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Old 11-10-2002, 03:12 PM   #1
mle
Dojo: The Dojo (www.the-dojo.com
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Bill of Rights

I'm working on a Bill of Rights for martial arts practicioners.
Seems a little crazy, but then I see so many people get legislated, manipulated and downright abused by their dojo and it is very frustrating.. what I'd like to do is create a document which one can compare one's experience to and make a judgement about where one is training.

Something like:
1. Right to train in an art which suits you
2. Right to train within that art to the fullest of your ability
3. Right not to suffer physical harm (this does not include minor training injuries) as punishment or retaliation in training.
4. Right to be accepted in a dojo on merit of heart (kokoro as I understand it) ability and potential, NOT gender, race, or political merit.
5. The right, once accepted, to train and contribute fully.
6. Right to cross-train without retaliation, rejection, or judgement.
7. Right to advance in grade given reasonable time in grade (up to 1 year) without having to trade (a) over $100 US, (b) sexual favors or actions (c) political favors
8. Right to speak openly, freely, honestly.

This is meant to be offered to the student seeking to evaluate the status of training at their dojo (dojang/kwoon/etc).

Please offer input! and please keep it simple for me. :-)


Thank you all for your time.

mle

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Old 11-10-2002, 03:35 PM   #2
Brian H
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This is purely an exercise in playing devil's advocate, but ...

What about people who think a "traditional" dojo requires that you be treated like farm yard animal? Begging admittance, silly drills, yelling orders, unquestioning obedience and menial tasks etc.

I would not be happy training in that environment, but since they exist people must be seeking them out.

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing
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Old 11-10-2002, 07:52 PM   #3
Kevin Leavitt
 
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I think I know where you are going with this...but you also have the right not to participate if you don't like what you are experiencing.

Coming from the military environment and having studied in traditional dojos....there is something to be said for authoritarian rule in this enviornment.

Obviously, mental and physical abuse have no appropriate place in any martial, military, or quasi-military environment. Hazing comes to mind.

Having said that, there is a fine line between hazing/abuse and hard training that serves to mold you into the tough warrior that you need to be mentally and physically.

I really hate it when my partner or sensei do not have the decency to tell me that I am "ate up" and doing something wrong. I'd rather them be a little rude and step on my ego in the dojo than fill me full of "warm and fuzzies" that come back to haunt me adversely someday!

Sometimes we need to be pushed outside of our comfort zones slightly in order to grow!

Obviously, some of the things you list are good, I do think that many of them are common sense though!

Food for thought!

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Old 11-10-2002, 08:18 PM   #4
Erik
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Re: Bill of Rights

Quote:
Emily Dolan Gordon (mle) wrote:
I'm working on a Bill of Rights for martial arts practicioners.

Seems a little crazy, but then I see so many people get legislated, manipulated and downright abused by their dojo and it is very frustrating.. what I'd like to do is create a document which one can compare one's experience to and make a judgement about where one is training.
As one of the militants on this subject, I can endorse this in it's way. Some thoughts worth the digital space they occupy.
Quote:
3. Right not to suffer physical harm (this does not include minor training injuries) as punishment or retaliation in training.
This should be obvious. I would add mental and sexual abuse as well. I would then extend that to not being hit on by the instructor, but some seem to think that's ok.
Quote:
7. Right to advance in grade given reasonable time in grade (up to 1 year) without having to trade (a) over $100 US, (b) sexual favors or actions (c) political favors
This is a toughie because dan ranks through Hombu all exceed $100. In fact, the higher ranks run into 4 figures.
Quote:
8. Right to speak openly, freely, honestly.
Again, one that should be obvious but....

I would also add something along the lines of a drug free environment and the right to use your common sense. Something about being in a dojo makes people stupid (me been there. me do that. so me know.) and I think they sometimes need to be reminded that they have a brain.
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Old 11-10-2002, 08:24 PM   #5
Erik
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Quote:
Brian Heanue (Brian H) wrote:
This is purely an exercise in playing devil's advocate, but ...

What about people who think a "traditional" dojo requires that you be treated like farm yard animal? Begging admittance, silly drills, yelling orders, unquestioning obedience and menial tasks etc.
Brian, I couldn't agree more on this one. Once, you get past about 19 years old who needs that s***. It's completely lost on my why people submit themselves to it, and to top it off, they pay to be a farm animal. Probably, there are farm animals treated better.
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Old 11-11-2002, 02:19 AM   #6
Jucas
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What practical application do you hope for this "bill of rights" to take part in?

