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dallas
12-06-2009, 01:21 PM
I recently spoke with a friend of my wife and I about coming to our school to learn aikido because he has an interest in martial arts .His biggest fear is that he would embarass himself and he has a fear of this so much he has not shown for class yet . As a child he was made fun of because he was gay and walked in a way that he says even teachers mocked . I have explained Aikido and its principles to him to wich he replied his problem is hes the size of a linebaker with the brain of a girl ,to wich I replied thats great because women pick this up quicker at the beginning .So he agreed to come and try and 2 days before class he called from work and somebody in the background was mocking him and trash talking about if he was learning tae bo or dancing . I wanted to have him invite the person in the background to a free class so he could experience ukemi first hand but did not I havent heard from him since and was wandering what anyone would advise . I really want to see him grow and I know he would enjoy the experience . I have had my own dojo for a short time any advice would be great . I have even thought of offering to train him at an off time so he can become more comfortable. Please any advice would help.
Thank You All
Dallas

Lyle Laizure
12-06-2009, 03:31 PM
I think you're on the right track with a private lesson or two. Under the circumstances I think this would be a great way to get him started. I would set up a limited number of private lessons with the understanding that he would need to attend regular classes following.

Everyone is self-conscious when they first start I think. While he is worrying about how everyone is starring at him they are thinking the very thing themselves.

dalen7
12-06-2009, 03:35 PM
His biggest fear is that he would embarass himself and he has a fear of this so much he has not shown for class yet .

Reminds me of my first 6 months of Aikido, all I did was embarrass myself... not knowing the language didn't help matters. :)

Truth is its totally new and you have to start somewhere - as you mentioned some private classes may help, thats cool of you to have offered...

Peace

dAlen

Janet Rosen
12-06-2009, 03:49 PM
All YOU can do is make it as welcoming as possible.
How he talks about it at work, sets himself up to not show up, etc ... that's HIS responsibility, not your's.

Shadowfax
12-06-2009, 03:49 PM
Sounds like the poor guy has really low self esteem. Aikido will probably really help that. I think a private lesson or two would be really helpful. Also try bringing him to the dojo just to show him around without the pressure of telling him he is going to take a lesson that day. Once there maybe show him one or two small things. Perhaps ask a sympathetic fellow student to come along so he can watch the two of you work together.

Try to keep the pressure as low as possible while encouraging your friend in this. I hope you can get him started and that it really helps him. Gaining self confidence by training will only help his life in the outside world as well.

crbateman
12-06-2009, 04:18 PM
Does your friend think people are supposed to already know their Aikido starting with the first class? Surely not... Tell him that many with years of experience are trying to get back to "beginners' mind", and that he has the jump on them, because he's already there... ;)

Linda Eskin
12-06-2009, 04:29 PM
One of the things I think is most valuable about practicing Aikido is that it puts whatever is up with you in other areas of your life right out there for you to examine and deal with. If you have any issue with authority, or learning, or feeling stupid or awkward, or fear of being embarassed or getting hurt, or whatever, you will almost certainly have the opportunity to confront that in Aikido. Sort of a laboratory setting for experimenting - noticing how you deal with things, and how that helps or hinders you in life.

Apparently he's allowed others to instill such fear and shame in him that he's willing to forego activities he might enjoy and benefit from. I would point that out to him. Sort of the "by not going, you're letting all those jerks who make fun of you win. If you want to go, go. The heck with them." He might learn that he can be and do just as he pleases, in spite of ridicule. That could be a huge lesson. He might also learn that being publicly embarassed won't kill him. Heaven knows it hasn't killed the rest of us yet. Imagine the freedom that could allow him in life?

I'm one of those people who feels most comfortable when I know what I'm doing, and know what to expect. In Aikido I rarely know what I'm going, or what to expect (in fact, trying to know what to expect is counter-productive). I've gotten a lot more comfortable with being confused and looking stupid, and that's given me the freedom to learn and experiment more. I've been corrected in front of people, to my initial mortification, and guess what? I lived through it, and learned from it.

His fear of feeling embarassed is stopping him in life. Maybe if you discuss the benefits of practicing Aikido in those terms, he might see some possibilities for it have a positive affect.

lbb
12-06-2009, 05:31 PM
All YOU can do is make it as welcoming as possible.
How he talks about it at work, sets himself up to not show up, etc ... that's HIS responsibility, not your's.

Yeah. Also, you might warn him, re: talking about it at work and so on, that the average person is spectacularly clueless on the subject of martial arts. They have many misconceptions about martial arts, and if you let them know that you train, they're likely to have many misconceptions about you as well. There's also this need that some people have to disparage anything positive that someone else is trying to do. Try to face those misconceptions and bad attitudes head-on, and you'll just give yourself a headache and a heartache. Best to just let it pass unnoticed.

As for the problem of getting this guy to step into the dojo, and to stay there once he's gotten inside...I guess I'd just say to him that you can't guarantee that nothing will ever happen that will cause him distress. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee the opposite: any activity in which you're trying to learn something new, or grow, or improve somehow, is going to have its moments of discomfort. Nothing meaningful is ever gained without paying a price, and the most meaningful things extract the most personal of prices. I think the thing that's causing your friend to hesitate is that he's had experiences in the past where he paid a price -- he endured pain and discomfort and embarrassment -- and got nothing in return. All you can do is ask him to trust you that if he steps into the dojo, and starts to train, and keeps training, the return will be there, and it will be worth the price.

