PDA

View Full Version : Aggressive sensei or high expectations?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Brian22
06-16-2007, 04:02 PM
I have a teacher that will occasionally pull me out while I am practising a technique and he will perform the next technique on me before he demonstrates it to the class. I enjoy this because he moves very quickly and makes me stay focused on my ability to flow with him and really tests mu ukemi.
Recently he performed a technique on me where I had reached my limit of flexibility and I had to tap out, but he continued until I had to counter with some wrestling moves to save my elbow. After I was out of danger I began to flow with him again and he torqued my arm very aggressively as he gave a sly grin to my waiting partner. :disgust:

I need advise. I don't want to disrespect the art or my teacher by using outside techniques, I don't want to challenge my teacher by fighting against him, and I definitely don't want him to stop challenging me with difficult techniques. But the last thing I would accept is being hurt because my teacher wants to get his jollies by hurting a compliant Uke.

What do you think? Was he trying to train me or was he just showing me how good he is?
All respect to my teacher, but is this common?
:ai: :ki: :do:

George S. Ledyard
06-16-2007, 05:00 PM
I don't want to disrespect the art or my teacher by using outside techniques, I don't want to challenge my teacher by fighting against him, and I definitely don't want him to stop challenging me with difficult techniques. But the last thing I would accept is being hurt because my teacher wants to get his jollies by hurting a compliant Uke.

First, you do whatever you need to do to stay safe. If you think he is really trying to hurt you, leave. DO NOT TREAT THIS ATTITUDE AS BEING PART OF YOUR TRAINING; it isn't.

You might take a look at the issue of whether there was something you could have done to have taken better ukemi. A lot of folks get hurt accidentally or are easily hurt by those who are not careful with them because they carry too much tension.

But that said, this game of "challenge me and I'll put the hurt on you" is dangerous. a) you are cooperating as uke and b) the teacher is ostensibly more skilled than you are. So it's a no win. There's a point at which you have to say "no". If they wish to try to hurt you, offer the the option of going out to the parking lot where there are no "ukes" and "nages". The problem with doing that to the guy who runs the show is that it would usually mean you are going to have to train elsewhere.

People stay with abusive teachers for decades and have all sorts of justifications for why they do. Often it's because they want to learn what the guy knows technically. But what is really the point of training? Is it to master the techniques of the art, which I can assure you, no one in the real world cares about one iota, or is it to become the kind of person you'd like to be? Training under someone who can only manifest technique but isn't representative of the kind of person you are striving to become isn't a good idea.

There are two ways you can go with the art. You can allow the pursuit of knowledge to shape you over time, in ways that you probably can't anticipate. Or you can allow your own dysfunction to shape how you manifest the art. In other words you can choose to let the art manifest through you or you can choose to manifest yourself through the techniques of the art. All sorts of dysfunctional people have attained some level of competence in technique but have gone to the "dark side" so to speak. Their version of the art simply manifests their dysfunction. I don't think it's useful, in the long run, to place oneself in a position to learn the art from someone who isn't the kind of person one can respect for their character and integrity.

Aristeia
06-16-2007, 06:14 PM
this really annoys the hell out of me. I've seen other instructers continue to torque a pin after uke has started tapping - obviously thinking they are helping them with their flexibility. This is nonsense and it is arrogant for an instructor to assume he knows more about ukes limitations than uke does. The tap is sacrosanct. If you are in the class of someone who does not absolutely and universally respect the tap - go find another class imo.

James Young
06-16-2007, 10:19 PM
Training under someone who can only manifest technique but isn't representative of the kind of person you are striving to become isn't a good idea.

This is great advice. I've seen teachers who are good technically but I haven't had any desire to have a teacher-student relationship with because of this very point. Teachers don't have to be saints or without flaw but you should be able to respect them for their character and not just position and ability.

Abusive dojos can be like abusive relationships, where both sides seem to give justification for continuing with the staus quo. However if it continues in the end it's not worth it. I understand it can be a difficult conversation to have with a sensei, but it's absolutely necessary. Good senseis and senpai know how to push you to your limits to help you grow without risking injury. Don't wait until you're seriously injured and unable to practice for several months or worse permanently. That's a no-win situation for everybody.

bkedelen
06-16-2007, 10:34 PM
A tap is a tap. Even the most ruthless submission specialists know to treat your training partner the way you wish to be treated.

Aristeia
06-16-2007, 10:38 PM
if you dont respect my tap you break the covenant by which training is possible. When you break that there is no trust and without trust there is no real training.

Amir Krause
06-17-2007, 02:38 AM
Hi Brian

Did you ask your teacher? It may have been a misunderstanding? He may have not heard / noticed (it happens). And in some cases it is you who actually increase the pressure on your elbow while he tries to relieve it.

The tap is sacrosanct

A tap is a tap, but it does not necessarily mean "leave me", but rather "I am in pain and feeling close to damage". An experienced teacher can and should be able to feel your situation even without the tap.
Once Uke taps, Tori should not leave him be, in some techniques this can be very dangerous and get Uke flailing in the air with no direction. It is also a non martial habit (he taps - release instinctively). The tap signals Tori to re-evaluate the situation based on Uke announcement and change his actions accordingly (in normal training - safely stop and do not increase the pressure).

