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Lisa-1978
04-02-2009, 05:49 PM
ok, so here is my dilema. My sensei is going through a rough split with his girlfriend of 9 years. He has, on a few occasions, shown up to class "slightly intoxicated". By this, I mean that I can clearly smell the alcohol on his breath and he is slightly wobbly. This is an issue because it affects my learning. I do however understand that he is taking this break up quite hard. I know he is trying to find an escape. The fact of the matter is, what do I do??? (if I can even do anything). Should I wait it out a bit and see if he stops this behaviour? (the slpit has been coming for a while but it is indeed really new). Should I try and talk to him???

My problem is doubly difficult because I am the only woman in my dojo. I do not want my concern to be interpreted as interest. As everyone knows, it is easy to be mis-led when one's heart has been crushed. What are my options??

thanks,

:)

rad_chicken
04-02-2009, 06:02 PM
It's hard to say what I would do because I don't know the person, but my opinion is that it should be addressed somehow...discretely would probably be best.

aikidoc
04-02-2009, 06:36 PM
You might talk with one of the senior students and make your concerns known. Let the senior student address the issue with him. Yes, issues of the heart can be devastating but this does not bode well for the maturity of your sensei. Stepping on the mat under the influence is dangerous.

Guilty Spark
04-02-2009, 10:14 PM
How is it effecting your learning?

Was he prone to drinking before class prior to his relationship problems?

Do *you* think if you become involved he will interpret it other than how you intend?

raul rodrigo
04-02-2009, 10:51 PM
Around 12 years ago, one of our teachers would sometimes come to class a bit worse for wear. You could in fact smell the alcohol on him. But once the warm up was over and we started doing waza, he was fine, as good as he was on non-drinking days. We never said anything about it to the other teachers who were his seniors, because we thought it wasn't our business. It didn't affect our learning in any way. Might have even helped us accept that teachers were people too.

SeiserL
04-03-2009, 05:56 AM
IMHO, Training under the influence is dangerous and wrong.
Step up. Express compassion and concern.
Let them know its showing.

morph4me
04-03-2009, 09:09 AM
You might talk with one of the senior students and make your concerns known. Let the senior student address the issue with him. Yes, issues of the heart can be devastating but this does not bode well for the maturity of your sensei. Stepping on the mat under the influence is dangerous.

I agree, if you're senior you should speak to him, if not then ask one of the senior students to mention that it has been noticed and that the students are concerned about him.

Lisa-1978
04-03-2009, 01:23 PM
How is it effecting your learning?

Was he prone to drinking before class prior to his relationship problems?

Do *you* think if you become involved he will interpret it other than how you intend?

My learning is being affected when he steps on the mat intoxicated (or even slightly) and he tries to teach us something and then tries to remember what the enitre technique is supposed to look like. Or worst, he teaches us a techniques and then at the end he corrects himself and tells us to do it another way, after we have already been practicing it for 40 minutes.

I can't say that he was prone to drinking before. He has maybe once or twice before had alcohol smell on his breath when he stepped on the mat but to say that it is an old issue, i think not.

I think that he may perhaps see my concern as interest, yes! Don't want o give the wrong kind of message or say the wrong thing. Sometimes my words do not come out right and things get interpreted wrong. If I am the one to talk to him them I am looking for the most pro-active way to tell him.

thanks,
L

Lisa-1978
04-03-2009, 01:27 PM
oh, I forgot to add in my last post that I am not the senior. I am the junior. I am thinking about mentioning it to another (senior) student and #1 see if he notices the same as I do #2 ask if he thinks it is also an issue #3 discuss what will be done.

Thanks,
L

BWells
04-03-2009, 02:04 PM
Well I don't where your dojo is, but in the US if some accident happened and the sensei was found to have been drinking there could be legal liability and any insurance you have my not provide coverage. That can put the existence of the dojo at risk.

I think you need to talk to the senior students.

Thanks
Bruce

Russ Q
04-03-2009, 02:42 PM
Hi Lisa,

Your instructor drinking before class and coming to class "wobbley" (for whatever reason) is an issue. It's hard to advise you without being intimate with the situation. That being said if you are friendly with sensei outside of the dojo then talk to him about what you're observing and how it's affecting you. If he interprets that as an advance then you, IMHO, should find another teacher. If you have a strict teacher/student relationship then (I'm sure I'll go down in flames for saying this:-)you should say nothing. If you are concerned for your safety then "step back" and wait to see what he does....other than that it is not your place to say anything.....

