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Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 12:54 PM

What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Hi,

I have a bit of a sensitive issue.
There is a student of no rank(7th kyu) in my school. They had previously trained for about three years off and on over seas with several unaffiliated/independent Aikido schools before coming to our school. One of the unaffiliated schools he says gave him a Dan ranking. His Aikido, according to my Sensei, myself and the rest of the instructors at our dojo is sub-par according to our standards for what a Dan rank should be... in fact it is sub-par to what we consider a 5th kyu.He claims he is just from Teacher XYZ's linage and we are a different style that's why it is different. But we have many students in our school who were formally from Teacher XYZ (even directly Teacher XYZ's students) they look nothing like him. But we have welcomed him to come and test and train with us :-D... when he first joined I and a few of the senior students put forth a lot of effort to understand and learn his approach to Aikido.

Now here's my issue: His attitude has gradually became sour. He arrives late because he hates the way we stretch in the beginning of class, gets on and off the mat without telling anyone where he's going.(A big no-no in our school.) This is a minor annoyance however.

The biggest issue is how he's effecting our junior students. :( He refused to train with the senior students, or instructor's of the dojo. He will only take people he "thinks" are of low rank as training partners in class. When my Sensei is holding a class this student will often ignore the exercise or technique we've been instructed to practice, grab a junior student as a partner and proceed to instruct our junior student in whatever the heck he seems to feel that student needs to learn in his opinion. When the teacher claps for everyone to line back up, often they have to clap more than once to get his attention. He'll just keep on trying to tutor the junior student while the instructor is trying to change techniques. If there is only one beginner on the mat, they poor thing is basically stalked by him for every technique. I have a few younger female students in the school, they have come to me privately and asked me to sit next to them during class so they can bow to train with me immediately. They are creeped out with how he wants to train ONLY with them. (I don't think he's a perv, but they do unfortunately :( )

We are also starting to have issues with new students. I'm designated to prepare junior students for their kyu tests.(6th through 1st) Often time I'll tell a junior student "Sensei wants to see this done this particular way for your test." Then the junior student will often reply "But blank told me to do it this way." And 99% of the time the way in which this guy is telling junior students to do test techniques would result in failure. He just doesn't understand our standards or our system.

He refuses to take ukemi. I mean sometimes he falls down awkwardly.. maybe 5-10 times per class. But the average Aikidoka takes a good 70-100 ukemi during a typical class. He even goes so far as to just walk forward without striking, or grabbing and expect the student to do the technique when we demand that he takes ukemi for his partner. But it has no energy, it isn't an attack actually. Just a lazy toad like movement forward, then he stands still refusing to fall down. Which is frustrating because he only trains with 7th and 6th kyu who are trying to learn form. :(

But the hardest issue is when I'm teaching my classes. He at least twice per-class will interrupt my demonstration to point out how what I'm doing is flawed. (which I always reply, let's discuss it after class or at open mat...to which we never end up doing because he won't train with anyone of dan ranking!) He does his typical ignore the exercise at hand, teach his junior partner whatever he wants to teach them crap. So I saw him teaching the junior student and went up and said to myself, "Well if he is instructing them, they obviously need help, i'm the teacher I'll go instruct them." I interjected and called the junior student to attack me. This guy told the junior student to come back to him... :-/ I said "I'm going to help them with the technique." He said "we aren't doing that technique" I ignored him and proceeded to instruct the junior student which is my job! This made him angry for some reason. To which he just said I made the junior student look worse, right in front of the junior student. Which sucks for the poor kids self esteem!

I got angry, I wanted to tell him to sit out. I wanted to tell him to get the hell off my mat. But I didn't. I clapped and told everyone to line up for lined ukemi drills. He sat out of course. But what got me more upset was the fact he was telling under-classmen they didn't have to participate if they didn't want to. That what I was teaching would only injure them. (I was teaching standard forward, backwards, and barrel-rolls. Not even break-falls!)

