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Old 04-02-2009, 04:49 PM   #1
"Lisa-1978"
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Sensei -- drinking??

ok, so here is my dilema. My sensei is going through a rough split with his girlfriend of 9 years. He has, on a few occasions, shown up to class "slightly intoxicated". By this, I mean that I can clearly smell the alcohol on his breath and he is slightly wobbly. This is an issue because it affects my learning. I do however understand that he is taking this break up quite hard. I know he is trying to find an escape. The fact of the matter is, what do I do??? (if I can even do anything). Should I wait it out a bit and see if he stops this behaviour? (the slpit has been coming for a while but it is indeed really new). Should I try and talk to him???

My problem is doubly difficult because I am the only woman in my dojo. I do not want my concern to be interpreted as interest. As everyone knows, it is easy to be mis-led when one's heart has been crushed. What are my options??

thanks,

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Old 04-02-2009, 05:02 PM   #2
"rad_chicken"
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

It's hard to say what I would do because I don't know the person, but my opinion is that it should be addressed somehow...discretely would probably be best.
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:36 PM   #3
aikidoc
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

You might talk with one of the senior students and make your concerns known. Let the senior student address the issue with him. Yes, issues of the heart can be devastating but this does not bode well for the maturity of your sensei. Stepping on the mat under the influence is dangerous.
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:14 PM   #4
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

How is it effecting your learning?

Was he prone to drinking before class prior to his relationship problems?

Do *you* think if you become involved he will interpret it other than how you intend?

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

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Old 04-02-2009, 09:51 PM   #5
raul rodrigo
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Around 12 years ago, one of our teachers would sometimes come to class a bit worse for wear. You could in fact smell the alcohol on him. But once the warm up was over and we started doing waza, he was fine, as good as he was on non-drinking days. We never said anything about it to the other teachers who were his seniors, because we thought it wasn't our business. It didn't affect our learning in any way. Might have even helped us accept that teachers were people too.
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:56 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

IMHO, Training under the influence is dangerous and wrong.
Step up. Express compassion and concern.
Let them know its showing.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:09 AM   #7
morph4me
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Quote:
John Riggs wrote: View Post
You might talk with one of the senior students and make your concerns known. Let the senior student address the issue with him. Yes, issues of the heart can be devastating but this does not bode well for the maturity of your sensei. Stepping on the mat under the influence is dangerous.
I agree, if you're senior you should speak to him, if not then ask one of the senior students to mention that it has been noticed and that the students are concerned about him.

"Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men" - Thomas Henry Huxley
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:23 PM   #8
"Lisa-1978"
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Quote:
Grant Wagar wrote: View Post
How is it effecting your learning?

Was he prone to drinking before class prior to his relationship problems?

Do *you* think if you become involved he will interpret it other than how you intend?
My learning is being affected when he steps on the mat intoxicated (or even slightly) and he tries to teach us something and then tries to remember what the enitre technique is supposed to look like. Or worst, he teaches us a techniques and then at the end he corrects himself and tells us to do it another way, after we have already been practicing it for 40 minutes.

I can't say that he was prone to drinking before. He has maybe once or twice before had alcohol smell on his breath when he stepped on the mat but to say that it is an old issue, i think not.

I think that he may perhaps see my concern as interest, yes! Don't want o give the wrong kind of message or say the wrong thing. Sometimes my words do not come out right and things get interpreted wrong. If I am the one to talk to him them I am looking for the most pro-active way to tell him.

thanks,
L
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:27 PM   #9
"Lisa-1978"
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

oh, I forgot to add in my last post that I am not the senior. I am the junior. I am thinking about mentioning it to another (senior) student and #1 see if he notices the same as I do #2 ask if he thinks it is also an issue #3 discuss what will be done.

Thanks,
L
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:04 PM   #10
BWells
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Well I don't where your dojo is, but in the US if some accident happened and the sensei was found to have been drinking there could be legal liability and any insurance you have my not provide coverage. That can put the existence of the dojo at risk.

I think you need to talk to the senior students.

