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Old 04-08-2009, 02:43 PM   #26
Cyrijl
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
But the whole context of the "respectful challenge" doesn't exist in the here and now. Also, I'm willing to bet that many (most?) of us live somewhere where you could get into a world of legal hurt if someone took you up on this challenge and got injured. In the modern world, the idea behind this "open invitation" to dance is a romantic notion with significant practical drawbacks, to the point where I question the good sense of anyone who would do it.
You are just quite wrong. At my school we have many drop ins from other schools and I have gone to other schools for open mat or for just a drop in. Perhaps your school isn't open, I don't know. But there are schools out there. And this even happens in (gasp) massachusetts.

melior est canis vivus leone mortuo
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:30 PM   #27
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

In one sense I can see what Mary is saying but in another sense...

Folks who train in BJJ and similar arts "roll" all the time to show what they can do, what works, and what does not. And I rarely if ever hear of people getting hurt doing it.

Being a meek little blushing flower myself , I can't imagine "rolling" in aikido the way I see them do it...but maybe if I was 15 years younger I'd give it a shot. At 47, with my neck problems, no way.

My hat is off to Randy Couture...to do what he does at his age?!?!?!

I'd have thought it impossible.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:31 PM   #28
tarik
 
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
But the whole context of the "respectful challenge" doesn't exist in the here and now. .
Yes, it most certainly does exist in the here in now. I've been a part of both sides of it in my life in the martial arts and beyond. At times, my training would not have progressed without it.

In point of fact, 'respectful challenge' is the entire basis of scientific inquiry and how we expand our collective knowledge. I don't know why it wouldn't be the same in good training, although I acknowledge that many people I've known don't train this way ever.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Also, I'm willing to bet that many (most?) of us live somewhere where you could get into a world of legal hurt if someone took you up on this challenge and got injured. In the modern world, the idea behind this "open invitation" to dance is a romantic notion with significant practical drawbacks, to the point where I question the good sense of anyone who would do it.
Sure, being sued is always a possibility, and there is really nothing you can do to avoid that even if you try to remove all risk. Good risk assessment should take that into account.

But speaking as someone who has been sued before (unsuccessfully), do you seriously make a lot of choices in life based on whether someone is likely to sue you or not?

Personally, I tend to have an decision making process with an ethical filter that includes, but is rather different, than the legalistic low bar of what other people might do to 'threaten' me or assign liability to me. While it sometimes steers me into different decisions than a lawyer might recommend, it seems to serve me well.

Last edited by tarik : 04-08-2009 at 03:33 PM.

Tarik Ghbeish
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MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:07 PM   #29
Dan Rubin
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

I'm curious about a statement on Tan Sensei's website, that he is a 4th dan in Kito Ryu, an art which is extinct (according to this thread
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...969#post227969
and the article the thread is based on). I wonder what the history of the modern Kito Ryu is.

Also, I think there are different visions of what "challenge" means. When I read the original post I pictured "dojo storming," but some other posters seem to be referring to a visitor approaching the teacher after class and asking, "Sensei, could you toss me around a little bit?"
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:55 PM   #30
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Good post Tarik!

IMO, open mat is never really "OPEN" mat. that is, no constraints with anything goes! I am pretty open ended on the spectrum of force/non-compliance I think, even then I approach it with a healthy amount of caution and respect.

How I might train with a 20 year old soldier might be different than how I would with a 60 year old female. so you have to take i physicality and mentalitly into account.

Also, you should always have well established controls and safeguards in place to ensure you have adequately identified the risk you are about to accept in the situation.

If you are not trained or experienced in dealing with these types of things, then you can get yourself or someone else hurt very badly with a "OPEN" mat. (and sued!)

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Old 04-08-2009, 05:14 PM   #31
Michael Hackett
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Maybe I'm missing something here. I see a big difference between having an open mat and accepting challenges. To me anyway, an open mat is an invitation for an outsider to join the class to see what we're doing, first hand. A challenge on the other hand is a physical confrontation between two people, much like the dojo storming of old. My sense of what Mr. Fox initially wrote was that Tan Sensei encourages the challenge concept rather than what I would call an open mat. Obviously I don't know what he means by now and maybe I've completely misinterpreted his original and subsequent posts. We have an open mat policy and outsiders are welcome to come in and train, after they sign a liability waiver and demonstrate a willingness to pay the mat fee (which is rarely ever charged anyway). If a visitor decided to issue a challenge as I've described it, he would be asked to leave immediately. Most of us visit other schools and styles and try to follow their path while being their guests and behave respectfully. Maybe Mr. Fox can clear up what he meant in the first place.

