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Susan Dalton
04-27-2014, 08:38 AM
This month's "The Mirror" column was written by Susan Dalton 2014, all rights reserved.Lately I was reading comments under a blog about the ineffectiveness of aikido. One person talked about "deadwood and less than compelling practitioners." Deadwood! That's the useless part, huh? The part that needs to be pruned away and tossed. Hmmm. I'm that person sitting in seiza, always thinking Sensei's comments are directed towards me even when they aren't, but here's the thing: I know some might see me as a less than compelling practitioner, and I choose to be no more compelling than I am. Here's another thing: effective technique isn't what matters. We'd been having this discussion/argument/wrangle in our dojo between the aikibunnies and the mashers. To be honest, our dojo is somewhere in the middle, and even our most extreme dojomates are middle of the roaders on the aikibunny-masher spectrum. Still, it's an age old conflict, one that manifests in many dojo and on many discussion boards. In our dojo the discussion wasn't exactly a male/female divide, but most of the women tended to see the issue one way, and most of the men tended to see it the other. The word "effective" was being hurled around. I'm bigger than the other women in our dojo and strongly put together, so I wasn't feeling manhandled as some others were, but I was dismayed when the issue came up at a black belt meeting and the initial reaction seemed to blame uke. I've been doing aikido 23 years and yes, I can put a nikyo pin on you that will cut off your airway. I can probably do a kaitenage that will break your nose and your shoulder and your elbow and, oh hell, your wrist too. I guess that's "effective" technique. But I have to go to work in the morning, and I know you do, too. I don't think people should get hurt on the mat. Nage's responsibility is that as his/her power increases, his/her sensitivity toward uke must increase, so nage can feel the right amount of power to apply and uke is not hurt. Now, I'm not going to claim that I'm above hitting a pressure point or two when someone sees little motivation to move. And as I get older, my favorite technique is nikyo. I even like that nasty sankyo where nage is holding only to uke's little finger. In fact, I like all the nasty pins. But if I'm doing one, I go slowly so uke has time to take the stretch and slap out. Uke gets to decide how far we go.

However, learning to sense and accommodate uke isn't just about "being nice" and taking care. Developing that sensitivity and ability to read "the other" (and ourselves) crucially benefits our own training. Years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacques Payet Sensei for Aikido Today Magazine. Mr. Payet talked about being uchi deshi for Goza Shioda Sensei. He laughed as he told me about standing outside a door every night waiting for exactly the right moment to open the door for Sensei. He had to get the bath water the exact right temperature, and bring the rinse water in at just the moment Sensei wanted it. At first Mr. Payet felt lost and clueless; however, as time went on he developed the ability to know when to be where with what. He could relax and just "feel it." Most of us don't do that kind of training now; we have to develop these skills in ways such as breathing with the entire class during warm up exercises as we move in sync with everyone in the room and relaxing and reading uke with our bodies during technique.

I had a head start on this sort of training. My father suffered from mental illness, and I never knew what to expect from him. In order to be safe, I had to be able to "read" the air in a room. Is that mysticism? No, it is years of awareness and paying attention. And this type of awareness has kept me safe in other situations. When I was a flight attendant, one night I was an extra, which meant I travelled alone. In Pittsburgh I got into a van to go to the hotel, and the van driver exuded a frightening vibe. He started talking in great detail about a flight attendant who had been raped in New York, then said, "Flight attendants are the only type of woman who can satisfy a man sexually." I could feel that I needed to remain calm and show no fear or reaction whatsoever. He told me I had not even noticed that he had taken me off the main highway and he was now prepared to take me down a dirt road toward the top of a mountain. He explained that the city was very beautiful from here and he wanted to share the view with me. I sensed that although my assertions would not impress this man, he would respect that I already "belonged" to another man. "I'd love to see the view," I said. "But my husband is expecting me to be back at the hotel when he calls. We better just go straight to the hotel." I kept speaking normally to him and he took me to the hotel.

