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Old 11-07-2001, 03:42 PM   #1
Jonathan
Dojo: North Winnipeg Aikikai
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Testing limits

About three months or so after I had obtained my shodan rank I met my shihan again at another of his seminars. He called me up to be uke for a suwari waza demonstration of kata-tori nikyo. When he applied nikyo he did not stop exerting pressure even after I lay flat and tapped to indicate pain. Instead, he slowly but steadily stretched my wrist til I thought it would break. When he finally let me up he slapped me on the back and with a grin loudly announced to those watching that I was a new shodan.

Afterward, my wrist swelled up and was very sore for three months. Actually, its never been the same. My right wrist, the one he cranked, is now less flexible than my left. He has done this a couple of other times since.

What do you think about this sort of thing? Good? Bad? Do you have any similar stories?

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 11-07-2001, 04:01 PM   #2
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At least he didn't break it - I've heard of far worse trials by fire. I didn't stop leaking for two weeks after my shodan from all the dogi and mat burns not too mention the wounds where the head shaving took some skin.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-07-2001, 04:01 PM   #3
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Yes. These guys always slap you on the back and grin after [nearly] breaking your wrist.
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Old 11-07-2001, 04:10 PM   #4
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Ai symbol Limits

Hi Jonathan,

I can empathise with you.

I had both my wrists sprained within a matter of weeks of each other during randori with my sensei a few years ago. Sankyo was applied, the joint was near its limit, but I did not tap out, so he turned a second time. AS he began the second turn the technique was on and I tapped, but it was too late. The same thing happened a few weeks later on the next side after the first had swollen up.

If nothing else, I learned how to effectively counter sankyo (tenkai kotehineri for Shodokan guys) since then

Since then they've actually gotten more flexible, and I've become almost immune to most wrist techniques. However, they both have a constant clicking noise and tend to hurt when the weather gets colder.

Personally, I believe that all Aikidoka should develop a feel for joint locks to understand the point of tightness where the lock is on and learn to stop as soon as a tap is heard. Especially higher grades who tend to do techniques with more speed and fluidity.

When I signed on for Aikido I knew it was a martial art and as such, damage could happen, so I prepared myself for the eventuality. However, I think Aiki means "harmony of energy" - in this case the tori should be able to feel the point of tension of a joint lock and harmonise with the uke by maintaining enough pressure to control, but not so much as to damage.

If we ignore control in our Aikido technique, we might as well be doing old style combat Aikijujitsu (where I experienced a similar misfortune to that described above) an start breaking and straining joints.

Hope I didn't ramble 2 much.
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 11-07-2001, 04:23 PM   #5
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Count on Larry to be sensible (waves)

There are rights of passage in any group and usually involve things far beyond what you normally get in training. I alluded to some that I experienced and there are many other examples - they are often unique to a group.

If Shodan let's say was just a test on techniques that you have been preparing for then the Shodan would be anticlimatic. You need something else. I bet within a year you will be telling your kohei about that god awfull nikkyo rather than any technique you performed.

You will heal.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-07-2001, 06:26 PM   #6
deepsoup
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Re: Testing limits

Quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan
About three months or so after I had obtained my shodan rank I met my shihan again at another of his seminars. He called me up to be uke for a suwari waza demonstration of kata-tori nikyo. When he applied nikyo he did not stop exerting pressure even after I lay flat and tapped to indicate pain. Instead, he slowly but steadily stretched my wrist til I thought it would break. When he finally let me up he slapped me on the back and with a grin loudly announced to those watching that I was a new shodan.

Afterward, my wrist swelled up and was very sore for three months. Actually, its never been the same. My right wrist, the one he cranked, is now less flexible than my left. He has done this a couple of other times since.

What do you think about this sort of thing? Good? Bad? Do you have any similar stories?
The nearest experience I've had to that was at a seminar quite a few years ago. Nobody there had any real experience of aikido, least of all me. As a fit young judo shodan (like I said, quite a few years ago! ) I was one of only a couple of students with confident ukemi, and ended up being the instructors uke a lot of the time.

At one point he pinned me, and when I tapped out he backed off only slightly, told me I was too tense, and if I'd only relax there was a lot more stretch in there. He then had me breathe deeply, and slowly extended the lock much further than I'd thought possible. When I tapped this time, he released the lock immediately, and said 'well done'.

That was entirely a positive experience, and stays with me even now.

But Jonathon, what you describe sounds like a kind of affectionate bullying. I doesn't seem like a good thing to me at all, it seems rather creepy I'm afraid.

Quote:
Peter R wrote:There are rights of passage in any group and usually involve things far beyond what you normally get in training. I alluded to some that I experienced and there are many other examples - they are often unique to a group.

