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Old 07-13-2011, 02:04 PM   #151
Mike Sigman
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I am definitely pushing the envelop on this. But is far it's working.
Hi George:

If it was really working, perhaps you wouldn't have made your original post/blog and one of your students wouldn't have resigned while mentioning the number and cost of workshops?

Best.

Mike
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Old 07-13-2011, 02:21 PM   #152
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Hi George:

If it was really working, perhaps you wouldn't have made your original post/blog and one of your students wouldn't have resigned while mentioning the number and cost of workshops?

Best.

Mike
Mike,
Ok, let me be more clear. The folks that didn't show up for the Aikido seminar were not the folks who attend the study group. In fact, the folks that attend the study group seminars also have consistently attended the Aikido seminars.

The folks I was meaning to address and I have already specified that Kevin was not intended as one of these folks because he does actively support our events and has for some time, are the folks that never attend anything. If holding any seminars at all is too much of a burden, then that's another story... but I do not think that this is the case and if it is, it's only for one or two folks, not the group.

- George

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 07-13-2011, 02:30 PM   #153
DH
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

I think people are still confusing the issues. I read it like this.
1. Three training sessions a week
2. Three AIKIDO seminars a year.

All other seminars are of their choice.

To accent George's point, when I was there doing a seminar one of the students -whom George was ACTUALLY talking about showed up, not knowing regular class was cancelled...why did they not know...they hadn't been around for weeks.

Even though ya spelled it all out, George, the good ones thought you were talking about THEM; the casual ones who don't come to class, probably don't read your blog anyway!
I got it...but I would call Kevin. Keep up the good work. You have a seriously good group of people there. Most people who have met your group comment on their dedication.
All the best
Dan

Last edited by DH : 07-13-2011 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 07-13-2011, 02:56 PM   #154
Basia Halliop
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

In the USAF, there are seminar requirements for some of the gradings, although only starting at 1st kyu (before that it's encouraged but not a requirement), and they don't have to be specific seminars (except if you're instructing - you must attend a number of seminars by technical committee members).

It isn't spoken of much, though - it's just listed there on the requirements page along with attendance and list of techniques for testing.
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Old 07-13-2011, 03:14 PM   #155
Mike Sigman
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
In the USAF, there are seminar requirements for some of the gradings, although only starting at 1st kyu (before that it's encouraged but not a requirement), and they don't have to be specific seminars (except if you're instructing - you must attend a number of seminars by technical committee members).

It isn't spoken of much, though - it's just listed there on the requirements page along with attendance and list of techniques for testing.
That's interesting to know. It would be nice to see (in some separate thread) a discussion about, for instance in the old days, the requirements to get a Menkyo Kaiden (a license to teach which presumes someone knows enough to teach) and some of the more modern views on being qualified to teach or be a certain grade, etc. Of course times change, but while I've always been encouraged to attend seminars (in various arts including Aikido), I've never heard of it being a requirement. On the other hand, two seminars a year for first-kyu and above ensures that there isn't inbreeding and insularity as expertise develops, so it's probably a good thing.

Mike Sigman
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Old 07-13-2011, 03:17 PM   #156
Chris Li
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
That's interesting to know. It would be nice to see (in some separate thread) a discussion about, for instance in the old days, the requirements to get a Menkyo Kaiden (a license to teach which presumes someone knows enough to teach) and some of the more modern views on being qualified to teach or be a certain grade, etc. Of course times change, but while I've always been encouraged to attend seminars (in various arts including Aikido), I've never heard of it being a requirement. On the other hand, two seminars a year for first-kyu and above ensures that there isn't inbreeding and insularity as expertise develops, so it's probably a good thing.

Mike Sigman
There was a similar requirement in ASU, IIRC, when I was there - but that was some time ago...

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-13-2011, 03:41 PM   #157
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
There was a similar requirement in ASU, IIRC, when I was there - but that was some time ago...

