Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?
Ok, let's get real. If you are an Aikido Teacher, as I am, where do you think the only place you actually meet any new people is? While other folks are out and about doing all sorts of things on their weekends I am apt to be at a seminar or teaching something at my own dojo. And of course, when and if you meet someone new, how likely is it that you have found someone who will tolerate the fact that your idea of a vacation is to go off to a camp and train? Someone who works a regular job and thinks its fine to simply say hi as they arrive home and you leave for the dojo? You're more likely to win the lottery.
So you'll either meet someone you like at the dojo or perhaps you'll meet someone at a seminar or a camp and if the relationship starts to take off they move to your town and start training. So now you have your partner at the dojo.. you might not have met them there but they're there nevertheless.
Almsot every really senior teacher of martial arts I know is married to someone who trains. Who else can they talk to about what is central in their life? Who else wants to hang out with all those dojo folks that form the extended family that a dojo community actually is? It really needs to be someone who likes the same things or I can't see it working.
I think a lot of this stuff about what the Sensei should or shouldn't do about dating is a bit sanctimonious. I put up with my student's realtionships, divorces, conflicts on and off the mat, losing students because they have broken up with another memere of the dojo, etc. This is all part of being human. This is what people's lives are made up of. My students can damn well put up with my own attempts to find what I'd like in my own life, just like they are.
People need to have a bit of compassion and take a look at what they think their "Sensei" represents. I remember when I was going through a divorce it was one of the most difficult times of my life. I woke up every morning and the first thing I did was throw up. It was all I could do to function at all yet I had a student come up to me and complain that my classes weren't as inspiring as they had been. It was all I could do to get on the mat at that point. But I was making every class, I wasn't shirking my responsibilities. But this person felt, and I assume that others, not so bold, felt that way, that I wasn't being entertaining enough as I usually was.
Aikido teachers are regular human beings just like everybody else. Their position requires them to behave ethically but it doesn't require them to be monks or forego the basic human interactions that their stuidents take for granted. I see my responsibility to be straight and above board with all of my students about what goes on in my life. If I am dating someone at the dojo it won't be a secret.The vast majority of the abuse of power situations involving Senseis involved secrecy, deception, predatory activities, etc. these were not normal people attempting to have normal relationships.
So I would say ease up a bit and stop placing your teacher so high on a pedetal that he or she can only disappoint you. They have the same stuff going on in their lives as everybody else and those that pretend not to are probably lying.
Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-07-2004 at 04:54 PM.