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Old 09-17-2011, 11:32 PM   #1
"aikidokaanonymno"
IP Hash: 407ac2cf
Anonymous User
Unhappy verbal abuse from a teacher

Hello,

I've been practicing Aikido for 6 years, every day, at the same dojo. It has been my goal to become Sensei's uchideshi, however as the years went by I realized that he is quite difficult to deal with. For 4 years I helped him with kids' classes, dojo maintenance, website building, and even babysat his son. In other words, whatever he asked, I did because I respected him and wanted to learn from him. He'd reward me sometimes, by giving me free uniforms or weapons, or letting me attend a seminar for free. (I should mention that I started when I was 13 and now I am in college, thus the money for Aikido was always tight for me)
However, amidst these rewards, he would frequently yell at me, call me dumb, or an idiot, tell me that I should be ashamed of myself, things like that... Sometimes he scolded me in private, and sometimes in front of everyone. Overall, whenever I made a behavioral mistake and did not live up to his moral standards for me, he would make me feel guilty and worthless. He tells me that it's because he cares for me that he is expecting more out of me than out of any other student in the dojo. He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students. Other people in the dojo verify that he is very controlling and often treats me like crap. No one else treats me in the way that he does.

Because I want to be serious in my training, I was wandering if this verbal abuse is of any good. It really got to me during my senior year of high school and if it weren't for my school teacher who saw me change from a confident person into some miserable heap and decided to help me. From her standpoint verbal abuse is not right and she thinks I should find a different dojo because it might end up causing problems in the future. (For example, girls who were abused by their coaches then ended up marrying older, abusive men because that's what they were used to). But, I've read a few things about uchideshi and I know they were mistreated.

My question is, does this kind of verbal and sometimes physical abuse lead to any character building? If I decide to stay with my current Sensei, is there any chance I can become a better individual or will it destroy me? I've read that students often become like their teachers. I don't want to have the same personality as my Sensei, but I do love his technique... On the other hand, I would love to improve my own personality, but I don't know if standing verbal abuse will help me achieve that goal or not.

Any advice?
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:54 AM   #2
"bagogab"
IP Hash: 301914f4
Anonymous User
Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Quote:
My question is, does this kind of verbal and sometimes physical abuse lead to any character building? If I decide to stay with my current Sensei, is there any chance I can become a better individual or will it destroy me? I've read that students often become like their teachers. I don't want to have the same personality as my Sensei, but I do love his technique... On the other hand, I would love to improve my own personality, but I don't know if standing verbal abuse will help me achieve that goal or not.
Anything can be character building. The question is how it's affecting you. If you're feeling worthless, it doesn't seem to be working too well. In jobs like the military where the needs of the many significantly outweigh the needs of the individual it makes more sense. In a martial arts dojo I don't think it does so much. You can "improve" your personality by being a sincere person who employs self-reflection and any number of other self-affirming activities.
That said, some people are more sarcastic than others. People are sometimes shocked with how me and my friends talk to each other, but we know where we're coming from. It's hard to judge from a distance.
Whatever the case, know your self-worth comes from within and has nothing to do with what other people think of you. Take what others say as food for thought. Maybe even thank them for offering their opinions, but always think for yourself and be your own person.
...or don't. Who am I to tell you what to think?
Good luck.
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:58 AM   #3
Mark Gibbons
Location: Seattle, WA
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 177
United_States
Online
Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

http://www.fullcircleaikido.com/discuss.htm

Has a reasonable discussion of related issues.

"He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students." If that's really happening I'd leave, right now.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 09-18-2011, 03:07 AM   #4
Abasan
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 813
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

But ARE you an idiot, dumb and should be ashamed of yourself?

Not knowing either of you nor the context in which these words were applied, i'd hesitate to make any judgements...

Still, there are limits to everything. And like someone said, sincerity is paramount in aikido. Have a sincere heart and listen to it. You should then realize what's the truth.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:22 AM   #5
Aikirk
Location: Aahus
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Denmark
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Calling people idiots, dumb and that you should be ashamed of yourself, is never ever going to develope your character in af positive way. It's madness believing this, and no one should put up with it. This way only leads to fear.

Try telling this to a plant or flower every day in a month, and I will guarentee you it will wither and die. Now think for a moment what will do to a full human being with actual emotions?

Real character buidling includes supporting people and being there with counsil, even though they might be taking the wrong choices in life. Making them feel their worth something and offering them advice when needed.

You'r so far out you can't even see how harmful it is to you, but I assure you I can (and others around you). Do something about it now!
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Old 09-18-2011, 05:20 AM   #6
Mario Tobias
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

There are many more teachers out there that are much better than your teacher.

