View Full Version : Should I stay?

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04-15-2008, 09:31 AM
I was in two minds about if it was a good idea to post this but I figure even if it does not help me it may help someone else out in future.Or provide a debate.

Please keep in mind though I am keeping details to the bare min, I really do not want to be identified and I know some of the people involved do visit aikiweb from time to time.

So the situation in brief is this. For reasons best not discussed here but it does involve in part another member much higher up the chain of command as it where, a very popular Sensei has decided to leave the organisation, may or may not be permanat. And I, knowing his reasons totally respect that decision as if I was in his shoes I would have also left. The fact I would also class him has a friend is possibly not helping the situation any either.

The problem is its now created a lot of bad feeling, at least with me, that the person higher up has took over the Sensei thats left classes. This Sensei is really good at aikido and deserves a lot of respect for that but his people skills suck.He has a total lack of tact and in prior experiances with him I have left the encounters feeling disalusioned, dejected and really not happy. (He has in the past made comments that made me think he does not want females in his classes and since I have that set of genes...) I know others are not happy either and have started looking for alternatives which unfortunatly is something that would not be an option open to me at this time .I have stated to others I would give it a couple of weeks to see how it goes but I am not sure if this is a good idea. Reason being is I am angry with new sensei and feel a whole load of resentment towards him. Something I am struggling to keep under control when I am in his class.

I am in two minds really. I do not want to leave aikido which is what I would have to do if I do not go to this Sensei's class. It would feel like I was letting former Sensei down as he wanted his classes to stay together , myself down as if I leave then its a year down the drain really and oddly make me feel like new Sensei has won. Not exactly sure what though. Plus it could just be a matter of everyone adjusting to the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in and we have to get used to the fact that class will not be fun anymore and if your training with one of the best its worth it even though he sets alarm bells ringing off in your head. Again not exactly certain why but it is just a gut feeling that something is not right.

On the other hand though if a Sensei is not something you get on with both on and off the mat, can you really learn from him? Especially when you know good mates are thinking of leaving because of him and people are not happy.

I guess what I am asking is if you where me, what would you do? Anyone been in similar situations and found it has gotten better?

Just curious to get an outsiders POV on the situation and maybe let someonee with no bias offer some advice.

04-15-2008, 02:54 PM
Your post is very vague (as you warned it would be) on the nature of the problem; I can't tell if the core problem is a difference of teaching or aikido style with which you disagree, or if you're talking about sexual harassment or discrimination issues.

If the problem is harassment, or discrimination -- the sort of things which the women I know would describe as "setting off the alarm bell" in their head -- then you leave immediately. You then discuss the situation and events with another woman whom you trust, and decide wether or not there's anything factual to report to the proper authorities.

If the central problem is stylistic (teaching style, aikido style, etc) then, based on your level of experience, I would encourage you to continue training to see if your perception changes.


04-15-2008, 03:02 PM
Is your old teacher leaving the area? If not is he planning on opening an independent dojo, or willing to teach you privately? Or are there other schools in the area that you might find appealing?

Please don't take this the wrong way, but from the sound of things you've already answered your own question - you should leave. I think maybe at some level you would like to have other people tell you that it's okay to leave, which is understandable. If you are not happy and if you are being hampered in your training and development by your feelings about the new teacher, then by all means it is not only appropriate to leave, it is what you should do.

However, make sure that you do so with grace and decorum. Just a simple "I've been thinking about taking a break for a while and now just seems like a good time to do it" should suffice. Don't go into details, don't make a scene, and don't encourage anyone else to go with you. That way you don't lose face before your old sensei or your new one, and you also leave the door open to return should you choose to do so. If you are able to arrange a private tutelage with your old sensei, don't advertise it to your friends. If another friend leaves and you think he or she might wish to join your private session, then mention it to your sensei and let him decide whether to invite them.

I'm that seems like a right royal pain in the rear, and that from the sound of things you'd much rather let the new guy know exactly how you feel. I know how you feel - I've been there. Just remember, aikido is the Way of Harmony, and ask yourself how the cause of harmony and peace is served by what you say and do.

Good luck. It will not be easy, and you will have regrets. Be prepared to deal with that, keep your bridges intact instead of burning them, and you'll come through this just fine. :)

04-15-2008, 04:54 PM
Two weeks is a pretty short time to make a final judgement. I know once when in high school a teacher I thought I did not like ended up being much better person than another I started liking-they switched in my perceptions.

If sexual harassment is going on or perceived, then it is better being safe. Look around and observe whether you perceive others being treated in the same way.

Nick P.
04-15-2008, 05:15 PM
Stay, go, or.......another option.

You mentioned others who are not happy; consider forming a "study group", in which you and other students could meet and train. Yes, appointing or nominating a senior student to lead class would be required.

