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burnt out and down 04-04-2013 02:02 PM

No respect
 
at our school the new senior student is showing his true colors and is not respecting the teacher.in short there is a show of open disrespect, defiance and questioning the sensei. It's really causing tensions and harmony in th the dojo. The sensei is too kind and too nice of a person who I don't know how to deal with the situation effectively. I don't think to send to one conflict in the coach of himself and the new sempai. The good, old Sempai moved out of town BTW. any suggestions on dealing with this problem of disrespect in an otherwise harmonious dojo

Andrew S 04-04-2013 03:19 PM

Re: No respect
 
In a hierarchical system as found in many traditional dojo? There's not much you can do except show as much respect as possible to your sensei and avoid the senior as much as possible.

Janet Rosen 04-04-2013 07:27 PM

Re: No respect
 
If someone who is both an adult and in authority tolerates being treated with disrespect, there isn't much you can do about it.

Chaplain Roy Chay 04-04-2013 11:25 PM

Re: No respect
 
On the request of Burnt out and Down, I will try and better convey the conundrum and angst she is trying to communicate.

Not a person who practices Aikido, but yet someone who is privy to the situation, I can assure you there is great emotional distress upsetting many.

The established leadership is threatened by a young aggressive and openly confronting individual who believes he can do a better job leading. Yes, a text book situation.

The instructor is a beloved seasoned leader who is falling upon his culture's behavior in these situations. He believes confrontation creates more bad than good. He prefers to avoid conflict and find other ways to resolvable the conflict. A soft spoken man, and gentle disposition, it is out of character for him not to use great patience and tolerance to the end.

The established leader is seen as weak, incompetent and vulnerable by the younger aggressive senior ranking member wanting to take his place. As a result, this person demonstrates his competence and strength in the same way he does in his office. A strategy that his proven successful in his work place.

The gross population of the student body is accustom and comfortable with the teacher's leadership and approach. Many students share the same cultural background as the teacher. They are shocked and dismayed at the surprisingly new behavior of the senior ranking member. This is something that many of the student are not familiar with or physiological prepared to handle. Stress levels are high because of what is happening at the school. Students are irritated and distracted, not enjoying the atmosphere they once did.

General logic would dictate Aikido martial protocol to be the default governing law to end the situation. This would be the case possibly, but it isn't. In fact, Aikido martial law protocol actually takes a back seat in this situation to the individual's cultural and will. It is nice to think things would be that easy to solve by the rules of the game. Though there are those who go by their own rules.

People in the class are upset and really are not prepared to handle this situation and they are seeking help.

Janet Rosen 04-05-2013 12:16 AM

Re: No respect
 
But what can we possibly say that isn't obvious? - I don't mean to minimize the distress this is causing but it isn't like there is a dojo police force or a dojo good fairy or good wizard we can summon up - plainly put, there is no "indirect" way to resolve this.

What are the possible outcomes to this scenario you describe?
Either he changes - unlikely -
or he leaves - which he will have to be told to do -
or the sensei leaves - possible but not what the students want
or a bunch of students get disgusted and leave - which really sucks
or things go on as they are - which also really sucks
So....if the sensei will not address the issue by asking him to leave or to shut up, then as near as I can tell the only other option is for the unhappy students to call for a dojo meeting and openly address the issue.
IMO the best outcome would be a split in which the disrespectful sempai takes off and any interested students go with him.

Michael Hackett 04-05-2013 12:29 AM

Re: No respect
 
What kind of help do they expect from an internet forum if their culture dictates something less than an authoritarian response? The dojo cho should deal directly with the disrespectful usurper and either bring him into line or remove him from the dojo. The other students could also make it very clear that the senior student's conduct is unacceptable to them as well. Since you allude to a culture where that is seemingly impossible, learn to live with it, move on to another school, or wring your hands.

