Time to leave?

When is it time to throw in the towel and just walk away?  How much is enough?  Who wants what I have to offer anyway?

Many years ago my first instructor, Steve McKnight told me that “when you start to dread going to class, that is the indicator.”  He said “when that happens, when you start to feel like that don’t walk, run out the door and quit.  You owe it to your students to give them 100%.”

While I have not fallen to the level of dread going in, the shear joy of  looking forward to going, to reaching that high feeling of accomplishment when a student’s face opens up with a new “understanding” is not happening as it used to.  And while the joy of renewing old friendships at training camp has not diminished the camps themselves no longer excite me.  I know there is a likelihood that it could be my inability to train the way I used to, (the aches,  pains and arthritis of a 70 year old man) I suspect it may be more of a mental thing than physical. Anyway, I no longer look forward to it.

So, when is enough, enough? The difficulty is in the small details.  While I thought I was more advanced than this, the  small quirks of human nature have begun to irritate me. I have always felt that human beings should be more advanced than they are.  People do not consider other people when they decide to do or say some things and my patience has not grown as it should.  So I get irritated.

I’ve always taught that one of the best paths for personal growth is through interactions with others.  Richard Bach said in his book entitled ‘Illusions:’ “We teach best what we most need to learn.” However, it may be time to move in another direction.

The Solution? Maybe to drop out of martial arts completely the way Jim Lahue did. After all, my allegiance ultimately is to myself not any one person or organization.  Considering how I dropped the martial arts organization which I co-founded and walked away from the martial arts school which I founded in the sixties, it would not be too hard to do.

I have not made up my mind just yet.  But it won’t be long.

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15 thoughts on “Time to leave?”

  1. Rick Sensei,

    I’m sure whatever your solution, it will be correct.

    You will not drop out of the martial arts completely. You may decide to no longer teach, and to no longer train in the dojo, but you will, I know, practice every day.

    Time will continue to spool, and we continue to travel the path of our existence. Whatever direction you choose to travel, the journey continues. Perhaps we will journey together again (I hope so), or perhaps we will just send each other the occasional postcard–time will tell.

    Whatever direction you choose, go in Peace.

  2. Sensei,

    As I read through your posting today, I couldn’t help but feel that there must be something very heavy on your mind to incite these musings within you. I say this because usually when we talk, you are very upbeat and very optimistic. It is this quality that you have that energizes those whom you interact with…like me.

    I know it must be hard at times when you are brimming with the desire to teach and feel that that energy is not being reciprocated or your teachings are not being heard or understood. I feel that way sometimes when I think of how much I try to do for my group at work and feel that some people either don’t appreciate it or are just not supportive. It makes me want to just quit my position as Chief. That’s when my wife reminds me that I’m not doing what I do for the people who aren’t supportive. I do what I do to take care of the people who are committed and who are open to the “message”. That’s when I also remember what you always teach us in class, which is to take the negatives out of our vocabulary and keep a positive mind. In the end, it may not matter so much how many people are “getting the message”, but that the “message” is still important and relevant,is being heard, assimilated and practiced in everyday life. Of course, I will support you no matter what you decide. I have treasured, treasure and will treasure all the teachings and insights you have shared with me over the past four years both on and off the mat, and I have become a better person because of that. Thank you! You are my second father, mentor and friend and that won’t ever change. I do think that you have so much more to give to those of us who are open to your message. I am excited about the prospect of us being able to introduce your brand of Aikido to a new wave of people, young and old alike. So I hope that in the end, the answer is, “I have more to teach, so you all better sit down and listen!”

  3. P.S. I don’t know why my first response includes the sentence “your comment is awaiting moderation”. I didn’t write it, Sensei. My response must have been too long and the blog system is reprimanding me.

  4. Rick. You would be greatly missed. But more importantly, what is it you feel you need the most now?

  5. Sensei,

    I respect whatever decision you choose is best for you, and I am inspired by the strength of character it takes to write something like this.

    Regardless of the path you take, I hope you will still consider visiting us in the Northwest sometime this year.


    Dave Shevitz

  6. Hi Rick –

    Perhaps the time has come for you to forge your own Aikido path. It sounds to me like you’ve reached the same point I did nine years ago. Instead of leaving Aikido I chose to let my Aikido out and flourish.

    It pained me greatly to leave Kokikai, knowing as I did, that Sensei would not understand despite my very detailed and respectful letter of resignation. However, my growth in Aikido as one of his students had reached an end.

    Your choice will, I suspect, be no easier than was mine. But I think that life altering decisions are not meant to be easy; that the very difficulties they present hold within them the greatest rewards.

    Let me know if you ever plan to be out our way here in the Berkshires. Mary and I would enjoy having you practice with us. Dinner’s on us.

    All the Best,


  7. Rick, You were one of the first faces I looked for yesterday – so much still to learn from you. I was looking forward to leaning on your advice. Leon is, of course, correct but it would be great to talk sometime, hopefully before your final decision.

  8. Sensei,

    This post touched me very deeply. You may remember that I had written about this very subject about a year ago, and you and I had talked about this as well. I firmly believe that you have the answers in your heart (and soul and mind) and that you will soon see the direction you want to take.

  9. Sensei,

    I am sincerely hoping that you understand at this moment that you are not merely a teacher, but also a friend who is deeply cared about by many of his students. I cannot speak for others, but I believe based on my own understanding that those who care about you as a person will always encourage the decisions that will be best for you.

    I cannot provide you with insight, but I give you what I have: my earnest wish that your decision will bring you happiness.

    Nick Orlov

  10. Although I have not set foot in your dojo in almost ten years, I still consider myself your student. Just last night I spent an hour extolling the virtues of Aikido and your unique approach and unparalleled teaching ability ability to a friend of mine who is interested in starting martial arts training.

    Know that your impact on people’s lives extends well beyond the dojo walls. No matter your decision, your presence will live on in the hearts and minds of many.

    Thank you.

  11. Sensei (a name I will always associate with you)
    Your words were exactly what was in my mind when I took my hiatus, which is still going on.
    The enthusiasm was gone. I dreaded walking up the stairs. I caught myself numerous times looking at the clock, saying to myself “30 more minutes”. I was usually the first one out of the door.

    Aikido is something that entrenches itself into you. You live and breathe it every day.

    I have moved onto other things, if they are more fulfilling to me than Aikido…only time will tell.

    However, I am still on a path, trying to figure out my destination

  12. We grow old ,we get wiser.
    One philosopher said the more you know the lonelier you get.
    Maybe a little time of self reflection or a short vacation would help.

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