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Old 10-08-2002, 03:45 PM   #1
MichaelK78
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Getting slapped in the face by the teacher

Last monday we had to train with the sticks (the sword substitute-I don't know the Japanese word). At a certain moment we had to do an exercise in which the attacker had the stick and the defender had to grasp the end of it. However, the remainder of the exercise was a bit of a blur to both my partner and me. This was only our third class. The teacher noticed this, came up to us and took the stick from her. He wanted to do the exercise with me. So I grasped the stick and froze because I didn't know what to do. Then suddenly the teacher slapped me in my face with his free hand, "Ouch..." I said. He looked at me furiously and hissed "You will cooperate!!!" while he yanked the stick to force my wrist to fold over. I was shocked. I still am. And to be honest I don't really know what to do about it! Should I file a complaint at the dojo I train? at the national aikido organization?
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Old 10-08-2002, 04:25 PM   #2
mj
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You should have your teacher post here, so an informed judgement could be made.

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Old 10-08-2002, 04:35 PM   #3
Greg Jennings
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The wooden training sword is "bokken" or "bokuto".

I won't want to seem like I'm trying to sweep things under a rug but...

The situation you describe is sensitive. You should handle it with utmost discretion. For your sake, the instructor(s)', and your dojo mates'.

It's especially tough because it's only your third class.

W/o knowing more, there is not much that I'd feel comfortable venturing online.

Some things that would seem normal to many of us would shock the pants off the uninitiated. E.g., I get hit in the face, with a fist, regularly. It's my bad, not my partner's.

Here are some questions:

o Was the person that slapped you the head instructor of the dojo? Was he a black belt? Was he a young person running a class in the absence of an instructor?

o Is your dojo a college club depending off of a main dojo?

o Is your dojo part of a national organization? E.g., USAF, ASU, etc.

I'm the secretary and senior student in my dojo. My phone number is on the Contact Us page of our dojo web page listed in my signature below. I'd be happy to talk with you and try to talk you through it.

Hope That Helps,

Last edited by Greg Jennings : 10-08-2002 at 04:40 PM.

Greg Jennings
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Old 10-08-2002, 04:45 PM   #4
Don_Modesto
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Re: Getting slapped in the face by the teacher

Quote:
Michael Knecht (MichaelK78) wrote:
1) ...suddenly the teacher slapped me in my face with his free hand, "Ouch..." I said. He looked at me furiously and hissed "You will cooperate!!!"

2) Should I file a complaint at the dojo I train?

3) at the national aikido organization?
_________________

1) Not to be melodramatic, but it sounds like battery to me. The context of assumed increased risk appertaining to the practice of a martial art does not yet countenance abusive violence. There are legal precedents for this.

On the other hand, I was slapped in the face just the other day and took no offense. I was invited to take UKEMI by a visiting teacher and when began to come around to her front on TENKAN, she popped me lightly and snapped, "Get back there!" Not assault, cultural clash--in my dojos we've always flowed around to NAGE's front when doing TAI NO HENKO, in hers you don't with implied reason being that it creates an opening in my defenses.

That said, martial arts do suffer the presence of no little bathwater. Moreover, there are the complications of translation of one cultural expression to another and changing times (John Wayne might o' did it, too.) A well publicized legal case might clean up a lot of technically criminal sensei snits to the benefit of all.

2) Sounds kind of technical to me. Can you "discuss" it?

3) I'd take one step at a time.

Good luck. Let us know what develops. I like mark johnston's idea about having the culprit post here. That might be a wake up call to others.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 10-08-2002, 04:58 PM   #5
JMWS
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I would say that given that it is only your third class, that was not on, and certainly seems most un-aikido to me. So far all the students and teachers at our dojo have been most patient with my inexperience. I have been warned that if I behave like a complete idiot I will be trundled off into a corner for some push-ups though...

Having said that, this is a martial art and a certain amount of grief is something I expected, despite the fact that it hasn't happened yet. I have a couple of friends doing wing chun in London and they get the living daylights beaten out of them in class...

