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Old 06-22-2007, 09:10 AM   #26
tarik
 
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote: View Post
Jennifer Smith wrote: "We are not fighting in aikido." This one thing seems to be the hardest thing to learn about the art, and the difficulty includes everyone.
Yep. I'd go so far as to say that this is a major problem in aikido and perhaps exceptionally unique to aikido due to it's association with non-violence, which has quite a different connotation and meaning outside of budo than inside, IMO.

A significant number of people in the aikido world spend a LOT of time fighting instead of real learning. There are extremes. I'd also say that there is a significant number of people who are actively changing (or selecting) aikido to fit their (pre-aikido) idea of what "not fighting" means before they've submitted themselves to the full experience and another yet another significant number that keep trying to "add back in" what that group has taken out.

Needless to say, most of this fighting has little to do with actual training.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 06-23-2007, 08:38 AM   #27
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Do the submission guys you know call each other 'partner' or 'opponent'?
If they're Japanese, the answer is "Yes." The Japanese term used in this kind situation is "aite" 相手, which means both "partner" and "opponent".

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 06-23-2007, 08:51 AM   #28
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
If they're Japanese, the answer is "Yes." The Japanese term used in this kind situation is "aite" ??, which means both "partner" and "opponent".
We teach using the languge of aite also. We express this to mean 'mutual hand'.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 06-26-2007, 04:07 PM   #29
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Smile Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Aikido is my favorite form of "catch and release," but I do not see the "Tap" as being 'sacrosanct' and a part of an unwritten contract for immediate and unequivocal release from a hold.

A "tap" is an agreed-upon form of non-verbal communications signaling submission on the part of the tapper; The"vigor" of the tap is usually a direct indicator of the sincerity of the tap and the depth of the fear of potential injury on the part of the tapper; the response to the tap by the person inflicting the pin should vary according to circumstances. In my experience, the "tap" is not the only form of communication available in this situation -- a verbal reinforcement is usually recommended, especially a kiai, if you feel you are seriously endangered.Tapping with more than one limb (flopping like a fish) may also be called for, especially if you've trapped your only free limb, or under "busy" circumstances. Failure to communicate that you are tapping and/or submitting is construed as failure to submit, and has consequences...

Between two unfamiliar practitioners, one would assume that a tap means, "Please release me, I have no intention to cause you further injury, please do not cause me any further injury." This should result in a controlled release of the pin, and a safe separation of the two parties. A certain degree of trust is required, of course, as a part of that agreement.

Between familiar practitioners, especially between a student and an instructor, the tap maybe a signal of submission for this phase of the technique, and may simply result in a transfer to a different pin, and another tap, or a throw... Again, this is a learned agreement between the two parties.

The final allowable situation is one that plays at the edges of abusive behavior for the sake of education: Beginners (and even us oldsters) need to know the difference between pain thresholds for "This is uncomfortable" and "this will cause damage." Sometimes, the old stand-by, "no pain, no gain" is actually true. Certain counter techniques cannot be executed unless you know the difference between "this is gonna cause me some temporary pain, but be effective," and "this will damage my body." This is territory not to be stepped into lightly, nor should it be stepped into frequently - Neither should it be outright banned.

One needs to know what one's limits are, and how one responds at those limits. That being said, I also agree that truly abusive behavior should not be tolerated. But it can be a fine line, sometimes.


A little danger is a knowledge thing...

"Helping the planet make an impact on people, since 1985"
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Old 07-03-2007, 07:43 AM   #30
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Regarding aggressive sensei's I found this interview interesting.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=373
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Old 07-04-2007, 10:00 AM   #31
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote: View Post
Aikido is my favorite form of "catch and release," but I do not see the "Tap" as being 'sacrosanct' and a part of an unwritten contract for immediate and unequivocal release from a hold.

