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Old 10-15-2002, 06:51 PM   #26
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
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I wouldn't say it's almost anyplace. I've been all over the US, and I'd say that this is the most culturally vacuous place I've ever been - especially for the size. I have talked to many people who have lived here or in nearby Gainesville who agree: there is something terribly wrong with Jacksonville. There are two segments of the population here: poor and military/ex-military. Any city in California has to be a whole different world.

To give you an idea, in terms of participation in Aikido, there was roughly ten times as much activity where I used to live, in a city of 1/10th the size: hence, cultural defecit factor = 1:100. I would say in terms of live music, the factor is more like 1:1,000,000. I got so desperate that I recently drove a total of 750 miles and spent over $300 just to attend one decent show (Neko Case) at a nightclub. Roughly 5% of the interesting films I hear about from fellow film geeks online actually hit theaters here. Blockbuster is the only rental option. There are no independent bookstores or music stores. There is no 'entertainment/nightclub district', and I have been unable to find any kind of bar that is not either a strip mall sports bar/pool hall or something along the lines of "Chili's". The last statistic I saw rated Jax as one of the ten worst cities in the US for violent crime. The city's sole claim to cultural fame is that Lynard Skynard came from here, and if you notice, many of their lyrics are about shootings, barfights, and anaesthetising oneself into oblivion, or some combination thereof. I'm just getting revved up here. Did I mention that complaining has become my principal hobby?
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Old 10-15-2002, 07:56 PM   #27
Mel Barker
Dojo: University of Louisville Aikido Club
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Hey Kevin, Thanks for helping me appreciate my city! Having driven through Jacksonville once, I had the same initial feeling about it.

Mel

http://aikido.nowright.com
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Old 10-15-2002, 08:36 PM   #28
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Getting back onto the topic, I just want to chime in with Anne Marie and Mike (but don't tell them I agreed with them, they may not let me live it down). Some dojos are more energetic than others. Some AiKiDoka are more energetic than others. I remember being awestruck when I went to a Tai Chi gashgo once because of the number of disabled people and very old people who could participate and were made to feel welcome. Mind you, the style of Tai Chi that I practiced was quite 'martial' and involved a lot of pairing up and performing techniques that many of us would recognize in addition to the inevitable long kata. I thought that it was a shame that AiKiDo can feel so normative in what it expects from someone's body and their reflexes and their fitness. It has happened to me a number of times that the dojo where I practice has had students who had clear motor control issues. This was very challenging. Working with them was rarely fun and often simply unpleasant. Still, I treated it (and most of us treated it) as a learning experience that is part of our AiKiDo. I don't see why a sluggard is any different. AiKiDo is about taking what comes and working with what you have, I think.

Mind you, I do understand the frustration. That's easy to sympathize and identify with.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-15-2002, 09:23 PM   #29
giriasis
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
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Opher, becareful, I just read you agreed with me.

Anyhow...

Kevin, I've lived in Florida my whole life, born and raised in Melbourne, Florida. ooopps.. I mean Melboring. I know what a culturally barren city is like. I've been there, too. Sounds like you're dealing with some culture shock. Though in recent years, Melbourne's getting better with all the transplants from out of state. Jacksonville really is just a big redneck town. I hear you.

Well, now that you have described this student your talking about, I think I sympathize with you a little more. Have you tried to talk to her and just get to know her in general? Maybe, once you get to know her you can drop a hint or two that she needs to "get with the program" (especially if your sensei has said something to her). I'm also assuming that you are more senior to her.

I've worked out with one person who acted like that. We would be training in basics like tenkan exercise (irimi and tenchin). He would just act bored and tired. Like is was way too much effort for him. He wasn't really, he was perfectly in shape. He was completely unresponsive to anything said to him. It turned that he just wanted to learn "killer self-defense" techniques. He couldn't see the forest for the trees. He didn't see that the whole point to the basics is to develop a foundation to do "effective" techniques. He acted pretty badly. He showed no respect to his instructors. Needless to say he didn't last long. He stopped because he actually had to learn aikido and because he wasn't just taking a "self-defense" course. I thought he would understand because his father has been studing aikido for over 30 years in Japan. Guess not.

Yeah, it's frustrating, but there are ways to deal with it. Try telling her in a joking way that you would like to train rather than stand around and watch her fix her gi. Or use classic assertiveness training terms such as "When you do that I feel like you don't care to train in aikido with me." OR, Perhaps sit down after one technique and make her wait for you to get up. Mocking her isn't very "Aiki", but it might convey you're point. Or, Poke her and prod her with "come on" or "let's get going, I'm not even sweating." I do this in the children's class when the wee one's can't focus well. Treat her like a "wee one". Know what I mean? Use a sense of humor with it all. If you done all this. Then just ignore it, and try to avoid her as much as possible and use her for a break.