Cheers,

Russ

Guilty Spark
04-03-2009, 03:40 PM
Lisa,

#1 I can sympathize with you how annoying it is spending 40 minutes on technique then having your instructor return and tell you you're doing it wrong. When that happens to me it makes me wanna skip class-my time is important.

#2 Previous cases of comming to class buzzed. I've went to my class wobbly a few times from drinking. Actually helps me relax and I find myself laughing a lot and having fun. Be that as it may, instructing while under the influence is obviously bad news.
I asked if he had a previous history of this because if he did then I think approaching him on the mater will be much more difficult. If it's something that's "the norm" for him then he will be much less likely to admit to it being a problem. Probably becoming more defensive about it.
Is he drinking because he's splitting up with his wife or is his drinking just getting worse.

3# Only girl in the class? Tricky, especially if you feel your message might be taken in the wrong context.
Might be almost a case of an old boys club. In my opinion the best bet for you is to approach a senior (male) member, let them know you're concerns and promt them to handle it.
I'd be more pronto act on the concerns of a senior member than a junior member. I admit that may be biased or close minded but it happens sometimes right?

Talking to someone about something like this is very hard. It's easy to sit on a high horse and say 'well just do the right thing!' but it' harder when you're the one doing it/involved.

If I was a senior member at your school and a junior member came to me with this problem and I agreed that it was a problem I might consider coming to class just hammered and when the sensei takes me aside to give me shit I'd say 'but dude, you're always coming to class buzzed, I'm just following your example!'. They might realize then that their actions are inappropiate.

It's always hard telling someone their wrong, it's easier IMO to let them see for themselves that their wrong.

heathererandolph
04-03-2009, 03:42 PM
I think you should address this issue. Obviously the Sensei is having a very hard time. Can you ask to meet with him and then discuss with him what he is going through? Then you could ask him about drinking and if he is using alcohol to help him cope with his problem because you have noticed he seems unsteady. Obviously he needs help and understanding, but he also cannot come to the dojo that "tipsy." He might have an alcohol problem and need additional assistance. Consider this, if he's getting in a car to get to the dojo he could be a hazard to those around him. Although it is difficult, you must intervene immediately.

Joe McParland
04-03-2009, 04:32 PM
I think that he may perhaps see my concern as interest, yes! Don't want o give the wrong kind of message or say the wrong thing. Sometimes my words do not come out right and things get interpreted wrong. If I am the one to talk to him them I am looking for the most pro-active way to tell him.

His issue might already be solved if not for this one of your own.

arctur
04-03-2009, 04:37 PM
hello,

Lisa, i think it is better for you to mention this to other more senior student whom you are comfortable with. You could say that you notice the sensei had been drinking and it might affected him and mention the problem about him correcting you after 40 minutes of practicing techniques the wrong way. IMHO, it is better if more senior student that is closer or even friendly with the sensei to address his problem.

best regards

Aikibu
04-03-2009, 05:25 PM
IMHO, Training under the influence is dangerous and wrong.
Step up. Express compassion and concern.
Let them know its showing.

Without tooting Lynn's horn too much :) He is a mental health professional and this is the best advice I have read so far...

I would not train with anyone under the influance under any circumstance.

William Hazen

Mary Eastland
04-03-2009, 05:39 PM
This is a tricky situation. People that abuse alcohol don't love to hear about it. Can you find another place to train?
Mary

Buck
04-03-2009, 07:27 PM
Anonymous User,

Love is a hard thing. Opportunity isn't, when the heart is broken. Zoom in. Seize the day!

Marc Abrams
04-04-2009, 10:14 AM
As fellow mental health professional, I concur with Lynn's opinion. I think that this also raises another issue that I have found is particular to Aikidoka.

In our attempts to "live Aikido" we become more "forgiving" and "accepting" of things that go beyond the pale of reason. We do not allow people to drive drunk. Alcohol has a disinhibiting effect upon our actions. Fine motor control and balance begins to diminish with even small doses of alcohol. Would you want somebody demonstrating techniques on you in that condition? The real risk of injury is simply unacceptable. If a person is a professional, then it is reasonable to expect that person to act like a professional.

I can only hope that the seniors in that dojo can speak together, in private to the teacher and inform the teacher that any form of intoxication among students and teachers is simply unsafe and unacceptable. Compassion and sympathy should not override common sense and safety.