A "tap" is an agreed-upon form of non-verbal communications signaling submission on the part of the tapper; The"vigor" of the tap is usually a direct indicator of the sincerity of the tap and the depth of the fear of potential injury on the part of the tapper; the response to the tap by the person inflicting the pin should vary according to circumstances. In my experience, the "tap" is not the only form of communication available in this situation -- a verbal reinforcement is usually recommended, especially a kiai, if you feel you are seriously endangered.Tapping with more than one limb (flopping like a fish) may also be called for, especially if you've trapped your only free limb, or under "busy" circumstances. Failure to communicate that you are tapping and/or submitting is construed as failure to submit, and has consequences...

Between two unfamiliar practitioners, one would assume that a tap means, "Please release me, I have no intention to cause you further injury, please do not cause me any further injury." This should result in a controlled release of the pin, and a safe separation of the two parties. A certain degree of trust is required, of course, as a part of that agreement.

Between familiar practitioners, especially between a student and an instructor, the tap maybe a signal of submission for this phase of the technique, and may simply result in a transfer to a different pin, and another tap, or a throw... Again, this is a learned agreement between the two parties.

The final allowable situation is one that plays at the edges of abusive behavior for the sake of education: Beginners (and even us oldsters) need to know the difference between pain thresholds for "This is uncomfortable" and "this will cause damage." Sometimes, the old stand-by, "no pain, no gain" is actually true. Certain counter techniques cannot be executed unless you know the difference between "this is gonna cause me some temporary pain, but be effective," and "this will damage my body." This is territory not to be stepped into lightly, nor should it be stepped into frequently - Neither should it be outright banned.

One needs to know what one's limits are, and how one responds at those limits. That being said, I also agree that truly abusive behavior should not be tolerated. But it can be a fine line, sometimes.
This is well said and In looking at Peter Zalinskis avatar I am reminded of the brilliant boundry established by the line of the sword. One side of the blade is the 'sword that gives life' and the other side is the 'sword that takes life'. The question in training ,as uke, is 'am I being cut?' and 'which side am I being cut with?'. It takes much exposure to develop such discernment, and it takes a lot of listening to the instruction of the sword itself, beyond the struggle of people. When we struggle too much it makes it difficult to interpret the swords message: there is a line, how do you live it?
Nice inspirational post. Thanks Peter Zalinski.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-05-2007, 05:43 AM   #32
Jonathan Punt
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Im my opinion, if you tap and your instructor continuously pushes you further than necessary I dont think it would be disrespectful to mention it to him. After all he is disrespecting you by not paying any attention to your surrender.

If this fails then tap out early to protect yourself.
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:48 AM   #33
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

All I know is that if my Sensei ignored my taps to teach me how much pain I can take, I'd find anothe club.

I may be a newbie, but I'm also an adult, a person with aches and pains that Sensei will not always appreciate and, importantly, someone who has to go to work in the morning.

This is Aikido, after all.
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Old 07-05-2007, 08:50 AM   #34
Basia Halliop
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
All I know is that if my Sensei ignored my taps to teach me how much pain I can take, I'd find another club.
Yes... if someone intentionally did that my respect for them (not to mention trust) would really plummet.
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Old 09-13-2007, 10:58 PM   #35
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

It is interesting to see that most of us know how to push ourselves beyond our self-imposed limitations without help from outside. If we have such sufficient capabilities to go beyond ourselves, I guess we really don't need our teachers or any other role models.

I thought one attribute of a teacher was to be a leader. If that is so, since a leader is, in part, someone who will take us beyond what we alone are capable, then it is one function of the teacher to take you beyond your present capabilities, including, the level of flexibility and strength.

Yes, I have had teachers who without knowing what they were doing, injured me (chronically), in trying to extend my range of flexibility when I was younger. That was poor teaching and poor knowledge of the body in those teachers. My present Shihan used to push me past my point of self-imposed tolerance many times in my younger days but those lessons never did injure me, they just hurt.

Now, I have learned to push myself beyond my own usual self-imposed limits at times to try and improve. Of course, this means getting the help of my students to do so. So, I tell them do not stop putting the pin on when I tap the first time, just slow down. I like them to keep going until I tap the second time if they are not doing the pin correctly or the third time if they are doing it correctly so that it will hurt but not injure.

