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anonymous
03-08-2007, 09:42 PM
A good friend of mine's ex boyfriend recently started training at my dojo. He was pretty abusive in their relationship, and my friend has has ended our friendship based on that I'm training with him and allowing him to be there. I'm upset that he is there and want to be supportive but at the same time the dojo is safe and he's not a threat to me or anyone else on the mat and I would rather not cause any drama there. Does anyone have any advice or dealt with a situation like this before?

Janet Rosen
03-08-2007, 11:33 PM
When you say "your dojo" do you mean you are the chief instructor? If so, then I'd question why you choose to take on as a student somebody who is of that character, and I understand your friend's decision to end your friendship. As chief instructor, if you don't set the tone, create the rules and the culture, who will? Is avoidance of drama at any cost a value you wish to impart?

MikeLogan
03-09-2007, 12:10 AM
He was pretty abusive in their relationshipWhile the type of abuse is unknown, no one at the dojo deserves to be the next target, be it verbal, physical, or psychological.
If handled incorrectly it would lead to drama, but if you have witnessed this person's abusive behavior, then the safety of your training partners is now your responsibility. I would open the topic with the head of the dojo discreetly and positively, afterall, it wouldn't hurt if the ex-boyfriend in question learned something while he was there.

That may also be the way to present it to your upset friend, that the ex deserves a positive opportunity for change. So does she, but outside of starting to train as well, that opportunity is her responsibility.

gah, time for bed.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-09-2007, 12:38 AM
Nothing about that message said "chief instructor" to me. If so, I agree, but my interpretation is that she is just a student there.

If this is the case, Anon, and the guy has no history of assault that would pose a threat to anyone in the dojo, I agree that telling everyone there what you know about him would not be a very good idea. The people at the dojo would be put in a position of being expected to demonize and ostracize someone based on hearsay. It might do more harm to you than him, in terms of producing a negative impression on others in the dojo.

I don't see quitting the dojo to stay away from him as a very good idea either, as that would be allowing him do more damage, this time to you. If the friend expects you to quit, it sounds like she's not being a very good friend.

From the way you describe the relationship, it sounds like she continued on with the guy while he was being abusive. In my view, unless she threw him out, left, fought back, got a restraining order, etc.. the first time something happened, she was complicit in the situation and bears some responsibility. If she is now pulling some kind of punishment drama with you for merely being in the same room with him, it sounds like she has yet to come to terms with it, and is now trying to put some of the blame on you even though you have nothing to do with it. If I were you, I would try to reason with her and help her get some kind of counselling. If she remains unreasonable, you are probably better off staying away from her. Maybe some day she'll get better and come back to you.

Of course, if my interpretation is wrong on the point of how violent the guy is, all this goes out the window. If you think he might be a threat to others at the dojo, or you can actually produce evidence of his conduct in the form of, say, police records, then not informing your teacher and fellow students is endangering them.

Amir Krause
03-09-2007, 03:08 AM
Sound like a difficult personal position.

Even a dojo-Cho would have to think thrice: what is the level of abuse? Is it actual physical to criminal abuse or only a perceived one (which could hurt as much without him being aware \ intend it)?

Even if he does have an abusive nature, might the practice not affect him to the better? A friend I know who practices Tai-Chi today states he was a violently abusive child. In his youth kept learning M.A. and used them to become more efficient in his abuse, and then he got to aikido and learning it has actually affected his nature, since the techniques are defensive in nature and he received pain on every attack. Today, this person uses such a system to educate violent children.

Non of this helps you Anonymous nor your friend. But without more information on the nature of abuse, my first impression it is your friend who currently abuses your relationship to avenge against him.

Amir

SeiserL
03-09-2007, 04:23 AM
he's not a threat to me or anyone else on the mat and I would rather not cause any drama there.
IMHO, you have answered your own question.
Train on.

anonymous
03-09-2007, 09:46 AM
I appreciate your feedback. To clarify, I am not the chief instructor. By "my dojo" I was refering to a place that I have been training at for some years. As to the type of abuse, it was mainly psychological with threats of physical abuse, and as I have known this person in the periphery of my life for awhile it seemed to carry on to other relationships in his life too. Not saying that people can't turn around and change their behavior, and I agree that martial arts, especially aikido ,can be life changing and positive. It's just hard to know sometimes where to stand in a situation or what is grounds for taking some kind of action.

jonreading
03-09-2007, 11:11 AM
I do not believe the dojo is where broken people go to get "fixed", and I do not believe aikido dojo have an obligation to take broken people off the streets like lost puppies. A dojo is intended to provide a haven for people to fix themselves. Someone who is broken must first understand what needs to be fixed before he may set about fixing himself. My dojo does not have a leather sofa, and I do not care to hear about the mothers of my students. As such, I send those students who need more than training to seek professional help with the hope they will return with knowledge to fix themselves.

