Re: verbal abuse from a teacher
I realize this is a bit old, but this struck a chord with me. I first started training in sport karate when I was 13. My Sensei would yell at us if we weren't paying attention, he would smack us (Hard!) on the legs while we were in stances to make sure we were firmly in stance, and he would immediately correct mistakes. I never once felt bad or upset by the way he handled any of it, and instead felt as if all of those corrections were because he cared about us and wanted us to be better martial artists.
Sadly, after 2 years the dojo closed due to lack of students, and I went looking for a new dojo. I went to one of the more popular ones in the area, and felt as if I was always wrong and would never manage to pick up the style we were learning (Okinawan Karate) even though the sensei never yelled. Feeling as if I was a constant screw up and being treated with contempt when I asked questions was making me miserable, so I quit after a month. Based on the number of students the second school had, I'm sure that there are lots people who learn well in that sort of environment, but I do not. I feel fortunate that my first sensei was a role model and gave me a good idea of what to look for in a teacher.
When I went to my first Aikido class this past September, I found an even less harsh environment that my first school. Class always has me smiling, and frequently laughing with my Sensei and other students, and even when we do something wrong, it's a joy to practice the same technique repeatedly so I can do it correctly. Aikido is very precise, which is not what I am used to, but I can't begin to describe the feeling of joy I had when I finally 'got' sankyo.
If a teacher is being easy on me because I am a girl, or new, or for whatever reason, I am not learning. If a teacher is being unduly harsh and my confidence and joy in the art itself is getting damaged, I am also not learning. But my first experiences have taught me what I need, and what I don't need, to get the most out of my training. I feel confident and safe around all of the yudansha and senior students at both of the dojos where I train. If I don't feel safe and respected by the men I train under, and with, I am not going to spend time there. And no matter how superior I feel Aikido is to my first style of karate, I will always been profoundly grateful for what I learned under my first Sensei.