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Unregistered
02-21-2004, 03:21 PM
I have a question about an incident that occurred recently at my dojo. I am a very new member of my dojo and the incident occurred during my fourth lesson.

The lessons this week were preparing students for belt exams to be held on the weekend. The dojo was more crowded than I had experienced the three times previously. The sensei went through the waza very quickly, and seemed determined to pack as many waza into each 2-hour session as possible. During my fourth attendance, eight kumi waza were practiced. During one of the waza, I was partnered with one of the exam students, and was thrown very quickly, in crowded conditions, and stepped on. I was then scolded by sensei for letting myself be stepped on.

We had one practice of forward rolling, and I did inform sensei that I had never done a martial arts roll before. That was it, my one practice, from a kneeling start. About few waza later, we were then to be thrown in a waza that required us to run at the nage, be thrown, and roll from a run. You guessed it, I did not catch myself correctly, but was unaware at the time that I had done myself any injury. Another newbie (this was his first lesson) landed badly on his knee and twisted it, in the same waza.

I went home with a torn scalp from having my hair stepped on, and later learned that I had sprained my neck. While I can accept my torn scalp as a hazard of martial arts practice, I don't feel at all good about my sprained neck.

I don't have any previous martial arts experience, nor anywhere else to go, as this is the only dojo of its kind in my location. I have friends who are sensei in other martial arts disciplines; they are very concerned that I was put into a class intended to prepare more experienced students for belt exams. Hence my question: Is that normal practice in any style of aikido, to have rank newbies participate in exam-prep classes? I feel very apprehensive of returning to the dojo, also very apprehensive of getting scolded again for something that I'm really not sure should be my fault.

Help please?
"Selkie"

SeiserL
02-21-2004, 05:18 PM
Is that normal practice in any style of aikido, to have rank newbies participate in exam-prep classes? I feel very apprehensive of returning to the dojo, also very apprehensive of getting scolded again for something that I'm really not sure should be my fault.
We tend not to extend our newbies too far ahead of themselves. We want to take care of them so they want to return and they remain unharmed.

We don't have special exam-prep classes so unsure of your context. Accidents do happen when the mats are too crowded.

IMHO, it is your Sensei's and Sempai's responsibility to help you train wisely and safely, as well as your own.

Talk with your Sensei. If it continues, train elsewhere.

Erik
02-21-2004, 06:19 PM
Hence my question: Is that normal practice in any style of aikido, to have rank newbies participate in exam-prep classes?
It can be done and done safely. The thing is to be conscious that you are working with a beginner and not hammer them like a 10-year veteran. Apparently this dojo decided that since you were on the mat you had to take whatever was given and that was that. So, it's possible the exam prep exacerbated a problem but the real problem is a bunch of careless twits.
I feel very apprehensive of returning to the dojo, also very apprehensive of getting scolded again for something that I'm really not sure should be my fault.
Aikido is not a survivor contest where everyone gets thrown in and has to survive whatever comes their way. You learn and grow into the more complex and dangerous stuff regardless of whatever else is going on. This didn't happen and the responsibility, in my opinion, lies with whomever was teaching the class and the school's owner. Assuming your story is what happened this exemplifies carelessness and not owning up to their responsibility.

I might talk to the head instructor but I'd be surprised if there would be any resolution other than leaving and not looking back. I might do other things too depending on my mood over the whole issue.

MaryKaye
02-21-2004, 07:53 PM
Every dojo at which I have trained or visited provides training for newcomers on forward rolls--if not formal beginners' classes, at least an experienced student to coach, and plenty of slow practice rolls before starting in with throws. (A good thing, too. It took me five months to learn to forward roll reliably.)

The fact that a class was exam prep should not affect this. If it was going to be taught above your safe level, you should have been asked not to participate.

Personally, I would leave. The risk of injury is too great, and a severe injury could mean no more aikido ever. Better to look elsewhere, even if it takes a while. Most dojo do a better job than what you're describing.

I hope your head and neck recover promptly.

Mary Kaye

Noel
02-21-2004, 08:13 PM
Every place I've ever trained at has been mindful of the (lack of) rolling skill of your typical beginner. This has applied regardless of who was preparing for what exam, and when.

The way I've consistently seen it done, if hard practice is needed, (or perhaps if the newbies are really green and someone wants to do koshinage) is to divide into two groups so the experienced folks can work on the hard version of the technique, and the new guys can learn a "safer" version of the technique.

FWW, my cent-and-a-half,

-Noel

gstevens
02-21-2004, 08:34 PM
Wow... I feel compeled to write on this thread...

This is so opposite my experiences in Aikido. I am a rank newbie too, only having four weeks or so under my belt. I have participated in belt test preperation, with people testing for 2nd and 1st kyu. It was fun! I didn't understand their half of the techinique, but they treated me with the utmost care and RESPECT. Every time I go to the Dojo I have fun.

I looked into 5 Dojos before selecting the one that I am currently a member of. In all of them I was invited to train with memebers of the Dojo that were more advanced than I was, in all of them I was treated with Kindness, and respect. I was part of test preperation as a guest at one of them. In no way was I misstreated, always I was shown respect and kindness. Which is what I expect from Aikido.

In two incidents since I have been on the mat, I have made errors because my focus is still on me, and at best connecting to my partner; the rest of the world outside my feet sometimes does not exist. (I am working hard on this, but there is so much new, so much to take in every class, that it is very hard to take in all of the technique, and people doing the technique next to me.) In both cases, I was moved, by the sempies that I was training with before there could have been a "being stepped on" incident. Both times I said thank you, and both times the people I was training with said; "That would have been completely my fault, not yours, you are new, and part of my position in the dojo is to make sure that you do not get hurt."

I can't say enough how much your post vexes me, having the opposite experience here, and loving Aikido. Aikido has already changed the way that I look at and approach the world in the four weeks or so that I have been practicing. It is because the Sempies, and my Sensei are kind, and caring that I am able to learn....

