PDA

View Full Version : how many back talk would you take?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

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


dapidmini
11-08-2011, 11:34 AM
so there's this student in my dojo who talks back to people who tries to correct him (let's call him X). I don't think we need to go into the detail of the back talk but how many back talks would you take before giving up on teaching someone? Sensei has given up on him though.. should I just follow Sensei and ignore him? I feel indebted to him because he was my teacher in another martial art for about 4 months which I quit last month because the training schedule clashes with aikido class.

Basia Halliop
11-08-2011, 02:01 PM
I don't know what you consider 'back talk'. It sounds like a really strange expression to use when you're discussing a conversation between two adults. 'Back talk' sounds like you tell a child you're in charge of to do something and they say they won't, in a rude way... It's hard for me to see how that applies to adults.

I guess you have to figure out if they're responding to your comment as a way of furthering the discussion or as a way of stopping the discussion.

If they're responding in a way that seems like they want to discuss your idea or comment, then, well, it depends if YOU want to keep discussing it or if you think their point might be interesting or if you think you want to try to convince them of your original point. It's kind of up to you if you want to continue discussing with them or not.

If they're responding in a way that seems like they want you to stop making comments on their technique... then stop making comments on their technique. In that case, they don't want you to teach them, so just train.

kewms
11-08-2011, 04:21 PM
Like Basia said, "back talk" isn't really a phrase I associate with adult conversation.

But if he refuses to accept instruction, the best answer is to just ignore him and get on with your life. That's especially true if you're not actually teaching the class.

If you *are* teaching, then you have a responsibility to make sure that he doesn't injure anyone, disrupt the class, or undermine what you're trying to teach. Throwing him until he can't stand up seems to be the classical solution. (Or should I say, showing that what you're doing is effective, repeatedly, until he either agrees with you or is too tired to argue.)

Katherine

Janet Rosen
11-08-2011, 04:26 PM
If it were a total novice, I might cut some slack, explain dojo etiquette, etc...but this guy was your teacher so I would stop giving him any verbal corrections he can reply to.

jatucker
11-08-2011, 04:48 PM
Not everyone naturally responds well to criticism, no mater how constructive the comments are intended. If someone becomes defensive to corrections, politely tell them this is not a competition, you are only giving feedback. Feedback is an important tool for learning Aikido. Make sure you are really giving them helpful feedback not telling them they are wrong.

Coming from another martial art they may feel they have some conflicting knowledge. Let them know you are not replacing their style, but you want to add to what they know.

Don’t let them clash with you (even verbally) blend.

phitruong
11-08-2011, 05:15 PM
sounded like he need a good spanking. i'll say proceed with spanking waza until the talk stop. if that fail, koshinage until stop. :)

Lyle Laizure
11-08-2011, 06:17 PM
If your sensei has "given up on him" why hasn't he told him not to come back?

robin_jet_alt
11-08-2011, 06:38 PM
I'm not sure about this case, but I would like to relate something from my own experience.

For the last year, I have trained in a style of aikido that is not what I'm used to, and one of the more challenging aspects is that certain techniques look very similar but actually use totally different mechanisms to what I'm used to. It can take me a looooong time to work out how it is they are doing them. I certainly don't mean to argue with anyone about it, but because I have the pre-existing knowledge about other ways that they are done, it can take a while for the new information to penetrate. This is particularly the case when I am working with someone who can't demonstrate an effective technique. On the other hand, my understanding improved much more quickly when sensei let me experience the technique multiple times. Could this be the case here?

On the other hand, if they are actually being argumentative, then it makes me wonder why they are still there.

Either way, Katherine's "classical solution" sounds like a good idea to me.

Stephen Nichol
11-08-2011, 09:31 PM
This is actually rather easy to answer; Follow your Sensei's example. It is your Sensei's dojo and so when there, follow the example set before you.

I suggest that you try not offer to 'teach' how to improve the technique to this individual during training unless they ask for it.

Take what you have said about this person to us and consider it simply: "because he was my teacher in another martial art for about 4 months".

This could mean that this individual while curious about Aikido, has been an instructor in their own right albeit in another martial art and so taking any advice from anyone they cannot see as equal or their senior 'may' default to advice not worth listening to. This may be even worse in your case as you used to train under this person but left his school to focus on Aikido. A choice you made for yourself however has had this possible side effect. You will 'know' the answer to that better than any of us though.

This individual currently has a preconceived 'way' of wanting to train, learn and come to understand what is being taught based on how they have done so in thier life of learning and teaching martial arts. They may simply feel that they know better even if their knowledge comes from another path that they are trying to merge with this one.

Think of it in terms of the path of Aiki. Do not offer any resistance to this individuals 'way' of learning. Do not encourage it with others in your dojo as I am hopeful your Sensei has not done so.

Instead try lead by example. Do not avoid training with them as that is not the best path for yourself if your goal is to help this person. Instead just train with them. Do the technique as you know how without 'teaching it' and see how he goes. Simply encourage him with positive comments when you notice any improvement with his technique. I would avoid any negative commentary regardless of what you see being done incorrectly.

Simply try: "That's pretty good. Try it like this and see if it is easier for you." Then demonstrate what you mean.

However be careful not get caught up with 'judging' his performance in the techniques. It is not important. Keeping your true centre (inner peace) is all that is important and setting the example. Provide an environment that allows him to learn what he needs to his way even if you find yourself leading him 'your way'.

You do Aikido for yourself and when he wants your help, he will ask for it. Perhaps all you need to do is let him know that you are there to help should he ever feel he needs it.

I hope this helps :)

Joe McParland
11-08-2011, 09:57 PM
Just out of curiosity, has the instructor indicated this person is a problem, or is this just your own assessment--something that is bothering you?

dapidmini
11-08-2011, 11:41 PM
I don't know what you consider 'back talk'. It sounds like a really strange expression to use when you're discussing a conversation between two adults.

If they're responding in a way that seems like they want you to stop making comments on their technique... then stop making comments on their technique. In that case, they don't want you to teach them, so just train.
that's what he did and that's what I intended to do.

Not everyone naturally responds well to criticism, no mater how constructive the comments are intended. If someone becomes defensive to corrections, politely tell them this is not a competition, you are only giving feedback. Feedback is an important tool for learning Aikido. Make sure you are really giving them helpful feedback not telling them they are wrong.

