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Old 09-22-2002, 11:02 AM   #1
Location: Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 6
Freaky! Give me some advice

Hello all,
This is basically a rant/asking for advice thread, so please bear with.
I just started practicing aikido officially about 3 weeks ago and there is this guy in our class(not dojo cause we practice in a ymca) who came in as an orange belt. Our sensei has been caring for his wife the past couple of weeks so he has been absent from class, well he put my friend and this guy basically in charge of lessons for now. Even though this guy has and orange belt sensei put my friend as the "head" over (we'll call him "bob"). Bob keeps on wanting to do all this stuff that me or the other newbies have no clue on. For example we were beginning to learn forward ukemi, he was trying to show these two girls how to do it standing up! Now i'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but i assumed we were going to start from a kneeling position...i asked my friend about it and said "yeah, you can't run without learning to walk first" he then noticed what bob was doing and he stopped them. Then at the end of class he wanted all of us to get into a circle and one person would be in the center and get attacked by the other students one at a time (it has a real name but it eludes me right now), i had no problem with that cause i thought it would be good practice using what we learned so far(even though quite a few of us have only had a couple of classes). I was in the middle and i thought i was doing ok, then bob attacked, i tried to apply nikyo on him and screwed it up, he tried to correct how i was grabbing and i couldn't quite get it properly, he started to f'n laugh cause i couldn't do it right. So then he said "this is how you do it", applied it to me and caused me extreme pain. To me, that isn't the way to help someone. It didn't just happen to me either, everyone he partnered with(taught) i could hear him "NO NO NO, you do it like THIS." I don't even want this guy even near me if he is going to teach like that. I always assumed you criticized the technique and not the person, he must not believe this. I ask all of you, what do i do if i get paired with him? Should i say something to sensei when he comes back?
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Old 09-22-2002, 12:01 PM   #2
Mel Barker
Dojo: University of Louisville Aikido Club
Location: Louisville, KY
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 123
Ken, I find the dojo is a microcosm for life. Sometimes we have to deal with assholes, and sometimes they are higher ranked. So, what do you do?

Aiki advice is to first center yourself, connect with uke and guide uke to someplace you desire. If uke stops attacking you can no longer guide.

How one does this with interpersonal relations varies, but be thankful for the chance to practice.

I'll leave it to others for more practical advice.

Good Luck,

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Old 09-22-2002, 12:11 PM   #3
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
I may be missing the bases on this one; I'm a newcomer to Aikido myself. However, as a teacher, this sounds like a bad situation, for several reasons:

1st; if your Sensei gave your friend (Let's call him 'sempai' for so I assume him to be) authority to control the class, then he's in charge. If the new guy is taking over, it's Sempai's responsibility to control him as well. The way you're describing it, he didn't, and the class went out of control, leading into several potentially dangerous situations. For instance: You mentioned trying - and being corrected on - Nikkyo. You also mentioned you've only been doing Aikido for 3 weeks. More senior people may disagree with me on this, depending on their style of Aikido, but to my mind, Nikkyo should NEVER be attempted by a beginner; it's a potentially EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TECHNIQUE. He demonstrated it on you, and you felt extreme pain - That's what Nikkyo does; the line between debilitating pain and joint injury is very fine with that technique. If you've been shown it off the mat and wanted to try it out; fine, we beginners make those kinds of mistakes - that's exactly what your instructors - BOTH 'Sempai' and 'Bob' should be watching for. The first responsibility of any instructor is the safety of his students - by encouraging you to try a technique outside your abilities, your instructors violated that responsibility, period. Rather than correcting it, I would've (gently) stopped you, explained to you what I just put here, and had you try something more in your skill level; like Ikkyo.

2nd; (and instructors might disagree again), remember one thing: You as a student are in charge of your own participation. If you do not feel comfortable with a situation or with your instructor, if you feel something might be causing undue risk, you are NOT obligated to continue training. If you believe there is trouble, you have every right to step off the mat until it is resolved.