Thanks
Bruce
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:42 PM   #11
Russ Q
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Hi Lisa,

Your instructor drinking before class and coming to class "wobbley" (for whatever reason) is an issue. It's hard to advise you without being intimate with the situation. That being said if you are friendly with sensei outside of the dojo then talk to him about what you're observing and how it's affecting you. If he interprets that as an advance then you, IMHO, should find another teacher. If you have a strict teacher/student relationship then (I'm sure I'll go down in flames for saying this:-)you should say nothing. If you are concerned for your safety then "step back" and wait to see what he does....other than that it is not your place to say anything.....

Cheers,

Russ
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Old 04-03-2009, 02:40 PM   #12
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Lisa,

#1 I can sympathize with you how annoying it is spending 40 minutes on technique then having your instructor return and tell you you're doing it wrong. When that happens to me it makes me wanna skip class-my time is important.

#2 Previous cases of comming to class buzzed. I've went to my class wobbly a few times from drinking. Actually helps me relax and I find myself laughing a lot and having fun. Be that as it may, instructing while under the influence is obviously bad news.
I asked if he had a previous history of this because if he did then I think approaching him on the mater will be much more difficult. If it's something that's "the norm" for him then he will be much less likely to admit to it being a problem. Probably becoming more defensive about it.
Is he drinking because he's splitting up with his wife or is his drinking just getting worse.

3# Only girl in the class? Tricky, especially if you feel your message might be taken in the wrong context.
Might be almost a case of an old boys club. In my opinion the best bet for you is to approach a senior (male) member, let them know you're concerns and promt them to handle it.
I'd be more pronto act on the concerns of a senior member than a junior member. I admit that may be biased or close minded but it happens sometimes right?

Talking to someone about something like this is very hard. It's easy to sit on a high horse and say 'well just do the right thing!' but it' harder when you're the one doing it/involved.

If I was a senior member at your school and a junior member came to me with this problem and I agreed that it was a problem I might consider coming to class just hammered and when the sensei takes me aside to give me shit I'd say 'but dude, you're always coming to class buzzed, I'm just following your example!'. They might realize then that their actions are inappropiate.

It's always hard telling someone their wrong, it's easier IMO to let them see for themselves that their wrong.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 04-03-2009, 02:42 PM   #13
heathererandolph
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

I think you should address this issue. Obviously the Sensei is having a very hard time. Can you ask to meet with him and then discuss with him what he is going through? Then you could ask him about drinking and if he is using alcohol to help him cope with his problem because you have noticed he seems unsteady. Obviously he needs help and understanding, but he also cannot come to the dojo that "tipsy." He might have an alcohol problem and need additional assistance. Consider this, if he's getting in a car to get to the dojo he could be a hazard to those around him. Although it is difficult, you must intervene immediately.
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:32 PM   #14
Joe McParland
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I think that he may perhaps see my concern as interest, yes! Don't want o give the wrong kind of message or say the wrong thing. Sometimes my words do not come out right and things get interpreted wrong. If I am the one to talk to him them I am looking for the most pro-active way to tell him.
His issue might already be solved if not for this one of your own.

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Old 04-03-2009, 03:37 PM   #15
arctur
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

hello,

Lisa, i think it is better for you to mention this to other more senior student whom you are comfortable with. You could say that you notice the sensei had been drinking and it might affected him and mention the problem about him correcting you after 40 minutes of practicing techniques the wrong way. IMHO, it is better if more senior student that is closer or even friendly with the sensei to address his problem.

best regards
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:25 PM   #16
Aikibu
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, Training under the influence is dangerous and wrong.
Step up. Express compassion and concern.
Let them know its showing.
Without tooting Lynn's horn too much He is a mental health professional and this is the best advice I have read so far...

I would not train with anyone under the influance under any circumstance.

William Hazen
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:39 PM   #17
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

This is a tricky situation. People that abuse alcohol don't love to hear about it. Can you find another place to train?
Mary
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Old 04-03-2009, 06:27 PM   #18
Buck
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Anonymous User,

Love is a hard thing. Opportunity isn't, when the heart is broken. Zoom in. Seize the day!
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:14 AM   #19
Marc Abrams
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

As fellow mental health professional, I concur with Lynn's opinion. I think that this also raises another issue that I have found is particular to Aikidoka.