I would certainly look into reporting it to someone more senior at your dojo. But ask around, find a friendly face and talk to them about it quietly first - they may know the scene and be able to give you the advice you need, as in who to speak with and so on. I wouldn't report it to the aikido organisation yet, as you might bring a good club into bad repute because of one idiot, which would be unfair to the other students ultimately.

Unfortunately, if you do talk to somebody you may then get labelled as someone who "tells" regardless of whether you were right, wrong or in between. People can be unredeemably childish about things like this.

If it is a dojo known for "tough" teaching methods and that sort of thing is acceptable to other students maybe you are in the wrong place. Seems unlikely to me though, this is the art of peace after all.

As unhelpful as it may seem, I think my advice would be to carry on as you would have if it had never happened. Bullies always go away if they don't get a reaction. If it happens again then report it immediately.

John
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Old 10-08-2002, 06:11 PM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Mr Knecht,

Were you doing an exercise, or some sort of technique? Was the weapon a straight stick (called a jo) or a curved wooden sword (bokken)? I find it hard to imagine the value of any exercise or technique where uke has to gpasp the end of a wooden sword, but there are many such exercises/techniques where uke grasps the end of a jo and is thrown. Finally, is the dojo part of an organisation affiliated to the Aikikai?

Forgive the questions but I have difficulty in understanding what you were doing to invite the teacher's wrath. A large group of beginners entered my own dojo in April. It is now October and they will soon take their first kyu examination (for 5th kyu), but I have still not let them handle any weapons. It is still too early.

If you wish to contact me by e-mail, please do so, via the address given in my profile.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 10-08-2002, 06:12 PM   #7
Deb Fisher
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Fundamentally it doesn't matter whether or not it was 'normal martial behavior' or battery or a bad day on your teacher's part. Whatever nasty thing anyone does to you, ultimately you control yourself and your actions. Is this dojo a scary place in general? Is this teacher generally scary? Was this a freak occurance, or does it not quite surprise you? Do you feel uncomfortable learning something new there? Is there an aikido alternative in your home town?

I'm sorry you got hit in a way that doesn't sound right... IMHO, you should take care of yourself (if you need to) and worry about the ethics and stuff later.

Deb

Last edited by Deb Fisher : 10-08-2002 at 06:15 PM.

Deb Fisher
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Old 10-08-2002, 07:22 PM   #8
paw
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I strongly encourage you to take Peter up on his generous offer and contact him with more specific information.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 10-08-2002, 07:45 PM   #9
NagaBaba
 
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MichaelK78,

Aikido in not social club, danse, or other democratic institution. You practice Real Budo. In a dojo instructor is the highest authority, and there is not such thing as "complaining to national organisation". Don't be mollusc or sneak. Be a man! One must learn discipline trough hard and painfull practice. Work on your ego, so you will be a better human being!

Or quit and go practice Tae bo or tai chi.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 10-08-2002, 08:00 PM   #10
Ja'E
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sounds like the teacher is nasty to you. anyway maybe it's just a scary dojo or maybe it's only a scary teacher, but if you feel uncomfortable in training and there is an alternative aikido dojo in your town maybe you can considering in changing dojo.
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Old 10-08-2002, 08:12 PM   #11
Kevin Wilbanks
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Naga Baba,

I agree completely. Anyone who is worthless and weak enough to whine about being abused and humiliated in their first week of Aikido is dragging the art down. In my old dojo we took such people, threw a sheet over them and beat them with bokken until they stopped moving, then we through their limp carcass in a nearby dumpster. Good riddance to bad rubbish! Their blood will pave the way to the future! All hail O'Sensei!
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Old 10-08-2002, 08:30 PM   #12
Kevin Leavitt
 
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I don't know enough about the situation to render a judgement, but I will say this... it is never appropriate to abuse a student whether mentally or physically. Period.

If you do not feel comfortable with the situation, and do not feel that you can put your trust in the sensei, then you should simply quit. there is no recourse with any formal organization.

