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Old 11-14-2005, 10:09 PM   #1
Dom_Prokop
Dojo: Renbu Dojo/Melbourne
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Reaching a Plateau

To say that one has Mastered an art is a sad thing to me. I believe that you never stop learning through your training, and everything you have learnt is ever changing, just as the universe is. The day I stop learning anything from Aikido is a sad one, and I pray it doesnt come. However, I have noticed students whose techniques and mindsets have remained the same for many years and do not realise it. Is this a sign of the physical body ceasing to progress, or the mind? I would appreciate any thoughts.
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:15 PM   #2
Devon Natario
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

I personally would have no idea what goes through the mind of another person.

I feel like you, no matter how much you train, you will always learn more. I personally believe that once you get Shodan the learning begins. This is where you have a grounded base, and now you get to delve deeper into the techniques and make them your own.

There is no plateau physically. Plateaus in lifting weights come physically, but in my opinion there are no physical plateaus in Martial Arts. A plataeu comes mentally when it comes to the arts. You either get stubborn and think you have learned all there is to know, Become close minded and think your art is the only art that you can learn from, or you decide you can no longer learn from the certain instructor. Definately a mental plateau, if any at all.

Devon Natario
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:21 PM   #3
akiy
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

George Leonard sensei's book "Mastery" discusses at length his thoughts on plateaus in learning anything. To put it concisely, Leonard sensei says that plateaus are necessary and natural parts of improving in an art. It's a good book; I can recommend it.

-- Jun

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Old 11-14-2005, 10:27 PM   #4
ad_adrian
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

one is always learning
and if one has stopped he has no grasp of aikido, for one is always trying to harmonize ur self, and one is always learning.


adrian stuart
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Old 11-15-2005, 06:48 AM   #5
Esaemann
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Devon,
I've heard it said before that once you reach Shodan you can begin learning. I certainly agree with that more than someone I heard on the radio say that when you get to black belt you are done (or black is black is black).
For myself, I can get deeper into the techniques for which I know the physical movements at 3rd kyu. For instance, accepting an attack (opening up) instead of running away from it, grounding out the energy of uke and putting it to use and back at uke.
It seems more a function of time and each person's focus than rank.
I'm sure that the further I get my maturity will increase, and maybe I'll agree that I really didn't start learning until Shodan.

My two cents!
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:57 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
George Leonard sensei's book "Mastery" discusses at length his thoughts on plateaus in learning anything. To put it concisely, Leonard sensei says that plateaus are necessary and natural parts of improving in an art. It's a good book; I can recommend it.
Gotta second and recommend this read to everyone.

A plateau is just an opportunity to wire in what you have already learned so that you raise your baseline.

Yes, I believe that the mind plateaus before the body does. Most of our limitations come from the cognitive mental map we have. read sport psychology, its full of this stuff.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:18 PM   #7
Devon Natario
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Quote:
Eric Saemann wrote:
Devon,
I've heard it said before that once you reach Shodan you can begin learning. I certainly agree with that more than someone I heard on the radio say that when you get to black belt you are done (or black is black is black).
For myself, I can get deeper into the techniques for which I know the physical movements at 3rd kyu. For instance, accepting an attack (opening up) instead of running away from it, grounding out the energy of uke and putting it to use and back at uke.
It seems more a function of time and each person's focus than rank.
I'm sure that the further I get my maturity will increase, and maybe I'll agree that I really didn't start learning until Shodan.

My two cents!
Eric,
Yes, I definitely see your point of view. No arguments there. It is mostly about time and maturity, more so than rank. It just happens to be that you do not put in enough time usually until you have at least reached Shodan. For most people 3 years is not enough to become proficient no matter how great you are in skill. (I am not saying you personally because I have no idea how long or how good you are)
Most people also start teaching a lot more when they reach Shodan, which gives them another aspect of their art. When you teach you notice things you have not noticed before. You may learn how to improve classes, you may learn from mistakes. You may try a move that doesnt work on someone and have to move into another technique. You may get a new student that wants to test your skills out and have to controllably show them your skill.
There are so many things that you experience just from teaching alone.

