I'm not sure which section to post this to, but........
The question thats bothering me is why do I do Aikido? What am I expecting to get out of it, if anything. What is it that keeps driving me on to do more and more?
You see I'm still not sure what Aikido is. I'm starting to think I never will. Its very good, thats for sure, but why do I and many others here, keep spending so much time and resources pursuing this?
I'm often accused of asking too many questions and this looks like being a prime example of that, but maybe if the good people of this forum could give me a clue as to why they started, and continue to study aikido.
As I have said before, I started Aikido as a means of getting exercise AND learning something useful at the same time.
What I have found is what can only be described as an extended family, both through my dojo, and places such as this and aikido-l!!
The art has got into my head, and my heart and even though it is at times hard or frustrating or tiring it never becomes dull. Even my first 'bad' night where nothing went right and I felt like I was operating at about 40% in speed, stamina and strength, the people around me lifted me in a way I have never felt part of in anything I have done before.
Aikido is rapidly becoming a very large part of my life and all I can think is why did I leave it so long to give it a try!! (I will be 30 in December!)
As to carrying on, it is in me now and a future without it just doesn't seem right.
I get the feeling a lot of people will struggle to put into words the why and wherefore of their continuing Aikido because there is something to it that words cannot describe.
It is a very human thing to question yourself in this way, but perhaps there is no hard and fast answer to all your questions.
Sometimes during class when I'm watching my teacher demonstrate a technique, I suddenly wonder "Why the heck do I really care how to do kotegaeshi? Why do I keep coming back here, day after day?"
Then I realize that I must like this stuff in one way or other and just find myself coming back the next day...
What do you hope to gain from Aikido? I would hope that you would hope to gain nothing and lose everything, for it is said that loss is enlightenmight (sp?).
I really can't say whether I hope to gain something or nothing, because as I said I still am not sure where Aikido is leading me.
The thing is that there are other ways of getting to the spiritual or physical aspects, so maybe Aikido's attraction is in the combination of these things.
Which is of course Aiki. So maybe it is this that is so attractive.
You really asked a very important question. But to you, it is not important why others started Aikido (there may be a wide variety of reasons), it's only important why YOU started. It's not important what this reason is, it's if it is good enough to keep you going.
But I'll tell you why I started Aikido, maybe it helps you to realize your own reasons. After I stopped dancing I wanted to go on with sports and do something useful, so I started Tae Kwon Do, but it seemed to aggressive to me. I then tried Aikido at the University club, because it fitted nicely in my timetable. I have a really good teacher and got fascinated by his movements and understanding of the ways you can use your body. I also saw the progress of all the other students. But at the moment, I know, this is silly, I just want to get rid of my brown belt!!!!
I hope this will help you a little,
The lack of aggression in Aikido is an interesting point and come to think of it forms a small part of why I keep going. In an increasively aggressive world the few hours a week in the dojo are a nice rest from aggression and competition. There is certainly a spirit of cooperation and harmony between aikidoka in a dojo that you can't find elsewhere.
I have noticed that if I miss a week of Aikido for any reason, my own temper gets slightly shorter and tension starts to creep back into my shoulders.
Interestingly enough, one of my former teachers who had practiced capoeira for several years said her mestre said that out of all of the people who "cross-trained" in capoeira with another martial art, those from aikido seemed the most aggressive to him. She said it was probably due to our practicing irimi so much...
why? why not?!
I have had much violence in my life, thus I became very proficient at hurting people when involved in physical confrontations. What I didn't realize at the time was that every "ego victory" I attained was also equally damaging to my spirit. This may sound "hokey" to some, but I imagine others will understand what I mean. I had to find a way of resolving both the physical and spiritual turmoil I placed myself into before I became another headliner in the news.
I don't know if Aikido is the answer. I've been at it five days a week for about four years now. At first I just went for the physical activity. I found it to be a great "workout" and I got to throw people around without going to jail as a bonus. I don't really know what keeps me going back. I think a lot has to do with the relationship I have formed with my sensei and other members of the dojo, that and I still enjoy throwing people around.
People that knew me in my pre-aiki days tell me that they now see (and enjoy) a real difference in my attitude and the way I approach problems. I don't know though, I still feel the daemon inside wanting to jump out at times. Perhaps it's hard to notice change in problem areas when you ARE the problem area. I guess I keep at it because it feels right to me.......
I read a tribute to Akira Tohei Sensei recently, in which one of his senior students, Jo Birdsong, shared a conversation he had with him a few years ago. To quote:
"A few years ago we were eating breakfast before a seminar. I had to work up my nerve to say something to him that I thought would anger him. I had been practicing Aikido for 25 years at that point and he had been practicing 47 years. Working up the nerve, I said "Sensei, I've been practicing Aikido for a long, long time and sometimes I think I just don't get it." Without missing a beat he said, "Me too."
I also sometimes try to figure out why I have developed this love (or is it obsession?) with aikido and the martial arts over the years. However, despite this self examination, I still find that every day that I know I'm going to the dojo, there's more of a zip in my step and a sense of anticipation. Maybe THAT'S why I continue, even if I'm not able to verbalize it!
Zippa dee doo dah, zippa dee yay!!!
