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Old 01-25-2009, 02:53 PM   #1
"SCR"
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Need Advice - Disruptive Student

I have been teaching at a small dojo for several years. I don't charge a fee, the students manage the dojo operation. I have not run into any problems until recently. The problem is a new student who has done some years of Aikido. He has become disruptive and is manipulating the dojo. Here's what is happening. The new student is really demonstrating a Alpha male challenge to me. He is arrogant because of his experience and has a very controlling personality. He constantly challenges me at ever corner. He likes to sabotage and undermine my position as a sensei. He has this attitude that I am some how his prison bitch. I don't outwardly slap him down. I do take his abuse because I don't react to his behavior as if he is my prison bitch. I don't think it is an appropriate thing to do in an Aikido class. I don't have the opportunity slap him down verbally privately. Lately, he bring in weapons not part of Aikido and dangerously (mocking) threatening postures toward me as part of him trying to be dominate. It is not my dojo. It is the students dojo who asked me to teach. The students haven't moved to kick him out because it doesn't directly affect them.

I want to live the dojo, but until the student elect the other guy and tell me they want him, I still feel obligated and have a responsibility to them.

What is a sensei like me who isn't into the Alpha male non-sense to do?
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Old 01-26-2009, 12:05 AM   #2
Aikibu
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Hmmmmm....

Fire him/Kick him out

Use him as Uke for every technique until he mellows out

If you're the Sensei then it's your Dojo and it's your rules period.

If you can't assert yourself to your students you have no business teaching.

William Hazen
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:13 AM   #3
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

If you're not of the type to knock some sense into him physically then kick him out.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:26 AM   #4
Marc Abrams
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

SCR:

YOU ARE THE SENSEI! This is a leadership role and you need to act in that capacity. I would frankly speak to this person privately and inform him that his actions will no longer be tolerated. If it does not stop immediately, dismiss him from the class. The students will/should rally behind you. PUSH THE ISSUE, DUE NOT LET IT FESTER!

Marc Abrams
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:45 AM   #5
gregstec
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
SCR:

YOU ARE THE SENSEI !
Marc is right - you are the Sensei and YOU must provide leadership in the dojo regardless of who actually runs the dojo - on the mat, you lead all activity. If this individual does not understand that, then he has no idea of mat protocol and apparently is not very experienced in martial arts even though he may have some talent.

If you want to be the Sensei, take charge or step down and let this other clown run things.

Greg Steckel
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:01 AM   #6
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

The other students need to understand that this attitude is unacceptable in any kind of dojo, and that if they want to learn any kind of martial art, they cannot tolerate something like this. Either this guy leaves, or you do.
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:05 AM   #7
Jonathan
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Welcome to being a sensei! I don't know how many times I've had my authority on the mat, if not outright challenged, at least tested. I've had bouncers, karate instructors, jujitsu guys, and just plain meatheads try to show me up in my own dojo. As far as I'm concerned, it goes with the territory. If this guy won't respect you on the mats, tell him to take a hike. If he tries to mess with you physically, plant him so hard he takes root. Whatever you do, don't let it continue.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:43 AM   #8
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

A quiet word first, off the mat and out of earshot of the others......
If you get a negative response, make it clear you don't wish to be rude, crude or lewd, but it seems that what you do is not adequate enough for him....... If he doesn't like it, tell him to clear off and go somewhere else.....
If that doesn't work and he gets physical and you can't manage it, seems he gets to take over?...... bad news for you and maybe your students..... ?
Can you handle him? if not, you may have to call law reinforcement?......
Do you have a students union that may be able to settle it?

I know what I would do personally, but maybe you would not like to hear that.....

Put it this way I have had to deal with this kind of problem in the past and dealt with it in a very direct way, suffice to say it got rid of the problem without any question.....

Your call really I think!

Tony

Last edited by Tony Wagstaffe : 01-26-2009 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:34 AM   #9
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I want to live the dojo, but until the student elect the other guy and tell me they want him, I still feel obligated and have a responsibility to them.