If it were an organization like ASU (which I know since I am a member)...you could file a complaint by writing a letter, If this has been a cronic problem it would probably help, but if it were an isolated incident then nothing will probably be done to be honest.

Is it possible that you were simply caught up in the moment and mistook his slap? Sometimes I will do this to show people their openings...but if it was truely done out of anger or frustration, the instructor has no responsbility teaching.

For those of you with the cavalier macho attitude about the weak and whining...If you truely feel this way, I would consider myself fortunate to never study with you.

There is a difference between training hard and serious and abusing students.

(ask me how I know sometime, I have lots of experience in very hard martial training...never once did it involve slapping a student)

I am a hard guy to piss of, but crap like this has no place in any respectable dojo.

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Old 10-08-2002, 09:55 PM   #13
Erik
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A few thoughts. One is that you should probably post these anonymously. Google archives and well, the cat's out of the bag at this point.

Second, I get hit a fair amount. No big deal. I invite it as both nage and uke. The only time I've been seriously plowed, with intent, it wasn't even done with a strike. However, assuming this at face value (slap and "you will cooperate") it implies a tonality that I would probably walk away from and not look back. I don't need it. But, maybe it was a terrible day, maybe a look was given, maybe it was barely a touch, maybe, well, who knows. Didn't see it, nor feel it.

Third, I second Paul's suggestion. Take Peter Goldsbury up on his offer.
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Old 10-09-2002, 12:27 AM   #14
G DiPierro
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Re: Getting slapped in the face by the teacher

Quote:
Michael Knecht (MichaelK78) wrote:
Last monday we had to train with the sticks (the sword substitute-I don't know the Japanese word). At a certain moment we had to do an exercise in which the attacker had the stick and the defender had to grasp the end of it.
This sounds like jo-nage, done with a weapon called a jo. The sword substitute you are thinking of is a bokken, which, as Peter Goldsbury pointed out, one would never grab the end of.
Quote:
This was only our third class.
Also as Peter mentioned, that's a little early for jo nage.
Quote:
So I grasped the stick and froze because I didn't know what to do. Then suddenly the teacher slapped me in my face with his free hand, "Ouch..." I said. He looked at me furiously and hissed "You will cooperate!!!" while he yanked the stick to force my wrist to fold over.
From what you have described here, it sounds like the instructor may have taken your "freezing up" as an attempt to resist the technique rather than as simple confusion.
Quote:
I was shocked. I still am. And to be honest I don't really know what to do about it!
I would be too, and from you have said here, I think I would find another dojo if this had happened to me. This is mainly because I don't think slapping a confused beginner completely outside of the context of a technique has much teaching value. I know that some teachers disagree with me, but that's my own personal opinion. And just so you know where I am coming from, I have been punched in the face several times by teachers and senior students, usually more or less on purpose but always in the context of a technique, and I never judged it to be completely unacceptable. The first few times I didn't really like it (particularly the first time), but I never felt that it was wholly inappropriate. By way of constrast, I was once in a dojo where the instructor threatened to punch a beginner in the face if he continued making the same mistake. While there was no physical contact, I still felt that this was completely inappropriate and I ended up leaving the dojo soon after. Each situation has to be evaluated in its own context on and on its own merits, and in both this last case and your case the fact that the student involved was a complete beginner weighs heavily in my mind.
Quote:
Should I file a complaint at the dojo I train? at the national aikido organization?
No, as others have mentioned there is nobody you can complain to. Aikido is a martial art. If you don't like your treatment at this dojo then I recommend finding another. You may, however, wish to accpet the invitations of Greg Jennings and/or Peter Goldsbury to contact them for more detailed advice. I will also put my email address in my profile and extend to you the same offer.
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Old 10-09-2002, 12:55 AM   #15
Detective Dobbs
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If that is exactly what happened the teacher is wrong for slapping a third class student.

