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Old 06-04-2001, 08:32 PM   #57
Richard Harnack
Dojo: Aikido Institute of Mid-America
Location: Maplewood, Missouri
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 137
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Angry Senseis & Students Dating

As I scanned through the many posts several general themes seemed to emerge.

1. In some, the theme was "this is the martial arts and the ma are about 'power', thus students should learn to acquire their own power". Unfortunately, to me this sounds like the rationalization of predators, be they sexual or otherwise.

Aikido is about the proper use of your "power" (KI) to defend yourself and keep yourself safe. To do anything else is a misuse of KI.

2. In others, one or two of the women posting were told to "calm down" (actually I believe one person said "reread...when you have calmed down"). Why would someone who has been either directly sexually harassed or assaulted or who had witnessed the same suddenly need to "calm down". I have three daughters by marriage. Though I am a "step father" ( a term I hate), all three of my adult daughters mean a great deal to me. If any of them experienced what was detailed above in some of the dojos, I would not expect them or ask them to calm down. In fact one was being harrassed on her job by her "superior" (a very loose use of the word). This jerk's behavior initially caused her a great deal of self doubt as to her thinking she had done something to "invite" it. When her mother told me about it I spoke with her and told her that even if she had "invited it" (by the way she dressed or batted her eyelashes, etc.)it was his reposibility as her superior to NOT ACCEPT the "invitation". As it was, the guy was a jerk, my daughter had done nothing to "invite" his attention outside of being female, and she filed a sexual harrassment complaint to his superiors. He was "laterally transferred" to another department where there were no females, also where he would never advance.

Aikido teaches us to keep our calmness in ourselves. My first Sensei, Ace Atkinson, once said that when he was upset, he would go to his One Point. If his upset disappeared and he calmed down, he knew that he wasn't really upset. However, if he went to his One Point and remained angry/upset, then he really was and needed to take action. Being peaceful does not mean allowing the world to run over you.

As to any "Sensei" dating a student. If they are both the same approximate age and meet outside the dojo and are respectful of each other, then "possibly" it is okay. Otherwise the "Sensei" is on an ego trip and their ticket needs to be cancelled.

Sorry, but as someone who made that particular mistake early in my career, I learned a very hard lesson which I care never to repeat, and strongly encourage those "Sensei" out there who think it is "okay" to truly examine their motives. If you even dimmly suspect you may be doing it because of your ego, then stop. You will ultimately lose your student's respect, then you will lose students (and that is your responsibility, not their "lack of loyalty"), and ultimately, if you have a shred of decency, you will lose your self-respect.

Yours In Aiki,
Richard Harnack