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Old 02-23-2004, 09:43 PM   #26
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Oh my goodness, I had NO idea this was going to blow up into such a big thread. >.<

"Tak": ....oh lordy, it IS you. I didn't realize you were following this so closely until I got your email. So much for envying me, huh? Its okay about the personal stuff; I didn't talk about any of it because I didn't feel it was relevant to my question, which was mainly 'Is this sort of behaviour normal in Aikido?' From the responses, I see now that it is pretty normal, though dependant on the degree of care the sensei and sempai choose to invest in the newbie. As you suggested to me in conversation, my sensei probably had his mind on other things.

Peter Rehse: I dithered about whether to reply to you; you may have meant to be kind, but I picked up a certain "good bye and good riddance" tone from your posts. I'm sorry if I come across as angstful to you; I've left out all of my personal history, as it was not relevant to my question, but you bring up several valid points that make it relevant. I am very protective of my health as I had lost nearly all of it, and after five years, am still recovering. This was to have been part of my recovery; since I can walk again and am once again able to hold a full-time job in the industrial sector, I chose ki aikido as a means to recover coordination, grace and physical strength, as well as to learn more about ki, to learn jo, and to learn an interesting method of unarmed defense. I'm very aware of how quickly and how permanently one's health condition can change. Sprained wrists, ankles, twisted knees, are all familiar to me and I anticipated them as risks. If I anticipated a risk to my spine, it would have been in later stages of training, certainly not fourth lesson. You make the very valid point that classes can't revolve around beginners. These classes were packed with waza, and were to help several sempai prepare for upcoming belt exams. Having had much time to think upon the experience, I quite agree with you: Their focus should have been on their upcoming exams, and our sensei's focus should have been on helping them prepare - so why were rank newbies encouraged to participate? We could not follow the pace nor understand the waza, we should not have been there. Yet we were, we were encouraged to participate, and both of us were injured in the same waza. This is the problem, and as I have no satisfactory answer for it, consensus seems to feel it is safer for me to leave. Don't worry, I won't let the door hit my ass, and I will remember to bow.

Giancarlo DiPierro: Thank you for the link and the information about jo. Though Guelph is half the continent away from me, there is a local affiliate. I will look into it. Ki aikido offered a sort of 'one-stop' package for all of my interests, but 'one at a time' is better than none, neh?



Craig Hocker: Thank you for your kind words. Too bad you too are half a continent away, and in another country I will email you.

Thank you again, everyone. You've been very kind (and I'll give one points for trying) and supportive. I'm sorry this didn't work out.

Respectfully,

"Selkie"
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Old 02-23-2004, 11:44 PM   #27
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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I have to agree; if you have classes in which newcomers cannot safely participate, then you should close those classes to newcomers. One of the "rougher" dojo I've visited did just that: an intro class in which I was encouraged to participate, and an advanced class that would have beat the tar out of me, so they asked me to watch instead.

Even there, sensei spent some time with the most junior of the advanced students, making sure his ukemi were up to the challenge.

My home dojo, which is small, has only a brief beginners' course and then open classes. The last session of the beginners' course is spent teaching some basic safety skills for the open classes: how to pull out of a throw (with actual practice), which drills shouldn't be tried at full speed at first, etc.

This allows the open classes to be taught at a faster pace than intro ones, while giving new people some tools for protecting themselves. I think it's important not to put social pressure on newcomers to practice above their skill level, or even let them imagine such pressure. The explicit training session makes it very clear that going slow, sitting out, etc. is appropriate.

I'm 40 and a klutz and in 14 months of practice the only one who's hurt me at all seriously was me (wrenched neck) and that didn't seem preventable. (In a moment of stupidity, I decided that if the back roll wasn't working, I could put some momentum into it and force it to work. Ow.) Some bruises, tweaked wrists, a few breakfalls I wasn't quite expecting, but I have not felt endangered.

My father gave up aikido after a serious neck injury that still pains him a decade later. He told me that story over and over as a not-too-subtle way of dissuading me from taking it up, but I was given courage by my sense that my dojomates were looking out for me and would do their level best not to hurt me. Without that I think I would have been frightened away, which would have been a pity.

