View Full Version : Walking away from you test!

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Ari Bolden
10-06-2003, 05:29 PM
I am looking to hear from you and your advice on the situation below.

It's testing day and you will be testing two students for their first belts (or you could be fellow students in class).

One of the students who is testing after class, gets up, walks over and picks up his shoes and walks to the back.

The sensei follows.

(Note: this student hasn't been coming to classes regularly and gets frustrated easily when techniques don't work perfectly).

The sensei asks what is wrong. The student say's "nothing." After 5 minutes of talking, the student and teacher come back to the mat.

Class ends.

"Testing will begin in 5 minutes. Go get your water." Students leave and come back. Except for the 'troubled' student. Seconds later, the sensei sees the student dressed and leaves via the backdoor, without so much as a word or bow.

To compound the problem..the student and the sensei are friends.

The sensei tests the other student (who does very well) but can't shake the feeling of being totally disrespected.

How would you handle this situation (or view it as a fellow student).

I'd like to hear you input...

warm regards

Ari B.

10-06-2003, 05:42 PM
The instructor should purge this issue out of their mind completely and don't give it a second thought; don't treat the student any differently than before, and don't bug him about the test unless he starts to talk to the instructor about it first.

A natural resolution to this will come as the next test date gets near.

If the student doesn't sign up for the test next time, the instructor may come by and wonder why.

Maybe the student just needs to hear a kind word from the instructor in order to sign up for the test.
And if he does sign up, he likely won't walk away this time.

10-06-2003, 09:57 PM
That don´t sound like the conduct of a close friend to me (a friend would be mindful of etiquette and how much aikido means to their relationship, I think), but of a stranged student that´s about to quit it all. I would try to contact him/her later at another location outside the dojo. Somewhere the student could relax and talk about what you perceive is wrong and affecting their practice, but probably is a quitter (maybe a cronic one) whose made up their mind, and those are difficult if not impossible to win back. Move on.

10-06-2003, 11:27 PM
"You can lead a cow to the water, you can't make it drink it."

If he's not ready in his mind, he won't be ready just because you think he is.

As for the discourtesy shown, that's just it, plain rude. If I was a friend, i'd be hurt unless i'm already tuned to his idiosyncrasies. As a sensei, i should have a word on how disrespectful his actions were next time i see him in 'class' not outside where you're pals.

Or maybe I should try and discover what exactly is bugging him. Maybe external factors like death in family, divorce, that kinda thing is affecting him badly and he doesn't know how to deal with it.

Teachers dillema i think, when they encounter recalcitrant students... the potential is there, but the muck they have to wade through is unbelievable.

10-07-2003, 01:42 AM
I can understand that the sensei feels disrespected but I would probably say that the student is going through some pretty heavy feelings too. It sounds like the student was sneaking out so was probably too nervous to talk about why etc. I would try not to look at the person as disrespecting me in this situation(what good can it do for you?), I think there's other stuff going on if not now then perhaps triggered by the event? If you choose to perhaps talk to the guy as you would to one of your own. I always hear that Aikido is something that reveals your inner demons, if so then it seems to be working and hopefully he can stay on the path he ultimately chooses.

Peter Goldsbury
10-07-2003, 06:53 AM
I think you have perhaps unwittingly put your finger on one of the problems of a discussion forum like this. It is very difficult to make general statements applying to a particular situation involving the student and the teacher, which can be illuminating to the majority of people who visit or post here. So much information is lacking—and to give the information would be to intrude on the privacy of the instructor and the student—that any general advice will be so general as to be valueless.

Of course we can generalize and say that the student should not have left after the class, but he/she had reasons for doing so and we do not know what these reasons are (you have not told us). Or we can say that the instructor should have obeyed the ‘tatemae’ of the test and not got up to go after the student. But he, too, had reasons for doing so and we do not know what these reasons are (you have not told us). So how are we to judge?

I can say with a fair degree of certainty that in my own dojo that:

(1) If the student left the dojo after the class but before the test, I would know why—to know this, as a result of the student’s practice, would be part of my job as instructor. Actually, on test days here there is only free practice, not a formal class, and after the test we always go out and have a dojo party, which students do not like to miss;

(2) Thus, I would not get up and have a discussion with the student and persuade the student to take the test (which is how I interpret what you have told us about the instructor’s actions);

(3) Thus, the remaining student would not feel slighted because he/she was the only one taking the test. If I found out that he/she did feel slighted because the other student had left, I would wonder very much about his/her motives for taking the test to begin with.

So the situation you envisage is so unlike the situation I have here in Hiroshima that I really wonder whether this post is of any value to you. Still, I offer it for what it is of worth. Feel free to contact me privately if you wish to discuss the matter further>

Best wishes,

10-07-2003, 11:25 AM
As Peter says it is difficult to make judgements in a forum such as this but I was faced with a similar situation a few years ago.

The problem (from the studnets perspective) was one of extreme shyness and he simply could not face a dojo full of people other than his own class.

After a long talk I graded him at his own class and he eventually did take a further (successful) test in front of everyone. I regarded the fact that he actually stood up and confronted his fear as important as actually performing technique.

10-07-2003, 12:13 PM
You can't force people to train - I doubt if the student will come back... so what?

Aikido training is a privilage.


Ari Bolden
10-07-2003, 05:04 PM
Dear Peter, Phil, and Ian,

1) Peter, you are correct. I have left out a lot of details regarding the situation at hand. I had wondered how much to put here in this post. I realize it wasn't very detailed.

The student wasn't persuaded to take the test at that time but rather just invited back to the mat for the rest of the class. The student was asked "if he would rather take the test at a later time." The student said no but walked away at the end of class.

