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Old 04-19-2006, 10:42 PM   #26
senshincenter
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Too true again.

Yet even Zen has, "Sit like this, not like that." "Eat this, not that." "Think like this, not like that." "Bow here, not there." Etc. There are ways that these techniques point to the dropping of the I, but it is not always like the beginner thinks when he first hears about dropping the I. Rather, most often, the beginner comes to these techniques and the artificiality of them is as intense as one is resistant to them. In that sense, they feel extremely forced at the beginning, and for a great while after - feeling very very different from "let it be."

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-19-2006, 10:51 PM   #27
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Too true again.

Yet even Zen has, "Sit like this, not like that." "Eat this, not that." "Think like this, not like that." "Bow here, not there." Etc. There are ways that these techniques point to the dropping of the I, but it is not always like the beginner thinks when he first hears about dropping the I. Rather, most often, the beginner comes to these techniques and the artificiality of them is as intense as one is resistant to them. In that sense, they feel extremely forced at the beginning, and for a great while after - feeling very very different from "let it be."
*smiles* ... Ok, I'm lost again; Boy I really shouldn't be online tonight I guess.

In your previous post you referred to "naturalness" in training and here you mention artificiality and feeling forced.

Are you talking about with the naturalness being comfortable enough with the technique to "make it your own" so to speak?

Then springboarding off of that with the feeling forced and artificiality of techniques, are you meaning that in the sense of the beginner starting Aikido where every technique feels forced and artificial until you finally start to learn to move from your center and find the proper position to take the balance of uke or something deeper?

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-20-2006, 11:51 AM   #28
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

This kind of discussion always inevitably makes me think of my training as an Alexander Technique teacher. I haven't had training that intense in aikido at least until now.

There's a saying about the teacher training process (the training course is typically about three years) that I've heard in various forms from people on different training courses, so it seems to be somewhat universal, that goes something like this:

First year student: I don't know, but I feel great and I love this training
Second year student: I don't know, and it's driving me nuts, and the teachers aren't helping
Third year student: I don't know, and that's OK
...and then you graduate...

Anyway, the letting go of the need to know that happens towards the end of the training, wouldn't be meaningful without the need to know during the training. Otherwise people would stay on the level of first year students forever.

I don't know how this would compare to a process in aikido though.

Letting go in general... it's an important tool in what I do when I teach, but it's not the only tool. Alexander pupils often fall into the trap of just letting go, but if you let go of everything, you end up a directionless noodle on the floor, and you still haven't really addressed your habits in a meaningful way. That said, once you decide on a direction, it's also necessary to see how you are stopping yourself from going in that direction, and letting go of that. Otherwise there's going to be conflict. There's going to be conflict anyway because it's not possible to see for ourselves all the ways that we stand in our own way, and so there's always going to be something stopping us from going where we want to go.

When a real change takes place it all happens in the same instant, the wish to enter something new, and the letting go of the old, the feeling that this new thing is artificial and "wrong" and the realization that it's giving us more freedom and space, but that we might possibly die and it would really be safer to go back to the old known comfortable...

I don't know if I'm even on topic anymore, just thinking out loud and in a bit of a hurry.

kvaak
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:02 PM   #29
Derek Gaudet
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
In that regard, I like very much what Derek had to say, and I'm completely engaged by the question Pauliina asked after reading Derek. From this point of view, of gaining distance from our own material existence, of bringing depth to our practice, it would indeed seem the case that real training cannot begin until we reach some sort of internal crisis, one that has us seriously asking of ourselves: What am I doing?

I would suggest then that there are times when it is better to try to ask this question continuously -- until we move beyond the frustration of being unable to answer it, until we move beyond even asking it -- relying on "let it be" not until after this.
Thanks kindly Dave. I agree with Pauliina, that we decided whether it is true commitment after we have solved our "identity crisis". I'm going to think a while on this and see what I come up with though... Good topic Dave.