If my original assumption was correct, so be it and I don't pass judgment on Tan Sensei - it is his school, his rules, his reputation, and his liability. Not a wise practice here in California, but his choice.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:43 PM   #32
salim
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Healthy, respectful physical challenges are awesome to me. An excellent opportunity to learn from your physical weaknesses and learn what works and what want work. Too many times at my dojo, we have participated in friendly physical challenges. I was able to learn a lot about my physical abilities and test some techniques. I hate to make those excuses, of perhaps I may get hurt. To me it's a cop-out. Maybe it's a scare tactic to persuade others against anything physical. An excuse of really not wanting to learn anything physical.
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:34 AM   #33
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Joseph Connolly wrote: View Post
You are just quite wrong. At my school we have many drop ins from other schools and I have gone to other schools for open mat or for just a drop in. Perhaps your school isn't open, I don't know. But there are schools out there. And this even happens in (gasp) massachusetts.
I think perhaps you didn't read the original post carefully. To quote:

Quote:
I just recently found out that my sensei has an "open mat" policy, this meaning that anybody who would like to "test" aikido can do so again my sensei (shihan/6th dan). He does so in front of his students as well. There seems to be a lot of MMA stuff going on around here and some of those guys don't seem very fond of our style of martial art. Some of them even seem to have enough nerve to be disrespectful directly to my sensei, in those cases he offers anybody wishing to test him onto the mat.
Emphasis added so you'll see what I'm talking about. What OP described is not, not, not what most of us call an "open mat" policy, meaning that members of other aikido dojo can come in and train. It isn't even an "open mat" policy meaning that non-aikidoka can come and take an introductory class. It is an invitation for any yahoo to mix it up with sensei, in front of witnesses. If the situation is as represented by OP, that strikes me as phenomenally dumb.

Still think I'm "just quite wrong"?
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:07 AM   #34
Rodger
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

I don't know if you would an open mat policy in my dojo. However I will on occasion allow other martial artist to train in my dojo as long as they are respectful.

I feel my first obligation is to my students who are currently enrolled.

As far as an open challenge to me that is a recipe for disaster. Sooner or later someone will get seriously injured.

To me if someone challenges me they are challenging me to a fight. It has happened in my dojo only once.

A man walked into my dojo right in the middle of class and asked me if I was ready for my lesson. I asked can I help you and he asked again if I was ready for my lesson I laughed and walked over to him and asked him to leave.

He dropped his gear bag and doubled up his fist. So I punched the guy right in the nose and that was the end of it. He left holding a bloody nose. I cleaned up the mess and my students were really quiet for the rest of the night.

I called the police and filed a report and called it a day.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:24 AM   #35
akiy
 
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Hi folks,

I wonder -- the term "open mat" is sometimes used in aikido dojo to specify a certain kind of class, one that in my experience was a time where students could come in to train with one another on what they would like to work on rather than having directed teachings.

Perhaps, in the context of this thread, what the original poster calls "open mat" may better be labeled as something like "open challenge"?

-- Jun

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Old 04-09-2009, 07:42 PM   #36
salim
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Open challenge, a recipe to learn. It's all in the approach. I have seen malicious individuals in a demonstrations/training class try to hurt other students or simply try to be overzealous in their application of a technique. Again it's all in the approach and self control of the situation. The objective it's to learn, maybe learn what doesn't work and what will work.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:47 AM   #37
Abasan
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

I like an open challenge dojo. You have an art that you believe in, then I suppose its time to put that belief in practice.

Otherwise its all hot air to me.

Yip Man founded his wing chun school on the basis of 'hand talk'. I.e. don't use your mouth to tell me about your art, try it for real.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-10-2009, 10:53 AM   #38
Aikibu
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
I like an open challenge dojo. You have an art that you believe in, then I suppose its time to put that belief in practice.

Otherwise its all hot air to me.

Yip Man founded his wing chun school on the basis of 'hand talk'. I.e. don't use your mouth to tell me about your art, try it for real.
Amen....Contrary to some beliefs here most challenges do not end up in a lawsuit or with great bodily harm...