"Helping" strangers is a dangerous game to play with the welfare of the dojo students. If you know the student to be violent or abusive, tell your sensei. If sensei notices a trend of abuse in the dojo, the student should not be allowed to train.

MikeLogan
03-09-2007, 11:25 AM
It seems as though he came ot class of his own volition, which is a plus.was mainly psychological with threats of physical abuse, and as I have known this person in the periphery of my life for awhile it seemed to carry on to other relationships in his life tooTeaching someone like this how to be better at doing things that could be maiming or lethal may be a big minus.

I'm not tiny, but if I knew someone was potentially violent with supposedly his favorite person in the whole world (what is a significant other, anyhow?), why should I expect him to hold me in any higher regard. Would I be just as ready to lend my non-warrantied parts for someone like that? Nope.

I'd want to know. Just keep a open outlook when approaching it.

Mike Galante
03-09-2007, 11:44 AM
How wonderful that this person you are talking about is learning Aikido!
If it were me, I would see this as an opportunity for my own, internal Aikido development.
When on the mat, with a pure heart, in the spirit of harmony, when your turn to train with him, then train. Let go of all your particular likes and dislikes about him. You are there to train and learn.
To me, working with someone I dislike or am internally criticizing or am bored with, or they are a beginner, is part of my training. I must surrender my personal likes and dislikes, after all, if you are attacked, it will probably be by someone whom you may dislike, to say the least. It is all part of training. We attract what we need like a magnet.
As you probably know, going to another dojo will eventually attract a similar situation there. It's a law.
So when I see problems in others which i react to, i automatically assume that I have something similar inside which I do not like about me.
So it is the inner aikido you are practicing at that moment. Purifying, misogi if you will. Not easy, but will get you to the top of the mountain.
In the end, if you keep this attitude, you will help the other person learn. It's Spiritual Alchemy. I had a guru who went toward the people he felt aversion to, so he could learn, and burn out his particular impurity.

All the Best

heathererandolph
03-09-2007, 11:47 AM
I am sorry to hear of this situation. I think your friend is being harsh if she requires that you leave your dojo because of her relationship with this person. How did she know that he is in your dojo?

I think maybe she feels in some way that you are not as sympathetic as you appear to be over this person's behavior. Probably that's a result of low self-esteem from having an abusive boyfriend. Let her know that you are entirely supportive of her and believe his behavior was reprehensible. Although she had problems with him, let her know that you like your dojo and it's not fair for you to have to leave (further continuing his abuse) and you don't have control over who is accepted into the dojo. Unless this person has a criminal history, I don't know that you have a case for having him thrown out.

Is it possible that he joined because he knows you are friends and somehow wants to continue some contact with he, through you?

If he's a reasonable person, you might want to talk to him and let him know of your friendship, if he does not already. Let him know your feelings, and that your friendship is suffering because of this. I know that seems like a risk, but he may decide to leave the dojo on his own. I don't think it's wise to tell other people about his behavior. There is sure to be some tension between you and he and he will pick up on if he does not know you are a friend of his ex-girlfriend.

Otherwise, things might not work out for him at the dojo and he may leave in time on his own.

Best of luck with a difficult situation.

Kevin Leavitt
03-09-2007, 11:57 AM
I have to say I tend to agree with Jon Reading concerning the climate that should be fostered in the dojo. you are not there to counsel, or heal people, simply provide the correct environment.

However, if you have the correct environment and our exuding the correct ethos, values, and behaviors, then it can be a place where people heal.

There could be alot of pain and emotion he is struggling with, aikido may be the thing he needs to heal himself.

I don't think it is our place to be judgemental as long as there is no reason to think he poses a danger or disruption to members of the dojo.

