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Old 03-18-2013, 09:07 AM   #26
Cady Goldfield
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

I'm not sure whether "power corrupts" is always the issue. It's certainly true some of the time, but, also people who have an inclination toward predatory behavior are attracted to a position of power and authority because it gives them access to a pool of potential prey. This has proven itself true in virtually all kinds of human societal milieus, from sports to religious institutions.

And while "buyer beware" is good advice for the already wary, there are plenty of unsuspecting people who find themselves in a predatory environment, often not realizing it until they have already been victimized. Not everyone is jaded and street savvy, and I don't believe that blame or admonishment should be aimed at them. Maybe their fellows in the dojo should be their brothers' and sisters' keepers.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:14 AM   #27
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

This thread isn't drifting at all. This thread is brilliant. Allow for a little nonresistance, and allow for people to examine and reexamine aspects that often get pushed under the rug.
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I am not 100% in agreement with George Sensei. He is not the average instructor. I believe George sensei to probably be the best teaching aikido instructor that I have ever seen. He is working on a teaching method that works for him; I don't think most people could even teach the way George Sensei does, let alone transmit aikido as well as he does. Maybe in a couple of generations if the competency level is raised we'll talk again... (or in December when he comes to our dojo).

Ultimately, I think Mary's point is the best advice - buyer beware. The problem is that the dojo environment also contains this psychological pressure that sometimes students are not aware of as impacting their decision-making process. This is consistent with psychological pressure that can also accompany more traditional abusive relationships.
Jon, I don't agree 100% with George, either. But that's not the point. What I do agree with is that George is willing to put aikido up on blocks, disassemble the whole thing, and take a serious look at how to reengineer something that's been driven pretty hard over a lot of miles in the past 40-50 years. We have newer technologies available to us now. We have more accurate history records. We have communication tools available. We have a more open dialogue. And we can redefine levels of performance.

The "time to shodan" is actually less important than the idea that we examine it. And as I outlined, there are already lots of models in place that agree with each other. "Time to shodan" really is about 300 days of training, and the ability to demonstrate and execute a body of techniques and movements. And an average student should be able to complete that within about 2 years. Aikido, in many ways, should be viewed no differently than educational institutions. If anyone goes into a school and puts in the money and the time, the school should be able to provide a straight answer as to the requirements for certain degrees. And deliver the degrees when those requirements are met.

Ryan's open letter, and this topic are precisely about examining standards for conduct and behavior within martial arts and aikido environments.

And I'll tie this in with Mary's talking about abusive relationships - and "time to shodan." I knew a woman in Denmark who had trained aikido very diligently for many years. She was at the point where she could have and should have been given more responsibility. But because of the deplorable state of aikido politics within Denmark at the time, she sat in limbo and went without graduation to shodan for years. She never was graduated. She ended up committing suicide. Gassed herself in her apartment. She was a very good friend of mine, and we trained together for many years. And in this case, I absolutely hold aikido and Aikikai responsible, at least in part, for contributing to factors that created an environment for an "abusive relationship" in which someone who put in the heart, time, and effort was pushed aside, unrecognized, and ultimately psychology abused.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 03-18-2013 at 09:17 AM.

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Old 03-18-2013, 09:18 AM   #28
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
100% without fail? So 100% of aikido senseis are corrupt and abusers of power?
Like everybody. The more power one is given the more corrupt one becomes. It is the human nature.

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Old 03-18-2013, 09:19 AM   #29
Walter Martindale
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

Being a sensei or a sempai is a position of power. Whether it's 'REAL' power or perceived power, it's still a position of power. We give our bodies to our practice partners so that we may learn from the interaction in a framework that CAN include actions that CAN lead to severe injury. There's a lot of trust necessary and (in Canadian law, anyway) if a "coach" or "teacher" abuses the position of power to injure or obtain sexual release, it's in the Criminal Code. (At a coaching development symposium, we had a round-table with a sport-law specialist.) Ice Hockey - there are a few NHL-ers who have been taken advantage of by predatory coaches (one in particular but I'd doubt Graham James is alone). It's to the point now in Canada that - if you want to coach or teach, you are almost universally required to provide a recent (less than 2 years old) criminal record check, and if you coach or teach young people, you have to have a VS (Vulnerable Sector) check - which - if your date of birth coincides with that of a convicted sexual predator, requires confirmation via fingerprint search that you're not the convicted one with a changed name... (I know this because there's a )(*&^*&^$^%( out there that has me going for fingerprints every 2 years..)

