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Old 09-12-2004, 11:11 AM   #1
Aikidoiain
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A difficult transition?

I began training in Martial Arts age 12, I am now 41. Over the years I've trained in various styles, but only once in a dojo.

My first Style was Shotokan Karate. I studied from a book and practiced on friends! At 16 I got fed up with Karate and did a bit of Judo with a friend who already knew his stuff. I liked it, and learned a lot.

Later still, I met a musician friend who was expert in several styles. He showed me his various ones. I tried Kung Fu for a while, but it didn't feel right, nor did TKD or any of the kicking stuff he showed me. Then suddenly he introduced me to Aikido - I took to it instantly. By now I'd become so used to training outside a dojo environment that I seemed to learn really fast. We would role play actual fight scenarios and that's how I learned.

It got to the stage where my Aikido skills were above his! At this time I started to investigate Tomiki Aikido, and bought some videos by Dr. Ah Loi Lee. I was hooked!!! During the next 10 or so years I would constantly meet new training partners and we would continue with the "reality testing" way of training.

I've already mentioned my real life encounters in another thread, so no need to repeat myself.

I did join a Hapkido club for a while but had to leave due to serious health problems. Then I started training in Aiki-Jujitsu, which worked well with the Aikido. By now I felt I had developed my own style of self-defense and began to teach friends.

Soon I intend to join the local Aikikai-Aikido club. This will be my first time in an Aikido dojo environment. How do I make the transition from what I already know (over 25 years worth) to become a beginner in a proper dojo?

Iain.
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Old 09-12-2004, 12:10 PM   #2
Qatana
 
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Re: A difficult transition?

Forget Everything you Think you know about aikido.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:30 PM   #3
Christian
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Re: A difficult transition?

I agree to some extent with the previous post. I would suggest that in the dojo, you forget what you have learned already and practice what they teach, the way they teach it. But I would also continue your outside practice. You'll have a lot more tools to add to your MA tool-belt!
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:37 PM   #4
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

I knew someone would say that!

It's not quite that simple Jo. The Aikido I DO know is lodged in my subconscious now. I think Aikido. I dream Aikido. In a "situation", my body simply moves without conscious thought. These movements are Aikido.

As far as the Spiritual side goes, I've read books on Ki, so I'm now hoping to find enlightenment rather than relearn how to perform a "kotegaeshi" that I've probably used for real in dozens on situations! Nikkyo - one of my favourites - that's one technique I teach to my friends, and they've used it. Don't misunderstand me Jo, my techniques are straight from the "textbook" - I'm NOT an actor "playing at Aikido"!

Starting all over again is not even the main issue - TIME is. In this club there are no coloured belts. Everyone wears white, apart from the Sensei. I spoke to one member who's been there for a year and hasn't even had his first grading! When I did Hapkido for about a year I gained a yellow belt. I know it's a totally different style and all that, but I'm in my 40s now.

Gradings may be impossible for me anyway - this is the killer(!) - I can't travel! I now suffer from Chronic Agoraphobia etc, and the gradings are held all over the country. I "may" ask the Sensei if he could grade me at the dojo ( which is at the end of my street!).

Any other suggestions are greatly welcomed.

Take care Jo,
Iain.
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Old 09-12-2004, 02:17 PM   #5
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: A difficult transition?

Hi Iain,

I'm not sure the Aikikai would be the way to go with you having previous Aikido experience. They have a very structured approach to training, and gradings in particular, which will not allow for the Aikido you have developed for yourself. Is it a BAF affiliated dojo? If it is, you are supposed to grade at Summer School once a year, and the time between gradings is measured strictly by number of classes you have attended, so it is not unusual for a beginner training once a week to take more than a year to grade for the first time.

Are there any other dojos in the area you could try?

Ruth
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Old 09-12-2004, 02:49 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
 
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Re: A difficult transition?