When you say, "It will be offered to help a student, evauluate the status of training at their dojo";

Do you mean for these to be followed as guidelines in the dojo? Outside? Both?

Simply for a basis of comparison?

Furthermore on what level; Personal, enviromental, etc?

I lean toward making less specific rules/commandments, that is why we have the law and the government. In this case, a established set of principles could be more productive in evaluating one's dojo. These general guidelines should be simple enough that they leave something to be answered, yet can become as specific as needed.

A few examples of what I am thinking:

- All pratitioners reserver the right to train a productive enviroment in which: verbal, physical and sexual abuse are completely void.

-It is the responsibility of all practitioners: To arrive at the Dojo(school) with focused and open minds, and to contribute openly to a enviroment which promotes health (mental & physical), happiness and the well-being of the individuals and the Dojo enviroment.

Something like that maybe?

-J

Last edited by Jucas : 11-11-2002 at 02:25 AM.

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Old 11-11-2002, 02:27 AM   #7
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
Brian, I couldn't agree more on this one. Once, you get past about 19 years old who needs that s***. It's completely lost on my why people submit themselves to it, and to top it off, they pay to be a farm animal. Probably, there are farm animals treated better.
I don't know there are a lot of strange people out there. Form the http://www.akidofaq.com

The top 10 reasons Aikido training is like S&M

10. You go to a special place, get dressed in special clothes and tell someone how to hurt you

9. You pay to have it done to you

8. The more you do it. The harder and faster you want it.

7. Practitioners of both arts stay up all night looking for their stuff on the internet.

6. It can take your relationship to a new level if you can get you spouse involved.

5. You always say "Thank You" to the person hurting you when they are done.

4. Even if someone gets really hurt, chances are they'll do it again.

3. "The more you relax, the less this will hurt!"

2. No one understands why you do it except other people involved in the activity.

1. You inflict pain in an effort to get your partner horizontal. And then it's your turn. And you're glad!

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-11-2002, 02:34 AM   #8
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That little aside out of the way. While I don't necessarily disagree with most of Emily's "rights", I do have a problem with a list in general.

For example although I would like to become a member of any dojo I wish, why should that be my right at the expense of the teacher to teach who he wants to.

The right to a grade a year - sorry but I expect I wont be grading once a year any more and this is good - no grading fees.

Also not to thrilled by putting a monetary value in the list. If sensei has to eat and I am willing to pay his prices. My choice/his choice.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-11-2002, 02:45 AM   #9
mle
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Slightly OT -- "tradition"

Quote:
Brian Heanue (Brian H) wrote:
What about people who think a "traditional" dojo requires that you be treated like farm yard animal? Begging admittance, silly drills, yelling orders, unquestioning obedience and menial tasks etc.
This is Chuck posting under Emily's account.

Sorry for the slight deviation, this is a pet peeve of mine.

What you described is not a 'traditional' dojo at all. It is a remnant of the militaristic BS imposed on budo training by the Japanese government and military during their little spate of aggressive behavior in the 20s, 30s and 40s.

Hard training is one thing. The line up, shout lots, do hundreds of calisthenics and such rot is another.

In the old dojo, students were expected to BE disciplined when they came for training. They were expected to BEHAVE like adults, train hard and not HAVE to be 'whipped into shape' by a drill instructor.

Sensei oughtn't be a DI. He/she has far too many other things that need to be taught. If students need that kind of false discipline, then they need to be doing something else (IMNSHO).

I believe the student has a responsibility to be fit and disciplined. The dojo/teacher has the responsibility to teach the art and transmit the concepts.

Many folks confuse 'hard discipline' with tradition. It is not the same ...

Chuck

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Old 11-11-2002, 03:08 AM   #10
mike lee
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Cool judgment call

Most countries have legal systems where such abuses can be sorted out. This would make such a "bill of rights" reduntant, not to mention the fact that it would not be legally binding. Quite frankly, it wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on.

In addition, making such "demands" on a martial arts teacher and questioning his judgment is extremely disrespectful.

As far as my experiences as a student, I looked at it this way: If the teacher didn't say anything to me I took it as indicating that he didn't take me seriously because I wasn't training hard enough. But if he chewed me out on a regular basis, I took it as meaning that he was interested in seeing me make some progress. As my training progressed, I was chewed out less and less, until only minor suggestions were occassionally given. At this point, I realized that I had learned the basics of the art. This was after about five years of extremely intensive training at the black-belt level under a shihan.