Here's another look - the sensei should consider himself or herself the servant of the student - not the other way around. The student pays a fee to learn from the sensei - the sensei doesn't pay the student to train 'under' him or her.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:23 AM   #30
Walter Martindale
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Like everybody. The more power one is given the more corrupt one becomes. It is the human nature.
pretty bleak outlook.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:58 AM   #31
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

So this new product, Google glass, is started to cause all kinds of privacy conversations, including the escalation of an argument started earlier by MySapce, then facebook, now Instagram. Essentially, one argument in particular discusses the change in behavior from individual-oriented behavior to collective-oriented behavior. The drive of the argument being that when you think someone is watching, you will behave differently then when you are alone. So, instead of posting your "wild" night in the library, you hit the local scene with your friends and post the time of your life.

Cady touched upon something that is important in my opinion. The dojo environment is affected by who trains and how they act. Just the collective action of discouraging poor conduct in a dojo may be sufficient to change behavior. I am surprised when I speak with people who express the "I had it tough, so can the newbie" attitude. Or the "it's not my problem" attitude.

Amongst several dojos down here, we talk about the sensei effect. In your own dojo, students fly everywhere - sensei is magic. Then they visit another school... nobody falls. I think part of being sensei is understanding you are granted some power which get a little abused. Uke falling down that time that you didn't quite have kotegaeshi. Maybe uke pulling that punch that would've moused your eye. The ex-special forces looking at you as you explain to him the devastating neck lock that could kill if you only squeezed. I think it is not unfair to say sensei gets some do-overs because of her position in the dojo. No one is perfect.

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Old 03-18-2013, 12:03 PM   #32
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
Whether it's 'REAL' power or perceived power, it's still a position of power.

Here's another look - the sensei should consider himself or herself the servant of the student - not the other way around. The student pays a fee to learn from the sensei - the sensei doesn't pay the student to train 'under' him or her.
There is no difference between perceived or real power in this case. Such a distinction could be used in any uneven power situation to place blame on the victim of the abuse. If there is a perceived power differential in the mind of the abused, the perception is reality.

The idea of a student being a customer of the dojo cho seems sorely lacking in a number of places.

Dan Richards! Wonderful thinking and writing, what we need more of in Aikido. More leadership, ethics, accountability. Less worship.

Guy
:-)
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:35 PM   #33
Eric Winters
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Ashley, that's based on your expectations. But what if those expectations were changed? What if teachers took a serious look and totally reexamined how they're training students? What if the methods used hamper the student's progress? I think it's totally helpful to have instructors take a hard look at themselves and the environment they're creating.

I know a dedicated student - with a job and a family - can train an average of three times per week for an hour and a half, plus their own "homework" on their own time at home, and reach shodan level in less than two years. I know because as a teacher, I've done it. Getting students to a good solid 3rd kyu in six months is a piece of cake.

Actually, if we're talking "ideal," that would be a teacher and students in a closed dojo, and they did nothing but eat and sleep aikido. Under those circumstances, with the right kind of instruction and conditions, you could have shodan level students in 90 days.

Aikido has been overdue for an overhaul. And whether some people want to see it or not - it's already underway. Even Yamada, a top shihan, is finally coming out and publicly speaking out about not only the lack of quality in aikido, but also organizational responsibility towards that. He went so far as to call the top brass at Aikikai "clerks." You have to understand, this is jaw-dropping stuff.

Here's a quote from George, where he's not only totally reexamining how people are taught aikido, but he's also making a drastic adjustment in terms of the time frame and expectations for levels people could reach. Interestingly, the time frames and grade levels he arrives at closely reflect hombu during aikido's formative years.

From Perhaps the tide is changing.

If we zoom out a bit; a level of 5th dan is essentially the equivalent of a PhD. From an article in the NY Times, it states the average student takes 8.2 years to earn a PhD. And that's average. And that lines up with George's calculations.

Let's play a little more. 3rd dan is right about at a Master's Degree. So, 5-6 years would be about right. 2nd degree would be a Bachelors. I'd consider a shodan to be on the level of a college-entrance exam - maybe we could call it a high school diploma. You need that to get into college. That's essentially what a shodan is; you're in the "school." Before that you're a guest. So, attaining shodan in two years, another year for nidan, and then another two or three years for sandan.

Aikikai's grading system currently requires a total of 300 "days" - whatever a "day" means to them, in order to qualify for shodan. A student averaging 3 classes per week is knocking out 156 classes per year. Two years of training 3 times per week arrives at 312 days of training. So, even by Aikikai's standards, shodan is completely attainable in two years - even for an average student. And let's say a student wants to immerse themselves, and go every day. 300 days of training should get them to shodan in less than a year.