Mary Kaye
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:33 AM   #28
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Drat, I'd meant to post this earlier, but Selkie's beaten me to it and made my reply somewhat redundant. *tickles Selkie playfully* Here are my two hundred yen anyway.

Peter Rehse: Firstly, I will admit that when I read your reply, the Eyebrow of Cynicism went up, especially when you asked, 'Did you just lay there and wait to get stepped on?'. It is not my intention to quibble over details, but rather to make all relevant factors known.

Regarding your dojo environment -- I've noticed the location you're posting from, and I think I can reasonably say that the standard of training is quite different over here, both in style and societal mindset. I'm not saying either is bad, merely different enough that they can't be compared on equal footing. You are truly fortunate to have a place in which your students mesh well.

When you said 'You can train hard without causing injury', I was in complete agreement; however, we are discussing a newbie who didn't yet know anything well enough *to* train hard, certainly not the way to which you appear accustomed. Consider also these two questions she had before she was injured in the waza:

1) I have often talked myself out of doing things due to an unreasoning doubt of my own abilities, even when I would be perfectly capable of doing the activities. Would this be one of those times?

2) Would Sensei give me an exercise if he didn't think I was ready to do it?

Quote: '...a student who doesn't recognize the danger signs.' While Selkie is far from stupid, I'm not sure how she'd be able to do this when she has no basis for comparison. This was her first experience with martial arts.

Giancarlo DiPierro: Thank *you* for posting! Aikido's jo work was something we had no information on; your insight and the link were extremely helpful. As you can see, I've already given it to Selkie. Again, thank you very much.

Craig Hocker: Thank you so much for your kind words to Selkie. I'm now quite thoroughly jealous of your students and both Selkie and I wish you were here, because we'd love to have you for a teacher. Alas, Houston's even more of a stretch to commute to than Ontario. Hm...I hear AirCanada has a nonstop flight to Houston -- you planning on visiting anytime soon?

Selkie told me she intends to visit her dojo very soon to ask what seems to be the universal question of what she was doing in such an advanced class that was clearly beyond her immediate focus and capabilities. Whether their response proves a satisfactory one or not, I wish her the best of luck.

'Tak'
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:18 AM   #29
PeterR
 
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I suggest you both are mis-reading what I am writting - excuse me for not being clear.
Quote:
() wrote:
Peter Rehse: Firstly, I will admit that when I read your reply, the Eyebrow of Cynicism went up, especially when you asked, 'Did you just lay there and wait to get stepped on?'. It is not my intention to quibble over details, but rather to make all relevant factors known.
It was a valid question. I've seen this happen, I've done it. Mind you it was a wipe out skiing but I moved out of the way much slower than I could have and paid the price. I was trying to understand why she was blamed. There are always two sides to any view.
Quote:
Regarding your dojo environment -- I've noticed the location you're posting from, and I think I can reasonably say that the standard of training is quite different over here, both in style and societal mindset. I'm not saying either is bad, merely different enough that they can't be compared on equal footing. You are truly fortunate to have a place in which your students mesh well.
I can tell you that there are more slight, shy, Budo inexperienced women in my dojo here than my first dojo in Quebec. There was one that had arms like twigs - the practice was too much for her health in the end but she did last four months. Go to the web site and look at the picis.
Quote:
When you said 'You can train hard without causing injury', I was in complete agreement; however, we are discussing a newbie who didn't yet know anything well enough *to* train hard, certainly not the way to which you appear accustomed.
Each according to their level - I thought I was clear about that. I am positively anal about safety.
Quote:
Quote: '...a student who doesn't recognize the danger signs.' While Selkie is far from stupid, I'm not sure how she'd be able to do this when she has no basis for comparison. This was her first experience with martial arts.
Now you are being selective. In that same paragraph I indicated that I thought common sense was enough. Its only an opinion - yours may differ.

I did say that if she feels unsafe she shouldn't practice there. Yes my attitude is good bye and good riddance but it works both ways. You can not expect to find a perfect match your first try and you definately can't expect a club to conform to your needs.

