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Old 06-09-2022, 07:52 AM   #1
"Brokenhearted Budoka"
IP Hash: 7d59336c
Anonymous User
Unhappy Aikido Has Been Taken From Me.

I began practicing martial arts in Februay, 1985, when I was 20 years old. In 1986, I joined an aikido dojo and practiced there until 1988. But I continued trainijg in Non-Aikido Arts, and kept doing the wrist stretches as part of my personal warmup.

In 2004, one of my NAA classes was hosted by a school that also hosted an Aikido class. I joined the the dojo while remaing in NAA. When the hosting school closed, I followed Sensei to new digs. For 15 years, I trained once or twice a week at two dojos, Sensei's and a Nearby Dojo. While separate, the two dojos were friendly. They shared a pool of instructors, all very skilled and knowledgeable I must say, and members of one dojo could train at the other for free.

I loved Aikido, but it was always a challenge for me. My body remains stubbornly inflexible no matter how much I stretch. So Ukemi waza is a challenge. Also, there was concern about my leaning on people during pins, though there had been some improvement, and Sensei had given me the workaround of squatting at the end of ikkyo instead kneeling.

When I turned 50, everyone in the dojos signed a birthday card for me. I remember blubbering, almost in tears over how much I loved the art and how welcomed I felt.

On a Friday in April, 2019, one of Sensei's black belts threw me so hard, my body stopped moving but my head kept going, and my kneck acted like a door spring. It was sore for the next 18 hours. There had been friction with this individual before, so I decided to leave. But not wanting to cause friction, I emailed Sensei that I was taking a break while I worked on my flexibility. And I have, though it has been glacially slow going. But I had not been honest with Sensei, and told him the truth in an email in September, 2019. One does not lie to one's sensei and waltz back in. So I considered my Aikido career over.

The covid happened.

In April of 2020, Sensei emailed me and asked me if I wanted to renew my membership in the Larger Organization of which both dojos were a part. I thought it over and agreed. We kept in touch over the coming months. When the Organization held Zoom classes, I attended every single one. (I would be twenty minutes late because of an overlap with NAA Zoom classes, and this led to some crazy Saturdays.) In time, the Nearby Dojo reopened while Sesnei's remained closed.

This past March, March 2022, Sensei emailed me. He asked to renew my membership for the third time since 2019 and added in passing he was reaching out to people about reopening his dojo. "You're on the cusp of that, I think," he concluded. I was stunned! I thought it was over, and yet he had all but formally invited me back? I asked him about the mat fee at the Nearby Dojo, and he reminded me membes of his dojo could train there for free. Wait--I was still on his membership rolls!? That meant I could return any time! Overjoyed almost to the point of tears, I began to plan my return.

On a Monday in April, 2022, I eamiled the leaders of the Nearby Dojo, cc to Sensei. I said after 3 years, I wanted to "dip my toe" back in Aikido and that I would have liked to return to their dojo in the near future. It I had received favorable replies, I would have returned that Thursday.

On that Wednesday, Sensei emailed me and said we had to talk. After some confusion over my cell phone number, we spoke on Thursday morning, 8 hours before the clase I had had my eye on. I was informed I would not be allowed to train at the Nearby Dojo. The justification wss that I could injure myself during a fall, or injure an uke during a pin. Sensei said I was "dangerous" to train with, and that neither he nor anyone else wanted to train with me. No one HAD wanted to train with me for years. He wouldn't attribute the decision to one person but said it was a "consensus of the instructors."

His tone was friendly and I was in shock. Several hours later, in a mall parking garage, I said out loud, "I was kicked out!"

There was some validity to the concerns Sensei relayed for the reasons I gave above. But if I was such a liability, why was I allowed to classes and seminars at two dojos for 15 years? Also, the black belt who had injured me injured Sensei in the same manner in October 2021. Sensei told me that and said his neck was still sore. My issue had been forgot. Another black belt had been known to train so hard they would injur themselves. I recall attending a seminar in another country where a lady was carried off the mat in a stretcher. And then there were all the people at seminars with red tape on their gis connoting injured joints. To my knowledge, none of the individuals I mentioned were barred from their dojos. Who is this paragon of safety against whom I have been found wanting?

An alternate explanation is that because I was practicing NAA at the time I joined Sensei's dojo, I was never accepted in the first place. If is the case, then that time I was blubbering over that birthday card, I was making a fool myself to a room full of people who wished I wasn't there. That thought has completely messed me up.

Whatever the case, for many days after that phone conversation, I had trouble getting to sleep. I was nauseated by the sight of Japanese style training weapons. I had headaches and bouts of rage. All those symtoms have improved since then. I can discuss the matter without shouting, and I can watch the videos again. But the feelings I had about Aikido are gone.

I do not know if I will ever return to Aikido. I'm not even sure I should. Although there are throws and locks in the NAA I continue to practice, nothing is like Aikido and I miss it. There is another dojo I could contact one day. But as time passes and I heal, it becomes less of a priority. And there is wisdom in considering my relationship with the Aikido community as an unhealthy relationship that has ended, and I should move on.

