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Old 10-24-2013, 01:16 PM   #1
"Someone-just-someone"
IP Hash: 5e2e8996
Anonymous User
Unhappy Dead end?

Hello everyone,

I have quite some doubts right now that left me sleepless for weeks now.
I'm fairly new to aikido (3/4 year) but I personally feel like I'm pretty good at it.I never have problems with techniques and realize most things immediately.
My teacher is a really great person and nice overall but his training methods seem really shallow at best.He teaches us to be patient and focus on working with details.
That doesn't bother me at all but he rarely mixes the techniques up and some weren't even used yet (Koshinage,Jujinage,sumi otoshi,full nikyo).Also he never encourages us to go in hard and take a big flying ukemi,instead he insists on working slowly and carefully.I feel like this is just surpressing all of us.
I doubt he even keeps track of who was there or not and if that is the case,how will I ever be able to have a proper 5th kyu exam?

He also teaches weapons but it always comes down to suburi and only once of twice an actual fight with blocking,stepping out etc.

Is this normal or should I leave?

I appreciate any kind help
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:28 PM   #2
hughrbeyer
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
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Re: Dead end?

Sounds like he is way better than you deserve. Go find someone who will teach you 45 ways to do 102 different techniques... then after 10 years of that, come back and find out how valuable this teacher actually is.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:36 PM   #3
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
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Re: Dead end?

I agree with Hugh.......solid walls are built on strong foundations, brick by brick. I truly believe that all aikido is basic technique and grows into something more with polish and practice. If you are anywhere near as good as you think you are, you will still find subtlety and great wealth of skill by working with your kihon waza as you describe. Banked coals will allow you to forge steel, while a flash will only illuminate you for a split second.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:41 PM   #4
"The person who posted"
IP Hash: 5e2e8996
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
I agree with Hugh.......solid walls are built on strong foundations, brick by brick. I truly believe that all aikido is basic technique and grows into something more with polish and practice. If you are anywhere near as good as you think you are, you will still find subtlety and great wealth of skill by working with your kihon waza as you describe. Banked coals will allow you to forge steel, while a flash will only illuminate you for a split second.
I'm not perfect,I'm bad at best.It's just that I'm worried about where it all will lead to.
Recently a few people at a martial arts meeting told me that I'm extremely good for the short time,so I though I might add it.Those are not my words.I'm not proud of myself.

I've been to another dojo during the summer break and discovered that they have completely different rotation and focus on pushing the students to the limit (in order to expand the borders)

I'm just not sure what to think
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:54 PM   #5
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: Dead end?

by the sound of it, i liked your teacher already. just about the appropriate level for 5th kyu. ego is a strange thing. sometimes it sneaked up on you without you realizing it. kinda like ninja. you don't see them until they show up in the movie.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:57 PM   #6
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Dead end?

Ultimately, if it bothers you that much, you should leave. The question is whether you'll find any other dojo more congenial: whether the things that bother you are particular to this dojo, or whether they are more generally characteristic of aikido (or even martial arts training).

Some people seem to get techniques immediately, and some seem to struggle more. In the cases that I've experienced, the people in the first category are more likely to quit after a fairly short period of time. Early success is often illusory (what looks good to an inexperienced eye may look a lot worse as you develop more expertise; that's what's behind the "I'm getting worse!" feeling that so many of us experience), and when those who have had an easy time of it early on run into something they can't just breeze through -- or when their sensei or sempai become less forgiving of newbie mistakes -- they become discouraged. They're not used to struggling. Meanwhile, for the people who have struggled since day one, it's just how training is, and they keep on putting one foot in front of the other and making progress. No matter how quickly you may seem to pick things up, I expect that you'll be told over and over again to work on the details and the fundamentals, no matter where you train.

As for "big flying ukemi", is this a thing that's emphasized at your dojo? Some dojos really go for this style, others are more restrained. I don't have any axe to grind about which is better, but "big flying" would certainly seem to be riskier. Your sensei is the one who will have to answer for it if someone gets hurt in training; it's his call whether you can/should do that kind of ukemi at this point. If it's what your dojo does, don't worry -- you'll get your chance.