So this is my issue. I'm not the Sensei or head instructor. Just a senior instructor. I've relayed my issues to my Sensei, my Sensei has the same complaints. He does the same crap to my Sensei in class apparently. My Sensei is at a loss, and is just trying to not create awkwardness or a disruption. We want to be welcoming, and we don't want junior students to see any negativity between the seniors and this student. e sort of just been trying to be polite, isolate our junior students and hope he falls in line or quits. We have asked him to not do many of these above described behaviors. If a senior instructor asks him, he argues with them. If the Sensei asks him he nods, then just ignores the request. I'm not sure how this will end up.
If I was running the school I would told him he is not welcome to classes or suspend him. But I respect my Sensei's desire to try and ride it out.

Marc Abrams 06-21-2012 01:43 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
I'm frankly amazed that ANY sensei tolerates that crap for a milisecond! A dojo is not a democracy. Whoever is that teacher on the mat is the boss in that moment. No ands, ifs or buts about it. If a student does not like it, then that student has the opportunity not to attend that class. When a student enters the threshold of the dojo, there is an obligation of students and teachers about proper conduct that should upheld. The teachers, particularly, the dojo cho, needs to immediately assert authority regarding proper roles in a dojo. You are already describing a situation where this student has undermined the working of the dojo to the benefit of nobody in attendance. I would have taken that student aside in private and spell out the way in which the dojo is run and leave it up to the person to either comply or leave, with NOTHING in between.

Marc Abrams

Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 01:48 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 311330)
I'm frankly amazed that ANY sensei tolerates that crap for a milisecond! A dojo is not a democracy. Whoever is that teacher on the mat is the boss in that moment. No ands, ifs or buts about it. If a student does not like it, then that student has the opportunity not to attend that class. When a student enters the threshold of the dojo, there is an obligation of students and teachers about proper conduct that should upheld. The teachers, particularly, the dojo cho, needs to immediately assert authority regarding proper roles in a dojo. You are already describing a situation where this student has undermined the working of the dojo to the benefit of nobody in attendance. I would have taken that student aside in private and spell out the way in which the dojo is run and leave it up to the person to either comply or leave, with NOTHING in between.

Marc Abrams

I agree with you 100%. If it was my school, I would of already had that conversation with him. Not to be mean to him or anything, just it isn't helpful to the junior students or class. I've done my best to control my own classes, while trying to respect that the Sensei wants there to be no visible discourse between anyone in front of junior students. :/

philipsmith 06-21-2012 01:49 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
I agree with Marc.

He should be asked to leave

JJF 06-21-2012 02:51 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
You might consider asking a range of the more senior students to make sure he will practice with them - each taking shifts during each class. They should keep calm and ignore his c... while training seriously and at all times letting him know that they expect him to give honest attacks to the best of his ability and follow the directions of the instructor.

You might also tell him - quietly in an unambiguously way - that he most participate in all aspects of the training including ukemi training.

Tell him that it is important in your dojo to follow the rules of dojo-kun and that you would like to help him do this. Then hand him a short written list of do's and dont's.

This is a wonderful chance to practice being a good instructor. Speaking calmly but with great authority about how you expect people to behave. If he tells you something along of the lines of 'we are doing something else' then say - calmly - "Well.. in this dojo we hold it important that all students do exactly what the sensei has told them to. so go back to that." First time you might want to add a 'Please'.. then take it up a notch at the time. If you yell at him or loose your temper I am afraid you might just add to his mischief. He needs role models that seizes the role and helps him see the borders he is currently crossing.

It's good you talk to your dojo-cho. All instructors and relevant senior students should be included in the discussion. If you all agree on how to handle him, then he will either get the message from the united group of senseis - or he will leave since he is not getting his way.

If possible I hope you will avoid kicking him out. He needs this much more than many others. Help him grow as a person if you can find the power to do so.

Good luck

robin_jet_alt 06-21-2012 03:38 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
I agree with Marc too. That is just unbelievable.

Rob Watson 06-21-2012 04:00 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 311327)
My Sensei is at a loss

You got bigger problems than one jerk disrupting class.

