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Old 02-28-2014, 10:58 AM   #13
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,135
Re: Selfish people in the dojo

1. In the hybridized environment of Western education meet Eastern culture, I believe the role of senior students is still vital to transmission of instruction through a secondary education transmission ("what sensei means is...")
2. A dojo environment is different than a seminar environment.
3. Social interaction is sometimes a challenge for individuals, sometimes reflected is a wallflower mentality.

That said,
I think the sempai/kohai relationship is an important responsibility in the dojo. The insturctor cannot possibly communicate every aspect of instruction; sempai inherit the burden to clarify instruction, translate complex concepts and provide simple corrections in training. Instructors cannot be everywhere all the time. You may be working with individuals who are shirking their senior responsibilities. But, you may be working with an instructor who has not properly delegated and empowered the seniors to adequately provide this critical role.
Second, part of the dojo's responsibilities is to collectively meet the needs of the students. This usually means, "basic" instruction responsibilities. Whether its a beginner's class or seniors working with juniors, there should be instruction focused on a curriculum easier for beginners to consume. Seminars tend to be more individual-oriented, especially if you inherit the cost to attend the seminar. In this environment, your responsibility is to consume as much of the material as possible with less regard for the instruction of others. Not to debate the merits of this, but if I drop $150 + expenses to see someone, you can dang-well believe I am gonna try to get my hands on her the entire seminar; if I can't find her I am gonna find one of the people who knows what she is doing.
Third, I think we sometimes underestimate the difficulty individuals with social difficulties experience when "walking up to someone." For those individuals, your training today ain't about waza. Your training is fighting and overcoming an anxiety to approach someone. If it's real, don't overlook that success.
Much of your aikido training should be uncomfortable and intimidating. It should be done in a supportive environment because of this reason. Taking the term away from it's modern pejorative connotation, you are darn right your aikido training is selfish. You are contributing money, time and resources to your endeavor. Some of those resources are debts you pay because someone helped you once.
I can only imagine how that conversation goes... "Hey honey, did you have a good class?" "Yeah. I paid dues this month. Thanks for not buying that coat you liked at the store so I could pay the dojo. Oh, and thanks for putting the kids to bed tonight - I hate missing out, but you know when class is..." "Well, I know how much you want to do aikido..." "Yeah, that was a problem tonight. I didn't get too much training in because I was helping out a couple of beginners."
To have this conversation, I think two things have to be present: 1. As a beginner, you appreciate what is going on. 2. As a senior, you find an outlet to transform that responsibility into a learning opportunity.

As a final comment, I think sabotaging the issue (i.e. not telling your dojo mates how you feel from the perspective that they'll get theirs is not going to resolve the issue) is simply going to hide the issue until it damages the dojo.

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