Darryl Cowens
12-06-2009, 11:51 PM
To really test your insecurities, there is always that first time you join in at a Kendo Club and have to practise kiai .... :D

Eva Antonia
12-07-2009, 05:01 AM
Did he come?
And felt he fine?

I wish both you and him all the best!

Eva

SeiserL
12-07-2009, 06:10 AM
My compliments for your compassion.

But, IMHO, if its his insecurities, he needs to want it and do the work himself. You cannot do it for him. The best you can do is broadcast the invitation and model that this can be useful.

It may be more than simple insecurities and needs a competent counselor more than and before a dojo.

Marc Randolph
12-07-2009, 02:45 PM
As I try to put myself in his shoes, I'm having a completely differently line of thinking: a totally private lesson may actually prevent him from wanting to join the regular class.

Mind you, I have no idea if this would come to pass, but I'm going to lay this out there for anyone to poke holes at: he will not worry about making mistakes in front of you during private lessons because he knows and trusts you. But he will experience, first hand, how much he doesn't know, and even worse, how uncoordinated he is (compared to you) in doing the simplest of things. Every foot movement. Every hand movement. Every fall. Even just standing still! And that is to say nothing of what will run through his mind if he happens to see the complicated movements that you can do. Sure, you'll reassure him that it takes a lot of time and that everyone has to start somewhere, but if he has confidence problems, those are just empty words.

I wonder if it might be better for both you and him to get several brand new people together and have a "private" session together. Preferably even with 3 or 4 new people. Then everyone can see they are in the same boat. They bond, and then you move them as a group to the main class where they can support each other and each knows that they aren't the only one with no clue about what is going on.

Just a random idea from the peanut gallery (cause I sure am not a PhD!).

Marc

Daniel Wilson
12-10-2009, 10:01 AM
As someone who had a childhood similarly filled with ridicule and shame (admittedly, not for being gay - but still); I would think that a semi-private practice session would be the best way to go.

Ask him to come to the dojo at an off-time and just show him around, and let him watch you and one other newer aikidoka practice some basic techniques. Reassure him that everyone is awkward and nervous in the beginning - because it's completely new to everyone at that point. Also, show him a few things if you can.

I would just show him around, then let him observe some. Then try to show him a thing or two. Then, once you'r alone with him - perhaps try to talk to him about those other people.. about how he shouldn't let them keep him from doing something that he wants to do, about how aikido might help him build more confidence, and about how if people are ridiculing him about aikido - that he should probably keep it to himself at work until he is more comfortable with it.

After that - i'd leave him alone. You've been compassionate, and you've tried. Anything else is up to him. Either he will show up or he won't. I think anything beyond that would just push him away anyway.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
12-10-2009, 12:17 PM
Gently but firmly explain to your friend that until he decides to grab the problem by the horns and actually show up for class, all you can do for him is pat his back.

Keith Larman
12-10-2009, 12:26 PM
What I tell big new students -- if you don't feel like a spastic rhino in a tutu for the first few months you're not paying attention...

crbateman
12-10-2009, 06:01 PM
What I tell big new students -- if you don't feel like a spastic rhino in a tutu for the first few months you're not paying attention...And what does a spastic rhino in a tutu feel like?? I'll bet the zoos in your city got your picture posted at the gates... :D

Ketsan
12-10-2009, 08:20 PM
Go drinking with your class after training, or go for a meal or something and invite him. Once he's met everyone in a nice relaxed environment hopefully he'll feel ok about getting on the mat with them.

I had a friend that was quite nervous about joining my dojo. He came out drinking with us a couple of times, got to know everyone and now he's making excellent progress.

His Aikido is coming along too. :D

dallas
12-10-2009, 09:33 PM
I just wanted to thank everyone who responded to my forum ,I sometimes forget how fortunate I am to be involved in a system that regularly exercises understanding ,forward thinkung and ( thinkung hmm I think thats a little too chinese for this ) thinking and honestly caring for other human beings . Again thank you all
Dallas

Keith Larman
12-10-2009, 10:47 PM
And what does a spastic rhino in a tutu feel like?? I'll bet the zoos in your city got your picture posted at the gates... :D

Nah, it would scare away the kids... :D "Hey, daddy, is that the Rhino-feeler-upper dude?" They just leave me alone -- they know I'm harmless. The Rhino's can take care of themselves.

On a serious note, I also use that comment for a somewhat serious reason. I'll make a point of discussing it later and verify that they are in fact feeling like a total klutz. I'll point out that the very fact they they are self-aware enough to realize they're moving awkwardly is a good sign that they're learning a new way to move and control their bodies. It *is* all good...

crbateman
12-11-2009, 01:05 AM
On a serious note, I also use that comment for a somewhat serious reason.I know you did... But some straight lines simply can't be ignored... :D

raul rodrigo
12-11-2009, 01:26 AM
A friend of mine put it differently:"If at this point, you're not confused, then you're not thinking clearly."

Pauliina Lievonen
12-11-2009, 09:42 AM
A friend of mine put it differently:"If at this point, you're not confused, then you're not thinking clearly."Raul, I'm so going to steal that! :D :cool: Awesome!

kvaak
Pauliina