I refuse to say this dojo is bad or terrible based on one side of the story. I welcome anyone into the dojo, I take incrediable care of my charges, but I teach Budo not therapy. I know that I am not alone in the latter view. Am I being unfair to suggest this is what the post is all about? Perhaps but it is the feeling I get.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-24-2004, 01:36 PM   #30
giriasis
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I'm going to add, please don't expect aikido to provide conditioning training. I've trained in aikido for 4.5 years and for 3 of those years I was clinically obese, not very physically strong, and had no stamina. Aikido kept my weight and health from getting worse, but it by no means got me in shape. For the past year and a half I have gotten into shape by doing aerobic weight training. I've lost 35 pounds and improved my physical strength and stamina. If anonymous is weak (I'm getting the impression that anon is either very petite, old, disabled or really out of shape) then some form for weight bearing exercise like light weight aerobic weight training might be better, especially if your goal is to improve your strength. Just to let you know, being able to train at the level I wanted in aikido was my motivation to work out and lose weight. So, I'm not saying give up on aikido, but use aikido as your personal motivation.

I agree with everyone else, you train at your partner's skill level. And I don't know why you were allowed in a testing prepatory class. We have those for people testing for 1st kyu up, and believe me they are intense. Only 2nd kyu and up are allowed to attend.

I train in an Aikikai dojo and we're known for being "hard" compared to alot of other Aikikai schools, but we still go at the pace and skill level of the uke. One of our 2nd kyus is a 61-year-old transplantee and no one pushes him past his abilities. So please don't discount the other school just because you heard someone say that they are "hard" or "rough". Go there, watch a class, do a class and see how they treat you.

I think what Peter is getting at is that we still have the responsibility to protect our own saftey. Please...please don't forgo your intuition when you walk into a dojo. It's okay to speak up and say something. But yes, you were in an advanced class and maybe some should have asked if you were okay with it.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 02-24-2004, 05:18 PM   #31
stuartjvnorton
 
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Quote:
Anne Marie Giri (giriasis) wrote:
So please don't discount the other school just because you heard someone say that they are "hard" or "rough". Go there, watch a class, do a class and see how they treat you.
Definitely.

One person's "hard" or "rough" can be someone else's "vigourous, powerful aikido".
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Old 02-24-2004, 07:55 PM   #32
Josh Bisker
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Anne Marie - is your last name really "giri?"

That's awesome. It has all kinds of budo resonances, look it up as a japanese word if you haven't already.
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:21 PM   #33
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Anne Marie Giri (giriasis) wrote:
I agree with everyone else, you train at your partner's skill level. And I don't know why you were allowed in a testing prepatory class. We have those for people testing for 1st kyu up, and believe me they are intense. Only 2nd kyu and up are allowed to attend.
She wasn't clear on that - I understood any kyu grade. Didn't even cross my mind that it would mean only for 1st Kyu and up.
Quote:
I think what Peter is getting at is that we still have the responsibility to protect our own saftey. Please...please don't forgo your intuition when you walk into a dojo. It's okay to speak up and say something.
That's basically it.

Every one of my classes has about 30 minutes of test preparation - about 15 minutes where you are paired with a more advanced student to help you and 15 minutes where you are grouped within your level. Beginners are preparing for their first exam starting day one. I really have difficulty in seeing test preparation as inherently more dangerous or more advanced. Of course that might not be the case everywhere.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-25-2004, 07:44 AM   #34
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Although there are tons of people who don't understand that 'advanced training' has nothing to do with strength, because the technique of aikido is the neutralization of strength with superior movement and the accentuation of movment that circumvents the intentions of the attacker or your training partner, I do understand the physical concerns that come with hard training, or at least the idea of hard training.

Just last week we were doing something out of the old judo book of throws that was too rough if done in the same slam-bang method used in judo, but perfectly acceptable if modified into aikido. In order for me to complete the throw without taking the legs out from under my training partners, I had to use on hand and cut the throw off in the middle so my partners could roll with some control, or some sense of well being instead of being slammed on their backs.

Some techniques just work so well, they cannot be completed or they will cause injury or chance of injury, especially in a crowded mat situation, or with a new student. It has gotten to the point where I completely lose my balance in the middle of a round of practice, and simple excuse myself as I crawl or paw the wall to find a place to sit until my episode of dizzyness passes. (damn meniere's and that trigeminal neuralgia cuts off me balance)

There is no shame is realizing that your body is not able to do certain things that someone else can do, just as the most proficient of practitioners do not always get the true mindset of Aikido and they seem to rely on the physical side of practice with its strength and physicality, don't they?