Best,

Chris
The ASU still requires attendance at two seminars with Ikeda Sensei or Saotome Sensei for all Dan Grading (within the previous twelve months) and for Nidan and San Dan, attendance at one of the week long Camps (also within the previous twelve months). I do not think this has changed for quite some time.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:02 PM   #158
Basia Halliop
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Ours doesn't specify camps vs weekend seminars. Which I think is good because half the mid-dan ranking people I know (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc) have never been to summer camp, despite going to weekend seminars.... It's quite expensive, you have to be able to take a week off of work, leave the country, etc... So for that I like it that it's not a requirement...
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:05 PM   #159
chillzATL
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

we have no sort of seminar requirement, but dan testing is only done at summer camp, so there isn't much wiggle room there.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:36 PM   #160
sakumeikan
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
That's interesting to know. It would be nice to see (in some separate thread) a discussion about, for instance in the old days, the requirements to get a Menkyo Kaiden (a license to teach which presumes someone knows enough to teach) and some of the more modern views on being qualified to teach or be a certain grade, etc. Of course times change, but while I've always been encouraged to attend seminars (in various arts including Aikido), I've never heard of it being a requirement. On the other hand, two seminars a year for first-kyu and above ensures that there isn't inbreeding and insularity as expertise develops, so it's probably a good thing.

Mike Sigman
Dear Mike,
In the group that I am a member of when someone is recognised as a authorised teacher eg Shidoin/Fukushidoin there is an obligation for said teacher to attend three national events.
Of course this requirement is not written in tablets of stone.One can miss them if there are certain criteria that precludes one from attending.For example injury, domestic reasons, age related issues.Generally speaking the system works well.
Cheers, Joe.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:47 PM   #161
CSFurious
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

i completely agree with this poster

when i was in college & younger, i.e., no wife or child, i trained 4 to 5 days per week and attended multiple seminars per year; i even trained at multiple dojos & in different styles

if you work 40-50 hours per week & have a family, you do not have time to train like that

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
Hi George,

While I appreciate the sentiment, I have to disagree on some points. Not everybody has the same amount of time, and we can't all choose our working hours or the length of our commute. I trained 3 or 4 times a week for a number of years, but that was because I had time to. Right now, I work 9 hours per day, commute for 2.5 and cook dinner 7 nights per week. I am lucky to find the time to train on weekends.

I am willing to bet that all of the people you know who are able to train 3 times a week have their partners look after themselves on the nights they are training. That isn't an option for me, and if I am going to train on a weeknight, I need to have dinner in the fridge ready to reheat, and I will usually end up doing the dishes etc. when I get home at 10:30. Then I need to get up at 6 the next morning to make breakfast and lunch.

Where exactly is this time supposed to come from, or am I just being lazy?
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:55 PM   #162
Chris Li
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Christopher Froba wrote: View Post
i completely agree with this poster

when i was in college & younger, i.e., no wife or child, i trained 4 to 5 days per week and attended multiple seminars per year; i even trained at multiple dojos & in different styles

if you work 40-50 hours per week & have a family, you do not have time to train like that
As an older working person with a family I train - every day - two hours or more.

I've holding four workshops of my own this year, and attending a number of workshops arranged by other people.

It's a matter of making the time and deciding what your priorities are. I'm not saying that's for everybody, just that it's possible.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-13-2011, 04:57 PM   #163
Mike Sigman
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Mike,
In the group that I am a member of when someone is recognised as a authorised teacher eg Shidoin/Fukushidoin there is an obligation for said teacher to attend three national events.
Of course this requirement is not written in tablets of stone.One can miss them if there are certain criteria that precludes one from attending.For example injury, domestic reasons, age related issues.Generally speaking the system works well.
Cheers, Joe.
Hi Joe:

Well, I've always agreed with that approach. If someone is a qualified teacher in a style they have a responsibility to keep their skills sharp and up-to-date. I think that's always been understood.

The question is how many workshops outside of the teacher do the students need? It's obvious that the more highly ranked students in USAF and ASU have, let's say, two requirements (which I don't think is a bad idea, on the whole, assuming the student can afford it in time and money). Generally though, the more broader question is about dojo requirements and suggestions in terms of workshops and that's pretty much the topic at hand. Since I never encountered requirements for seminar attendance (I just trusted the teacher to pass on to me what he knew), I'm simply unfamiliar with some of the discussion focus.