If Shodan let's say was just a test on techniques that you have been preparing for then the Shodan would be anticlimatic.
I dont think those kinds of rites of passage involved with a group (what makes me so sure you're talking about an all male group, btw?) have anything to do with aikido. Squaddies, rugby players, that kind of male bonding malarky goes on all over the place, which is all well and good.

There is definitely a place for that kind of ritual, you go out into the jungle a boy, kill an otter with nothing but a plastic spoon, plait a cd rack out of your eyebrows and return... a MAN!!

Beyond a bit of friendly rivalry in the randori, I dont think theres any place for that kind of horseplay on the mat though.

When I got my judo shodan, it was a terrible anticlimax. I'd been so determined to get my black-belt that it hadn't really occurred to me I'd still have a lifetime of training ahead of me before I would get anywhere. I was young and daft, and became rather disillusioned.

I'll be testing for shodan again (Shodokan this time) in a month or two, and this time I dont intend to make the same mistake. If I'm successful, it means the end of a few short years as a kyu grade, which against the backdrop of a whole lifetime of training is pretty small beer. I know that when I put that black-belt on for the first time, I'll be exactly the same guy who was wearing a brown-belt the week before. (Thank goodness I dont have to cope with falling over an unfamiliar hakama, the way new shodans in other styles often do!)

'Beginning step' indeed.

Sean
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Old 11-07-2001, 07:09 PM   #7
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Jonathan,

To me this sounds like a mean-spirited violation of your trust. You placed you safety in his hands. He took advantage of your trust and caused you months of discomfort - probably physical and mental. I think it is dangerous to dismiss this a trial by fire or rite of passage. In my opinion, for something to be a trial by fire or right of passage (at least in the dojo), the person must voluntarily subject himself to it. You were laying unsuspecting on the mat and he did what any thug off the street could have done to you in that position.

Peter is correct in that the Shodan test can be more than a test of techniques, however there are much better ways to make the test memorable than getting in a cheap shot on your student 3 months after the test !

I don't have any stories like this, however you will find a few of them in the book Dueling with O-Sensei (by Ellis Amdur). Great book. I recommend you read it.

Brian
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Old 11-07-2001, 07:25 PM   #8
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Smile

If anyone here watches Star Trek this could resemble the Klingon's "right of ascension" where the inductee walks through a corridor of his superiors and gets zapped with "pain sticks" in order to become a "man". Anyway, I can understand applying focused technique at the shodan level or above (especially during demonstrations). However, if anyone intentionally broke a limb or joint of mine they would receive the same sucker punch--after which I would quit and join a real Aikido club.
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Old 11-07-2001, 07:54 PM   #9
Erik
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Re: Testing limits

Quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan
Afterward, my wrist swelled up and was very sore for three months. Actually, its never been the same. My right wrist, the one he cranked, is now less flexible than my left. He has done this a couple of other times since.
You tapped and it was ignored.

Call him on it. Ask him why he kept the pressure on after you had tapped. His answer, or lack thereof, will tell you a great deal. Have you talked to your sensei about this? Or, is he your sensei? Of course, you risk ruining the relationship this way but it's a relationship that isn't doing too well anyway.

You tap, the move ends and pressure is released. Personal experience tells me it is never exactly that clean but this is a matter that you should be concerned about. You've been injured. I could sort of buy into this if he hadn't hurt you because you might not know your limits. However, he has injured you and so it's not really negotiable in my mind.

This is not a right of passage and I second the reading of Ellis Amdur's book.

PS: I have to be honest and say that I would never get on the mat with that man again. You seem to be wanting a way to work things out so I tried to give you one. I hope it does come to a positive conclusion but I'm betting you aren't the first person he's injured and....I think you can figure the rest out.

Last edited by Erik : 11-07-2001 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 11-07-2001, 08:28 PM   #10
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Well, I've done some pretty silly male bonding things in my time, like chugging a liter of 7-up on my green bean run in Korea, and snorting cayenne pepper at my first dojo...

But those were voluntary stupid acts.



If this were a thread about a kyu student, or even a dan student twisting the wrist of a kohai after he'd tapped, especially to the point that it was injured, we'd have nothing but condemnation for the thug. How much more so when the one twisting is in theory able to feel when a joint is near the point of damage?

One of my favorite teachers can immediately find the limit of my quite flexible joints when using me for uke, and is never shy about keeping me on the edge of tapping through a technique. But when I tap, he releases, and has never hurt me. I don't think I could respect someone who injured me on purpose.
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Old 11-07-2001, 08:32 PM   #11
Jonathan
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Well, this is quite an array of responses. Actually, I am nearing my sandan test so this experience I shared was some time ago. He has pinned me just as hard since -- one time I was certain he had broken my wrist! You know, I never felt that he was pinning me hard out of a mean spirit. As many of you suggested, it seems to me to be a rite of passage or test of martial spirit.