Never mind.

The danger of men teachers, especially Japanese male teachers, is the mindset of women being deficient in having physical skills or being part of the male dominated world of budo. The old adage of "if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen" is still applied for certain teachers and certain classes where testing and the prerequesite is posted for that class. Only time and old age seem to correct this behavioral conditioning of their society.

Sometimes, it is the human factor of just not having enough time in the day, or the human problems that overwhelm even the best of us, and accidents like this subject occur... but I don't think it was a lackluster effort of the teacher or the class. I believe it was the chance of accidents, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, improper cognizance by not just the students and teacher, but victim as well. Accidents happen.

Gee, I have injured,but not badly, a number of people who wanted to show their superiority during practice as they made some kind of prejudgement that I was a beginner clutz. Big mistake ... big ... big mistake. Good thing I could feel their muscles stretching to the point of injury, but I was sorry that they decided to wrench their arms or body to increase the torque to their own bodys, like a animal caught in a trap. Lucky me, they had minor sprains or experienced a new pain beyond what they had ever experienced in class before ... it happens.

I am a pretty big guy, and although some people would classify it as beginning to be fat, with a 52 inch chest and 46 inch belly 285 lbs 6 ft tall, I can still get a good roll in with the worst of throws and botched techniques, most days. Why is that? I do what I can, then when I can't ... I stop.

Seikie ... that is all one can ask for.

Do what you can do, then sit out when you can't.

I have trained with a number of very small women who bruise easy, who are terribly clumsy, and who quit after a few sessions of aikido, but they shouldn't. Maybe we need more women's only classes so some of the training will modify itself, just like trying to put children into an adult class, no offense please, the children are not ready for this type of mindset, physicality, or interaction on this level of practice.

Don't get me wrong, there is no such thing as a higher or lower level of practice, but one needs to practice what they need, not what they want in order to gain proficientcy. I want to be a marathon runner or a great gymnast, but it ain't gonna happen ... so I get to practice what I need and can do for my size body, my skill level, and for my own martial practice needs.

Some of you know me as bruceb, and as babaker, but few of you have ever actually physically trained with me. So in reality, none of us can truly comprehend the physical practice of aikido, although from certain segments of judging the skills of certain shihans and teachers, we do try, don't we. I am sorry that the specific teacher and school was not mentioned as we could hear from the teacher and some of the students who attended this class.

We all know that certain people are not physically capable of doing certain levels of practice, and the students need to modify the throws so the practice is not so physical, or as hard/ unfeeling as if throwing a sack of potatoes, which some students believe is great aikido, but then some ki is illusion of the mind. If in fact, this Ki society is teaching its students the disconnection of feedback of the stimuli from the nervous system as the mind overcomes the body generating strength that is not felt by the practitioner but given the attacker, or uke, then this teacher needs to reteach some of this practice so the students learn how to dial it down a few notches, eh?

What the human mind, or the human body percieves as ki is merely the delusion of mind rejecting the sensory input of the body that says this cannot be done, while using the full capacity of forces and movements availble, increasing them as it were with a little push here, and little twist there. Problem is ... when the mind disconnects from the sensory input from the body, it creates a greater chance for injury if one does not dial it back when a few notches when appropriate.

Just my thoughts this morning.

I just got wind that my teacher is being promoted when Y. Yamada shihan is coming to give a seminar on March 27, 2004 at Long Beach Island, NJ (shameless bump).

With any luck, some little helpless 5 ft tall women will beat me up, and I will be laughing uncontrolably because I love it when people can do a good technique clean and smooth.

Sooner or later, that type of joy should come to your practice. If it doesn't, maybe you should reexamine your practice, your reason for practice, and what type of aikido your are doing, eh?
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Old 02-25-2004, 07:48 AM   #35
giriasis
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Peter,

After I posted I realized that she was infact talking about all kyus, but it really seemed from they way anon's original post went that it was more intense than what occurred from her first four classes.