Best.

Mike
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:59 PM   #164
aikilouis
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

The limit to the required seminar system is that when the group is too big, teaching more impersonal and teachers do not know students well anymore, people come to seminars just to get their license stamped.

George, I agree with pretty much everything you said so far. I also have a question : at this point of your teaching career, how many students of yours have reached a level of practise that you judge satisfactory for the future of your lineage ?

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Old 07-13-2011, 05:32 PM   #165
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Ludwig Neveu wrote: View Post
The limit to the required seminar system is that when the group is too big, teaching more impersonal and teachers do not know students well anymore, people come to seminars just to get their license stamped.

George, I agree with pretty much everything you said so far. I also have a question : at this point of your teaching career, how many students of yours have reached a level of practise that you judge satisfactory for the future of your lineage ?
I have a couple of seniors, one San Dan and one Nidan who started with me who show ever sign of being better than I am. I have a couple of other students who started with other teachers but who are now training with me. I am having a significant contribution to the training although technically they aren't really my students. They also should be better than I am.

My only yardstick is to lo0ok at folks and reflect back as to where i was when i had the same amount of experience. Using that metric, I may have as many as 6 - 8 people who will eventually be better than I am. There is however, a difference between how technically proficient one is and the amount of "stuff" one knows. I am not sure any of my students will be able to put the time in that will allow them to cram as much "stuff" into their heads as I have. But what hey'll do, they'll do well.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 07-13-2011, 05:44 PM   #166
dps
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

George,

Instead pressuring your students into obtaining what you want for them in Aikido, why don't you ask them what they want from Aikido and how they think you can help them.

dps
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Old 07-13-2011, 06:44 PM   #167
graham christian
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Hi George.
May I say first that I empathise with your situation and with the people it adversely affected.

Also that I admire your balanced approach to trying to learn and resolve it.

In light of what I suggested earlier as a possibility and in light of the above post it seems to me the crux is the seminars (three) and your expectations.

To me I suggest IF you have expectations for them regarding attendance of the Aikido students then it should be part of the curriculum.

If on the other hand you let go of any expectations then it would be purely optional.

Thus I am saying it could be just down to this differentiation and the mixing of expectation with optional could be the sole problem.

You may have thought this already or it may be incorrect.

Regards.G.
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Old 07-13-2011, 07:27 PM   #168
Kevin Flanagan
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all the kind words. I am still blushing. Cherry blossom, indeed. My wife really hopes that name does not catch on.

Thank you also to Jun for providing this forum. AikiWeb is a wonderful gift to our community and we are all in your debt.

I'll try to not be as verbose as my last letter, but I need to clarify some things.

First of all, George and I are fine; we have had a respectful and dignified exchange of viewpoints. This is not a conflict, but a source of illumination. Our friendship remains one of mutual respect and affection.

I did not write in order to change George. I wrote because I felt that people I cared about were being portrayed unfairly. I could not live with myself without saying something. The matter is clearer now and I learned something, as did George. And I think that others have benefited as well.

Second, it was not my intention to make George sound scary. He is not; but, George can be a very intimidating man. He is over six feet tall and unbelievably fast. One night, he hit me in the chest three times in less than a heartbeat. He had perfect control. I was hit but unhurt. He is as smart as a whip with a lifetime of aikido experience. You do not want to get into a verbal dual with him about anything in aikido. George has enormous presence, but this is not a problem for me. If I am having difficulty expressing myself to him, that is my problem. Not his. I certainly have no reason to fear him.

Third, George's expectations of three days a week and three seminars a year are perfectly reasonable for a person expecting to make real progress in aikido. The problem is that this is not congruent with my body or my bank account.

My decision to take a sabbatical came through the process of thinking and writing about what aikido means to me. I don't think of myself as quitting. I am training in yoga to improve my posture and to find some relief for the tension that I carry in my body. And I need some time to reflect. I hope that I am still training in aikido ten years from now, even if it means I'm still wearing a very dirty white belt.

Thank you all again for your thoughtful comments.