So yes, I understand. The best thing to do is ignore these people. But, let it go and focus on your training. I really just think you're giving this too much energy than needed. As a result, this little person is affecting your training.

I'm glad you found a place to train in Jax, though. If you ever come down to Ft. Lauderdale for a trip or vacation, you are more than welcome to join us for a class or two. Visitors are very welcome at our dojo.



Last edited by giriasis : 10-15-2002 at 09:28 PM.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-15-2002, 09:36 PM   #30
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
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Well, I've been deliberately vague, but the 'she' is no longer part of the current training picture... about 1100 miles away. When I went back for a visit though, she was exactly the same, and unfortuantely, another woman who used to have fun, spunky energy seemed to have fallen into the same tar pit.

I don't really spend oodles of time focussing on this issue, although as someone who is nutty about strength and conditioning and currently preparing for a fitness career, it's bound to get my goat. I just thought this was the 'bitch about lazy training' thread.

I am in culture shock. I went from living in a place that got awards for being the "#1 most livable city in the US" to a place where the best you can say is "At least it's not Beruit." or something along those lines.

I'll keep your dojo in mind for a visit, although the drive isn't too inviting.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 10-15-2002 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 10-16-2002, 02:13 AM   #31
Jucas
Dojo: Multnomah Aikikai
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Kevin where are you from before taking the plunge into the armpit of the nation?

Well I have to attest, that there are some of the very people we are talking about in my new dojo here in Pasadena. You cannot learn anything from a "sluggard". For, in my mind, a "sluggard" is someone who spirit is not in there training. These people display this "sluggard" trait in different ways. Some do not try as hard as they could/can (physically), others do not cooperate with techniques and impede the learning process.

It all comes down to the fact that these people are disruptive, and sometimes even destructive, to the aikido environment. It is something that should not be promoted in the dojo.

-J

  • Like a rotten log half burried in the ground.
  • My Life which has not flowered.
  • Comes to this sad end.
-Minamoto Yorimasa
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Old 10-17-2002, 09:08 AM   #32
Ali B
Join Date: May 2002
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As a person who is always "up for it" I took a while to come to terms with the idea that people who are new/slower/less able than me have as much right to their time in the dojo.

If they are irritating us then we have something to learn as to why it bothers us so much. People who donīt "cooperate " or seem "lazy" should not be taking away from our aikido experience, they should be enhancing it.

Its great fun to practice at high speed. Launch our aikido buddies as far up the mat as we can muster and then launch them again but is this martial arts?

Surely the real challenge is in throwing someone who has resisted. For me I am happy knowing that they could not resist me because when I practice slowly I feel every slight movement. I cannot be resisted. I change vector, direction, speed and wham! Too late mate

More difficult but infinately more rewarding...
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Old 10-17-2002, 01:42 PM   #33
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Yeah, I've been thinking about this again, Kevin, and I don't mean or want to sound sanctimonious (G*d knows I sympathize with what you describe), but it seems to me to be about people having a right to learn at their own pace and in their own way. I guess I tried to understand what would motivate someone who was so obviously not interested to take up AiKiDo anyway. I mean, they must be looking for something, right? In fact, the must be finding something there, or they wouldn't keep coming back.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-17-2002, 03:42 PM   #34
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
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Yes, but what if that something that they are finding is just a place to hang out and something to be involved with. If any one of hundreds of other fill-in-the-blank activities would do just as well, is it really legitimate to take up the training time of others who are serious about Aikido...

I wouldn't go so far as to say one can learn nothing from a sluggard in Aikido practice, but if it's bad enough that all you can come up with is some self-invented lessons about patience and dealing with difficult people, is this really a good use of valuable training time? I can get much more challenging lessons of this sort just driving around in rush hour traffic, going to the post office, or calling some national customer service help line.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 10-17-2002 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 10-18-2002, 08:48 AM   #35
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Quote:
if it's bad enough that all you can come up with is some self-invented lessons about patience and dealing with difficult people, is this really a good use of valuable training time?
Actually, I think that I learn something very different from people like this (assuming I have the right idea of what you mean in mind). I think that for me (and for many others) one of the most challenging aspects of AiKiDo is it's built in assumption that 'real' ukes will commit. In my imaginings about martial situations and in my day to day life, I find that this isn't really true, and that my partners don't necessarily commit and may only be peripherally engaged in the interaction we are having. I've seen plenty of examples, though, of senseis who know how to invite their uke in, to draw them in, so that real engagement develops and, thus, AiKiDo becomes possible.