What is a sensei like me who isn't into the Alpha male non-sense to do?
A dojo is not democracy. Students can't elect a sensei - it must be a bad joke. This is biggest nonsense I've ever heard.
I think you are not in the right place - you have not capacity to be instructor nor the leader of the dojo.
Do you have any teacher? Is he aware you are teaching? Who taught you aikido?

Leading a dojo has nothing to do with Alpha, beta or whatever nonsense. It is a lot of responsibility and you must be able to deal with difficulties and not trying to find cheap excuse for your evident weakness.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:59 AM   #10
heathererandolph
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

In practicing Aikido we do learn how to manage conflict, so this is another challenge for you. I think you can kick him out. This is a case where "nature abhors a void." Since there is no leadership, this student has stepped in and taken that role.

Since that is apparently how you want to run the dojo, by consensus, then I suggest you meet with the other students, let them know that you would strongly suggest not allowing this student to practice with you any longer for the reasons you have listed. I'm sure your vote counts for a lot, as they are dependent on you and if you're not happy I'm sure that they are not happy. I have a hard time believing that they have not been negatively impacted by this situation.

Now, since conflict resolution is what we learn in Aikido, it would certainly be ideal if you could resolve this situation some other way. Kicking a student out is a drastic measure in my mind and doesn't really solve the problem from coming up another day with a different student.

Have you sat down and spoken to this disruptive student? If he is bothering you then you have I think a mandate to talk to him about what you expect behavior in an Aikido class to be. Weather or not he's being an "Alpha male" is not your concern, just that this class is for you and the students, you are unpaid, and in every class there needs to be rules for yourself and for the students to learn properly. It may not work, but it's a start.

For the purposes of prevention going forward, I suggest giving each new student information on the class and what is expected of them. If would be a good idea to officially register them and take their information so that even though they don't pay, they understand that this is a class and there are expectations for both them and yourself. If you want another student to handle it then they can do it. I think that would help prevent future problems.

I don't know anything about your teaching style, but it might be a good idea to get some feedback from your students on their impression of you as their teacher.
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Old 01-26-2009, 04:52 PM   #11
aikidoc
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

I don't feel anyone not involved in the situation can determine whether someone is qualified to teach or not.

However, some bigger issues are emerging:
1. The person is disruptive and is not meshing well with the culture of the dojo.
2. The person appears to be challenging your authority. I don't know if he out ranks you or not; however, his behavior is not acceptable and he is disrespectful.
3. You appear to be tolerating this behavior.

It is clear you need to establish authority in the dojo. There can only be one sensei on the mat and unless the dojo somehow kicks you out you are the one to set the standards. No outside weapons without permission.

If it was me, I would attempt to find a way to pull him aside and let him know the standards of the dojo in no uncertain terms. I would give him a chance to correct his behavior and if not he's out. Period. No more discussion. I would let him know this in no uncertain terms. If your students are loyal this should not be an issue. He needs to understand that this is not acceptable behavior for any martial artist. If your students are not loyal, I feel sorry for them because this person is a bad influence.

If you are part of a larger organization, you might seek consult from someone more senior and perhaps bring them in to assess the situation.
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:31 PM   #12
Nick P.
 
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
A dojo is not democracy. Students can't elect a sensei - it must be a bad joke. This is biggest nonsense I've ever heard.
I think you are not in the right place - you have not capacity to be instructor nor the leader of the dojo.
Do you have any teacher? Is he aware you are teaching? Who taught you aikido?

Leading a dojo has nothing to do with Alpha, beta or whatever nonsense. It is a lot of responsibility and you must be able to deal with difficulties and not trying to find cheap excuse for your evident weakness.
A dojo is not a democracy, that is correct. But if this dojo has chosen to run itself in this manner (and from the tone of the original post, it has) then who are you to say differently, and what makes you think your post in any way helps?

The tone you are taking in this post sounds just like the student the original poster is having an issue with; arrogant & full of ego.

