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Old 05-30-2004, 01:15 AM   #26
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Re: Protecting Your Self

IMO the time to correct the fault - the tasteless joke - has already passed. Neither confronting nor taking disciplinary action this far after the fact will improve matters. You're dealing with an arrogant teen, correct? Hate to say it; but as far as he's concerned; he's won - twice. First when he let his crude arrow fly. Second when you didn't respond immediately. To use an old cliche you showed weakness; and he scored his point. To come back even an hour after the event to deal with it is way too late; to his way of thinking (and likely to others); it shows you weren't prepared to deal with a disciplinary problem and had to psyche yourself up. To let things wait for days is even worse - to come back after such a time and confront the lad can demonstrate the holding of a grudge, among other things.
The most important thing to do when encountering such a situation is to deal with it now. It's also one of the hardest for a newer instructor.
Now, I don't necessarily mean raising the roof here; though that is an option - one I personally don't like, though may at times be necessary. A quick reprimand may be enough - even a light-hearted one (though in this particular instance I doubt it.) In such a situation my response would be quick and to the point: "You - off the mat. Now." Never get into a confrontation. Never argue. Never relinquish your authority even for a split second.
This is a confusing thing for newer instructors to bang their heads around. You can be the nicest, friendliest, funniest instructor in the world; but as an instructor you must take and maintain control of the class. Your class may be strictly organized (which is how I prefer to teach), or it can be totally chaotic (which is how my Sensei teaches), both work well depending on the teacher's style, but even in the most chaotic classes the good Sensei rules overall. If he/she doesn't; it's not a class, the students aren't learning anything other than the fact their teacher's a pushover.
Please don't think I'm being preachy or anything; though the specifics are always different this situation eventually happens to every new teacher - and with few exceptions everyone fails the test; because really it's just an inevitable part of your training. New teachers are very nervous and insecure about their authority; this either comes out as meekness or as a power-trip. Students will sense that weakness and push their luck; said new instructor rarely has sufficient experience and confidence to deal with it properly. Meek instructors backpedal and don't do anything; power-trippers explode and rant. Both reactions destroy discipline and morale.
Back to the described situation: Under the current situation; I'd recommend waiting. Since it's too late to do anything of effect; don't do it - wait. To use an old term; give him enough rope to hang himself. If he pushes again, then respond, and respond instantly in the manner I described above. If that means suspension or expulsion do it, but do it immediately. If you're not sure at the time if you have the authority to send someone off the mat (remember; authority isn't a factor of rank; it's borrowed - given by the boss to his seniors), do it anyway - doing so will force the Sensei to choose between you and the student. In the given case; with the prior incident as evidence; he'll be required to support you.
Hope this helps a bit - sorry you're having trouble, but don't let it get to you, from what I read you're doing fine.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 06-22-2004, 07:45 PM   #27
Dojo: Aikido of Silicon Valley
Location: Fremont, CA
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 248
Re: Protecting Your Self

I think Dave is right and it's late to pursue this incident, but be prepared for the next attack.
Next time he does some nasty joke, joke yourself.
For example, tell hem that usially such nasty jokes are made by people who were abused themselves. And ask him if he was abused? That should make him crazy and either make him akt in inappropriate way and reveal his real intensions or will drive him away from you. If he keeps joking ask him again if he is sure he was not abused... This is one way to shut his mouth.
I know this is not pleasant, but unfortunately we live in an imperfect world. I would prefer to smash him physically, but we live in a century when it's illegal.
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Old 06-22-2004, 10:33 PM   #28
Dojo: Aikido of Silicon Valley
Location: Fremont, CA
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 248
Re: Protecting Your Self

Ok second thought, I would discourage you to joke the way I suggested in my previous posting. That may be used against you and treated as "harrastment". Especially if you live in US and especially in California. Therefore just tell him that his words are just a lie and hi is just a jerk. Do not express any empsions and do not allow his words to reach their target. Treat him as a jerk and a person with a low intelligence, do not get his words seriously. I'm pretty sure most of people treat him the same way, so you will not be alone and you will not be a target for others to laugh.

Do not try to defend or attack, just go away and help his force to draw him down.
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Old 06-24-2004, 09:33 AM   #29
Geoff Flather
Dojo: Life Centre, Exeter, Devon
Location: Devon England, UK.
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 26
Do symbol Re: Protecting Your Self

In life different events develop us into more mature people and aikidoka, who earn the respect of others first by attempting to deal with issues as they occur. I see little rational positive action in simply expelling the offender. Neither of you will have learned or developed anything from the origional action. Life is not a game, is not easy, and we need all the friends we can acquire through our respectfulness and effort for good, to participate 100%, in a fullfilling life.

Albeit any attempt to degrade and upset you, is not a joke. Although humour may have been used as the tool to cover his nastiness toward you. Whether a momentry jibe or a longer intentioned challenge to your character. "Real respect is earned not given."

Certainly you must find a way to confront this challenge, positively turning a bad attitude in this case, in to a good one. As an Instructor you will need to deal with many various incidents that will enable your ability to assist yourself and others in the future.

