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Old 05-05-2004, 02:23 PM   #26
AsimHanif
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I have to admit the results of this poll surprised me. I tend to agree with Lynn on this one. As an instructor whether you admit it or not, you are in a position of power. If both are intent on pursuing the relationship, I think the appropriate thing to is for the student/teacher relationship to end.
This also brings up the point of instructors dating parents of students. I'm a little uncomfortable with that one too. I guess I'm a conservative liberal:-)
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Old 05-05-2004, 02:46 PM   #27
DanielR
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

The aspect of instructor being in a position of power has been brought up several times in this thread. While I'd agree with this in the context of a school or even a college, it seems to me that it's not quite the same in an Aikido dojo. If we're talking about adult students, then it is my understanding that these days most Aikido dojos do not exhibit the sort of "sensei cult", a complete submission of students to the sensei's authority, that would've indeed put the sensei into a position of power. If this assessment is fair, then I'd say that two reasonable and responsible adults could maintain a relationship without undermining the dojo's atmosphere.

Daniel
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Old 05-05-2004, 03:00 PM   #28
AsimHanif
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Hey Daniel - good point. I would say though that power has many connotations. It doesn't have to be overtly authoritarian. But if you are the person in a position of leadership that is also a position of power. So in that case you would have people looking to you for guidance. As stated in another thread, you may never know the full mentality or maturity of people in the dojo. Some come looking for pie in the sky and anyone who is in a position of leadership may fit the bill. It is easy to take advantage of that situation although the instructor him or herself may not fully be aware. It is totally plausible that the instructor may think the other half is capable of making a rational decision but in fact the other half may be infatuated by the instructor's position. The instructor has to be the mature one at all times.
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Old 05-05-2004, 03:40 PM   #29
DanielR
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Hi Asim,

I think the poll's question is only relevant with regards to an instructor who will not willingly take advantage of a student who's as infatuated with the instructor as you describe - to a point of inability of responsible and rational behavior. Assuming this type of an instructor, I would venture to argue that it should be possible for such a person to distinguish the situation where he/she might potentially exploit a student in a vulnerable position, avoid pursuing this relationship and attempt to neutralize the situation without harming particular student or the dojo. I absolutely agree with your demand for the instructor to be the mature one at all times; I'd just add to this that the sign of maturity in a situation like this could very well be the instructor sitting down with the student for an honest talk about each other's reasons for pursuing the relationship and expectations from it.
I guess I'm just trying to find a way to approach this problem from the perspective of presumption of innocence rather than a imposing a sweeping ban to prevent unfortunate incidents.

Daniel
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Old 05-05-2004, 04:02 PM   #30
kironin
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
AsimHanif wrote:
The instructor has to be the mature one at all times.


and apparently also a celibate monk also.

Some of my students are older than me, some of my students are younger. Some are married, some are not. Some have a lot more experience in leadership or other areas than I do. Some don't.

It would be fairly arrogant of me to assume greater maturity based on having a higher aikido rank and experience on the mat.

It's hardly the same thing as teacher-student relationship in a University.
No one gets a grade or a degree that could affect their financial future and sought after career. A black belt from the other schools in town wears just as well.

I have never dated any of my students, but life is too short and love too rare to be excluding the right someone just because they happen to express interest in something I am putting a lot of time and passion in.
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Old 05-05-2004, 04:31 PM   #31
aikidoc
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Can such relationships work out positively. Sure. Saotome sensei is married to a former student and has been for years. Is their potential for abuse-absolutely. One former high ranking 6th dan was kicked out of aikido for dating a minor (I don't know how extensive the relationship was). Unfortunately, with people being people such relationships are frought with risks-sexual harrassment, disruption of the dojo, criminal prosecution, psychological/physical abuse, child abuse/pedophilia-to name a few. None of which would help the art of aikido. If you are going to do it, select your partners carefully and get it in writing and keep it above ground. I'm aware of one instructor that was married and dating a student. His wife found out and his shihan had to intervene. Things can get real ugly.
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Old 05-05-2004, 05:56 PM   #32
Jeffrey A. Fong
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

(Borrowing Sharon and Lynn's soapbox)
Certainly, the world needs love, but what is needed as badly are good judgement and reliable interpersonal boundaries. Peers meeting on the mat and falling in love is one thing. A person in a position of authority has the responsibility of maintaining clarity in a professional relationship. As I noted in a previous post on this subject, these types of liaisons can make it difficult to know who is profitting from "training." This is why doctors, psychologists and other professionals are prohibited by their ethical codes from engaging in dual relationships. The importance of sensei-student relationship deserves no less serious consideration.
(getting off soapbox, too, whew!)
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Old 05-05-2004, 09:21 PM   #33
Williamross77
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I have seen the bad side of this issue. it should be an unspoken rule that dating a student is bad Karma if not just bad ediquett. Not that i can tell senior instructors how to behave, i just know the disappointment that a student will have when this occurs. while it was not in an Aikido school this occured it still has a very silent effect on the student body and Honor of the school.

in Aiki
Agatsu!!
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Old 05-05-2004, 11:23 PM   #34
Largo
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I didn't vote, because saying 'yes' sounded like saying instructors can't date anyone else. Anyways, in my university's karate club, our sensei was married to one of the students (note- this means karate student, not university student.). She was undoubtedly the top student in the dojo (she was a replacement in the olympics, apparantly, so I don't think it was favortism).


