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jonreading
03-14-2013, 05:55 PM
I was listening to Hiyaa martial arts podcast a month or so ago. The guys interviewed Ryan Hall, an MMA guy who wrote an open letter to the martial arts community concerning conduct in the dojo. I believe it has already made some of the other forums. The letter was in response to a BJJ player being involved in a rape. Its a great read, albeit a little long. The link is here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/121007439/Open-Letter-to-the-Martial-Arts-Community
You can also read it on Ryan's website:
http://livingthemartialarts.com/

A few weeks ago a conversation surfaced regarding sexuality and sexual conduct in the dojo. During that discussion, several posters implicated the aikido community was involved in [sexual] misconduct at the dojo. I think there is some great material in this letter that addresses that point and more.

Of course, preceding this letter was the story of Kayla Harrison, the female judoka who won the gold medal in judo in London. Kayla was abused by her former coach for a period of time.

As I said in my other posts from the thread I mentioned earlier, it saddens me to hear of bad situations in the dojo. I am saddened because someone who is supposed to be trustworthy is not and someone who is misgiving their trust to that person is hurt.

Lorien Lowe
03-15-2013, 03:35 AM
just off the top of my head, it seems like there are more women in aikido dojos (in general) than in other martial arts, but I haven't seen or heard about serious sexual misconduct myself. Other than, of course, the low-level, day-to-day harassment that we all occasionally get everywhere. My sensei is aggressively egalitarian, and has kicked at least one student down the stairs (literally, the story goes) for misbehavior towards women.

thanks for the post.

Lorien Lowe
03-15-2013, 04:37 AM
A few more thoughts:
Learning in any endeavor is easiest when we have a teacher. If the teacher knows a great deal more than we do about the subject in question, it's easy to get into a habit of accepting what they say; moreso, perhaps, when the subject is a physical art than an academic one, as questioning the teacher's ideas, in order to better understand them, is more intrinsic to academic study. In academics, though, as well as in crew and in martial arts, it's easy to let the love of learning and the love of the subject bleed over onto the teacher. Likewise, as a teacher I've found that it's easy to allow a student to show too much respect at times, because it can make it easier to teach. We have to guard ourselves against both impulses: to accept without questioning, and to teach without encouraging questioning. We can't let ourselves be too much defined by others, regardless of the reasons, even though it appeases our inner social primate to fit neatly into a slot labeled 'student' or 'teacher' and be accepted and welcomed as such.

Budd
03-15-2013, 12:38 PM
I think the importance of this open letter cannot be understated. The student that is serious about training may often have to compromise in order to get access to good training, but I'm in full agreement that there are some things that can never be excused or advocated.

SeiserL
03-15-2013, 01:06 PM
Predators and opportunists are everywhere.

We must never accept it and stand-up against it.

Dan Richards
03-15-2013, 02:11 PM
I think Ryan has some really good points, and probably the least of which is sexual misconduct. It's going to exist in isolated pockets, but it doesn't speak for the overall martial arts community or the aikido community. I've been in many dojos in the US and Europe, and trained with thousands of people from all over the world. In my experience, I've actually seen women within aikido being treated more on an equal footing. I personally think women in aikido are - as a whole - better than men at really getting into the essence of things.

I think something that Ryan brings up in his letter, that's not only more important, but is also more of an umbrella for a lot of the other issues, are the points about cults and the points about teachers. I have seen way too many times teachers holding back students - and this was usually a combination of the teacher and the organization they're within. I've seen too many dojos get people to volunteer. I've seen community car washes and bake sales that were "for the dojo," when what really happened is the money went into the pocket of the sensei/dojo-cho to supplement what they couldn't cover from what is essentially their martial arts business.

Teachers
: A true leader creates other leaders. He desires not to dominate those around him, but to uplift them. Not to uplift them for his own benefit, his own aggrandizement, but because it is the right thing to do. A real leader doesn't want disciples. A real leader hopes for friends who respect him for being adecent human being above all. After all, what other reason is there to follow someone?

There is not a single thing about martial arts or aikido that's any more special that any other type of activity in which someone learns a skill: knitting, cooking, music, woodworking, kite flying, bicycling, rollerblading, snowboarding, writing, baseball, surfing, bowling, sailing, basketball, skating.... All of those activities require skill, and skill tends to increase with the amount of time invested. Aikido is no different. But in none of those other activities does anyone have to sign up for a particular school or organization or teacher, and expect to have to remain loyal or pledge some sort of allegiance - and only have the opportunity to practice at the school in a formalized class setting.

I'd like to compile a list of relevant questions for martial arts teachers. And I'd also like others - students, family, friends, communities - to look at these types of questions as well. I think that cultish behavior - whether towards the art itself or the personality of the teacher/s - is more prevalent in martial arts than in almost any other type of activity. And I think a lot of these points get to the heart of questionable behavior in and around dojos, and as to why there seems to be a milieu of expected entitlement within martial arts. I'll throw out a few:

==========================================================

If you're a martial arts teacher:

• What makes what you do more special than someone who has developed musical skills or years of cooking experience?