The goal, I think, would be continue your (and your fellow classmates) training in a less hostile environment, until a more permanent solution can be found. A Judo dojo or a MMA group will likely be sympathetic to your plight, and allow you to use their space in the off-hours for a nominal fee. Hopefully.

The choice of whether to keep training at your old home dojo while pursuing the study group remains in the hands of each individual, but I mention the idea of the group as a means of hope and possible growth in an otherwise bleak situation.

What is clear from your post, in my view, is that the Sensei leaving and the sucky people skills of his replacement are separate issues. Related, but separate.

Good luck, we're rooting for you, even the for the replacement sensei to come to his senses in a timely manner; it could happen.

04-15-2008, 06:01 PM
Ah Sorry. I should have realised some of the phrasing could lead people onto a different trail of thought. Just to clarify I did not mean any sort of sexual harassment or abuse, if that was the case there would be no question about me leaving never to return!

It is more his style of teaching and new Sensei as a person I have a problem with. I can not help but think he drove people away which may or may not be the case, just how I interpret it. Which I feel may be clouding my judgement a bit.

Old Sensei as far as I am aware is not planning on doing any form of aikido based activities for a while, could be a possibility in future but not now. The study group could be an idea though, a good one, guess my best bet regarding that is to play it by ear and see who else is having the same feelings regarding that.

04-15-2008, 10:04 PM
my BJJ coach likes to say his job is to empower people. That everyone should leave a class feeling more empowered than when they walk in. I really like it as a working definition of the job of a martial arts trainer.

If your current environment cannot provide you with that, if you are feeling disempowered rather than empowered I would look elsewhere.

Ryan Sanford
04-15-2008, 10:32 PM
my BJJ coach likes to say his job is to empower people.

Oh man, my sensei says that all the time too. :)

He likes to say that Aikido training is empowerment (and he likes to say a bunch of other things too). :D

Michael Meister
04-16-2008, 12:00 AM
Sounds very similar like something, that happened right here. A high ranking Aikidoka left. There's been a lot going on in the background, that was not ok, and which is the reason I left his class around xmas time. I do not want to go further into this story, as with me leaving his class, it's done and dusted for me.
Independant of this, it is nice to see loyalty to an instructor. But I would give the new instructor a chance too. There may have been things happening in the background you are unaware of, that need time to cool down. Give it a few months and see, how it develops.

04-16-2008, 02:33 AM
Rather than going for a black/white stay or go, take a break from training for a couple of weeks. Look around at what else is available dojo-wise in the area and at the end of your break ask yourself whether you want to go back and give it another go or whether you've enjoyed the time off and want to train but not there.

Currently, you sound too close to the initial situation and can't step back to make an objective judgment for yourself - especially as people you feel close to are also working through what sounds like their own resentment at the usurper.

However, key thing is it's your training that should matter and you should only consider training there if you think you can learn - it helps if you can like the instructor, but it's not a crucial requirement. It doesn't work if you really can't abide the instructor, been there, tried that, still have his picture on my dart board...

04-16-2008, 04:24 AM
What is the reason you are taking Aikido?

br0k3n uk3
04-16-2008, 06:36 AM
I may be jumping the gun by assuming that this thread does indeed relate to the situation i'm aware of but if it does i feel it only fair to mention that the past conduct of the outgoing Sensei has been at times questionable, and that the Sensei involved has already left the association previously only to return the following year. So in all likelyhood I believe this particular instructor will rejoin the association in the future, so whatever the situation with the replacement, I get the feeling it would only be temporary.

On the other hand i could be completely wrong in which case i'll wander off whistling nonchalantly and hope no-one notices me.

04-16-2008, 07:38 AM
Dear anonymous users,

Please take care to refrain from making remarks that can/will identify your organization in anonymous threads like this one. If you wish to discuss specific issues within your organizations, please do so in one of the non-anonymous forums. I would rather we stay pertinent to the issues here in the Anonymous forum rather than the specific politics, organizations, and personalities.

Thank you,

-- Jun

04-17-2008, 05:09 PM
Did you say what your rank is?

04-17-2008, 06:01 PM


Lorien Lowe
04-19-2008, 01:37 AM
If you find yourself disliking training under the new sensei so much that you're skipping classes or training less, then you'd be better off finding a new place.

Peter Goldsbury
04-19-2008, 06:32 AM
To 'Undecided',

I think much depends on how you see your own training: how the insights of your own training regimen will enable you to place the dojo issues in perspective.

From my own experience (nearly 40 years in aikido), there are at least four possible training perspectives: dojo-centered; teacher-centered; waza (technique) centered; self-centered. Note that these perspectives can assume a different importance depending on a whole variety of circumstances. (For example, you might have started training when you were young, single and free, but now you have a wife and kids, so changing a dojo is a major issue, despite the sensei.)