On the other hand when your in the dojo it is go time and one should be ready for anything.Keep practicing and when the next person tries to slap/strike you, teacher or not throw them on their ass,politely of course.
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Old 10-09-2002, 01:45 AM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: Getting slapped in the face by the teacher

Quote:
Michael Knecht (MichaelK78) wrote:
Last monday we had to train with the sticks (the sword substitute-I don't know the Japanese word). At a certain moment we had to do an exercise in which the attacker had the stick and the defender had to grasp the end of it. However, the remainder of the exercise was a bit of a blur to both my partner and me. This was only our third class. The teacher noticed this, came up to us and took the stick from her. He wanted to do the exercise with me. So I grasped the stick and froze because I didn't know what to do. Then suddenly the teacher slapped me in my face with his free hand, "Ouch..." I said. He looked at me furiously and hissed "You will cooperate!!!" while he yanked the stick to force my wrist to fold over. I was shocked. I still am. And to be honest I don't really know what to do about it! Should I file a complaint at the dojo I train? at the national aikido organization?
If things occurred exactly as presented here then I would say that it's abusive behavior at the least. Of course, I've only heard one side and misunderstandings and misinterpretations are certainly common with this kind of thing. I would:

1) Talk to the instructor directly.

2) If that didn't solve the problem I would leave.

3) If I felt strongly enough about it (depending upon the circumstances) I would make a complaint either to their instructor or the organization of which they're a member.

My experience with problems in the dojo is that step 1 (talk to the person involved directly) is almost always the best answer in the long run. Certainly that I would want a student (or anybody else for that matter) to talk to me directly if they had any kind of a problem with something I had done.

Best,

Chris

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Old 10-09-2002, 01:50 AM   #17
bob_stra
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Thumbs up Re: Getting slapped in the face by the teacher

Quote:
="Michael Knecht "Ouch..." I said. He looked at me furiously and hissed "You will cooperate!!!" while he yanked the stick to force my wrist to fold over
I've gotta tell you that this one rubbed a raw nerve with me.

Nothing puts you on my shit list faster than abusing someone. So you can imagine, my first instict was to post something... less than charitable towards your instructor. (hell, had I been in your shoes I would have done something less than *charitable* to your instructor. Kinda why I need aikido - hot head and all)

Strong personal feelings aside, here my 2 cents. Remember I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. (Caveat emptor)

Legally, it cuts both ways. The dojo has a duty of care towards you. If you can prove damages then its likely that any slick lawyer can sue for negligence.

On the flip side is the concept of "volenti non-fit injura" - meaning, you waive your rights when step on the mat (freely accept any injuries). The two kinda cancel each other out, AFAIK.

As for morally and ethically...if it actually happened the way you said it did...I don't think there's any possible excuse for that kind of behaviour. At all. Ever. Especially with newbies.

Personally, I'd take a few days to cool off, than approach the head instructor and explain what happened. Perhaps you've mis-read the situation?

Frankly, whether or not *we* think it was excessive, doesn't matter. If it's excessive for *you* then that's all the motivation you need to speak to the instructor.

PS: Like the others, I've been slapped, kicked, bitten (!!), nipples tweaked (!!!), arm popped etc (yeah, they never put *any* of that on the posters for BJJ huh;-)

But there's a difference when it's done in "fun" / under training conditions Vs outright bullying. Only you can decide which is which.

Last edited by bob_stra : 10-09-2002 at 01:56 AM.
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Old 10-09-2002, 02:02 AM   #18
Creature_of_the_id
 
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It would surprise me if this instructor had actually been an instructor for any great deal of time.

What you did was normal for someone who is in his 3rd week of training. What your instructor did was not normal (as far as I am aware) to do to a begginer.

I would suggest, contacting the people that have offered their help. and to remember that your instructor is human, talk to that person and ask why he slapped you.

If you do not feel you can talk to your instructor about it, then I would personally suggest finding a different dojo in your area.

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Old 10-09-2002, 02:42 AM   #19
erikmenzel
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Hello Micheal,

I read your account with great interest. I realize that this is of course only a onesided description of what happend. It is therefor very difficult to say whether it realy was appropriate or not.