On the other hand, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Last edited by mike lee : 11-11-2002 at 03:13 AM.
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Old 11-11-2002, 04:19 AM   #11
ian
 
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Re: judgment call

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
Most countries have legal systems where such abuses can be sorted out. This would make such a "bill of rights" reduntant, not to mention the fact that it would not be legally binding. Quite frankly, it wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on.
I pretty much agree with everything Mike says. Anybody that has had to push themselves to the very limit knows that an easy time and satisfaction generally do not go hand in hand. People look for different things out of aikido. Those who look to make it a useable self defence need to train hard and diligently.

I would be much more serious in the training(without incurring injuries) if I knew the people that would benefit most from it would stick around. I think the sensei's method of teaching reflects their objectives. For me, I think it should be a self-defence. Although technique is very useful, real self-defence requires repeated training and a certain level of fitness and physical ability. Why do people spend years doing aikido for self-defence, and not spend a month getting fit? Maybe aikido should be split into two different groups so people know what they are expecting when they go to a club e.g. applied and non-applied aikido? (maybe like what has happened to Tai-Chi).

Ian

Last edited by ian : 11-11-2002 at 04:24 AM.
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Old 11-11-2002, 04:23 AM   #12
ian
 
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P.S. I don't like the attitude that the sensei is providing a 'service' for the students. I have never met anyone that teaches aikido for the money. If you don't want to train with them, don't - find someone you respect and admire, and train with them instead.

Ian

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Old 11-11-2002, 05:16 AM   #13
Brian H
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Re: Slightly OT -- "tradition"

Quote:
Chuck wrote:
What you described is not a 'traditional' dojo at all. It is a remnant of the militaristic BS imposed on budo training by the Japanese government and military during their little spate of aggressive behavior in the 20s, 30s and 40s.
I feel the same way, but there is an element in our community that think dojos that have a dignified environment are for "sissies" and as Kevin points out, a regimented class structure does have its place (a program for troubled youth?).

I am just suggesting that if a student wants to enter into that kind dojo, why stop them.

If a dojo was not meeting my expectations, my ultimate redress is to leave the mat (as a temporary solution), or to leave the dojo(a permanent solution).

I imagine that if a teacher was behaving badly an empty mat (or dojo) would get the point across nicely.

A right to leave the mat and decline to train?

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing
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Old 11-11-2002, 03:45 PM   #14
mle
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Re: judgment call

I should stress that I myself am not at this time under any duress in my training. I am, however, talking to friends who are.

BTW I like the kitchen plenty hot, thank you. Intensity is not always physical.

I've changed things up a bit with folk's advice, here's the new batch.

We the students, in order to improve our lot and personal discrimination as students of the martial arts, do hereby create this list of Rights and Responsibilities in order to pursue our potential.

Any right may be waived at any time, should mutual interest between dojo and participant call for such. All rights refer back to #1- if you are having to refer to the rest of the list, this place may not suit you, nor you it.

1. Right to seek out an art which suits you

2. Right to train within that art to the fullest of your ability (that's trying hard and paying attention)

3. Right not to suffer physical harm (this does not include minor training injuries) as punishment or retaliation in training.

4. Right to be accepted in a dojo on merit and potential, as defined by that system.

5. The right, once accepted and committed, to follow organization guidelines and contribute fully.

6. Right to cross-train without retaliation, rejection, or judgement, with permission or advice of your instructor.

7. Right to advance in grade given effort, contribution, and growth without having to trade (a) unreasonable fees, (b) sexual favors or actions (c) political favors

8. Right to speak openly and honestly, when appropriate.

Is that better, or am I trying to herd elephants with a table fan?

mle

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Old 11-11-2002, 05:03 PM   #15
Richard Elliott
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Re: Re: judgment call

Hi mle!

Interesting project! It really is too bad written guidelines seem necessary. I really believe that abuses must be a very low % of the MA poplulation. I hope so. Maybe I'm lucky that I can say I have never had a MA teacher I didn't really like on some basic level.

I'm wondering if the word "Freedom" is really more aptly applied on some of these than 'Rights"? For instance, #1,2,5,6,8,maybe #7.

Especially for raw beginners (I started at 38 yrs old), it seems to me, it would give a better introduction if these "guidelines" were worded in a more friendly and personal way?

