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Since starting a dojo, I've had several people come in with claims of prior training who, when they actually got on the mat, were just looking to start a fight. Their training was clearly all about competition and, well, fighting.
It always follows the same scenario:
"I came to try out Aikido. I have some training in foo bar do which is a little harder, but I want to see what this art is about.
They come out on the mat with us and we start to work on kata practice.
I demonstrate a technique from an attack.
This person pairs off with one of my students (always a senior one, these days, I've learned from repeated occurances of this scenario) and they begin to "practice".
I come over and break up the ensuing conflict. Sometimes, if I think it's worth it, I try working with the "new student" for a bit, but not often. Most often this person just wants to pick a fight.
They get frustrated because they don't perceive what we're doing as "real". What this really means is that it isn't UFC level competition.
I generally try to direct them to a local BJJ dojo I know about where these kinds of attitudes get adjusted very quickly. I'd be more inclined to spend the time with them if I could do so without alienating my other students.
These people never actually sign up, though, and I feel vaguely like they were just trying to waste my time. Worse, they were wasting my students' time.
I don't teach fighting, I teach Aikido.
But then there are those...
...who are serious.
I had a guy stop by last night while I was working on creating dressing rooms. This dojo building stuff is real work. I had just smashed my thumb with a hammer (something it's been years since I've done) and was sitting on a bench "icing" it with an unopened soda can.
He has a couple of kids I hope will sign up for Aikido. During our chat it turned out that he had some training in Jiu Jitsu during his recent time in the military. My son had been hanging out, so I had shown him a bit of what we teach the kids. My visitor wanted to test himself against me (first difference between him and others like this: it was about testing himself, not about testing me, still I was skeptical...).
So, with some reluctance I got on the mat with him and we played a bit. He showed me a nikkyo he'd learned in the military. It was good and I let him have it even though there was a tiny opening in it (honestly, I was in "teacher mode" at that point; I barely noticed the opening because I was looking for other issues). But then I had him do it again, this time I took the opening and dropped him with a kote gaeshi (second difference: once I had the kote gaeshi on him, he went down knowing there was no hope of resistance without getting into a stupid fight).
Then I showed him the pin. He tapped out as soon as the pin was on (third difference: he could tell when the pin was on).
This is the way
If it had gotten into a full-blown fight, he and I were pretty evenly matched and his training was about hurting people. He showed me a technique he'd learned which was clearly designed to break a person's wrist. It was interesting, but not useful in my training. A full-blown fight would have been ugly and (DUH!) unproductive.
But it didn't get into a full-blown fight. Because he had an attitude of wanting to learn. I was able to learn from him - even in this short exchange - and he, I think, learned from me. Certainly he was impressed enough that he wants to get his kids into training. He's even talking about training himself.
Money, money, money
His wife came in a few minutes later with questions about cost.
We actually are fairly cheap, so maybe it'll be okay. But as cheap as we are, we're not free and this is a problem for families sometimes.
Almost made up for the hammer incident
If every "challenge" I faced was like this guy, I wouldn't even mind the ones where I was outmatched. Because I'd learn something then.
And that could make up for smashing my finger.
I might still mind the ones where I totally outmatched the other guy, though, but probably not. (It's interesting how the instances where I clealy outmatch the challenger are the most likely to irritate me.)