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Old 10-29-2010, 04:07 AM   #80
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
Location: Freiburg
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 322
Re: Is two Days a week enough?

So reading this thread, and after some talk on aikiweb about Malcolm Gladwell’s „Outliers“ and the 10 000 hours minimum requirement for becoming really good, I felt inspired to sit down and make an excel-based rough estimate: If i am honest with myself, where am I in regard to those 10 000 hours, and when did I do how much of my training? It was really interesting, and while it produced only a few real suprises, it underlined some points that I think are relevant to this thread.

So I find as, as a very passionate hobbyist who has been blessed with quite flexible working hours, good travel opportunites to seminars in driving range, a partner who does aikido, too, and an o.k. salary to base it all on, if I calculate realistically, I have been able to put about 4600 hours into 16 years so far, counting just aikido on the mat, and about 6000 hours if I include cross-training in other arts, body work and meditation relevant to aikido.

(These hours are rough estimates, in no way objective and absolute, so relations are stronger conclusions here than numbers!)

Random observations:

Glorification of past training hours: When asked casually, I would have maintained previously that there were about five years where I trained, in the dojo, five times a week on average. Well, looking at old diaries, that was in fact true for an ideal week back then, but considering all the „non-ideal“ weeks, travel, illness, work, injuries, holidays, etc., there were fewer ideal weeks than I would have thought in retrospect. So one tends to glorify past training intensity, I guess.

Place and intensity: Over all, 60% of my training was on the aikido mat in my home dojo, 20% on courses of some sort, 20% cross-training and supplementary training etc.. Especially in years where I trained a lot, the bulk of the training, that which made the difference in terms of hours, was on the mat in my home dojo. I trained most hours in the years before and after my shodan, and, just counting hours, I have also passed George Sensei’s three times a week criterion any year after my 3rd kyu – often by a lot, sometimes just about. So steady traing in my home dojo was the crucial factor for my over-all hours.

Seminars & events: Even when I went to many seminars, they did not make such a difference in terms of hours, really, unless there was a huge lot of them in one year. And though I went to a lot of summer schools, they hardly matter in terms of hours, either. It’s funny to see, however, that in one month as uchideshi I once did, I trained a lot more than in my whole one-training-a-week first year of aikido. So outside events only seem to matter here when the intensity of the outside event is that of an uchideshi period, or a sesshin for that matter. See below, "money"...

Years for grade: I put in most hours on the aikido mat for shodan, three quarters of that number for nidan and sandan each. Considering that I did not know my left hand from my right when I started, which got better with time, that sort of makes sense as a linear development. Also, the cross-training and supplementary training really got started after nidan with almost 1000 additional hours until sandan. My federation does not count all that, but it was interesting to see.

Money: I will not put sums on the internet, but I was absolutely stunned to find that I probably spent double of what I thought I had on my training – and my initial guess had not been a low figure. Wow. Courses were about 60% of that sum. Some supplementary training (body work etc.) was also really expensive. Considering that I learned some very important stuff on body and mind, with immediate relevance to aikido, on intensive meditation retreats, they turned out to be quite cheap when calculated per hour.

All this, and here we come back to some of George’s points, stresses the importance of (a) the best teacher you can find for the daily training (b) a dojo that offers a lot of training opportunities per week.

In addition, after a certain point, seminars only seem to make sense when they really provide A LOT of new insight and inspiration. I feel vindicated in my recent tendency not to go to seminars that only go through kihon type technical training, even when they are done by some famous teacher.

The future: To be clear, I dont do aikido for fantasies of mastery nowadays, but still I want to give it the very best I can and aim high. So in terms of the 10 000 hours one could come to quite bleak conclusions: if my body gets less resilient and needs more regeneration, which it has started to do, and my professional obligations get more, which they are likely to, how am I going to do the remaining 4000? Which, again, are arguably just the minimum. Not even mentioning possibilities like kids, dependent senior family members, serious injury or illness, etc... I could easily be 60 to even reach the 10 000 hours threshold – which is fine for me personally, but in terms of transmission of the art, there would then maybe just be ten years in which I would have full potential as a teacher.

So if you are younger, I guess I do recommend the couple of places that have intensive and yet personal and humane uchideshi programs, like Kayla Sensei’s which was mentioned. I only got to know about them at 35.

Much food for thought – I recommend the exercise, retrospective or prospective! Excel is juts a blast for maths averse people like me...

Last edited by Nicholas Eschenbruch : 10-29-2010 at 04:20 AM. Reason: spelling
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