Leadership requires us to only concern ourselves with fostering the correct environment. If someone is a disruption to that environment, they don't belong there. As Jon said, it is not your place to reach out to them, it is not a 12 step program, only to provide the conditions in which they can heal.
If they don't belong there, they should not be there.

Jim Sorrentino
03-09-2007, 12:32 PM
This essay by Ellis Amdur is not directly on point, but it's worth reading nonetheless: http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=190

Jim

Rod Yabut
03-09-2007, 01:12 PM
Agree with Kevin and Jon. It’s up to the person, not the dojo. The situation may solve itself in the long run anyway. If he decides to stay w/o a hitch, it’s a good thing. If he decides to leave and thinks it’s not for him, it’s a good thing.

We had a situation in our dojo where (I suspect) a gang banger joined, disclosing his need to shore up his martial skills (apparently he got 'jumped' on several occasions - he came in one time limping and said he'd gotten hit with a pipe in the back).

I am very conscious about prejudging individuals but…let's put it this way…I'm a friendly guy, and I would not ask this guy to hang out after practice. This guy really stuck out in all facets! So ANON, I relate your concern for the well-being of your dojo.

However, being the patient person that he is, our Sensei, accommodated him anyway. IMO, Sensei was primarily giving him a haven from his troubles, teaching him how to defend himself was a distant second, close to last.

So our yudansha followed suit - with a bit of hesitation. The guy hung around for a couple of months but after awhile he eventually left.

Eric Webber
03-09-2007, 01:17 PM
A good friend of mine's ex boyfriend recently started training at my dojo. He was pretty abusive in their relationship, and my friend has has ended our friendship based on that I'm training with him and allowing him to be there. I'm upset that he is there and want to be supportive but at the same time the dojo is safe and he's not a threat to me or anyone else on the mat and I would rather not cause any drama there. Does anyone have any advice or dealt with a situation like this before?

Let me first say that I have previously worked as an outpatient sexual offender and sexual abuse counselor, and have conducted sexuality evals for suspected sexual abuse cases that the local Children and Youth agency was investigating. I do not condone abuse, be it sexual, psychological, physical or otherwise. That being said...

1. Sounds like your friend is expecting you take sides and burn her ex out of the dojo. That is an abuse of the friendship.
2. "allowing him to train" - is it in your power to ask him to leave? Is it your moral responsibility to monitor his acitvities if he is not being abusive in the dojo? Just some points to consider.
3. Is every single other student being scrutinized for the same or similar issues before coming onto the mat? Has every other student had personal dirty laundry exposed and examined before being told whether or not they are allowed to train? There are precedents for interviewing students before allowing them to train (I once had to interview with the sensei of a dojo I was visiting before being allowed to train; I thought it was a cool experience), but is that something that your sensei is interested in doing? Again, some points to think about.

My guess is that the ex will not be abusive in the same manner on the mat as he has been with your friend. If he gets personally involved with another member of the dojo, that may be a different story. However, there is a significantly different dynamic in the relationships built on the mat, in that there are specifics points of etiquette and interaction that are in public view versus in private. Power dynamic is also different in that it is contrived in the practice (I throw you, you throw me, we take turns being the "winner" - i.e. being "in control"), which can help temper control issues.

All that being said, anything is possible with human beings, dude may show himself to be a real gem on the mat, or a real knucklehead. Sometimes you just can't tell....

If you are still at odds with whether to do something or not, I would suggest taking it up with the dojo sensei.

Best of luck.

aikidoc
03-09-2007, 03:46 PM
From the way you describe the relationship, it sounds like she continued on with the guy while he was being abusive. In my view, unless she threw him out, left, fought back, got a restraining order, etc.. the first time something happened, she was complicit in the situation and bears some responsibility. If she is now pulling some kind of punishment drama with you for merely being in the same room with him, it sounds like she has yet to come to terms with it, and is now trying to put some of the blame on you even though you have nothing to do with it.

Complicit is a little strong. I believe the term Stockholm Syndrome applies in such cases. Abusers are often very convincing as well and can even make the abused person feel like it was their fault. It's a very complex set of psychodynamics at play.

The person may have changed, however, I'd keep my eye on them, especially around females. Any abusive behavior in the dojo should not be tolerated.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-09-2007, 11:43 PM
Complicit is a little strong. I believe the term Stockholm Syndrome applies in such cases. Abusers are often very convincing as well and can even make the abused person feel like it was their fault. It's a very complex set of psychodynamics at play.