My shihan is from Japan and doesn't speak english well. It has been hard, consequently, to discover why he does this sort of thing. The most I have gathered is that such painful moments characterized his own training. My shihan is one tough nut and, as perverse as this may sound, I kind of like that he is this way, even if it means I get roughed up a bit. I fear I have painted a dark picture of my shihan; but he is not this way. He has been surprisingly gentle at times (not so much with me)and has a ready smile.

I didn't intend to sound as though I was complaining about my injuries. Not at all! I just wondered how commonplace this kind of treatment was in the Aikido world. My purpose in posting was along the lines of "you show me your bullet wound and I'll show you mine".

Anyway, thanks for your replies!

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 11-07-2001, 09:40 PM   #12
jedd
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Jonathon, "Shihans" are human too, what he did was wrong...he is not furthering your development by inflicting injury and I would really question his intentions
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Old 11-07-2001, 09:53 PM   #13
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
If this were a thread about a kyu student, or even a dan student twisting the wrist of a kohai after he'd tapped, especially to the point that it was injured, we'd have nothing but condemnation for the thug.
I think you nailed it here.

Last edited by Erik : 11-07-2001 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 11-08-2001, 01:29 AM   #14
Young-In Park
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca

If this were a thread about a kyu student, or even a dan student twisting the wrist of a kohai after he'd tapped, especially to the point that it was injured, we'd have nothing but condemnation for the thug.
If your sensei, especially a shihan, demonstrates twisting the wrist even after your partner taps out, that is what you're supposed to do.

Anything less should be considered disrespectful to the sensei, bad form and/or arrogance.

Hopefully you're a higher rank than your partner so you can go first...

YoungIn Park
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Old 11-08-2001, 01:40 AM   #15
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hopefully everyone can see the sarcasm in my previous post...

YoungIn Park
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Old 11-08-2001, 03:45 AM   #16
Anne
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At my dojo, everbody with confident ukemi can and will be called up to be uke for demonstrating a technique. And of course, you want to look good, make your sensei look good, show nice ukemi, etc. I have very flexible joints but find myself letting them get stretched a bit more when being uke for sensei. BUT, when you slap, it has to be over. Anyone, even a shihan, has to respect that. It's your body. If sensei wants to demonstate a particular thing about a lock, at least the pressure has to be released.

Anne

"You have to do difficult things to grow." (Shoji Nishio Sensei)
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Old 11-08-2001, 06:49 AM   #17
ian
 
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Absolutely agree. Although you can generally get a 'feel' for how much pain you are applying, not stopping when someone taps suggests a lack of respect for you and is very dangerous and iresponsible. I'm sure if you did that to someone else in his class he would be very severe. Such double standards would suggest that the Shihan has an ego problem. Unfortuantely not everyone who learns martial arts uses it wisely. I expect it was a 'rites of passage' excercise, but there are far far better ones (such as severe excercise) which would not damage you, not produce a loss of respect (and trust) for the Shihan, and probably be of some benefit.

If aikido has taught me anything, it is that I am no better nor any worse than anyone else, even the most violent attacker. These actions suggest that this Shihan does not feel this way. Is he sincerely trying to teach you to become good at aikido or is he just a show off in a skirt? Whats the point of learning a self-defence if your instructor damages you more than an attacker would?

Ian

Last edited by ian : 11-08-2001 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 11-08-2001, 07:00 AM   #18
ian
 
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Also reminds me of a time I joined an 'Aikido' club in West Drayton (London). I found it strange because they never moved off centre line and they blocked attacks rather than re-directing energy (I'd seen more fluid ju-jitsu sessions). I mentioned this to the instructor at the end (privately), whence he pinned me and proceeded to inflict as much pain as possible on various joints. Nothing was broken (though I had some serious bruising). Admittedly he was very good at pins, but he didn't prove anything to me except he was not confident in his own abilities. Obviously I never went back.