1. If you are 'dojo-centered', you have a strong bond with the dojo and will try to maintain and develop the dojo at all costs (dojo as shangri-la: a place where you can be and do the things you cannot be and do outside). Thus, for you, the transition of senseis is simply a contributary factor in maintaining or diminishing the strength of the dojo as a whole. The main question for me would be: what is the point or purpose of the dojo: a training arena, or a social club.

2. If you are 'teacher-centred', you will have found a teacher who you believe is able to meet all the needs that you perceive arise from your training. This can go well beyond the technical needs arising from training. So you will attempt to match your own training to conform to your own perception of (and to) your teacher's, in respect to what your training should be like. So in this case, there would never be a conflict: you would follow your teacher, regardless of where it might lead you and regardless of the 'atmosphere' of the training in the dojo.

3. If you are 'technique-centered', you do not really care about the dojo or the teacher. What you want to study is aikido, purely and simply, and for you, this might mean just 'pure' techniques: where can I learn the perfect koshi-nage? At the Hombu, or in Iwama? Where is the blend between taijutsu and weapons most perfectly expressed? In a Nishio dojo, or with Hikitsuchi Sensei in Shingu, or with Saito Sensei in Iwama?,
Or, if you want to study 'applied techniques': how does aikido perform against expert MMA, or BJJ etc etc?

4. Finally, you can be 'self-centered'. This is not a bad thing at all. It means training your own body (and mind), but basically on your own. Most people think that aikido training needs a partner. For waza, this is true, but there is another aspect that has been neglected (probably since since the war, in my opinion). There are various reasons for this, but I think the main reason is a mistaken interpretation of what O Sensei actually stated. If you want to achieve the situation where you can do waza really well, you need to train yourself privately.

Of course, as John Connor told the Terminator, you can do combinations and so not all of the four perspectives are mutually exclusive.

Best wishes,

w4nd3r1ng kry574l
04-20-2008, 04:46 PM
i have been in a similar situation a couple of times with the various martial arts i do, and when i was a lower kyu i felt very disillusioned at the loss of friends and instructors, but as i grew in experience i began to see things that most pupils don't, there's always stuff going on behind the scenes that most people don't see, sometimes it get resolved and things are fine again and sometimes it doesn't get resolved and you have to decide whether you want to be associated or not, but you need to give it time, you said your new sensei is higher than your former one, so maybe his teaching style is different and maybe he is lacking in people skills but surely there is a lot you can learn from him aikido wise and it'd be a good idea to try and adapt to the different style of teaching, afterall, you may not always have the same instructor for whatever reason
as for not wanting females in the dojo, i've met some people (mostly training partners) who seem to think females aren't as capable as men but the sensei's i've met will usually encourage females to train anyways to show that girls can be at least as good as guys, one club i attend a friend and i very rapidly changed the opinion of the guys who train there about the female ability at martial arts, my friend moved away so now there's just me, i'm a 3rd kyu there and the guys who are higher grades (1st and 2nd kyus and dans) agree that there's only one person in the club they wouldn't want to take on seriously in a fight, and that's me, they have helped me train and get to the level i'm at now and they all seem to take some pride in my abilities
i apologise for the wall of text and if i've gone off track a bit but it is my belief that you should stick with it for a while longer and see how it pans out
remember that when training you should leave your problems and predjudices at the door, accept your new instructor for the experienced aikidoka that he/she is and learn all you can from them in the time you have and if/when your origional instructor comes back maybe you can impress him with your extra knowledge of technique and application

04-23-2008, 03:58 AM
Having trained under a number of sensei's of different styles, I tell you it takes a little while to get used to a new regular instructor. So my advise is to stick it out for a couple of months before you decide whether to leave or not. However since his people skills are not up to scratch, i say there is nothing to stop you blending with his verbal attacks and throwing it back "aikido style" at him so that he knows the folly of his ways. Reading Terry Dobson's book "Aikido in Everyday Life" should give you a good start how to do this. In my opinion Dobson's book is one of the more important Aikido books out there, a must read for every Aikidoka.

Nathan Wallace
01-24-2009, 08:46 AM
In my six years of practice in Aikido the worst thing I have encountered is politics.

01-24-2009, 10:17 AM
Great that you want to stay with Aikido. Are there any fairly highly ranked people who you think could lead the class? If there are such people who don't want to stay with this person, maybe you could start a dojo together? Or if this is not permitted in your organization, you could set up an informal practice. It's too bad so much time has to be wasted in politics, but if you don't feel the current sensei is encouraging to women in general then that is good reason to try to do something else. Other than that of course you could try other Aikido dojos in the area, but if you like what you are currently doing outside of the leadership, then you might want to try to set up your own practice.