Marc Abrams

Michael Douglas
04-04-2009, 10:16 AM
Hi Lisa,
ok, so here is my dilema. My sensei is going through a rough split with his girlfriend of 9 years. He has, on a few occasions, shown up to class "slightly intoxicated".
So basically he's going through a divorce.
Nine years is a long time.
He's drinking too early in the day, obviously.
Go get a bigger boy (oh alright, senior student) to tell him clearly to only drink AFTER class.

And about this 'changing technique' business : maybe not a drawback at all, if he's got something good it can be a sign of fickle genius and deep insight ... or not. I imagine the same could have happened with Ueshiba if he's been keen on the booze ... but apparently he wasn't.

heathererandolph
04-04-2009, 10:26 AM
I think Sensei needs a break! See if someone can offer to take his classes on for awhile because he obviously cannot teach in this condition. I'm sure he feels he can, but he can't. He's coming to work intoxicated that is not good for his students. Definitely do it soon.

Buck
04-04-2009, 02:10 PM
If the sensei is going through at divorce, and this has driven him to drink no one can help him. If he is coming to class drunk then he is driving drunk, he may be doing other things drunk like going to work etc. All of which shows great irresponsibility, and poor judgement, and poor decision making, in all areas of his life.

What is the dojo doing about this situation, are they enabling him? I would say to "lisa 1978" here's the opportunity, now seize the day, err the man. In this way, maybe some can talk sense into him to deal with his problems and stop drinking.

I don't think it is an Aikido issue at the core. It is a life issue and all is fair in love and war. And sometimes a man in turmoil just needs a sympathetic caring woman to comfort him.

Lisa-1978
04-04-2009, 05:46 PM
Mary,
no, there are no other dojo's to train at in my area. If there were, I would be gone to that one. I believe the nearest one is about 1 1/2 hours away.

To all:
I have spoken to a senior student and he brought to my attention that he has the same frustration as me. Although the sensei does go for drinks after class as a way for all of us to just hang around and "shoot the shit", as I said, it is recently that I noticed alcohol on his breath. I am currently talking with the senior student to see what to say, how to say it and who will say it ... if that is the route we take.

I believe that I should not approach this alone being the junior student. I agree with others who have said that the sensei is more likely to listen and take advice/concern seriously if it comes from someone who has been at the dojo for a long time.

I will keep you posted as to what we decide when I next talk to the senior student.

Thanks all

L.

Pauliina Lievonen
04-05-2009, 05:15 AM
You might not want to think about it that way, but sensei being intoxicated on the mat really could end up in an accident and someone getting hurt. I wouldn't tip toe around the issue too long.

Nowadays, if I got on the mat and smelled alcohol on the teacher's breath, I'd get off the mat again right away. I can imagine that that is hard to do as a more junior student.

It might feel like overreacting, since no one has gotten injured yet. Then again, if someone did get hurt, of course by that time it's too late to overreact. Really you'll be doing your teacher a big favor if you help prevent that situation from happening.

kvaak
Pauliina

heathererandolph
04-05-2009, 10:00 AM
Well, in Aikido we are learning to deal with conflicts & you are afraid to mention something to your Sensei that his behavior is dangerous. I understand just how difficult this must be. He might actually welcome some feedback since he probably does not realize. Even if you do mention it to him there is no guarantee he will take your advice to take some time off. If you don't want to risk talking to him in person maybe write an anonymous note,but do something soon. Don't wait for others who may not do anything either. You are just as important as everyone else in the dojo. At least you will be able to sleep at night knowing you've done your best.

Mary Eastland
04-05-2009, 12:00 PM
If someone has a drinking problem the playing field may not be as even as one might think. Especially in a society that explains away unaceptable behavior surrounding alcohol use. The writer has already set up an excuse for the teacher drinking.
Like I said before people don't like to be called out on their behavior...the consequenses might be more than she is bargaining for.
I think her strategy is a good one..she has asked for support and spoke her truth...good job. I hope it all works out for you.
Mary

jennifer paige smith
04-05-2009, 05:33 PM
I think Sensei needs a break! See if someone can offer to take his classes on for awhile because he obviously cannot teach in this condition. I'm sure he feels he can, but he can't. He's coming to work intoxicated that is not good for his students. Definitely do it soon.

Great suggestion, Heather!
I support this approach completely.
Very practical, considerate, helpful and sustaining to all involved. Good Budo.