I will also get some of my Yudansha friends to see how hard they can throw me so that I can practice extreme Ukemi. Of course, I have to take a few days off after something like that. We did one of those a few weeks back, trying to see from how high and far we could do a hand-spring Ukemi. I had to take a day off from training after that one to put my spine and hip back in. Getting old is pain.

I do push my students once in a while, especially on the pain side but I reserve such real practice for my best students who can reciprocate for me. Regular students don't get to, nor do they want to, participate. I guess that is why they will always be just regular students. After all, why would you want to go even 90 percent with anyone but the people you trust and believe in unless you are a masochist and have a death wish.

Rock
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Old 09-14-2007, 01:13 AM   #36
Erik Jögimar
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

It's a shitty situation, sad to say

I'd have to agree with those who said that it's time to find a new teacher or dojo altogether. One of the most important things
that i have learned from my two weeks (up on three now) of
training in aikido is that i do trust those i practice with. We've
recently met, granted, but there is the mutual respect and "I dont hurt you, and you dont hurt me" attitude. This shouldn't just be between
students but teachers and students as well. But i have to say i also agree with that teachers have to help overcome limits. The self imposed ones anyway. Talk to him, and if it doesnt change, find
another dojo. You're there to learn, not to get injured.
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Old 09-14-2007, 08:12 AM   #37
Basia Halliop
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Rocky, if you _told_ them to do that, and agreed on a different way of communicating (1 tap = slow down, 3 taps = stop, or whatever you want) then of course it's different. Consent is kind of the whole point.
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Old 09-14-2007, 12:07 PM   #38
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Rocky, if you _told_ them to do that, and agreed on a different way of communicating (1 tap = slow down, 3 taps = stop, or whatever you want) then of course it's different. Consent is kind of the whole point.
By attending that teacher's classes and paying for them, you consented to his or her training methods. As always, you have the option of leaving that instructor. Take your destiny into your own hands.

And, no, it's not something you tell one another, it just happens. It probably happens because we try to make sure that the practitioners do not let off on a pin too quickly. Let down should be as slow as the tightening as injuries to the tendons and ligaments can happen as much when retracting as when stretching. When you let down slowly, the 1-2-3 taps just happens and if the person starts to counter too soon when you are letting them out of the pin, you have to put the pin on harder until they really tap out. It is kind of like not handing the knife back directly to your opponent during Tanto Dori.

When dealing with a subject that has been violent and you have calmed them down by putting on a pin or lock, you have to be careful when letting them up and be ready to put the lock or pin right back on even harder than it was before when the subject decides to retaliate after you let them up. So, you never let anyone out of a pin too fast and sometimes practice putting the pin right back on when your partner decides to try and counter as you let them out of the pin.

Some schools will have a more aggressive attitude towards practice and others will have a more placid attitude. It depends on who teaches, the environment in which they teach, and the spirit of the particular practice at which you are practicing. The nature of my work and that of the majority of my students and the locations at which my students practice tend to push for a more aggressive attitude at practice. We often power it down when guests come but the nature of the people at the Dojo require that we practice the way we do. I also have other Dojos where the people are very different and the practice is very different and I tend to be a lot easier going.

As a chief instructor, I have to be able to assess the nature of the people I am instructing so that I can tell whether they want me to push them further or if they want to stay within their comfort zone. I have to be able to tell whether the people are hard-as-nails type of people or gentle souls or vampire-killer werewolves. My instructional style, and sometimes even the types of techniques, and how I teach have to fit their needs and wants. It is no use teaching Aiki-dancing to someone living in a war zone and looking for a way to survive, or vice versa.

I guess my point is that requisite variety and freedom of choice are corollaries. It is only worth having freedom of choice if there is a sufficient variety of choices. Thus, we should not cut down those Dojos where the instructor pushes all the students or even those Dojos where they practice Aiki-Dancing or even those McDojos that practice Mckido. Without the bad we would have no good and life would be a lot more boring.