Coming from another martial art they may feel they have some conflicting knowledge. Let them know you are not replacing their style, but you want to add to what they know.
yes. his mindset is all about fighting so it's contradictory to my dojo's Aikido. thanks for the advice :D

sounded like he need a good spanking. i'll say proceed with spanking waza until the talk stop. if that fail, koshinage until stop. :)
problem is, he's quite old and can't take a good enough ukemi for a koshinage yet..

If your sensei has "given up on him" why hasn't he told him not to come back?
Sensei doesn't kick anyone out of the dojo unless it's absolutely necessary..

This is actually rather easy to answer; Follow your Sensei's example. It is your Sensei's dojo and so when there, follow the example set before you.

I suggest that you try not offer to 'teach' how to improve the technique to this individual during training unless they ask for it.

Take what you have said about this person to us and consider it simply: "because he was my teacher in another martial art for about 4 months".

This could mean that this individual while curious about Aikido, has been an instructor in their own right albeit in another martial art and so taking any advice from anyone they cannot see as equal or their senior 'may' default to advice not worth listening to. This may be even worse in your case as you used to train under this person but left his school to focus on Aikido. A choice you made for yourself however has had this possible side effect. You will 'know' the answer to that better than any of us though.

This individual currently has a preconceived 'way' of wanting to train, learn and come to understand what is being taught based on how they have done so in thier life of learning and teaching martial arts. They may simply feel that they know better even if their knowledge comes from another path that they are trying to merge with this one.

Think of it in terms of the path of Aiki. Do not offer any resistance to this individuals 'way' of learning. Do not encourage it with others in your dojo as I am hopeful your Sensei has not done so.

Instead try lead by example. Do not avoid training with them as that is not the best path for yourself if your goal is to help this person. Instead just train with them. Do the technique as you know how without 'teaching it' and see how he goes. Simply encourage him with positive comments when you notice any improvement with his technique. I would avoid any negative commentary regardless of what you see being done incorrectly.

Simply try: "That's pretty good. Try it like this and see if it is easier for you." Then demonstrate what you mean.

However be careful not get caught up with 'judging' his performance in the techniques. It is not important. Keeping your true centre (inner peace) is all that is important and setting the example. Provide an environment that allows him to learn what he needs to his way even if you find yourself leading him 'your way'.

You do Aikido for yourself and when he wants your help, he will ask for it. Perhaps all you need to do is let him know that you are there to help should he ever feel he needs it.

I hope this helps :)
agreed :D thanks. it helps a lot.

Just out of curiosity, has the instructor indicated this person is a problem, or is this just your own assessment--something that is bothering you?
Sensei has actually talked about this a couple times when we were driving home together.. so I guess it's not just me;)

Hanna B
11-09-2011, 01:44 AM
This might not apply in your case... but I might have a strong urge to "talk back" (I don't like the expression either) if the correction is based on incorrect description of how I did the technique. That is fairly common, really. The description of what I did wrong might be exaggerated "for pedagogic reasons" and maybe even showed to me that way. Many people I think have problems recieving this politely - I certainly do. It feels like I am wrongly accused of doing something I didn't.

Unless teachers are willing to spend some time studying what the student is doing, so he/she can adequately describe what he or she is doing wrong, it might be better to just skip that part and focus on how to do the technique correctly. My position is wrong, OK. But being showed a parody of how I stand is not really helpful.

Tim Ruijs
11-09-2011, 03:18 AM
At times it happens that the teacher observes something and wishes to correct that, but the student is actually working on something else. Student should always listen to the teacher. ALWAYS. Even when you disagree, listen, take notice, think about it. This really polishes your judgement.

Off course the student may point out what he/she was working on so the teacher may respond to that. But I do not consider this back talk. These are moments where the student really learns: focus on what the teacher wants you to focus on and not what you want to focus on. This problem is very common I suppose.
A good method to show student what they are doing wrong is exaggeration. Many quickly recognise their error and know what to work on. Others pick up on it when teacher lets them feel the technique. Again others only need a few words to point them in the right direction. A good teacher, after a while, knows his students and acts accordingly. Or he/she incorporates the different techniques when teaching....

bob_stra
11-09-2011, 03:41 AM
Well, if the guy has basically indicated that he knows best, then leave him to that. Solves your problem and solves his. C'est la vie

If he's observant, he'll notice he's not improving and then take steps to either correct or find another avenue to pursue. I think the only issue would be around safety / cranking things, should tempers flare. It kinda goes hand-in-hand with this sort of behavior / personality.

Thinking of it historically, there have always been "folks who pay the rent" and "actual students of the art". Isn't there some kinda parable about sheep and goats? :D

JJF
11-09-2011, 04:16 AM
No doubt this guys need Aikido as much - or even more - as anyone else.

I know it's a pain. During my 15 years in the same dojo (with some pause I'll admit) we almost once threw a guy out of the dojo. He was not good for the wa of our dojo, and he was a bad example for the new students.

As chance had it, he chose to stop by himself and shift into another style. I think that he one some level understood that he was not going to meet a lot of sympathy in our dojo. He stayed for many years though.

I guess my point is, that strange people will join our dojo's, and that Aikido could be what help them towards becomming better people. It has that potential and we all have different starting points. Who are we to drive someone away because we can't handle them? If they are a pain in... well.. uhm.. the neck.. then examine what it is that bothers you and try to embrace them.

It's damn hard.. I know... but its altso a great opportunity for us to train our own ability to handle what ever cards life deals us.

Politely offer suggestions, and if he don't want to listen - accept it and move on. One of two things are bound to happen. Either he will leave one day since "these guys don't know what they are doing, so I'm OUT of here" or one day he will start realizing that he's a pain, and will hopefully mend his ways.

Well.. a third option is that he will just stay the same - but it's not likely unless you give him reason to stay the way he is by accepting his challenges.

Accept - Blend - Forgive

(Once more.. I'ts really really difficult - I know... :) good luck)

JJ

Larry Feldman
11-09-2011, 04:43 PM
Time for the "empty your cup" lecture.

Hanna B
11-09-2011, 04:51 PM
At times it happens that the teacher observes something and wishes to correct that, but the student is actually working on something else. Student should always listen to the teacher. ALWAYS. Even when you disagree, listen, take notice, think about it. This really polishes your judgement.