There are even exceptional cases in which a teacher should continue based on his senses rather then let go with the tap ( it might be a special situation with a student who underestimates his own ability, or because of other activities).

Amir

Aristeia
06-17-2007, 04:40 AM
the tap is part of the agreement. I agree to let you train with my body, you agree that when I tap you release the pressure on that body. If you don't you break the agreement. I don't think you should ever second guess the tap - sometimes you may not even know why they're tapping. They may have a pre existing injury, they may be tapping cause their toe is caught in your hakama, who the hell knows. The point is the tap is the way we say "stop and stop right now". Anyone that sits there and says "I hear you telling me to stop but I don't beleive you" needs to be talked to imo. coming from an instructor, upon whom others will presumably model their behavioiur - it's unforgiveable.

Aikilove
06-17-2007, 06:03 AM
The tap issacrosanct! If a new student tap early (as a senior it's usually easy to notice a tap from inexperience and fear and one from physiological reasons) I always decrease pressure (It's necessary if you want to teach/instil trust in your training-partners. Trust is the basis of all training in aikido - I don't hurt you - you don't hurt me. Ever!
After I've decreased the pressure, in those cases I don't just let go, but I try to guide uke (beginner) by telling her/him to relax and ask them if it really already hurts. Then slowly I increase pressure until it does and then they know where they should really tap.
I usually use nikkyo to do this with beginners. It's essential that they know where the limit is for all to benifit from the training. The golden rule, however, is: They Tap - You Stop!

/J

Mark Uttech
06-17-2007, 07:13 AM
This is great advice. I've seen teachers who are good technically but I haven't had any desire to have a teacher-student relationship with because of this very point. Teachers don't have to be saints or without flaw but you should be able to respect them for their character and not just position and ability.

Abusive dojos can be like abusive relationships, where both sides seem to give justification for continuing with the staus quo. However if it continues in the end it's not worth it. I understand it can be a difficult conversation to have with a sensei, but it's absolutely necessary. Good senseis and senpai know how to push you to your limits to help you grow without risking injury. Don't wait until you're seriously injured and unable to practice for several months or worse permanently. That's a no-win situation for everybody.

This part of aikido training really needs to be stressed. To control your uke without injuring is excellent instructor training. The evolution and continuance of aikido depends on this simple fact.

In gassho,

Mark

darin
06-17-2007, 08:05 AM
I think if he continues to hurt you after you've tapped then you need to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself. On the flip side, you get new students or visitors who try to challenge students and instructors by resisting/trying to fight out of locks and throws. Anyway both situations are examples of insecure people worried about their ego.

jennifer paige smith
06-17-2007, 11:17 AM
O'Sensei referred to aikido as the Way of the Mountain Echo Path (see todays aikiweb quote). A path of communication with nature that we can find through his path. We emulate the ideals of communication through our structures in practice. The Tap is our most relied on tool for communicating. If the tap isn't honored, communication has been hi-jacked and someone has stepped outside of nature.
Now, there are times when Sensei does make exceptions to this rule for the growth of a student. This is also a point that needs to be communicated precisely. Not leaving you wondering WTF?

Just like in relationships rules of silence are abusive. Talking takes courage. But that is why we're here, right?

Courage,wisdom,love and friendship.-O'Sensei

Marc Abrams
06-17-2007, 04:17 PM
George Sensei's response was SPOT ON. I have heard of, and have even observed more abusive teacher-student relationships in Aikido than I EVER observed in any other "hard" art or fighting sport. When a person signals someone to stop and that person does not stop, that is nothing less than a form of sadistic abuse. Teachers have no more right than anybody else to engage in this lower than whale sh*t type of behavior. I personally believe that the teacher has a higher obligation to protect the safety of students, than the obligation of students training with one another.

marc abrams

Brian22
06-18-2007, 12:20 AM
It sounds like aggressive teachers behave this way sometimes in aikido classes. I would like to study Kaeshiwaza, not to one up anyone, but to at least be able to avoid the extreme pain of full nikkyo again. Any advise?
:straightf
:ai: :ki: :do:

Aristeia
06-18-2007, 12:34 AM
yes - train somewhere where you feel safe.

jennifer paige smith
06-18-2007, 09:57 AM
It sounds like aggressive teachers behave this way sometimes in aikido classes. I would like to study Kaeshiwaza, not to one up anyone, but to at least be able to avoid the extreme pain of full nikkyo again. Any advise?
:straightf
:ai: :ki: :do:

Kaeshiwaza may actaually take you deeper into the pain of Nikkyo, because it takes you deeper into everything. If you have not been practicing for several years, or in some way incorporated principles of aiki into your concious practice, then you may likely begin to fall into reversal madness; that is a place where you no longer listen to the instruction being offered and are looking for a way out. This can decend into competiton very quickly and will hinder your practice.Kaeshi is a method of advanced joining that is difficult for even the most advanced praticioner.
Having said all of that, Kaeshi is an amazing practice and if you have a trusted sempai to guide you in this practice it will open up your practice to deeper effectiveness and more sustaining, positive flow.
Good Luck in Your Journey,
Jen Smith

tarik
06-18-2007, 10:32 AM
What do you think? Was he trying to train me or was he just showing me how good he is?


