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Old 07-22-2012, 02:12 AM   #1
"Faceless"
IP Hash: 1c39a666
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Freaky! Senpai You Can't Respect

We have all seen them, whether they are in our dojo or another's. They are Aikidoka who seem to be oddly below their tested grade. To me, the ones who are my kohai are easy enough to deal with. I am responsible to them, to help them in any way I can.

But then there are senpai. Depending on their actions, it can be anywhere from awkward to insanely annoying to deal with them. Alas, our dojo goes often by social promotions (ie put in the calendar time, although not always the mat hours and you get rank) although we test so slowly that even what I might consider to be an inept Sankyu would be more than up to snuff for our style of Aikido.

Technically, in that sense, we aren't dishonoring our style. We just produce a lot of low kyu ranks that confused the hell out of people. But there is a huge range of skill for one belt.

So I have people that are supposed to be senpai that I often had to explain technique to or help. A few actually have just started letting me go first and don't seem to recognize in the least they have a higher rank that I.

Then there are a few that irritate the dog shit out of me. They go first, and try and try and try sometimes with a technique. And boy, it fails- hard and I can see why and I really want to just say, "You are out of your range of effectiveness," or whatever the fix would be. Then a few of these people look at me and go, "You aren't really attacking me."

Which is funny as hell to me, because I have the rep of being a rather vicious attacker. Last practice I literally had a Sandan compliment about my 'sincere' attacks and then five minutes later (no joke) this clown accuses me of not giving a good punch. So I know that is bs. Hell, I work with our Shihan a lot. And while he has corrected me on many a things that is not something he has ever said to me.

Sorry about the mini rant there. It's a bit of a sore spot.

So my question in general is: how do you deal with senpai who don't equal you in technique? I understand Aikido is a personal journey. And yes, these senpai I am talking about do teach me things but way more often than not I have to teach then.

This all started by the way with a pair of fresh twenty-somethings coming to the dojo and asking me about what our color belt system was. They pointed at the guy I was talking about before and asked if he was better than me. I barely managed to get out something about that his rank is higher than mine.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:41 AM   #2
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: Senpai You Can't Respect

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
We have all seen them, whether they are in our dojo or another's. They are Aikidoka who seem to be oddly below their tested grade. To me, the ones who are my kohai are easy enough to deal with. I am responsible to them, to help them in any way I can.

But then there are senpai. Depending on their actions, it can be anywhere from awkward to insanely annoying to deal with them. Alas, our dojo goes often by social promotions (ie put in the calendar time, although not always the mat hours and you get rank) although we test so slowly that even what I might consider to be an inept Sankyu would be more than up to snuff for our style of Aikido.

Technically, in that sense, we aren't dishonoring our style. We just produce a lot of low kyu ranks that confused the hell out of people. But there is a huge range of skill for one belt.

So I have people that are supposed to be senpai that I often had to explain technique to or help. A few actually have just started letting me go first and don't seem to recognize in the least they have a higher rank that I.

Then there are a few that irritate the dog shit out of me. They go first, and try and try and try sometimes with a technique. And boy, it fails- hard and I can see why and I really want to just say, "You are out of your range of effectiveness," or whatever the fix would be. Then a few of these people look at me and go, "You aren't really attacking me."

Which is funny as hell to me, because I have the rep of being a rather vicious attacker. Last practice I literally had a Sandan compliment about my 'sincere' attacks and then five minutes later (no joke) this clown accuses me of not giving a good punch. So I know that is bs. Hell, I work with our Shihan a lot. And while he has corrected me on many a things that is not something he has ever said to me.

Sorry about the mini rant there. It's a bit of a sore spot.

So my question in general is: how do you deal with senpai who don't equal you in technique? I understand Aikido is a personal journey. And yes, these senpai I am talking about do teach me things but way more often than not I have to teach then.

This all started by the way with a pair of fresh twenty-somethings coming to the dojo and asking me about what our color belt system was. They pointed at the guy I was talking about before and asked if he was better than me. I barely managed to get out something about that his rank is higher than mine.
Kohei In Need of Personal Reflection:

It is refreshing to hear from a Kohei that is the perfect judge of those who are inferior to him/her . If the Aikido world is reflection of how you view the world in general, you must be carrying around a lot of resentment at the great inequities that you perceive in the world around you.