Then there's sempai observing something and wanting to correct it while the student is working on something else.

And students of the same level observing something and wanting to correct it while student in question is working on something else.

And then there's kohai observing something and wanting to correct it while the student is working on something else.

We all agree you should focus on what the teacher wants you to focus on. The rest... depends.

A good method to show student what they are doing wrong is exaggeration.

That depends on how it's done, I guess. "You do like this" and then exaggeration is probably not so good. "Nobody is really doing like this, but this is an exaggeration of a common error" might turn some lightbulbs on in the crowd.

Lyle Laizure
11-09-2011, 05:39 PM
Sensei doesn't kick anyone out of the dojo unless it's absolutely necessary..

But if the sensei has "written the individual off" I would think it has become necessary.

Mario Tobias
11-09-2011, 11:35 PM
If the person doesn't want to follow the sensei then it's a problem.

If the correction is coming from a sempai or a kohai and the partner doesn't listen, it shouldn't be your problem. People in the dojo always have the urge to teach something but regardless how good our intentions are with imparting our knowledge, no matter how "good" we are or how we think how good we are, we can't force somebody to accept the information we give them. It is their journey.

I also observe in some occasions that when we teach, we talk too much. The more we talk, no matter how great and superb the idea/principle is, the lesser we train. Aikido is about doing and about feeling. You get good at aikido when you train a lot IMHO, not when you talk a lot. That is why I understand in some dojos talking is forbidden during practice.

Also, the partners learning accelerates from the ideas he himself discovers not the verbal things imparted to him. Once a person discovers by himself something new, it leaves an indelible mark in his brain and these things he discovers by himself mostly likely won't be forgotten. A verbal correction even by a sempai or even sensei will pass through one ear and out the next.

That is why when I have the urge to correct my partner, I zip my mouth and let them do the technique even if its wrong. Though I give them some resistance where there are openings. It will take a long time (or very very long time) for them to get it but you will find everything will turn out OK in the end.

If they are sincere in their training, they will get good. If they don't get good, ultimately they will get good later or they will stop training eventually, so why worry about the outcome?

Being argumentative though is a different story.

dapidmini
11-10-2011, 09:00 PM
thanks for all the answers guys.. really appreciate them :D. okay, this is what happened: Sensei taught us to control and redirect the opponent's attack (uppercut). but instead of doing that, X just blocks the uppercut lightly so that even though I wasn't using anywhere near my full strength and speed, my hand almost reached his chin. I thought it's going to be dangerous if he tries that move with someone using full strength. I thought it was just a simple mistake and he'd realize it soon so I didn't say anything the first time he did that. but it turns out that he's still doing that the when it's my turn again to pair with him (we were in a group of 5 people, and I have shown how it's supposed to be done when I'm tori). that's when I said to him, "maybe it's better to control and redirect the attack like this.." he then quickly dismisses my suggestion by saying (I'm quoting) "if you'd done that, the attacker would've smashed your face".. I was thinking, how would it be possible when I'm behind him and in control of his movements?

so I guess I'll take your advice and not encourage nor avoid him.. what will be, will be. (isn't it que sera sera?) thanks.

@Larry: apparently his cup is sealed shut. if I use force to empty it, the mat will be drenched again and get smelly. the mats already smelled bad enough because of the rain last tuesday :(

Janet Rosen
11-10-2011, 09:37 PM
Oh, heck, only thing to do after he's been warned of the danger is to pop him.

kewms
11-10-2011, 09:39 PM
None of us were there, so it's impossible to say who is in the right technically. Ask your teacher about that.

As for the personal dynamics, you have two choices: you can demonstrate that what he's doing is incorrect, by hitting him. (Be prepared for him to return the favor when it's his turn.) Or you can shut up and train.

Katherine

Mario Tobias
11-10-2011, 10:24 PM
Unless you are a teacher who tries to protect your reputation for quality, work on your problem, not the others.

If you try to correct somebody else be ready to accept the fact that most will not listen but do not be offended by this. You can't change people's attitudes but what you can change is how you react to them. For me I also think for these kinds of people, why should I give them readily the secrets I know when I discovered them only after 15-20 years practice. They weren't handed out to me I worked for it. They should work for it and discover these by themselves, so everything's fine. They dont want to listen, fine by me.

Tim Ruijs
11-11-2011, 02:04 AM
Then there's sempai observing something and wanting to correct it while the student is working on something else.

And students of the same level observing something and wanting to correct it while student in question is working on something else.

And then there's kohai observing something and wanting to correct it while the student is working on something else.

We all agree you should focus on what the teacher wants you to focus on. The rest... depends.


Still, follow the lesson of the teacher...
It takes real effort to get such an environment in your dojo, but when you get it, it works really well. Off course this is a continuous process.
I think it is the responsibility of the teacher to make this very clear to all students. It forces students to think about what the teacher is trying to achieve so they do not distract eachother with other issues. I do correct students that correct others on aspects outside my lesson.
I have encountered people on the tatami that simply did what they wanted to work on regardless of what the teacher is doing. They undermine the entire lesson of the teacher and even worse they often start correcting others on things they work on....very bad.

Tim Ruijs
11-11-2011, 02:14 AM
If the person doesn't want to follow the sensei then it's a problem.

If the correction is coming from a sempai or a kohai and the partner doesn't listen, it shouldn't be your problem. People in the dojo always have the urge to teach something but regardless how good our intentions are with imparting our knowledge, no matter how "good" we are or how we think how good we are, we can't force somebody to accept the information we give them. It is their journey.

I also observe in some occasions that when we teach, we talk too much. The more we talk, no matter how great and superb the idea/principle is, the lesser we train. Aikido is about doing and about feeling. You get good at aikido when you train a lot IMHO, not when you talk a lot. That is why I understand in some dojos talking is forbidden during practice.

Also, the partners learning accelerates from the ideas he himself discovers not the verbal things imparted to him. Once a person discovers by himself something new, it leaves an indelible mark in his brain and these things he discovers by himself mostly likely won't be forgotten. A verbal correction even by a sempai or even sensei will pass through one ear and out the next.