Ask him. Respectfully and without challenging him or what he did, let him know your concerns. His response will tell you what you need to know (whether or not he admits to actually showing off).


All respect to my teacher, but is this common?
:ai: :ki: :do:

As you can see from other responses, this sort of thing does happen all too often in the wrong fashion, but there are also simple misunderstandings and misjudgements.

Regards,

Hanna B
06-18-2007, 11:45 AM
Actually, I think part of the problem with this kind of teachers is that nobody tells them their view on what they are doing. They are just human, but they have this "sensei" halo on which makes people not question what they are doing - at least not to their faces.

If you want to stay, you should talk to him about it, tell your view on it and listen to his response. If you are leaving, you are doing him a favour if you have talked about it with him. Maybe talking to him, continue training for a while and decide after that if you still want to train with him is a reasonable approach?

Upyu
06-19-2007, 10:21 PM
A tap is a tap. Even the most ruthless submission specialists know to treat your training partner the way you wish to be treated.

Welll...i dunno about that...I know plenty of dick submission guys here in the Tokyo area :D

jennifer paige smith
06-20-2007, 09:29 AM
Welll...i dunno about that...I know plenty of dick submission guys here in the Tokyo area :D

Do the submission guys you know call each other 'partner' or 'opponent'?

gdandscompserv
06-20-2007, 11:39 AM
Do the submission guys you know call each other 'partner' or 'opponent'?
I think they just call each other "dick.";)

jennifer paige smith
06-20-2007, 02:00 PM
I think they just call each other "dick.";)

Good one.:D

Upyu
06-20-2007, 07:10 PM
Do the submission guys you know call each other 'partner' or 'opponent'?

What you call each other doesnt really matter Jennifer.
Most Japanese guys are polite on the outside, (tatemae), but its the ones that say "oh lets go light" that you have to watch out for.
I remember the captain of a certain group put a neck crank on me rather severely after failing to lock any sort of submission on me for about 3-4 minutes in a five minute session. It was probably mainly due to the fact that his wife and kid were there and he felt like he had to save face.
In return I punched him from the bottom of the mount position, flipped him over, and suddenly he was all ears as to what I was doing <sigh> (plus everyone in the group was suddenly a whole lot nicer)

Unless you're on the "in" with a group here in Japan (especially in the MMA area) dont be surprised if you run into a few testosterone fueled idiots. The problem for most foreigners is that they cant pick those guys out...thinking that the politeness being exhibited is genuine :D

That neck crank f@#$@#ing hurt though. I had to end up seeing a semi chiro guy to get it fixed. By the by, for injuries of that sort, I highly recommend someone skilled in "Soutaihou". They manipulate your body without using any pressure or massage. Simply using the muscles natural reactions to restore full range of motion.

jennifer paige smith
06-20-2007, 07:36 PM
What you call each other doesnt really matter Jennifer.
Most Japanese guys are polite on the outside, (tatemae), but its the ones that say "oh lets go light" that you have to watch out for.
I remember the captain of a certain group put a neck crank on me rather severely after failing to lock any sort of submission on me for about 3-4 minutes in a five minute session. It was probably mainly due to the fact that his wife and kid were there and he felt like he had to save face.
In return I punched him from the bottom of the mount position, flipped him over, and suddenly he was all ears as to what I was doing <sigh> (plus everyone in the group was suddenly a whole lot nicer)

Unless you're on the "in" with a group here in Japan (especially in the MMA area) dont be surprised if you run into a few testosterone fueled idiots. The problem for most foreigners is that they cant pick those guys out...thinking that the politeness being exhibited is genuine :D

That neck crank f@#$@#ing hurt though. I had to end up seeing a semi chiro guy to get it fixed. By the by, for injuries of that sort, I highly recommend someone skilled in "Soutaihou". They manipulate your body without using any pressure or massage. Simply using the muscles natural reactions to restore full range of motion.

I get what your saying. Interesting post.

I would love to say that the phenomena of 'let's go light people' who turn around and "crack you" are exclusive to the island of Japan, but alas, they are everywhere. Indeed I have found myself surrounded by 'in groups' of testosterone fueled idiots more than once in my Aikido training in America and otherwise as I live in and amongst gangs of many varieties including martial
'yakuza'. You betcha I can pick 'em out ( I even picked one up once, but that is a story for another day:) ). Deception lies in every form.

My jist with the question was to talk about the relationship structure in Aikido where we view the person training with us as a partner in learning and not a punching bag to demonstrate our might upon (not that all 'opponents' are punching bags, either). If the relationship structure of the school is one where partnerships are developed for learning in the tradition of non-competitive aikido, than that is the name of the game for the student and the teacher both. If the teacher views you, in some respect, as an opponent and you are not participating in that kind of game, then beware or begone.
Teachers are not equals in the dojo. We are the exemplars of conduct and we need to check ourselves and be checked about our attitudes and relationships in the context of our professed philosophy. Words and names can help establish what these relationships are. Morse code, or tapping, is one communicaton method of following through on our intention to learn together in an agreed upon fashion. We are not fighting in Aikido. In the case of a true need to fight; all social rules may go out the window because it is a matter of survivial.

