PDA

View Full Version : Respect/Lack there of.


Please visit our sponsor:
 

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


roninroshi
03-01-2009, 07:38 PM
Last week a friend of mine came for a short visit.He wanted to train at the local Dojo.My friend is 61 yrs old,holds Roku Dan from Honbu was given a Shihan rank by Kissumoru Ueshiba trained w/O'Sensei.He has 42 years on the mat!
His sister was O'Sensei's secretary and he had a close friendship w/O'Sensei as a young man.He has a photo of he and O'Sensei.he carries and is very proud of.I have had the good luck to have trained w/some really fine Sensei and my friend's Kokyu is off the charts.He has many friends in the Japanese "old school" Aikido community.
We arrived at the Dojo and were informed that the Sensei was unable to teach that evening and had appointed a Nidan to teach.Having been involved in Aikido since 1980 and trained in martial arts since 1958 I have a deep understanding of protocol especially in Japanese martial arts.I introduced my friend to the Nidan instructor and gave him a quick overview of my friends history.The Nidan was annoyed by my friends presence and went on to teach the class w/a minimal intro concerning my friend and began to teach w/out defering to a senior in rank,experience and age.I was amazed by this lack of courtesy and lack of understanding in regards to proper etiquette.:grr:
After class my friend did a short teaching using the Nidan as Uke.
The entire time Nidan rolled his eyes as if he had other things to do.:disgust:
My point in this what has gone wrong in Aikido are we only concerned w/teaching techniques w/out principle and respect for the Japanese culture.I will mention this to the Sensei,write a letter to his Sensei also a friend of the Shihan I have written about and hope some wisdom might show up at this Dojo.
Has anyone on this forum had a simular experience?

Brett Charvat
03-01-2009, 08:06 PM
Mr. Gorski,

I was in attendance last Wednesday evening at the dojo in question. I must say I'm disappointed (though not surprised) by your post here. I can assure you that every member of our dojo treated your guest with nothing but the utmost respect. Perhaps the "disrespect" you thought you witnessed was simply the admittedly awkward situation in which we found ourselves. Indeed, the instructor in question did not ask our guest to teach. I'm sorry if you find that offensive, but in my ten years of training, both here and in Japan, I've never once witnessed a guest at any of the dojo I have trained at expect to become the teacher for a class, unless prior arrangements had been made. As we were unfortunately without our dojo-cho that evening, the appointed instructor did what he thought was proper. I personally would be mortified if I was at a dojo to train as a guest and simply had the class thrust upon me.

Again, I apologize that our treatment of your friend offended you, but I strongly disagree with your assesment of Wednesday evening's instructor as rude, annoyed, and lacking in etiquette. Rest assured that if our instructor had understood that your guest's intention was to teach the class, it would have been gladly given over to him.

Brett Charvat
Big Sky Aikido
Bozeman, Montana

roninroshi
03-01-2009, 08:28 PM
Thanks for the reply Brett.My friend had no intention to teach.My post is regarding the basic lack of respect given to a visiting practioner of higher rank and experience.It is a common courtesy practiced in every Dojo I have ever attended.Your apology is very gracious and Mr.S was not offended at all...he would have been if such an incident had occured in Japan... but we both know this would never be the case.A few students did express thanks for the info he passed on.My post concerns the Yudansha who should know better.
I ran this by a few of my Aikido Yudansha friends before posting and they concured w/my thinking on this.
Again my appreciation for your post in regards to this.
BTW...I did not mention the Dojo or instructor for reasons of privacy and respect.
Perhaps my "old school" thinking is abit out of fashion.

Brett Charvat
03-01-2009, 09:19 PM
Mr. Gorski,

I must apologize again, this time for apparently misunderstanding the point of your original post. I thought that you (and perhaps even your friend) were offended that he was not offered the chance to teach, given his greater rank, experience, and age. Now I see that was not the point. After reading your last post, I see that you are offended because you believe that our instructor that evening was annoyed with your friend's presence and treated him with disrespect. Now I see clearly what the disconnect is. You are simply incorrect in your assessment of the situation.

BTW, I did mention the dojo in question by name because I am a proud member of it, and I know it to be a place of utmost respect and wonderful training.

Brett Charvat
Big Sky Aikido
Bozeman, Montana

Kent Enfield
03-02-2009, 04:19 AM
Why would an uninvited guest be asked to teach or even to help teach and how is not doing so disrespectful?

JRY
03-02-2009, 10:25 AM
Why would an uninvited guest be asked to teach or even to help teach and how is not doing so disrespectful?

Its not that his friend didn't get to teach that's in question but the op feels that his friend was not shown the proper respect/etiquette.

gdandscompserv
03-02-2009, 11:01 AM
Personally, I would have turned the class over to the Shihan.

JO
03-02-2009, 11:33 AM
The original post is kind of vague as to what was lacking in terms of etiquette. Just saying people showed insufficient respect doesn't really tell us anything. I occasionally substitute for my sensei, so I ask Wayne Gorski, how would you expect me to act if put in this situation?