That is why when I have the urge to correct my partner, I zip my mouth and let them do the technique even if its wrong. Though I give them some resistance where there are openings. It will take a long time (or very very long time) for them to get it but you will find everything will turn out OK in the end.

If they are sincere in their training, they will get good. If they don't get good, ultimately they will get good later or they will stop training eventually, so why worry about the outcome?

Being argumentative though is a different story.
Very good points, indeed.
One cannot convince the other (i.e. force, fight, compete). One can merely show the better way, or let feel why their way is less.

hughrbeyer
11-11-2011, 11:00 AM
There's a limit to how much you can get into this stuff during class. You offered your idea, he countered, you're done.

But you could raise it again after class and the two of you could explore a bit. What happens if you strike a little harder? Is his block really ineffective? What happens if you do it your way? Can he really smash your face? Try it out. How else are you ever going to know?

Hanna B
11-12-2011, 12:44 AM
Still, follow the lesson of the teacher...
It takes real effort to get such an environment in your dojo, but when you get it, it works really well. Off course this is a continuous process.
I think it is the responsibility of the teacher to make this very clear to all students. It forces students to think about what the teacher is trying to achieve so they do not distract eachother with other issues. I do correct students that correct others on aspects outside my lesson.
I have encountered people on the tatami that simply did what they wanted to work on regardless of what the teacher is doing. They undermine the entire lesson of the teacher and even worse they often start correcting others on things they work on....very bad.

*nod*

That's the dynamics of the whole dojo. How it will work out depends to a fairly large degree on how the teacher handles the issues you mention.

Very new beginners though (if the class is mixed so they're not in the beginners' class) might need some help with other issues than those the teacher mentioned, since having somewhat right position etc is a prerequisite for working on anything else in the technique.

Hanna B
11-12-2011, 12:58 AM
I thought it's going to be dangerous if he tries that move with someone using full strength. I thought it was just a simple mistake and he'd realize it soon so I didn't say anything the first time he did that. but it turns out that he's still doing that the when it's my turn again to pair with him (we were in a group of 5 people, and I have shown how it's supposed to be done when I'm tori). that's when I said to him, "maybe it's better to control and redirect the attack like this.." he then quickly dismisses my suggestion by saying (I'm quoting) "if you'd done that, the attacker would've smashed your face".. I was thinking, how would it be possible when I'm behind him and in control of his movements?

His concepts of how to move is different. Assuming he is somewhat good in his old art, I don't think you ever will convince him of the logics of aikido without taking the discussion to really deep levels. That won't be done in a class setting. Arguing over which way to do technique is better probably is pointless. BUT he should respond to "that's not how the teacher is doing it", and adapt accordingly.

You might think that if he sees that you (and several other people in the dojo) does it in another way than he does, he should realise his way is not what is expected. That might not be so, actually. He might have missed that point when the teacher showed the move - or the teacher's version might be slightly different (better) than what the rest of the people in the dojo are doing, so that the teacher's version look OK in his eyes but what the rest of you are doing not. And so he is trying to find a solution to how that technique should be performed.

So if you want to try to help him, I suggest the version "the teacher showed it like this", instead of "it might be better if you xyz". If he argues with that, then obviously the two of you will have to ask the teacher. If he insists in doing it his way although the teacher clearly showed how he wants it done... then the guy doesn't want to learn, is behaving poorly, and surely will drop out. Pointing out to him how he constantly (if that is the case) is doing things differently from what the teacher is teaching might help him along in his process of making that decision.

Basia Halliop
11-12-2011, 05:21 PM
It's also possible that his criticisms of how you're doing it are valid, too. E.g., maybe you're making some mistakes in your movement or timing so it actually doesn't 100% 'work' (e.g. maybe he really can hit you), which makes him doubt that it CAN work that way. That would be entirely normal if you're not super advanced, as you're also in the process of learning. If that's a possibility it might be better to let the teacher or more advanced students do the correction and teaching, even if what you're doing is closer to what the teacher is teaching than what he is doing....

Also some people just have to take time and experience for themselves what works and doesn't work and why things are taught a certain way before they become convinced enough to want to try to learn to copy it... if at least the teacher and most advanced students are doing things solidly, then I guess in time he'll see for himself if it's something he wants to learn to do... or if he decides he doesn't want to learn to do what they do, then presumably eventually he'll leave.

dapidmini
11-15-2011, 11:44 AM
okay, so now another problem arose concerning this particular student. if I was supposed to start a new thread to ask this then please let me know.. Sensei actually told me that he also doesn't know what he should do about this...

so we are going to have a Kyu exam this December and X is going to participate and test for 3rd kyu (brown belt) while not being able to perform yokomenuchi shihonage correctly. I don't know how he passed the previous tests.. maybe Sensei was too lenient. Sensei never fails anyone taking the Kyu exam as long as they have been training for at least 4 months before the exam. and more importantly, X comes training with his 2 children. both are not so bad, because they listen to instructions given to them. if Sensei decides to fail X while passing his children, that would make X looks so bad and I don't think Sensei would want that.

but we're going to organize our first Shihan visit in our Dojo next February. Sensei doesn't want to lose face by having an unqualified brown belt in the presence of a Shihan. being the most active 1st kyu in Dojo, Sensei wanted X to take extra class from me. how can I teach him if he's not willing to even consider my suggestions??

btw, X is actually a nice guy outside the Dojo. and he's even willing to take part in sponsoring the Shihan visit next February. so it's another reason why Sensei would want to avoid failing his kyu exam..

maybe Sensei will come up with a solution, but it never hurts to have more inputs from experienced people in case Sensei asks for an opinion.. Sensei doesn't use the Internet much, and his english is not very good. so I'm asking for your advice in Sensei's stead..

Janet Rosen
11-15-2011, 01:47 PM
In my opinion it reflects very poorly on the teacher if a student is granted rank for reasons other than accomplishment. Let me state this very clearly: It is NOT a reflection on the student. It is a reflection on the teacher. It says he is not teaching properly.

Politics, niceness, economics....when someone is standing on the mat, training, that stuff is irrelevent.

I should state that I write this as a slow older student who has been passed along the path by many others over the years, people who were progressing more quickly than I. At times I've had to reassure those students that this was FINE - we don't all progress at the same rate and I never felt "passed over" inappropriately.