Leaders, formal or informal do not have to be harsh or confrontational, but they do have to act for the common good of the organization. Sometimes that requires making unpopular decisions, but always requires a solution and action when there is a real problem that affects the welfare of the community and organization. I apologize for sounding unsympathetic - wait, no I don't. Take action or don't - the choice and consequences are theirs. I hope they find a solution that is acceptable for them.

Chris Li 04-05-2013 12:35 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 325406)
Aikido martial law protocol actually takes a back seat in this situation to the individual's cultural and will.

I've been in Aikido a long time, but I've certainly never heard of anything like an "Aikido martial law protocol". People get challenged for the leadership of groups all the time - I've seen it in dojos in the US, and I've seen it in dojos in Japan, there's not much difference.

It's not that difficult - the current leadership finds it a problem then they need to stand up and deal with it, just like they would in any other part of their life.

Same for the members, if they're bothered by it then they need to stand up and do something about it it, just like they would in any other part of their life.

It's nice to think that everyone will play nice together, but it just doesn't happen, learning to deal with that is part of the process.

Best,

Chris

Walter Martindale 04-05-2013 07:03 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Christopher Li wrote: (Post 325409)
I've been in Aikido a long time, but I've certainly never heard of anything like an "Aikido martial law protocol". People get challenged for the leadership of groups all the time - I've seen it in dojos in the US, and I've seen it in dojos in Japan, there's not much difference.

Chris

I've been aware of an "enforcer". One (late) shihan would send one of his higher ranking students/uchideshi to dojo where either a sensei or a higher up student wasn't doing things "right". AIUI the "enforcer" would spend a little time "practicing with" the person who was being a problem. There may also have been some discussion, but (and this is all hear-say) the problems would usually resolve.

Malicat 04-05-2013 08:52 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 325406)
The instructor is a beloved seasoned leader who is falling upon his culture's behavior in these situations. He believes confrontation creates more bad than good. He prefers to avoid conflict and find other ways to resolvable the conflict. A soft spoken man, and gentle disposition, it is out of character for him not to use great patience and tolerance to the end.

People in the class are upset and really are not prepared to handle this situation and they are seeking help.

This is your dojo. What do you want it to be? I am suspicious of any martial arts culture where the students are afraid to stand up for themselves. I was the sempai at my dojo at 4th kyu simply by virtue of the fact that we are a new dojo, only 2 years old, and I was with our Sensei from the beginning. Then a nidan moved to the area and I no longer have the title. Of course, even though I don't have the title, why would I change my behavior. I still help Sensei with anything he needs assistance with, he still relies on me to be a 'safe' training partner for brand new students, and I take personal responsibility for the culture of our dojo. We aren't extremely formal, so I make sure all of our students know proper etiquette for when they visit other schools, but I am also the first person to start laughing with Sensei accidentally says something that could be taken the wrong way. I don't think I have ever attended a class where we didn't laugh, and that part of training is just as important for me as any other aspect. And if the nidan that moved to our school was rude or disrespectful in any way to my Sensei, I would immediately have a discussion with him.

Just because Aikido works without 'fighting' doesn't mean it works by allowing people to do whatever they want while you wring your hands on the sideline. "I saw that you chose to do the technique differently than what was demonstrated, would you please explain why?" might be a good way to begin. You clearly feel that this person is attacking the culture and attitude of your dojo. Are you going to stand in front of him and allow him to hit you, or are you going to get out of the way of the attack and take control of the situation?

This sounds like an excellent opportunity to use Aikido. Not physically, but mentally. Every student who attends class is responsible for the attitude and culture of the dojo.

--Ashley

Chris Li 04-05-2013 10:13 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Walter Martindale wrote: (Post 325421)
I've been aware of an "enforcer". One (late) shihan would send one of his higher ranking students/uchideshi to dojo where either a sensei or a higher up student wasn't doing things "right". AIUI the "enforcer" would spend a little time "practicing with" the person who was being a problem. There may also have been some discussion, but (and this is all hear-say) the problems would usually resolve.