Assume that I have no prior knowledge, and little interest, in the subtler points of Japanese culture and etiquette. Though I generally know when to bow and in which direction, and all the other little dojo basics thast allow me to fit into a seminar taught by a Japanese instructor. I even consider such things worth following as a martial art such as aikido needs a behavioral code to be trained in seriously and safely, and a Japanese art existing on an international scale might as well use a Japanese code.

ramenboy
03-02-2009, 11:59 AM
hey wayne, not sure if there a hard and fast rule written in stone about this. but yeah, in the east, we would normally defer to the higher rank (shihan, no less!), which is why probably, without the dojo-cho there, the instructor (who did not want to overstep his bounds with the dojo-cho) taught the class (he defeferred to his dojo cho)

there is also the notion in the east that maybe your friend should have been at least given the offer to teach, so he could politely decline (if that's what his intention was)


there's another thread on the forum of an instructor who's practiced for about the same amount of time as your friend, but has been kept at sandan, and was finally 'asked' to test for yondan. this is also an interesting question of respect/lack thereof ...

heathererandolph
03-02-2009, 12:07 PM
Just wondering, what different action could the Nidan have taken that would have been more polite than his actions? If things had gone exactly the way you wanted them to, what should have happened?

sisley
03-02-2009, 03:40 PM
The one thing that disturbs me about this post is that it appears that the dojo-cho was never notified of the guest's desire to attend class. If that had happened, perhaps it would have solved the dojo-cho's need to ask the nidan to teach the class in the first place.

It also might be good to look at things from the nidan's perspective. Having been asked by the dojo-cho to lead the class, he's now put in an awkward position. Perhaps he really had something he wanted to teach that night. Perhaps he relished the opportunity to test his teaching skills. Who knows? Ask him. After all, wouldn't that be modeling the respect that you hope to receive?

--jimbo

aikidonerd
03-02-2009, 06:00 PM
Dear Wayne,

How easy it is to walk into a dojo and be critical... Perhaps next time you want to insure your guest gets your interpretation of proper respect, you can put years of sweat, money, and time into creating the perfect dojo.

As a student who was also in class on Wednesday, I felt our substitute instructor handled things very well. I did not see him roll his eyes while taking ukemi from your friend, even though I was watching quite intently. I did, however, witness you answering your cell phone and having a loud conversation during class. If that's not an issue of etiquette, I don't know what is.

Good luck.

Sincerely,
Dee Metrick

George S. Ledyard
03-02-2009, 06:26 PM
Why would an uninvited guest be asked to teach or even to help teach and how is not doing so disrespectful?

The way I was trained, if someone very senior like that came as a guest, he would always be asked to teach. (Often, but not always he might decline.) Even more so when the instructor is so junior.

On the other hand, since the instructor was "subbing" for his own teacher, it gets a bit sticky. If he didn't personally know this guest teacher, he might have felt he was exceeding his brief to invite him to teach. There are a number of senior Aikido teachers I wouldn't let within a mile of my students. What if this guest had injured one of the students?

If one of my instructors had a fellow he didn't know at all from direct experience take over class for him, he had better be following the recommendation of someone he trusts implicitly. When I ask someone to teach, he or she is responsible in my place. I would be unhappy of something happened because my student has passed that responsibility to a stranger.

On the other hand, if one of the senior folks from our organization or one of my personal friends dropped in when I was away (unlikely as they would normally let me know first) it would be fine with me, and really expected, that my designated instructor offer them the chance to teach.

In the situation described, as Wayne is an old timer and known to the dojo folks, I would have expected the Nidan teaching class to have offered to have the guest teach. The ultimate responsibility for the guest's behavior would then reside with Wayne, who provided the introduction, if the guest behaved badly.

NagaBaba
03-02-2009, 06:27 PM
My opinion is following:

I think that visiting a dojo by high ranking instructors from outside is a very tricky situation.Not only from etiquette point of view, but i.e. it can be seen as an attempt to take over a teaching.

That is why, such visit must be carefully prepared. Dojo-cho must be informed and agree to such visit. I personally witnessed situation, when a shihan that was invited to teach seminar(it was planned many months before), didn't even enter to the dojo unless dojo-cho personally went out to invite him.

If high ranking instructor doesn't care to inform dojo-cho in advance,but want to practice anyway, he should adopt very low profile(not mention at all his rank and experience), and simply practice as any other student, not expecting any special treatment. This way, he will avoid any awkward situation and will not put in bad position instructor that is teaching a class.This way he can show his respect for teaching instructor and for whole dojo.
This is about creating harmonious relations with unknown aikidokas and it is a common sense.

George S. Ledyard
03-02-2009, 07:10 PM
My opinion is following:

I think that visiting a dojo by high ranking instructors from outside is a very tricky situation.Not only from etiquette point of view, but i.e. it can be seen as an attempt to take over a teaching.

That is why, such visit must be carefully prepared. Dojo-cho must be informed and agree to such visit. I personally witnessed situation, when a shihan that was invited to teach seminar(it was planned many months before), didn't even enter to the dojo unless dojo-cho personally went out to invite him.

If high ranking instructor doesn't care to inform dojo-cho in advance,but want to practice anyway, he should adopt very low profile(not mention at all his rank and experience), and simply practice as any other student, not expecting any special treatment. This way, he will avoid any awkward situation and will not put in bad position instructor that is teaching a class.This way he can show his respect for teaching instructor and for whole dojo.
This is about creating harmonious relations with unknown aikidokas and it is a common sense.

I agree. An instructor traveling on his own would be very careful about his welcome BEFORE coming in to the dojo. Many times senior people visiting other places will not mention their rank or experience so as to avoid the whole male "testing" thing that goes on sometimes. The thing is, if you've been around, you always know. A person who has trained to a high level in anything simply moves differently from one who hasn't. You don't want people to think you are being "sneaky" either.

This kind of thing can be very embarrassing... One of my friends is a very high ranking Hapkido teacher. He and his wife went to my old dojo and attended the Aikido class. The seniors were arrogant and treated him poorly. They didn't know who he was... he could have destroyed these fellows at the drop of a hat but he simply smiled a lot and then told me about it later. I was mortified. But then again, EVERYONE should be treated respectfully even when they aren't some big deal.

