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Old 11-11-2008, 08:34 AM   #1
mdsmith
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Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

I have been a bit of a martial art dabbler for nearly 20 years. I started in Seidokan karate when I was 7, did it for a couple years, then quit. In my early teens I discovered aikido, which I also took for a couple of years and quit. Next, in my late teens, I got into American kenpo, and same thing happened. From there on(I'm 29 now), I've been back to both kenpo and aikido several times, with most of my time spent in kenpo, which I know hold a brown belt in. So, as you can see, I have a bit of a commitment problem. After a year hiatus, I'm looking to give something another shot. Part of me wants to go back to kenpo and get my black belt, just to prove to myself that I can stick with something. I realize that black belt isn't the end, but it will give me some sense of completion. The other part of me wants to go back to aikido because at this point in my life it has more to offer. Whats I mean is that I'm not just worried about defending myself. I was hoping for some advice/thoughts on what you would do. Thank you
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Old 11-11-2008, 08:56 AM   #2
Abasan
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Re: Need some advice/ insight

Do what you like to do. You don't need people to tell you that.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 11-11-2008, 09:11 AM   #3
mdsmith
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Re: Need some advice/ insight

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Do what you like to do. You don't need people to tell you that.
I know I don't NEED someone to tell me what to do, I was looking for another opinion. Would getting a black belt mean enough to you to go back to kenpo, if that was your only reason, or would you do what you really liked
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Old 11-11-2008, 09:24 AM   #4
sorokod
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

If you already know that one option "has more to offer" then the other, why would you choose the other?

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Old 11-11-2008, 10:10 AM   #5
lbb
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Re: Need some advice/ insight

Quote:
Matthew Smith wrote: View Post
I know I don't NEED someone to tell me what to do, I was looking for another opinion. Would getting a black belt mean enough to you to go back to kenpo, if that was your only reason, or would you do what you really liked
Well, it wasn't enough for me with TKD -- I blew out my shoulder a few days before I was supposed to test for black belt, and when I'd healed up, realized that I didn't really want it. The truth was, I'd been on the point of walking away from that school, and time spent away kind of clarified that. I realized that if I didn't want to be there any more, there was no point in going back for a month or two just to pick up a black belt that I'd then proceed to abandon, more or less.

Martial arts rank really means nothing in the larger world. Anyone can declare themselves a black belt of whatever style they want. That being the case, going back to a style to get a black belt makes no sense to me. If you want to be there, then go. The black belt will happen in its own time...or it won't, but if you want to be there, it won't matter. If you don't want to be there, if your reason for being there isn't "the doing of the thing", then a black belt won't change that.
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Old 11-11-2008, 10:19 AM   #6
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Quote:
Matthew Smith wrote: View Post
I was hoping for some advice/thoughts on what you would do. Thank you
Like it's already been said, ultimately you should do whatever it is that feels right to you, but I'd go with whatever seemed the most useful to me. Right now I'm focusing on school and work predominantly. I just got married and have to save money for the family we're starting so my study of Aikido has essentially halted. Once my teaching degree is complete I plan on training as often as possible because essentially school and work will become one, freeing up time. I also think my Aikido training will fit very well in the public education environment. That's my thought process, at any rate.
That said, as much as I think rank itself is somewhat meaningless, there's a lot to be said for going through the testing process. I'm just a 5th kyu, but the change in rank did create a change in perspective which i think improved my overall learning.
Which to me brings it back to the idea that whatever you do do (no jokes please), you will only get out of it what you put into it...as was pointed out on another thread.
Hope that helped somehow.
Take care,
Matt

Last edited by mathewjgano : 11-11-2008 at 10:23 AM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 11-11-2008, 10:48 AM   #7
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

IMHO, by posting here, you may know what we would suggest, because we are all into Aikido.

Did you post on a Kempo forum? If you did, then you really may be pulled. If you didn't, then you are biased in your asking, suggesting you already know.

You reference both as "going back". Which do you want to go forward with?

If you are just looking for "commitment" to something anything, either one will do because its about the process not the content.

Or, go back to both. Get you Black Belt in both.

Your question is one we all ask ourselves. We each have to answer for ourselves.

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 11-11-2008, 11:05 AM   #8
mdsmith
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Thanks for the replies. That's all I was looking for... some other's thoughts. For me, the black belt really doesn't have anything to do with feeling like I've reached a certein level. It has more to do with proving to myself that I can achieve a goal that I set for myself, although it may not be in the art that I prefer at this point. Aikido on the other hand, is an art that I see more and more value in as I get older, and different things become important to me in life. I realize that it's a decision that I have to make, but I thought it would make for good conversation. Oh, I almost forgot, no, I didn't post this question on a kenpo website. That was a very insightful observation about what that could mean.

Last edited by mdsmith : 11-11-2008 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 11-11-2008, 05:51 PM   #9
dps
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Try Tai Chi.

