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Troubled 06-22-2009 06:58 PM

Not coping with the new sensei
 
My story. I just moved to a new town, and found a sensei and dojo I thought I would fit into. My first dojo was not associated with any Aikido organization. You can say we were independent. This new dojo is associated with one of the big Aikido associations. The sensei is tight with the Shihan. I made several visits to this dojo and each time it was pleasant. The sensei was nice, a working professional type. The new sensei being a higher rank than my old sensei wasn't as good, or knew as much. I didn't care; I only have about a year of experience. Being in my old dojo, we were taught to believe anyone who's got more time in Aikido has something to learn from. After seeing other dojos, I like this one and joined. Everything was fine until lately. It all got really ugly when the sensei turned.

The sensei started getting pissy a little bit, and then it got worse and more frequent. The sensei moved to making really rude and covert sexually degrading comments to me and other new students. Not about our technique. Hey, that I can take. But this wasn't right. I mean first it was comments like we are incapable of doing anything intelligent. Comment like these made in and outside of the dojo. I and the other student are getting from the sensei; we are beneath the worthiness of the sensei. Then there are other very degrading words coming out of this sensei's mouth. Then came round two of comments about us as people. The sensei would blame us and accuse of things we obviously didn't or couldn't do.

It has been hell. I don't think, I can stand anymore, and want too, but am not going to get in the sensei's face about it. The other new students feel the same as me. The dojo has some great other students. I have made good friends and training partners there and I am making progress. I follow all the dojo rules and I know this isn't my old dojo. I am not acting up, and being respectful. I am there to learn, not to take verbal beating by of a nasty sensei that is now always pissy.

Oh yea, I have talked to the other students and they say the sensei's moods come and go and they deal with it. But the sensei isn't even that good!

I would like some good advice about this to take back to the other new students. I am sure they are like me; they want to stay because of the other relationships with the students. Yet they want to leave because of the pissy sensei.

I don't find it too important but the sensei is a female. The dojd is mostly a mix of the sexes. I am male, and all the other new students are male too.

Larry Cuvin 06-23-2009 10:38 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Respectfully talk to your sensei. She's only human. Maybe there's a root cause. Practice aikido and blend with her, don't collide.

Good luck.

SeiserL 06-23-2009 11:31 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
So the Sensei and school isn't new, the student is?

Their school and their Sensei.
You joined them.
Don't compare. Train.
Accept (enter and blend) or keep looking.

BTW, you old Sensei was right, there is always something to learn from everyone.

jss 06-23-2009 11:55 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Lynn Seiser wrote: (Post 233387)
BTW, you old Sensei was right, there is always something to learn from everyone.

Perhaps so, but the question remains if it's worth it to learn from them.

@ Troubled: I don't think there's much advice you can take back to the other students. There's only one question: is it worth it? And each person has to decide that for himself. And please, make that decision before it breaks you.

Shadowfax 06-23-2009 12:19 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
You go to the Dojo to practice and learn your Aikido.

If you are unable to practice there and learn and feel unhappy there. The best option seems to me would be find another dojo that you can be happy in. Same choice goes for the other students. While its great to have friendship within the Dojo the main reason you are there is to learn and practice Aikido. You can't change the sensei, she is who she is. Either accept that or move on.

Janet Rosen 06-23-2009 12:36 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
I faced a situation many many yrs ago, at the first dojo I trained at, to stay or go based entirely on what would be termed character/trust issues. Fortunately I had other local options for training. But to stay or go was still a difficult internal process for me to grapple with.

I would not worry at all about the other students. They are not your responsibility. To discuss it with them could easily fall into the realm of gossip.

I encourage you to think about concrete issues and examples that make you uncomfortable that you can discuss privately with the sensei. If you feel you can't then you should leave.

ninjaqutie 06-23-2009 01:24 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
I think this is a decision best left for you to decide. Don't talk it over with the other students, as you don't want their opinion to rub off on you or vice versa.

The question that matters is like the others said "Is it worth it?" You claim she isn't "that good" and you aren't happy there. No one is forcing you to stay there, so cut your loses and move on if you feel that bad.

Perhaps what you are taking as "pissy" is something else entirely. Not all sensei's have the same attitutude or method of teaching. Obviously you aren't used to this kind of treatment and if she is truly calling you stupid, then you shouldn't put up with it. If on the other hand you are construing her words to mean you are stupid, then it may be your interpretation of her words instead of her true meaning.

Stay. Go. Pick one. There are no right or wrong decisions. There are decisions and whatever you choose, be prepared to live with what follows.

Good luck.

NagaBaba 06-23-2009 03:07 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 233317)

Oh yea, I have talked to the other students and they say the sensei's moods come and go and they deal with it. .

Does this happen every month? ;)

Marc Abrams 06-23-2009 04:16 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
One of my teachers said the following: It is better to spend three years searching for a really good teacher, rather than three years studying with any teacher.

The important thing for you to consider is whether or not that teacher is the best available teacher for you. If the teacher is just going through something, then a wait-and-see approach might be alright. I think that looking in your community for what else is available might help you in your decision making. Ultimately, you should feel that your choice reflects the best teacher possible for you, in your geographical area.

