View Full Version : Know-It-All 1st Kyu Won't Listen

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06-08-2004, 09:17 AM
Hi all.

I returned to the dojo after about three months hiatus and discovered that one of the 1st kyu students has become quite unpleasant to work with.

He does his techniques like a zombie, not paying any attention to what he is doing and definitely not trying to extend ki. The dans, as well as Sensei, are constantly trying to correct him but he refuses to listen, even to the point of hurting some of us lowly, sub-kyu white belts. He drains the life out of those who train with him and makes it very difficult to practice a technique with any sincerity.

It's an even more difficult situation because he is much higher ranked than me (which means I have no authority to correct him, at least in my dojo) and he is also a brittle old man (so you can't exactly give him a good torquing to show him that he is upsetting you ;) ).

So I propose the question, more for conversation than advice (I will discuss this matter with an instructor next time I go to the dojo): What do you do with a know-it-all 1st kyu that just won't listen?

06-08-2004, 09:31 AM
Nothing - let him be. If he doesn't want to be helped, then he doesn't want help. If he's decided he knows it all; the only one he can blame for his lack of advancement is himself. If his techniques hurt; don't train with him. If enough lower ranks (sounds like you have a fairly large dojo - congrats. :) ) refuse to practice with him; he might start getting the idea. Might, but if he's older, likely not.

06-08-2004, 09:50 AM
This is what the deadly art of beer-waza is for. For this technique to work best, make sure he's relaxed, calm and slightly shit-faced in the pub, then pose the elegant bushido question of "so why are you being such an arsehole these days on the mat? "

06-08-2004, 10:02 AM
even to the point of hurting some of us lowly, sub-kyu white belts.

If someone deliberately hurts you during training, don't train with them.



Jordan Steele
06-08-2004, 11:34 AM
Step up to the plate and tell him that yourself and some of the other guys are getting frustrated with his poor attitude and that he should really try and work on being more agreeable. Try not to sound confrontational or condescending, just tell him. If everyone else in the dojo thinks the same as you there shouldn't be a problem. Either he will tone it down a little, leave, or feel embarrased and become more humble. Doing nothing will not help.

06-08-2004, 01:21 PM
It is VERY common situation, in every dojo, that 1 or 2 kyu are jerks. It is not their fault, aikido practice leads to such stage of developpement.Most folks go through such euforic state of things.

Best way is to go and practice with him as often as possible.

Forget stupid things about extending Ki.

Instead, develop your ukemi to the point that nobody can hurt you. Learn how to protect yourself against any kind of dangerous technique. This is positif approach.

After all, you practice MA, and not dancing activity.

Such 1 or 2 kyu play important role in a dojo, they not only maintain martial spirit, but also refresh atmosphere in a dojo, and help old "dinosaurus" to recycle their aikido skills.

Michael Neal
06-08-2004, 01:45 PM
beat him up, that will teach him

Fred Little
06-08-2004, 01:47 PM
Instead, develop your ukemi to the point that nobody can hurt you. Learn how to protect yourself against any kind of dangerous technique. This is positif approach.

After all, you practice MA, and not dancing activity.

Such 1 or 2 kyu play important role in a dojo, they not only maintain martial spirit, but also refresh atmosphere in a dojo, and help old "dinosaurus" to recycle their aikido skills.

Dear God in Heaven.....I'm agreeing with Szczepan twice in one day....somebody check the thermometer in Hades please!

Fred Little

Jorge Garcia
06-08-2004, 02:02 PM
"one of the 1st kyu students has become quite unpleasant to work with."

If he is assaulting you verbally or otherwise, move to one side slightly and then handle him with whatever he does to you-but carefully. If he isn't attacking you, then ignore him and go on . Putting up with people like that is part of Aikido training and great chance to learn about yourself and how whatever you see in others may also be in you. Whatever you do, don't clash, confront, or attack. The art we're in teaches that doesn't work and in my experience in life and in the dojo, I have found that to be true. Here's a chance to do more that talk about the lessons of Aikido. Here's a chance to be one.
Best wishes,

06-08-2004, 03:03 PM
I'm going to agree with Szczepan that this sounds more like a phase a lot of people go through. I've heard it called "brown belt syndrome". They are getting to a level where their techniques are becoming really good, but they still rely on the "old ways" of forcing and muscling. In other words, they are getting to a point where their technique is becoming powerful but they haven't learned to control that yet, and sometimes injuries are the result.