Re: weapons and suburu: different dojos put a different emphasis on weapons. No aikido dojo that I've ever heard of will allow an "actual fight" similar to kendo sparring, though. If what you're after is partner practice or kata, this may just not be an emphasis at your dojo. I'm a huge fan of weapons kata, but I have to tell you, it's just about as austere as suburi. Weapons training, in general, is a lot less exciting than it looks in the movies. Or, perhaps it's more accurate to say that for a certain nerdy mindset, it IS exciting, but in an unconventional way. And, you only get there after a lot of repetition and a lot of detail (the d-word again!).

Finally, your fifth kyu test will be set by your sensei, so why do you think that your training is not going to prepare you for it?
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:09 PM   #7
tlk52
Dojo: Aikido of Park Slope/NY Aikikai
Location: NYC
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Re: Dead end?

one comment: I think that you're looking for a more physical practice, which is not necessarily better aikido. big athletic ukemi is definitely NOT more martial. however , enjoying being pushed physically is fine too.

I once complained about that kind of practice and a couple of guys told me "oh, why don't you run 5 miles and then lift weights like we do, and then come to the dojo to learn aikido" I shut up at that
point

now it's 35 years later!

best
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:10 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Dead end?

I'm another vote in liking your teacher.
From a martial point of view, control of uke is important....flying ukemi is fun but calls for either uke deciding to surrender his center prematurely or nage to be adding way more "out" than is martially called for...but the thing is, aikido is a "big tent" and if you are young, energetic and more interested in the activity end of things, then you probably would be happier at a different dojo. So I'm not sitting in judgment on you on this one. Different students have different goals, and they can also change over time.
My suggestion is, if there is a large seminar or "winter" or "summer" camp in your organization you can get to, that would be a great opportunity for you to take classes under a variety of instructors and with a huge range of other students from different dojo, and you may get a broader perspective and be able to clarify YOUR goals in training. Then make a move or not.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:11 PM   #9
Janet Rosen
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
one comment: I think that you're looking for a more physical practice, which is not necessarily better aikido. big athletic ukemi is definitely NOT more martial. however , enjoying being pushed physically is fine too.

I once complained about that kind of practice and a couple of guys told me "oh, why don't you run 5 miles and then lift weights like we do, and then come to the dojo to learn aikido" I shut up at that
point

now it's 35 years later!

best

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:12 PM   #10
Basia Halliop
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Re: Dead end?

From what you're describing, your dojo actually sounds really good. I wouldn't be surprised if, if you stay for a few years, you'll be really thankful for the way you were taught, and will look back and see that it really helped you be much better in the long run. That's just from the description of the teaching style, so I could be wrong of course.

But it's OK if you decide you don't want to learn that way, or that you prefer a different school or a different martial art entirely. It's up to you in the end what your goals are and what you wish to do with your time.

One question I would suggest is to look closely at the more senior students in the dojo - do you believe, as far as you're able to tell, that they have the skills you'd like to have someday? It's not perfect, but that's the best clue you probably have for where staying with this teacher is likely to lead you.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 10-24-2013 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:23 PM   #11
"original poster"
IP Hash: 5e2e8996
Anonymous User
Re: Dead end?

I'm emotionally overwhelmed by the number of replies.Thanks to all of you.I feel really heard here.

To answer some questions:
First thing I would like to settle is the ukemi thing.What I meant is for the lack of better words just any rolling/jumping ukemi.I really want to work on that but it seems my teacher doesn't encourage me to do so.He often says that we should do the typical ushiro ukemi slowly.Maybe he is okay with anything else but only say ushiro because not all can do a mae ukemi.

As a person I really like him.He is a good guy and one could say he is a rolemodel i.e. he is always gentle,forgiving and calm.

To me it all comes down to the thought "Am I wasting time?"

We have a nidan senpai,he really is what I would like to be.They have been training together for years like he says and the relationship is more than healthy.

I have scheduled a few trainings in the next weeks in a few different dojos (different style,organisation,same organisation etc)

It's not that I don't feel right with the philosophy

Aikido for me is pure love.Whenever I practise it I just feel peaceful and right.I love to just watch videos for days,read all the news,read all the books and so on.I'm concerned that something could spoil this love.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:06 PM   #12
Mario Tobias
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Re: Dead end?

Being good at aikido as a beginner doesn't mean you will be in that state forever. You will go through different stages when you advance and most likely you will also struggle. You will also experience plateaus and heartaches. Aikido is not about learning techniques per se or just good body coordination, it is something much greater. Techniques are only tools to give you an insight to what aikido really is.

