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Old 12-28-2005, 08:54 AM   #15
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
Re: High level power abuse

I think there are several different issue in play here.
1) One is the issue of Boundaries. In a sense, the dojo belongs to everyone. It is a shared place. What affects one affects all, even the people that don't know about the incident because it occurred in the dojo and particularly because it occurred between the instructor and a student. If a ship at sea sinks, it will affect all on board. Those that are awake, asleep, the captain and the employees. They are in a shared place and what affects one will affect all. If a restaurant is filled with cigarette smoke, everyone in there is going to breathe it and be affected by it although those that smoke all the time will have the greater effects on their bodies.
2) There is the issue of responsibility. The instructor and the student involve have responsibilities to themselves, each other and to the dojo members. The effects of their failure or moral relativity will affect them the most but there will be an effect on everyone else like the rings of water moving outward in a pond as others become aware of it. Even the person that saw it now has become involved by seeing it and has certain responsibilities to them self, and to the others whom this might affect. If the parties are married, these responsibilities become more telling and burdensome and the decisions involved become more difficult because a severe moral failure and betrayal is occurring right before your eyes. I was in a dojo once where the Sensei was cheating on his wife for years but we didn't know it for sure or first hand. We asked him and he said "no", so we believed him but his wife frequently came to the dojo and she was friendly to us, as we were to her. There were a few of us who were closer to the Sensei and after she found out what was going on, I am sure she came to the belief that we all knew and covered up for him. I had great respect for her and it hurt me a lot for her to think that I had a part in what that affair did to her family.

I would say that in the case of the issue of Boundaries, what they are doing is their business but they are doing it in the dojo and you have now seen it. I think you have a moral responsibility to tell both of them that you saw what you saw, that you want no part or involvement in the matter, that you wish you hadn't seen it but since that happened, you are compelled to let them know that it disturbed you and that they need to consider the ramifications of bringing that into the dojo. There are issues of an improper power relationship and inappropriate activity in the dojo. A psychiatrist shouldn't have a relationship with a patient nor a priest with a parishioner. Ask the responsible people and leaders of Aikido on this board if it is appropriate for a Sensei who is married to have an affair with a married student within his own dojo? Yes, It's his business what he does out there and he is responsible for himself but when he does it in the dojo, he has a responsibility to the members as well. I don't think that would be acceptable to the public if he put that as advertising on his brochures. We all know that the public doesn't expect that would be a good thing within your dojo.

If the dojo is a part of a larger organization, I would say you have a responsibility to tell the Shihan or President of the Association what you saw and then let him do what he wants. At that point, you are out of it.
You are all students of the same group and all have a responsibility to the same standards. If the dojo is independent or privately owned, then you have done all you can do.

Regarding responsibilities, you have one to yourself. Do want a Sensei that can't keep his business and his pleasure separate? Do you want a Sensei that breaks his marriage vows? Do you want a Sensei that gets involved in that kind of boundary crossing in the dojo and an improper relationship in the dojo? Those issues have now become your issues. If I were you, I would be looking for a new dojo.

You are not a moral police officer or a judge but you do have responsibilities and decisions to make for yourself. I agree that you should not cross boundaries yourself and get involved in their business and affair but that doesn't mean you don't have some responsibilities now to yourself and to your classmates. It's not your job to tell the others but you know something they don't know and you are responsible for what you know.

Kevin Leavitt is right when he said,
"I think the crux of the matter is that a dojo to many is more than just a place to practice aikido. By it's nature, most aikido dojo's are heavily based on the philosophy of aikido, which along with that comes a set of values and norms.
The problem arises when we see behavior that is contrary to the shared norms/values of the dojo. While people are free to behave and act as the want to, when it crosses into the dojo and becomes "uncomfortable" for even one member of the dojo, then the community as a whole has a conflict that must be resolved somehow.
I think most of us would like to think that the problem was not from the leadership of the dojo. When this happens, well, you can have severe problems in morale! It can divide a dojo and cause people to leave or to split into various "camps"."

Best wishes,

Last edited by Jorge Garcia : 12-28-2005 at 09:08 AM.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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