Regarding the listening issue, is there the possibility that he doesn't know how to apply what is being told to him? I'm 2nd kyu and now the main sempai (a sandan) that I train with is really starting to push me to take my aikido up to another level. I get really frustrated because, I know mentally what he is say, but my body just won't do it. I just don't have that mind-body connection that is expected of me, yet. It's like being a beginner all over again. Your aikido starts to fall apart and you start to revert to the old ways of doing the technique.

You really need to ask yourself is it just him going through a phase or is he really just being a jerk. Most likely it's a phase and he's not intending to be malicious. Try getting to know this 1st kyu a little better and you might find out where he is coming from. I've discovered that when I have actually developed a connection and a training relationship with the other person (both higher and lower ranking to me) that both parties are more receptive to advice from the other. As a result, your training becomes more of an interchange and learning experience between two individuals rather than an assumed ego battle and test of wills.

06-08-2004, 08:49 PM
I've heard o fthis happening in some dojos. It seems to also have to do with the 2nd and 1st kyu's process of loosing their ego. They'll get worse before they get better. :D

Our sempai always seem to make the effort to beat the ego out of us during those ranks, so the group I came up with seemed to go through this phase pretty quickly. ;)

06-08-2004, 09:04 PM
One of my favorite training partners (in fact we did our Shodan togeather) was one of these brittle old men (60 years old when he started) Aikido. He also could be difficult.

A young man has his body and old man feels his. He knows he will never do Aikido like the younguns and has to find a way to his own Aikido. He has a different view on things. Try and understand his points it just might be useful.

Lan Powers
06-08-2004, 09:52 PM
I like Ian's take on this..... sure you ain't from Texas, Bud? :)

06-08-2004, 10:09 PM
Hi all,

I don't know, I think I'd try to reflect the unpleasentness the guy is putting forward, also I'd not necessarily try to train with him, eventhough I am appose to selecting training partners by being other than random, I know everybody at some level choses partners.
By the way I am 1st kyu myself. I hope I don't cause trouble to people. I guess at this level people should be in between feeling confident about themselves and accepting that they are losers. Feeling confident is very important for learning. It is probably bec of lack of confidence why we feel like our technique won't work when we train with a higher rank person. So, be nice to your 1st kyu if they are trying to feel confident. :D

06-09-2004, 12:23 AM
He may not know what he's doing wrong. When I first started, I was always completely tense. People telling me to relax really didn't help. I had to develop awareness and control on my own. If anything, being harped on about being tense made me tense up even more.

How exactly is he 'hurting' people? Is it clearly on purpose?

Maybe one of the yudansha should work with him a bit. If what he's doing is unintentional, they should be able to take the ukemi. If it is intentional, they should be able to stop or return the technique. (our yudansha tend to work like that naturally. If you wanna play rough, they'll make sure you you take as well as dish it out).

06-09-2004, 03:55 AM
OK, I was being a bit tongue in cheek, but seriously, this guy may not even know he's doing anything wrong/bad until you TELL HIM. Yes, this is a confrontation, so what, and what the hell are your dan grades doing? Non-graded white belts are a fully protected species in most dojos.

As for some of the other responses... please repeat after me, someone being a jerk is not the fault of me not being open enough to understand their own beautiful uniqueness as a human being - they're just being a jerk. It is within my power to stop them being a jerk or at least remove myself from their sphere of jerkdom without necessitating either therapy or a reorganisation of my own internal mind map and I can do all this without obsessing on the possibility that I missed a major opportunity to change another's thought processes and/or get myself hurt.

Lan, fancy a beer?

06-09-2004, 05:34 AM
This person needs to be treated the same way. Its time he felt what you felt. Just make sure that your up for the ukemi when he decides to change the tech. because some lowly kyu grade id stopping him.
we have a second kyu who appears to have the same symptoms.
Want listen to a bloody word you tell her, has no respect for anyone. has no idea about being uke and is so close to being damaged. we also have another 2nd kyu who is perfect. she has spent her time studying all the important thing ie hanmi, awaze, kokyu, dropping hips . basically working on form. now she appears about a year ahead in both taijutsu and bukiwaza, now she is off to Iwama in August for 5 weeks and will probably sit her shodan. But out sour other student seems a little jealous beacuse she cant understand why one she isnt ready to sit her first kyu next month when the good one is . I find this attitude so stupid if they bloody listen in the first place .... make his training as bad as he does for you

Nick Simpson
06-09-2004, 06:30 AM
Right on, regardless of age he is a higher ranked student than you, his next grade will be shodan, he should be able to survive anything you put on him if hes put time into his ukemi, so kick his ass, plenty of atemi too.