I wish I could claim that I handled the entire situation well. I did not. Shaking, I closed my hotel room door, locked all three locks, checked under the bed and in the bathroom, and called my husband and cried as he tried to convince me to notify the airline, the van company, and the police. Then I drank a glass of water, sat on the bed, and convinced myself I had over-reacted. That's probably not what the man meant at all. He hadn't actually touched me, and I wasn't hurt. Maybe I had read the situation all wrong. Maybe he really did just want to show me the beautiful view. I waited quite a while to report this man, and I hope no one else was endangered because I did not listen to what my body and my husband were telling me.

So, yes, when I started Aikido, I was a fearful, intimidated, little aikibunny. I had to learn to stand my ground and own my space. I've learned some valuable lessons from a masher or two. Really, I like to think they've learned a couple things from me, too.

We call our shihan in Japan every so often, and during our last conversation we told him about our aikibunny/masher discussion at the black belt meeting. "A common problem," he said. "A discussion most every dojo will have to have. I want you to practice accurate technique enjoyably."

So what's the difference between accurate and effective technique? Accurate means I have the correct hand/foot/body positions and good posture. I am connected to my center, my breath, and my uke and am using correct timing and miai, or I'm as close to all these ideals as I can get. Effective means the technique is going to work, regardless. If I have to crank or torque or muscle, by George, you are going where I want you to go. I have stopped doing aikido with you and am doing aikido (or something!) to you. I am no longer listening to your body and our connection; I am listening to my ego.

Personally, I dislike the notion that some folks are deadwood. All ukes are good ukes, and everyone brings something to the practice. I have little patience with aikidoka who only want to work out with the "best", most athletic ukes. We never know what our dojomates are overcoming to put themselves on the mat. The most physically talented are not always the ones to derive the greatest benefits from practice. I had a student whose aikido was not particularly beautiful. She struggled all semester with entering, posture, and pins. Sometimes she got so frustrated she cried and left the mat. But she always got back on. And at the end of class, she thanked me and told me this class had given her the courage to leave an abusive relationship. I could share many examples like hers. She could trust in a safe space where people take care of each other. Taking care of each other is more important than effective technique; however, we can all practice accurate technique enjoyably."The Mirror" is a collaborative column written by a group of women who describe themselves as:

We comprise mothers, spouses, scientists, artists, teachers, healers, and yes, of course, writers. We range in age from 30s through 50s, we are kyu ranked and yudansha and from various parts of the United States and styles of aikido. What we have in common is a love for budo that keeps it an integral part of our busy lives, both curiosity about and a commonsense approach to life and aikido, and an inveterate tendency to write about these explorations.

BWells
04-27-2014, 07:14 PM
Susan, great article. I like the accurate aikido comment. I'm a 250lb ex power lifter with about 22 years of aikido and several years of xing yi. I can do effective aikido but it may be because I'm big and strong and training with friends. At 65 I know that I will not always be strong so my imagined "effectiveness" may go away, but accurate aikido, that I should be able to continue to work on. I've trained with folks like Dennis Hooker and i would aikido his aikido as accurate aikido. I can only hope to be "accurate" like he is.

Again great article. Plus you gave me new words to use when I teach:D

j0nharris
04-28-2014, 11:54 AM
Thanks, Susan. Hope to see you guys soon!

Susan Dalton
04-28-2014, 02:14 PM
Hey B, Sorry, I don't know how to address you. Anyway, thanks for your kind words. I wish I could claim to have coined any of the terms, but of course I did not. Still, for me, it helps to think about the difference between effective and accurate. And yes, I wouldn't mind being as accurate as Dennis Hooker Sensei, either.
Susan

Susan Dalton
04-28-2014, 02:18 PM
Thanks, Jon. I hope to see you guys soon, too.
Susan

Janet Rosen
04-28-2014, 02:28 PM
Susan, great article. I like the accurate aikido comment. I'm a 250lb ex power lifter with about 22 years of aikido and several years of xing yi. I can do effective aikido but it may be because I'm big and strong and training with friends. At 65 I know that I will not always be strong so my imagined "effectiveness" may go away, but accurate aikido, that I should be able to continue to work on. I've trained with folks like Dennis Hooker and i would aikido his aikido as accurate aikido. I can only hope to be "accurate" like he is.