Sensei has stopped me rolling twice to point out that I was doing something incorrectly and could hurt myself. I have seen him do this with a lot of us. He also has told the sempeis not to "Throw" us, but to flow with us, and stop before a roll would be necessary, so that we could then line up concentrate, and practice a roll...Or not.

Something seems wrong here, I wish that there was another dojo close to you so that you would have the opportunity to experience the magic of this art, and not whatever is going on there.

Bronson
02-21-2004, 09:36 PM
...nor anywhere else to go, as this is the only dojo of its kind in my location.
Are there other styles of martial arts around? Personally I'd rather train with a good karate instructor than a bad aikido instructor. If it turns out that you can't train there without fearing for your safety, leave don't look back, and don't feel bad about it.

Bronson

Unregistered
02-21-2004, 10:17 PM
This is absolutely unacceptable. It is an instructor's responsibility to ensure the safety of those who are studying under him/her. This is especially critical when working with someone new. If this was some fast paced high-level training thing then it should have been made clear to you that that was the case and that you could not practice. If you were allowed to be there then your instructor should have taken measures to make sure that you were not hurt (as should have those with whom you were practicing, although the instructor is primarily culpable). Was this the head instructor leading class, or was it a senior student? If it was a senior student, speak with the head instructor. This was absolutely not your fault. If this was the school's primary instructor then do not go to this school anymore. I am speaking as a long time aikido practioner and one who likes to see others come to the art. I have injured people in class before or had people injured while I was instructing class. On every occasion I felt horrible, and apologized profusely. On most of those occasions I was scolded or once even punched by my instructors when they found out. While I think it possible to chalk this up to inexperience of the instructor, I think it reprehensible that he had the audacity to blame you.

Michael Hackett
02-21-2004, 11:38 PM
The events you describe are simply too dangerous to continue with. IF the senior instructor was present and supervised the class, then run from that dojo quickly. If it was a senior student supervising, it would be worthwhile to speak to the Sensei.

Your safety is the responsibility of your Sensei, your seniors, your partners and yourself. We did a similar class last night to help prepare one of our yudansha for his nidan test. A brand new student started and participated in the class. When it came time for him to take falls, nage would stop and assist him in taking a safe forward roll from a kneeling position. There is no excuse for a situation as you described it! You would be safer learning to disarm bombs or something.

G DiPierro
02-22-2004, 02:16 AM
I am a very new member of my dojo and the incident occurred during my fourth lesson. ... I was then scolded by sensei for letting myself be stepped on. ... We had one practice of forward rolling, and I did inform sensei that I had never done a martial arts roll before. ... About few waza later, we were then to be thrown in a waza that required us to run at the nage, be thrown, and roll from a run. ... Another newbie (this was his first lesson) landed badly on his knee and twisted it, in the same waza. ... I went home with a torn scalp from having my hair stepped on, and later learned that I had sprained my neck.
Let me make this as clear as possible. You are in the wrong dojo. I don't know where you practice or who this teacher is, but I sincerely hope that this is not happening in a mainstream Aikikai dojo. If it is, feel free to contact me privately and I will look into it. I suspect that there is much more wrong at this place than you even realize, and you will be well served to get out now before things get worse.

taras
02-22-2004, 03:06 AM
Anonymous,

Sorry to hear about your injury. Can I ask is it the only incident in the dojo or do they happen often? Do they happen only when you uke for certain students or is it a common thing? Aikido is considered a safe practice but sometimes accidents do happen, no one is perfect (even if they wear a hakama).

Try to speak to your instructor personally, when they have time to listen to your concerns. It may have been that before the tests the instructor was a bit nervous, concerned about other things, too many people on the mats, that for some reason he was not listening when you told him. And while it is not really acceptable, everyone is only a human.

Come on guys, have faith in your fellow Aikidokas! Everyone is learning, including our instructors. If you let your sensei know how you feel, he may learn something from it as well. We all learn and sometimes we may have to pay for this education with a bit of scalp or another injury (been there). And while the practice must be made as safe as possible, accidents are accidents.

Anonymous, I hope this situation will not put you off Aikido. I live in an area with only one dojo and I think understand how you feel.

Hope you recover soon.

Nacho_mx
02-22-2004, 09:56 AM
In our school newbies practice with newbies under the direct supervision of a fukushidoin (a 4th dan). Basically he is in charge of getting them trough the basics of ukemi, and only after a reasonable period of time (a couple of months on average), when the practitioner builds up their confidence and shows the desire and skills to safely practice with more advanced students are they admitted to the general practice by our sensei. In no way a student with few days or weeks of practice should be partnered with someone preparing for an exam, specially in a crowded dojo under poor supervision. I find your predicament unacceptable, if you would like to continue the path of Aikido you should try to find a better dojo.

stuartjvnorton
02-22-2004, 05:06 PM
I was then scolded by sensei for letting myself be stepped on.
That seems so wrong to me.

As a beginner, I spent about 50% of my brain going "where do my feet go?" & the other 50% thinking "ok, it's a roll, please God don't let me die".

As a beginner, you've got enough to worry about just telling your left feet apart. Your sensei should know better than to blame you for something like that. Besides, scolding your beginners is not how you keep them...

If it was all juniors together, he has no one to blame but himself for not paying attention or not having a senior supervise.
You guessed it, I did not catch myself correctly, but was unaware at the time that I had done myself any injury. Another newbie (this was his first lesson) landed badly on his knee and twisted it, in the same waza.
Once again, poor supervision by the instructor for not seeing that the students were having obvious dificulty with the techniques being practised.
I went home with a torn scalp from having my hair stepped on, and later learned that I had sprained my neck. While I can accept my torn scalp as a hazard of martial arts practice, I don't feel at all good about my sprained neck.
The torn scalp is unfortunate, but will occasionally happen. If you have long hair, there is a small chance that it can be stepped on.

As for the neck, you shouldn't feel good about it.

I'd imagine that most people who have trained in Aikido for more than a couple of years will have had a neck scare or 2 with bad landings, but the whole scenario as you described it sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.