It's always best to call ahead. Better still to have an introduction. I'll get e-mails from teachers whose students are coming to town and wish to visit. That is the proper way to do things!

John Furgerson III
03-02-2009, 09:10 PM
there's another thread on the forum of an instructor who's practiced for about the same amount of time as your friend, but has been kept at sandan, and was finally 'asked' to test for yondan. this is also an interesting question of respect/lack thereof ...

Sounds like favortism to me. Everyone seems to be TOO concerned with rank and following traditions. Just enjoy the art. Personally I think promotions have a lot to do with how much one can kiss up. Not always but sometimes.

Here's an example. Steven Seagal goes to Japan for what...12 or 14 years. Then comes back to the States with a 7th degree.

THAT isn't possible. I know some who have been doing Aikido for 25 years and they are 4th dans. Seagal married the daughter of the dojo owner and they popped out a couple of kids.

No wonder Bruce Lee made fun of the crazy non sense like belts and rank. I f I practice Aikido for 2 years and never test, while others in my dojo test and get high ranks, that doesn't mean they are better than I am just because I don't have a certain color belt hanging around my waste.

Personally I like the spiritual side of Aikido. I hope I have offended no one but sometimes it drives me crazy at how people are only focused on a tradition or what color belt they have.

John Furgerson III
03-02-2009, 09:20 PM
Here'a another silly example of tradition taking away from the art. I used to train with ASU. With ASU you get your hakima after the first test.
I probably had three tests under my belt when I went to a seminar hosted by the federation (if I remember correctly). Anyway, the teacher noticed I was wearing my hakima but my belt was white. He asked me if I was a shodan and I said no.
He then told me I would not be allowed to wear my hakima during the seminar. It's like something magical happens once I take the shodan test and have a black belt around my waste. Insane.

Disrespect and ego problems come when there are too many traditions to follow.

George S. Ledyard
03-02-2009, 11:14 PM
Personally I like the spiritual side of Aikido. I hope I have offended no one but sometimes it drives me crazy at how people are only focused on a tradition or what color belt they have.

Budo begins and ends with "rei" which is often translated as etiquette but it has a deeper and more complex meaning than just that. The color of the belt isn't the issue here. It is what is proper behavior. This is still a Japanese martial art. The most senior teachers are Japanese. If you don't have the remotest idea of what is proper, you can offend someone deeply without even knowing you have done so. You can remove yourself from consideration as a serious student by being sloppy with your behavior. That's what "rei" is about. It is about respect, honor, and paying attention.

As someone who has spent his entire adult life working on this art, it is very important to me that people who have earned respect through many years of sacrifice and effort receive their due. That is what this conversation is about. I don't know enough about the particular circumstance Wayne described to have a real opinion, but the thread does bring up an important topic for discussion. Because we are not Japanese, there is a tendency to treat etiquette as something imposed on us from outside. So we take a more do your own thing attitude about such things. Etiquette is definitely not about doing your own thing.

To paraphrase a saying that gets used a lot by gun proponents, "an armed society is a polite society". Etiquette is how warriors interact with each other. Paying attention to the details is how a warrior survives. Etiquette is the first form of conflict resolution. That's why people consider these things to be important.

NagaBaba
03-03-2009, 08:52 AM
I agree. An instructor traveling on his own would be very careful about his welcome BEFORE coming in to the dojo. Many times senior people visiting other places will not mention their rank or experience so as to avoid the whole male "testing" thing that goes on sometimes. The thing is, if you've been around, you always know. A person who has trained to a high level in anything simply moves differently from one who hasn't. You don't want people to think you are being "sneaky" either.

This kind of thing can be very embarrassing... One of my friends is a very high ranking Hapkido teacher. He and his wife went to my old dojo and attended the Aikido class. The seniors were arrogant and treated him poorly. They didn't know who he was... he could have destroyed these fellows at the drop of a hat but he simply smiled a lot and then told me about it later. I was mortified. But then again, EVERYONE should be treated respectfully even when they aren't some big deal.

It's always best to call ahead. Better still to have an introduction. I'll get e-mails from teachers whose students are coming to town and wish to visit. That is the proper way to do things!
From what we know, it is very clear that Wayne made a huge mistake and now is trying to reject the responsability on hosting dojo by writing the letters to everybody. Instead of honestly tell his friend about his fault.

I hope that this topic will help him to improve his jugment for next time :D

Joe McParland
03-03-2009, 09:01 AM
It sounds as if the visitor gave a very good lesson.

Jorge Garcia
03-03-2009, 11:15 AM
A few years ago, I received an email from the dojo Secretary of a dojo in England. It said that their teacher was visiting relatives in Houston and they were asking if he could practice with us over the weekend. I looked up his name on Google and found out it was Terry Ezra, 6th dan, Aikikai. After checking around, I responded that he was not only welcome to practice with us, I insisted that he teach all the classes that weekend if he wouldn't mind. They thanked me and he did come to the dojo and taught all the classes. He was wonderful in his Aikido and we took him out to eat dinner and got to know him. He insisted not to be paid so I gave him a thank you card (and paid him anyway). We now have him come and teach us every year and look forward to it. He has been really good for us and demonstrated a protocol that made everything easy and introduced no complications for us.
best wishes,
Jorge

George S. Ledyard
03-03-2009, 12:39 PM
A few years ago, I received an email from the dojo Secretary of a dojo in England. It said that their teacher was visiting relatives in Houston and they were asking if he could practice with us over the weekend. I looked up his name on Google and found out it was Terry Ezra, 6th dan, Aikikai. After checking around, I responded that he was not only welcome to practice with us, I insisted that he teach all the classes that weekend if he wouldn't mind. They thanked me and he did come to the dojo and taught all the classes. He was wonderful in his Aikido and we took him out to eat dinner and got to know him. He insisted not to be paid so I gave him a thank you card (and paid him anyway). We now have him come and teach us every year and look forward to it. He has been really good for us and demonstrated a protocol that made everything easy and introduced no complications for us.
best wishes,
Jorge

Yes, by following the correct protocol you can go from being strangers to being friends. That is one of the reasons why a basic understanding of these things is important. I sometimes see dojos where etiquette is sloppy or even non existent. They may be happy but their people can't go anywhere without causing offense.