My question back to you is : Is your goal to train with others, to continue to learn and grow, to gain rank, or ?
Many folks of various yrs experience/rank have found due to changing interest or geography or whathaveyou that they needed to basically "start over" in other aikido styles or schools. The most important thing is to understand that every dojo has it's conventions and that you WILL be "corrected" even if you are "right" (because, yes, there are many "right" ways to "do a technique") . If you don't think you can stay collected and polite, accepting the correction and trying it, then you may indeed have a difficult transition. Butit is in the physical training that we find the spiritual lessons you seek, so if you keep an open mind to learning different physical things, you may have an easier transition.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-12-2004, 04:41 PM   #7
Nick Simpson
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Re: A difficult transition?

I think 25 years is possibly a little early to start hoping for enlightenment Iain, theres a nice old anecdote about a sword student wanting to train under a master and to become the best swordsman in japan. He asks the master how long it will take him to be the best and the old guys says 20 years, he says but what if i train twice as hard? 40 years. But what If I train day and night? 60 years. If your eye is on the goal and not the training then it will take longer... (or something like that ). Keep training mate, hope you get on well in your new dojo, I wouldnt worry about the gradings, just do it like they tell you and show willing, they should realise you have experiance.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 09-12-2004, 05:15 PM   #8
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

Yes Nick, heard that one many times - even used it myself! I did write them a letter explaining my Aikido experience. Their reply was simply to strive to do as the Sensei asks. It'll probably take me longer than a complete novice to learn this style - that's the irony of it.

My ultimate goal Janet, is to find some sort of inner peace and be able to become more relaxed generally. It is also because I LOVE Aikido! Training with people of all ranks will be interesting, though I am apprehensive about actually being around people (due to Agoraphobia). Grading will be difficult for this reason. You see, I cannot travel at all. I only chose this club because it's at the end of my street! Going searching is impossible given my condition.

Of course, I'd like to gain rank - I've certainly trained long enough, but I just don't have that on paper. When I teach my style of self-defense to friends, I do wear a black belt; simply as some indicator of all the hard work I've done. In fact, you could say I earned that rank at "The School of Hard Knocks"!

Growth will happen naturally.

I have visited the club Ruth, and it's very informal. Gradings are normally held every 3 months. While watching, I recognized so much of what was going on, I felt desperate to join in! I'm not familiar with a lot of the Japanese terminology though, so that confused me - even though I knew the techniques.

I'll just let things unfold naturally I think. There will be many technical conflicts, but I'll just have to adjust to their way of doing things. This is an important step for me, and I intend to give it my all.

Thank you all for your advice.
Iain.
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Old 09-12-2004, 05:30 PM   #9
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

Sorry Chris, I missed your reply.

Yes you're right. That's what I plan to do. As for "forgetting" that which is already stored at a subconscious level, that's impossible. It would be like forgetting how to read or write! Everything I've learned is now part of who I am. I have absolutely no control over the mind and body link I've created. The worst thing that could happen is, if I'm in a confrontational situation and I have to "think" about what to do. As you know you must NEVER hesitate. Hopefully, my skills will be so ingrained, my body will move like before.

Thanks Chris,
Iain.
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Old 09-12-2004, 05:56 PM   #10
MitchMZ
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Re: A difficult transition?

Its funny because I have also stumbled and tripped on my path of martial arts training. Much of my training has been done informally. I have studied Hapkido with my dad on and off, I then got into submission fighting(BJJ); but thats hardly a formal dojo setting. I then moved on to Judo and took that for awhile( a year)...it was fun but it didn't keep me coming back for more. I then took Gracie JJ in a formal dojo setting...wasnt really my thing. After that I studied JKD at a self defense seminar, really cool, really effective style; this sparked my interest in the martial arts again. A few months later I became interested in Japanese culture and discovered Aikido; its been really hard to break the habits of jumbled MA training. Although, Aikido is such a broad set of movements that it really goes hand in hand with any style. Looking back, my skill as a martial artist has improved two fold since I started Aikido a half year ago. Not to mention my techniques from other arts are now razor sharp (including kicks). I think this comes from exposing myself to the traditional dojo atmosphere...and truly enjoying the art I'm studying. Don't look at learning Aikido in a dojo as something new, look at it as a way to hone technique. Fighting IRL is a great way to learn "what works" but, I feel that you cant really develop great technique from it. I just learned escapes and how not to get my @zz kicked, lol. You can do both, but thats something else all together
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Old 09-12-2004, 11:41 PM   #11
xuzen
 
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Re: A difficult transition?