People who abuse verbally are apt to abuse physically also, so it might lead to serious injuries. Similar to physical abuse, verbal abuse leads to injuries in character. There is a difference between your sensei pushing you to the limit and abusing you. Know what the signs are and become objective in your analysis. Know what his intentions in giving you rewards. Was he sincere or is he doing it to make you feel guilty later. I'd be very careful if I were you and have serious thoughts about transferring to another dojo.

A sensei should be a role model. If you were to become one, would you like to become your present sensei?

The search for your "real" sensei is part and parcel of your journey in aikido. It will be a long search but ultimately your paths will cross. The world will not end when you decide to transfer....

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 09-18-2011 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:04 AM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

IMHO, abuse does not build character in the victim/target (unless they stand up to it or decide they don't have to put up with it), but it does reveal the character of the abuser.

Please make sure that what you are perceiving/defining as abuse is not just old school discipline.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:18 AM   #8
gregstec
Dojo: Aiki Kurabu
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

LEAVE!!!!!

I trained with an A--hole like that once and I always felt miserable and down after each class - Aikido should be fun, enjoyable, and uplifting. You need to eliminate those types of people in all parts of your life and not just from Aikido.

Greg
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:40 AM   #9
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Some of the stuff might be considered "old school" but this is creepy. "He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students.

That is not okay. A dojo where you are just a student among students and not the "favorite" can help you have good technique. Why would you want character building from a character you don't want to emulate?

Best of luck in your choices,
Mary
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:55 AM   #10
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

My first aikido teacher was like your own, although not with me I might add. The students he was like this to, he said he was doing it for their benefit. I remain sceptical.

Technical profficiency in aikido is just that, nothing more. You can be brilliant at it and still be a bad character (see the BK thread). Only if you embody and live the principles of the art, do you transform yourself into something greater.

As has already been said, just about anything can be character building, particularly adversity. Knowing when something is not right and acting with integrity, is not always easy, especially when you have a great deal of time and emotion invested in it. So your decision to stay or leave is part of the character building you want. As you do not want to be like your sensei, I suggest you seek out someone who displays the attributes you want for yourself.

I would rather be an average aikidoka of good character, than a great aikidoka who is not respected as a man.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 09-18-2011, 08:21 AM   #11
gates
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 193
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Dear Anon,
Getting shouted at or berated because you did something stupid or irresponsible is very different from being shouted out over petty things for the sake of character building. Different people react in different ways, and need to be treated accordingly. Some people may benefit from a harsh word here or there in extreme situations to get the point across, but it is a very tricky line line to tread.

I'd suggest that you need to be clear about the distinction between what is a "justified" telling off and bullying nonsense. Only you know whether the times when you have been scolded are justified. By the tone of you letter it doesn't sound that in every case that you feel it was justified.

Numerous people are warning you that any attempt on his behalf to coerce you into hiding his treatment of you raises serious alarm bells.

If you want to continue to train under this instructor I would suggest that you set clear boundaries about what is acceptable behaviour you are prepared to tolerate in the training process. If you are taking it personally and it is affecting you in negative way then it is not really having the desired effect anyway.

Regards
Keith

Enjoy the journey
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:09 AM   #12
"Rv Bub"
IP Hash: 69e4189a
Anonymous User
Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Hello,

...He tells me that it's because he cares for me that he is expecting more out of me than out of any other student in the dojo. He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students...

...Because I want to be serious in my training, I was wandering if this verbal abuse is of any good. It really got to me during my senior year of high school and if it weren't for my school teacher who saw me change from a confident person into some miserable heap and decided to help me...

...(For example, girls who were abused by their coaches then ended up marrying older, abusive men because that's what they were used to). But, I've read a few things about uchideshi and I know they were mistreated.

Any advice?
Leave now! Even if your information is only halfway accurate, your sensei is displaying many signs of inappropriate controlling behavior typical of abusers. Martial arts discipline is unfortunately sometimes used as a mask to cover or a rationalization to "justify" abusive behavior. The demand for secrecy is cause for alarm.
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:11 PM   #13
mathewjgano
 
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Quote:
He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students.
This stands out to me. IF it's literally true, then it seems pretty unsavory.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 09-18-2011, 03:39 PM   #14
"aikidokaanonymno"
IP Hash: 407ac2cf
Anonymous User
Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Wow, there's so many replies already... Thank you, all!