Good Luck!!

Marc Abrams

aikidoc 06-23-2009 05:16 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Janet and Ashley are right. Don't fall into the gossip trap. You could be viewed as inciting the others.

It seems to me, you are down to tradeoffs. If the tradeoffs are not worth it or this is the only dojo in town, you must decide whether you want to accept the tradeoffs or move on or even not train. If other dojos are available, you might want to try them out. Sexually inappropriate comments however should not be tolerated no matter which sex is the target. Unfortunately, it sounds as if you have an instructor that at best is insensitive and at worse down right rude. If you decide to stay, I'd just keep to my own thoughts, train and get what you can get out of the experience. Good luck.

Anonymous 06-23-2009 07:12 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
I trained with an abusive teacher for about a year because there just weren't better options. Our two top students left and started training on their own in another dojo.

One of the happiest days of my life was walking out the door of the old dojo knowing I would never return. It was not pleasant informing the sensei I would not be back but I thought it was the courteous thing to do.

For the last 7 years I have looked forward to every class rather than dreading going. My attendance has certainly approved as has my aikido.

If you're not happy there. If you feel the need to complain or question your sensei's actions it is time to go. If the sensei has been acting like that for a while, as I gather from your post, she isn't going to change.

Our "new" dojo has picked up about 7 refugees from the "old" dojo due to the sensei's attitude. They have all expressed relief and joy at being in a supportive environment - even though we train much harder.

Good luck to you.

Nick P. 06-23-2009 07:46 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: (Post 233410)
Does this happen every month? ;)

I shouldn't, but dang, that made me snicker.

Aikibu 06-23-2009 08:39 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
I would not tolorate any of the kind of abuse you describe...Directed toward me or any else in the Dojo

this should be a no brainer for you.

Good Luck

William Hazen

gdandscompserv 06-23-2009 09:16 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
A situation similar to what you have mentioned caused me to walk. The dojo owner was selling some old mat's as he was upgrading. I bought the mats, and opened my own dojo. Not a single regret about it. I am currently in Okinawa training under my original Sensei and it is truly a pleasure to be in his presence again. I will NEVER train under an abusive Sensi again.

giriasis 06-23-2009 09:44 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
If your not happy there, then your not happy there. You don't need to force yourself to accept a situation that you are not comfortable with.

Trust your instincts. If the situation seems wrong, it most more than likely is wrong.

ruthmc 06-24-2009 06:14 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Respect is a two-way street.

It sounds like your current sensei isn't treating her students with respect, even if the students are respectful to sensei :(

I agree with Anne-Marie - trust your instincts. If it's making you unhappy, then don't go back.

All you need to say to the other students is that you feel that sensei's lack of respect towards her students is preventing you from training well and improving, so you are going to find another dojo.

Don't get into a sensei-bashing gossip session with them as that will only get back to her and will not do any of you any good!

One of you has to take decisive action, and you will probably find that if you leave the other students won't be far behind you if it's really that bad :)

I've trained under instructors who didn't respect their students, and I never would again - you learn nothing good from them :mad: My Sensei is one of the most respectful people I've ever trained with, and he sets a great example for all of us, so the dojo culture is one of high mutual respect between all of us :cool: As a result everybody learns, improves and most of all ENJOYS their Aikido :D

Ruth

john03045 06-24-2009 05:30 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Where is this school located? This should probably be a heads up for potential new students. Personally I'd ask her point blank what her problem is in front of the other students.

akiy 06-24-2009 05:43 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 233491)
Where is this school located? This should probably be a heads up for potential new students.

Actually, I would ask that details that may identify the specifics about situations like this be kept out of the Anonymous forum, as I do not want this section of the forums to become a place for such.

Let's discuss the issues instead, shall we?

Thank you,

-- Jun

Linda Eskin 06-24-2009 08:32 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: (Post 233410)
Does this happen every month? ;)

I can relate to being in a foul mood from time to time, but that's no excuse to act rudely toward others. I would not trust a teacher with so little self control that they would take their moods out on their students, whatever the cause.

Aikido should be fun, peaceful. harmonious, or whatever... I could accept having my mistakes pointed out, being pushed to try harder, etc. But being personally insulted and harassed is over the line.

I can't imagine continuing to train at that dojo. It doesn't sound like you trust or respect the Sensei. You don't have to like her, but I think trust and respect are necessary. I'd start looking for a new place to train.

Best of luck!
Linda

DonMagee 06-24-2009 11:09 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
I confront people when I have problems, sensei or not. If I find what someone is saying to me degrading or insulting I will tell them and I will be nice.

If they are unwilling to change their attitude then I will stop giving them my hard earned (ok so it's not really earned that hard) cash and find another place that will give me the respect I deserve.

It could be a dojo that is ran by O'Sensei, Helio, and Kano at the same time and if they didn't give me the respect I deserve as a person I'm going to give them the old middle finger and walk out.

I am no one's servant or whipping boy. I am a paying student and customer. I deserve the respect that comes with that. If I degraded a student in my classes I would be fired. So it is only fair the same happens to them.

