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Old 08-12-2020, 04:30 PM   #1
IP Hash: 64e9679a
Anonymous User
Unhappy How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)


I've been training for a long time, pushing twenty years. Now since there's been a pandemic, I've been granted a respite from the dojo...not quite something I thought I'd ever hear myself say.

I'm hoping that some of you could give me some sort of advice on how to continue or what I should do as this has been weighing so heavily on me.

Some background:
For the duration of my training, I have trained under one sensei. I was their uchi deshi for a year. I have trained under them between five to nine hours a week, every week since I joined. I admired them, loved their style, and was brought into their inner circle. This dojo was like family to me. Sure, there were some problems but what practitioner doesn't hit some bumps in the road during their training? I taught at this dojo. I gave so much of myself to this dojo. And I felt like I had a place where I belonged.

Now, several years back I was hurt very badly on the mat under my sensei's supervision. I had discussed this particular practitioner multiple times to my sensei (as I had with another who had been harassing and hurting me for years) and nothing was done about it. I'd watch these two people drive other people out of the dojo and drive people to tears. I cried over this. I received multiple small injuries from these people and had to put up with them making fun of me on the mat. Now, we're at a small dojo and they were older, and higher ranked than I was so there was little I could do besides confront them off the mat (which made things worse on the mat). My sensei knew this. They told me and others that I needed to toughen up. So I did, biting back tears many times on the mat.

Well, the injury I was worried someone else would sustain from one of these two happened. I got hurt badly and couldn't use my arm for nearly a year. The man threw me harder and faster than I could ever hope to fall, and I was one of the fastest at the dojo. I brought this up to my teacher and nothing was done, again. Not even an apology. They agreed that it was my fault I got hurt. Worse, it got back to me from my husband who also trains and my mother that my teacher said I deserved to be knocked down a peg and that this injury was good for me, to teach me to be frightened. Unfortunately, this was not out of character but it broke my heart.

From there, things got worse. My sensei verbally berated my husband to my face on multiple occasions very nearly accusing him of grooming me even though we met when I was in my twenties and he's hardly older than I. The last year, every time I go to the dojo it seems to get worse. When I leave to go home, I'm mocked by everyone. They take their lead from the sensei, of course. When I stay, people try to take their aggression out on me and I can't stop them (I'm a small woman).

There have been multiple occasions over the last three years (since I married) where I have left the dojo fuming or ready to cry. The breaking point came this year when I communicated I would be taking one month off to mourn some heavy losses in my life right before the pandemic started. My teacher told people in the community that I had quit. I don't know why that was the final straw for me, but it was.

What am I supposed to do? I don't want to go back ever again. The whole community in my organization seems polluted now. I went from dreaming of opening a dojo to feeling like I'd vomit if I ever went back into one. I never, ever thought I would grow to hate the place I devoted so many years of my life to.

How can I train again when I can never trust my sensei? Do I go back and deal with the fear when things reopen or do I call it quits for now? I know my safety is not a priority on that mat and I'm terribly afraid of being punished when I do return (which happened before with my arm). Any advice on this situation at all would be welcome. Thank you all for reading.
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Old 08-13-2020, 12:09 AM   #2
IP Hash: ecd346bc
Anonymous User
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

Why would you want to go back there? They sound like jerks.
Besides it's clear they don't want you around, so you would have to be getting something amazingly good out of it to make it worth your while, right?
And if both arms are working now you can cut your losses, and still have a chance to find another group in your future. But if they get to do permanent damage you're going to probably stop training forever.
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Old 08-13-2020, 02:34 AM   #3
IP Hash: 390ea6db
Anonymous User
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

This sounds very familiar: "I'd watch these two people drive other people out of the dojo and drive people to tears."

I too had a loyal dedication to a certain dojo for well over a decade, when "two people" came in and started mangling people and exploiting training protocol to the point where training with them was a complete waste of time. They would either stiffen up and resist, forcing nage to become the aggressor and then complaining that he's too aggressive, or give half-assed attacks with the goal of reversing the technique they know is coming. As nage, one of them in particular had a punitive attitude manifested in his technique.