Ian
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Old 11-08-2001, 08:39 AM   #19
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Re: Re: Testing limits

Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup
At one point he pinned me, and when I tapped out he backed off only slightly, told me I was too tense, and if I'd only relax there was a lot more stretch in there. He then had me breathe deeply, and slowly extended the lock much further than I'd thought possible. When I tapped this time, he released the lock immediately, and said 'well done'.
I have done this and have had it done to me. Part of the job of instructor is to push you beyond where you think you are capable of going.
Quote:
But Jonathon, what you describe sounds like a kind of affectionate bullying. I doesn't seem like a good thing to me at all, it seems rather creepy I'm afraid.
I saw it the same way as what you described happened to you - it wasn't a brutal crank just slow and steady.
Quote:
I dont think those kinds of rites of passage involved with a group (what makes me so sure you're talking about an all male group, btw?) have anything to do with aikido. Squaddies, rugby players, that kind of male bonding malarky goes on all over the place, which is all well and good.
Well I was talking about Shodokan Honbu which definately has good representation from both sexes. One of the things you would notice if you spent anytime there is that there is a mutual agreement as to what happens to you. There are men and women who don't want to go to the level of budo training that other men and women do and make no mistake the training is budo in its truest sense. There is a certain amount of toughening up that goes on but only to those who want to go there. That said the shaved head was definately a guy thing and the weeping friction burns were a result of me pushing myself and getting pushed to bring my ukemi up to the level I wanted it and where I thought Nariyama wanted it.
Quote:
There is definitely a place for that kind of ritual, you go out into the jungle a boy, kill an otter with nothing but a plastic spoon, plait a cd rack out of your eyebrows and return... a MAN!!
Brilliant imagery.
Quote:
I'll be testing for shodan again (Shodokan this time) in a month or two, and this time I dont intend to make the same mistake. If I'm successful, it means the end of a few short years as a kyu grade, which against the backdrop of a whole lifetime of training is pretty small beer. I know that when I put that black-belt on for the first time, I'll be exactly the same guy who was wearing a brown-belt the week before. (Thank goodness I dont have to cope with falling over an unfamiliar hakama, the way new shodans in other styles often do!)

'Beginning step' indeed.
Well yes Sean it is and you are - but it still is a milestone in the context of your training until that time. At Shodokan Honbu for instance Dan grade has other meaning beyond a passing of a technique requirement. Ask Scott to translate the kanji on his belt and what the kun represents. Good luck by the way and let us know how it went.

Last edited by PeterR : 11-08-2001 at 08:54 AM.

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Old 11-08-2001, 08:52 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Young-In Park

If your sensei, especially a shihan, demonstrates twisting the wrist even after your partner taps out, that is what you're supposed to do.

Anything less should be considered disrespectful to the sensei, bad form and/or arrogance.

Hopefully you're a higher rank than your partner so you can go first...

YoungIn Park
Don't worry we got the sarcasm. Of course if you don't like the training leave - not everything is for everybody. Since it was my quote you mis-apply I can only add that if you look to the original thread the above option was there too. I was talking about deliberately going off on a tangent - sensei be dammed. If you think you know better than the teacher and don't like what is being taught - why train there.

There are dojos out there where pushing the limits in this way is quite common and expected of sempai to kohei. Being a bit of a wuss not to mention valuing my joints I choose not to train in this way. I've taken it - and did not go back although to be fair the opprotunity did not arise (at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Picture a very small dojo in the middle of nowhere near Tsuchira, Ibaraki overseen by an old man with wrists as thick as tree trunks and students that looked like they just walked off of a building lot. Most painful training I have ever done - this was Aikikai, apparently the old guy trained under the other old guy.

And just to be clear I am not making a statement as how something should be just pointing out what there is. There are appoaches to out little thing called Budo very different from what we personally practice. It is a mistake to view them entirely from our perspective since the goals are often so different.



Last edited by PeterR : 11-08-2001 at 03:08 PM.

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Old 11-08-2001, 03:11 PM   #21
[Censored]
 
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My tolerance of pain and wasted practice time is rather low. Actually, I reached my limit a long time ago. I've had enough.

I practice to stop hurt or give hurt. Get hurt? It is already too easy, there is no need for practice.
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Old 11-08-2001, 03:12 PM   #22
ze'ev erlich
 
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it was by mistake

Hi, I am sure he didn't want to damage your wrist. He may did want to hurt you a bit more than usual, but I don't think it is possible he had any intention to break something.
The only thing one can do is to remember that Nikkyo and Sankyo can be really dangerous. You must let your sensei know of any pain or problem you have. I am sure he will be careful.

Ze'ev from Masatake Dojo Rehovot
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Old 11-08-2001, 03:28 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by [Censored]
My tolerance of pain and wasted practice time is rather low.
Too much time on my hands this afternnon - sorry people. I must say that my pain tolerance is much higher now than when I first started.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-08-2001, 04:45 PM   #24
Young-In Park
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Quote:
Originally posted by PeterR

I must say that my pain tolerance is much higher now than when I first started.
I, unlike the durable Peter, am a delicate flower. I don't understand why people keep trying to violently rip my petals off...

YoungIn
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Old 11-08-2001, 04:50 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Young-In Park

I, unlike the durable Peter, am a delicate flower. I don't understand why people keep trying to violently rip my petals off...

YoungIn
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