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Old 08-21-2009, 07:26 PM   #1
Rob Watson
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Family, work then budo.

Susan dalton said "My shihan told us if we have a family and we train more than twice a week, we are being selfish." http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...450#post238450

This really hit me hard because I do have a family (4 kids, oldest is 8 yrs.) and train more than twice a week. I would train more but I actually believe I've cut back to accommodate familial obligations! More like my wife nagged me into it - that's what wives are for ... OK, OK , that was a joke. Just because shes talking to me does not mean she is nagging.

My typical training schedule is Monday evenings (straight from work to dojo and home before 9pm) and morning classes (6:30-7:30am home before 8:15am) Monday (about 30% of the time) Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (about 75% of the time). If busy schedules permit also Saturday morning weapons class but this is a rarity. Sunday jiyukeiko was also usual (pending the wifes approval) but sensei has closed the dojo for this recently. With school out this summer I do get a bit of jiyukeiko after morning class sometimes as there is limited time pressure (unless my wife has an event). My wife has a business (shameless plug: see signature tag) that has a wild unpredictable schedule so we play it by ear on that one.

I wonder if I could make real progress if I trained only twice a week ... sensei has said to folks to come at least twice a week when they really intend to test so I guess progress at that rate must be possible. Seems like barely enough for maintenance. I know that I feel progress only when I make my schedule on a regular basis. I think that if I felt progress on a lighter schedule I would not have concerns about adapting to such a schedule - I just really feel like I'm going backwards if I don't make at least 4-5 hours a week of regular training.

I used to not train morning classes but once the kids came along I adjusted a bit and stopped other evening classes. Mostly the wife and kids are barely getting out of bed upon my return from morning classes so these classes hardly seem to count in the 'twice a week' metric. I get back soon enough to help get them dressed, fed and take them to and from school. Frankly, even with this schedule I get pressured by the family so maybe I am being selfish ...Not counting mornings that means Mondays and a rare Saturday with a past history of Sunday (and hopefully more in the future) - practically, barely twice a week, no?

I totally buy into the priority ranking as Family first, work second, budo last. Certainly work takes the bulk of my time so any training is time away from family (my two girls do infrequently train but not enough to really count as family time) and thereby conflicts with the priorities. Logically, unless work is budo or family also trains then any time spent at budo is time away from family and therefor cannot fit into the family, work then budo scheme ...

What is a poor boy to do? I simply cringe thinking of the hell my life would become without training - even a week with no training raises my cranky factor significantly. Finding that happy balance between family, work and budo is pretty tough. Maybe there is no such thing - balance is really always teetering on the brink and a constant dynamic shifting of priorities. As long as the intent is pure and attention is placed properly things will sort of resolve themselves accordingly. Sounds kind of like aiki, no?

Ya know, 'selfish' gets a pretty bad rap when you think about it. Honestly, almost everything one does can be fairly easily cast as selfish. Is it even possible to train in budo and not be selfish? Is not the purpose of budo the 'build a better self' to improve ourselves - body, mind and spirit? Not only selfish but directed towards 'new and improved' selfishness! Maybe it is that danged zen stuff - what is selfish when there is noself? The best self is no self - that kind of thinking just gives me headaches! Maybe if I just train harder, more and smarter I'd get it ...

Maybe it is OK to be a bit selfish so long as I feel bad about it? That sounds pretty stupid ... where is that delete key?

I guess I don't really have a question. Just food for thought ... if one happens to be looking for a nibble.

Last edited by Rob Watson : 08-21-2009 at 07:28 PM.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

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Old 08-21-2009, 08:05 PM   #2
Karo
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Re: Family, work then budo.

You know, I was just thinking about a related thing today... Why is it, that - at least in my dojo, and the one before - there are quite a few fathers, but no mothers?

This is not the forum for it, but I feel the incipient feminist rage when I think about this. Or, rather, cynical disillusionment.

You ask whether you're selfish? What do you want to hear? Looks to me like you're seeking reassurance (after all, you're posting this question on an aikido board, not on a forum for busy mothers). You want to hear that it's okay, because all this training makes you a better person, and so has an indirect beneficial effect on your family as well.

And it's true. But, on the other hand, could you spend more time with your children? Do more around the house? Yes, and that would benefit your family as well, in another way.

You have to answer yourself, and honestly, which of these benefits would be greater. There's no right or wrong about it; there's no perfect solution. There are gains and losses to everything.