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
But ARE you an idiot, dumb and should be ashamed of yourself?
Other people around me don't seem to think so. They think exactly the opposite and I know that they are good, honest people. Of course, Sensei tells me that every single one of them is lying to me and he is the only one that cares for me that's why he's the only one telling me the truth.

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
"He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students." If that's really happening I'd leave, right now.
Yes. He said that discussing my opinion of his actions is like betraying him and he wants me to be loyal, otherwise I get another one of those lectures about my personal flaws.

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Please make sure that what you are perceiving/defining as abuse is not just old school discipline.
I went to Police Explorers Academy where TAC officers yelled us at from 7am to 10pm for 5 days straight. For some odd reason, it did not hurt nearly as much as Sensei's remarks. I've also read about verbal abuse and 95% of the typically abusive phrases I have heard from Sensei and more than once.

Quote:
Simon Kirk Sørensen wrote: View Post
You'r so far out you can't even see how harmful it is to you, but I assure you I can (and others around you). Do something about it now!
Yes, in the beginning I always assumed that Sensei, being an authoritative figure, was right and I was the bad kid. Luckily, my school teacher saw the sudden loss of confidence in me, which I myself couldn't see. She coined the phrase "abuse", because it has never even occurred to me that that's what it was.

Judging from the many responses in here, perhaps it really is time for me to find another dojo... Thank you everyone for your responses! I only quoted and commented on some of them since many were recurring.
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:56 PM   #15
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
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England
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

'Old school discipline' or harsh training shouldn't make you feel as you describe. Abusive domination however does. It's for you to spot the difference for yourself. For you to learn how to say no as well as yes.

On the other side of the coin as you wish to be an uchideshi then it is to recognise honourably serving does not mean being subservient.

Bullying is the act of a coward. Much bravado, little courage.

I would say practice validating yourself, acknowledging yourself, patting yourself on the back and grant yourself the right to be. It starts with you to yourself. When you can handle yourself then he will be a oiece of cake.

Regards.G.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:30 PM   #16
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Stand back from your situation and look at some objective aspects of your situation:

1) Adult teacher treating a young teenage boy in a verbally abusive manner, while trying to pass it off as being honest and helpful.

2) This abusive behavior turned a confident young man into a miserable heap.

3)) Lot of free work on your part for some occasional hand-outs.

Just those three points alone should dissuade most rational people of supporting training under those conditions.

Rising above bad situations can be character building in that you discover inside yourself the positive esteem and willpower to make it through bad times. Positive esteem and willpower are NOT developed by subjecting a person to verbal and/or physical abuse. Positive esteem and willpower are developed through positive reinforcement of actions that reflect pro-social behaviors, self-enhancing behaviors and behaviors that demonstrate the ability to persevere through challenges.

There are plenty of good teachers out there in the Aikido world who teach effective Aikido skills without having to result to abusive behaviors to prop up their own underlying sense of inadequacy. This teacher may be a good role model for what NOT TO DO as a teacher and mentor of others. If you like yourself and respect yourself, associate with people who do that as well.

I think that it would be a very positive experience for you to tell this teacher that you are thankful for all that he has taught you and that it time for you to move on now in your life. It is okay to tell this teacher that you have come to realize that you can learn to be a good Aikidoka without having to be abused in the process. You should wish this teacher well and move on to more self-fulfilling grounds.

Good Luck,

Marc Abrams
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:42 PM   #17
barron
Dojo: Calgary Aikikai
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 57
Canada
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Good advise from Marc.

I really think that as an intelligent young person you know what you should do. or you would not have asked the question.

Move to a place that respects you and nurtures your development in aikido and life.

Andrew Barron
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:15 PM   #18
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

You don't state your gender, but I get the feeling that you are female. If that is the case, RUN, RUN, RUN! You are dealing with someone who is dangerous. If you are a male, WALK AWAY FAST. You are dealing with someone who is abusive and doesn't have your best interests at heart. There is a huge difference in the boot camp atmosphere of an Explorer Academy and a dojo's student-teacher relationship. At the academy every one of you was yelled at and found deficient, as opposed to being singled out by an authority figure.

I've heard my teacher raise his voice to a student once in the past eight years when the student, who should have known better, was doing something both prohibited and very dangerous. Sensei is an old-school teacher and doesn't put up with nonsense, but he doesn't belittle or demean anyone - and he certainly doesn't hide his actions.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:34 PM   #19
raul rodrigo
Location: Quezon City
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Time for you to leave.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:05 PM   #20
"aikidokaanonymno"
IP Hash: 407ac2cf
Anonymous User
Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
honourably serving does not mean being subservient.
Wow, very nice. Never thought of it that way. Thank you!