Back to the 3-times-per-week student. Shodan in 2 years, Nidan in 1.5 years, Sandan 2 years, Yondan 2.5 years. That's a total of 8 years to Yondan. We're not that far off. And why that's important is that after Godan, 5th dan, that's when the student really begins to examine and explore and develop their own expression of aikido. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

These numbers all line up. My numbers. George's numbers. Aikikai's numbers. Academia's numbers. Old-school hombu's numbers. And that's just dealing with the time frame.

So, we absolutely need ask teachers who are taking 5+ years to train their dedicated students to shodan level to reexamine what they're doing. Because, either they're stalling, or don't have effective pedagogical methods, or their umbrella organization (pyramid-shaped) is bloated. And if we look, it's really a combination of all of those.

We've also got to take a serious look at the level of competence and understanding within those levels. I totally agree with George, that there's no reason really good solid 5th and 6th dans could not be brought up at around the ten-year mark. And the environments for them to do that need to be created.
I think you forgot the 12 years of schooling before college.

Eric Winters
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:28 PM   #34
miso
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
100% without fail? So 100% of aikido senseis are corrupt and abusers of power?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lad...much,_methinks
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:38 PM   #35
Walter Martindale
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

Quote:
Guy Stevens wrote: View Post
There is no difference between perceived or real power in this case. Such a distinction could be used in any uneven power situation to place blame on the victim of the abuse. If there is a perceived power differential in the mind of the abused, the perception is reality.

The idea of a student being a customer of the dojo cho seems sorely lacking in a number of places.

Guy
:-)
I think we agree about the power situation. I did say "It's still a position of power."

Not a customer of the dojo cho. The employer of the dojo cho.
And perhaps it doesn't fit with traditional MA but if a dojo treats its members/trainees/cash-paying people poorly they can (and don't always realize it) vote with their feet.
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:02 PM   #36
Brian Beach
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post

The "time to shodan" is actually less important than the idea that we examine it. And as I outlined, there are already lots of models in place that agree with each other. "Time to shodan" really is about 300 days of training,
Not to contribute to the thread drift but your math is off. The 300 days are from 1st Kyu. The actual requirement from day one to shodan is 1040 days. 6th Kyu 20 days, 5th 40 days, 4th 80 days, 3rd 100, 2nd 200, 1st 300, Shodan 300 days.

3x52 weeks = 156 days. 1040 / 156 = 6.666...

So you're off by roughly 4 1/2 years. More if you go by NY Aikikai standards, they require an additional 100 hours.

http://www.usaikifed.com/static/imag...st_req_4.3.pdf
http://www.nyaikikai.com/rankings.asp
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:08 PM   #37
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

"I think the lady is promising too much"? Meaning what, exactly?
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:09 PM   #38
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Brian Beach wrote: View Post
Not to contribute to the thread drift but your math is off. The 300 days are from 1st Kyu.
Not so, actually, according to the requirements that Dan cited. Yes, I was surprised too. Maybe that reference is incorrect?
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:04 PM   #39
Brian Beach
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Not so, actually, according to the requirements that Dan cited. Yes, I was surprised too. Maybe that reference is incorrect?
Yes I was being USAF myopic. I just also looked at "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" which lists the requirements for testing at hombu and NY Aikikai as of 1964 and 5 respectively (p.37-38).

The Hombu ( October 1964) are: 5th Kyu - 40 hrs, 4th - 40 hrs, 3rd - 30 hrs, 2nd - 60 hrs, 1st - 60 hrs, Shodan ( none listed, but the technique required is the same as 1st kyu so if we keep the hour requirement the same we get 290.

The NY Aikikai (Spring 1965) are: 5th Kyu - 60 hours, 4th - 60 hrs, 3rd - 60, 2nd - 60, 1st - 90, Shodan 150. We get a total of 480.

So it is interesting that the requirements have inflated over the years.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:43 PM   #40
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Brian Beach wrote: View Post
So it is interesting that the requirements have inflated over the years.
Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.

We're not including grading fees and seminars; just the cost to be on the mat to learn the material:

At Aikikai HQ in Tokyo people train under a plethora of shihan on a daily basis, and as an average student going three times per week, they'll meet shodan requirements in about two years. Current monthly mat fees are about $110; so that's $2640 to train for 24 months. Hombu's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 0%.

Current time to shodan requirements at NY Aikikai; it appears that the total amount of days would be 1140. An average student going three times per week, 156 days per year, would take 7.3 years - or 87.6 months x $160/mth = $14,016 in mat fees. NY Aikikai's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 250%.

Parent organization, Aikikai Hombu = 300 days, in 2 years, and roughly $2640 in mat fees.
Branch organization, NY Aikikai = 1140 days; 7.3 years, and roughly $14,000 in mat fees.

