I believe there are three important things you need to have in order to take your training to the next level. But first, what do I mean by next level? Taking things to the next level is a phrase many people use but probably with little meaning. However, I interpret it as going further than the majority.
In your dojo there are several students. 60% of them will quit before they reach Shodan (first degree black belt) rank. 30 % of them will have ok Aikido technique. That leaves only 10 % of whom will take their training seriously.
So the three things I am talking about are:
Lets take a look at the first one: commitment. Yes, you have to commitment to go to class or learn a new technique every week. But that’s not what I’m talking about. See, its NOT about YOU. You need to commit to the art itself, your dojo, your Sensei, and your peers. You are learning something with immeasurable value. Committing means paying dues on time, attend events, help your juniors with their training, clean the dojo. Its a selfless commitment.
Next one, consistency, is a no brainer to me. I mean, its like anything else. If you want to be good at something you have to practice, practice, and practice. Non Stop. 24/7. I say go to class 7 days a week, but I know that’s unrealistic to many people. But if you don’t train at least 3 times a week, specially when you are a beginner, the road is going to be a long one my friend.
And intensity is because this is serious business. I mean, its a martial art not a gym, so stop treating the dojo like a gym! We are learning combat techniques. We attack each other. You don’t do that at a gym. This also goes hand to hand with the concept of Shugyo, which I’ll discuss in a later post. But, let’s say you need to have intensity in your training. Also, if possible, I strongly encourage you to participate in some sort of intensive training, like summer camps, seminars, and live-in programs like Kenshusei and Uchideshi. I did a Kenshusei program myself back in 1998 with Fumio Toyoda Shihan. And I am telling you, it was THE most important thing I have ever done, both for my training and for my daily life. My Aikido today is still directly influenced from the time I spent at Tenshinkan Dojo 16 years ago.
So reflect on this three things. They may seem obvious, but I tell you, lacking these things are the top reason why people drop out of the dojo.