Again great article. Plus you gave me new words to use when I teach:D

Bruce, you are pretty darn accurate too :)
Susan, thank you for this. And, yes, the "accurate/effective" is a wonderful way of defining practice.

Susan Dalton
04-28-2014, 04:12 PM
Thanks, Janet. Now I will properly thank Bruce for his kind remarks!
Susan

Millsy
04-28-2014, 08:37 PM
Thanks for a great article.

It does prod at my pet peeves!

I hate the phrase "effective aikido", effective at what I often ask? what do you want aikido for? Most people tend to use this phrase to mean harder aikido, because they perceive that since it looks harder it must better in real life (tm), which I'm not sure is true.

I've never met an uke I didn't like, sure I've found some frustrating because they make me look bad :) I love that, it shows me what I need to work on and learn. Actually my favorite uke is that goon beginner who's all too strong, not moving or reacting "how they are supposed to", use them while you can they get a clue too quick and you loose that resource. We all love tossing about a good uke, but I learn more from ones that take more work. No such thing as deadwood in my opinion, everyone has something to offer and their own reasons to be there.

kironin
04-29-2014, 11:30 AM
I wasn't sure where this was going at the beginning because I'm not real fond of the "aikibunnies", but by the end, I have to say this is a really excellent essay Susan! I think effectiveness is an important part of practice but what I'm thinking of as effective technique is really what you call accurate technique here. Really one of the best things on aikido I've read in a while. Thanks Janet for sharing it on facebook.

mathewjgano
04-29-2014, 01:23 PM
Thank you for that great article, Susan! I feel strongly that every training partner is an opportunity to work on things we need (which we oft times recognize after the fact), even if not necessarily what we want at the moment.
Thank you again! (And thank you too, Janet, for sharing it on Facebook!)

lbb
04-29-2014, 01:26 PM
I think "aikibunny" has gotten to be like "blonde". It's a code word for "female". The presence of exceptions does not change this, only provides a weasling excuse for those who don't want to own their words. Perhaps the word should be retired from the discussion and another term found -- if, that is, a productive and civil discussion is what is wanted.

jvon
04-29-2014, 02:55 PM
I think "aikibunny" has gotten to be like "blonde". It's a code word for "female". The presence of exceptions does not change this, only provides a weasling excuse for those who don't want to own their words. Perhaps the word should be retired from the discussion and another term found -- if, that is, a productive and civil discussion is what is wanted.

I'm a bit confused: on the one hand, you mention some kind of aim toward productive and civil discussion, while on the other, you present, without clear justification, an incontrovertible claim that one word means another word.

Here is another thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19043), gleaned from the top of the google search for "aikibunny." There you had this to say: "Aikibunny" is obviously a stereotype. Like all stereotypes, it has its origin in truth, or at least partial truths, and like all stereotypes, it eventually outlives its usefulness. When we're trying to understand something complex (in this case, other people's approach to aikido), we generalize and simplify so we can start to wrap our minds around it. There's nothing wrong with these as initial steps towards understanding...but we have to be willing to take it beyond that, to fill in the details that are omitted or overlooked in our first simple picture. If we fail to do so, our generalization becomes a stereotype, with as much falsehood as truth in it, and our simple understanding becomes instead simplistic, omitting the inconvenient facts that don't fit our nice neat picture.
Now, if I may, it seems as though you may be using an overly simplistic generalization for the various usages people have meant for the term "aikibunny" -- a term which usually seems to refer to a style of practice at one extreme on the spectrum of gentle to harsh ("masher" being the other extreme), and which has no particular gender bias.

Cheers,
J

Janet Rosen
04-29-2014, 03:16 PM
I think "aikibunny" has gotten to be like "blonde". It's a code word for "female". The presence of exceptions does not change this, only provides a weasling excuse for those who don't want to own their words. Perhaps the word should be retired from the discussion and another term found -- if, that is, a productive and civil discussion is what is wanted.

I disagree with your assertion. Historically it was and is often used disparagingly towards Ki Society-based training methods AND in our not so distant Aikiweb history was almost exclusively used to disparage a man posting very non-martial (and non-accurate!) techniques. Never have I ever seen it, heard it or used it as a gender-based term.