Last edited by Nick P. : 01-26-2009 at 09:41 PM.

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Old 01-26-2009, 11:11 PM   #13
Buck
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Booya, a real issue about the stuff men have to suffer.

This situation is the reverse of all those threads where a female is being harassed. In this thread now we have a male being harassed by another male. I think that is usually the case for us guys where we are pushed out by another guy. It is just as humiliating etc. as it is in all the posted situations for women being sexually or otherwise harassed in the dojo. For guys this is male on male sexual harassment is the same type stuff. A classic power struggle of the animal world. The pack (the dojo) wants a new alpha male. The challenger wants a new pack and will banish the old alpha male unto the wilderness. Yea, this stuff is all over the Animal channel, and in Aikido dojos.

My take is this, silence from the students means they don't want you, they don't have the thingys to tell you that. No one is going to be happy there as long as you stay. I say leave. You have no responsibility or obligation to anyone but yourself.

Notice the advice we give men vs. women. Where is the warm fuzzies for this poor dude. i.e. lacking warm fuzzies from certain women. I don't know if Marie Noelle Fequiere is male or female- I just go will all women then at this point.

Last edited by Buck : 01-26-2009 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 05:24 AM   #14
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Good post Heather.

If the usurper is allowed to continue then students will pick up on it and some will no doubt mirror his behavior.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:54 AM   #15
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Quote:
Nick Pittson wrote: View Post
A dojo is not a democracy, that is correct. But if this dojo has chosen to run itself in this manner (and from the tone of the original post, it has) then who are you to say differently, and what makes you think your post in any way helps?
.
This topic is not about disruptive student - the topic's author has an issue with his own perception of an aikido instructor.
Anyone who teaches (not only aikido) knows that there are many different types of students, and it is a teacher job to deal with that. If he is not able to do that (i.e. use his authority) he should stop teaching. It is not for him. That is why I think my post will help him a lot. It may help him to (re)define himself - who is he.

And the set up of his dojo is completly sick. I bet it is in Californie.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:58 AM   #16
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
And the set up of his dojo is completly sick. I bet it is in Californie.
Oh behave unpronouncable one.
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Old 01-27-2009, 12:55 PM   #17
Nick P.
 
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
This topic is not about disruptive student - the topic's author has an issue with his own perception of an aikido instructor.
Anyone who teaches (not only aikido) knows that there are many different types of students, and it is a teacher job to deal with that. If he is not able to do that (i.e. use his authority) he should stop teaching. It is not for him. That is why I think my post will help him a lot. It may help him to (re)define himself - who is he.

And the set up of his dojo is completly sick. I bet it is in Californie.
Why then did the poster not ask "Help me define what it means to be a Sensei?" It seems that you have an issue with his role as the instructor and how he sees he should fill it.

Just like there are many types of students, there are many different types of teachers; to think otherwise would be so myopic as to border on the intellectually challenged, perhaps even stunted....which is neither unique to the West or East coast, indeed even to this continent.

Saying it is sick, well, that simply holds true to your pattern of posts, and is insulting and demeaning....not just to the original poster.

Last edited by Nick P. : 01-27-2009 at 12:58 PM.

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Old 01-27-2009, 01:41 PM   #18
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

I might not phrase it the same way...but Mr. S. has some very good points.

I think it may be *one* of the reasons a lot of organizations don't let someone out on their own until 3rd dan. From the post, I'm guessing shodan or even less. I can't see anyone 3rd dan even asking this question. Your dojo, your rules. If he doesn't want to stay, let him go. If he doesn't go peacefully, help him. If you can't, 911, let them help him.

And Mr. S is definately right when he says that it's not about Alpha male stuff. If some man breaks in your house and threatens violence, are you going to worry about Alpha male? You'll kick his butt if you can, call the cops if you can't, either way, you'll do what it takes to protect your family.

If you find this bozo's pressense in your dojo threatening...same same.
Best,
Ron (it's all about helping him, right? )

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 01-27-2009 at 01:44 PM.