Lisa-1978
04-06-2009, 03:02 PM
I agree that someone replacing the sensei is a great idea. One problem though ... highest rank is 5th kyu ... :|

Was gonna chat with my friend at the dojo tonight but he is not going to be there, so I will hopefully see him tomorrow and discuss then.

Thanks for all the input thus far,

L.

Phil Van Treese
04-14-2009, 04:00 PM
Myself, and 2 instrs. always have 2-3 beers after class, never before class, and talk about how class went. If you smell alcohol on a sensei's breath during class, I couldn't tell you how to handle it other talk to a senior student and raise the concern thru him. If it gets worse, I'd find another dojo because you never know how someone will react to a stimulus while "lit". You don't need to lose any teeth.

Buck
04-15-2009, 10:33 PM
Aw ha!

Here is the deal, drunken Sensei (sounds like a movie) in class. Going through brake with girl friend of 9 years. So Sensei now drinks breastly all the time to numb as an escape of the pain of broken heart of course. Lisa states, he is intoxicated on the mat. Therefore, we can deduct the dude is a drunk. Lisa1978 doesn't tell us how other students feel except for senior student who is frustrated too, Lisa1978 is concerned if she speaks to him he will take it as if she is interested in her. But she says she is a poor communicator and she fears her words can get misinterpreted. And the senior "male" student is shut down.

Therefore, the responsibility to fix this problem falls on the shoulders of our heroine Lisa1978, who is a bad communicator and thus, is afraid the drunken sensei will get the wrong message and sexually make an advance, or something like that.

Frankly, thinking the Sensei in a committed relationship for nine years whose heart is broken is going to hit on her while in the dojo and drunk is stereotyping men and is a bit vain, unless Lisa1978 is FHM cover hott! then yea! Why is there soooo many posts that model this scenerio in various degress? I think there is a conspiracy going on against men. :hypno: .

Me being a bit skeptical,insulted as a man, and feeling that I got played, the probability is very high. Called it Pro-male Defensiveness. Yes, I know, I am a white male, I don't have that right to be insulted or defensive. BUT, more importantly, there are allot of people who gave sincere, and good advice. it would be a shame if they where played for the sake of someone's agenda.

If this scenario is real and the people giving advice are being respected and not being played. I want to be sincere and respectful, and NOT joke around. My response would be then, that it is the WHOLE dojo's responsibility as a group and individuals to tell the sensei they are concerned. If their concerns are not met and he doesn't stop drinking then it is up to each individual to decide what they want to do. After all it is his dojo, he is the Sensei. If it is a real big problem, and his drinking is scary enough that it might end up hurting someone or himself, then stopping Aikido training for awhile or driving 1/2 hr away to another dojo is worth every scarifice for a person not getting hurt. That is pretty obvious and is the thing to do. :)

Janet Rosen
04-15-2009, 11:52 PM
I refused to train in a class some years ago when I believed the instructor to be under the influence of something and would do it again.
I agree that ideally the entire dojo or at least the most senior students should deal with it openly with the instructor. But if this isn't going to happen, prudence dictates removing yourself from a potentially unsafe training situation.

Lisa1978
04-16-2009, 05:21 AM
just a quick update on what is going on at the dojo. First of all, the sensei is realizing he needs some time to himself and is taking a month off... So that is a step in the right direction. Yes it is everybody's responsibility on the dojo but asking everyone their opinion (instead of perhaps the just the senior students) would be, in my opinion, rude and hurtful ... (sort of like "A giant conversation going on at the dojo about the sensei and he is not even aware of the conversation") ... I think that remaining more disrete is the best alternative righ now. As it stands, he is taking the month off and hopefully get some stuff sorted out and come back with a clearer head.

Driving to another dojo is a good idea also but there are none close to where I am .... nearest one is about 2 hours away .... but the suggestion was a valid one also.

As far as the sensei interpreting concern for interest, yes I was worried because in the past (when things in his relationship status became rocky ... he did express interest in me and I quite boldly declined) ... so yes, it is a complicated situation ... but I appreciate all suggestions given by others thus far.

Thanks again for all your ideas and suggestions ...

Lisa1978
;)

Guilty Spark
04-16-2009, 12:18 PM
Do you need a man hug Phill?

Buck
04-16-2009, 02:28 PM
Darn tootin' I do. I need one of those country redneck "Larry The Cable Guy," (not the "Deliverance" type) man hugs. If I can't get my first choice I will go with an Al Borland-"Tool Time" type of hug. :cool:

I am glad things worked out perfect for Lisa1978 :)