I have been training for app. five years, am a 1st kyu.
I find that my training and my feelings about my aikido tends to go around in grand sweeping cycles. In other words, there is "progression" -- deeper understanding, feeling -- over time, but I have some pretty severe downturns in between.
I feel like I am at the bottom of one right now. At least I hope it doesn't get much worse than this! Nothing works, I can't feel it, I am so absolutely not tuned in and feel like I am on the "outside" of everything, of all the techniques. I continue to train since I know that some day this will all turn around and I want to be there for it, but man, it takes some convincing sometimes. We're not just talking a bad day here, this feels systemic.
Does anyone else have the same kind of experience? What is it all about, do you think?
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Maybe it's not so much a cycle as a spiral? You start out with "nothing," start adding to it, and while at first there seems to be little or no progress you do start to feel results over time. Then you get "kicked upstairs" to a new level of expectation that is beyond your physical and mental scope, and you're lost again, just as you were at the beginning. I'm using "you" in the general sense, by the way, and I'm including myself!
Each time you get boosted to a new level of skill and understanding, there's your teacher ready to hand you something you feel utterly unprepared to understand or perform. It's like weightlifting: you have to push beyond your current skill level in order to progress to heavier loads, but you'll experience total muscle failure, soreness and exhaustion when you push past your current weight limit.
In other words, we have to break ourselves down in order to build ourselves up. And each time we do, the bar is lifted and we do it again. Sometimes, that space or period between moving on from what we already can do and into something we can't do yet, there is a "plateau." Sometimes that interstice can last a maddeningly long time. It's happened to me, and the only advice I can give is that if it goes on for more than a few months, it might be a good idea to take a little break and do something else for a bit, then go back refreshed.
Keep in mind that each time you go up the spiral, you know a little more, can do a little more than before, than when you were lower on that spiral.