Josh Bisker
02-22-2004, 05:34 PM
Can I ask is it the only incident in the dojo or do they happen often? Do they happen only when you uke for certain students or is it a common thing?

...no one is perfect...

Try to speak to your instructor personally, when they have time to listen to your concerns ... while it is not really acceptable, everyone is only a human.

Come on guys, have faith in your fellow Aikidokas! Everyone is learning, including our instructors.

I hope this situation will not put you off Aikido.
I want to agree with Taras here, not only in the advice given but in the nature of the post itself. I think that the suggestions here urge a moderation in action, an openness and understanding about the path of interaction, and a calmness about the situation; and alongside these qualities still exists the idea of looking out for what's best for you. I agree that while the stuff you described did not sound like an acceptable practice environment, maybe there are productive steps to investigate before bailing completely. Talk to your sensei, or maybe send him an email or a note with your concern written out. I have often found in situations like this that the chance to structure my thoughts on paper was helpful to my goal. I guess it can allow you to make sure you express everything you want to without being confrontational about it. Just a suggesstion though.

It seems like you are already treading very mindfully, and good for you dude, that's what we're all looking to do, i think. So keep on that path of communication and it seems like you'll do just fine.

Unregistered
02-22-2004, 06:11 PM
Thank you so much for your replies, everyone. I have tears on my face because you are all so kind and because it is such bad news. I know you are correct; you're only confirming to me something that I had been suspecting I should do -- ask for my money back and leave.

Lynn Seiser: I agree, accidents happen, especially in crowded conditions. That is why I'm not nearly so upset over my trampled hair, though it tore my scalp. That I can file under "normal hazard risk".

Mary Kuhner: Thank you so much for posting. Your post is especially meaningful to me because my dojo is a Ki Society. It is, unfortunately, the only Ki Society in my province and near as I can tell, the only place in the province to teach Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. I don't know of any other local schools offering any styles of Ki Aikido, which is what I had wanted to learn (in addition to jo. I like jo.)

Guy Stevens: I *had* been having fun -- my first two classes, taught by two different junior sensei, were very enjoyable and paced more slowly, with only one or two waza covered. The last two classes (I've only had four) were taught by the dojo founder, the senior sensei, and were very, very fast-paced, packing six and eight waza respectively. That's why this is so very upsetting to me -- I'd been enjoying it greatly; now I'm afraid to go back.

Anonymous User: You sound exactly like my friend the Tae Kwon-do sensei -- she's just as outraged and for the same reasons. I'll point out that no one was indifferent to the fact that I was hurt; the people who trampled my hair were horrified. Being scolded by the sensei was embarrassing to me, but also made me indignant: Maybe an experienced uke can keep an eye on their surroundings while being marionetted up, down and around in the space of ten seconds, but one of four lessons, I think that's asking a little much. When I left the dojo that night, I was unaware that I had injured my neck badly. My scalp was hurting more than my neck was; I thought my neck was just a little strained. It was the next morning, when I woke up almost unable to move, that I learned it had been sprained.

Michael Hackett: Thank you for making me smile. Perhaps I *should* take up bomb disarmament - I hear there's good money in it :)

Taras Poltorak: I'm uncertain whether there have been other incidents like mine; as I said, it was only my fourth class. In this case, there were two nage stationed to do the throws, and everyone else was uke, being thrown from a running start - lots of momentum there. I have wondered why I haven't seen any other belt colours between blue and black; I'd thought perhaps the more senior sempai go to the Saturday classes (which I can't attend), but I've since started wondering more deeply :-P

Ignacio Jaramillo: I think your dojo's method sounds very sensible.

Thank you all for your words. This is very crushing to me because I had been having fun, and because this is the only dojo I can find that teaches the ki aikido that I want to learn. I can excuse my torn scalp, and even a sprained wrist or ankle would be aggravating but allowable.. but my neck? I'm forced to agree, I really have to wonder if this is a warning shot for me. I don't *want* to give it up, but you all are right -- the next time could be paralyzing. I don't want to learn ki aikido *that* badly. I guess I'll go ask for a refund, tomorrow.

Thank you again

"Selkie"

Katzedecimal@yahoo.com

PeterR
02-22-2004, 07:16 PM
Is that normal practice in any style of aikido, to have rank newbies participate in exam-prep classes? I feel very apprehensive of returning to the dojo, also very apprehensive of getting scolded again for something that I'm really not sure should be my fault.
First off - I do. I don't have beginners classes and every one does everything that everyone else does. The partner is very much aware that the person is a new and demands are adjusted accordingly. The beginner also has a certain responsibility to self to judge what they can and can not do safely.

Scolded for something you didn't do. Well mistakes happen - both yours and others - what's the big deal. Learn from it if you can.

Sorry about the injuries - they happen but, especially with beginners they shouldn't.

The hair being stepped on. How long was your hair? Did you just lay there and wait to get stepped on? Generally, crowded conditions or not, you should be up on your feet pretty quick.

Neck injuries from roles bother me a little more but really - could you have stopped and taken a slower role?

I'm not coming down on you but after four lessons, most of which you enjoyed, I don't really see a reason for angst.

Again adjustments are made for beginners but the class can't revolve around them. Otherwise those that have put in the time and effort will not stay.

Larry Feldman
02-22-2004, 07:41 PM
If you do end up changing dojos, and are interested in Ki Society schools, there are some associations that were formerly a part of the Ki Society. You might check here

http://www.shugenkai.com/newschools.htm

or look for a former Ki Society school that has gone 'independant'.

PeterR
02-22-2004, 08:00 PM
By the way - just for discussions sake since I've had an influx of beginners.

We have a whole rash of warm-up exercises and drills not to mention the dozen or so techniques that are covered each class. Its not so horrendous as it sounds since there is complete repetiotion every class for the exercises and drills and quite a bit for the techniques. The point though is a beginner is often truely overwhelmed.

We provide a lot of verbal encouragement but it is, as far as the dojo is concerned, a useful screening exercise.

Those that stay increase in ability pretty quick, those that leave - well they would probably be a drag on training for everyone else.