2)Phil, "extreme shyness" is part of the problem. I am so glad someone has encountered this. I befriended this person a few years ago but he has an amazingly dificult time dealing with groups (to the point of seeming anti social). Perhaps I will take your suggestion to heart. But, for now, I think he needs time to sort some things out and reflect on his actions before letting him back into the dojo.

Aikido practice is about partner work (and jiu jitsu for that matter). It is what makes it wonderful. He offered to pay me for private lessons. I told him that it would 'miss the mark considerably' if he did aikido/jj 1 on 1.

If you want private lessons, take tai chi or learn katas' It simply doesn't work for aikido/jj.

3)Ian, Aikido training is a privilage. Yes, I agree partly. It is also about having fun. The student mentioned to me that he thought his training became stagnated and it was a chore coming to class. He didn't like teaming up with one student becasue of that students wrestling background (" I can never sumbit him. It is always about being pinned or some slopply brawl.")

I replied: Open you eyes to the things people have to offer. You can learn a lot from him. Many paths will lead to the mountian top. Stop and talk with other travellers...you might learn a thing or two on the way up."

Cheers gents...enjoy your practice amd thanks for the replies!

Ari Bolden

10-07-2003, 11:40 PM
It sounds like there are definitely other issues at work in that situation. I would try to see if the student wants to discuss the issue(s), or, be a good listener and discover the issue myself.

There is more than an affront to ego here, so wasting time on pride and appearance to the rest of class are the least of my concerns.


10-08-2003, 04:34 AM
Kudos to this fellow with his social problems just for showing up.

From what I have read until now I think you should give him as much space and time as you can. Don't force him into grading, and try to help him when he paires up with that ex-wrestler. I hardly think that guy (wrestler)has the right to decide that the other guy needs to have his techniques tested. He should focus upon being a good uke, and deliver the best possible attack without escalating a conflict, so in my book he's the one with a problem. We need to take good care of each other, and we need to allow each and every one to grow at there own pace. Celebrate any progress, be positive and supportive - educating when needed. First and foremost it is neccesary to understand, that if we don't fully understands the mechanisms within a student then we must be very reluctant to tighten the grip, or they will run away. That would not be the students problem, but the instructors as well as all the other students.

Mind you this is my opinion based on the little info we have been given on the situation. I hope it can be useful in some way.

Good luck!

10-08-2003, 05:08 AM
I almost walked out of class last weekend - didn't but it was close.

Not so sure now whether what caused offence was that terrible or that a lot of other little things built up or just me being in the wrong frame of mind.

Guaranteed what you saw was just the surface and guaranteed you don't want to get involved. Your teacher and the student are both adults and the problem really is theirs and theirs alone.

Another thing you might want to consider is how you view Aikido. I still like to talk about our little thing but beyond suggesting people give it a try I don't try to convert and if someone leaves I don't try and get them back. You are either ready for Aikido or you are not - of course we shouldn't generallize (we will anyway) but the student leaving was probably no great surprise.

George S. Ledyard
10-08-2003, 10:59 AM
Those of us who have been around a long time and been blessed with being able to train with the finest teachers often are a bit harsh when it comes to judging people who seem to be having trouble dealing with issues in their training.

I think it is important to remember that there are many people out there whose experiences in life have left them quite damaged. For some of these folks simply signing up for Aikido and getting on the mat is an act of courage which far exceeds what most of us have had to come up with in our training.

If a teacher can work with someone like this and perhaps persuade them to stay rather than leave, that person may never be a great martial artist in this lifetime (who knows) but they may actually get more out of the training from the standpoint of personal transformation than the student for whom things come easily. I think it is a good idea to remember to take a look at where a student is coming starting from personally and make ones judgments from there rather than have some absolute standard. The person who starts out physically adept and mentally tough may in the end not be the person who takes the most from the training even though he may technically be far ahead of some other students.

10-08-2003, 01:19 PM
Somewhat related -- I listened to a radio show recently that had a caller who had attempted suicide, was left blind from the attempt, and on loads of anti-depressants and barely managed to find their footing in their own life.

There is always something going on under the surface, sometimes extremely severe. "Damaged" as George puts it would be an appropriate word.

It is VERY easy not to care to dig deeper. The challenge is actually taking time to find out, and that's what I respect.


10-08-2003, 08:40 PM
Not harsh George but not an evangelist either.

I do my best for anyone who steps through my door - hey at this stage a warm body is a warm body - but my primary concern are those that regularily train. There is only so much I can do.

As I understood the original post a student wanted to help a situation between another student and his teacher. A situation which had apparently degenerated quite a bit. There is a certain wisdom in knowing when to stay well clear for the good of all parties.

From Phil
It is VERY easy not to care to dig deeper. The challenge is actually taking time to find out, and that's what I respect.
See above.

Suzanne Cooper
10-08-2003, 09:25 PM
I'm barely an aikidoka, but I can speak to teacher/student issues since I'm in a cadre of teachers at my place of employment.

Occasionally I'll work with a someone who is interested in 'being successful' with no interest in 'achieving success.' Those people are a challenge to turn to the right ways of doing things because they get bored and want to quit before they give the skill a fair shake. Or worse, they'll tell me that the skill isn't worth their while or that it is beneath them, with no thought about whether I'd really waste my time teaching such a thing!

It is difficult to find a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties. The teacher wants the student to learn the skill and the student wants to perform the skill without learning it.

10-09-2003, 09:17 AM
IMHO, don't take it personally. It sounds like its between the teacher and that student.

How did your training go?

How did your testing go?