3rd, please keep in mind: Your own inexperience may be colouring your perceptions - we all have certain ideas on how things 'should' be, as we develop, those ideas change. Often, when reality is different from those ideas, to the inexperienced, things might seem worse than they are. Keep your eyes open, keep your mind open, keep safety first in your mind. If you still have a problem with what you're seeing on the mat, then by all means respectfully ask your Sensei.


Last edited by DaveO : 09-22-2002 at 12:19 PM.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 09-22-2002, 03:02 PM   #4
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
Talk to your sensei. Some of your problems are because you are new. Others are because inexperienced people are "in charge". I suspect that if you talk to your sensei, he will find a way to fix this situation.

Best to you

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 09-22-2002, 03:30 PM   #5
Gri's Avatar
Dojo: Fukushinkan Dojo
Location: Athens
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 10
Just out of curiosity, what level does an orange belt signify in your dojo? How much practice of aikido is it supposed to represent? I ask because IIRC from Shotokan (we don't have coloured belts where I practice now), orange belt meant something like 6 months of practice and nobody would think of giving an -almost total- newbie the "leadership" of a class.

I'm not badmouthing your sensei -far from it. I don't even know his name. I'm just trying to understand if bob is immature or just a newbie trying to show off. Of course I understand that depending on circumstances a rather inexperienced student might take over, but IMHO they should be at least 2nd kyu (whatever the colour <g>).

As for the advice -I'd join the chorus and say "talk to your sensei" as soon as he comes back. It's his job to take care of these things -I bet this side of teaching is the toughest.

Best o' luck

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Old 09-22-2002, 04:57 PM   #6
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
As far as the Nikkyo thing goes, I don't think it is really all that dangerous unless it is applied very rapidly. If it is applied slowly, uke will be screaming his/her head off before serious traumatic damage occurs. I've seen at least 100 rank beginners practice it safely over the course of a few years.

For beginners, the thing to remember about making your nikkyo ukemi safe is to allow your body to yield. This means getting down on your knee(s) and hand. When you know nikkyo is coming, get ready to move, and try to move slightly 'ahead' of the pain. Once you are down as low as you can go, get ready to tap out when the pain comes.

If someone continues to crank on you after you tap, they are taking advantage of your generosity in allowing them your body to practice with. In aikido, this is a very serious problem - basically akin to rape.

In practice, you are trusting your partner with your safety by willingly getting into positions in which you are severely disadvantaged or even nearly helpless. If you do this in the spirit of trust and friendly, cooperative learning, and they violate that trust, it's time to stop training - right there, right then - and talk to them about it. Explain to them that they do not have your permission to inflict pain or damage upon you after you have tapped. If they are unapologetic or unrepentant or do the same again after you have talked to them, I see no problem with refusing to continue training with them. Simply bow, say thank you, and sit patiently on the side of the mat until you have the opportunity to get a new partner. If you explain your position calmly and clearly when asked, your sensei's ire, if aroused, should be focussed on the offender.

As for the situation in general, I would advise you to investigate other dojos in your area with a larger stock of experienced students, if possible. Turning the class over to someone from another school with little experience doesn't sound good to me.
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Old 09-23-2002, 08:46 AM   #7
Location: Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 6
Thanks everyone for the advice, i just found out that he will be moving either at the end of this week or next. I'll just let it pass me by and just focus on improving myself and my technique.

Thanks again

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Old 09-23-2002, 09:50 AM   #8
MikeE's Avatar
Dojo: Midwest Center For Movement & Aikido Bukou Dojos
Location: Hudson, WI
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 407
Aikido is striving to keep centered. Don't let one prick take your center so easily.

My Sensei once said that everyone needs a "petty tyrant" (that one person that just gets their goat no matter what).

If you can blend and remain centered your Aikido will improve greatly.

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
For Movement &
Aikido Bukou
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