“Doubts about continuing training?” by Bruce Baker

“Do you ever have doubts about continuing training? Maybe you show up at work one day with a spain, or a limp, or some injury due to training and your boss tells you to choose between your job and your hobby? It happens. What do you do when it does?

Everyone has a choice to make. What is best for your future, for your present, and what compromise can you make to get what you want verses what others around you want. It is the continuing struggle to please everyone around you and yourself too. Most people compromise, or they choose their job, and maybe that is why I have seen so many people come and go during my time with Aikido.

I can only talk about my situation, and maybe that will be of some help, but then again maybe not.

HAVE NO DOUBT … there will come a day when most everyone will not conform to normal training regimens if they live to become old enough.

Realizing that you only have a limited window of opportunity to train might be one of those motivating factors to train as long as possible for the other circumstances in you life that sometimes over-ride your wants.

I, myself, have contributing physical illnesses besides financial factors that contribute to my own doubts about continuing formal training within the structure of a formal class. And yet, four or five times a year I still find myself watching a class and thinking to myself how some of the student need to work on their form, improve their understanding of the basics as they seem to be in too much of a hurry to look good by being fast, instead of being good by having mastered the basics. Well, I probably shouldn’t talk out of turn … I have learned many things from other types of studies other than aikido, but it all applies by going back to the basics of Aikido just the same. Every time I show someone in Aikido something I have learned somewhere else it is applicable to advanced training in aikido, and every time I show someone something I have learned in aikido it is applicable to advanced training in their style too, go figure.

Do you have doubts about Aikido?

Then take some time to realize where your aikido training fits into your life, your goals for training, and how it will probably be a lynchpin for you in your later years when youth fades away! Yep … those days will come, and when they do … I guarantee you …. everything you have learned in aikido will be means to improve your quality of life as well as maintain a connection to all the skills you might learn in any of your pursuits during your youth. It might have to be adapted to your old man/old woman type of martial arts but such is life.

Put away your doubts. Do what you can. Steal whatever knowledge you can from people who are willing to give knowledge away. Realize it is not just for themselves they pass this knowledge on to you, but to improve the quality of life for those around them because in doing this they improve the quality of their own life.

There will always be financial difficulties. People will always become sick and die, but in the meantime …. we adapt … we overcome …. we do what we must to improve the quality of life for as long as we are alive.

The hardest thing do everyday is accept the inevitable pain, the uncompromising march towards death, and the fact that I will never be young again. I embrace the pain, and embrace the facts as they are so I am not angry, maybe the slightest bit annoyed, but I am not being eaten up by anger or dwelling on these thoughts so they are entirely negative or entirely positive, but they are in some sort of neutral compromise. In this way, with a neutral compromise, I am aware of positive and negative but not being controlled by excesses of either. Works pretty good, at least I think it does.

Not all of us will choose to be Aikido teachers. Many of us will integrate our practice skills into our lives as we quietly go about our lives. Have no doubt, whatever time you can spend to train, whatever you can do …. it will become relevant over time. How you apply your training to improve the quality of your life is up to you. I hope you remember to put away those doubts when you are in class. I know how hard it is, but believe me, when you are injured, old, or simply away from training for a period of time, being able to do something on your own …. it really does improve the quality of life, believe it or not.

You have to remember, no one teacher can teach you everything. You will need to take different things from a variety of teachers. If you have doubts about training, simply examine how what you do in aikido is considered to be advanced training in other types of martial arts. What really blows my mind, is how training in other styles of martial arts can fit so well into aikido.

Please, spend the time to study the basics of other styles of martial arts, it will vastly improve your appreciation and understanding of Aikido.

My point is this, you never know where life will take you, but you do know that what you learn in Aikido can go with you when you go there. “


  1. Dear Bruce:

    In Hombu Dojo there are elders between 70 to 80 that trains in Doshu´´s classes everyday, acting as uke or nague, like if they were under 30. They look flexible , vigorous and healthy.
    In my dojo it happens the same.
    I have no doubt that keep training Aikido for health purposes is a sufficient reason to not stop doing it.
    Aikido practice is a very good exercice for fittness.
    But if one really trained enouph to understand the Founder´s message , then he will know that Aikido is one of the best ways to learn how to really live this life.
    So, nobody should stop, in any case there are great benefits.

    Wagner Bull

  2. It all depends on our motivation for our practice. If we are obsessed with the technical aspect (GI), the physical/fitness aspect (TAI) and neglect the mental aspect (SHIN), then we are quite likely to quit. Aikido for us will have been nothing more than an other exotic activity and a topic of conversation to entertain our grandchildren and other senior citizens.

    How can we cultivate SHIN? We need to find a teacher who has it. It’s only through constant exposure that we can learn and develop. How does he deal with daily life, successes and difficulties? Has he been the same person since I have met him or has he been improving or regressing? Does he inspire me to develop myself or do I look at him as some eccentric out of my reach?…

    Many students studied with great teachers but few were able to appreciate the value of what they had, just due to the fact that they weren’t ready.

    One day I asked my teacher, Mochizuki Sensei, about one of my senpai I hadn’t seen for several months.

    “Did he quit?” was my question.

    “A budoman never quits!” he replied.

    “Then what about all those who quit?” I asked.

    “It’s because they did not study budo!”

    What do I do if my teacher is a great technician and athlete but when I look at his daily life, he doesn’t inspire me to study the mental aspect without which I know my time in aikido is limited?

    Then I should look for a spiritual teacher, someone who can help me live my life as a whole without having to leave my other teacher. Maybe that’s what he needs…

  3. bruce baker says:

    At some point the student becomes the teacher as the student adapts all lessons into their everyday life. Some people say that student who does this is “the fool”, but I say …. it is the enlightened man who can, not only, envision how to do this but actually do this.

    We all have physical limits, mental limits, limits to what we are capable of doing. All I am asking you to do is to Keep Aikido ALIVE .. by learning to use it’s lessons .. even when you don’t train. Why? Aikido is created from the life-lessons of generations of people who have come before us, and it would certainly honor their lives, their memories, if we would in some way, shape, or form become living, breathing, teaching examples of those learned lessons.

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