“Raf, we have a problem…” So began my senpai’s (all you non-Japanese out there, read that as dojo senior) sentence last Wednesday. But let’s backtrack first to several months before, when I informed everyone in the Aikido dojo that I was taking a year’s time off from Aikido to focus on my FMA practice. That meant I would neither practice nor handle any classes. That shouldn’t have been a problem given that there are several black belts in our organization, myself included. But for reasons that I’m too lazy to elaborate here (let’s just say that we now have two dojos, effectively dividing the number of qualified instructors in half – but it gets WAY more complicated than that), there is a current shortage of available instructors in the new dojo.
And so once again I find myself reluctantly stepping up to teach. I say ‘reluctantly’ but dammit I really do miss being on the mats, and I am looking forward to this Thursday evening. It’s just that…
…you know the feeling that maybe you’ve bitten off way more than you can possibly masticate and swallow?
Thursday evening is when I go to my FMA class in the local YMCA. Make that Thursday 7:30 to 9:00 in the evening. Aikido class is from 6:00 to 7:30 in the evening – that’s assuming people will come on time. Good thing both classes are located relatively close to each other in the downtown area. That would mean that by the time I arrive at the YMCA they will probably be at least halfway through the basic methods and drills (assuming they start on time). That would also mean that I will be coming to FMA practice at least a little tired. That concerns me.
I can only allot one evening a week for martial arts training. Let me rephrase that: given my current life situation, I am only willing to budget one evening a week for martial arts training in a formal class. I can train on my own any time – it’s the evening classes that I’m referring to here. Squeezing in two martial arts in one evening then going to work the next morning may be too much for my body – and maybe even my mind – to take. I don’t think it’s healthy and sustainable in the long term.
People in their twenties will probably not appreciate this yet, but when you get to a certain age you will feel the aftermath of any physical activity you practice like you’ve never felt them before. Your recovery time will not be as fast. I know because when I try to do too much in terms of training – whether it’s martial arts, parkour, or whatever physical activity that floats your boat – I either start getting cranky, or sick, or injured. Heck, having a hangover from drinking one too many beers the night before feels worse and seems to last longer than before. So if in the past you worked out, had sore muscles the next day then the day after you felt fine, now it might take you two days to recover. Add to that your daily responsibilities, your job, the chores, the kids, the other things you also want to do…
Anyway, that’s the reason I wanted to take time off from Aikido in the first place. Given my life situation, both in terms of what I need to do and what I WANT to do, it just made sense to focus on just one martial art for a year. That way I could also squeeze in some parkour training, plus music, plus writing, plus spending time with my family IN THE EVENINGS (because, DUH, I have a freaking day job)…. blah blah blah… yadda yadda yadda… I’ll stop here.
Now you have an idea why I am reluctant to go back to the dojo. So why go back at all?
The simple answer is: I am needed there. Of course I could have said no. That’s a very basic discipline, by the way: the act of saying no. No, I will not do X. No, I will not commit to A at this point because I am already committed to B. No, no, no. And I’ve been very good at saying no this past several months. But I will not say no just for the sake of saying no. Right now, somebody has to handle the Thursday Aikido classes.
Right now, that person is me.
Reluctantly, for the time being.