• How much of what you do and teach is relevant in your current society?

• Do you refine your teaching methods, do you examine what you do - freely?

• Are you 100% free to teach, and examine, and run things the way you want? If you're a martial arts teacher; are you 100% free to grade your students? And if you have a network of teacher/students of your own, are those people 100% free to grade their own students?

• Do you think that what you do and what your students do is actually any more dangerous than other highly-physically-challenging activity, such as surfing, bicycling, rock climbing, hiking?

• Is what you do of any more importance to your community than any other business or service, and can you manage to run your business without enlisting volunteers and donations? If not, why is that what you do is so special that your community has to supplement your activities?

• How much do you realize that your students are your teachers?

• Given that a student is enthusiastic, participates regularly, what is the time frame that you, as a teacher, would need to train that student to shodan level?

• If you can't train a student to shodan level inside of 2 years; why?

• Could you train a dedicated student to sandan level in 5 years? If not; why?

==========================================================

My 2¢.

Lorien Lowe
03-16-2013, 04:02 AM
I disagree in that I do think that martial arts training is more likely to induce cultishness than, say, knitting. As Mr. Hall noted, we literally place ourselves in each others' hands every time we train, and this is particularly true with out teachers. That experience alone leads to a depth of emotional response that learning how to make really cool socks does not (I do both, by the way).

Cady Goldfield
03-16-2013, 08:50 AM
I agree with Lorien. Martial arts, by their very nature, place an individual, usually male, in a leadership position. His skills - or perceived skills - imply great physical and mental power, particularly over his less skilled students. If he is charismatic, his influence will be even greater.

Note how frequently the topic of "I have a crush on/am in love with Teacher" comes up both in the MA world and in academe, for another example. Predators exploit that, and even when the student isn't overtly attracted, being singled out for attention by a powerful individual is often hard to reject, with all of the conflicting emotions. Add to that the mystique of the traditional Eastern-style teacher-student relationship, and you have the "perfect storm" for abuse if that teacher is inclined to such behavior.

It's a way larger issue than Aikido; it's part of the human condition. Human behavior includes various ways and degrees of expressing the instinct for power and control, and sexuality. One extreme of that spectrum involves predatory behavior, which most of us consider to be the lowest end of the range of our nature. And just as in all other areas of society, in my opinion it's incumbant on we who do not subscribe to that extreme of human nature to monitor and prevent such behavior in others, in order to protect the wellbeing of those who may not be able to speak for or defend themselves.

Mary Eastland
03-16-2013, 08:54 AM
I agree, Lorien, that is why it is so important to learn about the self- defense aspect of Aikido. We can't blame others for our choices. Each choice for me needs to looked at and made consciously.

We are adults. If women or men don't like how they are being treated they can make choices around the circumstance each time it happens.

Life is not fair. We all have to live with situations that we may not love...yet we can examine our choices and make empowering decisions.

Malicat
03-16-2013, 09:24 AM
• Given that a student is enthusiastic, participates regularly, what is the time frame that you, as a teacher, would need to train that student to shodan level?

• If you can't train a student to shodan level inside of 2 years; why?

• Could you train a dedicated student to sandan level in 5 years? If not; why?


2 years to shodan? While the rest of your questions seemed interesting to me, this one really confused me. I have been in Aikido for about 2 years now, and for a year of it, I trained with my Sensei twice a week, and drive an hour 3x a week to train with his instructor at a different dojo. I would say that my level of dedication ranks fairly high, and right now I travel about an hour and a half twice a week to train with my Sensei. I've also attended seminars as well as the week long summer camp we have every year. With all of that in mind, I am not even remotely good enough to be a shodan. This has nothing to do with my level of dedication, or my level of training. I have seen huge improvements in my technique and my ukemi, and I am not even remotely up to the level of the shodans I saw test last summer camp.

--Ashley

SteliosPapadakis
03-16-2013, 12:36 PM
2 years to shodan?

Family and relatives of the teacher may need even less than that.
From my personal experience over the years...

lbb
03-17-2013, 06:40 AM
For "shodan", substitute "purple hat". There, it all makes sense now, doesn't it?

Belt_Up
03-17-2013, 02:16 PM
A few weeks ago a conversation surfaced regarding sexuality and sexual conduct in the dojo. During that discussion, several posters implicated the aikido community was involved in [sexual] misconduct at the dojo.

What, all of us?

This is part of the problem, that even extends to Hall's letter. There's a strange reluctance in the MA community to name names, no matter what is being talked about, whether it's money, internal power, misconduct, etc.

I had to spend time googling to find out who exactly was being discussed. Lloyd Irving, who was implicated in a rape decades ago, has two students at his dojo, Matthew Maldonado and Nicholas Schultz, who have been arrested and charged for raping a fellow student. What is everyone scared of?

