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Old 08-06-2000, 09:18 AM   #1
Orange
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I just got back from East Coast Summer Camp 2000 and with the exception of one day, I had a great time working with all the wonderful people there. The one bad day was something of a nightmare.

For Doshu's class the mat was incredibly crowded. I have heard of "phone booth ukemi" but never really had to practice it until then. What ended up happening throughout the class was I got pushed out of the space I was working in or told to go elsewhere by sempai repeatedly. If there was a lot of room elsewhere on the mat I wouldn't have thought twice about this but since the entire mat was crowded, there was nowhere to go! This kinda got me a little peeved.

Then there are a few people who seem very disapointed when they get stuck working with kohai. They don't look at you when the apply a technique ("Hey! Look at me when you apply Nikkyo!") instead their eyes wander around the room like they are trying to find something. This pushed me a little bit closer to the edge.

Finally when class had ended and it was time to stretch our backs, I turned to someone (I was standing directly in front of him) bowed and said "stretch your back?" and he turned around and walked away! If not for the fact that we made eye contact I would have thought he didn't see me. By this point I was ripped.

If the whole week had gone like this I would give up Aikido alltogether. I think what pissed me off most about these idiots was the fact that they all had on Hakama so they were obviously my sempai. I am curious if I would have been treated the same if I was wearing a hakama? I didn't run into any jerks not wearing hakama. Kinda makes me think that the whole Sempai/Kohai thing goes to thier head.

I understand that in traditional Japan Kohai are essentially slaves to Sempai and must do whatever they want, but at the same time Sempai have a responsibility to help Kohai learn. It appears as though some Aikidoists only understand half of that relationship.

Sorry for rambling, but I really needed to vent! The rest of the week was great!
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Old 08-06-2000, 11:44 AM   #2
E.J. Nella
Dojo: Canyon Aikido Club, Aikido of San Leandro & Aikido of Berkeley
Location: Contra Costa County, California, U.S.A.
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Wow! What a rotten experience! I have absolutely no idea why those folks treated you the way they did. All I wished to say is don't lump all Yudansha together as jerks. Maybe it was the mood of a "traditional" Japanese teacher and class? I am only guessing so take it for what its' worth, but from what I understand (and from your post you believe this also), the traditional Japanese are very level conscious. Maybe this caused the practitioners to try to be more "traditional" for better or for worse?

I am curious. Are you male or female? If you are a woman this may have contributed to the disrespect you received. I am not saying it is right, only trying to understand.

E.J.
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Old 08-06-2000, 02:54 PM   #3
Orange
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Quote:
E.J. Nella wrote:
Wow! What a rotten experience! I have absolutely no idea why those folks treated you the way they did. All I wished to say is don't lump all Yudansha together as jerks.

(SNIP)

I am curious. Are you male or female? If you are a woman this may have contributed to the disrespect you received. I am not saying it is right, only trying to understand.
I realise that all Yudansha aren't jerks. In fact, this was the first time I had seen anyone in Aikido act this way. Interestingly enough, the people who were rude were people who I only saw on that one day, the people who were there for the whole week were really nice.

As to the Male/Female question, I am male. But this kinda brings up another interesting point. Many Dojo have females wear hakama sooner so I would think they would be treated better since it isn't immediately obvious that a woman wearing a hakama isn't yudansha. After posting this thread I read the summer issue of Aikido East and saw a good article on the Sempai/Kohai relationship and how it is often warped.
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Old 08-06-2000, 03:42 PM   #4
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i'm glad that at least your other days were fun. I've had a bad experience also at a seminar, in part through my own misunderstanding, so while i don't doubt those folks acted like jerks, some things you might want to consider:
1) some places wear hakama from the lowest kyus up...so they may not be your seniors, and may be as lost in how to behave as anyone
2) some large/big name seminars draw non-English speaking participants...they may not understand when you talk to them
3) some of the folks on the mat may have been working with or around VERY senior partners you might not recognise, and are just trying to keep an area clear for them, which you would want to do if you knew who they were
4) some folks might be working with someone they know takes terrible ukemi, and are trying to lessen your chance of getting sideswiped
5) some folks don't behave well in public...a good chance to practice getting along with difficult people.