In our attempts to "live Aikido" we become more "forgiving" and "accepting" of things that go beyond the pale of reason. We do not allow people to drive drunk. Alcohol has a disinhibiting effect upon our actions. Fine motor control and balance begins to diminish with even small doses of alcohol. Would you want somebody demonstrating techniques on you in that condition? The real risk of injury is simply unacceptable. If a person is a professional, then it is reasonable to expect that person to act like a professional.

I can only hope that the seniors in that dojo can speak together, in private to the teacher and inform the teacher that any form of intoxication among students and teachers is simply unsafe and unacceptable. Compassion and sympathy should not override common sense and safety.

Marc Abrams
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:16 AM   #20
Michael Douglas
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Hi Lisa,
Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
ok, so here is my dilema. My sensei is going through a rough split with his girlfriend of 9 years. He has, on a few occasions, shown up to class "slightly intoxicated".
So basically he's going through a divorce.
Nine years is a long time.
He's drinking too early in the day, obviously.
Go get a bigger boy (oh alright, senior student) to tell him clearly to only drink AFTER class.

And about this 'changing technique' business : maybe not a drawback at all, if he's got something good it can be a sign of fickle genius and deep insight ... or not. I imagine the same could have happened with Ueshiba if he's been keen on the booze ... but apparently he wasn't.
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:26 AM   #21
heathererandolph
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

I think Sensei needs a break! See if someone can offer to take his classes on for awhile because he obviously cannot teach in this condition. I'm sure he feels he can, but he can't. He's coming to work intoxicated that is not good for his students. Definitely do it soon.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:10 PM   #22
Buck
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

If the sensei is going through at divorce, and this has driven him to drink no one can help him. If he is coming to class drunk then he is driving drunk, he may be doing other things drunk like going to work etc. All of which shows great irresponsibility, and poor judgement, and poor decision making, in all areas of his life.

What is the dojo doing about this situation, are they enabling him? I would say to "lisa 1978" here's the opportunity, now seize the day, err the man. In this way, maybe some can talk sense into him to deal with his problems and stop drinking.

I don't think it is an Aikido issue at the core. It is a life issue and all is fair in love and war. And sometimes a man in turmoil just needs a sympathetic caring woman to comfort him.
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Old 04-04-2009, 04:46 PM   #23
"Lisa-1978"
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Mary,
no, there are no other dojo's to train at in my area. If there were, I would be gone to that one. I believe the nearest one is about 1 1/2 hours away.

To all:
I have spoken to a senior student and he brought to my attention that he has the same frustration as me. Although the sensei does go for drinks after class as a way for all of us to just hang around and "shoot the shit", as I said, it is recently that I noticed alcohol on his breath. I am currently talking with the senior student to see what to say, how to say it and who will say it ... if that is the route we take.

I believe that I should not approach this alone being the junior student. I agree with others who have said that the sensei is more likely to listen and take advice/concern seriously if it comes from someone who has been at the dojo for a long time.

I will keep you posted as to what we decide when I next talk to the senior student.

Thanks all

L.
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Old 04-05-2009, 04:15 AM   #24
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

You might not want to think about it that way, but sensei being intoxicated on the mat really could end up in an accident and someone getting hurt. I wouldn't tip toe around the issue too long.

Nowadays, if I got on the mat and smelled alcohol on the teacher's breath, I'd get off the mat again right away. I can imagine that that is hard to do as a more junior student.

It might feel like overreacting, since no one has gotten injured yet. Then again, if someone did get hurt, of course by that time it's too late to overreact. Really you'll be doing your teacher a big favor if you help prevent that situation from happening.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:00 AM   #25
heathererandolph
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Re: Sensei -- drinking??

Well, in Aikido we are learning to deal with conflicts & you are afraid to mention something to your Sensei that his behavior is dangerous. I understand just how difficult this must be. He might actually welcome some feedback since he probably does not realize. Even if you do mention it to him there is no guarantee he will take your advice to take some time off. If you don't want to risk talking to him in person maybe write an anonymous note,but do something soon. Don't wait for others who may not do anything either. You are just as important as everyone else in the dojo. At least you will be able to sleep at night knowing you've done your best.
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