If you are truely uncomfortable with the practice (not just frustrated) leaving is probably the best bet fro all concerned.

MaryKaye
02-22-2004, 10:41 PM
Caveat: I'm a one-year novice myself.

I've trained at both Ki Society and non-Ki Society dojo, and there is a lot in common at the early levels--the fundamentals of falling and rolling, the basic attacks, the basic responses, all very recognizable despite the style difference. So even if you know that you eventually want to end up with Ki Society, studying elsewhere will still give you a lot of what you need. It's all Aikido in the end.

(There'd be a certain amount of relearning. There are techniques for which I only know someone else's version, so I try to guess the Ki Society version, sometimes with ludicrous results. Sometimes you can take the direct physical push out and substitute a down-up-down movement--but sometimes you can't! Luckily my teachers have a sense of humor.)

I understand why other posters are urging you to talk with your sensei about this, but I don't know, personally, if such a conversation could be enough to make me feel safe. Three injuries to two newcomers in one class is a *lot*.

On a tangent, a word of advice: tie your hair up if it's physically possible. Mine is fairly long, and the first time I did a back roll on it I swore never to leave it loose again.

Mary Kaye

Unregistered
02-23-2004, 02:07 AM
A note from the aforementioned (and retired) TKD person in Selkie's last post:

Mary Kuhner (and to anyone else wondering): Selkie's left out a couple of details which I feel need pointing out. (My apologies beforehand to Selkie if I'm telling too much.)

1) She's not physically strong due to certain reasons I won't get into (that's her business if she wants to divulge them), but she's already quite familiar with some of the ki techniques thanks to other sources; learning new applications for her knowledge was part of what made the other classes so much fun for her. She went to this dojo primarily to learn the jo, but also to improve her physical strength and self-confidence (which comprises a good deal of what most of us take martial arts for, unless I'm wildly mistaken). To be told that she was at fault for getting hurt did not help that confidence any. She's also since developed the impression that the more highly-ranked the person, the lousier a teacher s/he is. I can see how that would occur: some people have forgotten what it's like to be at the bottom of the food chain. That, however, does not make their actions excusable.

Side note to Peter Rehse: The one thing that cannot be assumed is that those beginning aikido -- or any martial art, for that matter -- are already physically fit. While I've no doubt she could have gotten to her feet in short order (barring severe injury, that is), the person who trampled her hair happened to do so immediately after Selkie hit the ground. She had no opportunity to stand up before that happened. I am guessing her hair *was* tied up, since for it to be ripped out violently enough to induce bleeding would mean the other's foot would have stepped on it quite close to the skull, with perhaps another inch or two making the difference between 'hair' and 'forehead'. Also, she did not stop to 'take a slower role' because, quite simply, she's new to martial arts: she trusted to the discretion of the instructors as to what was safe for her to do, since they're supposed to know better when teaching beginners. This 'mistake' could have sent her to the hospital -- or, worse yet, to the morgue. (Then they would have had to deal with me. :P) Just thought I'd clear that up.

2) Several members of the Ki Society she chose are ex-aikikai who had negative experiences at the local aikikai dojo and went in search of something else to try. Based on both their experiences and her own research, Selkie truly does not have anywhere else to train that would give her what she needs. I'd see about doing something for her myself (I'm training in a weapon-centered art right now that includes jo), but we live three hours apart, and a six-hour commute for two-hour lessons just isn't practical.

I've been in and taught enough classes to know that one should never, ever be negligent with the beginners. They have put their well-being in your hands with the trust that you will treat it responsibly. I myself have been the victim of an indifferent teacher: he preferred chatting with his top-ranked student over supervising the class once he'd given us something to practice, and I was nearly paralyzed thanks to his negligence; it took my brother screaming for the guy to notice anything. :P If nothing else, that experience fifteen years ago taught me what should *not* be done with beginners. When I learned of Selkie's experience last week, I was so angry that I was shaking, and furious enough to make the three-hour trip if only to glare at those who allowed it to happen. It should *not* have happened, period.

Bottom line: they knew she had no experience with what they asked her to do, yet they made her do it anyway, then told her her injuries were her fault. To me, that's negligence, and that's absolutely unacceptable -- especially since the dojo's founder was present.

'Tak'

PeterR
02-23-2004, 02:59 AM
Side note to Peter Rehse: The one thing that cannot be assumed is that those beginning aikido -- or any martial art, for that matter -- are already physically fit.

Also, she did not stop to 'take a slower role' because, quite simply, she's new to martial arts: she trusted to the discretion of the instructors as to what was safe for her to do, since they're supposed to know better when teaching beginners. This 'mistake' could have sent her to the hospital -- or, worse yet, to the morgue. (Then they would have had to deal with me. :P) Just thought I'd clear that up.
Hi Tak;

One thing I like about Aikido and Budo in general is that it doesn't make pre-suppositions about fitness level, budo experience, confidence and coordination. Try joining a sports team at your average North American university as opposed to ANY martial arts club and you know what I mean. I watch all my beginners very careful no matter whether they are slight shy women or Dan ranked TKD people (I have them both). All get pushed but according to their ability. I say this just to be clear that I'm not coming from a "its the beginners fault" perspective.

Two comments before I continue.

I come from one of the most physically demanding Aikido dojos in this country which also happens to be a neighborhood dojo. Alongside 40 year old housewives train world class athletes whose bread and butter is full resistance randori. Everyone feels comfortable - and no one demands those that are less physical go the same place as the big boys.

One of my pet hates are dojos that don't train with resistance that consider themselves tough by how hard they slam down compliant uke's. This is garbage. I don't mean that uke must be gently guided to the floor surrounded by mood music but uke must be taken into account. You can train hard without causing injury.

That out of the way - I can only comment on what's written here. Based on what Selkie wrote I just offered a contrary point of view - quite kindly I thought. Every so often we get posters that decry how mean and nasty a particular sensei is - my point is that in Budo training, although allowances should be made, we are responsible for our own training.