Sincerely,
Kevin Flanagan
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Old 07-14-2011, 05:23 AM   #169
sakumeikan
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Re: Open Letter to Kevin

Dear Kevin,
You open letter to Mr Ledyard took a lot of bottle[courage ].Not many people I know in the Aikido community have the courage to say outright what they think about an thorny /awkward subject.Especially when there are big differences in the grades of the people involved in any debate.You however took the bull by the horns and stated your point of view.Wonderful.
Your last letter indicates you still have a good relationship with Ledyard Sensei.Thats really good.Sometimes when people express a different viewpoint the relationship breaks down.
As far as your own Aikido career is concerned no reason why you cannot pick up where you left off sometime in the future.You are relative to myself a young guy.I wish you all the very best on your continued journey.I hope I speak for the members of this forum when I say that your blogs are /have been some of the finest , most honest, most sincere contributions I have had the pleasure to read.Cherry Blossom , I salute you.
Cheers, Joe.
PS Drop us a line and tell us how you are doing if you get a chance or can spare a few moments of your time.
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:32 PM   #170
CSFurious
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

i will elaborate

if you leave for work at 7:45am & get home from work at 6:30pm & have a wife & 2-year-old son, you might have trouble training

if you tell your wife, i am going to be home at 8:30pm because i am going to train (leaving your wife, to watch the child alone from 4:00pm to bedtime, you might have trouble training or staying married); you are also missing out on your child growing up which happens fast & is much more precious than any Aikido training that i ever participated in

if you tell your wife, i am going to train on Saturday or Sunday, she will probably say ok (but is it worth the monthly dojo fee to train for 2 hours on the weekend? maybe)

anyway, life evolves just like your Aikido & sometimes there other responsibilites besides training which is a somewhat selfish pursuit as it involves mainly you & the small sphere of the Aikido world

a Sensei is a Sensei because he/she has dedicated their life to the art,; if we all did that then we would all be a Sensei

i will train regularly again one day when my son is older, but for right now i am on sabbatical

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
As an older working person with a family I train - every day - two hours or more.

I've holding four workshops of my own this year, and attending a number of workshops arranged by other people.

It's a matter of making the time and deciding what your priorities are. I'm not saying that's for everybody, just that it's possible.

Best,

Chris
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:51 PM   #171
sakumeikan
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Christopher Froba wrote: View Post
i will elaborate

if you leave for work at 7:45am & get home from work at 6:30pm & have a wife & 2-year-old son, you might have trouble training

if you tell your wife, i am going to be home at 8:30pm because i am going to train (leaving your wife, to watch the child alone from 4:00pm to bedtime, you might have trouble training or staying married); you are also missing out on your child growing up which happens fast & is much more precious than any Aikido training that i ever participated in

if you tell your wife, i am going to train on Saturday or Sunday, she will probably say ok (but is it worth the monthly dojo fee to train for 2 hours on the weekend? maybe)

anyway, life evolves just like your Aikido & sometimes there other responsibilites besides training which is a somewhat selfish pursuit as it involves mainly you & the small sphere of the Aikido world

a Sensei is a Sensei because he/she has dedicated their life to the art,; if we all did that then we would all be a Sensei

i will train regularly again one day when my son is older, but for right now i am on sabbatical
Dear Chris,
When i first started aikido in 1970 and later I had a wife and young family I must confess I spent a great deal of time doing aikido.I travelled all over the U.K to train.Looking back, with hindsight, i should have spent more time with my missus and children.
Future events proved to me that I had inadvertently neglected one of my sons and we both paid a heavy price for this lack of father /son attention.Of course I did not realise I was affecting my sons emotional development.So in conclusion I think I made an error of judgement here.I still train , but my priorities are different.
My task now is to try and be there for my family.They hopefully will be there for me and I for them after I hang up my hakama.Keep things in perspective and maintain a balance between work, family and play.Life is so short and there are so many things to do other than aikido. Cheers, Joe.
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Old 07-14-2011, 03:17 PM   #172
Chris Li
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Christopher Froba wrote: View Post
i will elaborate

if you leave for work at 7:45am & get home from work at 6:30pm & have a wife & 2-year-old son, you might have trouble training