That said, you have to make sure you are not getting constructive criticism. If someone said "Don, you are sucking so bad because you aren't putting in the time you need to, your slacking off and your cardio sucks." I can't really be angry if it is true.

However, calling someone stupid, worthess, or treating them like a servant is not constructive in anyway. No matter what some "That's how they do it in the old days" guy says.

Shadowfax 06-25-2009 06:35 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

I think trust and respect are necessary. I'd start looking for a new place to train.
When we practice Aikido we are trusting our Sensei and fellow students with our bodies in a potentially very hazardous exercise. Trust in the people you are working with is to me very necessary. There is no way I would continue to practice in a place that I did not feel as if the Sensei had the greatest concern for my well being as well as my education.

Respect is important but I have learned it is possible to learn form and take leadership from someone you do not respect or who does not respect you. It isn't the most pleasant situation and not one to be tolerated long term but it is tolerable if you develop the right mental attitude toward what you are doing.

The OP's situation only makes me appreciate the Place I train that much more.

NagaBaba 06-25-2009 09:19 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Don Magee wrote: (Post 233508)
I am no one's servant or whipping boy. I am a paying student and customer. I deserve the respect that comes with that..

..and you are buying a product called 'aikido'? :eek: :confused: Is it coming with 5 years of warranty? :crazy:

Service-customer relation in aikido dojo - is it right spirit for practice?? How can you develop spiritual dimention of aikido practice in such conditions?

JO 06-25-2009 09:39 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
How can you develop the spiritual dimension with an instructor that is undeserving of respect? Why would I follow someone I can't respect? It doesn't matter if it's customer - service provider relationship or something deeper and more personal.

People don't need to be perfect. But there are minimal norms in society of how people are expected to relate to each other. A minimum of respect and concern for others is one of the most important basic social norms. I consider this context independent.

Russ Q 06-25-2009 11:40 AM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
I think the anonymous poster should walk...,from what they have said, this much seems obvious. I would like to address Mr. S's point:

[b][Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
I am no one's servant or whipping boy. I am a paying student and customer. I deserve the respect that comes with that..

..and you are buying a product called 'aikido'? Is it coming with 5 years of warranty?

Service-customer relation in aikido dojo - is it right spirit for practice?? How can you develop spiritual dimention of aikido practice in such conditions?/B]

When you start talking about going to the dojo I think you can pretty much throw out the idea of commerce ie. I paid my money now I want my product/service. This is an extreme example to make a point...but....while the original poster seems to be in a genuinely tough situation, one must remember there can be quite of bit of gray area when it comes to relationships, especially instructor/student relationships. What I'm trying to say is that one should not expect absolute respect simply because one has paid their training fees for that month.....

Cheers all,

Russ

DonMagee 06-25-2009 12:37 PM

Re: Not coping with the new sensei
 
Quote:

Russ Qureshi wrote: (Post 233554)
I think the anonymous poster should walk...,from what they have said, this much seems obvious. I would like to address Mr. S's point:

[b][Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
I am no one's servant or whipping boy. I am a paying student and customer. I deserve the respect that comes with that..

..and you are buying a product called 'aikido'? Is it coming with 5 years of warranty?

Service-customer relation in aikido dojo - is it right spirit for practice?? How can you develop spiritual dimention of aikido practice in such conditions?/B]

When you start talking about going to the dojo I think you can pretty much throw out the idea of commerce ie. I paid my money now I want my product/service. This is an extreme example to make a point...but....while the original poster seems to be in a genuinely tough situation, one must remember there can be quite of bit of gray area when it comes to relationships, especially instructor/student relationships. What I'm trying to say is that one should not expect absolute respect simply because one has paid their training fees for that month.....

Cheers all,

Russ

If they want a unquestioning slave they should teach for free. I am friends with all my instructors and I pay them for their services. If those services are not being provided, I will not be paying them. I teach at a college. My students expect that I will be polite, present to them the subject matter, and give constructive criticism to help them better learn and understand the subject matter. If I called one of them a moron I would be fired. I expect no less from anyone teaching anything.

As I've said, a instructor can be gruff, he can yell at you, he can do things to motivate you. You should be willing to do anything he asks within reason, even if you don't want to. After all if you didn't do what he asked then you are taking from him the chance to provide you the service you payed for.

If anyone calls me stupid, or a moron, or degrades me then we are going to have issues. The most important issue is going to be if I will still be requiring their services. Like it or not the instructor has to answer for their actions to their students. They are not above students in any way. There is a difference between constructive criticism and verbal assault. Any instructor who doesn't see that if a horrible instructor and not worthy of any students.

I've had coaches push me harder. They have told me to shut up and train, to keep pushing, to stop slacking off, they have told me to try again and again and again even when I wanted to give up. That is all constructive. I've only had one instructor tell me I was stupid. I warned him and he didn't stop. That was the last time I ever trained with him.

Life is too short to spend it around people like that. I want my coaches to have more then just technical mastery. I want a coach who understand the human body and the human mind and knows how to shape and push you without making you feel like garbage to boost his ego.


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