O.K. this might sound polyanna, but: #2. Student should ideally train with honesty and heart with respect for the teach and rules of the respective school...

Student responsibilities, I feel, might be stressed; this, for the sake of all those good teachers and adminers of good and open will.

#7 implies full disclosure from the beginning i.e. no changing the fees w/o notification. B and C. are obvious no-nos.

Obviously, as the student has the right or freedom to leave, so the teacher has the right or freedom to bar a student: To me, "Rights" just sounds needlessly confrontational.

I tried to write a message an hour ago. When I came back you made some changes I had recommended. Like #8 "... when appropriate."

All this brings to mind a thread, somewhere here, about separating the knowledge being transmitted from the teacher/student bond. I keep thinking about that in a lot of different contexts...

Good luck with this! I'm green for all your traveling! Your friend

Last edited by Richard Elliott : 11-11-2002 at 05:06 PM.

Respectfully, Richard
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Old 11-11-2002, 05:43 PM   #16
Chocolateuke
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Lightbulb define right

This is intresting.. But dont most orginizations already have guidlines? Also, what do you mean by right? Are these things that cannot be taken away from you?? Im gonna question some of the guildlines you posted only to validate them for me.

3. Right not to suffer physical harm (this does not include minor training injuries) as punishment or retaliation in training.

Does this mean you cannot throw a student who has lied to the dojo extra hard for a day?? what about a student who brings drugs to the dojo can not punish them??



4. Right to be accepted in a dojo on merit and potential, as defined by that system.

A dojo is a private owned space, the sensei owns the space (or rents) and therefore should be able to do what he wants with it and that includes excludeing people. Who says he has to train anybody even if it is Bruce lee.

Just some thoughts. I like most of it and really am intrested in where this is gonna go. However, some things need to be issued on these rights. and like Mike said the words are only worth the paper writen on.

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 11-11-2002, 09:23 PM   #17
opherdonchin
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Hey Mle, I really like the idea and the effort. My take on it is that you are trying to put into words something that many of us bring to our judgements about a dojo and to the advice we give people who are looking for a dojo or questioning their dojo. That is, I understand it much better when I think of it as a sort of modern 'budo' of rights and responsibilities that are more of an aspiration than a strict guideline.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 11-12-2002, 02:20 AM   #18
aef
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Hi, mle.

I think this is a really good idea. I'm quite new to aikido, and I've been lucky enough never to have felt as though I was being mistreated in my training, but it occurs to me that in terms of guidelines for students who are wondering whether they should continue to put up with whatever it is about their dojo that's disturbing to them, there are two categories that might be useful:

1) Guidelines for answering the question, "Can I reasonably expect to find a dojo to train in where I don't have to put up with _____?"

2) Guidelines for answering the question "Would what I have to put up with in order to continue training or advance in rank normally be considered abuse, ie, is a senior person in the dojo using his/her position of power to force students to endure things that expose them to unreasonable risk, or physical or mental harm?"

Since you're calling this a bill of rights, it seems like you're probably trying to answer something closer to 2. I think that in order to answer that in a really useful way, it's necessary to be at least as specific as you have been in the rules you've put down so far. I think people can generally decide for themselves whether or not they want to be abused (and will, in general, decide that they don't). Once in a while, though, an instance may come up in which it's not clear whether abuse is involved. This might be kind of rare, but then, martial arts training always involves letting people do some things to you that you wouldn't otherwise... of course, the tricky part is that where to draw the line depends a lot on personal and cultural values. And now, I'm just rambling, so I think I should just say that what you've put down so far looks pretty good to me.

I would add one rule, the right to expect your instructors to make every effort within reason to prevent serious injuries. This would include providing whatever safety equipment is standard for the activity being practiced, ensuring that everyone involved in the activity has had adequate training and experience to participate safely, and pointing out anything about the activity that's especially dangerous, and how to minimize the risk involved.

Hmmm... I'm starting to sound like someone's mom or something... must be that thread last week about injuries that got me thinking about it.

Anyway, good luck!

Annelise
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Old 11-12-2002, 05:32 AM   #19
justinm
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I have a gut reaction against this whole Bill of Rights stuff. Not sure why, but I think I just don't get it. Maybe it is an American thing? If I HAD to come up with something, it would be along these lines:

1. The Sensei has the right to run the dojo anyway they damn well please.

2. Everyone has the right to leave if they don't like it.

I struggle with anything else.