Quote:
Iain Smith wrote:
Soon I intend to join the local Aikikai-Aikido club. This will be my first time in an Aikido dojo environment. How do I make the transition from what I already know (over 25 years worth) to become a beginner in a proper dojo?

Iain.
Congratulations Iain. Life has presented you with so much opportunity to learn Combative art. Congratulation again for being able to learn them. You can't unlearn what that is already internalised. In a formal dojo, you must recognised that there are formal techniques that the sensei teaches because he has a wide variation of skills within his students. He simply cannot stop his teaching and focus on you.

Quote:
When I teach my style of self-defense to friends, I do wear a black belt; simply as some indicator of all the hard work I've done.
As for rank, you wear a black belt when teaching. I'd say it is OK as long as your students recognise your technical ability. But then don't expect other formal organization to recognize it.

In your thread, Iain I see there are two distinct motivation you want to go to a formal dojo...

Let me talk about the first one...
Quote:
Of course, I'd like to gain rank - I've certainly trained long enough, but I just don't have that on paper
You want formal recognition. In this case, you don't need any transition, just go through the formal grading syllables, one grade at a time. You don't have to unlearn anything, you just have to learn the technical aspect since as you claim to have working knowledge of MA. Pass the tests, attain your black belt.

Many of us, go to a formal dojo to learn MA so that we would hopefully one day be able to have the level working knowledge of MA such as that claimed by you. You are on the other hand the opposite... Why do you want to go to a formal dojo? To get a formal cert so that you can open a legit dojo, a change of career perhaps from being a musician to a full-time MA sensei? Now moving on to the second assumed motivation...

Quote:
so I'm now hoping to find enlightenment rather than relearn how to perform a "kotegaeshi" that I've probably used for real in dozens on situations
You mentioned in your post you are seeking enlightenment. That is a wonderful goal, Iain. IMO, seeking a spiritual leader would be a better endeavour. No doubt MA like aikido can be utilised as an adjunct to enlightenment, since your goals are specific to seek enlightenment, why not seek a specific teacher on such subject?

Congratulation again Iain, you have made me write one of my longest post yet. You da man!

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 09-13-2004, 04:58 AM   #12
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

Thanks Boon.

Yes, by gaining a legitimate black belt is so I can officially teach.

As for Enlightenment, maybe that was the wrong goal - inner peace is really what I'm striving for.

I've just posted another reply on the "Real life experiences" forum - speaking from experience.

Best wishes,
Iain.
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Old 09-13-2004, 05:18 AM   #13
batemanb
 
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Re: A difficult transition?

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
Forget Everything you Think you know about aikido.

Ditto.

With regards to Aikido, your age is not the important factor, nor the time it will take. If you truly want to learn Aikido, you will forget everything you never learnt in an Aikido dojo, join a local club and practice as if everything was being seen for the first time.

On an aside, as for wearing a black belt when teaching your own style. It sounds like a mish mash of things that you have learnt from friends over the years. I'd not do it unless you have some form of instructor certification in something, otherwise you'll just come across as a Macdojo black belt wannabee. You'll see plenty of those types discussed here and on e-budo and Aikido Journal, if you scan the archives. They aren't usually received very well.


rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-13-2004, 05:47 AM   #14
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

Like I said Bryan, I earned that black length of cotton by attending "The School of Hard Knocks".

Try it sometime and see how you fair.

Incidentally, I have been assessed by my friends - many of whom are instructors, and they didn't think I was a "wannabee"!

I value their opinion as they have seen me teach and I have trained with them.

Please don't insult someone you don't know and have never sparred with.

Regards.

