Susan Harrow

The Body Blog

The Gut-Wrenching Emotions That Come With Being A Beginner

Aikido and Media Interviews Don't Always Go Hand in Hand...

Posted Sep 02, 2014

Let’s not even talk about my assortment of aches and pains at this point. I’m sore from top to bottom—a heel inflamed to the size of a goose egg and knots so tight that even the most esteemed Eagle Scout wouldn’t be able tie them. I’m exhausted, exasperated and ready for a nap. OK, I couldn’t help describing some of my misery.

Aikido Test

Practicing for an Aikido test I had coming up. To me, it seemed akin to climbing Mount Everest. When I tell you I’m training for Aikido, you probably imagine me as some sort of Samurai warrior—at least that’s the response I commonly get.

But it’s pretty much the opposite. My movement are farthest thing from fluid and I’m hyper-vigilantly stiff when I’m on the mat. Often, I find myself tensing up and my eyes stinging with tears of frustration that I force myself to hold back—crying on the mat isn’t Budo—so I would never succumb to tears. 

Every once in a while in the middle of class when a flash of worry crosses my face and I can’t see through to how to do the technique, my y sensei notices and says something along the lines of, “You can do it, Susan.” Or “You have this.”

Not too long ago, I was training for my test with a black-belt who hit my jo (long wooden staff) with so much power that it clocked me me hard on the head. After I regained my senses, I rushed to the freezer to get ice and felt the tears coming. Practicing Aikido has made given me some internal practices so I could ground myself. So after some icing, it was back on the mat.

You may be wondering why on earth I keep practicing martial art that brings me so much frustration.

My instructor, Hans Goto Sensei explained it best, “We train to prepare ourselves for the unusual, to face things bravely, to see clearly.

Those reasons are enough to keep going, but they aren’t my only ones.

I long to for fluidity and skill, to my body and but my thoughts—my emotions, feelings and fears. I’m not anywhere close. In fact, I’m pretty darned far.

As an example, I just completed a test run on Sunday for my 1st Kyu Aikido test and a couple black belts I was preparing with called me timid. This horrifies me because I’m not typically a timid person. I’ve taught thousands of people from rock stars to CEO’s to celebrity chef’s for over 23 years—to prepare them for media interviews on top-rated television shows such as Oprah, 60 Minutes and The Today Show. Tough programs with small margin for timidity.

My motto is: Speak your mind. Stand your ground. Sing your song.™

To date, I haven’t been able to apply my business skills directly to Aikido.

In the kitchen while making a cup of green tea I mentioned to my sweetie, Will, that I was called “timid.” He said, “You’re not a timid person. Timid is a character thing. You’re just a little hesitant when it comes to Aikido. Hesitancy can be overcome with practice.”

He gave me hope.

The second motto I practice is: Keep training.

It can be downright disheartening being clumsy and unskilled at something—especially when you practice diligently. Take heart in that we all start out unsteady on our feet—and often that beginner’s ineptness hangs on for what seems like forever.

And you don’t know when it’s all going to gel. Another thing Sensei says is that you only hear, see or learn something when you’re ready — but all the while you’re absorbing the learnings in ways you cannot know.

Through time, arduously long as it seems, it inevitably gets better. Small steps count big.

For real, I’ve been at it for 5 years.

It’s a bit different when I attend classes now—my palms don’t sweat and my body doesn’t seize, and those twinges of frustration come less frequently.

The most vital thing I think I’ve learned throughout this practice is that despite the constant exasperation, Aikido makes me come alive unlike anything else. If come to class grumpy or scared—when I place my feet on the mat, I forget it all.

“Train with joy,” is one of Aikido’s principles. And my sensei embodies that. Combined with his patience and skill he spreads his joyfulness all of us each and every class, making us feel like that we are all capable of achieving greatness.

And I see greatness in all of you too—even when you can’t. You are becoming your future self, in every moment that you practice stepping into a new skill, or refining an existing one.

If you want a quickpath to dissipate your fears and frustrations and to get publicity in a joyful way to your business, join us for this free training. RSVP here.

For more from Susan Harrow go here.

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