Don't think I'd want to make you miserable and give up aikido in order to care for your kids. I don't think anyone's unhappiness will bring any good in the long run. But I'd like to know how much your wife has given up in order to raise 4 children.

Karo
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Old 08-21-2009, 08:16 PM   #3
dps
 
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Re: Family, work then budo.

Hello Robert,

I am the father of two kids and my advice would be to attend as many of the morning classes as possible and leave the evenings and weekends for your family. The amount of time that a father spends with his kids in the everyday routine of their lives has a huge impact on their development. My wife is a therapist and deals with troubled kids from 17 years old on down and sees what the effect fathers not being engaged in their kid's daily lives have.

The amount of time that a husband spends with his wife in the everyday routine of her life has a huge impact on the development and maintenance of the marriage.

In short family IS more important than Aikido.

David

Last edited by dps : 08-21-2009 at 08:19 PM.

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events not of words. Trust movement. --Alfred Adler
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:15 PM   #4
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I didn't have much time with my dad when I was growing up (he was a truck driver for a while then worked 12 hour days at his next job). My mom didn't spend too much time with me either due to her job. I can personally say that I would have liked to spend more time with them. I don't think the lack of time really hurt me, but I can't say how it would be for other people.

Maybe try more mornings since your family is probably at school or work. Good luck.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 08-22-2009, 12:02 PM   #5
John Bevard
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Re: Family, work then budo.

This is a question I already deal with, and I haven't even started yet. Of course, this is due to my nature to over-analyze every decision I make. In the near future, when I begin classes, I will probably limit them to twice a week. Of course, I have the advantage of increasing dojo time during the summers since I am a teacher

All in all, we have to do what feels right. Communicate with the family so they know why you attend classes, and never let the classes stand in the way of our duty to our wife and kids.
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Old 08-22-2009, 12:40 PM   #6
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Re: Family, work then budo.

What a fitting topic for me as I sit here at the pc, baby in Bjorn, neglecting the training I was planning for today!
My view is that a person can train several times a week and not neglect their family. It's easier for some than for others, but it can be done and I've seen it done a lot by my sempai, most of whome have kids and yet train at least 2 or 3 or more days a week. In my case, when my son is old enough I hope keiko will be a bonding experience...two birds; one stone: the secret to time management I think.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-22-2009, 02:32 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I don't think there is a "one rule fits all." If there are classes a person can get to that don't really cut into family time (like getting up earlier to train before work, essentially carving out "your time", or going during lunch) then to me those are sort of like bonus hours :-) We all need and have a right to some private time regardless of family obligations.
Personally, twice a week is as many evening aikido classes as I'm comfortable with being out/missing dinner at home, especially as I'm also a little late once a week due to a Spanish class. If there was a lunchtime or weekend option (as when I trained in the city) I might consider a third class a week but more than that my body won't handle anyhow!

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:53 PM   #8
BlueDevilfish
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I have only recently started aikido classes and the issue of family time was very much in my mind as I started to consider taking classes. When I found a dojo not too far away that offered primarily morning training sessions this was the answer to my problem.

I really think that if I had told my wife I was going to take up aikido and would be training 2 or 3 evenings a week I would have met MAJOR resistance to the idea. By attending classes at 6:30 am there is very little interference with family life, or other activities I am involved in (eg evening band rehearsals). For me this is an ideal solution.

I do think it is reasonable though to have a bit of time to pursue activities that don't involve the family. But of course this should be extended to your spouse as well. Just make sure that you don't overdo it.
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Old 08-24-2009, 12:24 AM   #9
tarik
 
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I certainly agree with the priorities of family, work, budo.

How you measure and balance them is a personal thing only you can determine with your family. It's all about balance and setting priorities. Sometimes extra weight is given to family, work or budo.

For anecdotal information, I spend at least 6 hours a week in training (3 times a week), but then I have the advantage that it's my dojo and my kids can come down and watch and feel involved. There are times when I cancel classes or let the students train without me because I have family or work obligations.

This is WAY down from the 24-30 hours per week I used to spend when I first met my wife.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-24-2009, 03:11 PM   #10
Trish Greene
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Re: Family, work then budo.

So much to do and not enough time...

Even when pulling the family into the dojo, it is not really family time... I am struggling with this as well. My son and I practice but my husband doesn't and there are times when I can feel his glare all the way over at the dojo from home...

