The word has come down from on high: there is a slight chance that the Academy will not be around next year. I won't go into the details, except to say that some people in the school district aren't sure we're worth the trouble of maintaining.
Now, let's set aside the important questions about my job and my future for a second and ask the question most pertinent to the subject of this blog: would the end of the Academy be the end of my taekwondo training?
It's a two-part question. Part one, whether I would have the time or money to pursue taekwondo on my own on top of my aikido training, has no answer yet, since I don't know what my next job would be. What I'll address here is part two: do I really need to continue taekwondo training at all if I'm training in aikido?
It's not an easy question. To be sure, aikido is quite fulfilling on its own. It has made me a healthier, happier, more complete human being. And no matter where my martial arts journey takes me in the future, aikido will always be an important part of my understanding of what the martial arts are and ought to be.
All that said, there are days when aikido training feels more like pondering a koan than practicing a martial art. I'll sometimes go through two hours of aikido without even breaking a sweat and end up confused and wondering what I was supposed to have learned. Aikido is not an art for those seeking a quick gratification or the most strenuous workout.
But taekwondo is. In taekwondo, there is no time for thinking. I find the weaknesses in my technique and I attack them repeatedly. When I'm done, I'm dripping sweat, my muscles ache, and I know exactly what I've learned and what I need to learn next. It's beautiful in its simplicity.
This stark contrast between aikido and taekwondo is something I've explored twice before on this blog (here and here), and both times I came to the conclusion that the simplicity and physicality of taekwondo were things I couldn't give up, at least not yet, despite an understanding that aikido is closer to my heart and probably a more important part of my future as a martial artist.
So what to do if my source of free taekwondo dries up? Do I find the most convenient McDojang in town to continue my training? Do I seek out a reputable master and adjust my schedule to his? Do I start over with a similar martial art, such as karate, which might meet the same needs but use Japanese terminology and etiquette like aikido?
None of these options sound all that appealing to me. And all of them sound expensive.
I hate to say it, but I think that, unless I'm willing to give up aikido (and I don't think I am), the end of the Academy would be the end of my taekwondo, at least for a while. It's a shame, because I think it would be a great loss.
But for all my moaning and groaning, I have aikido. And I think I can love the one I'm with.