In my experiance it results in keeping me humble...showing me where I need work....and letting my students see that I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I have also made allot of great friends in the Martial Arts community for my willingness and open mindedness...

Heck I started Nishio Aikido as a result of challenging my Sensei...After ending up on my back a few times. LOL

This summer I will hopefully have another great opportunity to "practice my beginners mind"

William Hazen
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Old 04-10-2009, 01:02 PM   #39
Cyrijl
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Mary,
Even in the context of open challenges, this does happen pretty often. Sometimes people are explicit about their intentions, sometimes not. I am sure the OP's sensei doesn't just let people come in with knives and guns. It is not the ordeal you seem to make it out to be.

melior est canis vivus leone mortuo
Bog svsami!!!
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:58 PM   #40
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
I'm curious about a statement on Tan Sensei's website, that he is a 4th dan in Kito Ryu, an art which is extinct (according to this thread
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...969#post227969
and the article the thread is based on). I wonder what the history of the modern Kito Ryu is.

Also, I think there are different visions of what "challenge" means. When I read the original post I pictured "dojo storming," but some other posters seem to be referring to a visitor approaching the teacher after class and asking, "Sensei, could you toss me around a little bit?"
A "challenge" is a real confrontation. In the old days in Japan, a challenge could threaten the whole dojo since the membership would leave if the head guy lost. No one wanted to train with someone who couldn't handle himself. So it was serious business. Usually, you didn't get a match with the head guy unless you could take on his senior students successfully.

There isn't much real dojo storming any more. I have never had anyone come in for a challenge in my 28 years of running a dojo. I've had one or two who got on the mat and politely, within the context of the class, checked me out. That was just fine. If I can't handle that I shouldn't be running a dojo in my opinion.

But if someone comes through the door with bad intentions, that's a fight and it won't be pretty.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 04-10-2009, 04:12 PM   #41
tarik
 
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
But if someone comes through the door with bad intentions, that's a fight and it won't be pretty.
I agree completely. Such an individual is pretty obvious when they show up and they shouldn't even be allowed in the door. In my situation, it's pretty easy to simply not give them directions to the dojo.

On the other hand, someone who respectfully just wants to check things out and challenge the 'reality' is uncommon, but not at all that unusual.

I should mention that my training has been pretty fired up since the Aikiweb clinic and thanks again for being a part of it.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

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Old 04-10-2009, 06:44 PM   #42
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
No one wanted to train with someone who couldn't handle himself. So it was serious business. Usually, you didn't get a match with the head guy unless you could take on his senior students successfully.
pretty much Koichi Tohei Sensei's role for Ueshiba Sensei at one point.

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Old 04-10-2009, 07:27 PM   #43
salim
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Maybe it's one of the many reason several high ranking Aikidoka of today refrain from physical challenges. Unlike the old Prewar world II Aikidoka, they readily took on the physical challenges. Perhaps there is a fear among today's high level Aikidoka of losing students or questioning the legitimacy of their martial ability. Sure, I have heard a million times the philosophical, spiritual argument.
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:52 PM   #44
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

I think testing aikido in such a way that the OP describes is if anything a good (decent?) way to see if your Aikido training works in a self-defense situation (Difference between a hot and cold attacker aside)

That said North American is the land of lawsuits. People sue for ANYTHING.
I walk into a dojo, challange the teacher. Teacher kicks my ass and I get hurt.
Whats the chances that I can get a good lawyer to argue that the teacher 4th degree blackbelt used unnessary force against me when they ought to know better/have better self control etc..?

In my home town a young adult broke into an old mans house, tried to rob the house then tried to assault the old man when he was caught. Old man beat him up. The prick breaking in got off because he was 'high on cough medicine' and the old man was actually charged with assault.

Dojo challenges may be a good way to test ones skill but is it worth risking the potential lawsuit as stupid as they are? What's the chances the challenger turns out to be a sore looser?

