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Old 05-02-2004, 12:15 AM   #1
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Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 2, 2004:

Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Yes
  • No
Here are the current results.
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:09 AM   #2
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

As with most all of these polls, the answer is "It depends."

We must really understand "the rules" and follow them so we understand (very deeply) how to break them properly.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-02-2004, 09:01 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I think it can be done "cleanly" so to speak but one would have to be careful. Many pitfalls here. The most important thing is to be open with the folks from the dojo so evryone knows. Don't make it some secret, people get more upset later when they find out that you haven't been straight with them.

The second thing is to be very careful about favoring the new partner either on the mat or especially off the mat in the running of the dojo. It may be that you will be in a successful long lasting relationship, in which case over time, it will be natural for ones partner to be involved. But I can't count how many times in have heard about some relatively junior person throwing his / her weight around based on the fact that they had the Sensei's ear because they were the "partner of the moment". K.O.D. Kiss of Death for morale at the dojo.

My own partner does Aikido, we met on-line a year ago and we are as happy as can be, but she continues to primarily train with her own teacher, my friend Kimberly Richardson Sensei, just so we don't run into problems. Sort of like the old advice about not teaching your spouse how to drive.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 05-02-2004, 09:27 AM   #4
Lan Powers
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

[i]I voted no for the reasons quoted above by Mr. Ledyard. Although, as with most of these "open ended" questions there are too many variables for a absolute answer. No is easier, but it could work as yes in a perfect world. (We just, all too often fall short of that perfection)
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 05-02-2004, 02:25 PM   #5
Jeffrey A. Fong
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Many professionals have ethical codes which specifically prohibit mixing business and pleasure, the so called dual relationship - and with good reason. The relationship between sensei and student (particularly the serious student) can be extraordinarily intimate. Because the master possesses stature in the form of their knowledge, skill and personality, there is a distinct power differential that can influence the student's behavior both on and off the mat. When the product of that interaction is martial skill, development of character and a sense of social responsibility, then the sensei and his other students can relax in the virtue of their art. However, when sexual intimacy is blended into this relationship, the purpose of practice and more importantly, who is benefitting from it becomes less clear. Herein lies the conundrum. One does not have to look further than the fields of psychology/psychiatry (psychotherapy), law, education, etc. to see examples of the fall out from these kind of blended - and flawed - relationships. Obviously, there are some who are sufficiently evolved to pull this off, but they are, I reckon, the exception to the rule.
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Old 05-02-2004, 04:39 PM   #6
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Why not? I know of some who have ended up marrying one of their students!

Good luck to them!
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Old 05-02-2004, 04:53 PM   #7
DGLinden
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Well, hmmm. George dates his own student. I voted no, but in all truth met both of my wives (my first and second) on an Aikido mat as well as one I dated for 7 years trying to talk her into becoming the first. I think the important thing is sincerity.

Isn't the real question here about the instructor who sees his female students as prey? Fair game? I once knew an instructor who had as a personal goal to sleep with all his female students, and for the most part did. I found that despicable. Teachers should not abuse their special position of trust.

And before we get too far along it might be pointed out that a large number of shihans are married to former students.

Last edited by DGLinden : 05-02-2004 at 04:57 PM.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Old 05-02-2004, 06:00 PM   #8
rachmass
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Isn't the real question here about the instructor who sees his female students as prey?
please don't forget there are plenty of women teachers out there as well!

Having seen first-hand some very destructive results of teachers dating student's; I recommend against it in general. However, if it is extremely serious, then it can work out and work out very well. Just no dallying around with students without sincerity and honor. There is a power imbalance, and that in and of itself is a problem.
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Old 05-02-2004, 06:10 PM   #9
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

It doesn't start out serious, so you can't make that judgement then. It starts out with attraction!

The way to avoid the imbalance (and I speak from experience) is that your partner must acknowledge your position in the dojo and you must leave that behind as you walk out the door. In fact, you tend to find that the balance swings the other way outside of the dojo!!!
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Old 05-02-2004, 09:43 PM   #10
zachbiesanz
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I'm with Mark. Relationships are only one of the many things you leave at the door. If you can work aiki into your relationship without working your relationship into aikido, you should be fine. In fact, better than fine. Love and harmony, right?

One idea I've heard is that when we all don the white pj's. we effectively become sexless. Gender and sexuality are other things to leave at the door. This might be more "ought" than "is" in some places. Hopefully not.