Kind Regards,
Derek Gaudet
Goshin Aikido
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Old 04-20-2006, 03:04 PM   #30
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Re: Deepening Our Training

I think you are on topic Paulina and correct. Letting go is important.
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Old 04-20-2006, 08:51 PM   #31
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Hi Michael and All,


Michael, from your two options, your second one is probably the closest to what I am trying to talk about (i.e. "…in the sense of the beginner starting Aikido where every technique feels forced and artificial until you finally start to learn to move from your center and find the proper position"). It is just that I would like to understand this subjective feeling of "forced" or "artificial" from more than just the experience of seeking technical maturity. I am also referring to this feeling from the experience of seeking spiritual maturity. If you will allow me that extension of this idea, I would like to expand a bit more on what I am thinking by using the process of technical maturity as an analogy.

When we first come to training, much of our person is very "out of synch" with the tactic of Aiki. This is because much of our person is more in tune with other ways of being. These other ways of being are more supported by Modernity (among other things), and thus these ways of being are what we have practiced mostly throughout our lives. That is to say, by the time we attempt to commence our Aiki study and practice, we often have accumulated decades of practice (i.e. reinforcement and repetition) of anti-Aiki ways of being.

These anti-Aiki ways of being often have us technically attempting to push against a push and to pull against a pull. They may also have us retreating against push and submitting against a pull. It all depends upon our demeanor and thus the personal collection of experiences that make up our individual history. In either case, whether we provide the necessary energy to form a clash (as in the first type of reaction) or whether we provide the necessary lack of energy to define a push or a pull (as in the second reaction), we in our anti-Aiki way of being give genesis to the attack against us. We are unable to reconcile the energy, such that neither push nor pull can form itself, etc. Because of this, because of being "attacked," etc., technically, in the first case, we often rely on those muscle groups incorrect to Aiki applications. That is to say, for example, we often incorrectly utilize the topside muscles of our torso (e.g. biceps, shoulders, chest). These muscles are the muscles of repulsion, of clashing, of energy working against energy. They are the muscles of fear, and anxiety. They are the capturing of our mind and breath in the upper part of our body. Alternately, we may opt just to lose or to forfeit our center. This is still a kind of fear or anxiety response, only it is seeking to address the attack through submissiveness.

In either case, we will not perform the Aikido technique correctly when our way of being is still more skilled and practiced at these anti-Aiki ways of being. What will feel natural to us, depending upon our demeanor, is to push and pull with the topside muscles of our torso, or to forfeit our center to the attacker. What will feel unnatural to us, and thus forced, is to seek to not fuel the attack and/or contribute to its manifestation. It will seem completely against our being and thus our sense of reality, for example, to turn when pushed and to enter when pulled (as is often required when Aiki is to be applied). Additionally, we will often not remain calm enough, because we cannot drop our practiced sense of being attacked enough, and thus we will be unable to utilize other muscle groups different from the fear or anxiety-based muscle groups of the topside torso.

To progress technically then, we must at first seek to engage in a practice that comes to us unnaturally -- against our then current natural way of being. Often, this is not as big a deal as it seems to be here. Often, the difference between what is natural and unnatural to ourselves is very small and thus we can equally often fit our natural anti-Aiki applications into the space of the unnatural Aiki-explanations. This is because the intensity of training is often not that high. As such, it is very possible to fit a square peg in a round hole. However, should training progress to higher degrees of force, and/or should it seek to leave the predictable and relatively comfortable confines of Kihon Waza training, the value of Aiki ways of being become much more relative as our anti-Aiki ways of being become much more out of place.

The same can be said for Zen practice -- which has been brought up. A little Zen practice, a little zazen, and the practice is actually quite nice. It feels very light, even relaxing, refreshing, etc. It feels very much like our anti-Aiki ways of being would subjectively understand "natural," "let it be," or "just go with the flow," or "just be in the now," etc. However, up the intensity a bit, do a sesshin (for example), and our anti-Aiki ways of being are pressed into having us experience something so unnatural that it borders on torturous. As such, we wax and wane between the two anxiety responses. We will seek to fight our way through the sits or we will seek to forfeit our center and submit ourselves to the abuse we are experiencing. Because the sits continue, we are pressed into seeing the futility of our only two options. As such, a new way of being opens up to us. However, it will not open up to us until the old ways of being drop off. This "dropping off" of course must happen naturally -- since that is the only way for things to drop off. However, before it goes, the subjective feeling of it loosening is most uncomfortable. Because we often define what is natural to us by how comfortable it is (i.e. by how much it agrees with us), the beginning of this natural process can seem most unnatural.

