Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?
You have made some really good observations here, George. I completely agree because I have seen some of these things happen to others or have experienced them personally.
I don't believe most people are prepared to make the necessary life-sacrifices in order to achieve what they THINK they really want to achieve in regards to serious Budo training. I believe most people subconsciously liken their Aikido practice to a weekly Spinning or Pilates class. To even attempt to "master" an art such as Aikido is a big commitment. I have personally come to realize that, as my training proceeds, to actually become "better" my commitment to the training has to deepen exponentially. This is difficult. I don't think many people realize what this entails. It reminds me of a great anecdote I read somewhere. I can't remember the author but it goes something like this:
Student asks his teacher:
"Sensei, what do I do if my wife doesn't like me training all the time?"
"Get a new wife."
And that sums it all up very succinctly, I think. People, generally speaking, do not even comprehend the idea behind "get a new wife" because this means making a lot of difficult decisions often, and all because of Aikido; especially because you can say the same thing about Aikido practice as has been said about Zen practice: It is completely useless. It isn't good for anything. So, how does one rationalize spending so much of their life on an esoteric study that, to onlookers, appears absolutely Byzantine? I believe it manifests itself in the very thing that you mentioned: people do not want to make the tough changes to actually get better, they will continue to do the same thing with the idea that, as long as they meet their required "training hours," they can test for the next belt rank and not actually take the time it requires to deepen their understanding of Aikido and Japanese Budo, on the whole. It isn't just about training (though one must do this all the time), there is reading and discussing and seeing and contemplating about things, too; if you really want to see the big picture, I think, anyway. Not an easy task. It is much easier in the beginning to make headway but as one nears Shodan and above, Aikido just keeps growing and growing and growing...
As to your friend who lost his sight, I am impressed that he is strong enough to continue training despite his set back. Honestly, I must admit I do not think I would be that strong. I would probably move on to something else. I will honestly say that I train in Aikido to get "better" although I don't think there is enough time left for me to "master" the art, but if I lost my sight or a limb or something like that, I would not go on. Sad but true.