2 years to shodan? While the rest of your questions seemed interesting to me, this one really confused me. I have been in Aikido for about 2 years now, and for a year of it, I trained with my Sensei twice a week, and drive an hour 3x a week to train with his instructor at a different dojo. I would say that my level of dedication ranks fairly high, and right now I travel about an hour and a half twice a week to train with my Sensei. I've also attended seminars as well as the week long summer camp we have every year. With all of that in mind, I am not even remotely good enough to be a shodan. This has nothing to do with my level of dedication, or my level of training. I have seen huge improvements in my technique and my ukemi, and I am not even remotely up to the level of the shodans I saw test last summer camp.

--Ashley

Some people are just better at it than others. It's pretty disheartening, sometimes, to see someone pick things up immediately that you struggle with, but there is always someone who either has trained harder or is more naturally talented, and sometimes both.

hughrbeyer
03-17-2013, 03:56 PM
Jeez, Geoff, way to make someone feel bad about themselves. Personally, I think the "2 years to shodan" metric is off the mark, if you can even say anything useful about shodan as a level.

Belt_Up
03-17-2013, 04:56 PM
I was talking about myself, not Ashley.

Surely it depends on how you train in those two years? I'm sure it takes longer on average, but if you're training very intensively, and you have the benefits of excellent instruction and skilled aikidoka to train with, I wouldn't be surprised.

Malicat
03-17-2013, 05:28 PM
I was talking about myself, not Ashley.

Surely it depends on how you train in those two years? I'm sure it takes longer on average, but if you're training very intensively, and you have the benefits of excellent instruction and skilled aikidoka to train with, I wouldn't be surprised.

Of course every one is different, but my point is that the list of proposed questions made it seem like all instructors should be able to train a dedicated student 2 years to shodan on a regular basis, and I think that is a bit ridiculous. If I lived near my hombu dojo, and was able to do 2 classes a day every day, I'm sure 2 years is a perfectly realistic goal. However most Aikido students aren't able to give up their life obligations to do nothing but train, even if they are dedicated and wished that they could. I feel 2 years to shodan seems to be an unrealistic goal in general, and having to come up with an explanation as to why they are unable to take every dedicated student to shodan in 2 years doesn't seem helpful in the terms of having instructors take a hard look at themselves and the environment they are creating in their dojos.

--Ashley

hughrbeyer
03-17-2013, 05:36 PM
... and different organizations expect different things from a shodan. I'm just saying 2 years is way off on the short end of the range. But then what do I know, I took 20 years to get to shodan... ;-)

Belt_Up
03-17-2013, 05:49 PM
I feel 2 years to shodan seems to be an unrealistic goal in general, and having to come up with an explanation as to why they are unable to take every dedicated student to shodan in 2 years doesn't seem helpful in the terms of having instructors take a hard look at themselves and the environment they are creating in their dojos.

I agree, for most people it is a very short time, but it depends on how you read the question.

If you can't train a student to shodan level inside of 2 years; why?

This is easily answered with a short list of factors, top of which would probably be "Not enough training time available." A good instructor could take a dedicated student to shodan in two years under ideal conditions. It usually doesn't happen because conditions are not ideal. I don't think it's necessarily going to be unhelpful and have people rending their gi. Perhaps I'm just looking at the question differently. :-/

Dan Richards
03-17-2013, 10:20 PM
I feel 2 years to shodan seems to be an unrealistic goal in general, and having to come up with an explanation as to why they are unable to take every dedicated student to shodan in 2 years doesn't seem helpful in the terms of having instructors take a hard look at themselves and the environment they are creating in their dojos.
Ashley, that's based on your expectations. But what if those expectations were changed? What if teachers took a serious look and totally reexamined how they're training students? What if the methods used hamper the student's progress? I think it's totally helpful to have instructors take a hard look at themselves and the environment they're creating.

I know a dedicated student - with a job and a family - can train an average of three times per week for an hour and a half, plus their own "homework" on their own time at home, and reach shodan level in less than two years. I know because as a teacher, I've done it. Getting students to a good solid 3rd kyu in six months is a piece of cake.

Actually, if we're talking "ideal," that would be a teacher and students in a closed dojo, and they did nothing but eat and sleep aikido. Under those circumstances, with the right kind of instruction and conditions, you could have shodan level students in 90 days.

Aikido has been overdue for an overhaul. And whether some people want to see it or not - it's already underway. Even Yamada, a top shihan, is finally coming out and publicly speaking out about not only the lack of quality in aikido, but also organizational responsibility towards that. He went so far as to call the top brass at Aikikai "clerks." You have to understand, this is jaw-dropping stuff.

Here's a quote from George, where he's not only totally reexamining how people are taught aikido, but he's also making a drastic adjustment in terms of the time frame and expectations for levels people could reach. Interestingly, the time frames and grade levels he arrives at closely reflect hombu during aikido's formative years.

From Perhaps the tide is changing. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22197&page=3) If I were to be left completely to my own devices, I would have the student do static technique, and basic connection exercises of the type one would do with Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei (or any of the internal power teachers) and spend 3 - 5 years getting the body / mind properly programmed. Than I'd start doing more technique in a dynamic fashion. I would not have the student do anything resembling what folks often refer to as "resistant" training until they had been training this way for 5 years or so. I would also teach the ukes to attack using the same principles used by the nage. Right now we have one person attempting to do very sophisticated technique against an attacker who is totally remedial.

