About The Following Blog

The following blog has been written purely for those wanting a first hand knowledge of what it is like to step into the dojo for the first time as a complete beginner as a Martial Artist. Through practising a Martial Art, you will gain many things such as self-confidence, self-respect and life-long and good friends. I hope this helps you to see into an amazing world of which you have never seen before and that I have had the privilege of belonging to and knowing.
Although I have not put my name or any name to this blog, it does deserve a dedication- a dedication to those who help people to train, who teach, reassure and most important of all- those who never give up, no matter how many times they hit the ground or a mental brick wall, with themselves or others. But above all- those who are ready to begin their own journey, it begins with one step….

Friday, 11 December 2009

Chapter 52: Mental condtioning: Strength from within...the reason I keep going

During the past three and a half years of practising Aikido, I have learned alot in terms of the technical elements of Aikido, shed blood, sweat and occasionally tears- not all at the same time, and the tears definitely not on the mat. Have I noticed any changes in myself you may ask? Yes, I think I honestly say I have. Nothing I can fully explain- I've experienced the usual physical changes in terms of building muscular definition and developing better fitness.

But the one thing I thought I had fully experienced was mental conditioning. Not quite so as it turns out-I'll explain in a short while. I always say the first six months are the hardest you will do as any Martial artist-the first month especially so. Its not just the discipline and etiquette that you have to become akin with- its also the hard graft of physical and mental training you will endure. You're a complete beginner, and whilst you stand at the end of a good session having worked hard, with lungs heaving for oxygen, sometimes Sensi will call to a bout of Ninandorri or tanto practice. You stand there thinking 'How can I do more? I haven't got anything left to give!' But here's the thing you do- and you go back the next week and the week after that and the week after that...for more!

At the moment for some reason I've been finding training especially tough, I sometimes do as I have a minor bowel condition which makes balancing getting enough calories with training hard. But I have to say- whoa! I've not experienced anything like this before. I don't know whether training seems tougher as there is less of us at the moment and so we get less breaks- I seem to remember I got one two minute break in two hours once. I swear I wouldn't have got through it without sport drinks.

What this got to do with mental conditioning? Well I will be very honest- at the moment sometimes I could happily curl up in a corner of the mat and cry. The only reason I haven't scummed as yet is because most weeks I'm really the only woman on the mat. I feel I have to uphold my 'honour' as a woman not to break down. So I don't. I also suspect the reason why I felt this way recently is because I've come down with a kidney infection, and its taking an absolute age to shift-so I'm feeling a little blue at the moment. So, yes I finding that I really have to dig deep inside to keep going.

However, having said I'm really finding Aikido difficult at the moment. I'm still really really enjoying my training. You may ask- why you crazy woman? Why don't you do flower arranging or something instead of putting yourself through this?

The answer is...I don't know. Aikido has always (and I suspect it always will) fulfilled me in a way I can't explain. I sometimes go to training being mad at something or someone at work and come away feeling at peace with myself within. Nothing else can do that for me. So will I be going next week? Kidney infection or no kidney infection... Oh yes, yes I will.


Daniel Wilson said...

First time commenting.. Just wanted to say that I applaud your conviction to keep going. Certainly a bladder infection could be part of why you'r having such trouble.. if you've got an infection, then a great deal of your bodily energy is likely preoccupied with that.

While I can't say i've ever felt the urge to cry on the mat (but then again, your dojo sounds more intense than my own), i'll say it shows true character to continue to persevere in the light of such difficulty.

Scaramouche said...

+1 with Daniel. You got guts. Robert Twigger would be proud. (Thanks for turning me on to his book BTW!).

We're all pulling for you.


Paul-1959 said...

I am finding it difficult to comment here, but I am new at this site, so I am not surprised. I am now 4th kyu, so I can understand how you feel. I hope your infection clears up soon. I'm not sure how I would feel doing falls on a bum kidney.

Prium said...

Wow. So I came across your blog because I was debating whether or not to do aikido for one simple reason: I can't roll. I'm in college, and I took a jujitzu class around two years ago, and could not roll for the life of me. I practiced at home, I practiced through break, and maybe its because I have back issues but I just really cannot roll...and by the way, all the other thirty people CAN roll. Anyway, I was deciding whether or not to take up Aikido (because I really need some sort of self defense training, and I am interested in the philosophy behind Aikido), and I decided to research to see if anyone else was in the same boat. When I came across your blog, I really didn't think I'd read the whole thing. I mean, damn 52 chapters? I really didn't think I would go through it...but you really managed to capture my interest. As a very small woman who is terrified of rolling (I would almost rather take a punch), I am actually pretty convinced that I should at least give it a shot. I would just like to thank you for posting this. As a small woman, with a kind of self deprecating attitude, its nice to see someone who although doubts herself, goes through with the challenge and succeeds. For that, as well, I applaud you. I have a question though. I really, truly hope that I can successfully do this. Thanks again! You can email me at if you wish to respond.