Iain.
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Old 09-13-2004, 06:48 AM   #15
batemanb
 
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Re: A difficult transition?

Iain,

I don't recall posting any insults. I did offer a bit of friendly advice based on your posts and how they read to me, feel free to ignore it.

regards

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-13-2004, 06:59 AM   #16
shihonage
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Re: A difficult transition?

Eh, I don't see what the problem is.

If Iain has solid Aikido technique (no matter how the superficial details may differ from whatever dojo, as long as it WORKS!) then a worthy Sensei will recognize his skill and make him test immediately for first degree black belt instead of going through the whole kyu routine.
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Old 09-13-2004, 06:59 AM   #17
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

To Bryan,

Furthermore, your "Macdojo black belt wannabee" comment was particularly offensive.

You're the first person to cause me such an insult. Everyone else has treated me with equal respect, whether I've trained in a dojo or not. What makes you so "special"? Do you hold a monopoly on knowledge?

I simply chose a different path to learn MA - that's all. I am NOT invincible nor are you or anyone else for that matter. As for your comment about my style being a "mish-mash" - how dare you!

I thought this forum was for Aikido lovers - not people who just want to insult another because their training doesn't fit with theirs. Or are you just jealous of my "frontline" experiences?

How many times have you been attacked by a knife? I'm here today because my training literally saved my life. So, do you still think I'm sort of "fake"? Sounds like you have a lot to learn yourself!!

I'm sorry to Jun about this, but he really did say some unnecessarily offensive things. Definitely insulting to Aikido also.

Iain.
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Old 09-13-2004, 09:01 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: A difficult transition?

Quote:
Iain Smith wrote:
How do I make the transition from what I already know (over 25 years worth) to become a beginner in a proper dojo?
Shoshin: beginner's mind.

IMHO, do not abandon what you already know, just initally keep it separate from what you are learning.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-13-2004, 10:11 AM   #19
markwalsh
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Re: A difficult transition?

Hi Ian,

Which is your local dojo? Mail me privately if you lik, I know of one instructor in that neck of the woods you will be interested in.

Don't get worked up by Aiki-web posts. Most of us are pretty nice, it easy to insult/ misunderstand people on line.

Regards,

Mark
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Old 09-13-2004, 10:24 AM   #20
happysod
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Re: A difficult transition?

Quote:
Sensei will recognize his skill and make him test immediately for first degree black belt instead of going through the whole kyu routine
Not always, often the intermediate kyus will still be used so that the person knows (and can teach) that assocs syllabus correctly (i.e. in the style of the association). If you weren't interested in teaching, perhaps, but Iain is, so he would probably have to follow all the steps.

Iain, with regards to Bryan's comments, you may want to re-read his post. He at no point said that you were a wannabee, just that wearing a black-belt without any formal assessment (taken from your initial description) was something he wouldn't recommend. Use of a black belt in this way has been mistrued and misused in the past and a lack of formal certificates while wearing a black belt could get you mislabeled as such a person.

Good luck in finding a suitable dojo.
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Old 09-13-2004, 11:42 AM   #21
deepsoup
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Re: A difficult transition?

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
Iain, with regards to Bryan's comments, you may want to re-read his post. He at no point said that you were a wannabee, just that wearing a black-belt without any formal assessment (taken from your initial description) was something he wouldn't recommend.
Quite so, and his advice was good, imo. Certainly not deserving of your reply, a veiled threat.
Quote:
Use of a black belt in this way has been mistrued and misused in the past and a lack of formal certificates while wearing a black belt could get you mislabeled as such a person.
Or perhaps even correctly labelled as such a person.
When you find a dojo, you might need to turn your ego sideways to fit it through the door.

Sean
x
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Old 09-13-2004, 12:27 PM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Re: A difficult transition?

As someone else said, shoshin. Beginers mind.

As someone else also said, if you want to teach under an organization, you must go through the process. If kyu testing is part of that process...then that is what you do. Actually, that is what you do **whether it is required or not**, if you are honest with yourself.