Why I Train
I trained in other arts 20 years ago. I enjoyed parts of the training, but there was a definite zero-sum atmosphere. A. Everything was about completely destroying an aggressor as quickly and efficiently as possible. B. On the sparring side (which was bipolar given A.), students gained rank, which was emphasized, based on their won/loss tally. The combination of the two formed, for me, a poisonous environment.
Somewhere along in there I read an article on Aikido in, I think, Black Belt magazine (grimace) and I liked the philosophy. It formed a stark contrast with what I was studying at the time.
(15 Years Pass)
I was browsing the local university's continuing education flyer and saw an Intro to Aikido class. I took it. Myers Sensei showed up to help teach the second class. I've been with him ever since.
Why I continue to train:
Aikido is something that works for me. I enjoy the exercise, the mental stimulation, the particular brand of self defense, the loyalty, and the dedication. I particularly like the atmosphere of life-long learning that Aikido seems to be particularly embued with.
All that makes it something that makes it an attractive means of working on my personal shortcomings.
Basically, I've always had trouble relating to people. Aikido provides a framework that _ forces_ me to work on this.
Every Saturday or Sunday at church, particularly during communion, I come face to face with these shortcomings and I enter the dojo on Monday night with renewed determination and focus.
[Edited by Greg Jennings on July 15, 2000 at 05:52am]
I started training for a lot of reasons. I kept training for different reasons over the years. One of my students interviewed me for a journalism class he was taking, and he asked why I train. I thought about it, thought some more, laughed and said "because I train."
I will be honest - but not proud!
Well.... I am afraid that I must admit that I have a very frail mind. The reason I took up Aikido is as follows:
In grade school I took up Shotokan Karate - I practiced on and off for about 5 years and reached brown belt. It was okay, as long as I stayed out of combat practice and sticked to Kata and and basic training. Then I moved to a new town and tried out a new Dojo - but since they praticed combat a lot more than I had done I mannaged to get in way over my head and found myself almost reduced to tears within the first hour by a very agressive blackbelt. I never returned. After a while I swithed to Kendo (loved the equipment - hated the attitude). Once again I hit a wall of agression - this time I was LITTERALY reduced to tears during class by a very nasty black-belt. I mannaged to cope with my fear and build up a hard shell around my otherwise very gentle personality and acutally get to 1. kyu in Kendo. At one time though, somebody had shown me a video from a japanese display of Aikido and I still remeber that I for a whole evening could think nothing but "I want to be able to do that".
A couple of years later I actually took up Aikido, and from the first time I knew I had found a MA that didn't collide with my non-agressive personality. Unfortunately I tend to overreflect my practice (I'm very verbal in my way of dealing with life) so after each two-hour class I spend hours reflecting and thinking. It began to take my mind off my university studies and in the end I was forced to take a break from Aikido..
So much for my lifestory - however I feel pretty bad about myself but I must admit that my primary goal when it comes to Aikido is that "I want to be able to do that". It's prob. not the 'correct' reason according to everything I read in this group, but I don't seem to be able to come up with something better.
Actually (And yes! I am so ashamed) I really really want to teach Aikido - I can't explain why - maybe it's pure vanity, but that's why I just about every day want to go back to classes. My wife is very supporting, so I will give it yet another try. Perhaps this time, I can mannage to evolve into a less selfcentered person with less focus on achivement.
Gee... that kinda turned into the extended version - sorry!
looking back on it, years ago, I wasn't looking for a martial art, I wasn't looking for a way to defend myself. I guess a person got me there, the art and the people kept me there. This will get a little long winded but I'll write it out, since others have done the same. A good friend of mine, Gabe, led me to aikido. All through our early highschool years, Gabe was far from what you would call a "good student" in fact, he was a bit of an alcoholic (yes in highschool), averaged F's across the board for his grades, basically , he had nothing going in his life, he was headed for trouble. Well, he loved martial arts movies and won a free month at a local american karate school. He started that and loved it. He went from being a teenage alcoholic, loser, to making straight a's in school, actually showing up every day, working out, stopped smoking, stopped drinking, everything. It completely changed his life. Not long after he started that, someone started teaching aikido one day per week at this school and he started that also, wanting to soak up all the martial arts he could. Well, he somehow managed to talk me into coming and I just never left. It's hard to explain but everything about the art matched and completed how I felt deep inside myself. I was never a fighter, never a competitor. Not because I didn't like to win, but because I was afraid to lose. Aikido gave me something to compete against myself. The only times I ever felt like I lost was when I came to class and didn't focus and train with a serious mind.
As to why do I still train? well, that's a work in progress. Life led me away from aikido for many years. Parties, friends, parties, drugs, you name it. I put myself through some very rough times and I think the mental toughness and sense of self I gained from aikido are two of the major reasons I didn't meet a bad end or end up struggling, as many others who were with me back then are doing now. It took me years to look back on it, but not long ago it came to me. That aikido had given me so much and I had turned my back on it. I started craving that again. I'm still not 100% back. Now life(see work) calls me more than I like but i'm working on it. HOpefully soon i'll be able to devote enough of myself to it again to enjoy it the way I used to.
well, that's it, I hope you find your reasons for training.
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