The main problem however stays: You feel it wasnt appropriate, you feel kind of abused and your sense of safety on the mat and with that teacher is damaged. You should try to get the feeling of safety and respect back, either by talking to the teacher or somebody else senior at the club and resolving the matter normaly or by looking for another place to train.

Now to a little bit of all the other truths that have been uttered in this thread:
[list=1]
[*]The weapon you trained with is most likely a jo (resembles a broomstick), however there are dojo (both aikikia and non-aikikai) were they do exercises with hanbo (half a broomstick) or where they in lack of the hanbo use the bokken (wooden sword) as hanbo-substitute. There are also dojo around where they make a distinction between undo (exercise) and waza (technique) with respect to grabbing the tip of bokken.
[*]Not all bokken or bokuto are curved, some are straight!!!
[*]In lots of different dojo (again both aikikai and non-aikikai) beginners are invited to train with weapons from day one. In our dojo beginners can start with weapons from day one. By coincedence they always pair up with one of the sempai or in solo exercises one of the sempai is always very very near.
[/list=1]

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 10-09-2002, 03:02 AM   #20
MichaelK78
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Firstly, I want to thank (nearly) all of you for your replies. I will try to answer your questions.

>You should have your teacher post here, so >an informed judgement could be made.

I doubt he ever surfs the web.

>Was the person that slapped you the head >instructor of the dojo? Was he a black >belt? Was he a young person running a class >in the absence of an instructor?

I think he is the senior teacher of the dojo. I recall he was 3rd or 4th dan.

>Is your dojo a college club depending off >of a main dojo?

Good question. I think so. Not sure.

>Is your dojo part of a national >organization? E.g., USAF, ASU, etc.

I live in The Netherlands and I think all dojo's here are supposed to be part of the national organization. But not sure here either.

>I'm the secretary and senior student in my >dojo. My phone number is on the Contact Us >page of our dojo web page listed in my >signature below. I'd be happy to talk with >you and try to talk you through it

Thanks! But unfortunately I live all the way across the globe.

>1) Not to be melodramatic, but it sounds >like battery to me. The context of assumed >increased risk appertaining to the practice >of a martial art does not yet countenance >abusive violence. There are legal >precedents for this

Yeah, it's indeed battery. His slap was in no way related to the exercise or an accident etc.

>2) Sounds kind of technical to me. Can >you "discuss" it?

I could speak with the manager of the sportsclub to try to clear things up.

>Were you doing an exercise, or some sort of >technique? Was the weapon a straight stick

>(called a jo) or a curved wooden sword

> (bokken)? I find it hard to imagine the >value of any exercise or technique where >uke has to gpasp the end of a wooden sword, >but there are many such >exercises/techniques where uke grasps the >end of a jo and is thrown. Finally, is the >dojo part of an organisation affiliated to >the Aikikai?

Mmm... I think it was a jo. And that's what i thought; it's a bit strange to grasp the end of a sword.

I dont know whether the dojo is related to any organization but probably the national (Dutch) one.

>Fundamentally it doesn't matter whether or >not it was 'normal martial behavior' or >battery or a bad day on your teacher's >part. Whatever nasty thing anyone does to >you, ultimately you control yourself and >your actions. Is this dojo a scary place in >general? Is this teacher generally scary? >Was this a freak occurance, or does it not >quite surprise you? Do you feel >uncomfortable learning something new there?

Actually I was really surprised by it. Before the incident the teacher seemed quite gentle, kind and patient (like most other people there). But the teacher just turned psycho from one moment to another. You should have seen the fury in his eyes. It's as if he thought i wasn't cooperating on purpose (as Mr DiPierro suggests). In addition, it's not as if he was slapping everyone that made a mistake.

>My experience with problems in the dojo is >that step 1 (talk to the person involved >directly) is almost always the best answer >in the long run.

Yeah. At first I was too shocked to even consider talking to him. Afterwards I thought I should have approached him about it.