David
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:30 PM   #10
Buck
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Quote:
Matthew Smith wrote: View Post
I have been a bit of a martial art dabbler for nearly 20 years....
We share much of the same experience, the on again and off again thing. I was told I was afraid of commitment.
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #11
Amadeus
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like?
Mister Miyagi's belt

Love me, hate me, tolerate me or ignore me. I care!
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:03 PM   #12
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

You said
Quote:
I realize that black belt isn't the end
but it sounds like that would be the end for you, in kempo anyway. Do you think your commitment level is a problem because you want to focus on a goal or because someone else told you that you should be more goal-oriented? Why beat yourself up about not doing something you don't care to do? Why "stick it out" for a goal that is largely illusory and probably won't be, in itself, very fulfilling?

So, why do you bounce? And why do you feel that you can't practise both? And when you stop practising, do you deliberately leave or do you go less and less and then eventually stop going altogether. And finally (not a non sequitur), do you watch a lot of television?

I am not an expert
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Old 11-11-2008, 08:36 PM   #13
crbateman
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

I have to agree with the "do what you like" suggestion, to the extent that your "commitment problem" isn't going to go away by forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy. You need as much going for you as you can to get past an issue like that. Some people can commit simply for the sake of the doing, but I suspect you may need more in the way of motivation than that.
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Old 11-11-2008, 09:15 PM   #14
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

I've suffered this kind of mental obstacle in the past, too. It's non-trivial. I don't know if there was a "fear of success" issue or something else, but over time the near misses / stopping-shorts can add up, the numerous achievements and successes in life notwithstanding. It was eventually important just to clear an arbitrary obstacle of some import to see that I could see something planned through.

Once you succeed, then you can be confident that it meant nothing. But, sometimes it does take that one success to clear the blockage. Removing the doubt can be much more difficult than breaking through it.

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Old 11-12-2008, 05:15 AM   #15
mdsmith
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Quote:
Jeremy Morrison wrote: View Post
You said but it sounds like that would be the end for you, in kempo anyway. Do you think your commitment level is a problem because you want to focus on a goal or because someone else told you that you should be more goal-oriented? Why beat yourself up about not doing something you don't care to do? Why "stick it out" for a goal that is largely illusory and probably won't be, in itself, very fulfilling?

So, why do you bounce? And why do you feel that you can't practise both? And when you stop practising, do you deliberately leave or do you go less and less and then eventually stop going altogether. And finally (not a non sequitur), do you watch a lot of television?
Good questions. The commitment problem is something that occurs in several areas of my life(ie playing music). I just think in martial arts, the goal of black belt is something tangable that you can see and hold, in music there really isn't anything like that. I think part of it is what other people have said. It does bother me that I can seem to stick to something, but it bothers me even more when others remind me of it, so to me the black belt might take care of both. As far aa quitting, it's more of a go less and lees, then finally stop. I've also gotten pretty good at making excuses for why I can't go tonight, or how it doesn't fit into my schedule. And no, I don't really like the television, but I am a computer addict
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:16 AM   #16
crbateman
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

It's sounding more and more like a motivational issue. Although martial arts training is ultimately not about a black belt, but about improving yourself, you are dangling that black belt in front of yourself like a carrot, because you're looking for motivation that, for whatever reason, you can't derive from training solely for the sake of training or the benefits it offers. A black belt is not a benefit, but only an insignia. Do it for the benefits, not the belt. Any other way, and you will be disappointed.
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:42 AM   #17
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

I'm with you there on the playing music! I'm usually on the computer when I should be practising my instrument, too.... Well, maybe Joe's right that if you're able to reach the tangible goal of a rank, that success will help you want to reach other goals. But if Clark's right about it being motivational, maybe that black belt would be the laurel you could unfortunately be happy to rest on.

Quote:
It does bother me that I can seem to stick to something, but it bothers me even more when others remind me of it, so to me the black belt might take care of both.
"Stick with" and "stick with until" are different things. I should think that it would show more commitment to go to aikido (or yoga, or whatever you commit to) three nights a week if you weren't focused on an endpoint.
This might just be for me, but I find that if am doing something (like aikido, or a research project), and I really put myself into it in all earnestness, that I want to do it all the time. And if I am doing something (like playing the fiddle, or remodeling a spare room) that I don't throw myself into, I want to do it less and less, and it eventually doesn't happen. So, for someone like me anyway, it would be more important to choose the activity that I could more honestly and happily commit to than to choose the one that had the rank I could achieve soonest.
I hope you can find the thing that makes you happiest!

I am not an expert
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Old 11-12-2008, 10:21 AM   #18
mdsmith
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Great points. That definitely gives me some food for thought. It is more of a motivational issue. I always start out gung ho, going as much as I can and reading and thinking about it all of the time, then gradually I lose motivation. I'm not really sure what causes this because I do like what I'm doing. Maybe it's just being lazy That's one of the things I've always admired most about serious martial artist. The dedication and devotion that they have to pursuing a single discipline. I think that's an awesome trait to have.