I'm not sure that I would call that "Aikido martial law protocol", it seems like a normal part of group dynamics.

FWIW, I really dislike that kind of passive-agressive response - although it seems to be quite common in Aikido. If the shihan has a problem with someone than they ought to stand up and talk to them directly, not take it out on them on the mat or (even worse) send someone else to do it for them.

Best,

Chris

Walter Martindale 04-05-2013 10:26 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Christopher Li wrote: (Post 325438)
I'm not sure that I would call that "Aikido martial law protocol", it seems like a normal part of group dynamics.

FWIW, I really dislike that kind of passive-agressive response - although it seems to be quite common in Aikido. If the shihan has a problem with someone than they ought to stand up and talk to them directly, not take it out on them on the mat or (even worse) send someone else to do it for them.

Best,

Chris

I'm not fond of it either. "Make him an offer he can't refuse." The Godfather didn't do the dirty work any more, he commanded it. Although that particular instance is fiction, I'd suspect it goes on in that circle?
Would the chief of police have to go and make all the arrests him/herself, or can he/she send out some constables or deputies to do the nitty-gritty? I know these aren't exact parallels, and I don't know if the shihan about whom I'm going on had tried speaking directly or not. He's been dead for several years, now.

allowedcloud 04-05-2013 10:31 AM

Re: No respect
 
I would like to announce that we are now accepting recruits to form the Aiki Mercenary Force. We will travel to dojos across the country where the leadership cannot cope with unruly students, and put down the rebellion by kicking a** and taking names. Once the uppity malcontent has been delt with we will happily accept payment in the form of beer (but it must be good beer) and pot-lucks held in our honor. Also you must give us our own changing rooms, just like the senseis get. And you must put all of us up in 5 star hotels.

Are you a big, mean and bad Aikido-Ka? If the answer is YES, then this might be the opportunity you've been looking for!

Malicat 04-05-2013 10:34 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Joshua Landin wrote: (Post 325441)
I would like to announce that we are now accepting recruits to form the Aiki Mercenary Force. We will travel to dojos across the country where the leadership cannot cope with unruly students, and put down the rebellion by kicking a** and taking names. Once the uppity malcontent has been delt with we will happily accept payment in the form of beer (but it must be good beer) and pot-lucks held in our honor. Also you must give us our own changing rooms, just like the senseis get. And you must put all of us up in 5 star hotels.

Are you a big, mean and bad Aikido-Ka? If the answer is YES, then this might be the opportunity you've been looking for!

... I believe next time I visit my relatives in Cincinnati, I am going to have to visit your dojo Joshua. :)

--Ashley

Chaplain Roy Chay 04-05-2013 01:50 PM

Re: No respect
 
I am astonished at the undertones of mockery. Being an interpersonal issue, I would think there would be a decorum of respectful sensitivity which would be exercised kindly in this matter. I don't train in Aikido or understand it's customs. I don't not speak the nomenclature of Aikido, or understand the Aikido way handles things. It is foreign to me. I was simply doing someone a favor whose command of English is limited.

Reading the comments and my knowledge of my friend's concern, who is kindly asking for help here, has shown to be a mighty mistake. Based on my decades of experience and training as a Chaplain, the assumptions I made here have never been more wrong. Too bad this hasn't been a good productive resource for my friend as she wished. Too bad she has made assumptions. Is this the standard for Aikiweb to have its members mock others when they seek help? I don't get treated similarly on the car forums when I ask for help.

Michael Hackett 04-05-2013 02:17 PM

Re: No respect
 
Chaplain Chay, neither you nor the Original Poster have described the context of the situation very well. While you say the culture of the individuals plays a significant part in resolving the problem, then the culture must have traditions or mechanisms in place to promote harmony and prevent dissent. I'm not terribly worldly, but I know of no culture which is immune from conflicts, large or small, real or imagined, and without solutions.