06-09-2004, 07:33 AM
Right on, regardless of age he is a higher ranked student than you, his next grade will be shodan, he should be able to survive anything you put on him if hes put time into his ukemi, so kick his ass, plenty of atemi too.

Basically a kyu level student has been away form the dojo for six months and comes back to find another kyu level student's Aikido has gone off in a direction they have difficulty with. You are suggesting that this person punch, twist and do anything to prove what? Even come close to doing that here you would be gone permanently especially if size or age are to your advantage.

The original poster did say he would do the right thing and talk to his instructor. Budo is filled with stages of obnoxious - the 5th kyu shihan, the ikkyu from hell, and the shodan that actually thinks he's arrived. It's the instructors job to guide these deviants back to the path - not newly returned kyu grades. It's the instructor that promoted them - he has his reasons.

06-09-2004, 09:03 AM
I just want to thank everyone for posting.

The main purpose that I started this thread was as a hypothetical situation (hypothetical for all of you, anyway). You have provided an interesting insight to the situation. Of course, my instructor will make the decision on what should be done.

It's just nice to have a thread about something other than "the uniqueness of Aikido" and "Aikido in UFC". :yuck:

Of course, keep dishing out your opinions. I do appreciate it.

06-09-2004, 09:37 AM
Well let us know what happens.

Robert Rumpf
06-09-2004, 10:18 AM
If he's hurting you, you need to ask him to slow down and be more careful because he is hurting you. You need to specifically say "you're hurting me" so that they don't think to themselves "I'm just trying to push him to that next level and he wants me to go slower?" If that doesn't work, refuse to train with him and/or tell your sensei. If he's hurting other people, you should encourage them to do the same.

There is a risk in this approach as you are depending on their good nature: if you do one technique with them, they hurt you, you tell them to slow down because they injured you, and they hurt you again, then that is effectively a breach of trust, and very dangerous to everyone at the dojo. Not only that, but you've got twice the pain or damage.

If you really truly don't think the person is capable of softening up when asked, then you should stay as far away from them as possible (even to the point of sitting out) and definitely tell your sensei about it when asked. The sensei should probably be asking if that person belongs in an Aikido dojo.

If someone responds physically in anger, and neither party can control themselves, then things can deteriorate badly. This can lead to bitterness, "righteous" payback, and someone leaving the dojo to go take up Judo, bjj, or Jujitsu... :)

I think one of the most important lessons to be learned from this situation is that a person needs to be vocal about protecting themselves. That involves a level of self-value, outspokenness, and confidence that is important for progress in training. A person also at some point has to have surrendered enough pride to admit their own physical vulnerability, and to be willing to step aside if they can't deal with a particular individual on a given day.

A lot of times, if you wait long enough, any difficult and dangerous partner will mellow out. Everyone has bad days or months, but why let them hurt you because they are upset or out of control?

This type of ukemi can involve putting aside a lot of the macho b.s. that some people will try to sell you on in terms of treating each training situation like it is a real combat situation. Training has rules, and when I agree not to hit someone in the groin or throat hard as I possibly can, or break their wrist or arm if they don't respond, than they agree that I can choose to take it all down a notch or sit out if I am suffering too much.

However, there should also be general agreement that real atemis and joint-locks are to be respected with body movements. Many times I see people put a block in front of a real strike without reacting with body movement as well, or tap out on nikkyo without moving their body downward. Not only is this fairly unrealistic (as it is mostly based on the technique foreknowledge and assumes a kind nage) but it prevents the application of the given technique in a meaningful way. If I apply a decent nikkyo slowly, I expect slow movement down, even if uke are not in serious pain.

I'm sure many of you have seen the same thing: real atemi to the face, person doesn't block or move (or blocks without moving), and then says your technique doesn't work. This can either escalate or lead to total frustration. In my opinion, this is a fault in basics training. It is a waste of time for both partners.


