The trouble is, my instructor at the Academy is now following USA Taekwondo rules about not promoting his own students, which means that, in order for him to conduct a test, he needs to bring in an instructor from the outside. And, this time at least, that instructor was only available during the school day. That's all well and good for the kids, but of course I'm working then.
Sure, I probably could have worked it out for someone to cover me for the length of a test, but I really don't want to be that guy who looks for enablers so he can do personal business on company time. I told my instructor this; he understands, but since he doesn't have another instructor at his beck and call all the time, my green belt test has been postponed to a date and time to be determined.
Since discovering this, I have slacked off on my taekwondo training in favor of more aikido and shorter workouts. The kids were at a tournament last weekend, so it's been a week-and-a-half since I've actually trained in the dojang. I haven't felt the drive. I haven't been in the mood. It's hard to convince myself to keep practicing for a test without any promise that the test is, in fact, coming.
I can't honestly say I'm sure I'll ever have the opportunity to test. My instructor is not professionally obligated to me the way he is to the kids. What's more, i'm still not sure the Academy, my source of taekwondo, will even be around after this school year. It seems I must return to a rather stubborn question: do I really need taekwondo?
I do have aikido, an art that both challenges and fascinates me. And taekwondo, at least as it is available to me at the Academy, does not really seem to be meeting my needs. The trouble is, there clearly are needs, needs that are slipping through the cracks in my aikido training. That, as I have explained before, is the whole reason I've kept crawling back to taekwondo.
So if I'm going to abandon taekwondo for good, now a more attractive prospect than ever, one of three things has to happen:
- I need to find something to replace the physicality and martial mindset of taekwondo,
- I need to make peace with the occasional lack thereof in aikido, or
- I need to find something that would satisfactorily replace both.
I keep going round and round in these arguments with myself, and aikido and I always end up together at the end. Maybe this is the way it's meant to go.
I think I hear Peter Cetera singing somewhere.
But if I am to be solely an aikidoka, I am, at some point, going to have to address the problems I see in my aikido, the problems I have been trying to address with taekwondo. I'm not singularly obsessed with combat effectiveness, but I do need to be sure that what I'm learning is a real martial art. And right now, I'm not, at least not always.
Maybe there's nothing a not-quite-sixth kyu can do about that within the confines of the dojo. I am more or less at the mercy of my instructors at this level. But if I stay aikido's course and continue to gain experience and skill, the time will eventually come when I must take responsibility for my art, when I must start making it into what I need it to be in my life.
What will that entail? Seeking out new instructors? Traveling to far-away seminars? More crosstraining? Maybe. But whatever it is, I'm almost sure, even now, that it will eventually require something more than just showing up to the dojo at my regular times. Am I ready for that?
I'm not sure. But for now, it seems that, for better or for worse, aikido must be my journey.