Fiddle, huh Jeremy. I play the mandolin (sometimes).

Last edited by mdsmith : 11-12-2008 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:10 AM   #19
Mark Uttech
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Onegaishimasu. I was 31 when I started aikido with no previous martial art experience. It was an effort to commit myself, but I think i was helped by my age, because once you get in your thirties, you are well aware of time and time passing. I told myself anything short of a ten year commitment would not get me anywhere. After ten years, another ten year commitment actually became easier to do! That was nearly 25 years ago. And I've NO REGRETS.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 11-12-2008, 11:51 AM   #20
mdsmith
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

You are very lucky. I know what you mean about time and time passing. I'm starting to feel that now, that's why I want to make the right decision for me.

Last edited by mdsmith : 11-12-2008 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 11-12-2008, 01:07 PM   #21
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Quote:
Matthew Smith wrote: View Post
Great points. That definitely gives me some food for thought. It is more of a motivational issue. I always start out gung ho, going as much as I can and reading and thinking about it all of the time, then gradually I lose motivation.
I guess I feel like some others who have commented, that there may not be a problem that needs solving here. The fact is that most humans who do something persistently, no matter what it is, do so because they have to. Peasant farmers keep going to the field because if they don't farm, they don't eat. Workers in the industrial world get up and go to work because if they don't, they can't pay the rent.

But when doing something becomes a matter of choice, without real negative consequences if you just stop, you can't just manufacture motivation out of thin air. A lot of things are fun and engaging at first, but eventually you run into the part where it's not so easy-breezy-fun all the time and you have to really work at it. When you get to that point, you have to care about what you're doing, and if you don't, you're not going to get over that hump. I came to that realization in my sophomore year of college -- the agent was organic chemistry, and I, who had always breezed through academics before, came to the realization that I could do well in this subject...except that I didn't care enough about it, and where it would get me, to do so. I had other choices, and I took them.

Do I feel bad about myself for bagging out of organic chem? No, because I understand why it happened. None of us can be excellent at everything, because to even hope at excellence, you have to care -- and we're just not made to care deeply about everything. So, let it go. If you care deeply about achieving excellence in aikido or any other martial art, then there's no lack of motivation and there's no turmoil -- you'll do your best, and that's that. That says nothing about what you may get in the way of results, but again, I think that tends to sort itself out too. If, on the other hand, you want a black belt but have trouble motivating yourself to do the training that you know is necessary to achieve it, well...that's not caring. That's wishing, as in "wish upon a star", and there's a big difference. Don't feel that you must be servant to your wishes, let them come and let them go, and everything will be all right.
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Old 11-12-2008, 01:33 PM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Nice post Mary.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 11-12-2008, 01:49 PM   #23
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Think of it this way... A commitment becomes easier and easier to perpetuate the more you have invested in it. As Mark said, the second 10 years is easier to justify than the first. This is possibly because you are aware of what you have already put into it. On the road, changing your mind about the route is easiest at the beginning, before you have gone so many miles. Completion of the journey becomes the motivation. Matthew, you need to get some miles on the odometer to bolster your resolve. Just remember that earning a Dan grade is not the end of the road... It's just a milestone along the way.
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Old 11-12-2008, 04:18 PM   #24
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

Quote:
Matthew Smith wrote: View Post
You are very lucky. I know what you mean about time and time passing. I'm starting to feel that now, that's why I want to make the right decision for me.
read a book called "Mastery" by George Leonard. after reading it then sign up for whatever you like and stick with it; otherwise, we will hunt you down and make you listen to bottomless aikido philosophy (similar to bottomless nacho at some of the chain restaurant but without the cheese or salsa dips.) you will be scar for life and need anti-aiki therapy which we happen to have a life-time membership offering at discount rates.

*picking up violin and start playing off-tune McGraw "Live like you were dying" again*
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Old 11-20-2008, 02:01 PM   #25
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Re: Need some advice/ insight on Commitment

I don't think there's a wrong decision here, so long as you are happy with your choice.

Be that as it may, it sounds like there are things to keep you motivated, at least initially, for each choice. for kenpo, it's the black belt. For aikdio, you say it has "more to offer" you.

The main issue seems to be your stated lack of consistent, sustained motivation. Finding a way to tackle that, regardless of the path you choose, is the key thing.

I'm also one of those who has had trouble committing to stuff. I can tell you that the busier that you get, the easier it is to realize what is important to you. Also, the busier you get, the more you are able to do sometimes because you are forced to be more productive and to schedule your free time.

Also, don't knock the day-to-day stuff that you do that is a committment. Like your computer playing. As silly as it seems, it is a type of committment.

I play video games very casually, and have completed very few story-type games and haven't "levelled up" in the MMORPG that I own. Because to me, the skill involved to get good at the game and the time involved in it aren't worth it to me.

But I love to cook and will opt to make something at home rather than go out, even when I don't have a ton of time.

Wish I could give you some better advice on that but I really can't.
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