In our dojo we don't really set aside a specific time for testing techniques rather they are just woven in with the rest of the lesson. If someone is alert they will be able to learn all their techniques without a special class. That's at least for our kyu ranks. For our higher ranks my sensei, Peter Bernath, will have a once a week advanced class starting two months before dan testing. He does this because so that the dans and high kyus, we have a lot of them, can train at a high intensity level without worrying about a partners ukemi level. This is especially important for our preparation for the randori and jiyuwaza. It's truly intense and demanding with no one going easy on each other.

I only used this as an example, that when it comes to safety that some people are and should be excluded. We have other jiyuwaza training, by the way, that is more appropriate for lower ranks, and if a newbie is intimidated we don't tell them they'll be okay and expect them to continue training. If they look uncomfortable enough, someone suggests just to stick to tenkan exercise and work on their flow and movement or they are allowed to sit and watch.

Josh,

My last name really is "Giri", and it's Italian. A very uncommon Italian name, and it's not an abbreviation of a longer name like Giribaldi. It is also a popular last name in India and Japan I believe.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 02-25-2004, 08:18 AM   #36
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In regards to what Bruce mentioned, I truly believe that aikido should be available to people of many different abilities. This article is by a friend and fellow practitioner in Aikido. He's 61 years old and the recipient of a transplant. He has been training in aikido for over five years, now. And is currently ranked 2nd kyu. I took his ukemi for his test this past November. Maybe one day Bruce, you will see Ed test for his shodan at the USAF Winter Camp. Here's his story. He's truely an inspiration.

http://www.aikidoonline.com/Archives...3_bcorner.html

In regards to one's physical health, I do believe that anon's friend mentioned that anon wanted to take up aikido to help build her strength. There is nothing wrong with that. I have found from my experience that obesity was a choice not a disability. If someone doesn't have a choice, that's one thing. My obesity was affecting my aikido training so I decided to do something about it. By strenghtening my muscles, I can better protect my joints. By improving my flexibility, I have a greater range of motion. By working my core muscles, I protect my back. By losing weight, breakfalls don't hurt. No, I can DO THEM NOW. When I started aikido, I was very much "into" the spirituality of it all, but through my training and being very physical I have been able to touch a part of my self that I never would have otherwise. My physical is spiritual. The physical path is my path, so please don't knock it.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 02-25-2004, 03:14 PM   #37
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Hope your ijuries will heal soon!

As far as the original question goes:

NO, it is not normal.

I've visited about 10-15 aikido dojos and never seen a head instructor blaiming a new student for being injured.

In most of the places practicioners and instructors are very gentle with the beginners.

And if they don't know you(i.e. never trained with you before) they would assume that you are a beginner until they feel that you are not.

It is great to practice hard, fast, commmit 100% etc... but practicing this way with the beginner is not acceptable. You can practice like that with a more advanced student who is able to take it... if person is able to take it and wants to practice this way there is no problem. Yes they can be injured too, but they have enough skill to avoid injury, so the chance of injury is very small.

Beginner may not be able to prevent injury... so the chance of injury is very high.

If I were you, I would not go to that dojo to practice.

Good luck!
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Old 03-05-2004, 06:36 PM   #38
Deb Fisher
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Just because Peter is the only contrarian here, two quick thoughts:

1. One of the most important things training has taught me (in my less than two years) is that personal responsibility and responsibility to others is all the same thing. It sounds like there was a whole lot of neither going on that particular class, which winds up of course being everyone's problem. Of course it is bad to push beginners, and of course it is everyone's responsibility to take care of beginners (the most popular theme going on here). But of course it is also important to learn how not to compromise yourself. I cannot say that I wouldn't have gone along with the same situation, but I do hope that I would wake up just a little bit wiser about my own boundaries/limits/ignorances.

(just to present a whole picture--I think this is what Peter was getting at in previous posts)

2. When I started training, I often felt 'scolded' and worked through it and learned a lot about how much training was about my ego and pleasing my sensei. I started assuming that my sensei was doing it on purpose to show me my ego, and eventually got much more comfortable training with myself for my own reasons. Then eventually I realized that he's just like that, that he wasn't scolding me at all (and that whatever it was, it had nothing to do with me).

Feeling bad while training is lame, and should be examined--don't get me wrong. I guess I'm just saying that there are lessons in everything, and that some lessons are worth sticking through (some are better to take with you, of course).

Deb Fisher
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