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Old 03-03-2003, 12:05 PM   #19
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Hard Training?

Hi Caitlin,

There are a couple of issues here.

First of all is the difference between that which is painful and that which is injurious. It sounds to me like this partner was not walking the line carefully. This is clearly not ok. There is no excuse for injuring your partner when training. If this person is a junior student who just happens to be senior to you, then it is the job of the teacher to instruct him about the proper manner in which to train. If he is a senior student, this is even worse. A senior who does this regularly reflects poorly on what is being taught at the dojo. I have seen my teacher severely reprimand, and in a couple of cases even expel yudansha level students who repeatedly injured their partners. You must feel free to tell the teacher about your concerns so he can observe and make these adjustments.

There is often another element in these complaints and that has to do with men vs. women in training. This is a difficult one to manage with finesse. Serious female students often complain that the males do not train with them seriously. The men have a condescending attitude about the female's capacities to train hard and they find this offensive. Yet I have seen other male students who made no distinction between the way in which they trained with the women and the way they trained with the men and this resulted in complaints about how rough they were from many of the females.

Now I am not trying to justify this behavior. It shouldn't make any difference, male or female, large or small, how you train. You make your adjustment to each and every partner as an individual and should have the skill to be able to judge what level each of them is both capable of functioning at and what they wish to be functioning at.

But I have had the experience of some of my fellow male students feeling a bit taken aback when a female student complained about their rough treatment when he simply thought that he was training with them the same way he trained with his male buddies.

It is a somewhat difficult area to navigate. In some dojos, especially in Japan, the females are simply not expected to be serious. I have a female friend who trained at the main Aikikai dojo in Tokyo. She said that the women were not expected to train hard. If one had been up too late partying or was injured and was looking for an easy class one went "cruising for Tofu" which meant getting one of the Japanese females for a partner.

I don't think we want to have that kind of double standard. At the same time there are obvious physical differences in size, bone structure etc. between the average female students and the average male students that have to be part of the equation. So I believe that it is the job of the teacher to instruct people over time to train with each and every partner as "serious" but to take their cues from that partner about how hard they wish to go not inflict that on them regardless of their desires.

Your comfort level is crucial in training both from a safety standpoint and from a martial standpoint. You internalize the emotions associated with a motor skill at the same time you imprint the skill itself. If you learn a set of skills in a fearful atmosphere then you will have that set of emotions when a similar situation occurs. This is not the goal of training. We strive for Fudoshin, Immoveable Mind under stress. If your training pushes you too far outside your comfort level each time you are on the mat you will not achieve this. That is a mistake on how your training is structured. On the other hand you want to push yourself as much as you can because if you stay too much within the comfort level all the time you cannot make the kind of breakthrough that will help you get past these fears.

So the bottom line is still the difference between what is rough, a bit scary, but still within your ability to handle and what is injurious, is too far above you to do safely. Safety is till the most important thing. You get injured and you can't train. Simple as that.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-03-2003 at 12:08 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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