If this dojo is dangerous for your friend - she should get out. The one thing worse than a careless teacher is a student that doesn't recognize the danger signs. That has nothing to do with experience in Budo but plain common sense.

G DiPierro
02-23-2004, 03:38 AM
Tak, thanks for posting, I agree with you that this is kind of thing is not acceptable and that Selkie should look elsewhere.

Selkie, if you are mainly looking to learn jo then an aikido dojo is not the best place to do it. The jo work in aikido is notoriously poor. You mentioned something about "your province," so I assume you are in Canada. If so, you should look into the jodo group in the Canadian Kendo Federation. Kim Taylor (http://www.uoguelph.ca/~kataylor/swordpage.htm), who is also 6-dan in iaido, is building up a solid base of ZNKR jodo there, and every year he hosts a large jodo/iaido seminar in Guelph with several Japanese instructors, often including one or more Shinto Muso-ryu (the most popular jo koryu) menkyo kaiden. If you want to learn jo, this is the way to do it. And if you want to learn aikido, then I would recommend looking around for a safer dojo, even if it is a different style.

fo2sh-nico
02-23-2004, 08:48 AM
hey man , it is the third time for me in the aikido dojo too, and the same thing happened to me, they were preparing for a 5kyu test and sensei was revising the techniques with them, but the good thing is that sensei hesham took special care of me and he taught me all the 5 tech. of the 5kyu just in one lesson , and some of the guys thought that i was very good to be able to learn in one day what they learnt in 2 month, so dont worry man i think that it is all for ur good, it makes u have experience with what a belt exam is........ and guess what : on my 3rd lesson i am learning the same techs that the 5kyu holders are learning

kironin
02-23-2004, 02:34 PM
Mary Kuhner: Thank you so much for posting. Your post is especially meaningful to me because my dojo is a Ki Society. It is, unfortunately, the only Ki Society in my province and near as I can tell, the only place in the province to teach Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. I don't know of any other local schools offering any styles of Ki Aikido, which is what I had wanted to learn (in addition to jo. I like jo.)

....

Thank you all for your words. This is very crushing to me because I had been having fun, and because this is the only dojo I can find that teaches the ki aikido that I want to learn. I can excuse my torn scalp, and even a sprained wrist or ankle would be aggravating but allowable.. but my neck? I'm forced to agree, I really have to wonder if this is a warning shot for me. I don't *want* to give it up, but you all are right -- the next time could be paralyzing. I don't want to learn ki aikido *that* badly. I guess I'll go ask for a refund, tomorrow.

Thank you again

"Selkie"

Katzedecimal@yahoo.com
"Selkie"

I hope I have not come to this thread too late.

I would appreciate it very much if you would email me privately about this matter and provide me with some more details on where this occurred. This sort of behavior as you described it is not acceptable in any Ki Society school that I am personally familiar with nor is it the norm for our organization. Your confidentiality will be respected.

I can assure you that our dojo we take the responsibility for our new students safety seriously.

Your desire to learn ki aikido is appreciated and I can only wish that you were my student so that you could have had a much more positive experience.

It saddens me,

but based on what you have said and if the sensei does not seem to be responsive, I too would have to recommend that you not practice there.

best wishes,

Craig Hocker

Head Instructor

Houston Ki Society

kironin
02-23-2004, 02:42 PM
oops.

my email address is

craig@houstonkiaikido.org

thanks,

Craig

Houston Ki Society

Unregistered
02-23-2004, 09:43 PM
Oh my goodness, I had NO idea this was going to blow up into such a big thread. >.<

"Tak": ....oh lordy, it IS you. I didn't realize you were following this so closely until I got your email. So much for envying me, huh? Its okay about the personal stuff; I didn't talk about any of it because I didn't feel it was relevant to my question, which was mainly 'Is this sort of behaviour normal in Aikido?' From the responses, I see now that it is pretty normal, though dependant on the degree of care the sensei and sempai choose to invest in the newbie. As you suggested to me in conversation, my sensei probably had his mind on other things.

Peter Rehse: I dithered about whether to reply to you; you may have meant to be kind, but I picked up a certain "good bye and good riddance" tone from your posts. I'm sorry if I come across as angstful to you; I've left out all of my personal history, as it was not relevant to my question, but you bring up several valid points that make it relevant. I am very protective of my health as I had lost nearly all of it, and after five years, am still recovering. This was to have been part of my recovery; since I can walk again and am once again able to hold a full-time job in the industrial sector, I chose ki aikido as a means to recover coordination, grace and physical strength, as well as to learn more about ki, to learn jo, and to learn an interesting method of unarmed defense. I'm very aware of how quickly and how permanently one's health condition can change. Sprained wrists, ankles, twisted knees, are all familiar to me and I anticipated them as risks. If I anticipated a risk to my spine, it would have been in later stages of training, certainly not fourth lesson. You make the very valid point that classes can't revolve around beginners. These classes were packed with waza, and were to help several sempai prepare for upcoming belt exams. Having had much time to think upon the experience, I quite agree with you: Their focus should have been on their upcoming exams, and our sensei's focus should have been on helping them prepare - so why were rank newbies encouraged to participate? We could not follow the pace nor understand the waza, we should not have been there. Yet we were, we were encouraged to participate, and both of us were injured in the same waza. This is the problem, and as I have no satisfactory answer for it, consensus seems to feel it is safer for me to leave. Don't worry, I won't let the door hit my ass, and I will remember to bow.

Giancarlo DiPierro: Thank you for the link and the information about jo. Though Guelph is half the continent away from me, there is a local affiliate. I will look into it. Ki aikido offered a sort of 'one-stop' package for all of my interests, but 'one at a time' is better than none, neh?



Craig Hocker: Thank you for your kind words. Too bad you too are half a continent away, and in another country :) I will email you.

Thank you again, everyone. You've been very kind (and I'll give one points for trying) and supportive. I'm sorry this didn't work out.

Respectfully,

"Selkie"

MaryKaye
02-23-2004, 11:44 PM
I have to agree; if you have classes in which newcomers cannot safely participate, then you should close those classes to newcomers. One of the "rougher" dojo I've visited did just that: an intro class in which I was encouraged to participate, and an advanced class that would have beat the tar out of me, so they asked me to watch instead.