Lyle Laizure
11-15-2011, 04:22 PM
In my opinion it reflects very poorly on the teacher if a student is granted rank for reasons other than accomplishment. Let me state this very clearly: It is NOT a reflection on the student. It is a reflection on the teacher. It says he is not teaching properly.

Politics, niceness, economics....when someone is standing on the mat, training, that stuff is irrelevent.

I should state that I write this as a slow older student who has been passed along the path by many others over the years, people who were progressing more quickly than I. At times I've had to reassure those students that this was FINE - we don't all progress at the same rate and I never felt "passed over" inappropriately.

AGREED!

Hanna B
11-15-2011, 04:29 PM
being the most active 1st kyu in Dojo, Sensei wanted X to take extra class from me. how can I teach him if he's not willing to even consider my suggestions??

That won't work, will it. Can you tell your teacher that, in a polite manner?

The rest IMHO isn't your problem.

kewms
11-15-2011, 04:40 PM
If he doesn't want an unqualified brown belt on the mat, then he shouldn't award the brown belt.

The face-saving way to avoid doing so would be to tell the student privately, but bluntly, that he is not ready to test. With, perhaps, a list of specific things to work on. That's the way it is handled in most dojos.

The more embarrassing way is to allow the student to test, and fail him. But that's still less embarrassing than allowing an unqualified student to represent the dojo.

Think, for a moment, about the effect of promoting this person. Do you think it will improve his attitude, or worsen it?

Katherine

Janet Rosen
11-15-2011, 04:50 PM
I also don't understand, if the instructor can't teach it to this student, why does he think a 1st kyu can?

robin_jet_alt
11-15-2011, 06:05 PM
You never want to have people fail their tests. A better option would be for your sensei to have a word with X and suggest that he shouldn't take his test at this point in time. He could also tactfully point out that improving yokomen-uchi shihonage would help him if he wants to take the test in the future. This is what my senseis would have done in these circumstances.

Mario Tobias
11-15-2011, 10:45 PM
If your sensei doesn't want to lose face, then I think he shouldn't recommend X for a promotion. Opportunities for promotions dont go away. But how do you know he doesnt want to lose face?

dapidmini
11-15-2011, 11:58 PM
thanks for the replies, guys.

Politics, niceness, economics....when someone is standing on the mat, training, that stuff is irrelevent.

I should state that I write this as a slow older student who has been passed along the path by many others over the years, people who were progressing more quickly than I. At times I've had to reassure those students that this was FINE - we don't all progress at the same rate and I never felt "passed over" inappropriately.

I think Sensei is mostly thinking about niceness and economics..

my friends also passed along before me and I have no problem with that mainly because they are not closely related to me. but I think X is different. the people who'll advance before him are his own children. more importantly, he has always been a teacher. nevermind failing a test, he's not even used to being a student. he actually told me that when I was training under him. although he also said that he is trying to overcome his ego as a teacher, but it's hard to let go of decades of mindset in a short time...

That won't work, will it. Can you tell your teacher that, in a polite manner?

The rest IMHO isn't your problem.

I care because I love training in this Dojo, and as I said before, I feel indebted to him so I'm concerned about him.

If he doesn't want an unqualified brown belt on the mat, then he shouldn't award the brown belt.

The face-saving way to avoid doing so would be to tell the student privately, but bluntly, that he is not ready to test. With, perhaps, a list of specific things to work on. That's the way it is handled in most dojos.

The more embarrassing way is to allow the student to test, and fail him. But that's still less embarrassing than allowing an unqualified student to represent the dojo.

Think, for a moment, about the effect of promoting this person. Do you think it will improve his attitude, or worsen it?

Katherine

thanks Katherine, maybe I need to suggest something like this to Sensei...

I also don't understand, if the instructor can't teach it to this student, why does he think a 1st kyu can?

I think it's not that he can't teach him, he just doesn't have the time to do so. Sensei lives quite far from us while I live in town..

Hanna B
11-16-2011, 01:42 AM
I care because I love training in this Dojo, and as I said before, I feel indebted to him so I'm concerned about him.

Sure. But if your teacher creates a situation for himself it is not your job to fix it for him. It just wouldn't work.

Isn't there an implication here that if you train with this guy to prepare his grading test, and if he then performs poorly, that will also reflect badly on you?

If that is the actual problem with the situation, you could tell your teacher "sure, I could train with him but since he seldom listens to what I say I'm not sure that would amount to much good".

What does he feel about training extra with you? If neither of you are happy about it, it sounds like... not a good situation.

(Or possibly your teacher feels it is a problem that you don't really get along well, and is arranging this extra training so that you the two of you will hopefully learn to cooperate?)

Basia Halliop
11-16-2011, 12:21 PM
my friends also passed along before me and I have no problem with that mainly because they are not closely related to me. but I think X is different. the people who'll advance before him are his own children. more importantly, he has always been a teacher. nevermind failing a test, he's not even used to being a student.

He'll get over it. This is an adult we're talking about, yes?

I don't know, but personally I find it so hard to stay patient and reasonable with such talk. It just really frustrates me to read this. It seems both dishonest and silly. IMO, tell him he's not ready to test yet at this point, offer him extra help and support if he wants it, and leave it at that. No need to make such a huge deal about it.

If he's so emotionally delicate or volatile he can't even handle being told in a polite friendly way by his own teacher that he doesn't yet know what he needs to know, then I don't know what kind of hope for him there is in the long run anyway. Either he'll learn to deal with it (or quite possibly he's more grown up than you think he is and will actually handle it maturely) or he won't. I don't really see what's gained by manipulating standards or being dishonest like this. The strangest thing is he doesn't even seem very interested in learning from the teacher; why tiptoe around him like he's some kind of foreign dignitary? If it's this bad at 3rd kyu the situation is hardly going to get BETTER at higher ranks that people care about more (and he'll be further and further behind, too).

Is it only in Aikido that this kind of thing happens? In the rest of life, sometimes you pass tests, sometimes you don't, sometimes you get promotions, sometimes you don't, and people deal with it all the time. I give university students bad marks on quizzes and tests all the time and they don't constantly have a meltdown or blame me for being unfair or drop out of school.