I think at the end of 8 to 10 yrs of training properly, we could end up with someone who currently operates at a fairly high Dan rank. In other words, after 8 - 10 years of training we would have someone who functions at or better than what passes for 6th dan at this point.

I wouldn't do any "mixing it up", or sparring before five years or so. Before that the student will fall back into old body habits in order to "win".

If we zoom out a bit; a level of 5th dan is essentially the equivalent of a PhD. From an article in the NY Times, it states the average student takes 8.2 years to earn a PhD. And that's average. And that lines up with George's calculations.

Let's play a little more. 3rd dan is right about at a Master's Degree. So, 5-6 years would be about right. 2nd degree would be a Bachelors. I'd consider a shodan to be on the level of a college-entrance exam - maybe we could call it a high school diploma. You need that to get into college. That's essentially what a shodan is; you're in the "school." Before that you're a guest. So, attaining shodan in two years, another year for nidan, and then another two or three years for sandan.

Aikikai's grading system (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/gradingsystem.htm) currently requires a total of 300 "days" - whatever a "day" means to them, in order to qualify for shodan. A student averaging 3 classes per week is knocking out 156 classes per year. Two years of training 3 times per week arrives at 312 days of training. So, even by Aikikai's standards, shodan is completely attainable in two years - even for an average student. And let's say a student wants to immerse themselves, and go every day. 300 days of training should get them to shodan in less than a year.

Back to the 3-times-per-week student. Shodan in 2 years, Nidan in 1.5 years, Sandan 2 years, Yondan 2.5 years. That's a total of 8 years to Yondan. We're not that far off. And why that's important is that after Godan, 5th dan, that's when the student really begins to examine and explore and develop their own expression of aikido. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

These numbers all line up. My numbers. George's numbers. Aikikai's numbers. Academia's numbers. Old-school hombu's numbers. And that's just dealing with the time frame.

So, we absolutely need ask teachers who are taking 5+ years to train their dedicated students to shodan level to reexamine what they're doing. Because, either they're stalling, or don't have effective pedagogical methods, or their umbrella organization (pyramid-shaped) is bloated. And if we look, it's really a combination of all of those.

We've also got to take a serious look at the level of competence and understanding within those levels. I totally agree with George, that there's no reason really good solid 5th and 6th dans could not be brought up at around the ten-year mark. And the environments for them to do that need to be created.

Carsten Möllering
03-18-2013, 06:02 AM
... reach shodan level
How do you define "shodan level"?

Belt_Up
03-18-2013, 06:06 AM
Getting well off topic here.

jonreading
03-18-2013, 08:10 AM
On of the things I liked about this letter was it addressed the roles of the student and the teacher. As a consumer of aikido, students can be better prepared to deal this misconduct and look for symptoms of misconduct. As a disseminator of aikido, teachers can look for feedback to [more] successfully disseminate aikido.

As pointed out, the martial arts seems to be a good combination of authority, fantasy and charisma that makes it susceptible to romanticism, if not abuse. And I would agree, that environment is more susceptible than, say, knitting.

Second, abuse it one of those things that hangs in the shadows, we do not see it until "we see it." It is important for abused to step forward and identify improper behavior so it may be stopped. It is also embarrassing and scary. I think crafting environments where we minimize the fear and embarrassment is necessary to addressing the issue. Everyone knows a "creeper." Some guy who is "over-friendly" with women on the mat and is studiously avoided by all women. The problem is that we do not approach that guy and say, "hey, stop creeping." We all just ignore him and hope he'll change; maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. Maybe not before he abuses someone. At some point, polite ignorance does not solve the problem. I have said this before... Humans are the only species that will identify danger, then pretend it isn't there. It takes a good deal of courage to walk up to your instructor and say, "that guy creeps me out. Can you talk to him? It takes a good deal of courage to walk up to that guy and say, "you're creeping people out. We do not accept that behavior on the mat. Thank you for stopping/leaving." You ask me, I don't care what belt you wear, if you have the guts to say either of those things, you are more courageous than most.

Some of the questions Dan brought up start to establish goals. I think we can argue which goals are better or worse, but I think goals are important to creating a clear path of instruction and learning. Deviation from that path should indicate deviation from what [you] want out of aikido. 2 years to shodan? Maybe, but more importantly, a clear path of instruction for 2 years of training. 2 years to shodan? Maybe, but more importantly, a clear path of commitment and expectation of training.Often, abuse begins with a shift of expectation. "Oh, that's just person X, he hugs all the women. You'll get use to it." We have many friendships in aikido. It is important to distinguish slight changes in expectation to understand what relationship your training partners [really] expect. Clear, concise and open expectations help define behavior. Now, if your claim is 2 years to shodan, you better back up that expectation or your students have a right to say, "What's going on? You said two years and I am a black belt."