Even there, sensei spent some time with the most junior of the advanced students, making sure his ukemi were up to the challenge.

My home dojo, which is small, has only a brief beginners' course and then open classes. The last session of the beginners' course is spent teaching some basic safety skills for the open classes: how to pull out of a throw (with actual practice), which drills shouldn't be tried at full speed at first, etc.

This allows the open classes to be taught at a faster pace than intro ones, while giving new people some tools for protecting themselves. I think it's important not to put social pressure on newcomers to practice above their skill level, or even let them imagine such pressure. The explicit training session makes it very clear that going slow, sitting out, etc. is appropriate.

I'm 40 and a klutz and in 14 months of practice the only one who's hurt me at all seriously was me (wrenched neck) and that didn't seem preventable. (In a moment of stupidity, I decided that if the back roll wasn't working, I could put some momentum into it and force it to work. Ow.) Some bruises, tweaked wrists, a few breakfalls I wasn't quite expecting, but I have not felt endangered.

My father gave up aikido after a serious neck injury that still pains him a decade later. He told me that story over and over as a not-too-subtle way of dissuading me from taking it up, but I was given courage by my sense that my dojomates were looking out for me and would do their level best not to hurt me. Without that I think I would have been frightened away, which would have been a pity.

Mary Kaye

Unregistered
02-24-2004, 12:33 AM
Drat, I'd meant to post this earlier, but Selkie's beaten me to it and made my reply somewhat redundant. :) *tickles Selkie playfully* Here are my two hundred yen anyway.

Peter Rehse: Firstly, I will admit that when I read your reply, the Eyebrow of Cynicism went up, especially when you asked, 'Did you just lay there and wait to get stepped on?'. It is not my intention to quibble over details, but rather to make all relevant factors known.

Regarding your dojo environment -- I've noticed the location you're posting from, and I think I can reasonably say that the standard of training is quite different over here, both in style and societal mindset. I'm not saying either is bad, merely different enough that they can't be compared on equal footing. You are truly fortunate to have a place in which your students mesh well.

When you said 'You can train hard without causing injury', I was in complete agreement; however, we are discussing a newbie who didn't yet know anything well enough *to* train hard, certainly not the way to which you appear accustomed. Consider also these two questions she had before she was injured in the waza:

1) I have often talked myself out of doing things due to an unreasoning doubt of my own abilities, even when I would be perfectly capable of doing the activities. Would this be one of those times?

2) Would Sensei give me an exercise if he didn't think I was ready to do it?

Quote: '...a student who doesn't recognize the danger signs.' While Selkie is far from stupid, I'm not sure how she'd be able to do this when she has no basis for comparison. This was her first experience with martial arts.

Giancarlo DiPierro: Thank *you* for posting! :) Aikido's jo work was something we had no information on; your insight and the link were extremely helpful. As you can see, I've already given it to Selkie. Again, thank you very much. :)

Craig Hocker: Thank you so much for your kind words to Selkie. I'm now quite thoroughly jealous of your students :D and both Selkie and I wish you were here, because we'd love to have you for a teacher. Alas, Houston's even more of a stretch to commute to than Ontario. :) Hm...I hear AirCanada has a nonstop flight to Houston -- you planning on visiting anytime soon? ;)

Selkie told me she intends to visit her dojo very soon to ask what seems to be the universal question of what she was doing in such an advanced class that was clearly beyond her immediate focus and capabilities. Whether their response proves a satisfactory one or not, I wish her the best of luck.

'Tak'

PeterR
02-24-2004, 02:18 AM
I suggest you both are mis-reading what I am writting - excuse me for not being clear.
Peter Rehse: Firstly, I will admit that when I read your reply, the Eyebrow of Cynicism went up, especially when you asked, 'Did you just lay there and wait to get stepped on?'. It is not my intention to quibble over details, but rather to make all relevant factors known.
It was a valid question. I've seen this happen, I've done it. Mind you it was a wipe out skiing but I moved out of the way much slower than I could have and paid the price. I was trying to understand why she was blamed. There are always two sides to any view.
Regarding your dojo environment -- I've noticed the location you're posting from, and I think I can reasonably say that the standard of training is quite different over here, both in style and societal mindset. I'm not saying either is bad, merely different enough that they can't be compared on equal footing. You are truly fortunate to have a place in which your students mesh well.
I can tell you that there are more slight, shy, Budo inexperienced women in my dojo here than my first dojo in Quebec. There was one that had arms like twigs - the practice was too much for her health in the end but she did last four months. Go to the web site and look at the picis.
When you said 'You can train hard without causing injury', I was in complete agreement; however, we are discussing a newbie who didn't yet know anything well enough *to* train hard, certainly not the way to which you appear accustomed.
Each according to their level - I thought I was clear about that. I am positively anal about safety.
Quote: '...a student who doesn't recognize the danger signs.' While Selkie is far from stupid, I'm not sure how she'd be able to do this when she has no basis for comparison. This was her first experience with martial arts.
Now you are being selective. In that same paragraph I indicated that I thought common sense was enough. Its only an opinion - yours may differ.

I did say that if she feels unsafe she shouldn't practice there. Yes my attitude is good bye and good riddance but it works both ways. You can not expect to find a perfect match your first try and you definately can't expect a club to conform to your needs.

I refuse to say this dojo is bad or terrible based on one side of the story. I welcome anyone into the dojo, I take incrediable care of my charges, but I teach Budo not therapy. I know that I am not alone in the latter view. Am I being unfair to suggest this is what the post is all about? Perhaps but it is the feeling I get.

giriasis
02-24-2004, 01:36 PM
I'm going to add, please don't expect aikido to provide conditioning training. I've trained in aikido for 4.5 years and for 3 of those years I was clinically obese, not very physically strong, and had no stamina. Aikido kept my weight and health from getting worse, but it by no means got me in shape. For the past year and a half I have gotten into shape by doing aerobic weight training. I've lost 35 pounds and improved my physical strength and stamina. If anonymous is weak (I'm getting the impression that anon is either very petite, old, disabled or really out of shape) then some form for weight bearing exercise like light weight aerobic weight training might be better, especially if your goal is to improve your strength. Just to let you know, being able to train at the level I wanted in aikido was my motivation to work out and lose weight. So, I'm not saying give up on aikido, but use aikido as your personal motivation.

