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I’ve been studying Aikido since October of 2007. After putting in a tremendous amount of time and effort training I was able to get to Shodan (black belt) by August of 2010.

That’s no small feat. It took work and sacrifice, maybe too much…

Since just before my Shodan test I’d been wanting to slow down and ease back on my training. I could see the signs of burnout and was trying to avoid it. Well, I tried to pull back but found it difficult in the world of a dojo and it’s many activities and seminars. I was still going in twice a week and later even picked up another martial art called Kenjutsu. It was a slightly more relaxed pace, but still fairly demanding.

Before Aikido I used to ride my mountain bike or road bike, go on hikes, or go for an occasional run, etc., etc…. After Aikido I did none of those things. I really had no intention of stopping them, but that’s what happens when you get caught up in something like Aikido, it can consume you. The last time I went to Chicago for anything OTHER than Aikido was, I think, 2006. The same goes for Ann Arbor (the latest IKEA trip doesn’t count) and Lansing.

Now, nearly 5 years later, I’ve found myself totally burned out and needing to take a stand to reclaim the things I lost. That’s seriously how it feels… it sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But, once you get wrapped up into a dojo and it’s organization it can be brutally hard to pull away.

That’s what I did today, I put myself “on leave” for the next few months in order to reflect and evaluate my commitment to Aikido and the sacrifices it requires of me. It wasn’t easy to do, but the status quo was not working for me. But then, reclaiming lost joys isn’t the only reason why I’m doing this… Life is getting crazy busy and I just simply can’t fit it all in, not without going crazy.

As Yudansha our training changes, maybe for the better… maybe not. It’s my task to determine if it works for me and my life.

“Why are we here?” “Why do we train?” “Why do we get on the mat?” - Those are questions I’ve been asked to meditate on and that is what I shall do.