Susan Dalton
04-29-2014, 03:30 PM
[QUOTE=Tony Mills;336544]Thanks for a great article.
I've never met an uke I didn't like, sure I've found some frustrating because they make me look bad :)

Yep, true for me too. It's always so much easier to blame uke, isn't it? Thanks for reading, Tony.
Susan

Susan Dalton
04-29-2014, 03:32 PM
How sweet, Craig! Thank you. I wasn't sure where it was going either!
Susan

Susan Dalton
04-29-2014, 03:34 PM
Thanks, Matthew. I guess I should be paying Janet an agent's fee. Yeah, we all want to work with those smooth as butter ukes who make us look good. I want to be one of those! But you're right. We often learn the most with the ukes we find most difficult.
Susan

Susan Dalton
04-29-2014, 03:44 PM
Mary,
The way I've understood "aikibunny" is to describe those who fall down before you even touch them and want no force used at all. (Yes, I have been guilty as charged.) Often, these folks are so fearful about falling, getting hurt, or hurting others that they barely hold on and fall before being thrown so that they are totally in charge of where, when, and how they fall. I looked behind me before every back fall to be sure I wasn't falling on anything until I was a brown belt, which unfortunately often caused my neck to hurt. Probably more of these type students are female just because they may not have had experiences falling, but I have had plenty of male students I would describe this way too, just as I have had both male and female students who were more comfortable in the masher role.

I had hoped to start a productive and civil discussion, and I wasn't trying to offend when I used language shortcuts. But perhaps I have.
Susan

Mary Eastland
04-29-2014, 04:49 PM
Perhaps we could just not use labels.

mathewjgano
04-29-2014, 05:49 PM
I don't know if the following is exactly right or useful (I am pretty low on the amount of training compared to most everyone here), but a thought hit me a little later after reading this, so, in the spirit of wondering aloud for whatever it might be worth:
I kind of like the Bunny-Masher spectrum idea and have always considered myself to be more on the bunny side of things. To my mind it's analogous to what I've been taught about Aikido being a sort of communication process, having a kind of "listening" and "speaking" mindset. The Listening/receiving aspect, as I understand it, would be reflective of focusing on being sensitive and making sense of what's coming in. The Speaking/delivering aspect would be reflective of making aite move in some specific way (making sense of affecting power outward). Neither is exactly the whole thing and we all employ both to some degree, though we all have our own preferences based on personal goals and proclivities. The "trick" I suppose would be in how we combine the two aspects, and I would guess this might have something to do with the nature of practice as uke and nage. As nage, we're still "listening" to what's happening, just as when uke, we're still trying to issue power on some level. Over time, hopefully our ability to match these two aspects turns them into a kind of singular quality, which is neither doing nor not-doing, but a balanced happening, if that makes sense.
Also, I think labels are very tricky because we all inject our own semantics, but they do have their utility. As long as we can understand the intended meaning, I think, as Pete the Cat would say, "it's all good."

Susan Dalton
04-29-2014, 08:48 PM
Hmmm. I liked the bunny/masher spectrum idea too because it sets up diametrically opposed sides of the argument quickly, but then if we don't define the terms the same way, the argument isn't clear. Like you, Matthew, I see myself more toward the bunny end, and I don't think of that word as perjorative. I would rather my technique fail than hurt someone, and I am OK with someone thinking I am "less than compelling." But obviously, the words I chose to define the argument can be charged, something I really didn't think much about before this discussion. Mary M, I'm wondering if this sentence, " The presence of exceptions does not change this, only provides a weasling excuse for those who don't want to own their words" refers to something I said or if they refer to something I missed?
Susan

allowedcloud
04-30-2014, 05:45 AM
Hmmm. I liked the bunny/masher spectrum idea too because it sets up diametrically opposed sides of the argument quickly, but then if we don't define the terms the same way, the argument isn't clear. Like you, Matthew, I see myself more toward the bunny end, and I don't think of that word as perjorative. I would rather my technique fail than hurt someone, and I am OK with someone thinking I am "less than compelling." But obviously, the words I chose to define the argument can be charged, something I really didn't think much about before this discussion. Mary M, I'm wondering if this sentence, " The presence of exceptions does not change this, only provides a weasling excuse for those who don't want to own their words" refers to something I said or if they refer to something I missed?
Susan

I think one of the most compelling things about high-level aiki principals is that it largely transcends the "bunny/masher" dichotomy that seems to be the norm in most schools. Being able to negate and turn a partner's force back against him opens up many doors. Soft power, when properly trained is far more effective than hard power will ever be. So you can be yourself, at peace, and not wanting it harm your partner while at the same time totally controlling him. This is the promise of aikido.