By the way, you may call me Jen. And thanks for the body work tip.:)

Mark Uttech
06-21-2007, 12:30 PM
Jennifer Smith wrote: "We are not fighting in aikido." This one thing seems to be the hardest thing to learn about the art, and the difficulty includes everyone.

In gassho,

Mark

tarik
06-22-2007, 10:10 AM
Jennifer Smith wrote: "We are not fighting in aikido." This one thing seems to be the hardest thing to learn about the art, and the difficulty includes everyone.


Yep. I'd go so far as to say that this is a major problem in aikido and perhaps exceptionally unique to aikido due to it's association with non-violence, which has quite a different connotation and meaning outside of budo than inside, IMO.

A significant number of people in the aikido world spend a LOT of time fighting instead of real learning. There are extremes. I'd also say that there is a significant number of people who are actively changing (or selecting) aikido to fit their (pre-aikido) idea of what "not fighting" means before they've submitted themselves to the full experience and another yet another significant number that keep trying to "add back in" what that group has taken out.

Needless to say, most of this fighting has little to do with actual training.

Regards,

Josh Reyer
06-23-2007, 09:38 AM
Do the submission guys you know call each other 'partner' or 'opponent'?

If they're Japanese, the answer is "Yes." :) The Japanese term used in this kind situation is "aite" 相手, which means both "partner" and "opponent".

jennifer paige smith
06-23-2007, 09:51 AM
If they're Japanese, the answer is "Yes." :) The Japanese term used in this kind situation is "aite" ??, which means both "partner" and "opponent".

We teach using the languge of aite also. We express this to mean 'mutual hand'.

pezalinski
06-26-2007, 05:07 PM
Aikido is my favorite form of "catch and release," but I do not see the "Tap" as being 'sacrosanct' and a part of an unwritten contract for immediate and unequivocal release from a hold.

A "tap" is an agreed-upon form of non-verbal communications signaling submission on the part of the tapper; The"vigor" of the tap is usually a direct indicator of the sincerity of the tap and the depth of the fear of potential injury on the part of the tapper; the response to the tap by the person inflicting the pin should vary according to circumstances. In my experience, the "tap" is not the only form of communication available in this situation -- a verbal reinforcement is usually recommended, especially a kiai, if you feel you are seriously endangered.Tapping with more than one limb (flopping like a fish) may also be called for, especially if you've trapped your only free limb, or under "busy" circumstances. Failure to communicate that you are tapping and/or submitting is construed as failure to submit, and has consequences...

Between two unfamiliar practitioners, one would assume that a tap means, "Please release me, I have no intention to cause you further injury, please do not cause me any further injury." This should result in a controlled release of the pin, and a safe separation of the two parties. A certain degree of trust is required, of course, as a part of that agreement.

Between familiar practitioners, especially between a student and an instructor, the tap maybe a signal of submission for this phase of the technique, and may simply result in a transfer to a different pin, and another tap, or a throw... Again, this is a learned agreement between the two parties.

The final allowable situation is one that plays at the edges of abusive behavior for the sake of education: Beginners (and even us oldsters) need to know the difference between pain thresholds for "This is uncomfortable" and "this will cause damage." Sometimes, the old stand-by, "no pain, no gain" is actually true. Certain counter techniques cannot be executed unless you know the difference between "this is gonna cause me some temporary pain, but be effective," and "this will damage my body." This is territory not to be stepped into lightly, nor should it be stepped into frequently - Neither should it be outright banned.

One needs to know what one's limits are, and how one responds at those limits. That being said, I also agree that truly abusive behavior should not be tolerated. But it can be a fine line, sometimes.:uch:

gdandscompserv
07-03-2007, 08:43 AM
Regarding aggressive sensei's I found this interview interesting.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=373

jennifer paige smith
07-04-2007, 11:00 AM
Aikido is my favorite form of "catch and release," but I do not see the "Tap" as being 'sacrosanct' and a part of an unwritten contract for immediate and unequivocal release from a hold.

A "tap" is an agreed-upon form of non-verbal communications signaling submission on the part of the tapper; The"vigor" of the tap is usually a direct indicator of the sincerity of the tap and the depth of the fear of potential injury on the part of the tapper; the response to the tap by the person inflicting the pin should vary according to circumstances. In my experience, the "tap" is not the only form of communication available in this situation -- a verbal reinforcement is usually recommended, especially a kiai, if you feel you are seriously endangered.Tapping with more than one limb (flopping like a fish) may also be called for, especially if you've trapped your only free limb, or under "busy" circumstances. Failure to communicate that you are tapping and/or submitting is construed as failure to submit, and has consequences...

Between two unfamiliar practitioners, one would assume that a tap means, "Please release me, I have no intention to cause you further injury, please do not cause me any further injury." This should result in a controlled release of the pin, and a safe separation of the two parties. A certain degree of trust is required, of course, as a part of that agreement.

Between familiar practitioners, especially between a student and an instructor, the tap maybe a signal of submission for this phase of the technique, and may simply result in a transfer to a different pin, and another tap, or a throw... Again, this is a learned agreement between the two parties.