06-09-2004, 02:04 PM

Go Peter, it's your birfday ;)

Ummm, I agree with Peter....again.

You know for you being a Shodothug and me being an aikifruity I seem to agree with you an awful lot :confused:


06-09-2004, 02:21 PM
IMHO, if there has been a change in his attitude, there may have been a change in his life. He may be somewhat preoocupied with his own pain. Learn to have compassion, even with the jerks, beacuse they are the ones hurting the most.

Training with jerks can help you develop your technqiue and your ukemi. Learn what you can from him.

Don't try to correct people who don't want to be corrected. They have the absolute right to stay incompetent and stuck in their training. Don't concern yourself with people who don't want to train hard. Concern yourself with the quality of your own training, no matter who its with.

Don't train with them if possible.

Ask a Sempai to help out. It is part of their responsibility to make the Dojo a good place to train for their Kohai. Many of us know because we were those 1st and 2nd kyu jerks.

Relax, breath, and enjoy yourself. Don't take other too seriously or personally. Now get back on the mat.

Nick Simpson
06-10-2004, 08:12 AM
Yeah Peter, but im an asshole ;)
I didnt neccesarily mean INJURE him on purpose, merely do technique as effectively as possible on this indivividual and if he leaves any openings then use atemi, basically if he's dishing it out he has to accept that he will have to take it too, if he gets a thrashing and realises he doesnt like it then he perhaps will be less likely to thrash others, but thats just my way of thinking.

06-10-2004, 10:50 AM

Does it really have to be a case of one-upsmanship of giving the problematic person a "thrashing" and to "beat him up"? Personally, I wouldn't care to condone nor nurture that kind of aggressive behavior in myself nor where I practice.

I'd concentrate more on my own training than get caught up in someone else's...

-- Jun

Michael Neal
06-10-2004, 11:58 AM
I was just kidding when I said beat him up. You see in Judo this kind of attitude does not last long because everyone gets beat up during randori. So when I say "beat him up" all I mean is give him some harder than usual practice to knock him out of his comfort zone.

Nick Simpson
06-10-2004, 01:28 PM
Bullies dont respect anything but force.

Nick Simpson
06-10-2004, 01:35 PM
I suppose you could always bow out to the person and respectfully refuse to train with them, they might get the message that way but if not then they might go onto purposefully hurt someone else in the dojo...

06-10-2004, 07:17 PM
I was just kidding when I said beat him up. You see in Judo this kind of attitude does not last long because everyone gets beat up during randori. So when I say "beat him up" all I mean is give him some harder than usual practice to knock him out of his comfort zone.
Randori is a great leveler isn't it? Has a habit of destroying egos.

In a kata only context the problem isn't that the bully should not be taken care of by some chastisement but who should administrate it. A junior person taking it upon themselves will only generate a very uncomfortable position for all concerned.

Michael - I figured you were kidding but a) I ran out of coffee and b) on the heels of another like minded post I felt that some who didn't know better would have taken the advise to heart. Always a danger on the forums.

Jeanne Shepard
06-10-2004, 07:30 PM
Bullies dont respect anything but force.
If you respond by trying to beat him up, he'll just respond with more force, and probably hurt you.
If you have Yudansha alone work with him, he'll learn that, if he beats up the Kyu ranks, he gets to work with the Yudansha, (which may be what he wants. We had someone who acted out for that reason).
The only thing some people respect is an ultimatum from the teachers. (Do that again and you're out.)

Jeanne :disgust:

06-10-2004, 07:51 PM
I've found instead of trying to one up the person to start being more fluid and soft in your ukemi helps a lot. It will keep the "one-up-manship" from kicking in. This for me really is the opposite of someone resisting with force rather you relax and go wherever nage leads you. Of course, you don't give up your center until the nage figures out to take your balance. Also being softer in your ukemi helps you to recieve rougher throws from the nage. So its also a method of self-preservation.

You can talk to the person, too, you know. Just ask them why are they doing that. There is one nidan in my dojo who will start to resist, tighten and lock up. It appears for no reason or that he may be challenging you, but he is actually trying to point something out. I think he's used to the "you don't say anything while you train" boat. Instead of interpreting this as him being jerk I just ask him, "what are you trying to show me." He tells me, and voila! I actually learned something constructive. If I don't speak up, then I lose because I don't learn anything.