With the usual caveat of "make sure you are in a safe place," the ancient spiritual masters of every tradition have always encouraged their disciples to first seek out the uncomfortable experience -- to use this "unnaturalness" as a kind of guidepost - to make it the start of their reflections and investigations -- to not see it a priori as a sign that one is heading down the wrong direction. This is the point I have attempted to explain above.

Pauliina, I think you are spot on target. Thanks for that post.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-20-2006, 10:37 PM   #32
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Deepening Our Training

David,

I think you did an excellent job of expounding upon your initial post to answer my questions and I appreciate it. I clearly understood the concepts you were describing regarding the physical aspects of the training.

I am still trying to absorb the last portion of your message as it relates to the spiritual aspect. I understand zazen and am starting to incorporate regular meditation into my training. I have never considered undertaking a sesshin and think your use of the word torturous would be quite accurate.

Thank you for your time, patience, and giving me something to ponder further.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-21-2006, 06:51 AM   #33
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

I just came across this, and it was so apt that I just have to put it in here:

Philip Pawley on http://groups.google.com/group/alextech said:
Quote:
... The purpose of paying attention is to allow those things that you believe are **not** right to happen anyway. Those things that you believe **are** right you will automatically allow: you gain nothing by paying attention to those. No, pay attention to the things that are going wrong. Pay attention to them and **allow them to go wrong**. Pay attention to them because, if you didn't, you never would allow them to go wrong. Not allowing, you would never discover that the wrong way actually works better. You would, instead, remain convinced for evermore that they really were wrong. ...
Philip Pawley, btw has a really interesting website www.alexanderworks.org.uk
Not meaning to turn this into an AT advertisement but I thought he deserves a bit of promoting for coming up with the above.
kvaak
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Old 04-21-2006, 12:33 PM   #34
Derek Gaudet
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Here's what I wrote late last night... I generally get my best writing done at 2 o'clock in the morning . It's mainly influenced by Daves posts, and a combination of things that have been said in this thread, and by a friend of mine that I was discussing this topic with. Guess I'm trying to put everything together and trying to figure out what some of the reasons we train are. Let me know your thoughts. And I'd like to repeat, influenced greatly by you guys, I'm not stealing your ideas as my own, and giving credit where it is due . Enjoy.... and it lengthy so take a deep breath...