Saotome Sensei once went to teach a seminar at some dojo. When he walked into the dojo, one of the students (someone who should have known better) yelled across the room, "Hey Saotome! How are you?" Sensei said that for the whole weekend that person didn't exist; he was a non-person as far as Sensei was concerned. Of course, that sort of behavior isn't polite in any culture. It's just sloppy behavior. "Rei" is about not being sloppy.

George S. Ledyard
03-03-2009, 01:01 PM
From what we know, it is very clear that Wayne made a huge mistake and now is trying to reject the responsability on hosting dojo by writing the letters to everybody. Instead of honestly tell his friend about his fault.

I hope that this topic will help him to improve his jugment for next time :D

This is a good point as well... I happen to know there is more going on here than what has been publicly stated so I am not specifically referring to this case.

But when things like this happen, responsibility falls on both sides. Even if one had done all the things properly on one side, if the other side fails to do so it is your fault. If their etiquette was bad you should never have taken a guest there to be embarrassed. As host it is your job to know.

As a Chief Instructor, it would be a total embarrassment for me if one of my students was humiliated because of the actions of my dojo members.

One of the posters felt that the guest had indeed been treated very kindly... The problem here is that the guest was Japanese. What we think is appropriate, friendly, and kind can appear to be overly familiar, too informal, and disrespectful. It can very much depend on how "old school" the guest is and how used to the eccentric ways of Americans he is.

It must be part of a student's training to learn this stuff. It is a disservice to them not to because then they don't know how to behave when they are on their own. They can't go to Japan without causing embarrassment. They can't train with outside Japanese teachers without reflecting badly back on their own dojo or organization.

As Joe said, there are a lot of lessons to be learned here, by everyone. In Budo it's all about not having a "suki" or "opening". When something goes bad, there are no excuses. It is always your responsibility even if you think you didn't do anything wrong. It is your job to foresee issues and make sure you "close the openings".

This kind of thing ends up being embarrassing all around. That's why it's so important to know how to do things properly. The fact is, Japanese etiquette is so Byzantine that only they really get it (and folks like Peter Goldsbury or Phil Relnick who live there for decades). So if you make a creditable effort, they cut you all sorts of slack because they know you don't really get it.

heathererandolph
03-03-2009, 02:25 PM
What I'm not so sure of is if this gentleman was acutely upset and felt disrespected? Even though he knows tradition is different here, he may have realized he did not say he is coming beforehand and therefore was intending to keep a "low profile" as Szczepan thought may be possible. He may have enjoyed his time on the mat and not been hugely disturbed by anyone's behavior. I can understand Wayne being concerned, it would not be great to have word go around that the dojo was horribly inconsiderate and even be blamed himself for subjecting this gentleman to such treatment. I think the guest has to be given credit though. If he's the type of person he seems to be from the description, he's probably seen worse in his lifetime and is probably proud to see so many Americans embracing Aikido, since it appears to me that the dojo is quite large so someone is obviously doing something right. If there is a problem, I'm sure he realizes that any disrespect was not intentional. A thank you gift sent to his home address may be in order just to ensure the guest knows that everyone enjoyed his visit.

Stephen Duncan
03-03-2009, 02:51 PM
Dear Wayne,

As with all things, there are always at least two sides to every situation. One is the side of intent, the other is the perception of that intent. I cannot speak for the perception of this situation, but I feel confident that I can speak for the intent of the Nidan in this situation.

Although I was not present during this event, I have trained with this Nidan since his first day as an Aikidoka. Through the years I have never seen or felt any disrespect in any way shape or form, either to a dojo member or a guest. This particular Nidan is always one of the first to engage any guest or new member with previous training as a person that can offer new insight into the world of Aikido and relishes learning anything new from anyone.

I have on occasion also been asked to substitute for the dojo-cho as well as other sensei in another dojo. I admit that I may be somewhat ignorant to all of the etiquette that is needed to not offend any given person. if given the same situation, my first priority would always be to my sensei and the well-being of the dojo. To allow someone who I know absolutely nothing about to take over the class would not be looking out for my dojo-mates or the dojo. I am sorry to say that even though you and I have lived in the same town for many years, and I know "of" you, I have only had the pleasure one or two times to train with you personally. With what was previously suggested about vouching for and taking responsiblity for someone of this high rank, I would have to say that I still do not know enough about you that your vouching for this shihan would be enough for me to put the safety of the dojo at risk if given the same circumstances.

From reading all of the previous comments, it would seem there are many opinions, all coming from one's own personal perception. I do not know who is the most right. I do know that this particular nidan is one of the many very respectful people I have trained with in aikido. I would suggest that somehow the perception was skewed by some expectation that was not in his power or authority to meet.

Ron Tisdale
03-03-2009, 03:59 PM
Dear Wayne,

Might this not be better handled in person? I can almost guarantee that the members of the dojo in question would have appreciated that. I know I would have.