I am not 100% in agreement with George Sensei. He is not the average instructor. I believe George sensei to probably be the best teaching aikido instructor that I have ever seen. He is working on a teaching method that works for him; I don't think most people could even teach the way George Sensei does, let alone transmit aikido as well as he does. Maybe in a couple of generations if the competency level is raised we'll talk again... (or in December when he comes to our dojo).

Ultimately, I think Mary's point is the best advice - buyer beware. The problem is that the dojo environment also contains this psychological pressure that sometimes students are not aware of as impacting their decision-making process. This is consistent with psychological pressure that can also accompany more traditional abusive relationships.

lbb
03-18-2013, 08:16 AM
Getting well off topic here.

No kidding. It is germane to this thread if and only if you presume that an instructor is a charlatan unless proven otherwise, and if you view "time to shodan" as a useful metric. (I don't. I've done enough gardening to know that you don't go from seed to tomatoes in a week, no matter how many times you visit the garden and no matter how excellent your cultivation skills.)

With regard to the subject of this thread, I think this thread makes it clear that we've got a ways to go before most people find balance. Whereas people in positions of authority were often trusted despite evidence of wrongdoing, now it seems we automatically suspect them in the absence of any such indication. I don't believe that either extreme promotes safety of students and ethical behavior by instructors.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-18-2013, 09:41 AM
Whereas people in positions of authority were often trusted despite evidence of wrongdoing, now it seems we automatically suspect them in the absence of any such indication.

Power corrupts.

BTW, years ago Ellis Amdur adressed this issue in a clear and concise manner:

http://shindai.com/articles/amdur/

lbb
03-18-2013, 10:04 AM
Power corrupts.

100% without fail? So 100% of aikido senseis are corrupt and abusers of power?

Cady Goldfield
03-18-2013, 10:07 AM
I'm not sure whether "power corrupts" is always the issue. It's certainly true some of the time, but, also people who have an inclination toward predatory behavior are attracted to a position of power and authority because it gives them access to a pool of potential prey. This has proven itself true in virtually all kinds of human societal milieus, from sports to religious institutions.

And while "buyer beware" is good advice for the already wary, there are plenty of unsuspecting people who find themselves in a predatory environment, often not realizing it until they have already been victimized. Not everyone is jaded and street savvy, and I don't believe that blame or admonishment should be aimed at them. Maybe their fellows in the dojo should be their brothers' and sisters' keepers.

Dan Richards
03-18-2013, 10:14 AM
This thread isn't drifting at all. This thread is brilliant. Allow for a little nonresistance, and allow for people to examine and reexamine aspects that often get pushed under the rug.
I am not 100% in agreement with George Sensei. He is not the average instructor. I believe George sensei to probably be the best teaching aikido instructor that I have ever seen. He is working on a teaching method that works for him; I don't think most people could even teach the way George Sensei does, let alone transmit aikido as well as he does. Maybe in a couple of generations if the competency level is raised we'll talk again... (or in December when he comes to our dojo).

Ultimately, I think Mary's point is the best advice - buyer beware. The problem is that the dojo environment also contains this psychological pressure that sometimes students are not aware of as impacting their decision-making process. This is consistent with psychological pressure that can also accompany more traditional abusive relationships.

Jon, I don't agree 100% with George, either. But that's not the point. What I do agree with is that George is willing to put aikido up on blocks, disassemble the whole thing, and take a serious look at how to reengineer something that's been driven pretty hard over a lot of miles in the past 40-50 years. We have newer technologies available to us now. We have more accurate history records. We have communication tools available. We have a more open dialogue. And we can redefine levels of performance.

The "time to shodan" is actually less important than the idea that we examine it. And as I outlined, there are already lots of models in place that agree with each other. "Time to shodan" really is about 300 days of training, and the ability to demonstrate and execute a body of techniques and movements. And an average student should be able to complete that within about 2 years. Aikido, in many ways, should be viewed no differently than educational institutions. If anyone goes into a school and puts in the money and the time, the school should be able to provide a straight answer as to the requirements for certain degrees. And deliver the degrees when those requirements are met.

Ryan's open letter, and this topic are precisely about examining standards for conduct and behavior within martial arts and aikido environments.

And I'll tie this in with Mary's talking about abusive relationships - and "time to shodan." I knew a woman in Denmark who had trained aikido very diligently for many years. She was at the point where she could have and should have been given more responsibility. But because of the deplorable state of aikido politics within Denmark at the time, she sat in limbo and went without graduation to shodan for years. She never was graduated. She ended up committing suicide. Gassed herself in her apartment. She was a very good friend of mine, and we trained together for many years. And in this case, I absolutely hold aikido and Aikikai responsible, at least in part, for contributing to factors that created an environment for an "abusive relationship" in which someone who put in the heart, time, and effort was pushed aside, unrecognized, and ultimately psychology abused.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-18-2013, 10:18 AM
100% without fail? So 100% of aikido senseis are corrupt and abusers of power?

Like everybody. The more power one is given the more corrupt one becomes. It is the human nature.