In the martial arts world, generally a school is run in a strict heirarchy with the instructor setting and enforcing the rules of behavior. A student who disagrees with those rules often is free to discuss them with the teacher privately, but expected to follow the rules or leave. That is the bottom line in virtually all cases. There is no mocking involved here. If the instructor is willing to tolerate the behavior described because of his culture or any other reason, then the behavior is acceptable to him. If so, and that behavior causes stress and discomfort for other students, then they are free to discuss their concerns with him privately, accept the situation or leave. This isn't mocking anyone, just describing the facts of life as I know and understand them. Using your experience on a car forum, you probably all agree that it requires a spark, fuel and air to run an engine. Describing a situation in which you don't wish to use fuel and then ask what you should do to make your engine run will likely meet the same results.

Sorry you are disappointed.

Janet Rosen 04-05-2013 05:01 PM

Re: No respect
 
I have tried to be as plain spoken as possible about the options. I have no idea what other advice the OP or her helper thinks might be forthcoming. People are people, aikido or not. When they come together in groups, there are still only a few ways they can related to each other. There is no magic wand. Somebody has to do the heavy lifting of addressing the issue OF the dojo, IN the dojo.

Malicat 04-05-2013 10:30 PM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 325456)
I am astonished at the undertones of mockery. Being an interpersonal issue, I would think there would be a decorum of respectful sensitivity which would be exercised kindly in this matter. I don't train in Aikido or understand it's customs. I don't not speak the nomenclature of Aikido, or understand the Aikido way handles things. It is foreign to me. I was simply doing someone a favor whose command of English is limited.

Reading the comments and my knowledge of my friend's concern, who is kindly asking for help here, has shown to be a mighty mistake. Based on my decades of experience and training as a Chaplain, the assumptions I made here have never been more wrong. Too bad this hasn't been a good productive resource for my friend as she wished. Too bad she has made assumptions. Is this the standard for Aikiweb to have its members mock others when they seek help? I don't get treated similarly on the car forums when I ask for help.

Honestly, I am not seeing any mocking. I checked over the thread, and I see one comment about using a higher rank from another school to come over and sort things out, a few comments on how that passive aggressive sort of technique is either a bad idea or a good idea, and another joke about that. At no point did I see either of you being mocked. I'm sorry if you didn't like the answers that we gave, but several answers were given. The person can have a conversation with the Sempai and do her best to make it known that the attitude is not appreciated in a manner that is not offensive, the person can leave and study at another dojo, or the person can choose not to do anything and deal with it. There really aren't a lot of other options in this situation.

--Ashley

Dan Rubin 04-06-2013 03:19 PM

Re: No respect
 
Apparently the anonymous posters are asking for specific techniques to deal with their problem, so here are two:

(1) All of the students should agree that they will all attend the sensei's classes, and that none will attend the senior student's classes.
(2) Someone should contact the former sempai and ask him/her for advice/assistance.

Chris Li 04-06-2013 04:47 PM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Dan Rubin wrote: (Post 325498)
Apparently the anonymous posters are asking for specific techniques to deal with their problem, so here are two:

(1) All of the students should agree that they will all attend the sensei's classes, and that none will attend the senior student's classes.
(2) Someone should contact the former sempai and ask him/her for advice/assistance.

Number 2 may help in terms of advice - but it's still the people involved who will have to step up and act.

Number 1 sounds like a form of shunning, and it's exactly the kind of passive aggressive response that's popular in many places, but which I strongly dislike. Whatever happened to just talking directly to the people involved?

I really think that it's not rocket science, and that there's no need to cook up a scheme to get the point across - just talk to them and deal with it. In the end I think that it works out better.

Best,

Chris

Lorien Lowe 04-07-2013 01:15 AM

Re: No respect
 
I'm not seeing any mockery, either. No one is gushing with sympathy or presenting a panacea to cure the OP's dojo's ills, but that's not the same as mockery.

