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Start, Continue, 20 Years
Start, Continue, 20 Years
by Lynn Seiser
Start, Continue, 20 Years

Breathe in, start
Breathe out, continue
20 Years

Someone once said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Someone else said that the secret to finishing the journey is not to stop.
Start: (1) begin happening, working, something, (2) create something, (3) to go from a particular level, (4) to place first in a contest, (5) to move suddenly or make a sudden movement, (6) to begin
In life, despite all the mystery and mystique of life, we are creatures of habit. The physic laws of momentum and inertia would suggest that a body at rest (sitting on the couch) would tend to stay at rest (sitting on the couch) unless acted upon by an external or internal force. Even Sigmund Freud said that half of life's journey was learning to say hello (to attach and bond). Some people are too afraid (suffering from poor self-image, concept, and esteem) that they cannot make honest, genuine, intimate contact and connection emotionally with others. They live a fear -based life of avoiding what they want most -- love. Learning to say hello, to start, takes courage.

In the dojo, perhaps before we showed up, suited up, and bowed in we did our research and shopped a few schools. It started with a thought, an interest, and a desire. I remember the nervous wreck I was when I first signed up for a martial arts class. It was Ishynryu Karate and Judo. I had always been interested in training in the martial arts, but now the opportunity was real. Rather than talk about it, I was actually going to have to show up and train. I often think that starting is the hardest task. We have to get off the spectator bleachers and get sweaty.
Continue: (1) keep going, (2) not stop, (3) start something again, (4) to make something longer, (5) to endure, remain, stay, or carry on, (6) to persist or maintain
In life, despite all the mystery and mystique, we continue to be creatures of habit. The physic laws of momentum and inertia would suggest that a body in motion (training) would tend to stay in motion (training) unless acted upon by an external or internal force. Eric Berne, the creator of Transactional Analysis asked what we say after we say "hello". I have often noticed that people do not continue what they start. New Year's resolutions are a great example. Many people drop out of school close to graduation. Many people know how to get a first date or a relationship, but do not know how to get a second date, or to keep that relationship. Perhaps success is found more in continued repeat business that always in searching for something new. Learning how to be a satisfied customer or how to satisfy a partner is a different skill set. Perhaps the need to learn to continually apply maintenance skills is very valuable.

In the dojo, our initial enthusiasm and excitement may begin to fade. We may reach that plateau in learning where progress is slow at best or appears to be non-existent. This is when most students drop out. Yet mastery only comes by continued training through these plateaus and boring times. Skills come from thousands of repetitions when all we want to do is go home. There is also an ebb and flow of interest in martial arts. Many people think that martial arts are easy so they start but find it harder than they thought and so they stop. Some will come back another time wishing they had continued. Those who stay during the slow times will be on top when it becomes popular again. Perhaps the true secret is simply not to stop.
20 years: (1) 2 decades, (2) 240 months, (3) 1,040 weeks, (4) 7,300 days, (5) 172,200 hours, (6) 10,512,000 minutes
In life, we count the passage of time. We count it in seconds, in minutes, in hours, in days, in weeks, in months, in years, and in decades. Whether we like it or not, this is a time limited temporary opportunity. Life is not urgent or fragile, but time is precious. Many people arrive at the end of their life with regrets and unfinished business. Many wished they had learned to play a musical instrument, others to fight. Most wished they had not wasted their time on intoxicants or violence. When we look back, we can see what a waste of time was and what a good investment of time and energy was. If they are love-based and makes us better people and we treat each other better, we may want to continue those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If they are fear-based, we may want to stop.

In the dojo, I have been bowing in and out for almost 50 years, the last 20 years in Aikido. I am often asked about my martial hobby when people find out about it. They point out that the martial journey had started from a place of fear and asked if I was still afraid. I usually just say that I started training out of fear (and the fact that I never learned to play golf -- something about windmills and clown faces). I certainly did not plan to stay and train (play) this long, but I am having a good time and meeting great people. I believe Aikido has taught me to be a better person in and out of the dojo. Aikido taught me to face conflict, chaos, and confusion by flowing with it instead of resisting/fighting it. Aikido taught me to relax and breathe. While I would have thought I should be so much better than I am after 20 years, perhaps it is not about the skills but about time well spent.

Breathe in, start
Breathe out, continue
20 Years

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
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