It's not very complex in my view. If someone mistreats you and you let them, you made a mistake. It doesn't excuse the other person's behavior, but once you're rid of them, that's no longer your problem. What is your problem is your own behavior. If you allowed someone to hurt you, you need to figure out what you did wrong and how you can do better next time to avoid getting into the same situation again. If the abusee in anon's scenario had come to terms with this, she would not be lashing out at her friend.

I think people often get into some pretty fuzzy, impractical territory with contemporary therapuetic and psychological thought. That stuff can do great things for people's internal reality, but it can't change external reality. In an ideal world, there would be no predatory people and no one would have to modify their own behvior to protect themselves from them, but we don't live in an ideal world. It's no different from any number of other unpleasant realities. For instance: car theft. If you don't lock your car and it gets stolen, it's still the theif's "fault", and maybe you need counseling to get over the trauma, but it's far more important for you to realize that you need to lock your car.

Princess Rose
03-10-2007, 12:05 PM
I’m really sorry that’s happening in your dojo. It is not fun when outside drama gets dragged into the dojo. That’s why I’d suggest letting that drama stay exactly where it belongs: outside the dojo. I believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. Right now it would be inappropriate to tell other students about his past. You would probably even get labeled as a gossip. If his behavior starts affecting the dojo in a negative way, then by all means some action must be taken.

As for your friend, she is probably just going through a rough time right now and is a bit irrational. Try to give her as much support as you can and explain to her that maybe training in aikido will help her ex. Hopefully, if you give her a little time to come around she will start to understand.

Good luck with everything

anonymous
03-10-2007, 08:48 PM
Wow, thanks for all the great insights! This has really been a learning experience for me and it helps to hear different viewpoints and ways to look at the situation.

anonymous
03-10-2007, 09:48 PM
In my view, unless she threw him out, left, fought back, got a restraining order, etc.. the first time something happened, she was complicit in the situation and bears some responsibility.

Mr. "Wilbanks", are YOU the abuser who provoked this situation???

As a survivor of an abusive relationship, I want you to understand clearly that your words of blame toward the woman who escaped from an abusive relationship are extremely DAMAGING and unnecessary - and totally NOT aiki - besides being 100% wrong.
Relational abusers are, by necessity, masters of deception and psychological control. This has its own cute little name - "cycle of violence" - and its purpose is to make the abused partner feel too afraid or powerless to leave the abusive relationship.

It is VERY IMPORTANT for the person who posted this question to stay connected to and supportive of her friend who survived the abuse (regardless of who trains where). Recent survivors of violence often fear that others who come into contact with their abuser will also be drawn into the his control. It's even possible the abuser joined the dojo solely to try to put that friendship into question.

Once this guy figures out that he cannot destroy the friendship, he will most likely get bored with Aikido and leave the dojo on his own - his old tricks won't work on the mat, and he is not just going to magically "get better" through Aikido training. Some people do "get better" through Aikido when training over an extended period of time under one sensei, but only because they want to - and make no mistake, a repeated pattern of domestic abuse is NOT a cry for help.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-11-2007, 12:43 AM
Anon, IP: --.237.102.144,

You do a good job illustrating my point about the dangers of therapeutic and psychological thought run amuck. It's too bad that bad things happened to you, but it doesn't give you a license to accuse people who disagree with you of being criminals. It doesn't endow you with proprietary judgement on what is and isn't "aiki", or the power to decree my opinion as 100% wrong by mere assertion. It also doesn't make you psychic. Your advice to anon involves some pretty bizarrely specific suppositions about a scenario you know little about.

I don't know anything about what you went through or what kind of help you got, but if you think this post exhibits rational behavior, I think you have some more work to do. This is exactly what I was talking about in my posts. Dealing with your own internal stuff is important, but it's also important to behave like civilized person in the world. Good luck.

Lorien Lowe
03-18-2007, 06:15 PM
My dojo had something similar to this once; the difference was that he had been training a while before she came to the dojo, and people already knew and were friendly with him. She ended up leaving, but word had gotten around and people started acting differently towards him so that he eventually left as well.

Her version of events was somewhat different from his, though I think that they were both telling the truth as they saw it. All-in-all, it was a sad case. I think that training would have helped them both, in this individual case.