Why Do We Train?
Perhaps one of the hardest questions we ask ourselves as martial artists is why? Why train, what are the reasons, and are the reasons justifiable? Training happens on many levels, ranging from a hobby to a lifetime commitment or way of life. The hobbyists seeks something to do with their spare time, going to class when they "feel like it" or "desire too". There are different types of hobbyists though, and hobby-ism in the martial arts is not all bad. It's the hobbyist that considers him/herself a committed individual but does not perform as such, that can lead to self-destruction. It's the hobbyists that know they are hobbyists, and are either, ok with it, or wish to further their own commitment that can perform well, and not suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance that happens is as the definition states; anxiety resulting from inconsistency in the beliefs one has, and of the actions one performs. When we are at equilibrium with our reasons and actions, then and only then can we progress in our understanding of what we pursue. To think we can progress when we don't even understand ourselves is irrational, for how can we step forward, if we do not know from where we are stepping?
To understand that there are as many types of training as there are people is important. Everyone may have a different understanding, or philosophy, which they pursue. One's personal philosophy reflects who they are, what they will become, and how hard they will work. The vast majority of individuals usually start with a philosophy of doing it for themselves, thinking the martial arts is about them, their own development, or even making a martial art their own. While many will develop differently in the martial arts is it really their own? Or does this reflect some form of egocentric view? If we work so hard to preserve an art yet make it our own, then why do we pass it on? If we pass it on, it is no longer ours. This, in perhaps a shallow sense, confirms that we do not always study martial art simply to make it our own or for ourselves, because we understand that it will someday be someone else's turn to be the vehicle in which martial traditions travel. And while a martial art develops slightly differently with each individual it's core remains stable and intact. Never shifting, and continuously applied through the techniques of the system. Although things can appear distorted or shifted on the outside, nothing compares to what they are on the inside, which is where the importance lays.
Training for the self is irrational. The irrationality of this lays in the fact that if we train for ourselves, what good is it to the rest of the world? One life in this world is a blink of the eye in all time. And in the greater scheme of things, what is the good of one person's achievement, if not shared with others? For soldiers, they train to keep themselves alive, but the motivation is greater when they have family, children and friends. It should be understood that death and life cannot coexist within one individual's time. When death comes, life is already gone, so why fear death; it is irrational to do so. The fear lies in the process of dying. However the motivation to the soldier is that he may not know his own death, but his loved ones will, so their death is a mean to hurt loved ones, and therefore the solidier trains for their loved ones. "There is nothing more dangerous then someone who has nothing to lose".
To seek fame in the martial arts is perhaps a low point, to become famous by understanding however is a different subject. When one is looking for fame, from the traditions of the martial arts, or in other aspects of life, it is not about others, it is not about what they are doing, it is completely about the individual. Fame in it's simplest form acts as an ego boost to those who are completely aware of how they are becoming famous, or purposely seeking fame. Most of these people train not to preserve the martial tradition, but to use it as a personal advantage, and aid the ego. Some, though few may seek fame to spread the art, but few can keep it from transforming their own reasons for study. The ego is a dangerous part of the personality, if not properly controlled through conscience and rational thought, it can have devastating effects on the individual, and will prevent them from forming into a rational being or to a level of "mature practice". This path is far from the intention of the Traditional Martial arts.
Hobby-ism as stated can be on several levels, the first, which creates problems, is a hobbyist in denial. Hobbyist who are in denial see themselves as committed practitioners, however only when convenient to their life. Many of the reasons these people do not train as hard are, because "I don't feel like it today", or "I don't need to". However, we all need to, and should. There are legitimate reasons for not training, but these barely qualify. And when the individual realizes that they see themselves as committed, but are indeed far from training as hard as they could, they have a mix of emotions, or cognitive dissonance, because their training routine does not match their mind set. The other form of hobbyist is the one who understands they are such, and if they were willing, could progress to a committed and "mature" study. There is no cognitive dissonance involved here because their thought pattern does indeed match their level of study.
A truly committed practitioner, moves beyond a desire based model of study. This in short, means they do not rely on how they feel to decide whether they will train. They simply train. The mind set is one step ahead, because of the rationality of thought, knowing they have to practice to advance. To think you will be at the same level as this person only training when one desires too, is much the same, as saying ten pounds will fall off you even if you do nothing. Training is essential to progression; there is no way around this. If two people train, one only when they desire, the other regardless of whether they, at the moment, desire to, then it is obvious which will be at a higher level of understanding.
Then why is it we should train? Is it for ourselves, for others, for society, for the art? To train for the self, is egocentric and not beneficial to the greater scheme of things. To train to keep the art alive is crucial to the art's survival and unarguably a reason. So perhaps the answer is we train for others, to keep society in a nonviolent state. To train in martial arts, as a friend has told me, is to train in a mind frame of satsujinken; "the sword that cuts down evil". However one must also embody katsujinken; "the sword that gives life". "The sword that cuts down evil is the sword that gives life". When we train for the greater of society, we train to keep evil suppressed, which allows life to flourish. In a society that we do not train "to cut down evil", evil will prevail, killing life when it sees fit. This is demonstrated in law enforcement, which is indeed a contributor to the suppression of evil. Without the officers, and the laws society passed, we would live in a much more violent world. Even when we train to protect ourselves, why are we doing it, would we work as hard if we had nothing to live for? So training in the Martial arts allows us to be able to maintain that level of nonviolence, to suppress it when necessary. We should view our martial training as a means to keep the innocent safe, to keep society stable, and to "cut down evil" to prevent endangerment of life. This principal applies to a lot more then aikido, but it does fit into aikido nicely, as a means to bring harmony to the world.