Rock
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Old 09-14-2007, 02:00 PM   #39
Basia Halliop
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

I guess I don't see how 'aggressive practice' could line up in any way with not having some quick way of telling nage to stop. It seems like the more aggressive your practice, the more you have an actual need for that. I just can't for the life of me see a benefit or justification for throwing that out .

Different dojos might have different conventions for what that is that are understood among you, I suppose. It's not like it has to be tapping.
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Old 09-17-2007, 11:22 AM   #40
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

I have no way of answering the OP without training in that dojo, and observing for myself.

I really liked Rocky's posts on this subject. Different dojo and different people within a dojo will have different limits and different ways of dealing with those limits. Be carefull, and make sure your partners and instructor know what you are up for.

Also be carefull that you are consistent in the messages you send to your partners.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 09-18-2007, 10:49 PM   #41
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Has anyone considered this something more primal....could the instructor simply be trying to establish dominance? Brian mentioned he had a wrestling background, the instructor maybe intimidated or 'threated' by Brians physical prowess. I know it may sound simplistic, but much like the MMA poster (Robert) training in Japan mentioned with any group of men, that I've ever seen, they will eventually try to establish some sort of pecking order, sometimes its overt aggressiveness (the neck crank) and sometimes its more subtle. I certainly would think most instructors would be above this but I'm postive it happens.
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Old 09-19-2007, 06:13 AM   #42
Walter Martindale
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Well, I was going to reply, and then I read Rocky's replies... I much agree. I was at practice the other night (I'm a recently graded shodan) and was practicing with the sensei at my new dojo.

Tap... pin slows down. breathe, (holy poop, OW) tap again, pin freezes... pin holds.. breathe, try to relax... actually relax a bit... tap again, pin is eased off.

See.. I NEED stretching because I'm old, injured up, and very tight. I think this sensei can sense when I need more stretching and provides if for me. Oh.. I trust the sensei at my current dojo - He's pushing my limits without harming me.. Hurt, yes, it hurts Harm, no, not quite. He could, if he was being nasty, a bully, or whatever, straight up rip my shoulder off, but he stretches me...
There's a difference.
Your sensei COULD (because you've given him/her your body to use for demonstration/practice) tear your shoulder off. Sounds to me like he's helping you extend your limits.
Cheers
W
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Old 09-20-2007, 11:30 AM   #43
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Okay, I'm ready to chime in. At least partially because of Rocky's comments.

Here's the thing: the difference between "aggressive sensei" and "high expectations" is intent. Period.

If his intent is to hurt you or to be mean or to be (is this too obvious?) aggressive, then you have the aggressive sensei. If his intent is to stretch your limits, challenge you, take you out of your comfort zone (as described in Rocky's comments) then you have the sensei with high expectations.

Only you, the one on the mat with the sensei, can decide which you believe it to be. Clearly, if you decide it's the aggressive sensei, it's time to go. But if it's the sensei who is challenging you another decision must be made. And guess whose decision it is; yep, yours.

That decision is about whether you trust that sensei. If you can't trust him, you can't accept the challenges he offers. Tough luck, move on.

If you trust your sensei, then whining about him being too hard on you is completely inappropriate. Shut up and get on with your training.

I actively discourage the whole "Sensei is Like Unto A GOD" attitude, but it's just possible he knows a little more about Aikido training than you do. If you are going to benefit from what he knows, you are going to have to accept the training the way he offers it.

If you can't, you need to move on even if he is a good teacher.

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Old 09-20-2007, 12:29 PM   #44
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

I would rather not use "aggressive" in a negative context. I have seen plenty of aikido that would be considered aggressive that is excellent stuff. I would rather use the term "malevolence" to describe behavior intent upon injury.

That said, malevolence has no place in a dojo. A proper dodjo is far too dangerous to harbor any negative behavior beyond the inherent risks of training. If sensei is deliberately injuring, that is not a safe environement.

Two comments:
1. I sometimes work with my students and push them beyond a physical limit to share the discomfort of technique, the reality of pain in training, or the consequesnces of poor technique. For example, it is difficult to learn pressure point aplication without applying pressure points to someone (or yourself). This is voluntary bye the way...
2. Sometimes I will have a &^%$& student decide he (or she) is not going to respect the seriousness of a situation, in which case I will hold a pin longer to reinforce the nature of discomfort and compliance. This also helps illustrate his (or her) response is not the correct one.