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Old 01-27-2009, 01:43 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Well, I'm in California...and I'm certainly not an alpha male...but if I were instructing class - even in the role of a senior student substituting for the sensei - I would consider myself responsible for the tone of that specific class, the safety of the students, etc, and would certainly deal with any disruption in a direct and forthright manner.

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Old 01-27-2009, 07:01 PM   #20
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

"I have been asked to instruct at this dojo by its board of directors. Until the board finds a replacement, I am the chief instructor and will set the rules and tone for the dojo. As chief instructor, I find your conduct inappropriate for the tone I intend to have at this dojo and disrespectful to my position, the board of directors, and the entire dojo.

I am giving you options. 1. You can act appropriately, respecting the rules of the dojo and ALL the people that are a part of it, and remain a member 2. You can act inappropriately and lose your membership. One strike and you are out. Once removed, if you return, it is criminal trespassing and the authorities will be involved. 3. You can leave on your own accord and invite members to go with you. If people wish to follow you knowing your lack respect, they don't belong here anyway."

Say it to him in front of the entire membership. Lay the cards on the table. Give him options. It also gives the board the option to keep you or find a replacement. It also gives potential fools within the club the option to follow this hooligan.

I'm no expert, but I find when I give others choices, I normally end up in a better situation.

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:46 AM   #21
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Nicely put, Ron.

Nagababa

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Old 01-28-2009, 11:43 AM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Hey Mr. S, great minds think alike?
Best,
Ron (hope you are well)

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Old 01-28-2009, 12:16 PM   #23
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

sankyo & nikkyo hurt you know.

Seriously though, if the dude is disruptive, as a teacher make it clear you wont tolerate this behavior.
(No Im not talking about resorting to violence... the opening was a joke.)

They own the dojo, true, but they asked YOU to teach.
Can it be that they want this guy to teach now?
If so, then that is not a problem either, as you go with the flow of things.
Why resist, and make things worse, if that is the case?

Perhaps you two can try to learn from each other...maybe with a little humility see why he does his techniques how he does it.
You never know, you might just have a new assistant teacher. (though I agree that many would say it would be nice to evolve the attitude a bit.)

peace

dAlen

Last edited by dalen7 : 01-28-2009 at 12:29 PM.

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Old 01-28-2009, 01:07 PM   #24
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

SRC
In 52 years I have never experienced such a problem as yours. My students know that I would not tolerate such a situation as you describe. I have had the occasional idiot who I have thrown out physically. You should have dealt with this situation at the outset.
Your students will be well aware of your discomfort, to win back their respect you need to deal with the problem ` NOW `.........
Either you run the dojo, or the other guy does ? only you have the answer.

Henry Ellis
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:02 PM   #25
Russ Q
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Re: Need Advice - Disruptive Student

Hey SCR,

Sounds like an intimidating guy for sure. BUT, you've chosen to be in the position of instructor - even if there is no dojo cho per se, you have to take the lead and deal with this student one way or another. Sounds like you are unsure about your abilities and lack experience. That's not an insult to you, it seems that's just the way it is. So, what to do? Maybe take this lesson and move on - train more - find a sensei whom you like and focus on your training so if/when this situation happens in the future you are better equipped to deal with it. The other students - if they are in charge, really, should've dealt with this already. If they're unwilling to deal with it and you are unable to deal with it, you have a very superficial situation even without the !#@t disturber.

If you have the ability to deal with him, then ask him up for uke. Be open to what he's doing and the energy he's giving. Don't worry about making mistakes if he changes the energy. Clearly point out his openings with strikes (not words). Do henka waza (change the technique) based on what he's giving you and explain to your students why we practise KATA and, when we do kata, we need honest energy from uke or you have to change the technique. Take what he gives you with an openess and have compassion for him. He's scared of something if he's treating you like his "prison bitch". Make sure your actions set a positive example for your students to follow.

Good luck,

Russ
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