View Full Version : What keeps us training?

Dan Harden
8th March 2002, 05:24
I was rereading the Dr book by Stan Pranin CWDRM and noticed once again that each of the men who exceeded all said the same thing "Years later I looked around and everyone had left."
I also visited an old Aikido Sensei friend of mine and there we were two 40 somethings-still doing the dance- with much vigor (if I may) and yet we couldn't even remember all of the people who came and went.
Personal stastistics would be interesting. Why do so few still have the fire. I feel like I am even more facinated now then ever before-and this after 24 years. These days its more of mental game then ever before.
Has anyone ever done some introspective spelunking on why they think they still have the fire in their belly?

Anyway just rambling before bed.


8th March 2002, 15:33
I chalk it up to bad wiring. :D

Really as far as I can tell there is limited utility in the study but great reward. I just couldn’t stop now. I did take a 10 year break at one point and still thought about it all the time.
Some spiritual traditions talk about the merit accrued from struggling to perfect an activity that is useless. I think there is an element of that. Aiki is perfect for that ’cause you never “get there” there is only the struggle on the mat.

Cady Goldfield
9th March 2002, 01:22
I haven't completely figured that out yet. All I know, is that I am driven to do what I do, and sometimes it doesn't seem to be a choice, but a directive. It becomes something you can't NOT do. It's too seductive; you wonder what you will miss learning if you stop, and you know that with every year of sweat, frustration, failure and two steps backward for every step forward, you have invested too much to abandon it. So, you continue to embrace it even tighter.

It's that burning curiosity that fuels the fire. A few tantalizing conundrums are dangled in front of you, and before you know it, you're hip deep in them, and they keep on coming. You don't have time to think about whether what you're doing is rational or practical; you're too sucked in to care. You have an opportunity to learn an art that just blows you away with its sophistication and brilliance, and you just can't let the opportunity pass you by.

To be honest, there have been hundreds of times in the past few years that I've really wished I could just abandon the desire and the passion, and settle for something less painful, frustrating and demanding. It would be nice to use those 12-14 hours a week I spend dojo commuting and training, and the additional 8 hours I spend practicing at home each week to do more productive things... such as spend more time writing and cartooning and getting published, cleaning and repairing my house and working in the garden, putting in more volunteer hours, starting that business I have been dreaming of for the past two years, and maybe even finding a potential mate and a more emotionally fulfilled life. There are only so many hours in the week, and we have only so much energy. It's like a bank account: you can only spend as much as is there.

But once you're sucked into the gravitational field of fascination with these arts, you can't break out of orbit. So, "must do."

Maybe I'll come to my senses someday.

11th March 2002, 16:40
Why does anyone commit time and effort to activities in their life? Whether it is art, science, family, religion, love, sports, reading, martial arts, etc., they all represent some important element of a person's psyche. Everyone is different, so everyone has different passions. Why do we have passions? I refer you to the old adage, "Why climb a mountain?" "Because it's there." I.E. human nature.

Some people tire of certain passions, lose interest, etc. They move on to other, more fulfilling, passions, hopefully. Why this occurs is as complex and varied as human nature itself.

Arman Partamian
Daito-ryu Study Group

11th March 2002, 22:06
Originally posted by Dan Harden
I was rereading the Dr book by Stan Pranin CWDRM and noticed once again that each of the men who exceeded all said the same thing "Years later I looked around and everyone had left."

YAMANTAKA : You have the answer. People capable of persistence, dedication, effort, perseverance, burning love for the art and tenacity, are "few and far between". And, of course, you must REALLT enjoy it !
This, by the way, happens in all the arts.
Best regards and have fun :toast:

Dan Harden
13th March 2002, 13:11
It is still interesting that so few remain to sweat it out. I would love to see the stats some day.
The other side of the coin is who is growing whether they stay or not?
I remember a story of a school marm who went for a raise. She was turned down. She said I have 21 years teaching experience!
The boss said "NO you don't. You have 1 years experience repeated 20 times.
And that my dear is the source of all your problems.

