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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
So, here's what happened the first night the anticipated instructor arrived:
The class had been in progress for almost an hour. We had gone through a stretching warm-up and some basic movement exercises (tai no henka, tai no tenkan, etc.) when the new instructor appeared at the door to the dojo dressed for practice. I had not had any contact with him (I'll call him T.C. from here on) before this moment (which I thought was strange). Consequently, I expected that he would come simply to introduce himself and give us all a chance to get to know one another a bit. I did not think he had come to teach - but that was exactly what he intended to do! Without a word of greeting to anyone, he strode out onto the mats and commanded us all to sit in a row in seiza. When we were all seated, T.C. began to apologize for the terrible treatment everyone had been receiving at the hands of senior-ranked people. He assured all of us that such brutality would end that night. During this bizarre speech we were all glancing at one another wondering what in the world he was talking about. Certainly, the new students were looking at me with completely baffled expressions on their faces.
After T.C.'s harangue he proceeded to lead us through another warm-up, spending another fifteen minutes stretching and rolling. At this point I was feeling decidedly irritated. Who the heck did this guy think he was?! No polite introduction; no consideration for the fact that I had been the dojo's instructor; no interest in getting a feel for the people with whom he would be practicing. Talk about disrespect! I began to grind my teeth.
I don't remember much else about that first evening with T.C.. I recall it was a relatively short initial meeting since he had arrived so late to the class. After the class had ended, T.C. walked out of the dojo without a word to me. He and C., the conniving fellow I wrote of in an earlier entry, went off together, carrying on as though they were bosom buddies.
The next three days of practice were filled with hostility, aggressive technique and sour criticism from T.C.. My hard practice in S'toon came in very handy as I was blasted into the mat at every opportunity by T.C.. It seemed to irk him that his rough throwing didn't bother me as much as he thought it should. I heard him cursing under his breath a few times as he threw me harder and harder. I couldn't help but mark the hypocrisy in his apologizing for the "brutality" of senior students while being brutal himself.
When T.C. wasn't giving me a thrashing, he would stare out one of the windows and ignore us all. His breath smelled strongly of cigarettes and beer. I remember wondering just how much beer he'd had before practice. The thought troubled me.
After three days of dealing with T.C.'s awful behaviour, I quit the dojo. I called him, wanting to get together to talk about what he was doing, but he simply swore at me, told me I knew nothing about Aikido, and threatened physical harm should I ever return to the dojo.
Within 3 months T.C. brought the dojo to an end. He lost nearly all of his students and was ejected from the school that had so generously allowed the dojo to use their space. Apparently, he had been so obnoxious to the people at the school that they refused to allow the dojo to remain on school premises.
During the year that followed this dojo debacle my resolve to pursue Aikido was severely tested. I very nearly gave up.