Susan Dalton
04-30-2014, 07:18 AM
I agree, Joshua. I have seen aikido transform frightened students into more centered, confidant people both on and off and mat. (I put myself in this category.) I have also seen it "gentle down" others and help them become more sensitive to the world around them. I love your sentence about "the promise of aikido."
Susan

lbb
04-30-2014, 07:24 AM
Mary,
The way I've understood "aikibunny" is to describe those who fall down before you even touch them and want no force used at all. (Yes, I have been guilty as charged.) Often, these folks are so fearful about falling, getting hurt, or hurting others that they barely hold on and fall before being thrown so that they are totally in charge of where, when, and how they fall. I looked behind me before every back fall to be sure I wasn't falling on anything until I was a brown belt, which unfortunately often caused my neck to hurt. Probably more of these type students are female just because they may not have had experiences falling, but I have had plenty of male students I would describe this way too, just as I have had both male and female students who were more comfortable in the masher role.

I think this is a common fallacy even among those who know better: to assume that by virtue of his gender, a man is likely to have fighting skills or experiences. Certainly I don't think that the average man has any experience falling (where would they get that?).

I had hoped to start a productive and civil discussion, and I wasn't trying to offend when I used language shortcuts. But perhaps I have.

I know you weren't trying to offend. That's the thing about loaded language, though -- it creeps into common usage, associates itself with existing biases, and influences thinking even when used without intent. This is why I will not use the b word. But most people are not open to that discussion. Leaving gender out of it, I don't think anyone can deny that the term "aikibunny" is pejorative and used disparagingly, and I don't think pejorative terms are helpful in a discussion where the intention is to explore the potential value of a range of approaches. When we begin by pejoratively labeling the other -- or even (especially?) ourselfes -- we start from a perspective of skepticism that the approach has anything of value. Maybe, as Mary Eastland says, we should chuck the labels. When a label gets to the point where people have long since stopped really thinking about what it means, it's kind of lost its usefulness anyway, as is the case with all unexamined language.

lbb
04-30-2014, 07:26 AM
I think one of the most compelling things about high-level aiki principals is that it largely transcends the "bunny/masher" dichotomy that seems to be the norm in most schools.

That. And as with all false dichotomies, "bunny/masher" obscures the truth. It's not useful, so discard it.

phitruong
04-30-2014, 07:54 AM
last time i had bunny it tasted like chicken. i wondered if aikibuny tasted the same. lets face it, we, human (you aliens can ignore this), like to label things. it's a need to put order into chaos (chaos always win, because it better organized). we called night - night, day - day, coffee - coffee, tea - tea, chicken - chicken, bunny - chicken,.... and so on and so forth. we have label for stuffs we believed effective, and ineffective; accurate, inaccurate; aiki, non-aiki (go ahead and start another war); and so on.

me, i kinda like aikibunny, because i often run away from fight. however, when i have no other option, i would rip the other bugger leg off (much more picturesque than ripping arm) and beat him/her/it with it.

personally, i advocate for calling aikiemu. it rolls right off the tongue. the other term i also favor is aikiyak or aikiyeti.

jonreading
04-30-2014, 09:09 AM
I've used it. For me, "Aikibunny" is a light pejorative towards those who would take a pacifistic attitude towards their application of aiki. It is not gender based, it philosophically based. For me, I think "meek" is the term about which we are talking. For me, this is far more serious because meekness can be a personality trait or it can be learned behavior. I personally do not think this trait is gender-based, but I can appreciate that it is gender-biased.

I think the idea is to understand that Aikido should clarify and refine extreme positions. Training is an opportunity for the extreme position to be normalized. The most courageous thing someone can do is walk into a dojo knowing that they will change their perspective. After all, if you were satisfied with who you are, why would you change that?