Armans point of people moving on and their passions changing is real enough. I love the budo guys of all types who still have the fire after two or three decades. Chances are there is something there to be had.


Bob Blackburn
13th March 2002, 14:19
The stat from my first school was only 1 in 300 made it to black belt :( Then most droped out anyway. I look at like there are worse things to be addicted to :D

Cady Goldfield
13th March 2002, 14:21
My mother always told the story about the teacher asking for the raise. She used it to refer to the fact that so many people are content to do the same old-same old forever, not caring whether they ever advance beyond the handful of knowledge and skill they have.

The question about "growing whether one stays in or not" -- How can one grow in his art if he leaves and ceases training? And how can one grow even if one stays in his art, if he doesn't have goals and challenges. You have to have a reach that exceeds your grasp, in order to get anywhere beyond mediocre.

In one of the TKD schools where I used to train, there were more than 800 members. And that was at just the "hombu" dojang -- the instructor had several branches. But in the 10 years I trained there (5 days a week), I doubt I ever saw more than the same 200 or so students at any time. Where were the rest? Occasionally a "new" face would pop up once a month, take a class, then vanish for another month. Some I never met at all... only saw their names in the school membership list. They paid their dues but never seemed to train.

And of the 200 I saw regularly, maybe 150 came twice or sometimes three times a week, worked out in one of the back-to-back classes for an hour, hit the bags or the exercise equipment for a half hour, and then left. Some came 3 times a week and for a couple of hours at a time, but spent a lot of it gabbing with other students of the same discipline level. Some even had talent, but they didn't have the drive to advance their skills beyond a certain point. It was a pleasant physical-social activity for them.

Of the remaining 50, around 40 were ardent TKD-as-sport competition trainers. They were athletes with an athlete's sensibilities, training 5 or 6 days a week for 3 or 4 hours, but focusing only on competition sparring. After a certain number of years, once reaching that "certain age," they would drop out, never to return to TKD. They were motivated by competition, and once they couldn't compete anymore, the interest died.

Of the remaining 10, maybe 5 were pluggers... Loved the art, had no talent for it, but doggedly came to the dojang as much as they could and quietly worked away in a corner, took classes, and then spent hours working, re-working, trying to fix techniques, asking the sempai and instructors questions, and then trying some more. And the other 5 were "naturals" -- seemed to pick up everything instantly and effortlessly, were hungry for more, never satisfied with what they had accomplished. There was always something they could improve.

IMO, the "pluggers" and the "naturals with desire" were the backbone of the school.

Everyone admired the "naturals" because of their brilliant abilities; they served as a symbol of what the art could be at its most powerful and developed. And, everyone respected the "pluggers" for their determination and depth of understanding of what they were doing -- they might not have been pretty in their "interpretation" of the art, but they were effective and powerful in their skills, and made first-rate teachers.

IMO, both of those latter groups showed growth. They weren't repeating the same "one year of experience 20 times." Those who eventually left TKD to pursue other passions, no doubt brought the same personal characteristics to whatever new discipline they adopted and pursued, with the same results.

Nathan Scott
18th March 2002, 19:51
For me, I can't imagine why EVERYONE doesn't train in martial arts!

Each person's experience in budo is dependent on their "local representative" of the art, or, their teacher. The teacher is either inspiring or they are not. This may have a lot to do with why people quit after trying it for only a short time (like a year or two). Lots of "budo tourists", but very very few that stick around long enough to learn something.

My reasons for continuing to study (20 plus years now) is easy: it is a fascinating field.

I lost any preoccupation with rank some time ago (though it is useful for teaching credentials), and have instead found an insatiable desire to learn more, which is almost constant; learning through studying, learning through teaching, and learning through research. The more I learn, the more I find there is to learn. Whats really interesting is that I'm finally getting to a point where I'm learning things that are not found printed in books or other publications, and that stuff is really mind blowing.

Budo has also improved my life dramatically, which I guess is supposed to be the idea.

Everyone must find their own path, but I'm surprised that more do not find it in Budo. My only guess is that the quality of instructors is (generally) not high enough to lead most students along the path far enough to inspire the internal life-long drive.