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.