Sometimes a lexicon helps us compartmentalize complex, sensitive topics. Humor lets us laugh at ourselves, instead of cry. These are tools that allow me to deal with a very personal and critical task of improving aspects of me. For me, effective aikido is about making me more effective. My partner is just a tool that helps me with a metric of success.

That's my peeve with the terminology. Real aikibunnies have no problem telling you about what they think or how you should act. Aikibunnies have a philosophical perspective and "Me" is not an issue for them. But for people who act in a manner specifically to be unnoticed, "me" is a real challenge. If you have ever had that feeling of, "maybe if I just be still, he won't notice me," you know that you are doing everything you can to not be noticed. This article did a great job of sharing an intimate experience of that nature.

Yes, it is possible to be a collection of terms. Imagine how much gumption is took for Susan to accurately call herself a "fearful, intimidated, little aikibunny." I bet money she's striped off a few of those terms over the years.

Mary Eastland
04-30-2014, 10:24 AM
The way you are defining it, Jon, is not how Susan is describing herself.(As I understand it) So in this column the word has been used to describe at least 3 different ways of being.

That is why labels are not helpful.

Mary Eastland
04-30-2014, 10:31 AM
Susan, thank you for this column. I think you handled the self-defense situation very well. You did your very best and you were not physically harmed. You listened to your inner voice. No one could possibly know what to do in that situation except you because you were there.

Second guessing self-defense situations afterward is counter productive. A successful self-defense situation is when the person is alive at the end of it. Conflict is very scary, frustrating and confusing.

I read in your column that what happened was traumatic for you. I am sure you reported him as soon as you could. We can only do our best. He is responsible for the wrong he has done, not you.

Susan Dalton
04-30-2014, 01:51 PM
Mary M said: "I think this is a common fallacy even among those who know better: to assume that by virtue of his gender, a man is likely to have fighting skills or experiences. Certainly I don't think that the average man has any experience falling (where would they get that?)."

I'm old enough that I come from a time when boys got to play rough and girls didn't. My friend and I got to play football with the boys but only for one year. It wasn't "seemly" once we got to junior high. My brother got to play all sorts of rough sports where girls weren't allowed. We could watch but we couldn't participate. Maybe that's changed now. I hope so.
Susan

Susan Dalton
04-30-2014, 01:59 PM
I read in your column that what happened was traumatic for you. I am sure you reported him as soon as you could. We can only do our best. He is responsible for the wrong he has done, not you.

Thank you, Mary. That was a long, long time ago, over 25 years. I hadn't started aikido or even imagined I would do something like it. I think I would listen to my body and report him more quickly now, but like you say, we don't really know what we would do unless we are in the situation. And I really believe that awareness and sensing what to do and say saved me from a much worse experience. That's my point really--that sensitivity is as valuable as force, sometimes more valuable.
Susan

Susan Dalton
04-30-2014, 02:10 PM
Yes, it is possible to be a collection of terms. Imagine how much gumption is took for Susan to accurately call herself a "fearful, intimidated, little aikibunny." I bet money she's striped off a few of those terms over the years.

Thanks, Jon, but it didn't take a whole lot of gumption. It's just how it was. I started in the children's class and I didn't really want people putting their hands on me. Finally after about six months I moved into the adult class, but I would still fall down way before anyone threw me. I would barely hold on to someone's wrist, and I avoided men and worked with other women on the "scary" techniques. I was afraid, afraid of all kinds of things. Luckily for me, the dojo was a very safe place to learn to trust. I am a different person now, both on and off the mat, but I am thankful the dojo had space for someone like me, just as I am glad we make room for the person who needs to bull through techniques because she hasn't learned to relax and take care of her partner.

Susan Dalton
04-30-2014, 02:17 PM
Hey Phi!

Janet Rosen
04-30-2014, 02:29 PM
I am a different person now, both on and off the mat, but I am thankful the dojo had space for someone like me, just as I am glad we make room for the person who needs to bull through techniques because she hasn't learned to relax and take care of her partner.