Kind Regards,
Derek Gaudet
Goshin Aikido
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Old 04-21-2006, 12:38 PM   #35
kokyu
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
I am of the opinion that the spirit of repitition is valuable. True practice is to do things over and over. Keeping the "beginner's mind" is also valuable. I don't think people can "make" their practice deep; they can make it continuous.They can have periods of time where they stumble about in darkness.Newness is always nearby though, it is also said that enlightenment is there already.
Going back to an earlier comment...

I agree that repetition is valuable, but it also depends if one is fully aware of the purpose of repetition.

I attended the classes of a high-ranking Sensei who seemed to prolong the duration of each move - i.e. other Sensei would change the waza after about 10 minutes, but this particular Sensei would extend the duration of moves to 15+ minutes. Everyone I trained with (and probably myself) would get bored after a while and either blank out or start doing variations... Looking back, I guess my understanding wasn't deep enough so as to enable me to focus on the finer points of the move (which would have required the 15+ minutes).

On the other hand, I had another Sensei who made us do relatively simple nage waza for the entire training session. It was repetitive too, but he made it clear it was a test of stamina and also a means to tire ourselves out so that we would rely less on strength and try to harmonize with our uke. In this case, we had a purpose in mind from the beginning, so it wasn't boring at all.

Also, "beginner's mind" has more than one meaning. If we always pretended we were seeing the move for this first time, then we would always be struggling with the move - i.e. we would never develop smoothness in our technique. On the other hand, if we paid the same amount of attention as we did when we first learned the move, then there is some value, because we would be bound to pick up something we did not notice before - like the photographs of moves in books - it just amazes me that I've had some books for over 5 years, but there was always some minor detail in the photos that I missed, and would catch later on...
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Old 04-21-2006, 05:31 PM   #36
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Derek,

I enjoyed your post and can see where a lot of thought went into forming your ideas. On a conceptual level I agree with you and in the context of this forum, where most everyone is indeed striving to improve their training and grow in all aspects of their lives I can see it is as being insightful.

However, I think it is far fetched to state that a hobbyist who views themselves as committed is "self-destructive" or will lead to self-destruction. Then you said training for the self is irrational and our life in this world is a blink of the eye in all of time. While it may be true that my 80-100 years on this world is short compared to the last 2000 years or the next 2000 years that doesn't mean I want to cut my life any shorter than it will already be; If that is the mindset then we may as well all commit mass suicide Monday at noon. If my personal training can increase that lifespan by 1 day due to improved health or my ability to defend myself then that training is worth it for that reason alone. Don't misunderstand that to mean I am afraid of death though. I served in the military for 9 years and have no fear of dying if need be to defend my country, my family or my friends. That is a sacrifice I have come to grips with and am fully willing to make if it ever comes to that. Should that day never come though then my goal is to enjoy as much time on this earth as I possible can.

Regarding again, training as a hobbyist vs. someone who is committed to training and who gets more out of it. At that point I am training 2 days a week. I work nights and by the time I leave work, get home, and get in bed I get to sleep about 1:00 AM. I get up 4 ½ hours later at 5:30 AM to be at the dojo for a 6:30 AM class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (the only 2 day classes offered by my dojo). So I am training all I can until my work situation changes. However, we have another student, a college student, who trains 3 days a week when he could be at 4-5 classes a week. Who is more committed? Him, merely because he attends more classes as he chooses or me doing all I can?

