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Old 02-16-2003, 08:02 PM   #1
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
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Posts: 1,652
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Question for instructors

I would like to pose a question to instructors.

Here's a tough situation:

1. A student claiming to be a black belt joined a while back. Under the belief that he was a shodan he was allowed to teach an iaido class to children at the dojo. We verified his rank with hombu dojo and they could not verify him. He was very cocky and had an attitude (in our opinion) when he first started training with us. When posed with the non verifiable rank his story was it was in the mail then the story became that it appeared he had a crooked instructor who ran with the money and did not submit his ranking (even though he told us he had a certificate initially which he could not produce). He claimed he tested a year ago-his skill are not bad. We did verify his former instructor was in jail.
2. At a recent taekwando seminar which he demonsrated some iaido at (now as a brown belt-1st kyu-a rank we could verify), he approached one of the children he used to teach and volunteered to work with the student at a park. He did not clear this with the dojo chos and had been told previously by the owner he could not teach until he got his shodan.
3. We are taking a very hard line on this issue and are on the verge of tossing him from the school unless he talks with the owner (not me by the way) and works this out. He is now copping an attitude and insinuates were are picking on him and have since he got to the school.
4. Our position is that he had no right to discuss any outside training with the child, obviously in a teaching role, without clearing it with the school. He compounded the issue by calling the student at home later (this child is about 6 years old). He does not seem to think there is anything wrong with this picture and states he was only trying to be helpful. Our position is this was totally inappropriate and is a potentially dangerous situation given today's society. We feel it does not demonstrate a knowledge of appropriate adult child boundaries and responsibilities as a martial arts student and member of a dojo. We feel he did not demonstrate mature judgment as evidenced by the fact the parent expressed concerns to the owner.

I would appreciate any thoughts on this issue. I feel we are taking an appropriate approach by calling him on the carpet with this. He is preparing to take his shodan test. He has threatened to taken his training elsewhere, which I have encouraged him to do if this issue is not addressed immediately and worked out. There is no close elsewhere by the way-were are out in the middle of nowhere. He has been around the marital arts since he was 12 and he is in his upper 20s I believe.
 
Old 02-16-2003, 08:07 PM   #2
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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OOps i accidently posted this in the wrong forum. I intended to post it in the teaching forum and can't figure out if it can be moved.

Sorry.
 
Old 02-17-2003, 11:17 AM   #3
Jonathan Lewis
Location: Boulder, CO
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Re: Question for instructors

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
He was very cocky and had an attitude (in our opinion) when he first started training with us.
This alone says he should not have been given teaching responsabilities, especially for kids classes, regardless of skill. Giving the benifit of the doubt is nice, but give the other students the benefit of your opinion too.

I see nothing tough in this situation if your description is acurate. I'd remove him from the dojo right now, based on his twice contacting a six year old child without concent of either the dojo or the parents.

Without that incident, I would probably allow him to train, but certainly not to teach.

Last edited by Jonathan Lewis : 02-17-2003 at 11:26 AM.
 
Old 02-17-2003, 12:11 PM   #4
Dirty Dogi
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I agree. Your dojo is opening it's self up to alot of liabilies. You never know the motives behind people and if one of the kids were to get hurt, or touched in a wrong way, or worse... I imagine you could forsee the outcome.

Sounds like the cons are outweighing the pros on this one.

Check out my personal Aikido Journal.
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/journal.php?
 
Old 02-17-2003, 12:52 PM   #5
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Thanks for the input. Our concern is he is trying to make this a we are picking on him issue. What is disturbing is his total lack of understanding with regards to adult children boundaries in modern society.

His cocky attitude was not obnoxius but enough to make us wonder about his rank. He was supervised while teaching the iado to children and actually did a good job.
 
Old 02-20-2003, 01:14 AM   #6
Kelly Allen
Dojo: Friends Dojo
Location: Winnipeg
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Be very mindful of this person. My wife is a community mental health worker and often works with child and family services workers. They all say, and say it often, bad people hide in good places. Bad People also are oblivious (or pretend to be) to obvious and blatant inapropriatness. If this man is going against the wishes of the dojo he teaches and trains in as well as the wishes of the 6 year olds parents he should be tossed out on his ear regardless of his rank or abilities.

Last edited by Kelly Allen : 02-20-2003 at 01:17 AM.
 
Old 02-20-2003, 07:36 AM   #7
mike lee
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
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be smart

I don't think that anyone should be allowed to teach until they meet your standards, have practiced at your school for at least a year, and you decide they are fit to teach, no matter what their rank is. If a shihan from outside my organization showed up at my school and tried to take over, I'd kick his ass!