I agree with everyone else, you train at your partner's skill level. And I don't know why you were allowed in a testing prepatory class. We have those for people testing for 1st kyu up, and believe me they are intense. Only 2nd kyu and up are allowed to attend.

I train in an Aikikai dojo and we're known for being "hard" compared to alot of other Aikikai schools, but we still go at the pace and skill level of the uke. One of our 2nd kyus is a 61-year-old transplantee and no one pushes him past his abilities. So please don't discount the other school just because you heard someone say that they are "hard" or "rough". Go there, watch a class, do a class and see how they treat you.

I think what Peter is getting at is that we still have the responsibility to protect our own saftey. Please...please don't forgo your intuition when you walk into a dojo. It's okay to speak up and say something. But yes, you were in an advanced class and maybe some should have asked if you were okay with it.

stuartjvnorton
02-24-2004, 05:18 PM
So please don't discount the other school just because you heard someone say that they are "hard" or "rough". Go there, watch a class, do a class and see how they treat you.
Definitely.

One person's "hard" or "rough" can be someone else's "vigourous, powerful aikido".

Josh Bisker
02-24-2004, 07:55 PM
Anne Marie - is your last name really "giri?"

That's awesome. It has all kinds of budo resonances, look it up as a japanese word if you haven't already.

PeterR
02-24-2004, 08:21 PM
I agree with everyone else, you train at your partner's skill level. And I don't know why you were allowed in a testing prepatory class. We have those for people testing for 1st kyu up, and believe me they are intense. Only 2nd kyu and up are allowed to attend.
She wasn't clear on that - I understood any kyu grade. Didn't even cross my mind that it would mean only for 1st Kyu and up.
I think what Peter is getting at is that we still have the responsibility to protect our own saftey. Please...please don't forgo your intuition when you walk into a dojo. It's okay to speak up and say something.
That's basically it.

Every one of my classes has about 30 minutes of test preparation - about 15 minutes where you are paired with a more advanced student to help you and 15 minutes where you are grouped within your level. Beginners are preparing for their first exam starting day one. I really have difficulty in seeing test preparation as inherently more dangerous or more advanced. Of course that might not be the case everywhere.

Unregistered
02-25-2004, 07:44 AM
Although there are tons of people who don't understand that 'advanced training' has nothing to do with strength, because the technique of aikido is the neutralization of strength with superior movement and the accentuation of movment that circumvents the intentions of the attacker or your training partner, I do understand the physical concerns that come with hard training, or at least the idea of hard training.

Just last week we were doing something out of the old judo book of throws that was too rough if done in the same slam-bang method used in judo, but perfectly acceptable if modified into aikido. In order for me to complete the throw without taking the legs out from under my training partners, I had to use on hand and cut the throw off in the middle so my partners could roll with some control, or some sense of well being instead of being slammed on their backs.

Some techniques just work so well, they cannot be completed or they will cause injury or chance of injury, especially in a crowded mat situation, or with a new student. It has gotten to the point where I completely lose my balance in the middle of a round of practice, and simple excuse myself as I crawl or paw the wall to find a place to sit until my episode of dizzyness passes. (damn meniere's and that trigeminal neuralgia cuts off me balance)

There is no shame is realizing that your body is not able to do certain things that someone else can do, just as the most proficient of practitioners do not always get the true mindset of Aikido and they seem to rely on the physical side of practice with its strength and physicality, don't they?

Never mind.

The danger of men teachers, especially Japanese male teachers, is the mindset of women being deficient in having physical skills or being part of the male dominated world of budo. The old adage of "if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen" is still applied for certain teachers and certain classes where testing and the prerequesite is posted for that class. Only time and old age seem to correct this behavioral conditioning of their society.

Sometimes, it is the human factor of just not having enough time in the day, or the human problems that overwhelm even the best of us, and accidents like this subject occur... but I don't think it was a lackluster effort of the teacher or the class. I believe it was the chance of accidents, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, improper cognizance by not just the students and teacher, but victim as well. Accidents happen.

Gee, I have injured,but not badly, a number of people who wanted to show their superiority during practice as they made some kind of prejudgement that I was a beginner clutz. Big mistake ... big ... big mistake. Good thing I could feel their muscles stretching to the point of injury, but I was sorry that they decided to wrench their arms or body to increase the torque to their own bodys, like a animal caught in a trap. Lucky me, they had minor sprains or experienced a new pain beyond what they had ever experienced in class before ... it happens.

I am a pretty big guy, and although some people would classify it as beginning to be fat, with a 52 inch chest and 46 inch belly 285 lbs 6 ft tall, I can still get a good roll in with the worst of throws and botched techniques, most days. Why is that? I do what I can, then when I can't ... I stop.

Seikie ... that is all one can ask for.

Do what you can do, then sit out when you can't.

I have trained with a number of very small women who bruise easy, who are terribly clumsy, and who quit after a few sessions of aikido, but they shouldn't. Maybe we need more women's only classes so some of the training will modify itself, just like trying to put children into an adult class, no offense please, the children are not ready for this type of mindset, physicality, or interaction on this level of practice.

Don't get me wrong, there is no such thing as a higher or lower level of practice, but one needs to practice what they need, not what they want in order to gain proficientcy. I want to be a marathon runner or a great gymnast, but it ain't gonna happen ... so I get to practice what I need and can do for my size body, my skill level, and for my own martial practice needs.

Some of you know me as bruceb, and as babaker, but few of you have ever actually physically trained with me. So in reality, none of us can truly comprehend the physical practice of aikido, although from certain segments of judging the skills of certain shihans and teachers, we do try, don't we. I am sorry that the specific teacher and school was not mentioned as we could hear from the teacher and some of the students who attended this class.