I tried to cut down to once a week and it just wasn't working for me. I really need to go two days a week, but what do I cut out to find the time. Or do I just accept that this is how my training is going to be for this chapter in my life?

"Aikido is nothing but an expression of the spirit of Love for all living things."

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Old 08-24-2009, 08:00 PM   #11
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I guess I am lucky in that my husband does aikido as well. One of our sempai's brings his kid and he plays in the other room during class. Another guy brings his kid and he sits quietly and plays with his toy trucks on the back visitors mat.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:33 PM   #12
Aiki Teacher
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I used to be very not understanding of a friend of mine in Aikido who often only came once, or twice a week and only for the last part of class after he had put his sons to bed. I now respect him a lot more than I did, because I realize he is putting his family first.
To quote a country poet of our time, George Strait, "Life is not the breaths you take, but the ones that take your breath away." Aikido for me is breathing, but my family, is the thing that takes my breath away, and these times with my children will not come around again. What kind of message would I be leaving if at my death the pastor said, "He really excelled at martial arts!' But in the meantime, i missed the enjoyment of my wife and family. I have purposely tried to limit my time on the mat lately, to spend more time with my daughters and son.

And to Mike if you read this, Man, you are a true inspiration of what a father should be!
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:45 PM   #13
observer
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Re: Family, work then budo.

There are things that the most of aikidokas do not understand. It is about a Martial Art and stereotypes. If you spend time away from your family to practice a Martial Art mostly you are for them a hero who is doing it to get power to stop violence. There is no excuse to fail. If it will happen the consequences are not possible to predict.
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:06 AM   #14
Keith Larman
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Re: Family, work then budo.

It is always a difficult thing to balance. For me, I am lucky in that my wife understands that I spend all day alone in my workshop working. And that I need some time every few days to do something strictly for myself. It gets me out and away from the stresses of life. It gives me time to turn off the world, it give me time to forget about all the pressures on me, and it gives me time to focus, reflect, and reconfigure myself. But sure, there are many times I've missed events at the dojo. But family always comes first.

No question and it ain't even close.

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Old 08-25-2009, 12:10 AM   #15
Darryl Cowens
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Re: Family, work then budo.

So how many sessions a week would most people recommend as a good balance?

Most places in my area tend to have 3 or 4 adult sessions a week with maybe one of those being a basics/advanced/weapons class, some just the 2 adult and maybe one or two child classes, The exception to the best of my knowlege is one club with 3 dojos which offers classes morning and evening, with a mix of child, basics, general, advanced and weapons.

And the moment I've just been attending the one basics class each week, but once I get a few more classes under my belt and another commitment I have until the end of September out of the way, I'll look at this stage attending one of the general classes each week as well.
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:56 AM   #16
Randy Sexton
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Re: Family, work then budo.

It occurred to me the question is not,
How much time can I take from my family for Aikido training?
but rather,
How much time is my family willing to give me for Aikido training?

Food for thought,
Doc

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will"
Gandhi
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:38 AM   #17
lbb
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Re: Family, work then budo.

"Balancing family and work" is such a commonly used phrase that, like many commonly used phrases, it becomes a meaningless babble of syllables, and we seldom think about what it really means. Maybe it's worth doing that. You need to come up with your own working definition for "family", "work" and "budo", and then figure out how they relate.

Most people probably think of the spouse and kids when they think of "family" -- that's the picture we've had drummed into us for years by the "family values" crowd, after all. Elderly parents living in another state? Not really part of that picture. Ditto grown children in college, same-sex partners, childless couples, friends with no legal or blood relationship, and any number of non-nuclear options. The fact remains, however, that these types of connections between people are not to a "real" family as a fake plastic fern is to a real living plant: you can't just stick them up on a shelf, do nothing for them, and expect them to be there in ten years' time. The elderly parents are dong fine now, but down the road they may need your help to continue to live independently. The kid in college is fine and thriving, but if (make that when) she has a crisis, she won't be quite so low-maintenance. In sum, I guess I'd say my definition of "family" is the people who are part of your life, whom you depend on to at least some degree, and who depend on you in turn.