The final allowable situation is one that plays at the edges of abusive behavior for the sake of education: Beginners (and even us oldsters) need to know the difference between pain thresholds for "This is uncomfortable" and "this will cause damage." Sometimes, the old stand-by, "no pain, no gain" is actually true. Certain counter techniques cannot be executed unless you know the difference between "this is gonna cause me some temporary pain, but be effective," and "this will damage my body." This is territory not to be stepped into lightly, nor should it be stepped into frequently - Neither should it be outright banned.

One needs to know what one's limits are, and how one responds at those limits. That being said, I also agree that truly abusive behavior should not be tolerated. But it can be a fine line, sometimes.:uch:

This is well said and In looking at Peter Zalinskis avatar I am reminded of the brilliant boundry established by the line of the sword. One side of the blade is the 'sword that gives life' and the other side is the 'sword that takes life'. The question in training ,as uke, is 'am I being cut?' and 'which side am I being cut with?'. It takes much exposure to develop such discernment, and it takes a lot of listening to the instruction of the sword itself, beyond the struggle of people. When we struggle too much it makes it difficult to interpret the swords message: there is a line, how do you live it?
Nice inspirational post. Thanks Peter Zalinski.

Jonathan Punt
07-05-2007, 06:43 AM
Im my opinion, if you tap and your instructor continuously pushes you further than necessary I dont think it would be disrespectful to mention it to him. After all he is disrespecting you by not paying any attention to your surrender.

If this fails then tap out early to protect yourself.

graham
07-05-2007, 07:48 AM
All I know is that if my Sensei ignored my taps to teach me how much pain I can take, I'd find anothe club.

I may be a newbie, but I'm also an adult, a person with aches and pains that Sensei will not always appreciate and, importantly, someone who has to go to work in the morning.

This is Aikido, after all.

Basia Halliop
07-05-2007, 09:50 AM
All I know is that if my Sensei ignored my taps to teach me how much pain I can take, I'd find another club.

Yes... if someone intentionally did that my respect for them (not to mention trust) would really plummet.

Rocky Izumi
09-13-2007, 11:58 PM
It is interesting to see that most of us know how to push ourselves beyond our self-imposed limitations without help from outside. If we have such sufficient capabilities to go beyond ourselves, I guess we really don't need our teachers or any other role models.

I thought one attribute of a teacher was to be a leader. If that is so, since a leader is, in part, someone who will take us beyond what we alone are capable, then it is one function of the teacher to take you beyond your present capabilities, including, the level of flexibility and strength.

Yes, I have had teachers who without knowing what they were doing, injured me (chronically), in trying to extend my range of flexibility when I was younger. That was poor teaching and poor knowledge of the body in those teachers. My present Shihan used to push me past my point of self-imposed tolerance many times in my younger days but those lessons never did injure me, they just hurt.

Now, I have learned to push myself beyond my own usual self-imposed limits at times to try and improve. Of course, this means getting the help of my students to do so. So, I tell them do not stop putting the pin on when I tap the first time, just slow down. I like them to keep going until I tap the second time if they are not doing the pin correctly or the third time if they are doing it correctly so that it will hurt but not injure.

I will also get some of my Yudansha friends to see how hard they can throw me so that I can practice extreme Ukemi. Of course, I have to take a few days off after something like that. We did one of those a few weeks back, trying to see from how high and far we could do a hand-spring Ukemi. I had to take a day off from training after that one to put my spine and hip back in. Getting old is pain.

I do push my students once in a while, especially on the pain side but I reserve such real practice for my best students who can reciprocate for me. Regular students don't get to, nor do they want to, participate. I guess that is why they will always be just regular students. After all, why would you want to go even 90 percent with anyone but the people you trust and believe in unless you are a masochist and have a death wish.

Rock

Erik Jögimar
09-14-2007, 02:13 AM
It's a shitty situation, sad to say :(

I'd have to agree with those who said that it's time to find a new teacher or dojo altogether. One of the most important things
that i have learned from my two weeks (up on three now) of
training in aikido is that i do trust those i practice with. We've
recently met, granted, but there is the mutual respect and "I dont hurt you, and you dont hurt me" attitude. This shouldn't just be between
students but teachers and students as well. But i have to say i also agree with that teachers have to help overcome limits. The self imposed ones anyway. Talk to him, and if it doesnt change, find
another dojo. You're there to learn, not to get injured.

Basia Halliop
09-14-2007, 09:12 AM
Rocky, if you _told_ them to do that, and agreed on a different way of communicating (1 tap = slow down, 3 taps = stop, or whatever you want) then of course it's different. Consent is kind of the whole point.

Rocky Izumi
09-14-2007, 01:07 PM
Rocky, if you _told_ them to do that, and agreed on a different way of communicating (1 tap = slow down, 3 taps = stop, or whatever you want) then of course it's different. Consent is kind of the whole point.

By attending that teacher's classes and paying for them, you consented to his or her training methods. As always, you have the option of leaving that instructor. Take your destiny into your own hands.

And, no, it's not something you tell one another, it just happens. It probably happens because we try to make sure that the practitioners do not let off on a pin too quickly. Let down should be as slow as the tightening as injuries to the tendons and ligaments can happen as much when retracting as when stretching. When you let down slowly, the 1-2-3 taps just happens and if the person starts to counter too soon when you are letting them out of the pin, you have to put the pin on harder until they really tap out. It is kind of like not handing the knife back directly to your opponent during Tanto Dori.