The only helpful think that I can think of, that hasn't already been stated, is that the new dojo 2nd sounds completely unaware that the kohai of the dojo don't like him, and probably wouldn't continue to attend classes if he were to throw a successful coup. I wonder if his behavior would change if he were made aware of this.

hughrbeyer 04-07-2013 08:24 AM

Re: No respect
 
It would be best if the dojo cho dealt with this. Given that he won't, I don't see why the other senior students shouldn't handle it on their own. As Ashley points out, there is a fairly strong tradition in MA dojos of senior students doing the basics, like enforcing dojo etiquette, which is too trivial to bother the so-important sensei with. (A bit of tongue in cheek there.) So use that mechanism to handle this--your dojo cho is to unworldly to handle this directly, so you guys take the guy aside and tell him his behavior isn't winning him any friends. Since you have no formal power, you may need to use various forms of shunning--e.g. I won't practice with you if you dis the instructor.

Hard situation. Best of luck.

Not to Be Mentioned 04-07-2013 09:07 AM

Re: No respect
 
IMO, all relationships and the interpersonal interchanges associated with them need to be based on mutual respect - without that, there is no constructive exchange. Open and honest communications by all is core here; and until that happens, your problem will remain and most likely grow.

john2054 04-07-2013 12:07 PM

Re: No respect
 
Forget the passive aggressive stuff. Take the intruder to the side in one of the classes one day and execute an effective and merciless tenchinage on him! I'm sure that that would shut him up! Note it is not just up to the sensei or even senior students to do this, but any of you who notice this problem and have the guts to challenge it at its source. If you don't the instructor will most possibly suffer and maybe even retire due to the constant attacks on his already weakened frame, and you as the observer will not be able to shrug your shoulders and walk away from the situation as if you know that you had nothing to do with it. But you should know, that with the full power of insight and reflection (knowledge being the first source of power, both in the aiki and budo and real worlds), but you neglected this responsibility and look at the consequences. Shame on you.

Dan Rubin 04-07-2013 12:34 PM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Christopher Li wrote: (Post 325500)
Number 2 may help in terms of advice - but it's still the people involved who will have to step up and act.

Number 1 sounds like a form of shunning, and it's exactly the kind of passive aggressive response that's popular in many places, but which I strongly dislike. Whatever happened to just talking directly to the people involved?

The former sempai's advice is much more valuable than ours because he (or she) knows everyone involved and the dojo's culture, everything that we are ignorant of. So his advice might actually be applicable to the situation and practical.

I think that qualitatively and quantitatively, boycotting someone's classes is not shunning. But it would be hard to boycott his classes and then work with him as a classmate. So I see your point.

I figured I would run my suggestions up the aiki flagpole and see if the anonymous posters would salute.

mathewjgano 04-08-2013 02:46 AM

Re: No respect
 
Quote:

Chaplain Chay wrote:
The instructor is a beloved seasoned leader who is falling upon his culture's behavior in these situations. He believes confrontation creates more bad than good. He prefers to avoid conflict and find other ways to resolvable the conflict. A soft spoken man, and gentle disposition, it is out of character for him not to use great patience and tolerance to the end.

Why don't the students look to his sense of wisdom in this situation as the guideline? Considering the stress described, it sounds like a good opportunity to learn how to cope...perhaps by trying to understand the choice of the head instructor...instead of assuming it's flawed or that it should otherwise be circumvented.

Quote:

Students are irritated and distracted, not enjoying the atmosphere they once did.
I don't know the dojo, so of course I don't know the particular values of the head instructor or any of his students, but I would humbly suggest distractions are a part of training. I applaud the intent to take action for a troubling situation, but as others have pointed out, if the head instructor is comfortable with the situation there is little one can do without engaging the troublesome student directly...which, given the description of the head instructor's manner, would seem inapropriate.
Sincerely,
Matthew Gano


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