For what it's worth, I make it a point to learn something from EVERYONE I practice with, or teach, regardless of rank or style. This is a practice in humility and openness which you appear to be sorely in need of.

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:16 AM   #3
PhilMyKi
Dojo: Seibukan, Milton Keynes
Location: At Work unless I am at the DOJO!
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

I agree with Marc!

How would you feel in yourself if you were the senpai being discussed?

Personally I would rather be an accomplished 1st dan than a poor 2nd / 3rd dan or appallingly bad 4th dan. Life is not a meritocracy, so why should aikido be any different? All I can do is get up every morning and give it my all to be sure that in the evening I have done my best and leave the rest of the world to do the same.

Enjoy your training, train with guys and girls that don't make you question their ability. Learn some humility, go back train with those that drove you to starting this thread. Rinse and repeat. If you can't avoid these people, just take the medicine and get on with it

Last edited by PhilMyKi : 07-24-2012 at 08:20 AM. Reason: after thought

Vorsprung durch Aikido!
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:51 AM   #4
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

I know what you are talking about is seductive but it is really a distraction from what is important. All that matters is what happens on the mat. Enjoy each one of your ukes for what they bring. Each is an individual person at an individual moment. Thinking about others distracts us from our training.

You might be getting ready to come out of a plateau into a new level of training...often people sabotage themselves by getting distracted by something or other. Stick to your path.

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Old 07-24-2012, 09:54 AM   #5
Benjamin Green
Join Date: Jul 2010
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

If you can see they're out of their range of effectiveness, you can - probably - tell them (at least considering you say you end up teaching them most of the time). Don't make a big deal out of it - don't be an arse - just say something like, 'That might work better if you were a little closer.' Or 'I find it easier to do that if I....'

If they ask you to attack them harder, maybe you ought to. While maintaining some degree of control, obviously.

I don't see any reason to make a big deal out of this just because they outrank you. If they decide to be an arse about it on their end, that's all on them. You're responsible for how you conduct yourself, you're not responsible for how they conduct themselves.

Last edited by Benjamin Green : 07-24-2012 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:06 PM   #6
Rob Watson
Location: CA
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

As long as you continue to get better everyday it does not matter the relative skills of those around you. When you make the relative skills a burden that hampers your progress either change your outlook or change your dojo.

I always remind myself that if I think everyone sucks ... odds are I do too - just not looking hard enough in the mirror.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
SteveTrinkle
Dojo: Aikido Kenkyukai International
Location: Ambler, Pennsylvania
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

noonresistance is not only aphysical principle good chance to practice beginners' mind

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Old 07-24-2012, 01:31 PM   #8
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

Usually when I find myself getting frustrated by the "flaws" in my training partners it turns out there is something I need to adjust within myself.

It does not matter what their skills are are or are not, their training is their problem. They are providing you with their body in order for you to train just as much as you are doing the same for them. Appreciate that gift. If your teacher has determined that someone has earned the rank they hold then they have earned it. And it is not for you to judge. For all you know someone might think the same of you.
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Old 07-24-2012, 02:12 PM   #9
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
So my question in general is: how do you deal with senpai who don't equal you in technique? I understand Aikido is a personal journey. And yes, these senpai I am talking about do teach me things but way more often than not I have to teach then.
Interesting. I'd have thought that your sensei was teaching the both of you. Why isn't that the case?
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:41 AM   #10
Young-In Park
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Join Date: Oct 2000
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

Dear Faceless,

Quote:
Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
As long as you continue to get better everyday it does not matter the relative skills of those around you. When you make the relative skills a burden that hampers your progress either change your outlook or change your dojo.
Unfortunately, Mr. Watson is correct. The disparity between rank and ability will continue to grow. Especially when those of higher rank but lesser ability assume leadership positions within the dojo.

To make a very long story short, I was unwilling to change my outlook (the chief complaint against me was, "you never listen!"). Therefore I left the dojo I called home for many years.

My jujutsu sensei summed it up in one sentence: "Aikido politics: the only part that doesn't blend."

YoungIn Park
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:23 AM   #11
Mario Tobias
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

There is no point in comparing aikidoka. Even one shihan is better than another. There will always be inequality in the world.

