In need of an Aikido magic bullet
This letter was emailed to me by a friend asking for advice. I thought I'd post it here to get my friend better advice I did a rewrite to protect the innocent only, no content change or filter added.. Though by doing the rewrite I am sure my high school English teacher is rolling in her grave. I hope people will sincerely address this issue
I decided to take Aikido as my second martial art. I looked around for a good dojo. In my town there many Aikido schools within 50 miles of my home and I visited nearly every single one. Mind you, in my area there are no famous instructors or schools. The schools in my area are the standard fare. After several months of doing my homework, I found a school that seemed to fit what I was looking for. Basically, I looked for an Aikido school that was sincere. My requirements also required a friendly knowledgeable and skilled instructor, without a huge ego and insecurity. A school had to have welcoming students without the "I wearing a yellow belt, but you newbie, you treat me like am wearing a black belt" mentality. The instructor and students had to be opened minded. Not the Nazi or bully type. Remember, I come from a different martial art and my body memory is strong in that martial art. It will take me time, to retrain to learn Aikido. And, I did run into some Aikido schools that had issues, they really didn't fit what I was looking for. To be fair, there where a few schools I looked at I knew I wouldn't fit them. It took me sometime to find this one school. I joined it.
In here lies the rub. After several months things went fine, I was learning and there where no complaints. Then after sometime the honeymoon suddenly came to a halt, I started (not in my mind, but some of the other students' mind) getting better then the Sensei. Who was a young guy and is a multi degree black belt. I am older, slower, and have more creaks, groans, and "oh by God, that hurt, now what did I do to myself" moments. Whether this was true or not, I ignored the scuttle-butt and kept on training. Well the Sensei didn't ignore it, and it bothered him. He took it to heart, and the Pandora's box of ego was unleashed.
After several months of putting up with it, it got to me. I never experienced such nonsense in martial arts. I went to talk to him about it as a man. Nothing positive resulted from it. It was like talking to my 17 year old son who was pissed at me. He didn't hear a word I said. I really had seen how immature he was. After throwing my hands in the air and walking away, I kept on training and improving. Of course there were no ranking opportunities with less and less instruction from him as time went on. The dojo became polarized. There was one group of students deadly, and cultish-ly devoted to him who despised me and the students who thought they could learn from me. Not that I ever disrespected the Sensei by teaching in our outside of his class to his students. Some students just gravitated toward training with me and would say, "oh he is good, or his technique is very sharp and relaxed, good blending, it is different then Sensei's." Keep in mind, I don't know Aikido, I am a newbie to the art. There is more to it then looking pretty like I do, I realize it takes years to learn it. The Sensei is good, though young, in my opinion better then I. I just have a different experience that I bring to my technique that mostly is due to my age, and different background.
The class is now very polarized, and very political. I don't have experience with Aikido dojos, nor feel it is my place to resolve the issue, any magic Aikido bullets to keep the dojo from destroying itself? Granted I know how to resolve the issues in a non-Aikido way, but I want to first see if there is an Aikido fix.