Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Out of Sorts

Ever have one of those classes? Y'know - where nothing goes quite right and you just can't flow for squat?

My last few classes have been just like that. Training sessions like those are the most draining and frustrating things on the planet to me.

Part of the problem is that I'm going through some emotional non karate-related stuff, including the pending high school graduation of my son (tomorrow) and the stress associated with getting everything together for his walk down the aisle to flip his tassel. Another part of it is that my sensei is also going through some emotional non karate-related stuff, including relationship and relocation issues. Sure, shoes, attitudes and personal "laundry" should get left at the dojo door, but suffice to say that - to me, at least - the vibe in the training hall is off a bit, which is starting to make training there something I'm not quite as excited about as I used to be. And I'm not quite sure what to do with that.

So, to get back a little of the fervor before I start to dread going completely, I've been thinking about taking a small break. I'll still be training - both on my own and at perhaps a little in Jujitsu (got an invite several months ago from a local sensei who has visited our class on several occasions) - just not at my school. Who knows - maybe a month or so of training in a different environment will be good for me. Time will tell.

This will really be my first non-injury karate pause since I started almost six-and-a-half years ago. The only other time I stayed away from the dojo for longer than a class or two was for a six-week recoup from reconstruction surgery, and I swear, I thought I was going to tear my hair out without karate - but I survived by watching kata videos and visiting the dojo a few times. This will be a little different, but just as necessary, I think.

Ever taken a break from training? How did you spend your time away from the mat? How easy or difficult was it to return?


  1. Ever taken a break from training?


    How did you spend your time away from the mat?


    How easy or difficult was it to return?

    Not difficult but here is the rub ... these types of training obstacles are merely normal and should be viewed as "shugyo."

    I know that there are stages of training and all of them include moments and time periods like this, i.e. nothing seems to work type practices.

    This is normal. When I was a senior brown belt I went through months where it appeared I had returned to white belt novice levels.

    Suck it up, train, practice, train, practice, train, practice, and suddenly it will disappear and you will find you have reached a new and higher level.

  2. A calm mind will see you through it all.

    Whenever I take a break from training for whatever reason, I take the opportunity to take a step back, think about what I'm doing, break it down and build it back up again.

  3. I think you'll probably divide opinion greatly with this post. I totally understand what you mean. I'm going through a similar period myself at the moment (including personal issues affecting Dojo life). It's hard to know whether taking a break or battling through is the right thing to do. For the moment I've decided to stick with it in terms of training (but to reduce the number of classes I do - i'm currently assisting with instructing at 2 and taking 4 class (3 karate, 1 kobujutsu) myself which is stretching my a little thin I think). I guess it's down to how you best deal with things, only you know what's best for you in your training. I hope the break works out for you and you can return with new enthusiasm and vigour.


  4. During injury recoup I would spend more time studying philosophy and practicing quiet arts, like zen, qigong, tai chi. I found out they rounded out the hardness of Karate-do. So, in reality, there is no 'break' from training, just evolution. Injury or burnout is just part of the whole package of training and personal least it has been for me. What I had to learn was to not measure my training or chart progress...cause it is a life-long journey of unfolding experiences, some more comfortable than others...just a journey with no end. Be Well Felicia.

  5. Felicia: Graduation...I can imagine the stress!

    I took 2 breaks in karate training...when my daughter was born and after ACL surgery.

    There are times I wonder what it would be like to take an extended break from karate and the dojo. However, I believe it would only last a few weeks before I would feel the need to return.

  6. Felicia, I feel for you here. Remember that we are martial artists, not martial machines. Sometimes our personal issues can't be left at the dojo door, they are too important to us and we need to take time out to deal with them (we're only human). Why not take a little time out of training to give yourself a mental break from it all, at least until your son's graduation is over?

    As for your sensei - he's only human too and relationship problems can really take it out of a person (men find this harder to deal with than women)so he's probably having a tough time dealing with his personal issues and keeping the club together (and not letting it show). He probably needs a lot of support from his senior students right now. Perhaps when you've had time to sort out your own issues you could offer some moral or practical support to him at the club? (You may already do this of course).

    You may feel more positive about the club if you know you've been part of the reason it's stayed strong in-spite of your sensei's problems but obviously your first priority is to yourself - so maybe you need that short break first?

  7. Summer has always been a down time in dojo-land, it seems. My old school met once a week on a college campus, so from May through August we visited a sister dojo while some folks took time away for vacations and the like.

    My current school has had a drop in attendance this season as well. Only four of us attend on a regular and three of them are from my family - and we have to travel an hour each way to get there. Add my sensei's stress to the mix and the energy is really off. I think if I weren't so emotional due to my soon-to-be empty nest, I'd be better able to deal with the energy lag, but I just don't have it in me right now...

    I'm also missing the feminine energy that ebbs and flows through the dojo as usually, I'm one of four or five women but lately, I'm the lone XX chromosome. It just feels different - can't explain it any better than that.

    It just feels like it's time for a bit of a break, that's all. Training through it is an option I'm not really feeling right now, unfortunately...