When dealing with a subject that has been violent and you have calmed them down by putting on a pin or lock, you have to be careful when letting them up and be ready to put the lock or pin right back on even harder than it was before when the subject decides to retaliate after you let them up. So, you never let anyone out of a pin too fast and sometimes practice putting the pin right back on when your partner decides to try and counter as you let them out of the pin.

Some schools will have a more aggressive attitude towards practice and others will have a more placid attitude. It depends on who teaches, the environment in which they teach, and the spirit of the particular practice at which you are practicing. The nature of my work and that of the majority of my students and the locations at which my students practice tend to push for a more aggressive attitude at practice. We often power it down when guests come but the nature of the people at the Dojo require that we practice the way we do. I also have other Dojos where the people are very different and the practice is very different and I tend to be a lot easier going.

As a chief instructor, I have to be able to assess the nature of the people I am instructing so that I can tell whether they want me to push them further or if they want to stay within their comfort zone. I have to be able to tell whether the people are hard-as-nails type of people or gentle souls or vampire-killer werewolves. My instructional style, and sometimes even the types of techniques, and how I teach have to fit their needs and wants. It is no use teaching Aiki-dancing to someone living in a war zone and looking for a way to survive, or vice versa.

I guess my point is that requisite variety and freedom of choice are corollaries. It is only worth having freedom of choice if there is a sufficient variety of choices. Thus, we should not cut down those Dojos where the instructor pushes all the students or even those Dojos where they practice Aiki-Dancing or even those McDojos that practice Mckido. Without the bad we would have no good and life would be a lot more boring.

Rock

Basia Halliop
09-14-2007, 03:00 PM
I guess I don't see how 'aggressive practice' could line up in any way with not having some quick way of telling nage to stop. It seems like the more aggressive your practice, the more you have an actual need for that. I just can't for the life of me see a benefit or justification for throwing that out :confused:.

Different dojos might have different conventions for what that is that are understood among you, I suppose. It's not like it has to be tapping.

Ron Tisdale
09-17-2007, 12:22 PM
I have no way of answering the OP without training in that dojo, and observing for myself.

I really liked Rocky's posts on this subject. Different dojo and different people within a dojo will have different limits and different ways of dealing with those limits. Be carefull, and make sure your partners and instructor know what you are up for.

Also be carefull that you are consistent in the messages you send to your partners.

Best,
Ron

Hebrew Hammer
09-18-2007, 11:49 PM
Has anyone considered this something more primal....could the instructor simply be trying to establish dominance? Brian mentioned he had a wrestling background, the instructor maybe intimidated or 'threated' by Brians physical prowess. I know it may sound simplistic, but much like the MMA poster (Robert) training in Japan mentioned with any group of men, that I've ever seen, they will eventually try to establish some sort of pecking order, sometimes its overt aggressiveness (the neck crank) and sometimes its more subtle. I certainly would think most instructors would be above this but I'm postive it happens.

Walter Martindale
09-19-2007, 07:13 AM
Well, I was going to reply, and then I read Rocky's replies... I much agree. I was at practice the other night (I'm a recently graded shodan) and was practicing with the sensei at my new dojo.

Tap... pin slows down. breathe, (holy poop, OW) tap again, pin freezes... pin holds.. breathe, try to relax... actually relax a bit... tap again, pin is eased off.

See.. I NEED stretching because I'm old, injured up, and very tight. I think this sensei can sense when I need more stretching and provides if for me. Oh.. I trust the sensei at my current dojo - He's pushing my limits without harming me.. Hurt, yes, it hurts Harm, no, not quite. He could, if he was being nasty, a bully, or whatever, straight up rip my shoulder off, but he stretches me...
There's a difference.
Your sensei COULD (because you've given him/her your body to use for demonstration/practice) tear your shoulder off. Sounds to me like he's helping you extend your limits.
Cheers
W

mriehle
09-20-2007, 12:30 PM
Okay, I'm ready to chime in. At least partially because of Rocky's comments.

Here's the thing: the difference between "aggressive sensei" and "high expectations" is intent. Period.

If his intent is to hurt you or to be mean or to be (is this too obvious?) aggressive, then you have the aggressive sensei. If his intent is to stretch your limits, challenge you, take you out of your comfort zone (as described in Rocky's comments) then you have the sensei with high expectations.

Only you, the one on the mat with the sensei, can decide which you believe it to be. Clearly, if you decide it's the aggressive sensei, it's time to go. But if it's the sensei who is challenging you another decision must be made. And guess whose decision it is; yep, yours.

That decision is about whether you trust that sensei. If you can't trust him, you can't accept the challenges he offers. Tough luck, move on.

If you trust your sensei, then whining about him being too hard on you is completely inappropriate. Shut up and get on with your training.

I actively discourage the whole "Sensei is Like Unto A GOD" attitude, but it's just possible he knows a little more about Aikido training than you do. If you are going to benefit from what he knows, you are going to have to accept the training the way he offers it.