Best,
Ron (I have seen this same situation work extremely well...so I know it is possible. A little advance notice goes a long way)

John Furgerson III
03-03-2009, 09:06 PM
Etiquette is the first form of conflict resolution. That's why people consider these things to be important.

Excellent point. I never looked at it that way before.

Muchas Gracias!

:)

Joe McParland
03-03-2009, 11:17 PM
On the other hand, consider the conflict that was born from this concern for etiquette. There was no issue until we believed there was. ;)

George S. Ledyard
03-04-2009, 12:21 AM
On the other hand, consider the conflict that was born from this concern for etiquette. There was no issue until we believed there was. ;)
Hi Joe,
Sure, on the highest level you are right. But we are talking about human beings here. They have desires, egos, insecurities, etc. If everyone were enlightened there would not need to be formal etiquette... everything would simply happen naturally. But given the rarity of discovering even moderately together people, much less really enlightened folks, standards of behavior are a good idea.

It does not sound to me like the guest himself was offended, or if he was, he was far too polite to make an issue out of it. I think it is his hosts who felt the imagined slight so strongly and that would be normal as well. I will put up with all sorts of stuff when I am the target but I get very upset when I think those I care about are mistreated.

I am not saying that this is what happened, just pointing out that a level of upset would be normal if some disrespect were perceived towards an honored guest.

This is precisely why there are formalities observed for this type of thing. It is very important to avoid this type of misunderstanding. It can sour long time relationships, come between friends, create enemies... all because of misunderstanding.

I once provided an introduction for a Judo instructor to a friend who runs a school in nearby Portland. This friend is an 8th Dan in Hapkido but had 40 years of Judo under his belt, having trained since he was 12. Anyway, this person went to visit my friend at his dojo and proceeded to act very disrespectfully. It embarrassed me greatly as I was the one who got him the invitation. Fortunately I had made it clear that i didn't know the guy all that well so my friend was very kind about it. But it was still my mistake for not being sure of the fellow's character before providing the intro.

I will never have anything to do with the Judo instructor who embarrassed me that way. Under no circumstances would I ever introduce him to any of my martial arts friends.

"Rei", or etiquette, ties on with all sorts of other issues. It reflects on ones character, it is a way to exhibit "makoto", or sincerity. It requires that you set aside what you might do if left to your own devices in favor of behaving "properly". In that sense it is another form of "misogi" or purification.

Anyway, until we all get to the point at which we naturally neither give nor take offense, rules of behavior are a great idea.

Simone
03-04-2009, 03:08 AM
What I still wonder is the proper etiquette in this situation. What should the Nidan have done? I've never been in this situation and have not learned any way at least we (of my style) would consider appropriate. And in addition what is considered "proper etiquette" varies from style to style and even from dojo to dojo. It's probably not a big variation but nevertheless it is there.

I would appreciate any suggestions on what is appropriate etiquette for this situation and mostly from Mr. Gorsky himself (just in case I find myself in a similar situation).

Simone

Ron Tisdale
03-04-2009, 07:51 AM
A) Don't bring a senior guest on a visit without checking with the head instructor in advance. That way everyone knows the score, and even someone who is teaching in the instructor's absence won't be caught off guard and unprepared.

B) If you do bring an unannounced guest of that stature...don't take offense. You have already broken reigi. So don't be surprised with any outcome.

Best,
Ron

Joe McParland
03-04-2009, 08:33 AM
George-

I am in fact happy that most people have the same understanding of the rules as I do when I hop in my car for a trip to the grocery store. At dinner, though, given the choice, I'll sit at the kids' table ;)

George S. Ledyard
03-04-2009, 09:45 AM
What I still wonder is the proper etiquette in this situation. What should the Nidan have done? I've never been in this situation and have not learned any way at least we (of my style) would consider appropriate. And in addition what is considered "proper etiquette" varies from style to style and even from dojo to dojo. It's probably not a big variation but nevertheless it is there.

I would appreciate any suggestions on what is appropriate etiquette for this situation and mostly from Mr. Gorsky himself (just in case I find myself in a similar situation).

Simone

In terms of the story as presented, aside from perceived attitude issues, about which there is some debate, the Nidan really was in between a rock and a hard place. If he had known Wayne and knew the dojo had a relationship with him, he might have taken his introduction of the guest at face value and offered to let the guest teach. I suspect that the guest would have refused in that circumstance, anyway. But if the Nidan didn't really know Wayne, his intro wouldn't have trumped his responsibility to take class as instructed by his teacher. I see the Nidan as the least responsible person based on what little we know about the whole thing.

Michael Douglas
03-04-2009, 10:07 AM
Dear Wayne,
How easy it is to walk into a dojo and be critical... Perhaps next time you want to insure your guest gets your interpretation of proper respect, you can put years of sweat, money, and time into creating the perfect dojo.
As a student who was also in class on Wednesday, I felt our substitute instructor handled things very well. I did not see him roll his eyes while taking ukemi from your friend, even though I was watching quite intently. I did, however, witness you answering your cell phone and having a loud conversation during class. If that's not an issue of etiquette, I don't know what is.
Good luck.
Sincerely,
Dee Metrick
Thanks for posting that Dee,
mobile phones!

kironin
03-04-2009, 05:22 PM
A) Don't bring a senior guest on a visit without checking with the head instructor in advance. That way everyone knows the score, and even someone who is teaching in the instructor's absence won't be caught off guard and unprepared.

B) If you do bring an unannounced guest of that stature...don't take offense. You have already broken reigi. So don't be surprised with any outcome.

Best,
Ron

and of course now anyone reading this thread has been educated and will NEVER ever have the lack of awareness to do B). It's not an option.