It is difficult to rate a teacher. It's catch 22 actually. You will know a good teacher if you know good aikido. IMHO you will only know good aikido probably at shodan level where you are a serious beginner. For me, if I don't have this, lineage is somewhat important. Teachers do make a significant difference. You might want to look at this. Has he trained with credible teachers? What about your most senior students, how much have they progressed?

Just from your description though, it looks like your teacher is doing the right things but I havnt seen your teacher's aikido so I really can't judge.

Focussing on the basics
Emphasis on the details.
Going slow. If you can perform techniques very slowly, you can perform them fast. It doesn't work the other way around.
Being patient.

Let me test your aikido then ,5% of the teaching comes from the teacher and 95% comes from you. If you are able to understand this, then there will be no dead-end for you.

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 10-24-2013 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:14 PM   #13
Malicat
Dojo: Sei-Ryo, Flat Rock, NC
Location: Hendersonville, NC
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Re: Dead end?

This post reminded me of something that happened in the class I was teaching last week. I have themed out my last few classes with techniques that use a very minimum amount of movement to achieve success and was teaching my fancy nikkyo (Yoshinkan guys can correct me on the name!) One of the students couldn't get it right, so when I took over as his uke, he got it right on the first try and said "That's not right though, I didn't do it, you did it for me!"

He was right, and it was the same complaint I had when I was about 5th kyu level as well, since that is what our dojo cho did to me with a lot of techniques. As it turns out, you're better off with a compliant uke in the beginning so they sort of put themselves in the position for you. This way you can feel how the technique should 'feel' when it is done correctly. Once you get that feel into muscle memory, it's easier to recreate it without thought, and more importantly, without a compliant uke. Running through the most basic of techniques over and over again is the same thing. It takes awhile to get the feel, and it does feel initially that you are cheating somehow. But thanks to that kind of super basic technique combined with compliant uke practice, I have much better control and smoothness in my techniques. And more importantly, in my mind, is the fact that my dojo cho trusts me to lead a class of beginners.

If you trust your training partners, and have a good feel for atmosphere in the dojo, I'd encourage you to stick around. Your Sempai trained under the Sensei and is now doing the things that you want to do. Wait and see what happens to you in 6 months to a year. Somewhere along the line you will manage to do something you had no idea you could do, and you will do it well. And that one millisecond of pure joy when you have managed to connect all the principles and do a technique really well without thinking about it is the most awesome feeling you will ever have.

Oh, and teaching any other kind of ukemi than ushiro ukemi makes me ridiculously nervous personally. It's so terribly easy to try to put your hand down to break a fall without a LOT of training and that way lies a broken wrist. I want to see perfect ushiro ukemi first before I even ponder doing anything else.

--Ashley

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I'm emotionally overwhelmed by the number of replies.Thanks to all of you.I feel really heard here.

To answer some questions:
First thing I would like to settle is the ukemi thing.What I meant is for the lack of better words just any rolling/jumping ukemi.I really want to work on that but it seems my teacher doesn't encourage me to do so.He often says that we should do the typical ushiro ukemi slowly.Maybe he is okay with anything else but only say ushiro because not all can do a mae ukemi.

As a person I really like him.He is a good guy and one could say he is a rolemodel i.e. he is always gentle,forgiving and calm.

To me it all comes down to the thought "Am I wasting time?"

We have a nidan senpai,he really is what I would like to be.They have been training together for years like he says and the relationship is more than healthy.

I have scheduled a few trainings in the next weeks in a few different dojos (different style,organisation,same organisation etc)

It's not that I don't feel right with the philosophy

Aikido for me is pure love.Whenever I practise it I just feel peaceful and right.I love to just watch videos for days,read all the news,read all the books and so on.I'm concerned that something could spoil this love.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:37 PM   #14
"original poster"
IP Hash: 8847d083
Anonymous User
Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
Has he trained with credible teachers?
He does train with really terrific teachers,some I just find impossibly good.

Quote:
5% of the teaching comes from the teacher and 95% comes from you. If you are able to understand this, then there will be no dead-end for you.
That actually is really enlightening.I have never thought about it that way.

