A client came to me one day and asked if I could help him progress through the Aikido curriculum faster than what he had been up to now. He had already been doing Aikido for a few years and was not bad. He told me he had a goal that he wanted to achieve a certain level by this fixed date. I agreed to help him because I liked his attitude, his hunger to improve and to stretch himself more than was required.
As we got into the techniques I found many bad habits he had acquired. His foundations were full of cracks and required tearing down. He was not happy to hear this as you can imagine. It was an extremely frustrating, humbling and stressful time for this person. He felt he could do nothing right, and all the time, money and effort he had invested in Aikido up to now was a waste. So I asked him did he want a superficial fix or to deal with the problem and become a world class Master? He said, of course, he wanted to become a world class Master but he felt depressed, overwhelmed and full of insecurities. He was focusing on what he didn’t want. So we had him examine what he did want, his motives for wanting it, and the price that he would have to pay. At the end of the first week, he was as low as he had ever been in his life, by the second week he was at a deeper level of understanding his path and Aikido. I would teach him a technique and fantastic new skills to apply but this disrupted the way he had been doing Aikido before I taught him. He felt he was being asked to jump from the top of the Chicago Sears Tower. It was so difficult for him. He needed to change his thinking process and to act differently to get to the next level of excellence. I would say 98% of his time with me at this stage was full of confusion, self-doubt and negative emotional content. A key that he needed to learn, as we all do, is that we must be patient with the changing process. Also to keep going.
By the end of the fourth week, he was motivated, positively charged to excel and integrating some new concepts. He was starting to break through. He found the process of change is a chaotic experience. However, if you persist and are patient you will achieve what you want.
After the seven weeks we were progressing through a large number of advanced techniques he had never seen before and every day I would arrive to find him waiting excitedly for me. “How are you going to stretch me today Sensei?” Would be the first question out of his mouth. with a huge smile and sparkling eyes. I loved his enthusiasm.
On the days he wanted to quit, felt he could not do it and wanted to go back to being average like everyone else, I asked him if he remembered about the price he would have to pay? This was the price. He was willing to pay it. He showed that by sticking with me, trusting what I asked him to do, and doing it the way he was shown exactly. He came to a point when things clicked into place like a jigsaw puzzle.
After the eighth week, his Aikido reached the world class level, beautiful to watch, gentle to the eye, yet Ki power flowed through every move he made. Looking at him you would have thought he came out of the womb living, breathing and doing Aikido!
So what did he learn? Changing is confusing, frustrating and painful emotionally and sometimes physically. You are going to be stretched mentally, physically and spiritually. You have to be patient with the process and persistent in what you are doing and you need to give yourself time to change. It will not happen immediately, in 5 minutes, or because you wish it to. The student walked his walk, achieved his goal in the time he set and went on to become a world-class Master. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin sensei