"Work", likewise, has an obvious definition that masks a lot of important truths. Work is your job, but more fundamentally, it's what you do to survive. The subsistence farmer who eats what he grows, has that much in common with the corporate executive with the seven-figure salary -- but there they start to diverge, because while the farmer needs to make hay while the sun shines, quite literally, the executive is making far more than a living. At that point, choices come into play -- choices that many people ignore because they're blinkered to them. Affluence, even the modest affluence of the American middle class, renders most people incapable of understanding how much is "enough"; it blurs the distinction between wants and needs. No one needs a cable television subscription, a DVD player, an SUV (an SUV with a DVD player!), but try to raise the question about whether people could do without them, and you'd think you suggested cutting off their oxygen. There's not a lot of point in trying to reason with people who have that sort of deep emotional connection to material possessions...and yet, there's a great deal of power in having a realistic understanding of wants and needs. Use the word "need" to label your >$100-a-month cable TV subscription, if you prefer...but if you do that, then you "need" to have a job that pays enough to give you that extra $100 in disposable income every month. SUV payment? McMansion mortgage? Eating out more than you cook at home? Again, call them "needs" if you want, but before you know it, you'll "need" to have a job that is a little more demanding than average, where the employer feels entitled to their pound of flesh and doesn't mind taking it out on evenings and weekends. If this is what you signed up for, then yes, "work" does come before "budo" -- again and again.

Then there's the whole question of "family, work then budo" -- a phrase that implies a simple linear ordering of priorities. The problem with this is that any of the three can expand to take up all the time in your life, and the welfare of the three is interconnected. It's pretty obvious that if there's trouble at home, you won't do well at work -- but the coffee achievers of the world don't like to acknowledge that family suffers when too much attention is paid to work. I used to work as a technical trainer, with a lot of time on the road. One day, while talking with a group of co-workers over beers, I realized that each one of us had had at least one serious relationship crisis while we were on the road (picture that, the "If you are not home tomorrow I am getting a divorce" discussion while you're 6000 miles from home). Does that mean family should always trump work? Hell no. I remember one drama-laden phone conversation where I looked over at my clock, saw that it was two in the morning, and said, "You know what? We're going in circles, and this discussion is over. We can talk some more tomorrow." "What? But wait, we haven't resolved..." "I know we haven't. But I have to go to work tomorrow. I have to function tomorrow. This drama we're having can't be allowed to make it impossible for me to hold down a job, period." Sometimes family does not come first, because without work, the family can't be sustained.

I really don't think "balance" is the right metaphor, and I really don't think that a strict order of priorities works either. It's a lot easier than constantly checking to see what in your life needs effort and attention right now. It just doesn't really work that well.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:29 AM   #18
JO
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I'll have to echo most of the others by saying there are no set rules, and what works for one familty won't work for another.

I have three kids and a full time job. Aikido comes after both in that my family is at the heart of my life and my job is how I earn the living that sustains both me and my family. I have avoided some problems by getting my wife to train with me. Because of this we sometimes take turns training and watching the kids. We also use babysitters. Over all I train 2 to 3 times a week (three times being all the classes given at my dojo). One thing I like about my dojo is that the classes are 2 hour long, so that if I'm gone for an evening I get more out of it (0,5 hour commute, 1 way to the dojo, means that if I go for just one hour , I'm still away for two, and there goes the evening). Luckily the schedule lets me always be home for supper (I eat before training).

Is all this too much? Do I spend enough time with my kids? There are no set answers to such questions. But I will say that I am a much happier and more pleasant father and husband when I have some time for my own personal things. And as a hint to other husbands out there. My wife is a lot less likely to mind my leaving for aikido if I make sure to take over the child watching and chores often enough for her to do her own things (in this case this includes aikido, but gardening comes in first for her).

As for the kids. They'll soon be old enough to want to be commuted around to their own activities (I may have to start a kids aikido class, I give occasional little private lessons to my two oldest in our basement). Every time I think I have found a balance, the situation changes and I have to create a whole new routine. It's the story of my life, and I suspect that of most parents.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:35 AM   #19
jonreading
 
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Re: Family, work then budo.

To me this argument boils down to responsibility and freedom. These two concepts are often at odds as in this case. We want freedom to train aikido but we have responsibility to our family; or, we have a number of responsibilities (work, dog, yardwork, etc.). So we prioritize our day to accomplish our responsibilities and give us time to induldge our freedoms.
We develop a relationship structure of committment to each other, our unit, and ourselves. Those committments grow as the family grows. If aikido is a the top of your freedoms list, you should work with you spouse [and children] to develop a schedule for your freedoms. It sounds like the original poster is accomplishing this schedule.