What is the Japanese expression and kanji for, "WTF?"

Dan Richards - Aiki Research

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Old 03-19-2013, 06:39 AM   #41
Basia Halliop
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Like everybody. The more power one is given the more corrupt one becomes. It is the human nature.
I haven't found that at all. Having power reveals parts of a person's personality that aren't so evident in other situations. When you have no power you may supress parts of your personality to fit in or avoid trouble - with power, you no longer need to do that.

Healthy, decent, competant people tend to react pretty well to having power - it mostly makes them more responsible, not less (give someone a baby or small child to babysit and many if not most people will show a noticeably responsible and kind side).

But if someone's a jerk, or overwhelmed, or fundamentally doesn't respect others, then when they have power over others and no longer need to fake decency to avoid consequences, well, then you'll finally see those nasty parts of them.
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:54 AM   #42
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.
Dan, I think that this is a worthy topic of discussion, but I really believe it is a derail of this thread ("of" and "in" do not mean the same thing, although there's a connection). Maybe it needs a thread of its own.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:06 AM   #43
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.

We're not including grading fees and seminars; just the cost to be on the mat to learn the material:

At Aikikai HQ in Tokyo people train under a plethora of shihan on a daily basis, and as an average student going three times per week, they'll meet shodan requirements in about two years. Current monthly mat fees are about $110; so that's $2640 to train for 24 months. Hombu's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 0%.

Current time to shodan requirements at NY Aikikai; it appears that the total amount of days would be 1140. An average student going three times per week, 156 days per year, would take 7.3 years - or 87.6 months x $160/mth = $14,016 in mat fees. NY Aikikai's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 250%.

Parent organization, Aikikai Hombu = 300 days, in 2 years, and roughly $2640 in mat fees.
Branch organization, NY Aikikai = 1140 days; 7.3 years, and roughly $14,000 in mat fees.

What is the Japanese expression and kanji for, "WTF?"
I agree this is worthy of another thread. Couple quick thoughts though

This mode of thinking equates rank with skill and assumes that there is a "graduation" where training ceases. Someone who trains 3 to 4 times longer I would expect them to show a greater skill level regardless of rank. I also plan to practice as long as I'm able regardless of rank. The practice is it's own reward.

Although I am curious when,why and how the shift occurred.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:48 AM   #44
Janet Rosen
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
I haven't found that at all. Having power reveals parts of a person's personality that aren't so evident in other situations. When you have no power you may supress parts of your personality to fit in or avoid trouble - with power, you no longer need to do that.
Yep, that's what I've observed. Any kind of change in situation, added pressure, reduced pressure, etc reveals much about a person's basic personality, positive and negative.

Janet Rosen
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:43 AM   #45
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

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I agree this is worthy of another thread. Couple quick thoughts though

This mode of thinking equates rank with skill and assumes that there is a "graduation" where training ceases. Someone who trains 3 to 4 times longer I would expect them to show a greater skill level regardless of rank. I also plan to practice as long as I'm able regardless of rank. The practice is it's own reward.

Although I am curious when,why and how the shift occurred.
It's only a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if the hours per day trained have gone down.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:38 AM   #46
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

here is my contribution to this thread:

Do not rape your students or fellow trainees.
If you see a student or trainee being raped, do something about it. Stop it. Report it to someone in authority. Report it to police. Talk to others about it.

Do not coerce sex out of students or fellow trainees.
If you see a student or fellow trainee in a situation where sex is being coerced from them, do something about it. Report it. Talk to others about it.

if your teacher is a rapist or sexually abusive, report it. Then leave the dojo and find another.

If a fellow student is a rapist or sexually abusive, report it. If nothing is done to address the situation, leave the dojo and find another.

Romance and relationships can and do happen among fellow students and even between teacher and student. If you find yourself going there, or see someone else who is, consider whether power is being abused. Would the two partners make an "appropriate" couple - by their own standards, which can be admittedly very difficult to understand - if they did not have the dojo in common? This can be a very tricky question, but ask it honestly. if something feels wrong, talk to others about it.

Aikido is a non-competitive martial art and dojos are communities in a way that doesn't necessarily translate to other martial arts. If you see something happening and you don't speak up, yes, the illusion of community may survive for a time. But what is truly the right thing to do?
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:06 PM   #47
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Re: An open letter to the martial arts community about conduct in the dojo

Cliff-

Quote:
If you see something happening and you don't speak up, yes, the illusion of community may survive for a time. But what is truly the right thing to do?
For some reason, this is more common in bullying/abusive relationships than I would like to admit. We see danger, understand that it may translate to us either directly or indirectly, yet still conclude ignoring the situation is appropriate.

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