You also start to notice that each art has a greatness to it. Most instructors that I have met in my path have been very convicted that their style is the ONLY and BEST style around. (If not why would they be teaching it).

Shodan to me meant having a good base. Once I acquired a good base I started studying other arts and using their techniques along with my base. Throwing out the bads, and taking in the goods. I studied multiple arts.
I got my Shodan in Jujitsu.. studied Aikido.. Jujitsu was similar, but I learned better ways of doing certain techniques. Then I took Judo. Judo gave me a competitive way to train and test my students and push them to the limits in competition. Now I am taking Jui-Jitsu and Muay Thai and I can take the stand up fighting from Muay Thai and implement a great way to teach stand up fighting in comparison to only learning how to do a kick in the air or in sparring while pulling the strength. Now I get to teach them how to destroy their opponents. The Jui-Jitsu has a ground fighting game that can not be compared to, even by Judo. So learning this makes me add to the ground fighting portion. etc etc.

To me the learning started after Shodan, because I did not have to worry about learning the basics or the base. Once you have that, you are able to adapt and add anything you see fit to your own style of fighting.

Now, when you hit Shodan you may take something totally different from it. You may delve deeper into Aikido than ever before. You may follow my path and study 18 different arts. You may start teaching or open your own school. Whatever the case may be, it will be different after you get Shodan.

Devon Natario
Instructor
Northwest Jujitsu
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Old 11-16-2005, 04:41 AM   #8
Amir Krause
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Quote:
plateaus are necessary and natural parts of improving in an art
When learning for long time, one finds that there are period at which he is in a plateau, others where he is actually in a decline, and other periods where he feels great improvement. Generally speaking, the improvement is mostly noticeable over long periods.

One should also remember the improvement is less significant over time, the difference between not knowing to roll or do a rough technique is much larger then the difference between slightly late timing and much better timing, yet learning the second takes much longer ...

Amir
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Old 11-16-2005, 10:39 AM   #9
ikkitosennomusha
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Here are some things to condisder and ways to look at this problem:

How many of you have trained Kubinage which is basically and head/neck throw? The principle behind this is "where the head goes the body will follow". I correlate this in bodybuilding as well. How many of you have lifted weights and took it seriously? If so, then you know all too well what a plateau is and the symptoms. In the gym, the body will follow the mind. That is to say that where the mind goes, the body will follow.

Yes, you can reach a plateau in aikido. The bodily functions necessary to carry out a technique is a direct result of the mind. The mechanical operations one must perform can always be improved. One can always shave a layer of "rough" off by simply being more in harmony with uke by blending more subtly with uke's movements by matching the timing, being closer in hi domain, etc.

So, it is my understanding that in aikido, just like the gym, a plateau can be reached from:

Primary response: the mind
secondary response: the body

This is a time for self-evaluation and lets you know that you need to do something different. In the gym, new vigor and gains are added by simply switching up the routine and meals to "shock" the body out of what it is accustomed to. In aikido, one may need to alter several variables to gain deeper understanding of aikido philosophy to improve technique and restructure the manner in which one practices.

Remember, practice does not make perfect, practice makes perfect only when practiced correctly!!!
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Old 11-16-2005, 02:47 PM   #10
aikigirl10
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

I think as long as you are willing to progress, it can happen. I would say that no matter what stage you are at physically you can always improve mentally, emotionally and spiritually with aikido. So even if you think you couldnt be in better shape... you probably could and you could also grow in those other ways as well. So ... IMO theres really no such thing as mastery, if you really get down to it.
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:09 PM   #11
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

When aikido becomes part of your everyday life, it becomes a part just like brushing your teeth. Every once in awhile, you get curious about it and really pay attention. you may notice a change, you may notice that a firm brush is no longer what you want and you get a soft brush. Your first toothbrush was most likely a soft brush, so you ponder that. All of these are transitions, and aikido training is no different. Aikido is actually 'mujo', not always the same, a sign of change.

In gassho
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:34 PM   #12
Devon Natario
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Quote:
Brad Medling wrote:
Here are some things to condisder and ways to look at this problem:

How many of you have lifted weights and took it seriously? If so, then you know all too well what a plateau is and the symptoms. In the gym, the body will follow the mind. That is to say that where the mind goes, the body will follow.
I think lifting weights is a physical plateau. For any serious lifter, they know that their body structure can only bench so much weight. You have to change your workouts at least every three months, eating habits, and add supplements in order to beat certain plateaus in lifting weights.