I hope at least part of this makes sense. I've had numerous interruptions and distractions so my train of thought may have de-railed somewhere along the way.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-21-2006, 05:51 PM   #37
Derek Gaudet
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Good points Micheal. I didn't quite mean that "self destructive" in a complete sense. I was leaning more towards it being easier for them to come to a point where there is a "Identity crisis" , simply because their routine and personal impression of themselves doesn't equate. Perhaps "self-destruction was to severe a word. Like I said...it was late. Also if we are Solly training for ourselves, then I just don't see a point. I think we are training for the good of everyone (personal view and philosophy though). And I never stated that we should commit mass suicide, because we don't matter. I was referring to practice of an activity. NOT life in general. And remember, I didn't say how much time you train makes you "hobbyists, etc." I said that the ones who use the excuse of "I don't want too, just because...", There are however good reasons, all your fall into good reasons, and I can't call you a hobbyists if you feel you are committed. I would say you are more committed then the other student, providing he doesn't have good reasons for not training. Time on the mat isn't the formula, being there when at all possible is. Thanks, Maybe that clears it up a bit. I'll probably revise that sometime . I will be joining a Dojo 6 hours from my house, I can only afford so many classes a year. Does this mean I will not be commited?, Absolutely not, I will train hard in between those visits.

Kind Regards,
Derek Gaudet
Goshin Aikido
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Old 04-21-2006, 06:41 PM   #38
Derek Gaudet
 
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Oh, I think I missed the wording in your post Micheal,

Quote:
However, I think it is far fetched to state that a hobbyist who views themselves as committed is "self-destructive" or will lead to self-destruction.
If a hobbyist views them self as committed and truly is, then they are not a hobbyist, they are truly committed. But if a hobbyists views them self as committed and uses the excuses above, they are only saying they are committed. I think that better explains the hobbyist thing I wrote.

Kind Regards,
Derek Gaudet
Goshin Aikido
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Old 04-21-2006, 09:02 PM   #39
David Yap
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Quote:
Logan Heinrichs wrote:
...O sensei said that only 25% of aikido is learned from your sensei. The rest is from your own practice.
O sensei actually said that?

No wonder!! Mathematically, starting from the first generation of his students, no one will ever surpass him ...not even if they follow his practice to the "T"

Best training

David Y
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Old 04-24-2006, 06:41 PM   #40
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Quote:
Derek Gaudet wrote:
Good points Micheal. I didn't quite mean that "self destructive" in a complete sense. I was leaning more towards it being easier for them to come to a point where there is a "Identity crisis" , simply because their routine and personal impression of themselves doesn't equate. Perhaps "self-destruction was to severe a word. Like I said...it was late. Also if we are Solly training for ourselves, then I just don't see a point. I think we are training for the good of everyone (personal view and philosophy though). And I never stated that we should commit mass suicide, because we don't matter. I was referring to practice of an activity. NOT life in general. And remember, I didn't say how much time you train makes you "hobbyists, etc." I said that the ones who use the excuse of "I don't want too, just because...", There are however good reasons, all your fall into good reasons, and I can't call you a hobbyists if you feel you are committed. I would say you are more committed then the other student, providing he doesn't have good reasons for not training. Time on the mat isn't the formula, being there when at all possible is. Thanks, Maybe that clears it up a bit. I'll probably revise that sometime . I will be joining a Dojo 6 hours from my house, I can only afford so many classes a year. Does this mean I will not be commited?, Absolutely not, I will train hard in between those visits.
Derek,

Thanks for the kind reply; It did help clear up things a bit.

6 hours away? I can understand that would make attending class much harder. I thought I had it bad when I was taking TKD several years ago and I had a 2 hour drive that I made 3 days/week.

Best of luck to you.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-24-2006, 08:38 PM   #41
Derek Gaudet
 
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Dojo: Aiki Goshin Dojo
Location: Lake Utopia, New Brunswick
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 67
Canada
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Re: Deepening Our Training

Thank you kindly Michael,

Yeah 6 hours will be a lot, but I'm sure it will be worth it. One of my friends convinced me on attending a Nami Ryu Aiki Heiho seminar, and I decided to also train at a dojo whenever I can. In the end it will be worth the travel and time. Furthest I've had to go for a dojo is 45 mins, so this will be new . I'm glad I cleared up my thoughts a bit. Thanks for your regards, now back to our regularly scheduled topic,

Kind Regards,
Derek Gaudet
Goshin Aikido
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