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Old 03-28-2005, 04:06 AM   #7
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
Location: Reading, UK
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 393
United Kingdom
Re: Anger on the mat

Hi Anonymous,

First off - THANK YOU for posting this! I can totally relate to your situation, and for a long time I thought I was the only person who had a problem dealing with other students getting angry in the dojo. It's a relief to know I'm not alone!

How do you deal with training partners who have really bad tempers?
I deal with it really, really badly. I can't cope with it and I avoid training with those people if at all possible. I don't understand why somebody should have so little self-control (in an art which is supposed to teach self-control) that they lose their temper or sulk or hurt their training partners. I believe that training in Aikido is a privilege and I train accordingly - joyfully, mindfully and patiently accepting the lessons. Sure it's frustrating when you can't get something right, but there's always another day. Does it really matter so much to the big picture if you can't get your ikkyo ura right at this precise moment? Stop, think, and try again

I know we all get frustrated sometimes, but there have been a couple of times in my training when I've seen someone explode with rage at another person, and I think it's totally inappropriate to a training situation.
Agreed. It's not even acceptable at kindergarten

Once, I saw two senior students get into a fight on the mat.
That's terrible. It's actually a worse reflection on the head instructor than on the students, if they did not know that this is beyond unacceptable.

I think I may have spoken to our (very hands-off, conflict-averse) sensei at that point.
Your sensei has to be a good leader in order to run a good dojo. This means that sometimes you have to get your hands in and deal with situations. I left a dojo after 4 years because the chief instructor would not under any circumstances deal with any problems between students, and as a result the problems were stacking up. Although I tried very hard, I was unable to resolve any of the problems I had with two of the students there, so I had to leave.

I almost did not come back to the dojo at all, and I still don't feel safe practicing with this guy. I mean, I honestly feel that I am in serious danger with him, not only from the usual careless accidents that might happen, but he's likely to explode emotionally, at me, and it's just not safe. Even when he's not especially angry, he's left quite a lot of serious injuries in his wake.
You are right to be wary. He may injure you (or someone else) badly someday.

It's vital that you talk to your sensei about this. (Even if you think nothing will be done). The dojo could be facing a lawsuit if dangerous guy goes too far one day, not to mention the personal anguish of the bruised and battered ukes he leaves in his wake.. You do not have to leave, but do make it clear to your sensei that under no circumstances will you train with dangerous guy ever again - it's your body and your responsibility to avoid knowingly putting it into dangerous situations. After this, it is your sensei's problem to deal with - it always was and will be, so it's down to them to step up and deal with it.

It's been framed as my problem, but if I look at the serious injuries we've had in the dojo in the past few years, there's a pattern with this guy at the center of it... and I don't think that's ok.
No, it's not your problem. You are being made a scapegoat. Tell your sensei that you are not willing to be a scapegoat just because you have the courage to speak up about this problem.

If an issue like this comes up again, how can I address if without coming off as the whiny girl?
A bit of straight talking to your sensei without getting emotional will do it. Just lay out the facts, and what is and is not acceptable to you. Give your sensei time to think about it - tell them you don't expect an answer right away. Keep it short, be firm but polite.

or maybe it's just that the male members of the dojo read his anger differently.
I'd say you're on to something there! Women are generally not trained to deal with anger (their own or other people's) as it is considered to be an un-feminine emotion. Men are, as they have been dealing with it all their lives since the playground tussles they had as boys. As a result, most women are intimidated by it, confused by it, and deeply upset and traumatised by it. Women will therefore react to it quite differently to men - the men may not even perceive it as a problem at all!

Please do talk to your sensei, even if you think it won't help. These things are always better off in the open, and you may be surprised to find that changes are made just because you speak up.

All the best, have courage, and please let us know how you get on!

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