The only exception would be if it was someone from another dojo in your organizatioin that you already knew, or another shihan from your organization.

You should be receiving guidance from your teacher on this issue anyway. The forums may not be the right place for such an important issue. Your students are you children!
 
Old 02-20-2003, 07:49 AM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Hello John,

I have grave concerns about allowing a yudansha with an unproven record and with the behaviour you have indicated in your post to teach children.

In my own dojo, except for the designated instructors, no one is allowed to teach who has not been my own student for a number of years.

Moreover, we have a policy of not teaching young children because none of the instructors has the requisite skills. Injuries involving children woud bankrupt a dojo if the case went to court.

Feel free to contact me privately if you wish.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
 
Old 02-20-2003, 10:04 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Quote:
Kelly Allen wrote:
My wife is a community mental health worker and often works with child and family services workers. They all say, and say it often, bad people hide in good places.
Totally agreed. IMHO, appropirate boundaries that protect the child and your school are important. If people cannot accept those boundaries, they should be encouraged to go elsewhere. I would rather hurt and adult's feelings than violate a child's safety.

Until again,

Lynn

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!
 
Old 02-20-2003, 12:25 PM   #10
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Thanks for the additional input. As a small school, we sometimes make mistakes. One was letting a shodan teach an iaido class without his proof of a sho-sho. ONce it was found his rank paper trail was non existent and he had only a documented first kyu he was pulled immediately from teaching responsibilities immediately. As Peter suggested we should have waited a while on him first. A lot of this was happening around the time the owner's wife suffered a brain aneurysm. We have since had a former black belt return after having been out of the area a while and he is now taking on the iaido responsibility.

I actually feel he had no harmful intent and was just over zealous. However, his behavior does show a serious lack of understanding of appropriate adult child boundaries and immaturity in protocol awareness. HE did not think about the implications of his actions very well at all.

At this point, we are planning to have a serious sit down meeting with the student to establish any future. Serious changes will have to be made in dojo etiquette and behavior if he is to continue with our school.
 
Old 02-20-2003, 03:25 PM   #11
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Quote:
One was letting a shodan teach an iaido class without his proof of a sho-sho.
I would say the mistake is in accepting rank as proof of competence, regardless of the pedigree. There have been lots of discussions about the meaning of rank in these forums, but I think most people would agree that regardless of someone's rank you shouldn't let him teach until you are personally satisfied with his skills and his approach.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 02-21-2003, 04:39 PM   #12
Neil Mick
Dojo: Aikido of Santa Cruz
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Rank is definitely not proof of competence.

There are two issues going on here, IMO. One is the inability to verify his claimed rank and whether or not your dojo uses rank as a standard for teaching certain classes. If it does, he shouldn't be allowed to teach (but, his evasive conduct around his certification would be enough for me to remove him from teaching responsibilities for a long time, were he my student).

The other issue, more difficult, is his evasive and somewhat belligerent attitude, and the attitudes of the other deshi. If he were my student, I'd talk with him about his over-emphasis upon rank and try to explore where all this belligerence originates, in him.

I'd also try, as best I can, to limit the censure that might arise from my other deshi, toward this student. Too often, other students reflect the attitude of Sensei toward a difficult student, with occasionally detrimental results.

IAC, the very least I would do is postpone his shodan test until I saw a change in attitude, bar him from teaching until further notice, and give a few general talks to my dojo about the importance of not judging your fellow Aikidoka so harshly, when you yourself have so much on your plate, to work on (but OTOH, I totally agree with Lynn Seiser's concern for the welfare of children students. Better his feelings be hurt, than a child be injured, through poor supervision).

If this path receives no tangible result, I'd consider more punitive measures (such as barring him from further practice).

My 2 cents.

Last edited by Neil Mick : 02-21-2003 at 04:43 PM.
 
Old 02-21-2003, 04:43 PM   #13
Les Kelso
Dojo: T.C. Academy
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Re: Question for instructors

While Riggs Sensei and I neither one wish to air publicly the difficulties we have occasionally in our dojo, we thought in sharing, others may learn. Nothing is as black and white as a singular story may make it appear. The individual in question is a likable person. His attention to young students has at no time seemed inappropriate until his attempt to contact the student away from the school. His show of shame and mortification upon realizing his error were enough to convince both Riggs Sensei and me of his sincerity. In our conversations with him we left nothing to the imagination as to how inappropriate his actions were.