Marc Abrams 06-21-2012 04:14 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 311331)
I agree with you 100%. If it was my school, I would of already had that conversation with him. Not to be mean to him or anything, just it isn't helpful to the junior students or class. I've done my best to control my own classes, while trying to respect that the Sensei wants there to be no visible discourse between anyone in front of junior students. :/

I hear what you are saying and suggest that you set an example for yourself. You can take him aside privately and let him know the "way of the land' or simply make a class announcement that everybody is expected to work together on the tasks that Sensei sets before them. If that person is not willing to do so, he is simply asked to remove himself from class so that there will be no discord and that you will be more than willing to discuss your action directly with him after the class has ended and in private.

The other issue to consider is that the best wishes and expectations of others do not always exist in reality. The teacher is responsible for the WHOLE CLASS. No discord among the whole class can also mean removing a divisive element from the mix. Frankly speaking, I think that the Dojo Cho needs to step to the proverbial plate on this one and set the standard, because there is visible discord in the dojo. Just because it is not being directly confronted does not mean that it is not plainly evident for all to see.

Marc Abrams

Janet Rosen 06-21-2012 04:23 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
You cannot change your dojocho (whose response I find unbelievable) but you certainly can and should set the tone and limits within your own class. If you "get in trouble" for doing so, rather than than this rude troublemaker being dealt with, that will make clear how dysfunctional the dojo culture is.

Travers Hughes 06-21-2012 04:53 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Hi - first post from me (long time lurker). I agree with Marc Abrams and Philip Smith. I would even be more assertive - "asking" someone to leave implies that they have the control in the situation, and this is not the case (or shouldn't be). "Telling" them with the voice of authority that you have of taking that class seems more appropriate. Do you teach a regular schedule? If I were in your shoes, I would make plain that in MY classes (that are x,y and z), this behavior is not acceptable from anyone in these classes. If there are other classes available, direct the student to those classes. Let the other teachers know you have done this. You may find that in making your stance that the others follow.
This is not a matter of ego, but of safety. Sensei may have other reasons for not acting, so of course would recommend discussing with him/her first.
Other option is call this student out for ukemi when discussing a technique. Nothing like trial by fire and public humiliation to put one's skills into perspective.

gregstec 06-21-2012 05:16 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Sounds like you have an issue with a young individual with an ego problem. Marc and others have giving good advice that in most cases would normally be followed by any dojo with a commitment to serious training - after all, that type of behavior is not tolerated in any teaching environment.

So, if your dojo is serious about its budo, this guy needs to change his behavior or be shown the door. However, if the dojocho is more interested in collecting this guy's dues, you got more problems than you realize; as I think someone already mentioned. Allowing this type of behavior to continue will eventually bring all students down to his level because the serious students will leave and all you will have left (and attract) will be just more students like him.

Good luck

Greg

Walter Martindale 06-21-2012 05:19 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
"Excuse me. We're practicing this, join in or leave"
"You - practice with him..."
"Now, practice with her..."
"Now, practice with him..."
"Excuse me - this isn't a democracy - if you don't like the way we do things, there's the door."
"You're taking ukemi - if you don't like it, there's the door."
"Yes, I know you're paying your membership, and that is to train in OUR system of Aikido."
"Ok - so-and-so told you to do something that way but you're here now, try to learn how we do it, and add our movements to your repertoire..."
"You have the manners of a two-year-old, we'll treat you that way if you wish. Now, go into the corner for a time-out."

James Sawers 06-21-2012 06:26 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
You've got a nut-job here and a serious safety issue. Calm discussion and logic does not work with such people. Show him the door post haste and be glad that no one has been hurt already. You and your other instructors are also nuts for putting up with such behavior. You are as much to blame. The nut-job probably can't help being a nut-job, but you and other instructors, I assume, have no excuse. Politness has nothing to do with it.

Michael Hackett 06-21-2012 07:01 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
There's a Japanese word that covers this situation perfectly, "Sayonara". If you are teaching and he behaves the way you've described, give him one warning and then DIRECT him to leave your mat during your class. He is disruptive and disrespectful and such conduct should not be tolerated.