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

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Old 04-11-2009, 12:59 PM   #45
crbateman
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Salim Shaw wrote: View Post
Sure, I have heard a million times the philosophical, spiritual argument.
...which would indicate a wide acceptance of that perspective among those you have discussed it with. Reason enough to give it some merit, even if you do not agree with the reasoning yourself.
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Old 04-11-2009, 01:42 PM   #46
salim
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Isn't it possible to see how a healthy, friendly challenge can be a great opportunity to learn from each other? Several times in my dojo we have engaged in friendly physical challenges. We reevaluate some techniques after involving ourselves in a friendly full resistance challange. So now we better understand that somethings don't work against a resistant opponent and somethings really work well. Really it's a lot fun, all in good nature. No one had a hot head or had ill intentions. Just professional individuals, learning from a first class sensei.
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Old 04-13-2009, 12:47 PM   #47
Cyrijl
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Grant Wagar wrote: View Post
That said North American is the land of lawsuits. People sue for ANYTHING.
I walk into a dojo, challange the teacher. Teacher kicks my ass and I get hurt.
Whats the chances that I can get a good lawyer to argue that the teacher 4th degree blackbelt used unnessary force against me when they ought to know better/have better self control etc..?
That's what a waiver is for.

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Old 04-13-2009, 01:14 PM   #48
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

Quote:
Joseph Connolly wrote: View Post
That's what a waiver is for.
IANAL, but I've heard that waivers aren't proof against a lawsuit (or a guarantee that you'll win if a suit is brought). This has happened a number of times in adventure sports (and even sports that aren't thought to be all that adventurous, like in-bounds skiing): people have signed waivers, become injured, and then they (and their survivors) have sued and won judgments. It wouldn't surprise me to find that the same is true for dojos.
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Old 04-13-2009, 01:55 PM   #49
Walter Martindale
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
IANAL, but I've heard that waivers aren't proof against a lawsuit (or a guarantee that you'll win if a suit is brought). This has happened a number of times in adventure sports (and even sports that aren't thought to be all that adventurous, like in-bounds skiing): people have signed waivers, become injured, and then they (and their survivors) have sued and won judgments. It wouldn't surprise me to find that the same is true for dojos.
It depends on the wording of the waiver, and it's execution. We had a seminar once on waivers at a coach education weekend. One case-study was about a ski-hill in British Columbia, sued by a guy for some reason, in part IIRC because he wasn't properly warned of the hazards on the ski hill when he got hurt. When the ski hill's reps showed up at the court with the waiver for the day in question, as well as the (witnessed) waivers he'd signed every session he'd been at (almost weekly) for the previous three years or so, the judge threw out the case.

I'm not sure if the document is still in print, but you could check out the "Centre for Sport and Law" which used to produce "Waivers and other agreements" a booklet outlining some of the process...
http://www.sportlaw.ca/index.php

Cheers,
W

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 04-13-2009 at 01:59 PM. Reason: add a link
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:23 PM   #50
Marc Abrams
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Re: Feelings on "open mat" policy

George's post should be taken seriously. There are several issues mixed in here, each having different ramifications.
1) Ego.- Is this challenger trying to "test" an art or the ego. Fights do not have rules other than one person emerges victorious and the other person does not. That can run the range from death to injured ego. Is it really necessary to have to feed into somebody's apparent insecurities and run the risk of that person, or even ourselves being seriously injured or killed?
2) Skill- If the challenger does not know how to take a blow or a fall, a serious injury is likely to result. That is why solid ukemi skills is one minimum criteria that should be taken into account when people want to test their skill sets. What if there is a great disparity between skill sets. Does that mean that one art is better than the other?
3) Environment- What type of training environment do we want to establish and maintain (as teachers), or train in (as students). The explicit and implicit dangers inherent in challenges from unknown challengers creates an atmosphere that I personally would not condone as a teacher or student.

I will only "answer" challenges (either in the dojo that I run or I train in) if I know the person and have worked with them. A level of mutual respect and a believe that the person can safely take what is going to be dished out (on both sides) are minimum requirements. I enjoy life too much to recklessly endanger my life or the life of someone else simply because of a challenge. As Kevin pointed out, the testing of skill sets come with explicit and implicit rules within set paradigms. Step outside of that and one does what is necessary to sustain one's own life. As George pointed out, it gets very ugly at that point in time. Little is ever "proven" by such acts.

If Budo is about protecting and sustaining life, then I do not see how ego-based challenges from unknown people play into that model. Legal liability is just an additional societal factor that should make a person think twice about recklessly endangering life.

Marc Abrams
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