I don't think Dean is talking about "drowning in information"; I'm pretty sure he's talking about a different kind of drowning. What he says is excellent advice and it's worth heeding. There is something of a tendency for new students to want to eat drink breathe and sleep aikido (and it's not just aikido; you see this in every other style too). A year later, most of the students who couldn't get enough aikido at month two are no longer training...
Hi Mary and Lyle,
It's very kind of you to alert me to those pitfalls. I appreciate it. I could've worded my comment better. I'm familiar with exactly the phenomenon you and Dean are talking about. I'll be on the lookout for those behaviors, and I know that with time my enthusiasm will mellow.
The shoulder injury, thankfully, was not a reinjury. I'd had an unrelated hereditary problem (bone spurs) earlier, and just had the bad luck to take an awkward fall onto that same shoulder. Lots of folks have experienced shoulder injuries in Aikido, including Walter's Sensei (below) and George Leonard. So there's hope for me.
I left a lot out of my original post, of course, in the interest of brevity. Let me give a little additional background. The rest of my life includes:
- My husband. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary, and were together for 9 years before that. We make meals together, take on projects, have a weekly date night and a weekly chore night. We're still as in love as we were when we met in 1980.
- Work I'm passionate about (user experience design for Web sites/apps and software). I have practiced for almost 30 years in one form or another, after studying industrial/organizational psychology in the early 80s. I read everything I can, write blog posts, go to local meetings, and chat with collegues online.
- My horse and donkeys. A lifetime of intense interest, lessons, reading, etc. I've been involved in large animal rescue since my teens. In the early 90s I spent several years of learning and preparation before getting a horse. I finally got my first horse in 1997 (after moving, taking lessons, visiting farms, building a barn and pen, getting a truck and trailer, etc.). I take riding lessons, write articles and blog posts (my horse even has a blog and is on Twitter), take a leadership role in local clubs, volunteer at shows, do trail maintenance, go to multi-day workshops, camping trips, and spend every waking moment living and breathing horses. I've stuck with it through years of health problems (now resolved), the death of my first horse, training challenges, injuries, and so on. Like Aikido, horsemanship is a lifelong practice which one never masters. After all these years I could be considered an "advanced beginner."
- Music - similar. Years of guitar and voice lessons, practice, workshops and camps, local groups... I've not been able to play guitar for a few years because of wrist problems, but before that it was a dailly practice (and in that case I may have experienced the physical burn out you mentioned - and I've learned from that). I'm allowing for the possibility that learning to hold less tension in my body all the time, and developing more strength and flexibility, might let me slowy return to playing. But even as it is many of my friends are from being involved with music, and I still listen and sing, and participate peripherally in the local music scene.
- Flying - Same story - grew up flying, later lessons, aerobatics, local clubs, vacations, etc., except that finances and then vertigo put an end to that. I still enjoy airshows, but avoid going up in planes.
It goes on, with photography, astronomy, software engineering, cats, cooking, organic gardening... I do dive in with both feet, but usually after years of exposure to a pursuit, and much research and thought. There are other things I am interested in
, but do not elect to pursue (steam trains and tall ships, for instance). The only things I can think of where I actually dove in and burned out were woodworking and stained glass. For the most part, once I take something on, I typically stay actively involved with it.
Martial arts have been a lifelong background-level interest
(Judo in 3rd grade, Tang Soo Do in high school) which I have been neglecting actively pursuing. I did a very little bit of Aikido in college (one of those short-term classes for student recreation), and was reintroduced to it about a couple of years ago via Mark Rashid, a horse trainer and 2nd dan in Yoshinkan Aikido in Colorado.
After doing a horsemanship workshop with him in February I re-read his book, learned all I could about Aikido. It sounded like it would be a good complement to riding and horsemanship (balance, breathing, awareness, flowing with another...), as well as a fun and sensible way to get/stay in shape. So started looking into local dojos. I checked with Sensei to see if training 1 night a week would be OK. After I settled on the dojo it took another few weeks before I could start classes because of a nasty cold.
I go to one Aikido class a week, on Tuesday night (plus I got in an extra class once when my husband was out of town, and went to observe a Saturday class with two friends). I am working (slowly) on general fitness, strength, and flexibilty so that I can avoid injury. My shoulder injury (AC joint separation) was unrelated to the previous surgery, and is expected to heal completely. I'm not rushing it.
I have very little tolerance for passive entertainment (TV, movies, fiction...). I have a solid philisophical background, which is reinforced by Aikido. I am not looking to turn my life around. I realize epiphanies are few and far between, and progress in many things is measured in years. I'm am very good at diligently plodding ahead.
Last night I was out with my hubby and a bunch of musician-friends in the desert, doing photography and astronomy. I bought a book on local backcountry history, played with kittens, and practiced standing solid and centered in hanmi in the face of a very strong gusting wind.
We all went for a 2 a.m. snack at a casino on the way home, and before going to bed I wrote a letter to a friend who had gone through a difficult experience. So there is some balance in my life.
I only do photography on occasion, but being a photographer always affects the way I see the world - there is a different awareness of light and color and form. There are times I can't ride my horse much, but the way I work with him every day when I groom or feed him is also training. I don't sing with/for people all that often, but I am often discovering new tunes or memorizing lyrics while working or doing chores.
After careful consideration, I'm am looking for ways to incorporate Aikido into my daily life, as I've done with these other pursuits.
I hope that gives a clearer picture of what I'm looking for when I say "training when you can't train." That may have been an unfortunate way of wording my request. Maybe "making Aikido part of one's life" would be more apt?
Thank you for your answers and cautions. I will take them to heart.