I wouldn't be surprised if he's more mature than you think he is, though.

kewms
11-16-2011, 12:38 PM
If he's so emotionally delicate or volatile he can't even handle being told in a polite friendly way by his own teacher that he doesn't yet know what he needs to know, then I don't know what kind of hope for him there is in the long run anyway.

Yeah. Martial arts are hard. Get over it.

Katherine

Janet Rosen
11-16-2011, 01:00 PM
What they just said...

Lyle Laizure
11-16-2011, 05:33 PM
You never want to have people fail their tests.

I don't understand this. Why? Are we so emotionaly damaged that we cannot accept that we didn't perform at the necessary level to grade up? A test shouldn't be so easy that a student passes without work. I am not for setting a student up to fail but I beleive a test should be a test. There should be an opportunity to pass or fail, otherwise it isn't really a test. How a student accepts disappointment is more important than how a student will accept a promotion. So why a student should never fail a test is beyond me. Perhaps you can explain this in more detail.

hughrbeyer
11-16-2011, 07:29 PM
I'd suggest a private, straight talk conversation with the guy. Tell him Sensei isn't satisfied with his shihonage because it doesn't fit with the way you do it in your style and that it's not really about what you or he think is best, it's about whether he's doing aikido according to your style. Tell him Sensei has asked you to work with him on this and make sure he's got it down before the test.

Then ask him if he's willing to learn this from you. Then shut up and let the awkward silence go on as long as it has to. Don't rescue him.

If he says yes, you have your agreement. If he can't give you a clear "yes", tell him and your Sensei that regretfully, you can't do it.

robin_jet_alt
11-16-2011, 09:13 PM
I don't understand this. Why? Are we so emotionaly damaged that we cannot accept that we didn't perform at the necessary level to grade up? A test shouldn't be so easy that a student passes without work. I am not for setting a student up to fail but I beleive a test should be a test. There should be an opportunity to pass or fail, otherwise it isn't really a test. How a student accepts disappointment is more important than how a student will accept a promotion. So why a student should never fail a test is beyond me. Perhaps you can explain this in more detail.

Because it reflects badly on sensei if they are putting their students up for testing when they aren't ready. When sensei allows a student to attempt a test, (s)he is essentially saying "I think this person is good enough to pass this test". If that turns out not to be the case, then it is embarrassing for everyone. I'm not saying people should pass regardless of how bad they are. I'm saying that people shouldn't be allowed to attempt the test if they are not good enough.

Hanna B
11-16-2011, 09:35 PM
Because it reflects badly on sensei if they are putting their students up for testing when they aren't ready. When sensei allows a student to attempt a test, (s)he is essentially saying "I think this person is good enough to pass this test". If that turns out not to be the case, then it is embarrassing for everyone. I'm not saying people should pass regardless of how bad they are. I'm saying that people shouldn't be allowed to attempt the test if they are not good enough.

But as already has been mentioned, nobody sees it like that in other walks of life, schools etc.

What you and many others are describing is the culture in some parts of the aikido world. Not the whole. I know someone who went to train in Japan for a couple of months, and took shodan there. In their home dojo, hardly anyone is ever failed at a test. In these Japanese dojos - a system of dojos with many teachers collected under one shihan - typically 1/3 of all students testing for shodan are failed. They was a bit shocked to find out.

IMHO it is logical to make sure the actual testing is done before the "test" when the dojo is small, so the teacher can oversee each student throughout the training process. When the person testing don't regularly train with the examinator, it makes more sense to let the test be the actual test. It also a test of the other teachers in the organisation. In failing students testing for shodan and in each case explaining why, the shihan informs the teachers what they should focus on more.

Failing 5% of students or less sounds like the harsh way for the students. If regularly 1/3 of students are failed, it is of course a disappointment but not that a big deal.

robin_jet_alt
11-16-2011, 09:48 PM
But as already has been mentioned, nobody sees it like that in other walks of life, schools etc.

What you and many others are describing is the culture in some parts of the aikido world. Not the whole. I know someone who went to train in Japan for a couple of months, and took shodan there. In their home dojo, hardly anyone is ever failed at a test. In these Japanese dojos - a system of dojos with many teachers collected under one shihan - typically 1/3 of all students testing for shodan are failed. They was a bit shocked to find out.

IMHO it is logical to make sure the actual testing is done before the "test" when the dojo is small, so the teacher can oversee each student throughout the training process. When the person testing don't regularly train with the examinator, it makes more sense to let the test be the actual test. It also a test of the other teachers in the organisation. In failing students testing for shodan and in each case explaining why, the shihan informs the teachers what they should focus on more.

Failing 5% of students or less sounds like the harsh way for the students. If regularly 1/3 of students are failed, it is of course a disappointment but not that a big deal.

I definitely see your point, and I understand that there are many different ways to approach this, both inside and outside of Japan. I just want to add a few points though.

Firstly, while things are seen differently in schools etc. the system of testing is quite different. In martial arts, the idea is that you attempt the test when you are ready. In school, you are expected to attempt tests at regular intervals. I think it is reasonable to fail a test if you attempt it when you are not ready, but I can't think why you would fail it if you attempt it when you are ready.

Also, particularly when the person testing does not train with the tester, the results reflect on the person who is actually in charge of teaching. If a teacher consistently recommends students who are not ready, then it reflects very badly on them.

Obviously if you are in an environment where people regularly fail, then it is another matter.

Hanna B
11-16-2011, 10:22 PM
Firstly, while things are seen differently in schools etc. the system of testing is quite different. In martial arts, the idea is that you attempt the test when you are ready. In school, you are expected to attempt tests at regular intervals. I think it is reasonable to fail a test if you attempt it when you are not ready, but I can't think why you would fail it if you attempt it when you are ready.

In your school of martial arts, that is obviously the case.

I'd say twice a year is regular intervals, btw.


Also, particularly when the person testing does not train with the tester, the results reflect on the person who is actually in charge of teaching. If a teacher consistently recommends students who are not ready, then it reflects very badly on them.

Many people have expanded on this view in this tread.


Obviously if you are in an environment where people regularly fail, then it is another matter.

Yes.

Here's an interview with Kobayashi Yasuo (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=314) in which he explains his view on the matter. He has very obviously chosen a different approach than the most common one.