As far as I can tell the Nidan did the right thing. As has been said, he was given responsibility for the students in the dojo-cho's absence. The responsibility was not only moral but also carries real legal liabilities if he was to hand over the class to a stranger and a student was injured during that class. If I was his teacher I would be angry with him if I learned later that he let a visitor simply take over the class without my permission.

If I was bringing a shihan to another school other than my own, I would definitely not show him the lack of respect of not making arrangements ahead of time with that school even if it was just to practice. I would show him the appropriate respect by having the awareness to set it up so the head of that school could have the chance to pay respect by apologizing that he could not be there that night and asking him to teach then if he didn't wish to teach he could gracefully decline, and the shihan would know the situation before he came. Even before that, I would be talking to the head of the dojo first to make sure that he was open to the shihan teaching there if he wanted to.

that's just exactly what being good otomo is. awareness training. Knowing what needs to be done before the Shihan is at the door.

That the nidan was placed in this situation clearly shows IMO where the fault lies.

Lyle Laizure
03-04-2009, 09:10 PM
Wow, what a story, what a thread. I am familiar with the etiquette of offering over a class to a senior visiting instructor. I have had several visitors to my class from various parts of the country/world. I had an exchange student some time back that was going to school in the area and she called me about training with us while she was in the country. She came to class completed her paperwork etc paid dues and so on. Her rank was lower than mine so that was never an issue. But based on her attitude and training our dojo invited her mother to teach a seminar. We are going to have her mother back again this year.

If a senior instructor were to visit my dojo I know that I couldn't just offer my class over to him/her without knowing how the individual trains/behaves on the mat. As the instructor I have a responsibility for the safety of my students. As much as we would like to think that everyone in Aikido is benevolent there are those high and low ranking alike that are unsafe.

Calling in advance is proper etiquette. I recall a story in a sensei's book about how he would go to Iwama and train with O'Sensei every weekend and without fail this lowly shodan would make arrangements with O'Sensei. One weekend a high ranking individual showed up for training expecting there to be a place for him to stay etc. O'Sensei was a bit annoyed explaining that this lowly shodan made arrangements every weekend even though he was there every weekend and that this high ranking individual showed up out of the blue expecting to be given quarter of some sort. (I am paraphrasing) Showing up unannounced isn't the best way to start things. Do any of you just show up at a strangers house expecting dinner or other accomodations?

Etiquette is important. I know a lot of people say "I'm not Japanese and this isn't Japan." I don't think this is a valid arguement.

Without being there it is hard to say what was the appropriate thing to do. A good friend of mine always tells me there are three sides to a story. Mine, yours, and the truth. While I believe everyone involved is telling the truth from their perspective it sounds like a little benefit of the doubt could have saved a lot of iritation.

Peter Goldsbury
03-04-2009, 09:37 PM
A few years ago I used to meet regularly with an 8th shihan, who now resides in the US. We met usually either at his home, or in Nagoya, but once I suggested he visited Hiroshima. He replied that he could not possibly do that. He would be intruding on the 'territory' of the shihan resident here.

Now I am independent and am the Dojo-cho of my own dojo here. When I am not teaching myself, I know exactly who is teaching in my place and, of course, no one else does so, even yudansha who are senior in rank and experience to the person I have appointed to teach. In addition, I would never allow anyone to teach a class who was not personally known to me and/or who had not informed me beforehand of a visit and, additionally, whom I judged would have something beneficial to teach to my students. Not everyone qualifies by a long shot.

Similarly, when students of mine go visiting, I usually call the resident shihan beforehand and ask if he/she will kindly allow my students to participate in the class. I have always found that the students are well looked after and have a good training experience.

Best wishes to all,

roninroshi
03-04-2009, 09:43 PM
The Dojo-cho was informed that morning,knew the guest's status and stated it was "OK" to bring the guest.The original plan was surprise the Dojo-cho since he and the guest had met a few years ago but a call was made by a Yudansha in the Dojo to attend to "rei".
.

kironin
03-05-2009, 11:49 AM
The Dojo-cho was informed that morning,knew the guest's status and stated it was "OK" to bring the guest.The original plan was surprise the Dojo-cho since he and the guest had met a few years ago but a call was made by a Yudansha in the Dojo to attend to "rei".
.

....um...That was a rather critical bit of information to leave out of your original post.

Clearly the idea of making it a surprise was not the best idea.

Calling the same day of the intended visit of the senior person really isn't much better.

If there is possibility for offense, and clearly you indicate that this possibility existed by your original post, then it seems you still bear some of the blame for what happened.

I am inclined to think that Nidan is the least to blame for what occurred or was perceived to occur.

Dan Rubin
03-05-2009, 05:22 PM
The problem here is that the guest was Japanese. What we think is appropriate, friendly, and kind can appear to be overly familiar, too informal, and disrespectful. It can very much depend on how "old school" the guest is and how used to the eccentric ways of Americans he is.

With all due respect (to everyone), when an American in America behaves in an American way, how is that behavior "eccentric?" Would it not be permissible to consider eccentric the reaction of someone who behaves as if he or she is in Japan, instead of Montana? When an American teaching a course in English or boxing or jazz in Japan behaves in an American way, do the Japanese excuse the American for not being "used to the eccentric ways of Japanese?"

Dan

Keith Larman
03-05-2009, 05:36 PM
...I am inclined to think that Nidan is the least to blame for what occurred or was perceived to occur.