As far as his supposed ranking goes,there are more holes in his story than a swiss cheese factory. HOWEVER!, at this date we really have nothing but strong suspicions. The real fact is things MAY HAVE occurred as he stated.

the overall picture of things as presented by him however seems incredibly far fetched and unlikely. We are not leaving it to chance. We are doing an in depth investigation into the young man's background and he is not permitted to enter our dojo until his 'credentials' and story have been verified.

Sometimes a weed slips into your garden and attempts to mix with the flowers but a true gardner knows the difference and will weed them out before any damage is done. Riggs Sensei is a master gardner and I have great faith in his ability to correctly handle this difficulty as Dojo Cho.

Les Kelso
 
Old 02-21-2003, 06:21 PM   #14
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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As a further note. We did not take his rank at face value with regards to believing it. I verify all rank-even mudansha when they come in and claim a certain rank. I have had one mudansha give me credentials which were not properly documented. He was able to contact his former sensei and clear the issue up.

We did give our student the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. His skill was at or very close to shodan level with some being off the mat rust. He was supervised when teaching and was at no time alone with any students. His actions off the mat in making connection, however innocent, with a student was what stimulated this action. My attempt in airing this was to get opinions on handling the issue since I have never experienced such an issue. I have been in aikido since 1974, with a several year break before returning, and this was my very first problem student.

In a small school, shodan's are sometimes asked or allowed to teach due to the lack of yudansha level students. His actual teaching was not bad for someone of his experience level. His cocky attitude was already signficantly muted by the time he taught a class.

As sensei Kelso points out, we are still attempting to verify what actually happened with his alleged shodan test and why a rank certificate was not administered. Especially since this was through a hombu affiliated organization. He stands by his story that he tested. Yet, we feel the jury is still out on this issue since as Kelso sensei put it there are a lot of holes in the story.

I thank those of you giving thoughtful insight.

Last edited by aikidoc : 02-21-2003 at 06:24 PM.
 
Old 02-21-2003, 06:28 PM   #15
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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The teaching by the way was only iaido. He was not teaching them aikido. This was work with a small group of children and wooden bokken.
 
Old 02-21-2003, 09:29 PM   #16
Neil Mick
Dojo: Aikido of Santa Cruz
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Thank you for sharing. The more you describe the situation, the more "shades of grey" it sounds. I hope that this situation results in a positive result for all parties concerned and strengthens your dojo, in the end.
 
Old 03-03-2003, 02:47 PM   #17
George S. Ledyard
 
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
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Rank / Teaching etc.

Hi John,

Misrepresent yourself as having rank that you don't and you are out as far as I am concerened. Now I have had students who had rank that they initially wouldn't admit. There was fourth Dan in Karate who joined up and initially stated that he didn't have background in martial arts. Of course it was immediately apparent that that wasn't true, beginners just don't move like that, but his motivation was to avoid the unpleasantness that sometimes comes in an Aikido dojo when senior folks from other arts show up to train. He later came up to me and said he felt badly about not telling me the truth initially but I undertsood his motivation.

But the otherway around... It's an indication of a lack of character and I would have little or no interest in teaching someone like that. I have a great group of students and a dojo atmoshpere that can't be beat. The last thing I need is a rotten apple.

As for the kids, no one gets near them who isn't a trusted student. There is no way I'd let a new student of whatever rank, with whom I wasn't very familiar teach the kids. I have never had a situation like the one you've described but I think it would be agood idea to have a WRITTEN policy that no instructor may make any independent arrangement to teach or even contact a minor student of the dojo without written parental permission and the permission of the Chief Instructor. Parents should be made aware of the policy. This is an area in which it is not possible to CYA too much. One mistake can close the dojo.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
 
Old 03-03-2003, 06:44 PM   #18
aikidoc
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George:

I agree. He swears he tested to this day and his instructor ran with the money (this is fishy since hombu tests require advanced paperwork). Either that or the guy is just naieve as hell. We did verify his instructor is in jail although we cannot find out what for.

He did eventually submit legitimate first kyu credentials but the shodan cannot be verified. He is supposedly going to check out what happened when he is in NY.

His contact was with iado (not aikido) teaching a kids class and was supervised. When his credential verification was found invalid he was immediately pulled.

A major chunk has been removed from his hindquarters at this time and he is on a serious probation with no more infractions tolerated of any kind. Your idea of a written policy is good and we are planning to do one as soon as we can put it together. We had never experienced this type of issue before either.

It just goes to prove that you cannot believe even aikidoka. It's sad one has to take such a untrusting line with students in an art of high moral standards.
 
