“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”
I would like to challenge each of you to be “determined to learn” and put forth the energy necessary to learn whatever it is you’re learning at the moment. This is tough because the things you have to learn , let’s say, in school aren’t always that interesting. But here’s the thing to remember: “practice makes permanent” (remember that from last month‘s article?). When you are determined to do something your brain figures out a way to make it happen. If you do that with everything you try (even the things not so interesting) you begin to create a habit. It’s just something your brain gets used to doing and so you do it all the time. This will inevitably lead to success.
You can think of your efforts to learn as opportunities to create lifelong skills (kind of like practicing for a sport or music) and this may help you plow through the less interesting tasks or the more difficult endeavors. So when you have a particularly ridiculous assignment or one that is really hard tell yourself that you’re building skills that will help you for the rest of your life. It may not make the task easier but maybe it’ll give it more purpose.
Teresa Mastison Sensei
I would like to thank Lucy and John (instructors of the adult classes at South Chandler and Chandler respectfully) for their contributions to AoP’s monthly newsletter. Their articles are always interesting, full of information, and give you a different perspective to consider. This month their articles go hand in hand by touching on some fundamental ideals of training in Aikido.
Questions about testing are common when someone first starts training and John does an excellent job of explaining our philosophy in regards to this. I especially like the story about the boy who wants so much to be the best. He’s so consumed with attaining his goal that he’s not as focused on his training and this will in fact impede his progress. And this is where I see Lucy’s article steps in. A student of Aikido can not hope to make much progress without first creating a solid foundation on which to build, that is understanding the principles behind as well as being able to execute the aiki taisos and how they relate to techniques. Only when you are focused in the here and now and you have a good understanding of the basics can your training advance your abilities. With this kind of attitude and approach to training progress will inevitably be made. Testing will be a natural byproduct of your hard work not something you try to achieve.
True students of Aikido train to improve themselves, not to attain rank. I know our Western culture puts a lot of emphasis on keeping your “eye on the prize” to help you reach a goal and I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals. But, carefully consider how being concerned about that affects your training. Everyone wants to succeed and one of the ways we measure our individual success is through testing. It’s an outward indication of our efforts. Just don’t let it consume your purpose for training.
Train hard, focus on the basics, look for connections between aiki taiso and techniques, breathe deeply, extend ki, and enjoy the process.
Teresa Mastison Sensei