If you can't, you need to move on even if he is a good teacher.

jonreading
09-20-2007, 01:29 PM
I would rather not use "aggressive" in a negative context. I have seen plenty of aikido that would be considered aggressive that is excellent stuff. I would rather use the term "malevolence" to describe behavior intent upon injury.

That said, malevolence has no place in a dojo. A proper dodjo is far too dangerous to harbor any negative behavior beyond the inherent risks of training. If sensei is deliberately injuring, that is not a safe environement.

Two comments:
1. I sometimes work with my students and push them beyond a physical limit to share the discomfort of technique, the reality of pain in training, or the consequesnces of poor technique. For example, it is difficult to learn pressure point aplication without applying pressure points to someone (or yourself). This is voluntary bye the way...
2. Sometimes I will have a &^%$& student decide he (or she) is not going to respect the seriousness of a situation, in which case I will hold a pin longer to reinforce the nature of discomfort and compliance. This also helps illustrate his (or her) response is not the correct one.

I believe discomfort is part of good aikido training. But I also believe that discomfort is part of learning. I do not support causing unecessary discomfort without the learning component. Finally, causing discomfort should always be circumstantial. I would never force a student beyond a physcial, mental, of social limitation without their consent.

Rocky Izumi
09-20-2007, 11:29 PM
One way to tell if the person you are working with is being malevolent is to see if they want what they dish out, back. Those times I've played with someone I thought was malevolent, I just thanked them and notched up my intensity a bit. If they smiled and kept going, especially with a thanks reply, great! Most who were simply being malevolent got a lot nicer real quick. With those who became indignant, I simply notched up my intensity even higher. What is good for the goose is good for the turkey. :p

Rock

P.S. That includes those who are of higher rank than me by a dan grade or so.

Reminds me of time my Shihan had me work over a Godan when I was a Sandan because the Godan was being too rough with the beginners. He just said: Go over there and work out with . . . .

R

Ron Tisdale
09-21-2007, 11:00 AM
Hey Rock,

Seen that one myself! Usually works wonders. :D

But what do you do when you have someone who eats that kind of stuff up, and it doesn't even phase them? There are some nasty people out there that are still physically top notch. I (unfortunately) don't always see a correlation between rank and ethics...

Best,
Ron

mriehle
09-21-2007, 05:05 PM
One way to tell if the person you are working with is being malevolent is to see if they want what they dish out, back.

And, mostly, I agree.

The one caveat I would have, though, is illustrated best by something I do as a teacher.

I really can't handle some of the more physical high falls anymore. My body just won't put up with it. I don't have to like it (and I don't), but I do have to live with it.

Nonetheless, I have some younger students who need to be "tossed about" a bit. I avoided doing this to them for a while after I realized I couldn't take equal treatment feeling like I would just be self-indulgent - a bully - if I did. Then I had a major wakeup call on the subject.

One of my students was working with a student from an affiliated school and he couldn't handle the falls. I realized it was because he never took falls like that. I further realized the only one in the school who could provide him (and his peers) the opportunity to take those kinds of falls was me. Only me.

So whether I can take it or not, I have to dish it out. Not doing so was severely limiting their training experience.

Followed some heavy duty soul-searching on how to do this without becoming the bully I feared I could become and I settled on a plan which is working and all my students have much better ukemi almost overnight.

I guess the lesson from this is consider the physical limitations of your Shihan/Sensei/Sempai and their personality.

Rocky Izumi
09-21-2007, 06:31 PM
Hey Rock,

Seen that one myself! Usually works wonders. :D

But what do you do when you have someone who eats that kind of stuff up, and it doesn't even phase them? There are some nasty people out there that are still physically top notch. I (unfortunately) don't always see a correlation between rank and ethics...

Best,
Ron

Break them. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for I am the meanest SOB in the valley.

As you get older, you train someone to take your place as my Shihan did with me. Then, you teach them some "special" techniques that you keep behind for use with such nasty people. I guess there is still a place for "secret" techniques.

Rock

Karen Wolek
09-21-2007, 11:04 PM
>>Last edited by mriehle : Yesterday at 06:10 PM. Reason: Removed story about Shihan. It's worthwhile story, but misplaced in this thread. It just sounds like complaining here.>>

Awwwwww, I wanna hear the story, Uncle Michael! Come on, pretty please???? ;)

mriehle
09-24-2007, 02:23 PM
Awwwwww, I wanna hear the story, Uncle Michael! Come on, pretty please???? ;)

Okay Here you go. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13293)

mriehle
09-24-2007, 02:27 PM
As you get older, you train someone to take your place as my Shihan did with me.

Yep. I see this as the ultimate solution.

Unfortunately, my school is small enough that my remaining yudansha student is 15 years older than I am. The teenager went off to college.

Still, I just had four students get their first kyu on Saturday. They're junior students (River Rats), so they're up for their Jr. Shodan (not the same as an adult shodan), still...

Ron Tisdale
09-24-2007, 03:33 PM
Hi Rock,

This is one of the reasons I don't want to teach. I find that idea scary. I'm not saying it isn't needed sometimes, just that I don't want to be the person to make that judgement. I have accidentally hurt and injured people in the past...It still shapes how I train now, I feel so badly about it. I don't know how I would deal with it if I did it in training, on purpose.