as for treating women better....i would disagree, but that is a whole other topic. Glad you had a good time overall!
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Old 08-06-2000, 06:30 PM   #5
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Quote:
Orange wrote:Finally when class had ended and it was time to stretch our backs, I turned to someone (I was standing directly in front of him) bowed and said "stretch your back?" and he turned around and walked away! If not for the fact that we made eye contact I would have thought he didn't see me. By this point I was ripped.
Just before I got my black belt I went to a seminar. I wore a white belt and experienced exactly the same thing. I literally turned to someone, made eye contact and the person turned away to work with a yudansha. Had I been wearing a hakama I'm certain it would have been different. This bs is sad. You are at a weeklong or weekend long seminar, like there won't be enough time to work with yudansha?

I'm a firm believe that all yudansha should have to attend a seminar where no one knows them, put on the white belt and take off the hakama. This should be mandatory every few years. The experience will be more of an eye opener than most expect.

Quote:
3) some of the folks on the mat may have been working with or around VERY senior partners you might not recognise, and are just trying to keep an area clear for them, which you would want to do if you knew who they were
Why? I don't understand why someone should get more or less room than anyone else. If you are on the mat then are you not all training together?
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Old 08-06-2000, 07:27 PM   #6
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i agree, everyone needs room to work, but knowing my limited ability at this point, if i'm in danger of colliding with anyone, or encroaching on the area say an 8th dan is working in, i'd rather be asked to move. i'm sure you have a better command of your technique; i'd just prefer not to tred on the toes of one of O-Sensei's students, or on yours
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Old 08-06-2000, 08:10 PM   #7
Orange
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Quote:
ca wrote:
if i'm in danger of colliding with anyone, or encroaching on the area say an 8th dan is working in, i'd rather be asked to move.
But at a crowded seminar, you are almost always encroaching on the area someone is working in. You really need to take small ukemi and I would like to think that an 8th dan would know how to do that much better than a 5th kyu.
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Old 08-06-2000, 08:13 PM   #8
Nick
Dojo: Aikido of Greater Atlanta
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This reminds me of something my sensei said as he changed after the Saturday class. We were talking about rank and things of the like, and he said:

"You know, the hakama and black belt really don't mean what people think they do. I'd just as quickly come in here with a white belt, as long as I could train."

That made me really good about my training and my sensei who teach me.

-Nick

---
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"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 08-06-2000, 08:23 PM   #9
George S. Ledyard
 
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Sempai Kohai

There is no excuse for treating anyone that way, male or female, young or old, period. It's just plain rudeness and has no place in ones training. If one of my students ever acted that way they would be back at white belt till they showed me they got the point.

Of course the senior people want to train with other senior people at these events. I spend the whole year without the opportunity to train with my ASU peers. If I manage to scrape together the $1000 it takes to go cross country for camp I want to make the most of it. I try to do a class with Ikeda sensei and one with Gleason sensei, I'll book my partners in advance to ensure that I get the most out of my training. But every once and a while a junior student will come up to me and ask if I'll train with them. My response is always positive. They are me 15 years ago. If they get up enough nerve to want to do a class with me then they deserve to get my full support and attention. I was given that support when i was coming along by some very fine people.

We all owe our teachers and seniors a debt for helping us come as far as we have. There is very little I can do to repay them for their kindness. My way of doing that is to turn around and give that same support to the people coming along behind me.

As far as your story goes it represents the worst kind of arrogance. That person had no idea who you were or what you knew. On the e-budo website there was some discussion of Don Angier Sensei's sword videos. There was mention that some people though the first film had too much etiquette. The reply was that for the Samurai, Budo began with etiquette. That was how a society of highly trained killers dealt with each other safely. The fellow you have mentioned shows that he is just a wanna be by acting that way.