So, when I face people like what you describe I ask myself whether I can draw them in (without pulling) and encourage them forward (without pushing). Usually, I can't. For me, it shows up the weaknesses in my AiKiDo just as surely as when I'm facing a 220 lb 6'4" behemoth who is giving me enough energy to make me cringe and cower.

And, of course, if we got to choose all of our lessons in life, life would be much eaiser. The point here is that this is a lesson you didn't get to choose. I don't know about you, but my experience says that the lessons I've learned the most from have been the ones I haven't chosen or would have chosen to avoid.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-18-2002, 11:43 AM   #36
Kevin Wilbanks
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I still think all these purported counter-opinions are veering off track. My complaint isn't about people who won't train at a breakneck pace, it isn't about people who lack exceptional fitness, and it isn't about people with weak or uncommitted attacks. The complaint is about people who show up to class but leave their heart at home, or wherever - it's about passion, engagemement, awareness, the quality of being alive and present. This might manifest itself in various aforespecified ways, or in others - but it seems obvious to me when I experience it. I don't see how making excuses for and encouraging limp and unenthusiastic attitudes in fellow students is of any benefit to anyone. I think if you aren't serious, but show up out of habit or the unspecified desire to be part of a group, you are wasting other trainees' time and should be made uncomfortable, not coddled in your lameness.
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Old 10-18-2002, 12:48 PM   #37
Deb Fisher
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Should should should.

I don't know, Kevin. First of all, I agree with you - flaccid, bored people are a scourge. As a teaching assistant in a large research institution, I have too much daily contact with students who have no idea why they are in school and shuffle from requirement to requirement with absolutely no sense of curiosity, drive, or even a basic understanding of what a huge resource they are turning up their noses at. It's infuriating.

But you know, aikido isn't college. For some reason that I don't agree with, college has become an unquestioned next step, a prerequisite to "getting a job" or whatever, which results in lots of flabby, sad-faced kids shuffling through at their parents insistence alone.

People almost never force other people to take aikido, though. It is a small, arcane thing. It won't even teach you to kick someone's ass. It's pleasures are complex and difficult sometimes to understand. It hurts sometimes, it involves a commitment to being completely unselfconscious...

... it's exactly what a generation of people who shuffle along from perceived commitment to perceived commitment need, and I think it demands too much to keep the truly lazy participant... there are too may other things lazy people can do, like go to the movies or watch TV or shop for things.

I think true sluggards, people who really have no heart in it, quit aikido, because there is absolutely no reason to stick with it. Maybe your sluggards are trying, but have fewer inner resources and a bigger commitment to the lazy world than you do. As you have so eloquently noted, the culture we live in has the potential to be a vast wasteland. What is the harm in being generous with people who are, by their very presence, making a real step away from that wasteland? Why not balance good conditions and time and space to uncover ones' own powers with gentle shaming for laziness?

Lazy, flaccid people around the world need resources like aikido. It makes you stronger. I don't know if I'm making any sense, this is something I have thought a lot about because of my teaching job. I think people are probably getting lazier and less curious, I think that's terrible, and I want to be part of the solution. Sometimes, in the name of creating a supportive environment, I think that involves 'coddling lameness'. Only then wil the discomfort you prescribe have a helpful context.

Whatever, I just think it's more complicated than you're letting on.

Blah blah,

Deb

Deb Fisher
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Old 10-18-2002, 04:39 PM   #38
SeiserL
 
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
For me, it shows up the weaknesses in my AiKiDo just as surely as when I'm facing a 220 lb 6'4" behemoth who is giving me enough energy to make me cringe and cower.
Okay, whose been watching me work out again? :-)

I agree. Every Uke has different energy and can teach us different things. Especially about ourselves.

Until again,

Lynn

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 11-09-2002, 03:57 PM   #39
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You are indeed lucky to have trained in a disciplined way. I have had the situation where my partner wanted talk the techniques to death. By the time he was finished I didn't get a chance to do the technique myself! Rats! I had to confront the fellow and tell him respectfully and tactfully that I would rather do the techniques than talk about them. Every time he started to talk, I raised my hand for Sensei to come and just waited. And I quite trying to correct other folks--unless they ask me.
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