But the problem is I think that he probably didn't even think about it later on. He didn't seem worried about the whole incident at all. So I wonder whether a conversation will be constructive at all.

On top of everything, I think he crossed a certain line. If he had pushed me or screamed at me or something like that, I could have accepted his apology (if he would offer it). But this is just unforgivable.

But maybe I think I should talk to him anyway. Just to air my thoughts.
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Old 10-09-2002, 04:10 AM   #21
Edward
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Unfortunately, we spend most of our time in MA learning how to hit people that it becomes almost an instinct. Sometimes, for a fraction of a second, you loose control of yourself, and this is what happens.

I think you should give this teacher a second chance, since as you say, he doesn't walk around slapping people. If it's an isolated incident, just ignore it. But if it happens often, then it's time to look for another dojo...
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Old 10-09-2002, 04:32 AM   #22
xaj
 
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
Naga Baba,

I agree completely. Anyone who is worthless and weak enough to whine about being abused and humiliated in their first week of Aikido is dragging the art down. In my old dojo we took such people, threw a sheet over them and beat them with bokken until they stopped moving, then we through their limp carcass in a nearby dumpster. Good riddance to bad rubbish! Their blood will pave the way to the future! All hail O'Sensei!
um.are you sure you practise the same art i/we do? I dont think O'Sensei would think highly of unwanted violence. What you mentioned above isnt exactly what i imagine Aikido teaches us.

(unless of course, you were being very sarcastic and i couldnt see it)
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Old 10-09-2002, 05:43 AM   #23
erikmenzel
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Quote:
Michael Knecht (MichaelK78) wrote:
I live in The Netherlands and I think all dojo's here are supposed to be part of the national organization. But not sure here either.

I dont know whether the dojo is related to any organization but probably the national (Dutch) one.
You are in the Netherlands!! Well with respect to misbehaving teachers and students you are pretty screwed. I have seen ziljons of those around with bad habbits and personalities that dont allow any changes and criticism.

With respect to organisations the aikido landscape in the Netherlands is far from easy and uniform. Sometimes it seems that there are more official organisations than there are dojo. Of course every organisation claims to be the one and only. Every one is the keeper of the one true aikido and everyone of course knows the other organisations are completely wrong, are completely disrespectfull to the legacy of o'sensei and everybody from an other organisation does all the techniques completely wrong. If you are not with them then you are against them.

There are however also a number of independent dojo, like our dojo, that dont want any part in the aikipolitics strugle in the Netherlands.

So I guess the dojo you train at is a member of the one and only organisation.

Could you maybe in a private message sent me the name of the club and the teacher?

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 10-09-2002, 05:44 AM   #24
peteswann
Dojo: Shinwakai UK
Location: Slough, Berkshire
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 38
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Talking

Quote:
justin zhang (xaj) wrote:
um.are you sure you practise the same art i/we do? I dont think O'Sensei would think highly of unwanted violence. What you mentioned above isnt exactly what i imagine Aikido teaches us.

(unless of course, you were being very sarcastic and i couldnt see it)
I have to admit I re-read this post and came to the conclusion that it was indeed sarcasm!! I can't believe there is even the remotest chance of them covering a whiner and beating them with bokuto til they stopped moving!!

And I think NagaBaba's comments were unjustified considering the topic! It's not about training and being a man, it is about a supposedly trusted instructor 'losing it' for a second and lashing out in anger in a place where there is no call for it!! After all, it is the 21st century not the 16th/17th where Macho b/s was necessary in order to survive!!

Pete
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Old 10-09-2002, 07:42 AM   #25
MattRice
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Maryland
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 123
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I can't think of a good reason for an instructor to slap a student who is that new to training, regardless of what he/she preceived about uke's response.

I would talk to the instructor about what happened, if doesn't get you anywhere, talk to someone more senior than he. If there is no one, or you don't get satisfactory results I would consider leaving or at least not attending that instructor's class.

Comments about being a man and taking pain are misplaced and ill informed...this is Aikido, we're supposed to be taking care of each other as well as training hard
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