Walter Martindale
03-18-2013, 10:19 AM
Being a sensei or a sempai is a position of power. Whether it's 'REAL' power or perceived power, it's still a position of power. We give our bodies to our practice partners so that we may learn from the interaction in a framework that CAN include actions that CAN lead to severe injury. There's a lot of trust necessary and (in Canadian law, anyway) if a "coach" or "teacher" abuses the position of power to injure or obtain sexual release, it's in the Criminal Code. (At a coaching development symposium, we had a round-table with a sport-law specialist.) Ice Hockey - there are a few NHL-ers who have been taken advantage of by predatory coaches (one in particular but I'd doubt Graham James is alone). It's to the point now in Canada that - if you want to coach or teach, you are almost universally required to provide a recent (less than 2 years old) criminal record check, and if you coach or teach young people, you have to have a VS (Vulnerable Sector) check - which - if your date of birth coincides with that of a convicted sexual predator, requires confirmation via fingerprint search that you're not the convicted one with a changed name... (I know this because there's a )(*&^*&^$^%( out there that has me going for fingerprints every 2 years..)

Here's another look - the sensei should consider himself or herself the servant of the student - not the other way around. The student pays a fee to learn from the sensei - the sensei doesn't pay the student to train 'under' him or her.

Walter Martindale
03-18-2013, 10:23 AM
Like everybody. The more power one is given the more corrupt one becomes. It is the human nature.

pretty bleak outlook.

jonreading
03-18-2013, 12:58 PM
So this new product, Google glass, is started to cause all kinds of privacy conversations, including the escalation of an argument started earlier by MySapce, then facebook, now Instagram. Essentially, one argument in particular discusses the change in behavior from individual-oriented behavior to collective-oriented behavior. The drive of the argument being that when you think someone is watching, you will behave differently then when you are alone. So, instead of posting your "wild" night in the library, you hit the local scene with your friends and post the time of your life.

Cady touched upon something that is important in my opinion. The dojo environment is affected by who trains and how they act. Just the collective action of discouraging poor conduct in a dojo may be sufficient to change behavior. I am surprised when I speak with people who express the "I had it tough, so can the newbie" attitude. Or the "it's not my problem" attitude.

Amongst several dojos down here, we talk about the sensei effect. In your own dojo, students fly everywhere - sensei is magic. Then they visit another school... nobody falls. I think part of being sensei is understanding you are granted some power which get a little abused. Uke falling down that time that you didn't quite have kotegaeshi. Maybe uke pulling that punch that would've moused your eye. The ex-special forces looking at you as you explain to him the devastating neck lock that could kill if you only squeezed. I think it is not unfair to say sensei gets some do-overs because of her position in the dojo. No one is perfect.

gstevens
03-18-2013, 01:03 PM
Whether it's 'REAL' power or perceived power, it's still a position of power.

Here's another look - the sensei should consider himself or herself the servant of the student - not the other way around. The student pays a fee to learn from the sensei - the sensei doesn't pay the student to train 'under' him or her.

There is no difference between perceived or real power in this case. Such a distinction could be used in any uneven power situation to place blame on the victim of the abuse. If there is a perceived power differential in the mind of the abused, the perception is reality.

The idea of a student being a customer of the dojo cho seems sorely lacking in a number of places.

Dan Richards! Wonderful thinking and writing, what we need more of in Aikido. More leadership, ethics, accountability. Less worship.

Guy
:-)

Eric Winters
03-18-2013, 01:35 PM
Ashley, that's based on your expectations. But what if those expectations were changed? What if teachers took a serious look and totally reexamined how they're training students? What if the methods used hamper the student's progress? I think it's totally helpful to have instructors take a hard look at themselves and the environment they're creating.

I know a dedicated student - with a job and a family - can train an average of three times per week for an hour and a half, plus their own "homework" on their own time at home, and reach shodan level in less than two years. I know because as a teacher, I've done it. Getting students to a good solid 3rd kyu in six months is a piece of cake.

Actually, if we're talking "ideal," that would be a teacher and students in a closed dojo, and they did nothing but eat and sleep aikido. Under those circumstances, with the right kind of instruction and conditions, you could have shodan level students in 90 days.

Aikido has been overdue for an overhaul. And whether some people want to see it or not - it's already underway. Even Yamada, a top shihan, is finally coming out and publicly speaking out about not only the lack of quality in aikido, but also organizational responsibility towards that. He went so far as to call the top brass at Aikikai "clerks." You have to understand, this is jaw-dropping stuff.

Here's a quote from George, where he's not only totally reexamining how people are taught aikido, but he's also making a drastic adjustment in terms of the time frame and expectations for levels people could reach. Interestingly, the time frames and grade levels he arrives at closely reflect hombu during aikido's formative years.

From Perhaps the tide is changing. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22197&page=3)

If we zoom out a bit; a level of 5th dan is essentially the equivalent of a PhD. From an article in the NY Times, it states the average student takes 8.2 years to earn a PhD. And that's average. And that lines up with George's calculations.