Certainly you should confront the person who has offended you, and ask or demand for his proof of his accusation. You will require to do this in the same public way, that he accused you of the offence, and preferably in the same place he made the accusation. Advise him that such things are very serious, and explain briefly why you do take such comment extremely serious. Also you would have recourse to legal action, should you wish to take that action for damage to your character, as such comment stigmatises your working life, domestic life, and personal life.

You will win over some of your group present, if not all because of your courage to face the issue.

Ensure that your accuser realises that in future, you will hold no further grudge. The ball is in his court to your future action. However he will need to take action now !

I have encounted all manner of issues over the years, from being the only adult present when young girl students have had their first menstruation, to those willful students who believe they have a better system of development than that of Aikido. Very few have suffered long term embarrasment, and my claim to never give up on them even when they give up on themselves is still true.

Last edited by Geoff Flather : 06-24-2004 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 10-31-2004, 04:21 PM   #30
Dan Gould
Dojo: Cilfynydd, Pontypridd
Location: Abercynon, Wales
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 49
United Kingdom
Re: Protecting Your Self

I was accused of rape and attempted murder when I was 15 or so in high school, if that counts at all :-s I had to leave, but I don't think you should, if you're at the level of teaching others. I also think you should teach the class. Try to hide your discomfort, so the guy doesn't have the satisfaction (cliche alert :-p)

I think it's grounds for expulsion from the class, though, do you guys do that at all, stop someone coming if they do something bad enough like that? Or am I just being naive there :-$

I dunno, I think it's up to your judgement, but I don't think you should let it spoil your training, or your teaching. Hope it all works out
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Old 10-31-2004, 06:02 PM   #31
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,652
Re: Protecting Your Self

Although the time after the incident is an issue, the seriousness of the accusation is very concerning. I would not let this pass. This student needs to realize the consequences of his behavior and you need to protect your a**. Child abuse is very serious and whether believed or not the statement itself can result in an investigation if it is picked up by anyone else. The consequences for you can be dire and costly. I also have a concern about the way your sensei is handling this. Passing it back to you is not, IMHO, a good approach. He/she should be involved and address this with the students, you and the parents present. This kid sounds like trouble and I'd boot him. You don't need anyone causing that type of problem for the dojo or you personally. There also may be legal issues that could be filed against the kid-not a lawyer so I don't know.
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Old 10-31-2004, 07:22 PM   #32
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
Location: Sheffield, UK
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 524
Re: Protecting Your Self

John Riggs wrote:
you need to protect your a**
Ape? Axe? Ark?
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Old 11-01-2004, 08:40 AM   #33
Niamh Marie O'Leary-Liu
Dojo: Aikido of Ramapo Valley
Location: New Jersey, USA
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 19
Re: Protecting Your Self

Has nobody thought about the impact this troubled young man's accusations may have on the minor student who is the friend of the instructor? Not only does it sound like sexual harassment of both the instructor and the student, but also think of the social implications for the kid subject to this malicious gossip. That student may be driven out of the dojo and the rumors could even end up circulating in his school if any of his classmates are also involved in the dojo. This could destroy him emotionally and socially and put him in therapy for years. The sensei and the instructor need to take a united stand to prevent this from happening. The child is in their care and the sensei's inaction is creating an environment of apparent apathy and lack of social responsibility from the top down, despite his intentions. It is in this environment that a bully will thrive.

Additionally, the instructor and the minor student the object of the teenager's accusations should be aware that the accusations may be punishable as a crime, and/or may even subject the teenager (and his parents) to civil liability. In addition to the effect on the minor student, the teenager's accusations are potentially devastating to the instructor's ability to work as a children's instructor. What do you think the parents of the kids to be enrolled under his guidance would do if they even got a whiff of such a rumor?

I don't know about where you live, but in my jurisdiction, slander is a CRIME, punishable by a fine and/or actual jail time. According to the law here:

"Slander is a--
(1) false and malicious utterance made by word of mouth in a public manner against a person, whereby such person is charged with the commission of a deed punishable by law; or
(2) a tale, or report maliciously made tending to injure the honor, reputation or worthiness of any person or any religious denomination or organization."
(14 V.I.C. 1180 (2004)).

I agree with what some of the others have said that the troubled teenager may benefit from some discipline and adult involvement in his life. With his parents present, he should be made aware of the severity of the consequences of his lies and afforded an opportunity to make amends and to reform his ways. But failing his immediate compliance, he should at least be kicked out of the dojo permanently. His actions are extremely damaging and possibly criminal. If he gets away with this misconduct, what will it be next? Allowing his continued malicious presence threatens the children and other students who deserve to have a dojo that is a safe and supportive community for them to learn aikido.

I am an attorney but I don't know what jurisdiction the instructor lives in, nor am I an expert in this particular issue, so I cannot and do not give legal advice to anyone in this forum; I only raise these points to encourage this instructor to seek out advice from a licensed attorney in his location. Many attorneys will give a free initial consultation.
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