I've seen you get upset a few times here already...I'm not sure how to address that without upsetting you more. I'll try with an example from my own life.

I've worked in one or another area in computers for almost 20 years now. But a lot of my networking/switching/routing experience is informal. I am now working in that area full time, and being asked to run fairly large projects. Now, I could tell people who try to help me that I have learned from the school of 20 years of hard knocks, that I have done it in the real world, and that I know better than they do. Or, I could listen and learn from those with formal training, pick up what ever I lack, polish my skills where they are already adequate. Its my choice. I can sucseed or I can fail. But it is my choice. I hope to make the best choice possible for both myself and the people around me. But I won't be able to do that if I don't listen. Carefully. Without prejudging what I **think** people are saying. Kind of like taking the chip of my shoulder, before someone knocks it off for me.

Best of luck.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 09-13-2004, 01:01 PM   #23
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

To all,

I clearly misunderstood Bryan when he used the phrase, "a Macdojo black belt wannabee". I'm sorry, I thought he was insulting me because I am Scottish.

As for having a big ego - well, consider this:- I am presently a housebound Chronic Agoraphobic who is now afraid to leave the house. I thought that by going to the nearby Aikido club would help me, now I'm wondering if I should bother at all. Since retiring from the music business, my life has imploded.

I do teach self-defense, in my home to friends. I simply wear the Gi and the black belt because I feel it's like putting on a uniform and immediately helps me with my teaching. It's a Psychological thing. Even when I could go out and attend a Hapkido club, once I wore my "uniform" it did improve my training there. I suppose the same applies to anyone who wears a uniform in their work - they assume the role.

I've been told my MA skills are good by those who know Aikido well. I'm sure the thugs who have attacked me over the years would certify to that fact too! Unfortunately, I forgot to ask them...damn! I feel I'm on trial here like some criminal!!!

Maybe I should wear a tartan belt the next time I teach....or perhaps a clowns' costume? Maybe that's what you all seem to think I am. Or perhaps I'd make a great actor? Afterall, I managed "to fool" the thugs that I could defend myself - and I even "fooled" real MA practioners. I think I'll move to Hollywood!

Here's another thought - While working as a drummer I was often asked who taught me. I was entirely self-taught. I listened to Buddy Rich records since the age of 9 and learned from them. I taught myself how to read drum music, I read books, I watched teaching videos and I practiced constantly. This paid off. I got a lot of work. At one point I was rated as one of the top 10 drummers in Scotland. Even "taught" drummers came to me once I started to run drum workshops. I could play. I had no diploma from any college stating that fact, but the audiences and fellow musicians knew.

I know I can already defend myself - it's been proven. I just wanted to go to this Aikido club to see what it would be like. I'm happy to train with beginners. The grading is held all over the country. I can't travel, so I won't be able to grade, unless they hold them at the club (which is unlikely). It's true that I need a black belt so I can legitimately set myself up as a teacher. I can only show my friends so much in my small flat. I would teach general self-defense that I know works, rather than any one style.

Thank you,
Iain.

Everything seems to be against me right now.
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Old 09-13-2004, 01:11 PM   #24
Aikidoiain
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Re: A difficult transition?

Sorry Ron, I missed your reply.

I am fully prepared to continue to learn in a structured environment. I am NOT a "know it all" by any stretch of the imagination. There are things I want to learn to do better.

If you ever met me, you see that I had a nervous stutter - which has only developed since I became housebound. When I am writing down my MA experiences, I even feel that couldn't really have been me, but it was.

I joined this forum for encouragement and thought Aikido people would recognize that, but it seems that most of you think I'm just a big-headed show off. I'm not. I'm fragile, easily upset but still love Aikido.

Thanks Ron.
Iain.
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Old 09-13-2004, 01:42 PM   #25
Greg Jennings
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Re: A difficult transition?

Hi Iain,

The longest journey is traveled one step at a time. Go train. If you need someone to chat with, feel free to PM or e-mail.

Best regards,

Greg Jennings
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