Anthony Loeppert 06-21-2012 07:43 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

James Sawers wrote: (Post 311375)
You've got a nut-job here and a serious safety issue. Calm discussion and logic does not work with such people. Show him the door post haste and be glad that no one has been hurt already. You and your other instructors are also nuts for putting up with such behavior. You are as much to blame. The nut-job probably can't help being a nut-job, but you and other instructors, I assume, have no excuse. Politness has nothing to do with it.

Ouch.... but maybe... Best to nip such things in the bud.

Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 08:12 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Robert M Watson Jr wrote: (Post 311354)
You got bigger problems than one jerk disrupting class.

I know :/

Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 08:21 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 311358)
I hear what you are saying and suggest that you set an example for yourself. You can take him aside privately and let him know the "way of the land' or simply make a class announcement that everybody is expected to work together on the tasks that Sensei sets before them. If that person is not willing to do so, he is simply asked to remove himself from class so that there will be no discord and that you will be more than willing to discuss your action directly with him after the class has ended and in private.

The other issue to consider is that the best wishes and expectations of others do not always exist in reality. The teacher is responsible for the WHOLE CLASS. No discord among the whole class can also mean removing a divisive element from the mix. Frankly speaking, I think that the Dojo Cho needs to step to the proverbial plate on this one and set the standard, because there is visible discord in the dojo. Just because it is not being directly confronted does not mean that it is not plainly evident for all to see.

Marc Abrams

It has become apparent to other students unfortunately. He's been taken aside in the past. He at this point i think is doing stuff that is warranting that he should excuse himself from the mat.
I when I see a beginner not getting the training they need to be getting, I'll specifically tell that beginner to trade partners, forcing my problem student to train with a more senior student. I always make sure he partners with some one who won't accept him correcting them. In which he just gives that poor senior student crap ukemi, which pisses that senior student off. I'll also try to change to line techniques in which he's not allowed to teach anyone, which he typically just sits out. And then I have to say to him quietly to cut it out when he tries to encourage others students to also sit it out... like I'm giving them inferior instruction. I've been doing this about 15 years longer than this guy, so it is frustrating to see him trying to make they younger students not trust the way in which I'm leading them. It so far has just lead to a very strained personal relationship with this guy. Because i'm constantly after class having to say "Hey man, what was up with that?! Not cool!"

Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 08:31 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 311359)
You cannot change your dojocho (whose response I find unbelievable) but you certainly can and should set the tone and limits within your own class. If you "get in trouble" for doing so, rather than than this rude troublemaker being dealt with, that will make clear how dysfunctional the dojo culture is.

In general, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission with Sensei. I've been taking this approach to keep control of my classes as best as I can. My approach is more direct than Sensei's.

My only thought is that this person's dream is to be a teacher. He comes to teach obviously, not train. He keeps others from training. Sometimes when I'm called last minute to cover a class for another instructor, when he hears the instructor isn't showing up I've actually had to kick him out of the high seat. (He typically sits in the back of the mat where all the beginners are..his targets.) It just comes off super nutty to me.

Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 08:40 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Travers Hughes wrote: (Post 311363)
Hi - first post from me (long time lurker). I agree with Marc Abrams and Philip Smith. I would even be more assertive - "asking" someone to leave implies that they have the control in the situation, and this is not the case (or shouldn't be). "Telling" them with the voice of authority that you have of taking that class seems more appropriate. Do you teach a regular schedule? If I were in your shoes, I would make plain that in MY classes (that are x,y and z), this behavior is not acceptable from anyone in these classes. If there are other classes available, direct the student to those classes. Let the other teachers know you have done this. You may find that in making your stance that the others follow.
This is not a matter of ego, but of safety. Sensei may have other reasons for not acting, so of course would recommend discussing with him/her first.
Other option is call this student out for ukemi when discussing a technique. Nothing like trial by fire and public humiliation to put one's skills into perspective.