Justin

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Old 11-12-2002, 06:11 AM   #20
Bruce Baker
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Martial rights?

The first thing you learn in trying to learn a martial art is that you are learning to be martial to be dominant.

YOU LEARN A MARTIAL ART TO BE DOMINANT.

So, in effect, you give yourself rights in being the dominant fighter, or having the greater ability.

Second, a hard lesson I learned from butting heads with NJ unemployment, you have no rights except that you can leave any job at any time to find another job. Employers can fire you at any time for any reason, and not suffer any repercussions, because you are working at their behest to assist them in their labors.

Get it into your head, you need to learn how to make a choice, and you need to learn how to stand up for who you are. These are choices, and as far as the Bill of Rights ... you make your own Bill of Rights with 'Fist Law', or doninance ... within societies laws that is.

Once understanding you have no rights, you will then understand how much more important it is to attain the clarity you need not to consider the grade, kyu, dan, or any other system of advancement being your primary goal in learning a martial art, but that learning to make techniques your own property are the key to martial arts.

Ain't no stupid belt gonna protect you in a group of attackers, you have to do what must be done ... with or without your belt or uniform.

Rights? Sorry, nice concept, but in the sense we are teaching variations in methods to physically dominate other human beings, you first need to learn how to be dominate to make the rules. This is the lesson of life, and my learned lessons of being an employee verse being an employer.

Maybe I am a true Ronin?

I have never saught the recognition of belt, grade, or saught to be a teacher ... my martial journey was let me be the little old man who could really hurt people if need be, but could be the cute little old man, just the same.

So, if I am a bit different in not wanting to extol any organization, or individuals who are key to any martial endeavor, that is my journey. If you guys want a Bill of Rights, fine. Just remember, you have the right to walk away and learn on your own terms too.

By the way, Fist law refers to the cognizant mind that recognizes your need to make choices, be aware of how those choices affect yourself and others, and that in carrying out those choices you will be subject to the laws of society. I use the term to awaken you to the fact you are learning to be physically dominant on some level over other human beings.
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Old 11-12-2002, 09:37 AM   #21
Jason Tonks
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I really think that this is the wrong way to go about things. It could well lead down an extreme path. Of course people have rights but as Bruce (in my interpretation) has put it, it is up to us at the end of the day to monitor these. Like Bruce said if you don't like what's going on, leave. People should feel priveleged that they have somewhere to train at all. Most people within the Martial Arts are decent honourable people but as everywhere there are idiots. Steer clear of them. I can just see this going too far, that shihonage hurt my shoulder a bit, I'm gonna sue. Before you know it we'd all be doing Politically Correct Aikido. We're not are we!?

All the best

Jason T
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Old 11-12-2002, 09:48 AM   #22
Erik
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Something from a different practice.

http://www.yrec.org/yrecguidelines.html
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Old 11-12-2002, 09:50 AM   #23
erikmenzel
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Re: Martial rights?

Quote:
Bruce Baker wrote:
Maybe I am a true Ronin?
Or just the misguided jester who thinks himself king cause he allowed to sit on the throne.

Or just the fool who mistakes the reflection in the pond for the moon.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
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Old 11-12-2002, 10:11 AM   #24
akiy
 
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Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
Something from a different practice.

http://www.yrec.org/yrecguidelines.html
Shouldn't their #12 ("Yoga teachers will treat their students with respec") be #1 on their list?

Frankly, I feel that most of the other things on the above guidelines for yoga teachers would be too "touchy feely" for a lot of aikido/budo dojo. I'm sure a lot of folks in aikido/budo do not approach their art in the same way the guidelines seem to describe people in yoga approach their art.

All said, I think the guidelines for yoga teachers link above does have some interesting things in it; I'm sure Emily will take a look.

-- Jun

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Old 11-12-2002, 11:18 AM   #25
opherdonchin
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Quote:
If I HAD to come up with something, it would be along these lines:

1. The Sensei has the right to run the dojo anyway they damn well please.

2. Everyone has the right to leave if they don't like it.
I'd probably also include something about criticising other teachers and styles, which is important for creating a healthy larger aikido community. Another I'd think about is that not only do people have the right to leave, but they have the right not to suffer abuse or reprisals for leaving or wanting to leave. I'm not sure I'd consider these 'sue-able' rights but I do think that if I heard consistent complaints of this nature from students in a dojo, I would think twice about recommending that dojo.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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