:)

lbb
04-30-2014, 08:06 PM
Luckily for me, the dojo was a very safe place to learn to trust. I am a different person now, both on and off the mat, but I am thankful the dojo had space for someone like me, just as I am glad we make room for the person who needs to bull through techniques because she hasn't learned to relax and take care of her partner.

This, I think, is the (potential) value of martial arts training for a kid who's being bullied: not because it will teach them fighting skills to defeat the bully, but because it puts them, for a short time at least, in an environment where other kids treat them with respect and care. It's a sanity check that says, "It doesn't have to be like that."

dps
04-30-2014, 10:15 PM
This, I think, is the (potential) value of martial arts training for a kid who's being bullied: not because it will teach them fighting skills to defeat the bully, but because it puts them, for a short time at least, in an environment where other kids treat them with respect and care. It's a sanity check that says, "It doesn't have to be like that."

No, the value of martial arts training for a kid being bullied is the martial arts skills to stop the bullying.
I was bullied in grade school until my Dad taught me how to box (boxed in the Navy, Golden gloves amateur heavyweight boxer after the Navy). It was a sanity check for the bully when he learned I had effective martial skills and I earned his respect to where he left me alone, a process repeated periodically throughout my life. You show the bully '' It isn't going to be like that''.

dps

lbb
05-01-2014, 07:12 AM
I think you missed my point, David. Your experience with your father notwithstanding, signing a kid up for martial arts classes and expecting that 1)this will result in the development of fighting skills and 2)these skills, all by themselves, will be adequate to stop the bullying situation and fix all the problems, strikes me as much more likely to end in failure than in success.

jonreading
05-01-2014, 08:01 AM
No, the value of martial arts training for a kid being bullied is the martial arts skills to stop the bullying.
I was bullied in grade school until my Dad taught me how to box (boxed in the Navy, Golden gloves amateur heavyweight boxer after the Navy). It was a sanity check for the bully when he learned I had effective martial skills and I earned his respect to where he left me alone, a process repeated periodically throughout my life. You show the bully '' It isn't going to be like that''.

dps

David, you have probably seen this, but here is a recent study that tackled some of the issues with school bully programs. To your point, I agree; rationalizing bad behavior is not the same as stopping bad behavior.

http://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2013/09/jeong-bullying.php

SeiserL
05-01-2014, 09:40 AM
As usual, great article, compliments and appreciation.
I tend to look for the frame of reference: effective for who, effective for what purpose, and effective in what context?
Perhaps the people who complain that Aikido is not effective (for them) just haven't trained hard enough with the right people?
Thanks again ...

lbb
05-01-2014, 01:24 PM
David, you have probably seen this, but here is a recent study that tackled some of the issues with school bully programs.

It sounds like someone may be confusing correlation with causation.

Susan Dalton
05-01-2014, 01:42 PM
This, I think, is the (potential) value of martial arts training for a kid who's being bullied: not because it will teach them fighting skills to defeat the bully, but because it puts them, for a short time at least, in an environment where other kids treat them with respect and care. It's a sanity check that says, "It doesn't have to be like that."

Too, I think taking a martial art teaches kids to carry themselves in such a way that they are not obvious targets. When my son was in kindergarten, all the mothers were calling around about one child who was bullying most of the boys. I had heard nothing about it. When I asked my son, he said, "He doesn't bother me. I take aikido."
Susan

Susan Dalton
05-01-2014, 01:47 PM
Thanks, Lynn!

kewms
05-02-2014, 11:05 AM
I disagree with your assertion. Historically it was and is often used disparagingly towards Ki Society-based training methods AND in our not so distant Aikiweb history was almost exclusively used to disparage a man posting very non-martial (and non-accurate!) techniques. Never have I ever seen it, heard it or used it as a gender-based term.

I've seen "aikibunny" used as a code word for female.... but not by anyone who's ever trained with good female students or instructors.

In my experience, dojos that encourage aikibunny-ness do so in a gender-neutral manner. The guys at such dojos do tend to be more martial than the women, but are still pretty bunny-like in the grand scheme of things.

Katherine

kewms
05-02-2014, 11:12 AM
I think this is a common fallacy even among those who know better: to assume that by virtue of his gender, a man is likely to have fighting skills or experiences. Certainly I don't think that the average man has any experience falling (where would they get that?).