There is another teacher in our school that took a very aggressive tone with the guy. He just out rightly avoids the guys classes. He drives by and if he sees him teaching, he leaves lol. I wouldn't technically be apposed to this becoming my situation as well.

Found out today from a junior student that he has been inviting newbie students to receive instruction from him outside of class. I haven't told Sensei this yet. But that might just put Sensei over the edge with their patience with him... he's a nutter I think.

lbb 06-21-2012 08:50 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
I have never seen a situation remotely like this. No doubt this is due in part to the (thankfully) rare incidence of this sort of sociopath in the population, but also because in no dojo where I have trained would this behavior have been tolerated. Not one bit of it. You cross the line, if you're a newbie you have it explained to you where the line is. You get corrected. You're expected to stay corrected on your own. That's it. That's how it's supposed to work.

As for how it's working (or not working) in your dojo...no wonder your juniors are confused.

The guy's incorrigible. What does your sensei hope to accomplish with him? He's not going to get with the program; it's past time for him to leave.

Trying to be polite 06-21-2012 08:51 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

James Sawers wrote: (Post 311375)
You've got a nut-job here and a serious safety issue. Calm discussion and logic does not work with such people. Show him the door post haste and be glad that no one has been hurt already. You and your other instructors are also nuts for putting up with such behavior. You are as much to blame. The nut-job probably can't help being a nut-job, but you and other instructors, I assume, have no excuse. Politness has nothing to do with it.

I agree entirely. We have been the ones allowing this to continue, for the sake of keeping peace with the guy and not causing a scene we've tried behind the scene methods of dealing with him. We've yet to go as far as give him ultimatums however. Sensei ask we not give ultimatums. Sensei has simply said to all of us "You need to keep control of your class, and I expect you to." Some instructors, including myself have taken his uke from him and directed them to new partners who are seniors and won't put up with it. It often leads to him sitting out... which is good with me. But I have to remind him he doesn't get to decide which part of the class he wishes to participate in or not. Come to think of it I had that same conversation with a 5 year old in the kids class last week lol

Michael Hackett 06-21-2012 10:20 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Your sensei has told you and the other instructors to take control of your classes, so do it. If he wanted to place restrictions on your control, he would have done so. Do what's best for your class and the students attending. Immediately seize on his misconduct, correct it once, and then show him the door if it continues. That seems fully in keeping with what your sensei instructed you to do.

Janet Rosen 06-21-2012 11:03 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Quote:

Michael Hackett wrote: (Post 311405)
Your sensei has told you and the other instructors to take control of your classes, so do it. If he wanted to place restrictions on your control, he would have done so. Do what's best for your class and the students attending. Immediately seize on his misconduct, correct it once, and then show him the door if it continues. That seems fully in keeping with what your sensei instructed you to do.

Yep.

James Sawers 06-21-2012 11:24 PM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Once you finally get rid of this guy, you will probably hear about a new dojo in your area with an instructor with really advanced ranks in 4-5 different martial arts.

PeterR 06-22-2012 12:05 AM

Re: What do you do when a student is acting rudely in your class.
 
Rudeness comes in all sorts of forms.

I've had people show up with a little red book loudly proclaiming what I was doing was not Aikido to an actual physical assault. In both cases they had not actually crossed the threshold of the class so to speak so getting rid of them was no issue.

The most difficult was in Japan with a 30+ Japanese gentleman who the more he took the class, the more frustrated he became, to the more he ended up lecturing my Japanese partner on his shortcomings as a teacher. Finally things were said and he stormed out (the gentleman not the partner - of course the partner was also a gentleman). Strangely a few months later he came back and apologized having the same experience with different Aikido teachers but we declined his request to continue.

So - besides a story - if you feel that something must be said you are probably right and the longer you leave it the worse it will get. If you are not the head of the school it is not your place to kick someone out but you should tell whoever is your opinion. Most people will fool themselves into saying its not that bad until others help them see. Most people want to see the dynamic of their group being constructive.


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