Mr. Linden, thank you for your comments,
Daniel Linden wrote:
Aikido is a cult of personality. Students come to train not because they know who the instructor trained with, under or over. They come because initially they like the school and the first impression of the Teacher on the mat. They stay because they like the other students and the teacher on the mat. By the time most students, both men and women, have had a chance to make an informed opinion of the people and school they train in they have bonded and few leave for a better school.
I have indeed considered this before submitting my first post on the subject, but I think I then ruled it out because I thought the extent of abuse of this kind of power should be quite limited, especially in the US where the awareness to potential abuses is very high, and especially among adults. But I do agree with you - an aikido student that has decided to stick with a particular dojo for all the good things it has to offer, will tolerate a certain amount of things perceived as negative for the sake of continuing to train in that dojo.
So in that regard a teacher is truly in a position, if not of power, at least authority. It should not be abused by dating students.
It should not be abused. However, I think it's the definition of abuse and the ways of dealing with what generally is agreed to be an abuse that are being questioned here. What I see in comments of opponents of instructor-student relationships is the emphasis on the potential
of an abuse. We know bad things happened as a result of such relationships, so we know this potential exists. To prevent negative incidents from happening again, we suggest that all
instructors refrain from pursuing such relationships.
My take on this approach is that we seem to be attempting to correct one injustice with another, and basically the total amount of injustice in this situation doesn't change, we've just changed the subset of victims.
There's also an additional question - where do we draw the line? If we frown upon instructor-student relationships, shouldn't we view yudansha/mudansha relationships in the same light? A mudansha's progress in Aikido depends considerably on his/her training partners, and especially on higher-ranking ones, so following the same definition of power, we might conclude that yudansha have a certain amount of power as well. In my opinion, in general it's better to err on the side of greater personal freedom.