Keith Lee wrote:
Man, this thread has been almost as entertaining as the Aikido does not work in a fight thread!!
Back and forth, tit for tat, eye for an eye; I'm imbued with the peace, harmony, and aiki in this thread!!
I'd have to say that I'd agree that David's posts are being taken out of context, mostly because it puts the onus of the issue on the practitioner themselves and people would rather shift the burden to somewhere else. Again, the crux of the matter being the difference between one who practices Aikido as a hobby or attempts to fully integrate it into their lives. Even then, I would say there are a range of levels in between these two levels. For the person who trains in Aikido purely for martial skills and focuses on that aspect of the art only, are they a "committed" student? What about one who focuses on the spiritual? Are both sides necessary to fully incorporate Aikido into one's life?
Also, in terms of who is a "hobbyist" and who is not, I would argue that the vast majority of Aikido practitioners fall under the "hobbyist" category, myself included. The only time in my life I felt like I was seriously pursuing Aikido was during my stay as an uchi deshi between my shodan and nidan. During that time, and over the years, I have been fortunate to meet people who I think are seriously, deeply committed to the Way. They are far and few between.
As in I could count them on two hands.
Sure, for any certain individual, they might be making a "commitment" to Aikido, cycling, or Catholicism in regards to the time and energy they have available. A few hours a week, some extra practice here and there. Even if they are "fully engaged" focusing all their energy on that task, it is not the same as being Ando shihan, Lance Armstrong, or a priest or Arch-Bishop in the Catholic Church. There is definitely a standard by which people judge others in terms of their commitment to what they do and it being relative to the time they have available has nothing to do with that standard.
There are better cyclist who are more committed than me and probably anyone else on this board; they are professionals, athletes, people completely dedicated to fitness and their bikes. There are people more devoted to Catholicism than others. Priests, Nuns, Bishops, sometimes even the quiet little old lady who has never missed Church in her whole life and prays every day. And there definitely are Aikido practitioners who are more committed than others, and have a deeper and more complex understanding than I, and most of the others on this board. Shihans, instructors, and sometimes just a very dedicated and special student. Regardless, there is definitely some standard by which one judges the "dedication" of another person in regards to Aikido, or anything else for that matter.
What David is saying, and Ron seems to agree with (if I'm putting words in your mouth Ron, please call me on it), and I agree with as well is that standard is very, very high.
And it is non-negotiable.
Just because you think you're "committed" does not make it so. Just because you have romantic ideals of being a sensei does not make it so. Just because Aikido "clicks" with you, and seems to help make sense of what is wrong in your life does not make it so.
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of us are hobbyists. And, in spite of that, perhaps because of that, our practice is all the more important. It gives us a glimpse of our potential, our untapped abilities that would rise out of us if only we were willing to make that commitment. It is that aspect of Aikido, or cycling, or Catholicism that is truly wonderful. The potential to touch and be a part of something better and greater than ourselves. It does not lessen us to be cognizant of our own shortcomings in regards to practice, it should make us stronger. Knowing our weaknesses and our faults should encourage us and spur us to grow. Anything else is merely stroking one's ego in order to inflate the purpose of one's practice, never a good thing. Instead, it only serves to diminish the examples that people who came before us (sensei ) because we are not as good as them and feel the need to justify lack of commitment.
This thread has made me think of this quote:
"It is better to never have known the Way, than to follow it and then step off."