Let's play a little more. 3rd dan is right about at a Master's Degree. So, 5-6 years would be about right. 2nd degree would be a Bachelors. I'd consider a shodan to be on the level of a college-entrance exam - maybe we could call it a high school diploma. You need that to get into college. That's essentially what a shodan is; you're in the "school." Before that you're a guest. So, attaining shodan in two years, another year for nidan, and then another two or three years for sandan.

Aikikai's grading system (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/gradingsystem.htm) currently requires a total of 300 "days" - whatever a "day" means to them, in order to qualify for shodan. A student averaging 3 classes per week is knocking out 156 classes per year. Two years of training 3 times per week arrives at 312 days of training. So, even by Aikikai's standards, shodan is completely attainable in two years - even for an average student. And let's say a student wants to immerse themselves, and go every day. 300 days of training should get them to shodan in less than a year.

Back to the 3-times-per-week student. Shodan in 2 years, Nidan in 1.5 years, Sandan 2 years, Yondan 2.5 years. That's a total of 8 years to Yondan. We're not that far off. And why that's important is that after Godan, 5th dan, that's when the student really begins to examine and explore and develop their own expression of aikido. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

These numbers all line up. My numbers. George's numbers. Aikikai's numbers. Academia's numbers. Old-school hombu's numbers. And that's just dealing with the time frame.

So, we absolutely need ask teachers who are taking 5+ years to train their dedicated students to shodan level to reexamine what they're doing. Because, either they're stalling, or don't have effective pedagogical methods, or their umbrella organization (pyramid-shaped) is bloated. And if we look, it's really a combination of all of those.

We've also got to take a serious look at the level of competence and understanding within those levels. I totally agree with George, that there's no reason really good solid 5th and 6th dans could not be brought up at around the ten-year mark. And the environments for them to do that need to be created.

I think you forgot the 12 years of schooling before college.

Eric Winters

miso
03-18-2013, 05:28 PM
100% without fail? So 100% of aikido senseis are corrupt and abusers of power?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_doth_protest_too_much,_methinks

Walter Martindale
03-18-2013, 05:38 PM
There is no difference between perceived or real power in this case. Such a distinction could be used in any uneven power situation to place blame on the victim of the abuse. If there is a perceived power differential in the mind of the abused, the perception is reality.

The idea of a student being a customer of the dojo cho seems sorely lacking in a number of places.

Guy
:-)

I think we agree about the power situation. I did say "It's still a position of power."

Not a customer of the dojo cho. The employer of the dojo cho.
And perhaps it doesn't fit with traditional MA but if a dojo treats its members/trainees/cash-paying people poorly they can (and don't always realize it) vote with their feet.

Brian Beach
03-18-2013, 08:02 PM
The "time to shodan" is actually less important than the idea that we examine it. And as I outlined, there are already lots of models in place that agree with each other. "Time to shodan" really is about 300 days of training,

Not to contribute to the thread drift but your math is off. The 300 days are from 1st Kyu. The actual requirement from day one to shodan is 1040 days. 6th Kyu 20 days, 5th 40 days, 4th 80 days, 3rd 100, 2nd 200, 1st 300, Shodan 300 days.

3x52 weeks = 156 days. 1040 / 156 = 6.666...

So you're off by roughly 4 1/2 years. More if you go by NY Aikikai standards, they require an additional 100 hours.

http://www.usaikifed.com/static/images/USAF_09_test_req_4.3.pdf
http://www.nyaikikai.com/rankings.asp

lbb
03-18-2013, 09:08 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_doth_protest_too_much,_methinks

"I think the lady is promising too much"? Meaning what, exactly?

lbb
03-18-2013, 09:09 PM
Not to contribute to the thread drift but your math is off. The 300 days are from 1st Kyu.

Not so, actually, according to the requirements that Dan cited. Yes, I was surprised too. Maybe that reference is incorrect?

Brian Beach
03-18-2013, 10:04 PM
Not so, actually, according to the requirements that Dan cited. Yes, I was surprised too. Maybe that reference is incorrect?

Yes I was being USAF myopic. I just also looked at "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" which lists the requirements for testing at hombu and NY Aikikai as of 1964 and 5 respectively (p.37-38).

The Hombu ( October 1964) are: 5th Kyu - 40 hrs, 4th - 40 hrs, 3rd - 30 hrs, 2nd - 60 hrs, 1st - 60 hrs, Shodan ( none listed, but the technique required is the same as 1st kyu so if we keep the hour requirement the same we get 290.

The NY Aikikai (Spring 1965) are: 5th Kyu - 60 hours, 4th - 60 hrs, 3rd - 60, 2nd - 60, 1st - 90, Shodan 150. We get a total of 480.

So it is interesting that the requirements have inflated over the years.

Dan Richards
03-19-2013, 12:43 AM
So it is interesting that the requirements have inflated over the years.

Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.

We're not including grading fees and seminars; just the cost to be on the mat to learn the material:

At Aikikai HQ in Tokyo people train under a plethora of shihan on a daily basis, and as an average student going three times per week, they'll meet shodan requirements in about two years. Current monthly mat fees are about $110; so that's $2640 to train for 24 months. Hombu's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 0%.

