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Old 05-10-2004, 11:28 AM   #71
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Bryant Pierpont wrote:
Those of us who teach (I don't teach Aikido or budo of any form) have a unique role and a unique responsibility...much like those of us in supervisory roles in companies. We can't date our employees. I know from personal experience how easy and how destructive that can be. We have to find another way.

I sincerely apologize if I seem sanctimonious.

Hi Bryant,
Certainly no offense taken. What you say is probably the ideal. Things are certainly much simpler in a dojo when you aren't having a relationship there. That's true for the students and it's true for the teacher. But I think there is still an underlying issue that is unstated here. I think it is the fundamental uncertainty which goes with a relationship that people find so distressing in the dojo. When a relationship is in it initial stages everything is uncertain and people are trying to work out how they will relate as they go forward. Since this would include how they would relate in the dojo it makes things uncertain for everyone since the dojo is a complex web of social interactions.

I agree that it is not the ideal place to go through this process but realistically, especially for someone who is a professional instructor, it's going to happen. The people who insist that there is something unethical about his are unrealistically harsh I believe.

I don't think people feel this way about the Sensei being married to someone who trains at the dojo... As I stated earlier, most of the senior teachers I know are divorced from someone who didn't train and are re-married to someone who does train, except for the few who met someone on the mat at the start and never got divorced. Whether this works or not depends on the people, just like everything does. But I don't think folks see this as the same thing as dating within the dojo. So I think it is the uncertainty which makes it a problem for people. Once the relationship is clearly a long term committed one, I think people no longer feel that it threatens the harmony of the dojo (it may enhance it).

In a small company one of you would be expected to leave if you got married. In a larger one an effort would be made to move you to different divisions and you would never work directly with each other. I don't think that anyone thinks this should happen in a dojo (although there are probably some cases in which they wish it would). I can just see Saotome Sensei asking his wife, Patty Saotome (a teacher in her own right), to train in another organization or Ikeda Sensei asking his wife to train at another dojo in town. Linda Holliday Sensei's husband trains and teaches at her dojo. None of this is seen as out of the ordinary.

So it seems to me that what people have the most difficulty with is not the relationship within the dojo but rather the forming and developing of the relationship. Once everything is pretty stable with a nice assigned status such as Husband or Wife, things change.

It's a lot about what your expectations are rather than any actual details of the situation. I met my second wife at the dojo. For the students who were there at the time it was probably weird but they handled it. When the new folks enrolled my partner was there already. No one thought anything about it because it was just the way things were when they started. When I got divorced those people noticed when my partner wasn't there any more. But the people who started after that didn't know the difference. So a relationship went through an entire cycle, start to finish, and the dojo lived through all of it just fine. Only a couple of people in the dojo actually trained long enough to see the whole thing. This is what happens in people's lives. Whereas, it might be ideal to compartmentalize everything and keep it all separate I don't think that's likely to happen very often.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-10-2004 at 11:34 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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