I believe discomfort is part of good aikido training. But I also believe that discomfort is part of learning. I do not support causing unecessary discomfort without the learning component. Finally, causing discomfort should always be circumstantial. I would never force a student beyond a physcial, mental, of social limitation without their consent.
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Old 09-20-2007, 10:29 PM   #45
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

One way to tell if the person you are working with is being malevolent is to see if they want what they dish out, back. Those times I've played with someone I thought was malevolent, I just thanked them and notched up my intensity a bit. If they smiled and kept going, especially with a thanks reply, great! Most who were simply being malevolent got a lot nicer real quick. With those who became indignant, I simply notched up my intensity even higher. What is good for the goose is good for the turkey.

Rock

P.S. That includes those who are of higher rank than me by a dan grade or so.

Reminds me of time my Shihan had me work over a Godan when I was a Sandan because the Godan was being too rough with the beginners. He just said: Go over there and work out with . . . .

R

Last edited by Rocky Izumi : 09-20-2007 at 10:33 PM. Reason: A P.S.
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:00 AM   #46
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Hey Rock,

Seen that one myself! Usually works wonders.

But what do you do when you have someone who eats that kind of stuff up, and it doesn't even phase them? There are some nasty people out there that are still physically top notch. I (unfortunately) don't always see a correlation between rank and ethics...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:05 PM   #47
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Hiroaki Izumi wrote: View Post
One way to tell if the person you are working with is being malevolent is to see if they want what they dish out, back.
And, mostly, I agree.

The one caveat I would have, though, is illustrated best by something I do as a teacher.

I really can't handle some of the more physical high falls anymore. My body just won't put up with it. I don't have to like it (and I don't), but I do have to live with it.

Nonetheless, I have some younger students who need to be "tossed about" a bit. I avoided doing this to them for a while after I realized I couldn't take equal treatment feeling like I would just be self-indulgent - a bully - if I did. Then I had a major wakeup call on the subject.

One of my students was working with a student from an affiliated school and he couldn't handle the falls. I realized it was because he never took falls like that. I further realized the only one in the school who could provide him (and his peers) the opportunity to take those kinds of falls was me. Only me.

So whether I can take it or not, I have to dish it out. Not doing so was severely limiting their training experience.

Followed some heavy duty soul-searching on how to do this without becoming the bully I feared I could become and I settled on a plan which is working and all my students have much better ukemi almost overnight.

I guess the lesson from this is consider the physical limitations of your Shihan/Sensei/Sempai and their personality.

Last edited by mriehle : 09-21-2007 at 04:10 PM. Reason: Removed story about Shihan. It's worthwhile story, but misplaced in this thread. It just sounds like complaining here.

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Old 09-21-2007, 05:31 PM   #48
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hey Rock,

Seen that one myself! Usually works wonders.

But what do you do when you have someone who eats that kind of stuff up, and it doesn't even phase them? There are some nasty people out there that are still physically top notch. I (unfortunately) don't always see a correlation between rank and ethics...

Best,
Ron
Break them. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for I am the meanest SOB in the valley.

As you get older, you train someone to take your place as my Shihan did with me. Then, you teach them some "special" techniques that you keep behind for use with such nasty people. I guess there is still a place for "secret" techniques.

Rock
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:04 PM   #49
Karen Wolek
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

>>Last edited by mriehle : Yesterday at 06:10 PM. Reason: Removed story about Shihan. It's worthwhile story, but misplaced in this thread. It just sounds like complaining here.>>

Awwwwww, I wanna hear the story, Uncle Michael! Come on, pretty please????

Karen
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Old 09-24-2007, 01:23 PM   #50
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Re: Aggressive sensei or high expectations?

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Karen Wolek wrote: View Post
Awwwwww, I wanna hear the story, Uncle Michael! Come on, pretty please????
Okay Here you go.

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