I suppose it could work. Or it could blow up. Just like anything else. My sensei and his wife were excellent teachers who both made up for gaps that the other had.
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Old 05-06-2004, 04:39 AM   #35
DGLinden
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

To the Other Daniel,
Aikido is a cult of personality. Students come to train not because they know who the instructor trained with, under or over. They come because initially they like the school and the first impression of the Teacher on the mat. They stay because they like the other students and the teacher on the mat. By the time most students, both men and women, have had a chance to make an informed opinion of the people and school they train in they have bonded and few leave for a better school. So in that regard a teacher is truly in a position, if not of power, at least authority. It should not be abused by dating students. Having said that, and my apologies to Lynn, mia culpa, mia culpa. But now I'm old so I can say that others shouldn't.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 05-06-2004, 04:55 AM   #36
Mark Balogh
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I think the issue here is of instructors abusing their position or making a habit of this kind of thing. I was told by my sensei that martial energy and sexual energy are very different and the latter has no part in martial arts training. This was a real issue for his teacher as well. However, my opinion is that if feelings are becoming serious, i.e. both people really like each other, they should go for it. You might only get one chance at happiness.
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Old 05-06-2004, 04:58 AM   #37
John Longford
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

There cannot be a set answer.
I have seen some Senseis abuse their position and others who have not.
Personally I once dated one of my students (the only one I hasten to add) for a long period. I also since then introduced my girlfriend (now my wife) to Aikido.
I always ensured that neither of them received special treatment and also insisted that other instructors graded them making it clear that the descisions were entirely theirs.
That said the situation is fraught with difficulty.
I would make one thing clear I have nothing but contempt for teachers who date their students for the sake of it.
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Old 05-06-2004, 05:50 AM   #38
Bryant Pierpont
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

There are some great marriages that began on the mat...but, while I've not done any research, I would risk that there have been more problems. A teacher has a responsibility to his or her students and has their trust. If he or she feels an irresistable attraction, maybe one of them should change dojos. My first dojo blew up over this type of behavior. If you lead, you bear responsibility.

B

Bryant Pierpont
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Old 05-06-2004, 05:52 AM   #39
DGLinden
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

John, in a similar sense, do you encourage or discourage couples from training together? I've noticed over my 35 odd years on the mat that this rarely works in the long term. Any comments?

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Old 05-06-2004, 06:21 AM   #40
John Longford
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Daniel,
I have found that couples almost without exception do not train well together, particularly those married or in long term relationships.
Come to think of it I cannot recall any that do.
So yes I do try to discourage it although this is not often necssary.
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Old 05-06-2004, 08:10 AM   #41
DGLinden
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

John,
Thank you for that observation. It has been my experience as well. If fact, as a way to relate it to this thread I remember during my first year training a young woman breaking into tears when the instructor corrected her technique. I recall her saying "But Richard, I'm trying!!!!" At the time I assumed my instructor's name was 'Sensei'. Didn't know his first name at all. I guess in retrospect I can figure out what that was all about.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 05-06-2004, 09:06 AM   #42
DanielR
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Mr. Linden, thank you for your comments,
Quote:
Daniel Linden wrote:
Aikido is a cult of personality. Students come to train not because they know who the instructor trained with, under or over. They come because initially they like the school and the first impression of the Teacher on the mat. They stay because they like the other students and the teacher on the mat. By the time most students, both men and women, have had a chance to make an informed opinion of the people and school they train in they have bonded and few leave for a better school.
I have indeed considered this before submitting my first post on the subject, but I think I then ruled it out because I thought the extent of abuse of this kind of power should be quite limited, especially in the US where the awareness to potential abuses is very high, and especially among adults. But I do agree with you - an aikido student that has decided to stick with a particular dojo for all the good things it has to offer, will tolerate a certain amount of things perceived as negative for the sake of continuing to train in that dojo.
Quote:
So in that regard a teacher is truly in a position, if not of power, at least authority. It should not be abused by dating students.
It should not be abused. However, I think it's the definition of abuse and the ways of dealing with what generally is agreed to be an abuse that are being questioned here. What I see in comments of opponents of instructor-student relationships is the emphasis on the potential of an abuse. We know bad things happened as a result of such relationships, so we know this potential exists. To prevent negative incidents from happening again, we suggest that all instructors refrain from pursuing such relationships.
My take on this approach is that we seem to be attempting to correct one injustice with another, and basically the total amount of injustice in this situation doesn't change, we've just changed the subset of victims.
There's also an additional question - where do we draw the line? If we frown upon instructor-student relationships, shouldn't we view yudansha/mudansha relationships in the same light? A mudansha's progress in Aikido depends considerably on his/her training partners, and especially on higher-ranking ones, so following the same definition of power, we might conclude that yudansha have a certain amount of power as well. In my opinion, in general it's better to err on the side of greater personal freedom.