Since I have many dojos I don't hold tests for individual schools. Instead I have all of my dojos gather together at Hombu. Three times a year I rent Hombu Dojo and hold a couple of tests at the same time. About 150 people attend each time. We hold black belt tests during the latter part of the sessions so that the lower ranks can observe them. I fail 30 to 40 percent of those taking the tests. I am quite strict. If I held tests in small dojos I would tend to create an atmosphere where students always pass. That is the reason I hold our tests at Hombu. In the beginning I regularly failed applicants about twice. This resulted in creating an atmosphere where failing two or three times is normal. So nobody has said anything about it.

But since the OP has stated the standard opinion regarding reflecting badly on the teacher etc. I guess we can assume it applies in his dojo, more or less.

If we assume the teacher is of the standard opinion, he is solving the solution by asking a senior student to help out, being unaware of the tension between these two people. They either have to work it out anyway, or speak up.

I think the second part of this thread is about the OP's agony since he is in conflict with himself, being asked to do something he finds very difficult and probably not will yield good results, and having problems speaking up about it. IMHO that is what he has to do, since not speaking up creates a situation which in his mind - and probably the rest of the training environment - reflects badly on the teacher. What he can't do is take responsability for the teacher's decisions. He can only speak up for himself.

How this other individual would handle not to be allowed to take the test, or taking it and failing, is simply not his responsability. The decisions and the consequences thereof are the teacher's responsability. If the student cares for his teacher he should provide adequate information - that's all he can do. He shouldn't try to solve his teacher's problems for him before the teacher even realised it is there, like kids of alcoholics whose role in the family it often is to amend, help out, make sure not bad things happen, make sure not bad things turn worse...

robin_jet_alt
11-17-2011, 02:38 AM
I'd say twice a year is regular intervals, btw.

.

my point was that you aren't expected to take a test twice a year. It is just that the option is available. For example, I waited more than 4 years between testing for 1kyu and shodan. I didn't attempt it and fail it 8 times, I simply waited until I was ready. For me, that took a while due to a number of factors including health and free time etc. At school though, it is expected that you test at regular intervals.

Lyle Laizure
11-17-2011, 05:38 AM
my point was that you aren't expected to take a test twice a year. It is just that the option is available. For example, I waited more than 4 years between testing for 1kyu and shodan. I didn't attempt it and fail it 8 times, I simply waited until I was ready. For me, that took a while due to a number of factors including health and free time etc. At school though, it is expected that you test at regular intervals.

I understand what you mean by being expected to test in a "normal" school environment vs in a dojo. My dojo is small and I am able to work with students and know when they will be ready, how much struggle they will encounter on a given test and so on. I choose to put them in a situation where their limits can be pushed. Failing isn't the worst thing that can happen to a student. If the student understands this there really shouldn't be an issue. I agree there will be some degree of embarassment but if we can't overcome that, get back on the horse so to speak, then I'm not sure that we are really improving the "self" we should be in the course of our training.

Lyle Laizure
11-17-2011, 06:03 AM
Here's an interview with Kobayashi Yasuo (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=314) in which he explains his view on the matter. He has very obviously chosen a different approach than the most common one. ...

I don't see anything wrong with this approach.
.

I think the second part of this thread is about the OP's agony since he is in conflict with himself, being asked to do something he finds very difficult and probably not will yield good results, and having problems speaking up about it. IMHO that is what he has to do, since not speaking up creates a situation which in his mind - and probably the rest of the training environment - reflects badly on the teacher. What he can't do is take responsability for the teacher's decisions. He can only speak up for himself. ...

This is a great test of character.

lbb
11-17-2011, 08:38 AM
Yeah. Martial arts are hard. Get over it.

Or, alternately, martial arts are no harder than getting (and keeping) a job, handling your teenager's issues, talking to your neighbor who plays loud music at 2 am, or dealing with the death of a loved one.

I understand that for many practitioners, martial arts practice is the catalyst that causes them to start to notice and experience all kinds of new things and develop new abilities. This is where the "aikido is my life" thing comes from, IMO, and where you get people claiming that they "used aikido" to deal with a difficult situation at work. It's sort of true for them, but only in the sense that if the only tool you have experienced is a hammer, then "hammer" is the extent of your vocabulary to talk about tools. The reality is that our lives are full of the challenges and epiphanies that many martial arts enthusiasts believe are exclusive to, or inherently tied to, martial arts training. And it's quite likely that the individual in this case has already lived quite a bit of life, and has faced worse rejections and more devastating reassessments of himself and his abilities in other contexts. It's possible he faces more daunting challenges every day. Just because we're inclined here to invest our progress in aikido with so much significance, don't forget that it's just one part of a much bigger series of challenges. The next rank is a huuuuuge deal to a 9-year-old yellow belt in a suburban taekwondo school; it's not likely to be such an enormous thing to an adult.

Basia Halliop
11-17-2011, 09:18 AM
What Mary said :).

As far as testing, I can understand only recommending people to test when they're ready, and I can understand recommending people to test at regular intervals and only passing those that are ready, it's when they're doing _neither_ (as was being suggested in this thread) that I feel like I'm in some weird universe that I don't understand. If everyone must take the test automatically AND everyone must pass automatically, than in what universe does that mean _anything_? Where is the 'test' part?

Is it just an opportunity to collect extra fees? Because that's the only purpose I can think of that it serves...? It just doesn't make any sense. Why would anyone bother? If they're so opposed to the idea of tests as that, then just throw out the whole idea of ranks and have everyone wear a white belt, from the first-day student to the teacher. At least that would be honest and less confusing.

Hanna B
11-17-2011, 10:43 AM
The next rank is a huuuuuge deal to a 9-year-old yellow belt in a suburban taekwondo school; it's not likely to be such an enormous thing to an adult.

Also, most probably a kyu rank in one budo art means less to someone who already is a yudansha in another. Even if the other art is not a budo, so there is not actual dan rank, I think the same applies to all students who already are advanced students in another martial art.

Lyle Laizure
11-17-2011, 03:58 PM
The next rank is a huuuuuge deal to a 9-year-old yellow belt in a suburban taekwondo school; it's not likely to be such an enormous thing to an adult.