Man, do I ever feel for the nidan in this case. He probably doesn't have the authority to turn over a class anyway and I know for a fact I'd be horribly conflicted. I remember getting a call one day and being *told* to cover an advanced class for my sensei in case he wasn't back from an event in time to do it himself. I told him I was nervous because I knew that there were people who'd attend who would greatly outrank me. Much like Mr. Goldsbury has written he simply told me he wanted me to cover the class and to let them know that he had told me to do so if it came up. He wanted to know who would be teaching and he made the decision in advance. The problem for me is that I didn't have any say in the matter and I knew some might feel slighted that someone so low in the larger scheme of things was teaching.

Luckily for me he made it in time. I still remember how nervous I was and I didn't even have to cover the bloody class. So I feel sorry for the guy in this thread. Coincidentally I was a nidan at the time.

Now if he behaved poorly, that's another issue. But it seems to me people tend to read a lot into things and often find insult where none is intended. Shrug.

roninroshi
03-05-2009, 05:53 PM
I certainly have been enlightened by my post...much information and
many different views on the way I percieved and acted in this situation.To those offended "gomenasi"...to those who gave me much needed wisdom "arigato" and to all the rest I appreciated the input...

John Matsushima
03-06-2009, 10:39 AM
I wonder if the people reading this thread give this kind of "respect" to anyone other than those heralded aikido "masters". Do we give this same kind of respect to our children's teachers, policemen, doctors, etc.? How about our parents, elders, everyone we meet?

Rocky Izumi
03-06-2009, 11:15 AM
It certainly doesn't sound like someone with that much experience. If the person was of such calibre and experience, the visitor would likely not have made such a mistake.

Rock

Greg Olson
03-07-2009, 10:30 PM
Dear Forum Members ~ Although I know many of you, please indulge me and let me introduce myself. My name is Greg Olson and I am the founder, the President and the Dojo-cho of Big Sky Aikido, located in Bozeman, Montana. I have been training continually in budo for forty-four years and hold yudansha rank in both judo and aikido. As a student, I trained extensively in Korea as a student of Yudo (Judo) under OH, Seung-Lip and Chung Lee Su in Seoul, Korea. Several years later, I trained in Japan at Hombu Dojo under the direction of S. Okumura Sensei and K. Ueshiba Sensei. Additionally, I am, and have been, a professor of Health and Human Development at Montana State University for over thirty years.

Big Sky Aikido has many fine members of whom I am most proud. Mr. Bradley Kaser (Nidan) is one of those fine dependable young instructors, who can be counted on to be responsible to me and to the dojo. Those traits, coupled with a humble personally, certainly make for a exemplary individual.

At this point, I believe it falls on my shoulders to set the record straight and let the facts speak for themselves in relationship to Mr. Gorski's actions and perceptions.

Forum members -- for the record, you should know of these items:

• Mr. Gorski is not a dues paying member of Big Sky Aikido nor has he been for approximately fifteen years.
• Mr. Gorski is not presently a member of neither my national aikido association nor any national aikido association of which I am aware.
• Mr. Gorski has not had a relationship with Big Sky Aikido nor with me for approximately fifteen years.
• I do not have a relationship with Mr. Gorski's friend. (Although I did meet him once, several years ago.)
• The particular evening in question I was attending a family medical emergency and I was never told Mr. Gorski and his friends were to be in my dojo that particular evening.
• As with all guests, whether their rank is Rokyu or Rokudan, persons are welcome to train, as guests, and under the aegis of the instructor at Big Sky Aikido.
• The type of behavior displayed by Mr. Gorski in this incident has regrettably happened previously with other "mis-perceived events."
• My student, Mr. Bradley Kaser, knew of my unfolding medical circumstance, and phoned me the morning of the dojo incident -- he offered to teach in my stead. (A true student and friend.)

In closing I wish to invite the membership of this forum to train with Big Sky Aikido members any time you are in the Montana Rockies: You would find yourself among friends while training in a safe and healthy environment.

My best to you,

Gregory Olson
Dojo-cho
Big Sky Aikido

George S. Ledyard
03-08-2009, 07:55 PM
Dear Forum Members ~ Although I know many of you, please indulge me and let me introduce myself. My name is Greg Olson and I am the founder, the President and the Dojo-cho of Big Sky Aikido, located in Bozeman, Montana. I have been training continually in budo for forty-four years and hold yudansha rank in both judo and aikido. As a student, I trained extensively in Korea as a student of Yudo (Judo) under OH, Seung-Lip and Chung Lee Su in Seoul, Korea. Several years later, I trained in Japan at Hombu Dojo under the direction of S. Okumura Sensei and K. Ueshiba Sensei. Additionally, I am, and have been, a professor of Health and Human Development at Montana State University for over thirty years.

Big Sky Aikido has many fine members of whom I am most proud. Mr. Bradley Kaser (Nidan) is one of those fine dependable young instructors, who can be counted on to be responsible to me and to the dojo. Those traits, coupled with a humble personally, certainly make for a exemplary individual.

At this point, I believe it falls on my shoulders to set the record straight and let the facts speak for themselves in relationship to Mr. Gorski's actions and perceptions.

Forum members -- for the record, you should know of these items:

• Mr. Gorski is not a dues paying member of Big Sky Aikido nor has he been for approximately fifteen years.
• Mr. Gorski is not presently a member of neither my national aikido association nor any national aikido association of which I am aware.
• Mr. Gorski has not had a relationship with Big Sky Aikido nor with me for approximately fifteen years.
• I do not have a relationship with Mr. Gorski's friend. (Although I did meet him once, several years ago.)
• The particular evening in question I was attending a family medical emergency and I was never told Mr. Gorski and his friends were to be in my dojo that particular evening.
• As with all guests, whether their rank is Rokyu or Rokudan, persons are welcome to train, as guests, and under the aegis of the instructor at Big Sky Aikido.
• The type of behavior displayed by Mr. Gorski in this incident has regrettably happened previously with other "mis-perceived events."
• My student, Mr. Bradley Kaser, knew of my unfolding medical circumstance, and phoned me the morning of the dojo incident -- he offered to teach in my stead. (A true student and friend.)

