful training. Specifically, I will have to start feeling less responsible for some stuff, and accept that administrative things may go wrong if I pull out.

Also, I am going to start a search for new goals and horizons in aikido, which will involve looking at my own needs, feelings and resources and possibly also mean I keep my eyes open for a teacher who fits my goals better -- once I am clear about them. This will require patience I suppose. And I will have to look at my ambitious side carefully.

I was especially intrigued by the question how I represent the art to my mind. That is real food for thought.

Thanks for the help and inspiration!

Mark Uttech 08-10-2006 10:31 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Our Aikido journey always changes.I can say that the first ten years are "this", the next ten years are "that", the next ten years will be "this and that", and the ten years after that, will be "neither this nor that." The Buddhist approach to Aikido could be, as Rev. Koyo Kubose expresses, to "keep going."

dps 08-11-2006 11:15 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
In my opinion based on my experience with similiar situations, I would stop practicing and teaching completely. My crude theory is that if you do something fairly intensive for a long period of time your mind accumulates experiences and knowledge and does not have sufficient time to process these experiences and knowledge. It is your mind saying no more input until I have decided what to do with what I already have. You need to defrag your the hard drive of your mind. :) Once your mind has caught up with its assimiliating then maybe you will be ready to go back to practicing and teaching or you might decide to go in another direction with your Aikido.

Wapus 08-25-2006 12:02 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
I don't know why everyone else practises, but I began with the intention of integrating my body into the rest of my life. I wanted to bring my body up to speed and live through it, since it is my vessel. I was in my mid-twenties. Almost ten years later, I am doing ok as far as my initial goals go and still love practice. But I don't know that in 10 years my goals will be the same! I have made so much progress, and while I enjoy Aikido, maybe there will be a point where my interest will diminish. I am not as hyperactive now as I was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, and maybe I'll mellow further with time till the moss covers me over in the corner of the garden. That wouldn't be so bad! More probably though, maybe my state of vigor will change so that I'll be more interested in applying the things my body and mind have learned in Aikido to some other sort of physical activity, like riding a horse from here to Argentina or some crazy thing. And I'll practice just when I feel like it and not because of some weird sense of duty that actually betrays me, the person whose life I am living. I don't think this is heresy.

You know what I mean?

Aristeia 08-25-2006 01:08 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Quote:

Mark Uttech wrote:
t; helping people begin an aikido journey that may enrich their life is actually a noble mission and is actually every aikidoka's mission.

Isn't it a bit presumptuous to tell other people what their mission is?

Mark Uttech 08-25-2006 04:42 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Quote:

Michael Fooks wrote:
Isn't it a bit presumptuous to tell other people what their mission is?

Yes, I suppose it is. I have had that pointed out to me by many, and it helps me reflect on my own enthusiasm and imagination.

In gassho,
Mark

jxa127 08-25-2006 09:54 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Quote:

I don't know why everyone else practises, but I began with the intention of integrating my body into the rest of my life.

---snip---

I am not as hyperactive now as I was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, and maybe I'll mellow further with time till the moss covers me over in the corner of the garden.

---snip---

You know what I mean?
I know what you mean, at least in part.

I started training because I felt I needed a self-defense option that was between running away, and shooting my attacker. I chose aikido specifically because I was intrigued by its seemingly unique approach to "fights." No more punching and kicking for me!

After starting to train, reading a lot about aikido, and really getting into it, I realized that there's a lot more to this art than I first realized. I've been training for almost seven years now (a drop in the bucket, I've also come to realize), and I'm quite a bit mellower than I was when I started. That could just be age, but it's probably partially due to my training.

In the back of my mind, though, is still the goal of having an effect response to violence. That helps keep me focused and grounded in reality (as I perceive it, anyway).

I don't know how I'll feel about training after another 13 years, and I'm not sure I'm any help. I do know that I have on occasion had to care a bit less or be a bit more selfish about the dojo and my training. Detaching from the culture of the dojo and just focusing on what I can do has helped me get back on track when I get too involved.

Regards,

Jorge Garcia 08-26-2006 02:10 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Speaking to Anonymous, it sounds to me like you may have maxed out the system and teacher you now have. In 1998, I felt the same way, then I moved to Houston and got started with a new Shihan and a different Aikido. That has revolutionized my Aikido life. Everything became fun and interesting to me again. I am very challenged in learning again and I am barely understanding the things our shihan is trying to explain. This may only be good for a while but we'll see. Staying fresh is a unique skill in itself. A man once asked a 92 year old minister how he could show so much energy and life in his ministry after so many years. The minister answered that every day that he woke up, he viewed the day as new and everything from the past as gone and he entered each day with the interest and vibrancy of a new beginning. That is more than a little story from a Guidepost magazine. I knew that minister. He was constantly searching and growing. His talks were incredible and he was always breaking new ground. He was, in fact, alive and energetic and deep too. I had always wanted to ask him the same question. I never forgot his answer because I saw it in his life.

DonMagee 08-26-2006 09:26 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Sometimes people just simply change, they learn, they grow, their opinions change. They find a better path for themselves. Aikido doesn't have to be a big part of your life to enjoy it. I enjoy playing jazz, I used to beleive i was changing the world with jazz, I used to believe I found enlightenment though jazz. Now I play jazz ever few months with friends while we drink a few drinks. I found out that what I thought I was getting, and what my goals and desires no longer matched.