Off the mat under real threat is something else...some idiot steps up, you do what you can. Not good for them...oh well.

But in training is something different. I'd have to feel I had a REAL GOOD reason to break someone.

Best,
Ron (The more I train, the more I respect the good teachers out there, and the less I want to do it)
Break them. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for I am the meanest SOB in the valley.

As you get older, you train someone to take your place as my Shihan did with me. Then, you teach them some "special" techniques that you keep behind for use with such nasty people. I guess there is still a place for "secret" techniques.

Rock

Rocky Izumi
09-25-2007, 01:16 AM
Hi Rock,

This is one of the reasons I don't want to teach. I find that idea scary. I'm not saying it isn't needed sometimes, just that I don't want to be the person to make that judgement. I have accidentally hurt and injured people in the past...It still shapes how I train now, I feel so badly about it. I don't know how I would deal with it if I did it in training, on purpose.

Off the mat under real threat is something else...some idiot steps up, you do what you can. Not good for them...oh well.

But in training is something different. I'd have to feel I had a REAL GOOD reason to break someone.

Best,
Ron (The more I train, the more I respect the good teachers out there, and the less I want to do it)

Agreed on all counts. My take on it is that the Shihan-Dai, Chief Instructor, has the ultimate responsibility on the mats, no matter who hurts whom for whatever reason and in whatever manner. Many times I have had to take a student to the hospital emergency and sit there all night and go to work the next day. If there is a bully on the mats, that is also the Shihan-Dai's responsibility to deal with it. The students shouldn't have to. It is also the responsibility of the Shihan-Dai to know how far to take someone whether it is for stretching someone's limits or keeping them in their comfort zone or showing someone what they are doing to someone else. It is also the Shihan-Dai's responsibility to take Ukemi for a strong and rough beginner so that others don't get injured and to show that person that one doesn't have to be rough to be effective (how I've often received a lot of my injuries).

As for bullies, I figure what goes around comes around. There is always someone bigger and stronger and nastier. Sometimes the Shihan-Dai has to be that nastier person. I don't like doing it, never did like doing it since it meant taking as much as giving and being "unbreakable" (even though in private I've had to nurse some bad injuries afterwards).

Breaking the bullying habit is a difficult thing to do and if it is done physically, it is often counterproductive. It can just make them into more of a bully. You have to figure out why someone is being a bully, even it if is an instructor. If someone is being a bully just because they want to express their power over others, then breaking them physically is counterproductive. Being gentle with them and not letting them win no matter what often works better. That is much more frustrating for the bully and being unbreakable yourself eventually allows you to dissipate the need for expressing power. That is even moreso if the bully is an instructor.

If the bully is being so to establish a pecking order, then being broken physically by a lower rank that is physically more able can have good results.

If a bully is being so because of frustration, pain, or other mental or physical interference and is not a normal condition for the bully, then confrontation with their acts is often the most productive approach.

And, if the bully is being a bully because they are scared, then you have to help them control the fear through learning.

The biggest problem I find of dealing with bullying by physically breaking them is that you can easily end up becoming the bully yourself. The counter-terrorist who fights terrorists using terror ends up becoming a terrorist themselves. To avoid that, you have to ensure that you always remember intent and choose a method that reduces the amount of physical punishment to a minimum. You have to know why you are doing it and use all the tools you have rather than resorting to the easiest one. It works best when you really can't do the bullying yourself because you physically can't. You suck it up and do the physical stuff and take care of your wounds later, knowing that you will never ever do it again because you physically can't take it any more. It has to hurt you physically as much as it hurts the bully so that you don't ever want to do it again. That is why I like the approach that you just keep giving back whatever they give you and not giving up until they stop first and ask for quarter. Just don't show the pain and keep going.

Rock

Nikopol
09-25-2007, 04:27 AM
I myself will accept a little added pressure because I trust my sensei and have been given no reason not to. That is the key perhaps. This trust is absolute, yet at the same time it is conditional. I am talking about a very experienced Senpai who releases pressure after a tap, but may perhaps reapply pressure in another direction or the same direction to make a point. Be assured that I am keen to the possibility of damage and would not tolerate it.

Reading these posts, about the tap being sancrosanct, and should the nage second-guess the tap, made me think of the situation involving another kind of pressure between a man and woman, where no means no, though the man may wish to second guess this... and continue to apply pressure. Ultimately it depends on the relationship between the two and the ultimate conduct of the man... or, we hope, gentleman.

Ron Tisdale
09-25-2007, 07:05 AM
Rock, for years I read your posts on the aikido newsletter. It's very good to have you here now. Thanks for teaching us...

Best,
Ron (hoping to share keiko one day)

Rocky Izumi
09-25-2007, 01:19 PM
Thanks Ron,

I appreciate the vote of confidence. I know it gets tougher as we age more. I'm doing modified practice while nursing two broken fingers and a damaged foot right now. It is taking longer and longer to get back into "normal" condition these days. Sooner or later I will have to take on a younger kid to do my dirty work for me who is full of spit and vinegar and teach them how to do this job. Trying right now but few seem to have the spirit or technical ability. And I can't really afford to support them right now.

Rock