When I was in High School I lifted weights 3 hours a day. 1 1/2 hour on one muscle group and 1 1/2 hour on another muscle group. I was weighing in at 155lbs at the time and I could only bench 295. I could not get the 300lbs mark. It was my plateau. I changed my workout, added supplements, and the next time I weighed in I weighed 165lbs. I was able to bench the 300 lbs.

Now had this been all mental, I could have stuck with the same routine, not changed my diet, and not tried to gain weight. I could have mentally prepared for it, and made it happen.

The truth is that I hit a physical plateau and without changing the physical things, I would never have been able to do the 300lb bench.

Devon Natario
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Northwest Jujitsu
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:39 PM   #13
Upyu
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

To anyone interested, I'd highly recommend Kimura's new book about his training with Sagawa. About a third of the book was written by him in English in the back. For those that can understand Japanese, he's taken the most important parts from the book "toumei no chikara" and included them as well.
At first glance it may seem like Sagawa is just being an old fart and talking in vague terms, but he does lay out a pretty good guideline as to what it takes to "continuously" improve (and avoid a flatline, harsh as he may seem at times). He also mentions what sets apart the people who "plateau", vs the people who consistently innovate w/ their body and pull ahead of others. The stuff mentioned applies to getting ahead in any field, not just the MAs.
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:00 PM   #14
ikkitosennomusha
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Quote:
Devon Natario wrote:
I think lifting weights is a physical plateau. For any serious lifter, they know that their body structure can only bench so much weight. You have to change your workouts at least every three months, eating habits, and add supplements in order to beat certain plateaus in lifting weights.

When I was in High School I lifted weights 3 hours a day. 1 1/2 hour on one muscle group and 1 1/2 hour on another muscle group. I was weighing in at 155lbs at the time and I could only bench 295. I could not get the 300lbs mark. It was my plateau. I changed my workout, added supplements, and the next time I weighed in I weighed 165lbs. I was able to bench the 300 lbs.

Now had this been all mental, I could have stuck with the same routine, not changed my diet, and not tried to gain weight. I could have mentally prepared for it, and made it happen.

The truth is that I hit a physical plateau and without changing the physical things, I would never have been able to do the 300lb bench.
I respectfully disagree, lifting weights is a culmination of mental and physical but it is mostly mental. Speaking for myself, I had reached the measurements of Arnold when I was in my prime competition shape. To get to that point, you have to be smart. You have to know how to eat, supplement, rest, train, etc etc.

There were so many times during the years it took me to get into that kind of shape that I wanted to quite and be liek everyone else. I couldn't enjoy a pizza, a soft drink, etc. It was a discipline which became more like a religion to me. There were times I simply did not want to go in to the gym. My body was sore, I was tired, my mind did not want to endure the workout ahead. At times I had a good training partner who encouraged me when I was mentally weak. At other times, I had to mentally make myself go in to that gym and push my body slightly beyond what is was capable of doing.

So you see, it is mental. To prepare the right meal, research the right supplements, the right routine (which I changed every month and now, I change sometimes weekly), and finally, making your body follow you into battle and take it where it was not going to go otherwise.

I am not condoning anyone to get crazy in the gym and hurt yourself because you always need to be safe. However, I did get crazy in the gym. I had to psych myself up and get nuts, get pure lit up and on fire to push myself. I had to put myself in a place mentally where I was going to conquer what was at hand.

So, like lifting, in aikido, have a superior mind. I am not saying to be cocky, arrogant, etc. Just, think superior and have the self sonfidence and motivation to succeed in your training for the day and leave the gym/dojo knowing you gave it your best because a clean conscious makes a soft pillow!

Last edited by ikkitosennomusha : 11-20-2005 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:07 PM   #15
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Reaching a Plateau

Some people quit when they hit a plataeu as they think they are no longer learning when in reality it is a time when the body is just trying to catch up with what the mind thinks it ought to be able to do.

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