The Misery of Beginnings in The Martial Arts

February 2006

Volume 9 Issue 2

Aibudo Kanji
Picture of Shihan

Particularly when the "first classer" witnesses other individuals within the training regimen who don't look near as "tough" as them and their functioning doesn't appear to affect them that way.  What do these people know or have that I (first classer) don't seem to have.  I work hard, play hard, can lift or move hundreds of pounds all day long and put myself up against anybody.  I thought!  Why is it now, all at once, that I don't have any balance, can't move two hands and two feet all at the same time in unity, feel as if I'm walking and moving on a water bed and my feet are "glued" to the floor.  If I do move, I seem to have very little control in arriving at where I wanted to go.  Absolutely no control or coordination at all.  What happened to me?  I was alright before I got here.  If this is what it's going to be like, I'm going home and not coming back.  It's extremely humiliating to have a younger, older and/or wimpier looking individual seem to do things that a new practitioner couldn't do on their best day.  This humiliation is the most difficult "opponent" to overcome during the first few weeks of training.  The second most difficult is training the human body, that you thought was alright before you got here, to function "normally" at all.  But if you can overcome it, you will turn into an entirely different individual for the rest of your life.  The third most difficult is the "going back to school" feeling that you haven't had for many years.  You don't know how to communicate in this new environment, of total respect, courtesy, camaraderie and feeling of "family".  It isn't long, if you stick it out, that the absolute feeling of belonging becomes as a magnet to the group.  Many who have chosen to discontinue training in our system

in the past have been haunted the rest of their "born days" with a feeling of something missing within their life.  They find themselves looking at the calendar and clock, reflecting back at where they wish they had stayed.  But now, their changed and "moving on" life style will not allow them to correct what's missing.  One individual that I personally know and of whom was a member of our system years ago, told me himself that he is so ashamed of leaving our system and the members that he was so proud of training with, that he just can't come back.  That is a "shame" in itself, as if he did come back, he would be treated as if he never left.  It's as if the time break between the leaving and coming back was inconsequential.  But once again their body will most definitely know that it has been "disconnected" for way to long.  The reoccurring pain and discomfort along with the return of feeling lost and humiliated are once again the first "opponents" to face them.  The physical and mental disciplines that were once there, now seem to have deserted you.  The truth is, that their still there, but have been "covered up" with so many other things, that they have to be coaxed back to the "top". The mental disciplines, once shook loose, return much faster and easier than the physical disciplines of which want to function as they did, but are now so restricted by a time and period of non-use, that they have to basically start all over.  The exception to this is the individual, who during their absence, maintained somewhat of a physical conditioning regimen.  But if they spent most of their time "on the couch" in front of the TV, their body is going to "growl" at them in a way that hasn't been felt since their first day in the arts.

     Our system has been well blessed with the introduction to 2006.  We presently have a cross-section of individuals of whom are the most courteous and respectful in one group, that we have ever had.  When you have members that encompass a range in age from the mid 20's to the mid 60's, all performing together in harmony, that is something to be proud of.

     At the beginning of 2006, we have had the good fortune of having two new practitioners.  One of which has now been transferred to "Member" status.  The newest is still in the "2 free class" area and we all hope that he hangs in there and also advances to "Member" status.  The most difficult thing that anyone has to contend with in their martial arts participation is coming to their first class.  We have had many individual's who have procrastinated about their first class "show up" for apx. 10 years, because of the unknown apprehension about what awaited them.  That is the norm and not the exception, for most individuals who are now active within their chosen training.  The "truth", particularly of our system, is blown out of reason to the point of fantasy, with no facts to back them up and to the point of scaring very qualified individuals away.  That said, there isn't one practitioner within our system that hasn't "suffered" physically for their first few weeks of training.  That "suffering", of which every new practitioner has to endure, also drives many away, sometimes after only one class.  True martial arts works the human body in directions of which it hasn't been introduced to before.  When the body initially tries to deal with it, it appears to fail and the resulting pain and discomfort is there instructing the pride and ego, that I'm not as tough as I thought.