It's hard not to get labeled as a hotheaded,impatient beginner.I guess I just am.

One thing that also bothers me is that he doesn't seem to openly acknowledge my progress.I think he does but I would like to have some sort of evaluation for myself.
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:48 PM   #15
Mert Gambito
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Re: Dead end?

3/4 of a year in. Keep up the good work!

My teacher would always say, "When you leave the dojo, practice the waza on your own -- very slowly, like taiji -- and make sure the principles of the art are in every move." Throughout the years, I would go through the motions of doing this every so often, a few times week for 5 minutes each time, sometimes for a half hour. Sensei said to do this, cool, check. After a decade of training, I felt compelled to call him after coming to a number of realizations about how to train and what to look for in my training. I asked him, "What percentage of the time do you practice on your own away from the dojo, vs. in the dojo?" Mind you, this is a teacher who ran classes six days a week when I was a mudansha. He said, "90% vs. 10%".

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
To me it all comes down to the thought "Am I wasting time?"

We have a nidan senpai,he really is what I would like to be.They have been training together for years like he says and the relationship is more than healthy.
Echoing Ashley: I think you answered your own question.

Mert
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Old 10-24-2013, 09:17 PM   #16
Mario Tobias
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post

One thing that also bothers me is that he doesn't seem to openly acknowledge my progress.I think he does but I would like to have some sort of evaluation for myself.
Silence from the sensei means that you have much to learn. And you need to acknowledge and accept that. When you have practiced for many years, you will come to the realization that only you can gauge how far you have progressed.

Although lack of positive reinforcement is not motivational, it should also not demotivate you in your practice. It's just what it is with some senseis.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:41 AM   #17
PaulF
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Re: Dead end?

I agree, your teacher comes across as very sound, very similar to mine in fact, if my sensei comes and watches me do technique and chooses to move on without comment I take that as a compliment in itself. I've worked with other teachers who deliver differing levels of feedback from lots of positive encouragement on the mat to a small comment after training, I respect each for their own qualities and they all have their merits. It wouldn't surprise me if your teacher is much more aware of attendance and who is doing what than you are conscious of.

Our boys quit at 5th and 4th kyu because they got bored with repeating things they felt they already knew, all three having picked up the movements of basic techniques very quickly

All this says to me is that they weren't ready to carry on with their Aikido journey at that point and while I hope that they will want to continue it later because I'm sure they will get a lot from it if they do, if they choose to be active in other ways that's fine too.

Aikido is as much (maybe more) about training for your mind and personality as it is for your body and fitness, it sounds like you are learning and progressing on all fronts with your current teacher.
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:19 AM   #18
GMaroda
Dojo: Allegheny Aikido
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
Being good at aikido as a beginner doesn't mean you will be in that state forever. You will go through different stages when you advance and most likely you will also struggle. You will also experience plateaus and heartaches. Aikido is not about learning techniques per se or just good body coordination, it is something much greater. Techniques are only tools to give you an insight to what aikido really is.
I remember at 5th kyu I thought I knew Aikido. Now at 3rd Kyu I realize I don't. But I can learn.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:51 AM   #19
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
It's hard not to get labeled as a hotheaded,impatient beginner.I guess I just am.

One thing that also bothers me is that he doesn't seem to openly acknowledge my progress.I think he does but I would like to have some sort of evaluation for myself.
Let me tell you a story about the karate dojo I used to train at. This was before I moved over 100 miles away, where there were no good karate dojos (that's how I ended up in aikido). In this dojo, everyone starts in a one-month beginner class...and in this beginner class, you "learn" probably 80% of all the techniques you will ever do in karate. I say "learn" because after a month, almost everybody will at most have learned how to grossly mimic the movements, and absolutely everybody will be missing important elements of the techniques. As you go on in training, you also learn kata, starting with the first, heian shodan, and there are many more to follow. You learn heian shodan during that beginner class. After that month, you're allowed to join the regular classes, which (at this dojo) always contained a substantial percentage of yudansha with many years of training.