The same was true with my aikido training. I found that what I thought I wanted, and what I really wanted were not the same things, and I found what I think I really wanted (only time can tell right?)

It is perfectly ok to learn and grow out of something. I know the japaneese beleive in life dedication to things, but I'm not japaneese. I can tell you it is fine to grow out of aikido and move into something that retains your interest. It sounds like you want to directly help people improve their quality of life. That is a very noble persuit. You don't need aikido to be spirital, noble, or to create world peace. It is simply a path that can help you get there. I have found the most insightful, noble, wise, and spirtial people I have met in my life have never trained any martial art, let alone aikido.

This is not a bash on aikido. I think aikido is a good thing for people to do who want to gain some insight and peace in their lives. But I also think everyone needs to find their own path. It is ok to say that your path is not an aikido path. Maybe your path will come from volunteer work, beer at sunset, and private meditation.

As for worrys about martial effectiveness, you are not too old to fix that. Identify what you feel is wrong with your martial effectiveness. Develop a goal that will help rectify this gap you preceive, and train. Maybe go spar with some friends at a local dojo. Take a class at a karate, judo, boxing, jiujitsu, etc club in town and see if what they offer feels any more valid to you. Maybe even ask for some friendly sparing with them. Try engaging in some harder randori, give your uke's the goal of pinning you to the ground. Then defend. Make this goal time based so they dont stop resisting until the time is up or the feel completely defeated as a group. There are a million ways to test, and build confidence in physical skills. By nature anything physical can be testable. You simply need to identify the test. It could be as simple as increasing the frequency and diffuculty of randori, to as extreame as entering a local amature MMA competition.

Shinyo 08-08-2011 12:36 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Quote:

Mark Uttech wrote: (Post 149882)
Our Aikido journey always changes.I can say that the first ten years are "this", the next ten years are "that", the next ten years will be "this and that", and the ten years after that, will be "neither this nor that." The Buddhist approach to Aikido could be, as Rev. Koyo Kubose expresses, to "keep going."

I've heard this a lot from Rev. Koyo Kubose and this does go along with Aikido very well. I often hear Sensei say "Keep moving."

Marc Abrams 08-08-2011 02:02 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Anonymous:

My experience has been that a period of great frustration immediately proceeds some major breakthroughs. I like the poster's comment about always moving. I find that I am always looking at what I am doing from a variety of angles, perspectives, aims and goals. That is why I adopted a monthly blog for my school. I think that being able to shift perspectives helps to look at things anew. I have added some things to my own training and taken some things out. This is always open to change.

I seem to find an ever-increasing complexity in seeming minute aspects of what I am doing. Like polishing a stone. Never smooth enough, always imperfections discovered, sometimes anew. It never ceases to amaze me as to how deep and complex even the "simplest" aspects of Aikido can be.

I wish you luck in your journey. There are MANY paths that lead to the same destination. Never assume that you are stuck forever on one path, or to think that only one paths leads to the end.

Cordially,

Marc Abrams

Janet Rosen 08-08-2011 03:58 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
So many years, so much high-level involvement: it sounds like your cup is full! and - to stretch a metaphor - you could stop filling it for a while and just take some slow sips to see how you enjoy it, while maybe looking for a new empty cup.

FiuzA 08-08-2011 04:18 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Five years have passed since the OP opened this thread. I wonder if he/she is still on the aikido path.

danielajames 08-08-2011 04:54 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Quote:

André Fiúza wrote: (Post 289825)
Five years have passed since the OP opened this thread. I wonder if he/she is still on the aikido path.

yes be nice to hear how they weathered the storm, also be a nice gift to the aikiweb community who often give a lot to such questions and never know the outcome.

dan

Anonymous 08-09-2011 12:29 AM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
Hi everybody,

I'm touched this should come up again. I occasionally thought about writing a comment about what happened later on, but never did.

A couple of years after posting the original comment, after a mostly inituitive search process, I actually found an aikido teacher who has since far exceeded my expectations both on the spiritual and on the technical side. He is even comparatively near to where I live, and I have been able to work with him quite closely. It has been truly amazing. I have also met another budo teacher, outside of aikido, who is extremely impressive on the martial side and with whom I can work occasionally.

Nominally, I still train in my old organisation, and while I am grateful for the good times had, I have not been able to reconcile myself with their very hierarchical ways. However, the move away has been slow and steady, without any dramatic scenes or goodbyes, no bridges burnt, and I am glad it went that way.

So I am still on the aikido path, and I very much appreciate people's advice and concern - especially the comments when I first posted were important at the time.

Best

P.

FiuzA 08-09-2011 05:43 PM

Re: Changes: Into the second decade
 
That's amazing dear P.

It seems to me you managed to blend quite well with that 'storm'. That's the least one could expect from a more than two decade practitioner.

You said it all -- seeing and practice new stuff such as having a new teacher and learning other stuff related to the martial arts truly is the secret for the martial artist and if one is passionate for budo, for situations like the you were involved in.

Congratulations for that outcome!


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