What matters is your aikido. Compare your expectations to your reality.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:20 PM   #12
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

Faceless, go back and re-read your first post. This might be a good time to look in the mirror and exercise some insight. If you are that much better than your seniors, consider changing to a more challenging dojo. If you are not, continue to train and strive to do your best each class.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:23 PM   #13
"Faceless"
IP Hash: cea6704c
Anonymous User
Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

OP here,

I'll give a general update after I respond to a few people first whose posts were interesting.

@ Marc, Thanks for ignoring most of the post and replying to one part. The core of the post was about social rank promoting. The sempai I was talking about was a father/son pair who have put in less hours in 5 years and I have in 2. Snide comments don't help and when all you have to go is a blurb, they tend to miss their mark.

@Ibb- Sensei isn't everywhere all at once. If you are dealing with a brownbelt who hasn't see a black belt art you have practiced and Sensei is working with another pair you don't just stand there until Sensei comes along. You say, here's what I was taught and get practicing and eventually Sensei will come over and help.

@Shadowfax- I'm not into the cult of personality when it comes to Sensei that a lot of Aikidoka have. Sensei are people- their word i not some infallible law handed down from the clouds.

Now for the update.

Sensei has directly stated in a black belt class to me and the others attending that rank is not based solely on hours on the mat or skill. That a big part to his is time in the dojo. This was directly caused by a few black belts asking Sensei why my rank was so low without my knowledge. (Despite my grips here I don't mention my annoyance with the social rank thing to people in the dojo- including new people who directly ask me about me about it.) I have had a member of the testing board at the dojo tell me directly that I should have tested with the last round of people; he taught me more in my first few months than anyone and for him to say that really helped.

Now that it is out in the open, things seemed to have worked themselves out.
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Old 09-15-2012, 10:50 PM   #14
Anthony Loeppert
Dojo: Aikido of Del Mar
Location: San Diego, CA
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Sensei has directly stated in a black belt class to me and the others attending that rank is not based solely on hours on the mat or skill. That a big part to his is time in the dojo. This was directly caused by a few black belts asking Sensei why my rank was so low without my knowledge. (Despite my grips here I don't mention my annoyance with the social rank thing to people in the dojo- including new people who directly ask me about me about it.)
Sounds like you've really developed over the last few months [/sarcasm]

Drop your dramas. Drop your self comparison to others. Work on yourself, which is all you can do anyway.
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:55 PM   #15
Young-In Park
Location: Santa Ana, CA
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I'll give a general update after I respond to a few people first whose posts were interesting.
I'm sorry you didn't find my post interesting...

Quote:
Sensei has directly stated in a black belt class to me and the others attending that rank is not based solely on hours on the mat or skill. That a big part to his is time in the dojo. This was directly caused by a few black belts asking Sensei why my rank was so low without my knowledge. (Despite my grips here I don't mention my annoyance with the social rank thing to people in the dojo- including new people who directly ask me about me about it.) I have had a member of the testing board at the dojo tell me directly that I should have tested with the last round of people; he taught me more in my first few months than anyone and for him to say that really helped.
Your sensei has clearly started that rank will be based on factors other than experience or skill. And as you've said before, you're unwilling to participate in dojo politics. Hence, your rank is commensurate with your perceived personal developement.

Others on this thread view your "rants" as being petty and unwilling to engage in introspection. While you may be accomplished technically in the art, staying with the dojo will provide you an opportunity. If you fly under the radar, you'll be able to witness the cult of personality (shihan/sensei/sempai is always right) and the magic of popularity (its not what you know, its who you know).

Otherwise, as I've said before, its probably time to change dojos or practice a different martial art altogether.

YoungIn Park

PS hopefully this post was more interesting.
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Old 09-16-2012, 02:11 AM   #16
KEM
Dojo: Aikido of Gainesville/ Gainesville, FL
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Re: Senpai You Can't Respect

A favorite 'aphorism'
OUr quality of life is directly related to the number and kinds of teachers we are willing to have."
So modified for Aikido: Our Aikido journey of learning is improved with each encounter when we are willing to allow every experience to be instructive
Yes, it is a personal test when someone flaunts arrogance as a means of covering up poor technique. It is also a learning opportunity and a teaching one.
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