While I think this is true for the majority of students I have experience with several students where the rest of their lives offers them nothing and progressing (gaining rank) in Aikido or whatever art they are in is the only think they have in their life. Their life is going to practice and ranking up as much and as quick as possible. So every rank is a huuuuge deal. Even to the 30-40 year olds.

lbb
11-17-2011, 09:15 PM
While I think this is true for the majority of students I have experience with several students where the rest of their lives offers them nothing and progressing (gaining rank) in Aikido or whatever art they are in is the only think they have in their life. Their life is going to practice and ranking up as much and as quick as possible. So every rank is a huuuuge deal. Even to the 30-40 year olds.

Well, that's unfortunate, but just how much power do you think you have to save such a profoundly unbalanced person from his/her inevitable disappointment?

Basia Halliop
11-17-2011, 10:29 PM
If rank is important to a person, though, then surely they would want it to be real, no? What good is a fake rank to anyone anyway? A fake rank is just embarrassing.... There's no shame in not knowing something yet -- until you start hiding it and pretending...

Aikido is important to many of us - but that should make us more bothered by dishonesty, politics, lack of standards, etc... not less...

Basia Halliop
11-17-2011, 10:40 PM
IMO, the point about the child getting the yellow belt isn't about the relative importance of the training in the life of the child versus the adult (from what I see it's normally the other way around, with the kids seeing it as more of a game) - it's about the child's immaturity and lack of life experience making them less able to deal with normal failures and challenges and delayed gratification.

You see it sometimes in the kids' class -- if there's a game where it's possible to win or lose, the 5 year olds often cry and are devastated if they lose. But the same kids by 6 they'd still rather win but they've learned to handle it with a more positive attitude if they lose, to understand that there will always be more games in the future and that they have a lot of power over how bad they let themselves feel. Usually by then they can shrug it off and talk to their friends...

Likewise you can see kids learn to understand that it's OK to not always get what you want IMMEDIATELY. You can wait a little, and you will get it eventually and enjoy it then, and you will be OK.

Lyle Laizure
11-18-2011, 04:24 PM
Well, that's unfortunate, but just how much power do you think you have to save such a profoundly unbalanced person from his/her inevitable disappointment?

I have no power to change the individual. It is only the individual that can save him/herself. The person has to become humble and that isn't always possible. All you can do as the instructor is offer your counsel and hope that what you share will be received.

Lyle Laizure
11-18-2011, 04:27 PM
If rank is important to a person, though, then surely they would want it to be real, no? What good is a fake rank to anyone anyway? A fake rank is just embarrassing.... There's no shame in not knowing something yet -- until you start hiding it and pretending...

Aikido is important to many of us - but that should make us more bothered by dishonesty, politics, lack of standards, etc... not less...

Very good points. The thing is a person only concerned about obtaining the rank isn't necesarily concerned with gaining the skills. That type of person only wants the position, the title, and/or attention the rank gains them. It is very sad.

Lyle Laizure
11-18-2011, 04:30 PM
IMO, the point about the child getting the yellow belt isn't about the relative importance of the training in the life of the child versus the adult (from what I see it's normally the other way around, with the kids seeing it as more of a game) - it's about the child's immaturity and lack of life experience making them less able to deal with normal failures and challenges and delayed gratification.

You see it sometimes in the kids' class -- if there's a game where it's possible to win or lose, the 5 year olds often cry and are devastated if they lose. But the same kids by 6 they'd still rather win but they've learned to handle it with a more positive attitude if they lose, to understand that there will always be more games in the future and that they have a lot of power over how bad they let themselves feel. Usually by then they can shrug it off and talk to their friends...

Likewise you can see kids learn to understand that it's OK to not always get what you want IMMEDIATELY. You can wait a little, and you will get it eventually and enjoy it then, and you will be OK.

Absolutely! The problem here lies with parents that want to protect their kids from any type of disappointment and a society now that wants everyone to "win." No matter how badly you play you make the team or no matter how well your team does everyone gets a trophy. In the US, IMO, we are failing to teach the youth, who, let's face it, will become adults that have a childs mind, leading to ever more serious problems.

lbb
11-21-2011, 08:57 AM
Absolutely! The problem here lies with parents that want to protect their kids from any type of disappointment and a society now that wants everyone to "win." No matter how badly you play you make the team or no matter how well your team does everyone gets a trophy. In the US, IMO, we are failing to teach the youth, who, let's face it, will become adults that have a childs mind, leading to ever more serious problems.

While I don't approve of helicopter parenting, I don't think you can point to this modern phenomenon as the culprit here. This thread is, after all, talking about an adult, whose childhood would have been well before the age of helicopter parenting. Love of appearance and titles over substance is hardly a new thing in our culture, and if I had to guess, I'd say that helicopter parenting is the expression of that love (sort of), not its cause.

Hanna B
11-21-2011, 12:24 PM
IMHO we don't have enough background to speculate on personal traits of the OP's adversary. (Perhaps nobody is intending to do that, it's just good old thread drift... oh well.)

Basia Halliop
11-21-2011, 12:30 PM
IMHO we don't have enough background to speculate on personal traits of the OP's adversary. (Perhaps nobody is intending to do that, it's just good old thread drift... oh well.)

Yeah... we don't even actually know that the guy in question WOULD have any problem with not getting his next rank soon; that's just speculation. For all we know he would be totally fine with it and respect his teacher for telling him to wait. So a lot of the conversation is not really specific to him.

Regardless of what's going on in this particular situation, my experience is that if you expect the best of people they will often rise to the occasion.

Lyle Laizure
11-21-2011, 03:53 PM
While I don't approve of helicopter parenting, I don't think you can point to this modern phenomenon as the culprit here. This thread is, after all, talking about an adult, whose childhood would have been well before the age of helicopter parenting. Love of appearance and titles over substance is hardly a new thing in our culture, and if I had to guess, I'd say that helicopter parenting is the expression of that love (sort of), not its cause.

As Basia states, I don't think we have enough information to honestly say one way or another here.

lbb
11-21-2011, 05:13 PM
As Basia states, I don't think we have enough information to honestly say one way or another here.

Actually, you made a "kids today" statement, and I responded to that. Surely you'll agree that however little information we have about the person being discussed, he is not a kid. QED.

Lyle Laizure
11-22-2011, 06:43 AM
Actually, you made a "kids today" statement, and I responded to that. Surely you'll agree that however little information we have about the person being discussed, he is not a kid. QED.

Agreed, he is not a kid by age.