Aikido was one of my two loves in the martial arts, and it has been taken from me. Although I continue with NAA, there is a hole in my heart. I do not know what, if anything, can fill it.

Only time will tell.
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Old 11-18-2022, 04:37 PM   #2
IP Hash: 8f601d2a
Anonymous User
Post Re: Aikido Has Been Taken From Me.

I am very very sorry for your loss.

Your story rings somewhat similar to mine. I have been doing aikido very consistently for maybe about 6 years. We had celebrations, cake, I organized an anniversary card for Sensei. Sensei was over the moon happy. It seemed like I was very well liked by others. Then COVID came. Everything shut down. We restarted for a bit, then the only senior student bashed me over the head (presumably by accident, but really no one is supposed to go THAT HARD) with a Kingfisher jo during outdoor jo practice. I have never forgotten how much that hurt me because some of the damage is permanent, which I was not aware of at the time.

Like you, I told Sensei I was going to take a break. I didn't tell Sensei the full extent of the damage because he already felt bad for not seeing exactly what happened. We had a talk, Sensei wanted me to come back, I also wanted to come back, but not until I made a complete recovery.

Lots of circumstances went bad and worse for me. Schedules changed, I didn't go back for practice, and then at one point Sensei e-mailed everyone to let him know if we were still interested in coming back, and if not, then let him know and then you'll be removed from the e-mail list. I said I wasn't going back, became honest about the worst parts of the damage I suffered, and I wanted to be removed from the e-mail list for now based on how the message was phrased. I never heard a word back from Sensei afterwards ever again.

I later found out, and unfortunately mistakenly witnessed the one who hurt me, take a black belt test, and to my horrible surprise, that same Sensei promoted that person. I was not welcomed. After knowing that, I would NEVER interact with such terrible people like that ever again! Most of the old group never showed up. I have cried every night for a month since then.

It almost seems like my Sensei is similar to your Sensei. They want rough, tough people who beat people to either near-death or into serious injuries, presumably like themselves, and gives the trophy to the person beating up others. I'm unsure if this is specific to aikido or if it's just person-specific cases, but like you, I lost a big chunk of my life and soul. I strongly suspect my former Sensei had big ego issues based on previous behaviour.

Go somewhere else for aikido, be with other people, know that there is a place where people will love to have you there, and take your time to improve. If there is no where else for aikido like in my case, do something else similar to aikido or put your aikido to good use in other martial arts. You will find a use for it some how. You will need to move on and you will find a way to do so, because after 2 years, I have.
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Old 01-03-2023, 02:37 AM   #3
Location: CA
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 72
Re: Aikido Has Been Taken From Me.

Many Aikido dojos have a major problem with teaching training context, which can create an unsafe environment. When uke blocks nage's path through prescribed kata, nage can get frustrated and power through the kata, injuring either uke, or himself, or both. There's a ton of potential mistaken beliefs in such interactions, such as:

* uke thinking that making nage's life difficult is going to help nage improve technique
* uke thinking that making nage's life difficult is a sign of uke being skilled
* nage thinking that if he can't complete the technique as prescribed, due to uke resisting, then he won't be able to complete it in reality
* both thinking that the technique represents some sort of reality-based interaction the outcome of which matters, therefore one thinks static/stiff resistance is relevant, and the other thinks that powering through resistance is relevant
* both thinking that the movement prescribed for nage, is the only one that should be done from that specific situation/angle/attack
* both thinking that "hard training" in Aikido is of some kind of benefit - either in skill, or in toughness

I've had A LOT of such broken interactions in various dojos, with me being either bad nage or bad uke. That's because I was an idiot.

Aikido practitioners with zero experience in sparring systems, have a warped understanding of what they're doing and with what spirit it is meant to be done.

Although I am now a fan of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and grappling in general, when it comes to Aikido I am really interested in what people like Corky Quackenbush and Dan Harden are doing (even though the two may individually get angry at me for putting them in the same sentence).

Aikido is a study of beneficent intention. There's a strong spiritual element there, teaching one to respond to an abstract idea of an attack with their -whole being-, and without hostile intent, without "conscious processing delay" which impedes perfect blending and creates a spike of resistance. All the martial dressing on the practice is a distraction. Aikido is perfectionist pursuit of certain idealized conflict mechanics in a lab, which, while not directly applicable to self-defense, insidiously improves our ability to deal with everyday conflict and life in general, reprogramming our kneejerk fear response to non-physical attacks into something more evolved and, well... aligned with the Universe.

You running into broken interactions and witnessing injuries is not your fault. It is the fault of the system and how it is being interpreted. Many of these people could use training in a full-contact system so they would understand the difference between Aikido (a Budo) and actual combat systems, which Aikido is not part of. Many of them have a desire to do combat systems but they try to fulfill their needs in Aikido instead, which just screws up training for everybody else.

If there's an Aikido-shaped hole in your heart after all, consider visiting that other dojo. It may offer something different, you may like the atmosphere.

Alternatively, consider Wing Chun near you.
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