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Unregistered 10-09-2002 07:01 PM

Acceptable injury rate?
 
Hello world,

I was wondering what would be considered an acceptable injury rate in aikido.

I have observed over the past few years one particular person involved in over half a dozen injuries that required medical intervention -- a few shoulder separations (Class III), a concussion, back and knee injuries requiring physical therapy at least, to name a few without providing too much identifying detail. There was only one other injury that required a hospital visit that did not involve this person during this period of time. I'm not talking about tweaks and bruises and accidentally hard atemi. I'm talking about interrupting class to take somebody to the hospital, or the person having to seek trained medical help to alleviate the problem and losing weeks to months of training time as a result of the incident. Ironically the person in common with all these incidents does not escape injury either but still insists that these are an unrelated string of accidents.

Is it reasonable to say that a safety line has been crossed?

diesel 10-09-2002 10:25 PM

Since it is one particular person I might say yes but I would need to know more.. But if it is a sensei and these are senior students getting hurt.. I would say no. As a senior student you have the responsibility to take proper ukemi.

If this were say Chiba sensei and a few of his students, I might say this would be expected! :freaky:

Cheers,

Eric

Nacho_mx 10-09-2002 10:46 PM

In five years of practice I have only witnessed in my dojo a few serious injuries (a couple of fractures and dislocations), but none crippling or lifethreatening. Still almost everybody has suffered a minor injury (hamstring pull, groin pull, knee contusion, cuts and bruises, blackeyes, twisted wrists and ankles, etc.) once in a while. The longest time I had to stop because of an injury was a month, because I lost my big toenail (someone landed hard on my foot) and I had to wait for it to grew back! Anyway I consider aikido practice very safe (that is, if you follow the instructions, if you remain focused and calm, if you care for your fellow student, if you do not force yourself, and if you work hard to have a good grasp of fundamentals and ukemi) even if sometimes an horrific injury can ocurr, just like in any other martial art or sport.

Erik 10-10-2002 12:57 AM

Facts:

1. A historical pattern of injuries.

2. The injuries all seem to involve a specific individual.

3. The individual likely taught most of the people injured.

Conclusion:

It's the fault of the people around the individual.

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Unregistered 10-12-2002 06:57 PM

Hey all,

Just to clear things up:

1) the individual associated with the injuries is in fact a transplant from another dojo, has never taken rank with my sensei

2) sensei is aware that everyone is afraid of this person and has tried to communicate the need for control as well as power. not working.

3) if direct verbal communication does not work in getting results, and the person in question is too strong/fast to kaeshiwaza when they are barrelling through a technique, and one still does not feel safe (can't avoid dangerous person without being obvious), is leaving the dojo the only option for kohai? sensei persisted in letting this person teach even after so many injuries -- eventually no one came to this person's class. how to resolve this without tearing the dojo apart with open rebellion?

Unregistered 10-12-2002 11:28 PM

Quote:

...can't avoid dangerous person without being obvious...
So be obvious. Tell that person you don't want to practice with him/her 'cause you don't think it's safe. Say you're scared, say you don't like the odds, say you think they have lousy control, whatever seems appropriate to you. Nothing wrong with being obvious.

opherdonchin 10-13-2002 08:40 AM

And the truth is that you don't really have to say anything. You can just make sure you never, ever bow to them. Even if they are sitting right next to you, just turn the other way quickly. If you are stuck with them for some reason, with or without making it personal you can say that you're worried about getting injured, say you do not want to take the full ukemi, and ask them not to throw you.

Anat Amitay 10-13-2002 09:10 AM

injuries
 
Hi there,

I guess that in this case, if I was involoved, I would take that person aside (after class) and tell them that the class, in the majority, feels afraid to practice with him since many accidents take place then. I don't know if he is the type that would listen or not, but in both cases, this would be my first step. Maybe he is not aware of this (and believe me, people can hurt you so many times in training and not feel they do it). If this doesn't work, talk with your sensei, maybe he as the teacher should talk with the guy.

Now in basic- if he is not doing it on perpose, maybe he's working in his own style (you did say he is from another dojo), then he should work slower and take more care. No aikidoka can come and do as they please, it is the job of both training partners to keep safe while working together.

If he doesn't care about what is happening, then his place is not in the dojo, and the group has a right to say so if their health is in danger, because the next time might be a life threatening situation.

In our dojo, we put alot into training, and for some we might be called- training hard. But we have bounderies, we take care. When I train with people from other dojos (in seminars etc), I train softer, since I don't know who they are, what rank they are and so on, if I feel I can work faster, harder or so with them, I will, but I let my feelings direct me or I ask them.

I'm not saying there can't be accidents in aikido, of course there can, but not in the situation you discribe.

train safe,

Anat

Leslie Parks 10-13-2002 09:16 AM

Isn't aikido a self-defense art? Do NOT work with this person. "Dings" are one thing, sending multiple people to the hospital is quite another.

My guess is that this person is either without skill, without control, unaware, without compassion, or wishes to show all the students how "powerful" he is.

Unregistered 10-13-2002 03:18 PM

Hi again, it's the anonymous coward who started this thread posting from a different address (same person who posted #1 and #5):

Response to post #6,7,8: People have already spoken with this person, and gotten a noncommittal response. no change in behaviour. Sensei constantly is nagging this person to demonstrate ability to do techniques softly and with control. no change. people already dive out of the way at "onegaishimasu", have seen multiple times this person get up with no voluntary partner. seen so many close calls at other injuries. sensei has gotten multiple complaints about this person's roughness. sensei seems at a loss of what to do, he likes this person and seems to want to help develop a little tenderness, but at what cost to the dojo? am tired of driving people to the hospital. love sensei, love the dojo, but am *so* sick of this. spoke to the person myself, got outraged response that i was out of line, that my perspective was irrelevant. all senior women gone already, many different situations, but all admitted to me that this person was part of their reasons of wanting to leave.

majority of senior people agree with me -- they approached sensei independently of me -- but none of us seem to be able to convince sensei to throw the dangerous person out without risking sensei's wrath/disfavor -- sensei seems hellbent on avoiding throwing this person (he admitted he didn't even consider this person his student) out. don't know what sensei's motivation is holding this person so dear. maybe when this person is not hurting people, is very energetic to train with if you are advanced enough uke and can always protect yourself, like if you were sensei. don't know. (person has hurt yudansha and upper kyu with otherwise excellent ukemi, so low overall quality of ukemi is not the problem). of course sensei has final authority. but we can see this is killing the dojo -- losing students, undercurrent of anger and resentment in class, no fun to train when constantly on edge.

Possibilities:

1) start war by presenting an established case for disciplinary action -- dates, names, events, seriousness of injuries to present to sensei and possibly other authority figures sensei respects (or even the sensei that person came from). Problem: sensei loses face, direct confrontation not aiki. feels terrible, probably won't be effective.

2) stop bringing up the issue, continue slow bleed of students to other dojos, and hope like hell that problem person doesn't kill somebody before sensei acts effectively to stop this behaviour, either by finally teaching the student some control or throwing him out Problem: he could kill somebody, but does not disrupt individual relationship with sensei.

3) boycott until problem is acknowledged and effectively addressed. Problem: lose training at this dojo due to stupid jerk.

4) leave dojo. Problem: lose dojo to stupid jerk!

thoughts? what are the stances of the national organizations on problems like this?

G DiPierro 10-13-2002 06:37 PM

You have got yourself a real Aikido situation on your hands here! You have someone who is controlling you and others in your dojo by the use of force. Aikido, like all budo, is primarily the study of this kind of interaction. As Aikido students, this situation is a real-life test of your Aikido skill, and from what you have said, many of your advanced students have not been able to handle it successfully.

My advice to you, difficult as it may sound, is to stop blaming your problems on this person and look at what you can change in your own behavior. You can go around thinking that the only person that needs to change is this other person as much as you want, but don't expect your results to be any different. The reality is that the only person whose behavior you can change is you.

If you think this person is being too rough, then practice with him (or her) and teach him a lesson yourself. If you can't do this, then work on building your own skills until you can. If you don't know how to do this, then you might want to start by studying this person's style and copying it. That would be one way of taking an active, positive step towards solving your problem.

Aikido is first and foremost a martial art, and before you can reach the advanced techniques of conflict resolution you must first gain competancy wtih the basic ones. Your most basic strategy is always to fight back. This is what you were thinking of in your first option, but you need to give some thought to how to do this effectively. If you don't want to fight, you can just suck it up and deal with it. That's your second option. Or you can choose options three or four and let this person have control over this important part of your life. You have to decide what your priorities are in this case and whether you are willing to fight for what you want.

Deb Fisher 10-13-2002 07:57 PM

Lame problem!

1. I have to agree with Giancarlo - you can't get anywhere thinking that *he's the one* who has to change, your own record states that. It never works to change other people, especially people who are okay with sending people to the hospital.

2. Don't necessarily agree with Giancarlo's notion that the mat is the right place to solve this. Training with someone you have a bit of a beef with, weird energy with, etc, can charge your training with a certain intensity that is good, desirable, martial. Sounds like attempting to handle this guy "on his level" could easily create an intensity that would wind up getting you driven to the hospital, though. I guess I would make a judgement call and ask myself not only how my skills measure up, or whether or not I could handle it, but also whether or not I want to use my training time to willingly engage in an encounter that's so obviously threatening... I mean, there's a difference between handling an attacker and asking someone to attack you.

3. I don't, however, see anything wrong with absolutely refusing to train with him, in the most obvious way possible. What if everybody politely refused to train with him? That seems like the safest, easiest, most direct way to meet your twin goals of keeping the dojo and not training with this guy. Perhaps your sensei would see that this guy is disrupting the entire class, affecting everybody. Perhaps this guy would see that the way of the warrior must also be the way of the healer... or else soon you've got no one to play with. But even if *they* don't see the light, you are safe and training.

Good luck to you,

Deb

Unregistered 10-13-2002 08:44 PM

Hello,

something is really going wrong in your dojo.

Normally, such a situation must not evolve

under a responsible sensei. A good aikido teacher has to take of all of his students, and should normally realize very quickly when someone is behaving in dangerous way.

Aikido is also about individual responsibility: If you cannot change the situation, nor your sensei is able to, it is

time to leave this dojo.

The fact that all senior women have already left is quite alarming.



I agree with Deb's third hint. Try this,

but make sure that all people scared of this guy will not practise with him.

Best wishes,

Zeno

Kevin Wilbanks 10-13-2002 08:56 PM

It sounds like it's gotten so out of hand that it is really the Sensei's problem and responsibility. Although it sounds like you and the other students have much affection for your teacher, your respect for him is deteriorating, and his whole school is disintegrating because he does not have the courage, will, or fortitude to deal with this person.

I was faced with a similar situation at my old dojo a few years ago. Although he wasn't sending people to the hospital, there was a man who was scaring all the women at the dojo and getting into stressful conflicts with some of the men. Many students complained to the sensei, but the sensei merely offered general assurances that he was dealing with it - to no apparent effect.

I sensed the situation in general, and couldn't miss it when this guy explicitly threatened to punch me in the face for inadvertantly squeezing his fingers too hard in sankyo instead of asking me to lighten up. On a different occasion, during an unsupervised free-practice session, he didn't like the conversation I was making and made a big challenge scene of telling me to shut up in front of several other students, throwing a horrible pall over everyone's training. I regret to say that at the time that I quietly accepted both these incidents, as I didn't know what else to do - I thought that if I threatened him or got into a real fight with him that I would be ending my relationship with the dojo and possibly getting into legal trouble, and I was uncertain whether anything like that was worth it. During this same period, I saw the sensei privately encouraging this man to test and take more leadership in the dojo, so I was confounded.

I could not understand why the sensei did not have the awareness or the balls to deal with this man, and instead was rolling out the red carpet for him. I'm sorry to say that the situation went a long way towards spoiling my relationship with both the sensei and the dojo, and was a contributing factor to my 1-2 year hiatus from Aikido. Along with other issues I had about the dojo and my practice, it tipped the scales toward staying away and finding something else to do.

Looking back on it, I can see that I should have confronted both the offensive student and the sensei... especially the sensei, because he was the authority who was allowing this man to continue to inflict his demented behavior problems on me and the rest of the dojo. I suppose it is possible that the sensei saw some potential value in continuing to give the guy a chance that was of enough benefit to him and other people he effected to be worth the risk.

I wonder though whether sensei even understood the risk... with the kind of threat and challenge this guy was throwing around in a martial arts scenario, I could easily see an altercation erupting that would result in someone dead or permanently disabled. I imagine that would put an abrupt and permanent end to the dojo, and it could happen in seconds...

In the case of situation in question here, I think you should try to light a fire under your sensei's ass. Either he doesn't understand that this yayhoo is single-handedly destroying his dojo, or he doesn't have the courage to kick the guy out. Either way, he needs your help. If he ultimately won't accept it, grab a raft and a paddle...

Unregistered 10-14-2002 01:49 AM

Anonymous coward again, back at old IP:

Giancarlo: would escalation not be a pretty high risk of your strategy? do i not also risk turning into this person trying to emulate them? when the abused, try to "look like" the abuser they assume abusive properties (in fact people who perpetuate domestic violence were often victims of it before). sure i might wish to be so strong and powerful, but lose control and empathy at the same time. i have no wish for my aikido to look like his. agree that you cannot be a person of peace unless you know how to gracefully handle violence without losing control, the lamb cannot choose peace in the presence of the lion. have been pondering this -- person has over ten years experience more than me, outmasses me by a factor of 50% can't take him at my skill level in aikido. could end problem tomorrow with any number of violent options. not the point. is building a political faction to boycott training with him, and/or tell sensei explicitly that we reject training with him, aiki? Politics may succeed where blood spilled does not.

but what would my relationship with sensei be after such a confrontation, which challenges his authority to run things as he sees fit?

the point is not to blame other person, or anybody at all. the point is to change the system so that this stops happening, or change me so that it's not my problem anymore. what can i do? i can listen to others, and see if i'm the only one who feels this way -- then it would be appropriate to change my perspective if i was the freak. but others affected see the same problem i do. they simply left. have tried tenkan to see person's point of view, have stubbornly tried to adapt, can't find a viable compromise over *years* of trying. in fact, at first i was not aware that this person was the problem -- others who left shared their perspective which i grew to agree with with more evidence. the real question is whether it's my job to try to save the dojo, protect my kohai, engage in the politics of exclusion, or not. do we just let the jerks destroy a lovely system (dojo is like an ecosystem) while we choose to make our lives easier by letting them? do we engage in violent solutions when we finally have nowhere else to go? isn't it too late then?

four fundamental ways of dealing with conflict i've found:

change, leave, grow or die.

change the system

leave the system

grow to fit the system

let the system kill you

some combination of the above tactics always works, eventually, to bring the system back to stasis. i've tried to change the system, i've tried changing my perspective. could decide to narrow my focus to explicit self-preservation, not care that people around me are getting hurt, say nothing, refuse to train with this person, and keep on training. what kind of environment would the dojo be if everyone took that attitude?

sorry, trying to not sound accusatory. I'm just grappling with where my responsibility to myself begins/ends, my responsibility to others begins/ends. i've fulfilled my responsibility of trying to communicate to sensei and to this person, and it failed. what would you choose next? i would appreciate hearing more stories like Kevin's about analogous situations of conflict in the dojo and how they ultimately resolved.

Greg Jennings 10-14-2002 05:51 AM

Actively refuse to train with the person. Don't just run the other way when it's time to choose partners. _Actively refuse_. Speak with your dojo mates. Get a commitment from them to do the same.

You can make it less confrontational by saying something like "I'm sorry, my ukemi isn't up to training the way you like to train".

If a substantial number of people refuse to train with the person, it will bring the situation to a head quickly which is best for everyone.

Best Regards,

G DiPierro 10-14-2002 07:02 AM

Quote:

Anonymous coward wrote:
Giancarlo: would escalation not be a pretty high risk of your strategy? do i not also risk turning into this person trying to emulate them? when the abused, try to "look like" the abuser they assume abusive properties (in fact people who perpetuate domestic violence were often victims of it before). sure i might wish to be so strong and powerful, but lose control and empathy at the same time. i have no wish for my aikido to look like his.

Yes, there is a real risk of "looking like" the abuser with this strategy. There is a real risk of actually becoming an abuser yourself. I don't know if it is possible to avoid doing so. I'm getting into some dangerous territory here, but this may be a neccesary step in learning to see things from the perspective of the abuser well enough to be able to address the root cause of abuse. However, I don't think that this process actually creates anything that isn't already there. If one does become an abuser, then abusive strategies already existed, probably below the level of one's awareness.
Quote:

have been pondering this -- person has over ten years experience more than me, outmasses me by a factor of 50% can't take him at my skill level in aikido. could end problem tomorrow with any number of violent options.
Such as what? Walking in with a gun? Picking up a jo and breaking this person's legs? Would you be willing to do this to save your dojo? I'm not saying that you neccesarily have to employ a physical strategy here, only that it is one way of approaching this. It also happens to be the one that this other person took, and so far his strategy seems to be uncounterable.
Quote:

is building a political faction to boycott training with him, and/or tell sensei explicitly that we reject training with him, aiki? Politics may succeed where blood spilled does not. but what would my relationship with sensei be after such a confrontation, which challenges his authority to run things as he sees fit?
One way to look at it is that your teacher has chosen to let this person stay. He might have very good reasons for doing so. Perhaps he sees something in this person's Aikido that you and the other students do not. I would try to find out what this is. You could go to your teacher and explain that you do not feel safe practicing with this person and that you no longer wish to do so. If he says, "fine," then encourage others who feel the same way to go to him and do the same. If he says, "no," then try to find out what value he sees in having you practice with this person given the risks. Either way, you are putting him in a position where he has to take some responsibility for this situation.
Quote:

could decide to narrow my focus to explicit self-preservation, not care that people around me are getting hurt, say nothing, refuse to train with this person, and keep on training. what kind of environment would the dojo be if everyone took that attitude?
Actually, if everyone was looking out for themselves and preventing their own injuries, then there wouldn't be a problem. However, because kohai are inexperienced, senpai have to take some of this responsibility for them. In that sense, you have a responsibility to protect them, but you first need to find an effective strategy of doing so.
Quote:

i would appreciate hearing more stories like Kevin's about analogous situations of conflict in the dojo and how they ultimately resolved.
Well, I could tell you stories from the other side of a conflict like this. It's definately not as clear-cut as it seems. In one sense, the posters who said that this situation is the teacher's problem are right, because I have found that the fundamental problem involves the teacher more so than the students. What happens with the students is, for the most part, just a secondary effect of the teacher's behavior. I'm not going to say a whole lot about this in a public forum, but in my experience, problems with the students are inversely correlated with my level of communication with the teacher. If you are willing to contact me privately via email, I could go into more detail, but since you have posted anonymously it would be difficult to verify that the person contacting me is the same as the orginal poster.

Mel Barker 10-14-2002 07:10 AM

Quote:

Greg Jennings wrote:
"I'm sorry, my ukemi isn't up to training the way you like to train".

Beautiful!

Greg, do you read Miss Manners? Sounds exactly like something she would say. Whenever I try such things on the spot, my snideness shows through. I find it best to be prepared (i.e. practice) these kind of replys till I can say it sweetly.

Castaneda said the four skills needed to deal with people are the ability to be sweet, cunning, patient, and ruthless.
Quote:

Anonymous Coward wrote:
"change, leave, grow or die.

change the system

leave the system

grow to fit the system

let the system kill you".

So true. I'm learning so much.

Best of luck,

Mel Barker

http://aikido.nowright.com

SeiserL 10-14-2002 07:17 AM

IMHO, sounds like this person scares you and others. Perhaps you need to look at your own fears about training and why you took up a martial art.

Then, just politely say, "No thank you," and train with some one else. Its a preference not a problem who you personaly choose to train with.

I am surprised you Sensei has not corrected the situation. My Sensei has asked people (one) to leave because of an unacceptable injury rate.

Until again,

Lynn

MattRice 10-14-2002 08:18 AM

This happened to me when I was about 14 in karate. I was big for my age, but still a kid. This dude was, well kicking the crap out of me during kumite, he was about 30 or so. This was due to his perception that I wasn't tough enough or something along those lines. Sensei warned him once during class; that he must take into consideration my age/ experience etc and try to help me learn, not beat it into me. He ignored this and Sensei angrily stopped our sparring. Sensei sent me off to work with someone else, then proceeded to beat the snot out of the dude.

Although I'm not sure if this is the correct action, it had the intended outcome. Dude learned his lesson, and Sensei took the responsibility to teach it to him as I was obviously not able to do so.

I would say that if your Sensei allows this situation to continue that the students must do whatever is necessary to ensure their own safety. That action could be actively petition Sensei to kick the guy out.

Unregistered 10-14-2002 09:28 AM

Quote:

Mel Barker wrote:
Beautiful!

Greg, do you read Miss Manners? Sounds exactly like something she would say.

I just have a very down-to-earth aikido instructor.

Like you, I have a problem with letting my sarcasm slip out.

One skill that you didn't mention is to remain silent. It's a great skill to have.

Silence in combination with a poker face or a look of concentration is even better, but correspondingly more difficult

Best Regards,

Greg Jennings 10-14-2002 09:32 AM

The above is me, BTW. Must have lost my cookie on my office machine.

Best Regards,

Bruce Baker 10-14-2002 12:13 PM

Where is this Dojo?

I think Kevin, Mongo,and Bruce need a field trip!

UnReg 10-14-2002 05:05 PM

uh-oh. dojo storming.

Janet Rosen 10-14-2002 05:43 PM

Looking at issues of responsibility:

On a personal level, you are responsible for your own training, including your safety, therefore there is nothing wrong with politely refusing to train with this person. Period. No reasons, no excuses, just "no thank you, I prefer not to."

On an institutional level, the pattern of abuse is such that the chief instructor is seriously abdicating his or her responsibilities by not taking charge and throwing this person out. I would seriously question my committment to training with such an instructor unless there were literally NO other training options in town.


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