if you tell your wife, i am going to be home at 8:30pm because i am going to train (leaving your wife, to watch the child alone from 4:00pm to bedtime, you might have trouble training or staying married); you are also missing out on your child growing up which happens fast & is much more precious than any Aikido training that i ever participated in

if you tell your wife, i am going to train on Saturday or Sunday, she will probably say ok (but is it worth the monthly dojo fee to train for 2 hours on the weekend? maybe)

anyway, life evolves just like your Aikido & sometimes there other responsibilites besides training which is a somewhat selfish pursuit as it involves mainly you & the small sphere of the Aikido world

a Sensei is a Sensei because he/she has dedicated their life to the art,; if we all did that then we would all be a Sensei

i will train regularly again one day when my son is older, but for right now i am on sabbatical
I have a wife and a daughter, I leave for work at 7am, but I get back a little bit earlier. As I said, it's not for everybody, but it is possible. Nothing's perfect, of course.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-14-2011, 07:51 PM   #173
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I have a wife and a daughter, I leave for work at 7am, but I get back a little bit earlier. As I said, it's not for everybody, but it is possible. Nothing's perfect, of course.

Best,

Chris
Chris, I don't mean to belittle your dedication, however, I still don't think it is fair to compare your situation to others since there are so many other factors that may influence how easy/difficult it is to train regularly.

For example, does your wife work full time? Can she cook? Does she mind looking after the children in the evening? How far is the dojo from your house? What time would you get home from training? All of these things play a major role, so to say because you are able to work full time and train regularly with a wife and a child is still comparing apples to oranges in my opinion.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:07 PM   #174
Chris Li
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
Chris, I don't mean to belittle your dedication, however, I still don't think it is fair to compare your situation to others since there are so many other factors that may influence how easy/difficult it is to train regularly.

For example, does your wife work full time? Can she cook? Does she mind looking after the children in the evening? How far is the dojo from your house? What time would you get home from training? All of these things play a major role, so to say because you are able to work full time and train regularly with a wife and a child is still comparing apples to oranges in my opinion.
Yes, she works and cooks (as do I). Time to dojo has varied over the years, anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. And it's a basic fallacy that you need to get to the dojo in order to train.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-14-2011, 08:13 PM   #175
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Open Letter to My Students

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Chris,
When i first started aikido in 1970 and later I had a wife and young family I must confess I spent a great deal of time doing aikido.I travelled all over the U.K to train.Looking back, with hindsight, i should have spent more time with my missus and children.
Future events proved to me that I had inadvertently neglected one of my sons and we both paid a heavy price for this lack of father /son attention.Of course I did not realise I was affecting my sons emotional development.So in conclusion I think I made an error of judgement here.I still train , but my priorities are different.
My task now is to try and be there for my family.They hopefully will be there for me and I for them after I hang up my hakama.Keep things in perspective and maintain a balance between work, family and play.Life is so short and there are so many things to do other than aikido. Cheers, Joe.
Good advice IMO.

@Chris Froba. I am in a similar situation. I have a four year old daughter, but, while I cut back on training after she was born, I never gave it up. I have managed to to train 100 -140 times a year, which averages about two-three times a week, plus some seminars/intensive training. It's not as much as I used to do, but it's enough to keep ticking over.

I did it with the support of my wife who realised it was important for me to get out of the house a couple of times a week and do something I love. It's good for the whole family! After two years, she came back to practice and we now alternate training.

Perhaps you could come to an arrangement with your wife: If you could get practice one week night plus one weekend day. Then on one weeknight, she could go off and do something she enjoys while you look after your son. It would help you both to recharge your batteries.

The other thing I did when I realised I couldn't train 6 days a week was that I took up a practice that I could do in my free time, daily. In my case, it is the shakuhachi, but any other Japanese art (calligraphy, iai, zazen, etc ) will help deepen your Aikido. Many prominent martial artists were/are also painters, calligraphers, musicians, meditators etc.

I agree with Joe about balancing your family life, but I think it's good to have a regular pursuit while you bring up your family. It will set a good example for your son.

Best of luck,
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