Long story short, they were a catalyst for why I ended up switching to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Such a refreshing lack of bullshit in that system. Either you can do something, or you can't. Ranks actually correspond to real skill. Techniques are taught literally, not figuratively, not as an allegory or a metaphor. Sparring lets you play all kinds of games - like the games those two clowns played in Aikido - but with honest and immediate feedback.

If you're really fed up with the bullshit, consider changing to BJJ and doing that for a couple of years. It will make you see Aikido from a more practical perspective, and will also give you a real chance to teach a lesson to some of the Aikido bullies - despite you being small-framed.

Even if you don't want to switch systems, you still have to switch dojos - because right now you're in a cult that's gone toxic.
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Old 08-14-2020, 07:21 AM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 836
United Kingdom
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

You can't be responsible for other people's actions but you should be responsible for your own.

Look at yourself in a mirror and ask the following no-trivial and non-rhetorical question "Do I want to continue to be bullied?"

If you say no, then walk away from all that and rebuild. Otherwise, well otherwise you will need to own that too.

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Old 08-14-2020, 11:18 AM   #5
Steven's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Yoshinkan Sacramento - Seikeikan Dojo
Location: Orangevale, CA
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 639
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

Anonymous User wrote: View Post
my husband who also trains
Seems to me you have the answer. You have a training partner at home. You don't need this instructor or dojo to train.
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Old 08-16-2020, 12:38 AM   #6
zivk's Avatar
Dojo: Do-Gen-Do/Holon
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 59
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

It is pretty clear that you're suffering in your current dojo. From my perspective, Aikido training can and should be challenging and demanding physically at times. But, on the other hand, there should be mutual growth in the dojo, people should help each other to get better. If you are being bullied, ridiculed and brought to tears in your current dojo, and sensei does not put an abrupt stop to the abusive behavior in the dojo, then it's simply not a place that will encourage your growth.
It's time for you to leave this dojo and move on. Go and find yourself another and better Aikido dojo, where your experience and dedication will be well appreciated.
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Old 08-16-2020, 06:53 PM   #7
Walter Martindale
Location: Edmonton, AB
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 795
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

Yup. Leave. Take hubby with you. Both of you take up Gandalf's (above) suggestion and take up BJJ. I got roughed up pretty easily by a BJJ black belt when I had a shodan in judo and a few years of aikido under the 'belt' so to speak. Now far too old to play those games. If the BJJ takes and you learn a few tricks perhaps, as suggested, you could visit "will you take me back?" and lay a beating on the induhviduals who are currently driving you away.
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Old 09-07-2020, 09:57 AM   #8
Location: Halifax
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 41
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

Anonymous User wrote: View Post

How can I train again when I can never trust my sensei? Do I go back and deal with the fear when things reopen or do I call it quits for now? I know my safety is not a priority on that mat and I'm terribly afraid of being punished when I do return (which happened before with my arm). Any advice on this situation at all would be welcome.
1) For anything that I have ever done (aikido and other activities) and what I have always taught others is to always have reasonable safety as top priority. It does not sound like they value safety at that dojo, your arm has been damaged previously, you don't feel safe there, you have brought this up before with no changes made, so therefore I don't think you should practice there anymore for your own sake. Find another dojo to practice in (or organize a separate smaller different group to train with?)

2) to me it sounds like you already tried to deal with the fears and problems already with no results. People generally don't change (much, if at all), I wouldn't expect others to change based on what you said already.

3) is it possible that there are grudges against you that you may not be aware of?

Lastly, you are important, and practicing safely is always #1. Practice can be intense and fast with care and safety still in mind at all times!

Last edited by PuppyDoggie : 09-07-2020 at 09:58 AM. Reason: missing one word for correct grammar
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Old 09-09-2020, 05:26 AM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
Peter Goldsbury's Avatar
Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,308
Re: How did this happen? (Aikido broke my heart)

This sounds like a truly awful dojo and I am surprised you have not left already. Or are you posting here to test the waters for a decision already taken? Leave. You have a training partner, but I suggest you do BJJ for a while and then open your own dojo. You need to do something like BJJ to knock any pseudo-spirituality out of your budo training. This will be of value if and when you return to aikido. Eventually, you should teach the art, especially to children. They are young, flexible, ask questions, and can see any BS.

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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