In closing I wish to invite the membership of this forum to train with Big Sky Aikido members any time you are in the Montana Rockies: You would find yourself among friends while training in a safe and healthy environment.

My best to you,

Gregory Olson
Dojo-cho
Big Sky Aikido

Hi Greg,
I hope your medical emergency was positively resolved... It's unfortunate when stuff like this happens and especially when it gets onto the internet. Not the best way for things to get resolved, for sure.

Since it did make to the net, I thought we might was well take advantage of it to discuss the issue of etiquette in general. I realized I wasn't totally sure how my own students would handle an unexpected situation like the one described. We've had some discussion about it and I think they are more clear now about how I'd like things to be done under those circumstances, so perhaps some good has come out of it all.

Anyway, let me say that I know Greg Sensei personally and have taught at his dojo and it is one of the nicest group of people one might find. Everyone exhibits a love of training and no place ever made me feel more welcome when I was there. So I would recommend anyone passing through Bozeman to stop in and see my friends there... you'll certainly have a good experience.

And Greg, Hi to Paxton!
- George

jennifer paige smith
03-08-2009, 11:35 PM
In closing I wish to invite the membership of this forum to train with Big Sky Aikido members any time you are in the Montana Rockies: You would find yourself among friends while training in a safe and healthy environment.

My best to you,

Gregory Olson
Dojo-cho
Big Sky Aikido

Absolutely. It would be an honor to train with you and yours under the Big Sky of Montana.

Regards,

Jen Smith

Lyle Laizure
03-09-2009, 11:34 AM
Dear Forum Members ~ Although I know many of you, please indulge me and let me introduce myself. My name is Greg Olson and I am the founder, the President and the Dojo-cho of Big Sky Aikido, located in Bozeman, Montana. I have been training continually in budo for forty-four years and hold yudansha rank in both judo and aikido. As a student, I trained extensively in Korea as a student of Yudo (Judo) under OH, Seung-Lip and Chung Lee Su in Seoul, Korea. Several years later, I trained in Japan at Hombu Dojo under the direction of S. Okumura Sensei and K. Ueshiba Sensei. Additionally, I am, and have been, a professor of Health and Human Development at Montana State University for over thirty years.

Big Sky Aikido has many fine members of whom I am most proud. Mr. Bradley Kaser (Nidan) is one of those fine dependable young instructors, who can be counted on to be responsible to me and to the dojo. Those traits, coupled with a humble personally, certainly make for a exemplary individual.

At this point, I believe it falls on my shoulders to set the record straight and let the facts speak for themselves in relationship to Mr. Gorski's actions and perceptions.

Forum members -- for the record, you should know of these items:

• Mr. Gorski is not a dues paying member of Big Sky Aikido nor has he been for approximately fifteen years.
• Mr. Gorski is not presently a member of neither my national aikido association nor any national aikido association of which I am aware.
• Mr. Gorski has not had a relationship with Big Sky Aikido nor with me for approximately fifteen years.
• I do not have a relationship with Mr. Gorski's friend. (Although I did meet him once, several years ago.)
• The particular evening in question I was attending a family medical emergency and I was never told Mr. Gorski and his friends were to be in my dojo that particular evening.
• As with all guests, whether their rank is Rokyu or Rokudan, persons are welcome to train, as guests, and under the aegis of the instructor at Big Sky Aikido.
• The type of behavior displayed by Mr. Gorski in this incident has regrettably happened previously with other "mis-perceived events."
• My student, Mr. Bradley Kaser, knew of my unfolding medical circumstance, and phoned me the morning of the dojo incident -- he offered to teach in my stead. (A true student and friend.)

In closing I wish to invite the membership of this forum to train with Big Sky Aikido members any time you are in the Montana Rockies: You would find yourself among friends while training in a safe and healthy environment.

My best to you,

Gregory Olson
Dojo-cho
Big Sky Aikido

I have seen similar things happen. It is nice to have all the information. And thanks for the invitation for training. If I am ever in the area I will be sure to make arrangements and visit.

Pierre Musy
03-16-2009, 10:09 PM
Wayne,

I'd have posted this sooner if not for 1) the manual registration process for the forum, 2) the fact that my pager won't stop going off. Before the thread burns itself out entirely, though…

I'm quite familiar with the event in question and the circumstances leading up to it and feel obliged to comment, mainly to be on the record in defense of the instructor that night. I think most here would, and have, agreed with your premise that overtly disrespectful behavior toward any visitor, let alone one as senior as your guest, is simply unacceptable. However, I did not witness any such behavior. Furthermore, although we all have moments when our egos get the better of our higher selves, I would have been astonished to have seen the Nidan in question act disrespectfully, as I know him to be of the highest character (although apparently also of ambiguous facial expressions!).

Aside from this apparent difference of opinion, I'm not sure there's much here, and certainly nothing that merits the involvement of the Shihan under whom our dojo functions, which I think is what you were talking about doing in your original post. I think that this would have been handled better person-to-person, but I guess that's your choice. It also seems prudent to announce visitors, especially high-ranking ones, to the dojo-cho well in advance in the future to avoid the possibility of an awkward situation. In an ideal world maybe that wouldn't be necessary, but…

In other news, there is continued fighting between the Palestinians and the Israelis, Republicans and Democrats, etc. I guess egos and past conflicts are taking their toll outside the dojo, as well. We should all really try to evolve.:ai: