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Rev_Sully 10-15-2002 02:46 PM

Martial Arts/Martial Punishment
 
I thought this deserved it's own thread. I cut and pasted one of my previous posts in a seperate thread about the aikidoka who was "slapped" by his sempai.


Is the underlying theme going on here that martial punishment/correction is culturally unacceptable even in a martial art and learning a martial art?

Or is this kind of action one should expect and assume upon entering dojo and learning from a stern sensei/sempai?

How would I react if the sensei/sempai were to strike me? Hmnmm...I must say it would depend on the circumstances. His/her mood & level of tolerance of beginners or could I have been out of line in some regards bordering on disrespect and unaware of it?

If he was put off by the coloured belt then he had no right to smack you in anger. But he had every right to inform you of the proper dogi for the individual dojo in an appropriate place/time.

If he truly was trying to be corrective, it's hard to rationalize pro/con of any circumstance in this nature. It seems of a recent phenomenom (sp) of distain for martial punishment.

I'm not for martial punishment in everyday life but I do know those are the risks in certain areas of life...especially education. Where and when is martial punishment condoned? Only really in an formal educational arrangement and role. I wouldn't accept a current definition to include employer/employee role or spousal. But I know that is a risk I take coming into dojo. But I am aware of this and my awareness can only guide my choice.

I hate being hit but I assume it will and can happen on any level. Whether it's sempai correcting me or if I misread my uke and get clobbered. Anyone ever see that happen, huh?

Even I have grabbed my beloved cat by the scruff of his neck and rubbed his nose in matter he should not have left in the incorrect place. And I felt awful at the time and still a little now too but he hasn't done it since either. Does that justify my action still?

Kevin Leavitt 10-15-2002 08:07 PM

I can tell you it is not generally culturally accepted in the U.S.

I have worked with the South Korean Military in the past, and I can tell you that they consider that type of corrective action (and then some) acceptable.

Having been an instructor in the Army and attended many high speed type Special Ops schools and training...I have never been slapped nor found a reason to slap a student. Give honest constructive criticism yes....but to call them stupid, slap them, berate them ....is never called for. Sometimes the truth hurts...but having someone give you warm and fuzzies just to be nice and polite may get you killed by making you think you are better than you really are...but that still doesn't mean you have to abuse someone!

opherdonchin 10-15-2002 08:25 PM

I think the term is 'corporal punishment' not 'martial punishment.' That is, corporal punishment is where someone hits someone else or does something physical to them as a way of punishing them. Martial punishment, well, I'm not sure exactly what it means but it's the kind of thing where you get confined to base for a week or whatever.

Kevin Wilbanks 10-15-2002 09:24 PM

I think there is a spirit of independence among many Americans that doesn't include acquiescing to letting someone beat or abuse. I know I have it. My recent ancestors were largely Texas settlers who drove out into the middle of nowhere on covered wagons fighting indians, and poor southerners who had to scrape and fight for every little thing they had. Although I like to think that I have freely chosen my attitudes and disposition - often in distinction to my elders - the reality is that such qualities have a way of being transmitted from generation to generation. There is no way I would put up with an Aikido teacher treating me the way the incident was portrayed in the story. I tend to be mindful of consequences, so I don't think firearms, poision, or bladed weapons would come into play... I consider that progress of a sort.

giriasis 10-15-2002 09:48 PM

There is assumption of the risk of injury when we step into a dojo. Martial arts are a high contact activity and certain injuries do happen. Also, a part of martial arts is knowing that you might be sternly corrected at times. However, this is not an absolute waiver of right not to be harmed. For example, a karate person goes to a tournament and during a sparring match is swept to the floor but ends up breaking his arm. The karate person doesn't typically practices sweeps, but the technique used and the resultant harm is the kind expected in a sparring tournament. But if that same sweep was done with ill-intent or malice, specifically done to make that person fall and break their arm, then that would be wrong. A fine line, I know. But a big difference between winning a losing a civil claim against you.

So you walk into a dojo and participate in the class. You know that certain kinds of harm might happen to you. You also know that you might be corrected, even sternly at times. But at what point does this stop being a risk assumed? I say when the actor, the person doing the slapping, acts with ill-intent or malice to inflict a specific type of harm.

My legal mind a work...

Kevin Wilbanks 10-15-2002 10:15 PM

Well, Anne Marie, I don't think that really covers my objection to the situation, as portrayed. I think it has more to do with the real or perceived purpose behind the intent than the intent to harm as such.

For instance, during my first year or so of training, I got punched in the nose by my sensei pretty hard - enough so that we had to check to see if it was broken. Technically, I punched myself, because I ran headlong into a fist I didn't see, but it's basically the same thing. Anyway, in retrospect, I think it may have been mostly an accident in that he though I would see it, but at the time I didn't think my teacher did anything accidental on the mat. I went about trying to figure out what it meant, even going to a few of the seniormost students for diagnostic help with my ukemi. It never occurred to me to be outraged, even though I thought I had been punched deliberately, because I thought the purpose behind the harm had something to do with concern for my education.

If it had seemed to me like the Sensei had hit me for the sake of satisfying his own sadism, alleviating his own anger, or as some crude attempt to dominate and belittle me, I would have been pissed off. Yet, the context was such that the idea never came up.

Anyway, the point is that I thought there was some intent to harm, but it still seemed fine, because I was certain that there was nothing unacceptable behind the intent to harm.

MikeE 10-16-2002 09:21 AM

<b>I think the term is 'corporal punishment' not 'martial punishment.' That is, corporal punishment is where someone hits someone else or does something physical to them as a way of punishing them. Martial punishment, well, I'm not sure exactly what it means but it's the kind of thing where you get confined to base for a week or whatever.</b> ---Quote from Opher

I think martial punishment could be making someone uke in the right situation. ;)

Rev_Sully 10-16-2002 09:26 AM

But as Kevin Leavitt pointed out the acceptance of corporal punishment in the Korean culture. One could speculate that this does apply to most Asian cultures as well. Malice or not, it is accepted and practiced.

Intent to train or intent to harm...where to draw the line. Perhaps the intent to harm comes from not only a cathartic need on the trainer's part to vent frustation or sadism but as Gurney Halleck said to Paul Muad'dib Atriedes in the original Dune;

Paul: "Gurney, I'm not in the mood to train right now."

Gurney: "Mood...MOOD? Mood is for loveplay and cattle...now guard yourself for TRUE!!!".

Paul's beloved Master-At-Arms attacks him with a feigned fury in order to make Paul react. Now if a sensei/sempai were to do that to judge your response and see where your basics need help in, would it be justified?

opherdonchin 10-16-2002 10:12 AM

Everything is about trust. Paul and Gurney had built up a relationship over a long time. A sensei can demand trust of his students, basing that demand on cultural norms or personal charm, but he is most likely to be succesful if he also works to earn it.

gamma80 10-16-2002 10:19 AM

There is NO excuse for striking a student in the face, especially a new student. It doesn't serve the purpose of teaching and shows no respect for the person by the instructor. If one applies the misguided notion that this is a martial art and therefore we should accept whatever abuse an instructor dishes out under the guise of teaching than we are missing the whole point of our training, to improve ourselves.

This type treatment is demeaning and not in the spirit of Aikido. It teaches only distrust and will erode respect for the instructor, not cultivate it.

Anyone who trains hard will experience some form of physical damage at some point, minor or severe, it just comes with the territory.

Sometimes Sensei will dress you down or even get a little rough to help you improve.

Let's not confuse this with an ego trip by an instructor who thinks they can slap people around to make a point (by the way, try that approach at your job tomorrow and see how long it takes to get arrested).

Not a softie but let's get real here. If that happened to me I'd be out the door before the word comply left the bullies mouth.

Chris

aikigreg 10-16-2002 10:56 AM

My response to those who say "What's the problem with a little slap? You should be always at the ready to defend yourself in the dojo" would be:

Really? what if your sensei were holding a knife in his hand? Would you see it as a "lesson" then?

Rev_Sully 10-16-2002 11:19 AM

All things being probable, it would be unfortunate if your sensei who could more than likely defeat you barehanded put a real weapon to you. I find that scenario highly unlikely.

But the spirit of the thread is not so much about abuse, physical or mental but more about corporal punishment in a Martial Art. Although I agree that no one should lay hand on you with malice, I do understand the truth in a corporal lesson. And I seek to understand the cultural divide in this matter. Corporal punishment is accepted in Asian cultures in regards to Martial Arts training. Martial Arts are not a domestic American or Western product/philosophy.

I guess could and American or Westerner differentiate between abuse and corporal punishment such as a slap or rough treatment or the such.

Does the "American Entitlement" figure into this? That sense of "if it's not my way then it's no way"?

Edward 10-16-2002 11:51 AM

If the victim in this case were Japanese, I wonder if he would have protested the same way. The fact is both "accused" and "victim" are Westerners. Is it a Westerner Sensei trying to play it the Japanese way? Or a Westerner student considering corporal punishment as abuse? A slap on the cheek can hardly be considered corporal punishment, but it has a great effect on the receiver's morale and self-esteem. It is basically a dominance manifestation, such as a father correcting his child. But ultimately it all depends on the relationship one has with his teacher. I would actually accept to be slapped by my teacher, and won't make a big deal of it. But a few years ago when I hardly knew him, this same idea would have been totally unacceptable.

SeiserL 10-17-2002 08:34 AM

I have been hit to learn a technique. I didn't get off the line or block effectiveley. But I have never been slapped.

IMHO, especially in the white western culture, a slap is very insulting and humiliating. I would that instuctors would take into account not only the cultrue they come from, but also the cultrue they are teaching.

While there may be explanations and rationalizations, there is never an excsue for bad manners.

Until again,

Lynn

mike lee 10-17-2002 08:58 AM

get ready
 
I tell my students to view me as their mortal enemy. They should know where I am in the dojo at all times. If I'm not there, they'd better be ready for me. This is cultivation of awareness.

If a student repeatedly gabs, comes late for practice for no good reason, and doesn't pay attention, IT REALLY PISSES ME OFF!!!, and I let them know it.

The result is a better learning curve and it's now really difficult for me to sneak up behind them and throw them down; something I used to like to do to test their ukemi.

It's rude to repeatedly have your back turned to a teacher and to be talking a lot in the dojo (before, during, or after class); as a student, be aware of that, because as a teacher, such behavior comes off as inconsiderate and lacking proper martial awareness, even if you, as a student don't intend to project such an image.

Now that we have a good teacher/student understanding in the dojo, harmony is restored and we all have a good time. :)

Kat.C 10-17-2002 09:09 AM

Shouldn't a student adapt to the dojo environment or leave if he/she does not wish to? New students should check out a dojo before joining, if they see that corporal punishment is accepted there and they don't feel comfortable with it then they can either not join, or they could speak with the sensei about their feelings on the matter. Really you need to adapt to the culture of the dojo not expect it to be the other way around.

paw 10-17-2002 10:17 AM

Kat,
Quote:

Shouldn't a student adapt to the dojo environment or leave if he/she does not wish to? New students should check out a dojo before joining, if they see that corporal punishment is accepted there and they don't feel comfortable with it then they can either not join, or they could speak with the sensei about their feelings on the matter. Really you need to adapt to the culture of the dojo not expect it to be the other way around.
Replace "dojo" with "workplace", change "sensei" for "sexually harassing boss" and would the conclusion still be the student (worker) must adapt to the culture?

I think I understand the point you're making, and admittedly I'm extending your statement past what you no doubt intended. I guess I'm trying to express that there is some behavior that is inappopriate, despite specific cultural considerations. Physical abuse would be one such example, at least to me.

Regards,

Paul

Rev_Sully 10-17-2002 10:26 AM

A-Ha!
 
Quote:

Kathryn Cole (Kat.C) wrote:
Shouldn't a student adapt to the dojo environment or leave if he/she does not wish to? New students should check out a dojo before joining, if they see that corporal punishment is accepted there and they don't feel comfortable with it then they can either not join, or they could speak with the sensei about their feelings on the matter. Really you need to adapt to the culture of the dojo not expect it to be the other way around.

I agree. The student should be aware of what they are getting themselves into. And the prices they will pay more than what comes out of their wallets.

And Paul, we have clearly defined the parameters of this discussion. We are not replacing words nor circumstances. This is not about anything else besides dojo culture.

Kat.C 10-17-2002 10:33 AM

Paul, the problem comes in determining what is abuse. It is different for each person, so if you are not comfortable with behaviour in the dojo your best bet is not to join, not expect things to be changed for you as others do not find it abusive. Obviously if the sensei is using people as a punching bag or injuring them it is a different matter entirely. It is so hard sometimes to determine someone's intent which is often what makes something abusive some of the time but acceptable at other times. Even if an action wasn't intended to be abusive it may be percieved as such by the other person. Also 1000 people may feel abused by a physical correction where as another 1000 people just find it to be a helpful form of correction for themselves. It's all about perception.

mike lee 10-17-2002 10:39 AM

go to a good seminar
 
Quote:

... the problem comes in determining what is abuse.
The best way would be to observe how several well-known shihan conduct a class. It would also be important to observe how the students behave before, during and after the class. Then you will have your answer. :do:

Kat.C 10-17-2002 10:57 AM

Paul just thought I'd add this.

(I tried to add this to my previous post but I kept gettting disconnected and the 15 minutes passed).

Even if you change the setting to a workplace you are responsible for you. If you don't like the environment don't take a job there. If you choose to join a club, a dojo, or take a job somewhere, you are by those very actions stating that you feel comfortable there, no one is forcing you into it. Otherwise you have to speak up and come to an arrangement not just assume that people will know that you don't like how they interact. I mean joining a kayaking trip and then complaining about having to paddle would be a bit asinine wouldn't it?

DanielR 10-17-2002 11:46 AM

Kat,

For the most part, I agree with you that one can always leave a dojo that doesn't feel right. However, I think we can agree that in the modern Western society face slapping is an offensive act for the majority of people. A person using this act as a teaching aid in such a society should be (and most probably is) aware that this will most likely make the slapped student feel humiliated and abused. Therefore, such person knowingly commits a humiliating and abusive act, which is not a very nice thing to do, regardless of whether this person has a right to do so or not.

Kat.C 10-17-2002 11:59 AM

Daniel, I agree with you about slapping someones face, but my posts are about corporal punishment in general, which is what I assumed was the intention of this thread. Still if my sensei slapped my face (which I can't picture him ever doing) I would talk to him about, if it happened again I would probably leave the dojo,(it would depend on the time frame between incidents and his intent) not try to change someone else's behaviour. If you stay with people who are treating you in manner which you don't like you are in a way giving them permission to continue to do so. Telling them to stop but staying when they don't gives a mixed message.

paw 10-17-2002 11:59 AM

Eric,
Quote:

And Paul, we have clearly defined the parameters of this discussion. We are not replacing words nor circumstances. This is not about anything else besides dojo culture.
Ok. But the first reply was Kevin's post where he talks about his experiences in the military.



Kat,

Yeah, the 15 minute limit can be a pain sometimes.
Quote:

Even if you change the setting to a workplace you are responsible for you. If you don't like the environment don't take a job there. If you choose to join a club, a dojo, or take a job somewhere, you are by those very actions stating that you feel comfortable there, no one is forcing you into it. Otherwise you have to speak up and come to an arrangement not just assume that people will know that you don't like how they interact. I mean joining a kayaking trip and then complaining about having to paddle would be a bit asinine wouldn't it?
I'm not saying an individual isn't responsible for their actions.

However, one can and usually does participate in things (dojo/work) without complete information. As an example, I took a job knowing the industry, knowing my pay, even knowing my direct superior, but I didn't know who my co-workers were, their behavior or all the details of what my responsibilities really entailed.

In a joining a dojo, I'm sure no one knows all the people they will train with, or what the instructor is like in all situations (or in the case of a larger school, the behavior of all the instructors), or the implications of all the techniques (I certainly didn't "know" what nikkyo would feel like, or my first breakfall). To a certain degree, we make our choices based on the information we have, knowing it's not a complete picture.

I'm also not suggesting someone shouldn't speak up if they don't feel comfortable with a situation. They should take some type of action, whatever they feel would be best (talk with someone else after class, saying something during the class, leaving that particular class, leaving the dojo, bringing a lawsuit or criminal charges against the dojo/instructor, whatever....) So I don't disagree with you.

Funny you should mention kayaking. My brother works as a kayaking instructor and guide, and there have been times where individual people have had to cut trips short (sometimes folks do bite off more than they can chew and can't paddle for the entire trip). Arrangements are made to accomidate these folks (yes, sometimes that means allowing them not to paddle and be towed by others for a bit). It's pretty darn rare, but it does happen, and it seems to me that's an example of the "culture" changing to fit the individual, isn't it?

In any case, I didn't mean to upset either you or Eric, and I get the impression I have.

Back to Lurking, I suppose....

Paul

Kat.C 10-17-2002 12:05 PM

No Paul, you haven't upset me at all, I love discussions like this.

I agree that exceptions can be made for individuals just that the whole "culture" shouldn't have to change just because a few don't like it. Your brother wouldn't want to have to tow everyone who wants to go kayaking would he:p Especially not the ones who are willing to paddle.


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