Old 03-03-2003, 07:28 PM   #19
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Okay, I've got to speak up here. First off, why would you have young children learning iaido? Second of all, why would you let someone you don't know extremely well teach to begin with? are there really so many classes that you needed the help of someone else? This all seems extremely odd to me. The dojo where I come from, the only ones who taught had been at the dojo for years, had received their dan ranks directly through the teacher, and were an example of his own body language that he wanted to impart. Allowing a person who hadn't spent years already at the dojo teach was just unheard of, in particular with children.

BTW, which hombu dojo are you talking about? The aikikai hombu dojo definately requires payment for the yudansha books and certificates, but the money is collected up front by the grading authority, and then sent to Japan for the registration. It takes upward of a year to get your book and certificate after shodan, so that one isn't so unlikely. But if you had any questions whatsoever, why have this fellow teach?

I am sorry if this post sound confrontational, it isn't meant to be; I am just stunned by the initial post, and that a young child would be studying iaido (and since when does iaido have colored belt systems?).
 
Old 03-03-2003, 07:37 PM   #20
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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The iado class was being taught with wooden bokken. I was not in charge of the iado class so I cannot answer the second one. However, this was at the time the owners wife suffered a brain aneurysm. I don't recall a colored belt statement. It was a beginning class. The person involved was an aikido student and that's how I got involved.

Obviously, allowing him to teach was a mistake. We are small and do not have a lot of yudansha.
 
Old 03-04-2003, 01:15 PM   #21
aikidoc
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Rachael I don't think I addressed all of your questions. I was not involved in the iaido side so I don't know what rank he is if any. His purported shodan was aikido. We have a policy of having to be a black belt to teach anything at the school. The colored belt (brown) is aikido not iaido. Hence my reference was to aikido hombu verification. Again, I did not have anything to do with the iai side so I don't know the specifics I got involved because he was an aikido student as well. Sorry for the confusion. I do not let anyone teach that is not at least shodan and has been training with me long enough in aikido to know what I want taught.
 
Old 03-04-2003, 03:43 PM   #22
Erik Young
Dojo: Wilmington Kokikai Dojo
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I've been following this thread for awhile....I just had a thought and I'm going to share it.

Discalaimer: This is not a ocmmentary or attack on the dojo or intructors that are the subject of the original post...just a thought/obervation.

I work with kids and adults with mental retardation. I've done so for 10 years. My wife is a daycare teacher for 3 years. We have ALWAYS been required as a point of law to go through regular backgorund checks. Specifically, submitting criminal history and child abuse clearances. Costs $10 for each clearance.

Do dojos who teach kids classes look for this sort of thing. If not, why? It seems to me in the case cited above, mroe worrisome than this guy not being a legiotimate shodan would be if his intentions were less than honorable. I'm not saying that this is the case...ti doesn't seem to be. But what if? I can see becoming an intructor at a dojo as a way to get near children (liek ltitle league or boyscouts). Part of my organization specializes in the treatment of adolescent sex offenders...I've had more experience than I'd like with the tactics used by predators.

It seems to me that insiting that all intructors (whether or not they teach children's calsses) should present crim9inal hsitory and child abuse clearances along with certification of rank and whatnot. It may prevent an offender from getting access to victims....or, ath the very least, can provide proof that the dojo owner took steps to prevent such a situation...in the case of litigation.

I realise this is not a pleasant though...but I felt moved to say something.

Again, given the sensitivity of the subject matter...this is not a commentary directed at teh dojo, intructors or persosn involved in teh specific incident. IT's more a "what if?" msucing and a possible course of action for anyone that might be involved in teaching children martial arts in general.

Peace,

Erik

HAve you heard the one about the agnostic dyslexic? He wasn't sure if he believed in the existence of Dog.
 
Old 03-04-2003, 09:16 PM   #23
aikidoc
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Good Idea Erik. Email me and let me know how to do this. Everyone is supervised teaching children but the issue is very valid. A lot of what ifs are possible.

John
 
Old 03-05-2003, 07:25 AM   #24
Kelly Allen
Dojo: Friends Dojo
Location: Winnipeg
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Criminal checks

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
Good Idea Erik. Email me and let me know how to do this. Everyone is supervised teaching children but the issue is very valid. A lot of what ifs are possible.

John
In Canada a criminal check can be done on anyone by anyone for a fee by the RCMP. These checks are required for anyone becomeing a guide leader in cub scouts or girl guids. The person applying for the leaders position has to supply the criminal check. I'm sure your police force offers the same service.
 
Old 03-05-2003, 09:43 AM   #25
Erik Young
Dojo: Wilmington Kokikai Dojo
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John, check your private messages. I replied there.

Peace,

Erik

HAve you heard the one about the agnostic dyslexic? He wasn't sure if he believed in the existence of Dog.
 

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