Boys do tend to play differently than girls. So it might be plausible to say that an average twelve year-old boy might have more physical skills than an average twelve year-old girl. But translating that to a population of post-college adults with mostly sedentary jobs? Risky at best.

Katherine

kewms
05-02-2014, 11:17 AM
I am a different person now, both on and off the mat, but I am thankful the dojo had space for someone like me, just as I am glad we make room for the person who needs to bull through techniques because she hasn't learned to relax and take care of her partner.

As my teacher puts it, for some people, walking in the door is one of the hardest things they've ever done.

I think we do our own training, and the art, a disservice if we dismiss those people as "insufficiently martial."

Katherine

kewms
05-02-2014, 11:25 AM
Too, I think taking a martial art teaches kids to carry themselves in such a way that they are not obvious targets. When my son was in kindergarten, all the mothers were calling around about one child who was bullying most of the boys. I had heard nothing about it. When I asked my son, he said, "He doesn't bother me. I take aikido."
Susan

I think this is part of what makes evaluating the "effectiveness" of aikido (or any martial art) difficult. How do you measure the situations that don't happen? If you're walking through a bad neighborhood, and nine bad actors look at you and decide to bother someone else, but the tenth is such a vicious SOB (or so chemically addled) that he tries to attack you, is the outcome of that one encounter the only measure of whether your aikido "worked?"

Katherine

Susan Dalton
05-03-2014, 04:13 PM
As my teacher puts it, for some people, walking in the door is one of the hardest things they've ever done.

I think we do our own training, and the art, a disservice if we dismiss those people as "insufficiently martial."

Katherine

I agree. If they already knew what they were doing, why they would need aikido?
Susan

jonreading
05-05-2014, 01:05 PM
It sounds like someone may be confusing correlation with causation.

Who's the someone? Who's claiming a causal link? My reference was in agreement that I believe anti-bully behavior starts with personal deterrence. The study pointed to strong indications of personal traits affecting bully behavior.

To Katherine's point, deterrence is a difficult thing to quantify. I remember reading an article that summarized some FBI statistics from the 90s. In the summary, the author claimed that women who carried weapons in open and obvious display were much less at risk to be the victim of an assault than women who did not. Do you think I care why carrying pepper spray deters assault when I advocate carry pepper spray?

To Susan's point, I think personal behavior traits like posture and confidence are important to creating a non-victim vibe.

SeiserL
05-05-2014, 05:45 PM
I think personal behavior traits like posture and confidence are important to creating a non-victim vibe.
Yes agreed.
Working with predators always reminds me of a National Geographic show. They tend to go after the easy prey that is isolated and vulnerable already. They recognize their prey by the level of fear. They tend not to pick on those who will fight back. They come from their own place of pain, fear, and insecurity.
Perhaps a part of what makes a technique effective is know who to apply it to?
Facing our own fears (walking in the door, taking a fall, or standing our ground) is an important overlooked part of the training.
Any thoughts anyone?

Susan Dalton
05-05-2014, 07:53 PM
Yes agreed.
They come from their own place of pain, fear, and insecurity.
Perhaps a part of what makes a technique effective is know who to apply it to?
Facing our own fears (walking in the door, taking a fall, or standing our ground) is an important overlooked part of the training.
Any thoughts anyone?

Yes, and also to learn to know when we don't need to apply anything, just remain calm.
Susan

SeiserL
05-06-2014, 09:14 AM
Yes, and also to learn to know when we don't need to apply anything, just remain calm.
So totally agree ...
Staying calm really scares these punks who feed on one of us being afraid ... make it them ...

phitruong
05-06-2014, 10:52 AM
Yes, and also to learn to know when we don't need to apply anything, just remain calm.
Susan

strange. i am reading a book i got from Barn&Noble. The title of the book is "SCREW CALM and GET ANGRY". :)

Susan Dalton
05-06-2014, 01:14 PM
strange. i am reading a book i got from Barn&Noble. The title of the book is "SCREW CALM and GET ANGRY". :)

I haven't seen that book, Phi. Whatever works...
Susan