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
There is a huge difference in the boot camp atmosphere of an Explorer Academy and a dojo's student-teacher relationship. At the academy every one of you was yelled at and found deficient, as opposed to being singled out by an authority figure.
Ah, that's right. I remember coming to that conclusion right after getting out of Academy. And Sensei doesn't seem to talk to anyone else the way he does to me.

And yes, I am a girl

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
If you like yourself and respect yourself, associate with people who do that as well.
It's a bit difficult to start respecting myself again after a good 4 years of Sensei's rants. But, as you said, I think with the right people I can pull myself together again. You're right on every point, thank you.

So do any of you think it's possible to talk to him (or write a careful letter) and set a boundary between acceptable and unacceptable mode of conversation? Or is running away the only option? I mean, he is respectful with other students. He is like this only with those that are closest to him.

I am also afraid that if I don't learn to stand up for myself here, another situation will present itself elsewhere and I will be forced to run from other dojos, jobs, relationships, etc...
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:53 PM   #21
"bagogab"
IP Hash: 68e03f57
Anonymous User
Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Sounds like you should leave. Loyalty for loyalty's sake is a crap notion. Loyalty is earned. A good teacher will respect an individual's right to live their own life and to figure things out for themselves. If not, there are many other teachers out there.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:57 PM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

You entered the dojo a young teen, essentially still a girl-child and now you are ready to stand up as a woman, head held high, and find the way to walk out of this crappy situation maintaining your honor and self-respect. I would consider this your graduation, only you confer your diploma rather than him doing so. :-)

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:50 PM   #23
kewms
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

There are plenty of excellent aikido teachers who are *not* abusive to their students. It's time to find one of them.

Katherine
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:04 AM   #24
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Verbal abuse is not to build character, it is to break character. Think army drill sergeant. Why do drill sergeants act the way they do?
First break you down and then build you up to be a soldier.
To some extent this goes for martial arts to.

In Aikido I think this is very much out of place.

Think deeply about why you would want stay with this teacher. Is he that good? Or is the dojo conveniently 'there'? If you cannot find a (very) good reason to stay, leave immediately.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:10 AM   #25
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: verbal abuse from a teacher

Hello,

I have one or two questions.

What is the male / female sex ratio in the dojo?
What is the male / female sex ratio among the uchi-deshi?

Are you experienced enough to evaluate your teacher's knowledge of aikido, for example, by comparison with other teachers of the same rank? You state that you 'love' his technique, but what does this mean?
Are there male students in the dojo who are strong enough to stand up to your teacher's aikido, or his verbal abuse?
Or are you the only one?

Best wishes,

P Goldsbury

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Hello,

I've been practicing Aikido for 6 years, every day, at the same dojo. It has been my goal to become Sensei's uchideshi, however as the years went by I realized that he is quite difficult to deal with. For 4 years I helped him with kids' classes, dojo maintenance, website building, and even babysat his son. In other words, whatever he asked, I did because I respected him and wanted to learn from him. He'd reward me sometimes, by giving me free uniforms or weapons, or letting me attend a seminar for free. (I should mention that I started when I was 13 and now I am in college, thus the money for Aikido was always tight for me)
However, amidst these rewards, he would frequently yell at me, call me dumb, or an idiot, tell me that I should be ashamed of myself, things like that... Sometimes he scolded me in private, and sometimes in front of everyone. Overall, whenever I made a behavioral mistake and did not live up to his moral standards for me, he would make me feel guilty and worthless. He tells me that it's because he cares for me that he is expecting more out of me than out of any other student in the dojo. He tells me that I have to believe him, and never discuss his ill decisions with other students. Other people in the dojo verify that he is very controlling and often treats me like crap. No one else treats me in the way that he does.

Because I want to be serious in my training, I was wandering if this verbal abuse is of any good. It really got to me during my senior year of high school and if it weren't for my school teacher who saw me change from a confident person into some miserable heap and decided to help me. From her standpoint verbal abuse is not right and she thinks I should find a different dojo because it might end up causing problems in the future. (For example, girls who were abused by their coaches then ended up marrying older, abusive men because that's what they were used to). But, I've read a few things about uchideshi and I know they were mistreated.

My question is, does this kind of verbal and sometimes physical abuse lead to any character building? If I decide to stay with my current Sensei, is there any chance I can become a better individual or will it destroy me? I've read that students often become like their teachers. I don't want to have the same personality as my Sensei, but I do love his technique... On the other hand, I would love to improve my own personality, but I don't know if standing verbal abuse will help me achieve that goal or not.

Any advice?

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
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