I have a friend who has been doing martial arts for over forty years. He has advned Dan ranks in Judo, Tae Kwan Do, Aikido, and hsi primary rank is in Hapkido in which he is an Eighth Dan. He and his wife went to a dojo when he visited the East coast. No one knew who he was or that he had the any background at all in anything. He was treated condescendingly and was not made to feel welcome at the dojo (the head teacher wasn't there at the time). I realized that these same folks (who know me well) would have reacted totally differently had I called ahead and told them who this man was and that he was paying a visit to their school. I then realized that it shouldn't make any difference at all.

My friend saw these fellows in their true form as snobby seniors, full of themselves and their special priveledge in training with a wonderful teacher. Those not so fortunate didn't deserve notice in their minds. This is very bad attitude. And in this case they lost the chance to really meet and get to know a man whose martial experience dwafed theirs collectively. I felt sorry for them.

On another occasion one of my friends went to visit a dojo on the the west coast. The Shihan turned out to be travelling and one of his fifth dans was teaching. He called my friend up to be uke and asked for a tsuki attack. My friend gave him the nice, focused attack he resrves for Aikido people. This arrogant instructor got a sneer on his face and then said in a really insulting manner, "No, give me a REAL punch" The thing was that he had no idea that this particular fellow is one of the senior Tang Soo Do pratitioners in the United States and had trained personally with the head of the style in Korea for many years. So he obliged this haughty fellow with a REAL punch. The guy hadn't even started to move when he got knocked on his duff. My friend then bowed and left the dojo.

This is illustrative of the reason that manners originally developed. You traeted people with respect because you never knew what they knew or how they might respond to a slight. Rudeness of the sort these stupid fellows have shown could have gotten them injured or killed in the old days.

I stay away from people or groups where that type of behavior is considered common. There is simply no rason to have anything to do with such folks. When that person turned his back on you he showed that he wasn't a warrior in any sense. His arrogance left him completely open should you have attacked him. No old time martial artist like the Aikido Founder would ever have made that mistake because they were serious warriors!

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 08-06-2000, 10:31 PM   #10
E.J. Nella
Dojo: Canyon Aikido Club, Aikido of San Leandro & Aikido of Berkeley
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If I may take a moment to leave this topic to express myself towards Ledyard Sensei,

with every post of yours I read, I like you more and more. Thank you for participating in these discussions. I learn from, appreciate, and agree with, just about everything you write. (I say "just about" because I hesitate at any absolute remark regarding anything, please don't get me wrong). I hope to be able to take a class from you someday.

E.J.
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Old 08-07-2000, 03:25 AM   #11
Pete
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Hear Hear!!


Pete

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Old 08-07-2000, 12:54 PM   #12
Nick
Dojo: Aikido of Greater Atlanta
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I read something on AikidoFAQ about the hakama: apperently, training with O-sensei, you were expected to wear the hakama from your first time on the mat. Supposedly O-sensei would not let you train without one, and he didn't care what kind it was. Saito-sensei said there was every kind from kendo to dance hakamas, and that he was sad it defines only yudansha these days.

-Nick

---
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"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 08-07-2000, 08:58 PM   #13
samurai_x
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I agree on all of Ledyard Sensei's post.
There is no place for Rudeness in and out of the mat .Coz ur training in AIKIDO does not have any boundaries, what or how u train inside the Dojo reflects on ur personality as well as ur teacher.Isn't it Ironic that we in AIKIDO always promote HARMONY to be one w/ the Universe ,w/ Mother Nature, w/ all that's around us specially the people around us. I cant think of a word to describe this kinda Senior's in w/c they are supposed to assist the lower ranks but instead what they are showing is arrogance in it's highest form. I agree w/ Ledyard Sensei's suggestion to bring this guys back to white belts for RETRAINING.

TUOCS
MUSUBI DOJO
KI AIKIDO

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Old 08-07-2000, 11:05 PM   #14
Nick
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you know, the Japanese fails me, but I read something in my Eishin-ryu book that applies to all budo:

"everything begins and ends with respect."

I believe it was rei ni hajimarru, rei ni... aww man I need to get that book back...

Wa,

-Nick

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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