Current time to shodan requirements at NY Aikikai; it appears that the total amount of days would be 1140. An average student going three times per week, 156 days per year, would take 7.3 years - or 87.6 months x $160/mth = $14,016 in mat fees. NY Aikikai's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 250%.

Parent organization, Aikikai Hombu = 300 days, in 2 years, and roughly $2640 in mat fees.
Branch organization, NY Aikikai = 1140 days; 7.3 years, and roughly $14,000 in mat fees.

What is the Japanese expression and kanji for, "WTF?"

Basia Halliop
03-19-2013, 07:39 AM
Like everybody. The more power one is given the more corrupt one becomes. It is the human nature.

I haven't found that at all. Having power reveals parts of a person's personality that aren't so evident in other situations. When you have no power you may supress parts of your personality to fit in or avoid trouble - with power, you no longer need to do that.

Healthy, decent, competant people tend to react pretty well to having power - it mostly makes them more responsible, not less (give someone a baby or small child to babysit and many if not most people will show a noticeably responsible and kind side).

But if someone's a jerk, or overwhelmed, or fundamentally doesn't respect others, then when they have power over others and no longer need to fake decency to avoid consequences, well, then you'll finally see those nasty parts of them.

lbb
03-19-2013, 07:54 AM
Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.

Dan, I think that this is a worthy topic of discussion, but I really believe it is a derail of this thread ("of" and "in" do not mean the same thing, although there's a connection). Maybe it needs a thread of its own.

Brian Beach
03-19-2013, 08:06 AM
Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.

We're not including grading fees and seminars; just the cost to be on the mat to learn the material:

At Aikikai HQ in Tokyo people train under a plethora of shihan on a daily basis, and as an average student going three times per week, they'll meet shodan requirements in about two years. Current monthly mat fees are about $110; so that's $2640 to train for 24 months. Hombu's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 0%.

Current time to shodan requirements at NY Aikikai; it appears that the total amount of days would be 1140. An average student going three times per week, 156 days per year, would take 7.3 years - or 87.6 months x $160/mth = $14,016 in mat fees. NY Aikikai's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 250%.

Parent organization, Aikikai Hombu = 300 days, in 2 years, and roughly $2640 in mat fees.
Branch organization, NY Aikikai = 1140 days; 7.3 years, and roughly $14,000 in mat fees.

What is the Japanese expression and kanji for, "WTF?"

I agree this is worthy of another thread. Couple quick thoughts though :)

This mode of thinking equates rank with skill and assumes that there is a "graduation" where training ceases. Someone who trains 3 to 4 times longer I would expect them to show a greater skill level regardless of rank. I also plan to practice as long as I'm able regardless of rank. The practice is it's own reward.

Although I am curious when,why and how the shift occurred.

Janet Rosen
03-19-2013, 10:48 AM
I haven't found that at all. Having power reveals parts of a person's personality that aren't so evident in other situations. When you have no power you may supress parts of your personality to fit in or avoid trouble - with power, you no longer need to do that.

Yep, that's what I've observed. Any kind of change in situation, added pressure, reduced pressure, etc reveals much about a person's basic personality, positive and negative.

GMaroda
03-19-2013, 11:43 AM
I agree this is worthy of another thread. Couple quick thoughts though :)

This mode of thinking equates rank with skill and assumes that there is a "graduation" where training ceases. Someone who trains 3 to 4 times longer I would expect them to show a greater skill level regardless of rank. I also plan to practice as long as I'm able regardless of rank. The practice is it's own reward.

Although I am curious when,why and how the shift occurred.

It's only a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if the hours per day trained have gone down.

Cliff Judge
03-19-2013, 12:38 PM
here is my contribution to this thread:

Do not rape your students or fellow trainees.
If you see a student or trainee being raped, do something about it. Stop it. Report it to someone in authority. Report it to police. Talk to others about it.

Do not coerce sex out of students or fellow trainees.
If you see a student or fellow trainee in a situation where sex is being coerced from them, do something about it. Report it. Talk to others about it.

if your teacher is a rapist or sexually abusive, report it. Then leave the dojo and find another.

If a fellow student is a rapist or sexually abusive, report it. If nothing is done to address the situation, leave the dojo and find another.

Romance and relationships can and do happen among fellow students and even between teacher and student. If you find yourself going there, or see someone else who is, consider whether power is being abused. Would the two partners make an "appropriate" couple - by their own standards, which can be admittedly very difficult to understand - if they did not have the dojo in common? This can be a very tricky question, but ask it honestly. if something feels wrong, talk to others about it.

Aikido is a non-competitive martial art and dojos are communities in a way that doesn't necessarily translate to other martial arts. If you see something happening and you don't speak up, yes, the illusion of community may survive for a time. But what is truly the right thing to do?

jonreading
03-20-2013, 09:06 PM
Cliff-

If you see something happening and you don't speak up, yes, the illusion of community may survive for a time. But what is truly the right thing to do?

For some reason, this is more common in bullying/abusive relationships than I would like to admit. We see danger, understand that it may translate to us either directly or indirectly, yet still conclude ignoring the situation is appropriate.