The thing that really struck me in those classes was how these yudansha would practice the very basic techniques. We did them every class: the same kihon we had learned in that first month. In fact, we spent a considerable amount of time on them. And we did kata, always starting with heian shodan. Watching these yudansha train, I saw them do the things that a white belt "learns" on day one and never show the least sign of boredom or annoyance or impatience. They still found meaning in what they were doing...and if, on a particular day, they weren't feeling it especially deeply, they still had the discipline to apply themselves, confident in the belief that the meaning would come if they did so. They were people of character, and they made a big impression on me. I think about them when times are hard on the mat. The meaning, the epiphany, the "aha", the glow of satisfaction...those are things that you earn. Like the view from a remote mountaintop, the only way to really get it is to climb there yourself.

So, you're impatient to progress, and you want recognition. Unfortunately, in budo training impatience is not rewarded, and praise is doled out very sparingly (if at all). The more you try to rush into what you think of as "advanced techniques", the more you'll be sent back to the beginning; the more you fish for recognition, the more you'll be told "Just keep training." You have to be your own feedback barometer, and you have to find your own reasons for training within yourself, not in recognition from others. And if you don't find it in yourself, then leave. There's no shame in not doing something that's not a good match for you.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:02 AM   #20
"Original guy"
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
So, you're impatient to progress, and you want recognition. Unfortunately, in budo training impatience is not rewarded, and praise is doled out very sparingly (if at all). The more you try to rush into what you think of as "advanced techniques", the more you'll be sent back to the beginning; the more you fish for recognition, the more you'll be told "Just keep training." You have to be your own feedback barometer, and you have to find your own reasons for training within yourself, not in recognition from others. And if you don't find it in yourself, then leave. There's no shame in not doing something that's not a good match for you.
That was basically the reply I dreaded...It's sad to say but it seems I was wrong and after all I need to just to enjoy doing it ( I really do )

I think the replies were plenty and very helpful.Thanks to all who took their time.I have found what I was looking for.
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:53 PM   #21
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Dead end?

Being told you are very good at your stage is great and I am sure very encouraging. I felt much like you when I was just 9 months in as well...

4 years later I look back and think how little I knew. Sure, for a beginner I was good at some aspects of aikido.... for a no-kyu. But that did not mean I was good at aikido.

And the really crazy thing is.. the longer you train and the more you learn, the bigger aikido gets and the more you realize you don't know anything.... which just makes it all the more fascinating.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:46 PM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
That was basically the reply I dreaded...It's sad to say but it seems I was wrong and after all I need to just to enjoy doing it ( I really do )

I think the replies were plenty and very helpful.Thanks to all who took their time.I have found what I was looking for.
There is nothing wrong with "just" enjoying doing it. Most of us are training because it brings us joy - and along with the joy, individual challenges. But what is a discipline and challenge for me may be awful drudgery for you, and vice versa - so often the first dojo one encounters just isn't the right "fit."

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:31 AM   #23
lbb
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Re: Dead end?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
That was basically the reply I dreaded...It's sad to say but it seems I was wrong and after all I need to just to enjoy doing it ( I really do )
Then what else do you need? I'm with Janet on this: I think that's a fine reason to train, the only reason you need. Aikido, or any martial art, can be many different things to a person, but there's no guarantee that it will be -- and I think that if those different dimensions do reveal themselves, it always takes time. If you like your training, keep it up. Put your expectations on the back burner, and just train. I find personally that I tend to mostly notice the awesome stuff when I see it in the rear-view mirror. Looking ahead? Could be a mirage.
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Old 10-27-2013, 03:10 PM   #24
hughrbeyer
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
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Re: Dead end?

Nothing wrong with being impatient, btw. As my teacher says, "beginners can't afford to have beginner's mind." Beginners have to be enthusiastic and impatient and want it all now--that's what gives them the energy to get through the phase where you know nothing.

What you're hearing is a bunch of perspective from people further down the path who are crediting your teacher with possibly knowing what they're doing. Just to pick one point out of your OP, focusing on suburi impresses me--there are millions of people out there doing kata very badly, but if you want to learn how to handle a sword, basic, boring suburi is where you have to start.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-27-2013, 03:22 PM   #25
susanmarie
Dojo: Northern Illinois Aikikai
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Re: Dead end?

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
We have a nidan senpai,he really is what I would like to be.They have been training together for years like he says and the relationship is more than healthy.
.
If the nidan has been training with him for years, and you want to be like him, why do you worry that you won't get to where the nidan is training with the same teacher?

No matter where you train, you won't get to where this nidan is within the next few months.
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