We all know that certain people are not physically capable of doing certain levels of practice, and the students need to modify the throws so the practice is not so physical, or as hard/ unfeeling as if throwing a sack of potatoes, which some students believe is great aikido, but then some ki is illusion of the mind. If in fact, this Ki society is teaching its students the disconnection of feedback of the stimuli from the nervous system as the mind overcomes the body generating strength that is not felt by the practitioner but given the attacker, or uke, then this teacher needs to reteach some of this practice so the students learn how to dial it down a few notches, eh?

What the human mind, or the human body percieves as ki is merely the delusion of mind rejecting the sensory input of the body that says this cannot be done, while using the full capacity of forces and movements availble, increasing them as it were with a little push here, and little twist there. Problem is ... when the mind disconnects from the sensory input from the body, it creates a greater chance for injury if one does not dial it back when a few notches when appropriate.

Just my thoughts this morning.

I just got wind that my teacher is being promoted when Y. Yamada shihan is coming to give a seminar on March 27, 2004 at Long Beach Island, NJ (shameless bump).

With any luck, some little helpless 5 ft tall women will beat me up, and I will be laughing uncontrolably because I love it when people can do a good technique clean and smooth.

Sooner or later, that type of joy should come to your practice. If it doesn't, maybe you should reexamine your practice, your reason for practice, and what type of aikido your are doing, eh?

giriasis
02-25-2004, 07:48 AM
Peter,

After I posted I realized that she was infact talking about all kyus, but it really seemed from they way anon's original post went that it was more intense than what occurred from her first four classes.

In our dojo we don't really set aside a specific time for testing techniques rather they are just woven in with the rest of the lesson. If someone is alert they will be able to learn all their techniques without a special class. That's at least for our kyu ranks. For our higher ranks my sensei, Peter Bernath, will have a once a week advanced class starting two months before dan testing. He does this because so that the dans and high kyus, we have a lot of them, can train at a high intensity level without worrying about a partners ukemi level. This is especially important for our preparation for the randori and jiyuwaza. It's truly intense and demanding with no one going easy on each other.

I only used this as an example, that when it comes to safety that some people are and should be excluded. We have other jiyuwaza training, by the way, that is more appropriate for lower ranks, and if a newbie is intimidated we don't tell them they'll be okay and expect them to continue training. If they look uncomfortable enough, someone suggests just to stick to tenkan exercise and work on their flow and movement or they are allowed to sit and watch.

Josh,

My last name really is "Giri", and it's Italian. A very uncommon Italian name, and it's not an abbreviation of a longer name like Giribaldi. It is also a popular last name in India and Japan I believe.

giriasis
02-25-2004, 08:18 AM
In regards to what Bruce mentioned, I truly believe that aikido should be available to people of many different abilities. This article is by a friend and fellow practitioner in Aikido. He's 61 years old and the recipient of a transplant. He has been training in aikido for over five years, now. And is currently ranked 2nd kyu. I took his ukemi for his test this past November. Maybe one day Bruce, you will see Ed test for his shodan at the USAF Winter Camp. Here's his story. He's truely an inspiration.

http://www.aikidoonline.com/Archives/2003/feb/clmn_0203_bcorner.html

In regards to one's physical health, I do believe that anon's friend mentioned that anon wanted to take up aikido to help build her strength. There is nothing wrong with that. I have found from my experience that obesity was a choice not a disability. If someone doesn't have a choice, that's one thing. My obesity was affecting my aikido training so I decided to do something about it. By strenghtening my muscles, I can better protect my joints. By improving my flexibility, I have a greater range of motion. By working my core muscles, I protect my back. By losing weight, breakfalls don't hurt. No, I can DO THEM NOW. When I started aikido, I was very much "into" the spirituality of it all, but through my training and being very physical I have been able to touch a part of my self that I never would have otherwise. My physical is spiritual. The physical path is my path, so please don't knock it.

CrazyUser
02-25-2004, 03:14 PM
Hope your ijuries will heal soon!

As far as the original question goes:

NO, it is not normal.

I've visited about 10-15 aikido dojos and never seen a head instructor blaiming a new student for being injured.

In most of the places practicioners and instructors are very gentle with the beginners.

And if they don't know you(i.e. never trained with you before) they would assume that you are a beginner until they feel that you are not.

It is great to practice hard, fast, commmit 100% etc... but practicing this way with the beginner is not acceptable. You can practice like that with a more advanced student who is able to take it... if person is able to take it and wants to practice this way there is no problem. Yes they can be injured too, but they have enough skill to avoid injury, so the chance of injury is very small.

Beginner may not be able to prevent injury... so the chance of injury is very high.

If I were you, I would not go to that dojo to practice.

Good luck!

Deb Fisher
03-05-2004, 06:36 PM
Just because Peter is the only contrarian here, two quick thoughts:

1. One of the most important things training has taught me (in my less than two years) is that personal responsibility and responsibility to others is all the same thing. It sounds like there was a whole lot of neither going on that particular class, which winds up of course being everyone's problem. Of course it is bad to push beginners, and of course it is everyone's responsibility to take care of beginners (the most popular theme going on here). But of course it is also important to learn how not to compromise yourself. I cannot say that I wouldn't have gone along with the same situation, but I do hope that I would wake up just a little bit wiser about my own boundaries/limits/ignorances.

(just to present a whole picture--I think this is what Peter was getting at in previous posts)

2. When I started training, I often felt 'scolded' and worked through it and learned a lot about how much training was about my ego and pleasing my sensei. I started assuming that my sensei was doing it on purpose to show me my ego, and eventually got much more comfortable training with myself for my own reasons. Then eventually I realized that he's just like that, that he wasn't scolding me at all (and that whatever it was, it had nothing to do with me).

Feeling bad while training is lame, and should be examined--don't get me wrong. I guess I'm just saying that there are lessons in everything, and that some lessons are worth sticking through (some are better to take with you, of course).