On the other hand, sometimes the freedoms list can vary depending on the day. "I like aikido, but my wife won't let me regularly practice more than twice a week..." Then you find out the student also likes to play nine holes after work and occassionally catch a drink with the frat buds on game day... This is where I see committment waiver from students. Class is important until something more important comes up.

Make time for your family, make time for work, make time for aikido. All three deserve your committment and dedication.
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:03 PM   #20
Danulka
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Re: Family, work then budo.

IMHO, aikido brings peace and relaxation into your life. It makes you happy and then you bring positive energy to your family. It's better for them than to have an angry and stressed person at home. It's for their own good so it can't be selfish.


Last edited by Danulka : 08-25-2009 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:26 PM   #21
Danulka
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Re: Family, work then budo.

Quote:
Danka Jankechova wrote: View Post
IMHO, aikido brings peace and relaxation into your life. It makes you happy and then you bring positive energy to your family. It's better for them than to have an angry and stressed person at home. It's for their own good so it can't be selfish.
Or at least my father says so when he meditates every morning
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:34 PM   #22
Marc Abrams
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Re: Family, work then budo.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
To me this argument boils down to responsibility and freedom. These two concepts are often at odds as in this case. We want freedom to train aikido but we have responsibility to our family; or, we have a number of responsibilities (work, dog, yardwork, etc.). So we prioritize our day to accomplish our responsibilities and give us time to induldge our freedoms.
We develop a relationship structure of committment to each other, our unit, and ourselves. Those committments grow as the family grows. If aikido is a the top of your freedoms list, you should work with you spouse [and children] to develop a schedule for your freedoms. It sounds like the original poster is accomplishing this schedule.

On the other hand, sometimes the freedoms list can vary depending on the day. "I like aikido, but my wife won't let me regularly practice more than twice a week..." Then you find out the student also likes to play nine holes after work and occassionally catch a drink with the frat buds on game day... This is where I see committment waiver from students. Class is important until something more important comes up.

Make time for your family, make time for work, make time for aikido. All three deserve your committment and dedication.
Jon:

I think that freedom does not exist without responsibility. I call that a form of escapism. Freedom entitles that possibility of choices. Choices entail a degree of responsibility.

I see my Aikido practice as beyond simply waza and into the larger domain of making our world a better place to live in through the choices we make. I actually wrote a blog awhile back about the nature of this relationship

http://aasbk.com/blog/?page_id=53

Those are simply my thoughts.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Last edited by Marc Abrams : 08-25-2009 at 02:34 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:58 PM   #23
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Family, work then budo.

I think that martial arts does provide a certain freedom, but that eventually it becomes a place to hide. Real freedom includes freedom from the need to train.

"The martial arts progress from the complex to the simple."
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:50 PM   #24
tarik
 
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Re: Family, work then budo.

Quote:
Lyle Bogin wrote: View Post
I think that martial arts does provide a certain freedom, but that eventually it becomes a place to hide. Real freedom includes freedom from the need to train.
I think that family does provide a certain freedom, but that eventually it becomes a place to hide. Real freedom includes freedom from the need for family.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:43 AM   #25
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
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Re: Family, work then budo.

From August of 1995 until January of 2009. I have practiced from 12 to 21 days a month depending on the month. The average has been about 16 days a month. I took both my children with me until my daughter went to college. Then I took just my son but the three of us formed a special bond and have a million memories and stories that we share in common. My wife was glad that I had that time with them. She and I always spent all our other spare time together. One day though after 10 years of training, I once asked her, "Why is it that in all these years, with all the regular practice days, special events and seminars,that you have never complained or ever denied me from going to Aikido?" She answered, " I have always wanted you to be happy and I always noticed that going to Aikido made you happy. I just always wanted you to be happy."

Now, I train 7 days a week but she comes with me to the dojo almost every day even though she doesn't train. She works in the office and we drive to and from the dojo. We go out to eat afterwards and we spend all our spare time together. Maybe it doesn't have to be either/or. In our dojo, the office has a large open window (with no glass) facing the mats so she can see us and hear everything while she is on the computer. I go over during the class and talk to her and ask her what she thinks about it or I tell her that I love her and she smiles real big at me. We have been married for 30 years and part of that has been our willingness to adapt and adjust and always try to accommodate each other. By the way, it also helps if one of the two partners is an incredible human being. In this case it is my wife, Pat. Even though she doesn't train on the mat, she's actually the greatest Aikidoist I know.
Best wishes,
Jorge

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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