Aikido is the art of hitting an assailant with the planet.
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Old 05-03-2004, 06:50 AM   #11
DGLinden
Dojo: Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Rachel, have you ever heard the old saying, 'When Mama aint happy, ain't nobody happy.'? I think I've seen some very senior people dealing with some disgruntled wives (and husbands) over these years. My point is that the balance you speak of is a natural one for those who are lucky enough to find true and lasting love with someone who also embraces Aikido training. Too many teachers want the 'sensei' experience to carry on off the mat. Dating is one place it does not belong.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 05-03-2004, 10:03 AM   #12
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I'm in the camp that says that an instructor shouldn't use the class as a place to troll for dates/sex. But, if two rational single adults meet in class and they can work it out so off-mat doesn't interfere with on-mat and vice versa then it could work out nicely. I've seen it work. My instructor is married to the dojo's senior student (she's senior because she's been there since the beginning...nothing hinky about her rank or position). I think it brings a nice dynamic to the dojo. It feels like we've all been taken in as part of the family.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-03-2004, 10:30 AM   #13
rcoit
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Well, I'm passing on this one. Inasmuch as aikido implies a morality, it, as in most Eastern philosophies, takes life on face value. I am on my guard when ever I heard "should". It always means someone's interpretation supercedes someone else's. The question is biased. "yes" may mean a pair 'might' date or may mean a student 'should' date sensei (?all students!!!!). "No" may mean a pair can date but ill-advised, or may mean "never". "yes" & "no" for this question is bound to be insufficient or misunderstood. In an increasingly confused world, it is best to learn from Aikido and O Sensei - be master of your world and the universe will follow. "Should" & "should not" may be the root of many an offense.
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Old 05-03-2004, 10:44 AM   #14
j0nharris
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Well.. I'm one of the guys who ended up marrying a student, so what does that make me?
In all fairness, though, when we met, we were both students, and were married before I received my yudansha and started teaching on a regular basis.
I think we do pretty good job of keeping our personal stuff off the mat, though we have certainly had to work through it at times.

I agree that "trolling for dates" at the dojo is not a good thing, but it can be hard to avoid in a university setting
That said, I don't think that either my wife or I were looking at the time... we got along well, and after knowing each other for a few months, I just couldn't help but ask her out. I think we were each old enough, too, to be responsible about it.

-jon

jon harris

Life is a journey...
Now, who took my @#$%! map?!
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Old 05-03-2004, 12:16 PM   #15
PeaceHeather
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I voted "no" only because of the potential for abuse. The way this question was phrased made me think of that first, and also of a massive difference in age or maturity between the two people involved -- not so good.

I do agree, though, that if the two people are mature, are able to keep the attraction where it belongs and the unequal sensei/student relationship where *it* belongs, then more power to them.

Heather
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Old 05-03-2004, 05:24 PM   #16
Nick Simpson
Dojo: White Rose Aikido - Durham University
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Free Choice. It can end destructively or it can end nicely. But people have to make their own mistakes/decisions (and they will).
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Old 05-03-2004, 05:28 PM   #17
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Or it might not end!
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Old 05-03-2004, 06:37 PM   #18
Nick Simpson
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Hopefully.
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Old 05-03-2004, 08:38 PM   #19
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Doka wrote:
Or it might not end!
All marriages end. By either divorce or death

Bronson, your little ray of sunshine

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-04-2004, 06:18 AM   #20
Nick Simpson
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Wow, well, that was the first thing I read this morning upon waking up with my coffee and if it hasnt inspired me at the start of a new relationship
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Old 05-04-2004, 08:34 AM   #21
SeiserL
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

IMHO, NO!

IMHO, an instructor-student relationship is not on an equal footing, thus not very healthy. Also, it can set up some bad feeling, jealousy, and favoritism in the Dojo with the potential of destroying the entire school.

I think we need to protect our students, even from ourselves, and have some sense of ethics.

Theoretically, it may work. If an instructor has strong feeling about a student, they may want to first consider severing the instructor-student relationship before dating. In almost all professional fields, including teaching, there are ethical rules against dating your students. It just doesn't seem to work out well in the long run.

IMHO, the loss of ethics in the martial arts in general has really hindered its growth.

I know this is a very strong soapbox for me. Thus endeth the sermon. He gets off his soapbox and puts it temporarily away. He heads for the Dojo to work out his frustrations that this is even a question we have to ask.

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!
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Old 05-04-2004, 08:48 AM   #22
Qatana
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

My sensei's wife was a former student, one of his first i believe. His sensei is married to a student. There are several dojo members married to each other.

If it was me involved, i think i would try to find another teacher. I once dated my karate teacher and when it ended, so did our ability to train together...

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 05-04-2004, 07:05 PM   #23
Sharon Seymour
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

(Carefully placing soapbox; stepping up onto soapbox)

Instructors should not date students. Period. People meeting on the mat when both are students is another matter. This is a hot issue with me, and I realize I am very black/white about it.

(Stepping down off soapbox; returning to Lynn - thanks for the image!).

-----
There is more to balance than not falling over.
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Old 05-05-2004, 01:41 PM   #24
Lachlan Kadick
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I believe that it depends upon the instructor. If the instructor is unable to keep from holding someone in a special position in a class, than should he even be instructing at all? And I as well agree that all of the issues that the instructor and student have off the mat should be left off of the mat. There is no reason that a good instructor should not be allowed to have a healthy relationship with a student.

Think big, Live humbly.
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Old 05-05-2004, 01:51 PM   #25
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Sharon Seymour wrote:
(Carefully placing soapbox; stepping up onto soapbox)

Instructors should not date students. Period. People meeting on the mat when both are students is another matter. This is a hot issue with me, and I realize I am very black/white about it.

(Stepping down off soapbox; returning to Lynn - thanks for the image!).
So by your reasoning, all those Sensei-Student husband and wife couples should never have existed?

I hope nobody listens to you. What the world needs more is love!

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