17 year old male with a little martial arts training seeking 1 on 1 instruction
willing to devote time and effort to all aspects of training. But here's the problem located near the Pottstown area of Pennsylvania.I have no schools with in an hour drive. Please help!!!!
Looks as if you have a problem. If you're serious about wanting to learn what you have some previous concept of known as "martial arts" and there are no teachers in your area, then when you can leave...move where the best teacher you can find lives. If you miss on the first try, keep trying and look for a teacher.
There are no easy answers to the situation you're in. When I was 13 years old and had been training with an instructor since the age of 6, the instructor moved away and I had to catch rides on weekends to travel the 110 miles to the nearest dojo. This was in 1960 and I continued this until I got my own car in 1963. I then drove myself to this dojo. After graduation from high school, I left at 4:30 am the next morning for San Jose, California to train. I haven't stopped yet. You can do it also if you want it bad enough.
Chuck Clark in San Jose
I know this is off topic, but I am curious where you trained in San Jose? I realize this may have been more than a few weeks ago, but I am curious.
Finding a teacher
We are in a suburb of Seattle which is separated from the city proper by a lake that requires a lot of trouble to negotiate at rush hour. Years ago I went over that bridge at rush hour every night to train with Mary Heiny Sensei; it took over an hour by the end of my stay there. Now I have people come to me and say that they have trouble getting to class because of the commute. I just smile. Many times I have people say they are leaving so that they can train at a school that is closer to them. That's fine of course but it always intetesting when it comes from people who have previously been raving about how wonderful the dojo was and how much they loved the training.
I think of Saito Sensei who was hours from the dojo and took the train every day to practice with O-Sensei. I suspect that amongst the top practitioners around the country there are a disproportionate number like yourself who really had to work to train. That commitment has lead them to where they are now.
For a young man of seventeen, finding the right teacher might involve doing a bit of travel and checking out people around the country. It is certainly easy enough to communicate with people through forums such as this and get a feel for who the people are who you might want to seek out. Some are on the forum, others here are students of teachers who would be worth checking out. Finding that teacher is a lot like trying to find the grad school you'd like to attend. You might research who is the top person in your field and apply there. Certainly you wouldn't expect the circumstances to drop that teacher in your lap (although that was in fact what happened in my case with Saotome Sensei; pure luck).
I will conclude with a quote from Lovret Sensei that I read years ago. "There are students who train as often as they can and there are students who train." I always liked that one.
[Edited by George S. Ledyard on June 26, 2000 at 07:18pm]
Some people have lives, spouses, successful careers, children, maybe church commitments, or God forbid- other interests. Aikido is not a vocation for everyone who practices.
There are some, as myself, who do Aikido because it is pleasurable, interesting and it keeps me thinking. I would like nothing better than to train every day and commute to train with special teachers when they are around. My wife, kids, and job would not care for it however.
I just wanted to say that to hopefully give you a bit of perspective, Mr. Ledyard, not to criticize your view. In fact I agree with you.
I sympathize with this young man, and I have no profound advice, except the wise words Chuck has left. Look around while you are young, if possible train in Japan while you are young, take the time to find a great teacher, they exist.
When it is time to take on responsibilities, do that with commitment, and after retirement pursue your loves with abandon.
I agree with Mikey, most practitioners of aikido have many other things going on in their lives. These are the people who fill up the dojo.
In any field you need people who are amateurs, people who love the art but cannot make a living with it and therefore necessarily have other priorities. For such people the length of the commute can make the difference in whether or not their activity interferes too much with their professional or family lives.
It is however fortunate that there are people who can dedicate their lives to the art, these generally turn out to be the ones the rest of us turn to for instruction. I figure you need more of the first than the second because you need more students than professional instructors.
I would add that there is not necessarily the slow time for aikido in between being young and retirement. Every so often there are those who start out young, become more than hooked, train like crazy, advance through the ranks and become the respected instructors the rest of us learn from. After all at seventeen, nobody really has any idea where they will end up, I sure didn't.
[Edited by JO on June 27, 2000 at 07:59am]
George, I know this is a big issue with you as I sat with you in your dojo and talked to you about it (actually I listened) although I doubt you remember me as it was a short stay (I was visiting) and a few years ago. However, you need to realize that you've been bitten by the bug. It makes you a bit crazy. Some of my favorite people in the art are those who have not been bitten. They seem more centered and often have a better perspective on life.
Also, it's not just the hour that gets in the way. Aikido can take up a whole evening. You drive an hour, train for 2, drive another hour and then decompress for an hour. That's 5 freaking hours added to what's a 10 hour day for most people. You barely see the kids in this scenario. That 30 minutes counts big time.
I have another Nadeau story which is strange because I probably see him as often as I've seen lunar eclipses. He was wondering what to do about students who come to his dojo for the exercise. It seemed to be a real issue with him.
I thought, "you be damn thankful they are exercising with you because you can pay your rent off them."
I agree with all of the above. But I also think it is important to keep in perspective the amount of time a practitioner puts into training. Some people simply cannot devote their entire lives to aikido training. Their are duties and responsibilities that, by necessity, have to take on a higher priority than training, such as family and work.
I've experienced this first hand. Over the past year, I began a family and moved about an hour's drive from the dojo I where I began my aikido training. Even though the commute can be tough, I still train in that dojo because for me it is still a special place for me to train. Because of the commute and my desire to spend time with my family and work requiremets, I've had to cut back attendence at the dojo from four times a week to two. My fellow aikidoists understand this and are very supportive.
This issue brings to mind a quote from Akira Tohei Shihan, who used to say (as best as I can recollect), "You must have balance in every aspect of your life. If you do not have balance in your life outside the dojo, you will not have balance in your aikido."
My adivce to E akin is to keep your eyes open for opportunities for training. Not all aikido dojos advertise. If you haven't done it already, you might try contacting local YMCAs or local community centers; sometimes classes are offered at these locations, and you just have to hunt them down.
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