Daniel
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Old 05-06-2004, 04:04 PM   #43
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

"Aikido is a cult of personality."

I could not disagree more. Aikido is much more than the person who teaches it and the students who learn.

I feel that teachers can relate wonderful Aikido without accepting anyone's power. A dojo that fosters this kind of atmosphere is much healthier than an establishment that proclaims that one person has influence because they have practiced Aikido longer than than everyone else.

I have belonged to an organization that was a cult of personality. I hated it.


I now belong to another organization where the emphasis is on the art of Aikido not on the instructor's personality.

Adults who practice Aikido are just that; adults. They can only give their power away. It can not be taken from them.

Mary Eastland
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Old 05-06-2004, 04:17 PM   #44
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Would it be wrong for the co-ordinator of the stamp collectors club to date a member?

Remember - to a lot of people Aikido is a hobby!
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Old 05-06-2004, 09:29 PM   #45
DGLinden
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Your disagreement does not make it any less true. Sorry. Aikido is a cult of personality. Bottom line.

But this thread is about teachers who date students, anyway, so I'm sorry I brought that up.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Old 05-07-2004, 01:40 AM   #46
Kenny
 
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Circle Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Wow this question has everything going for it, sex, drugs, violence... Well two out of three ain't bad!

I'm very curious about the wording of this one.
A more neutral poll would have asked "Is it OK" or will it harm the teaching or something less loaded than should.
Were we late and in a hurry or did we know that many martial arts teachers date there students and in spite of the large failure rate of those relationships many martial arts teachers do end up marrying one of their students.
I'd like to see the followup polls
To students:
How many students think it's OK to tell their teachers, hey please keep your stinky relationship mess out of the dojo (respectfullly of course), because I agree with those who say you have to keep it out but if no one is brave enough to tell you when you're over the line then how will you know if you're over the line?
Student:
If you've ever dated a martial arts teacher over all would you rate that relationship better or worse than your relationship with people who were not your martial arts teacher.

And
Teachers:
How many teachers who think it's OK to date their students think it's OK for the other students to let you know when you are making your personal relationship a dojo issue because if you don't explicitly tell your senior students something like, "if my sexual relationship(s) with one/some of the student(s) becomes an issue for the dojo I expect you to let me know about it." then as a teacher you are more than likely going to harm your dojo on your way to finding your perfect mate.

Like some of the previous posters I've seen quite a few student/teacher and student/sensei relationships and of course many of them are messy and all of my favorite teachers are as far as I can tell in very happy stable marriages with former students.

I think we should remember the lesson we learned from Bruce Klickstien who sexually abused his underage students, I've seen some of the damage he caused and it's deplorable. I think we should remember that mentor/apprentice relationships are rife with potential for abuse, and I think we should remember that in a free country consenting adults are allowed to date whomever they chose.

And BTW yes I have followed my own advice and when I saw relationships that were stinking up the dojo I respectfully voiced my opinion and my opinion was listened to; and probably in no way due to my actions the stink finally went away and the dojo lost another student!
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Old 05-07-2004, 03:49 PM   #47
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Ok, let's get real. If you are an Aikido Teacher, as I am, where do you think the only place you actually meet any new people is? While other folks are out and about doing all sorts of things on their weekends I am apt to be at a seminar or teaching something at my own dojo. And of course, when and if you meet someone new, how likely is it that you have found someone who will tolerate the fact that your idea of a vacation is to go off to a camp and train? Someone who works a regular job and thinks its fine to simply say hi as they arrive home and you leave for the dojo? You're more likely to win the lottery.

So you'll either meet someone you like at the dojo or perhaps you'll meet someone at a seminar or a camp and if the relationship starts to take off they move to your town and start training. So now you have your partner at the dojo.. you might not have met them there but they're there nevertheless.

Almsot every really senior teacher of martial arts I know is married to someone who trains. Who else can they talk to about what is central in their life? Who else wants to hang out with all those dojo folks that form the extended family that a dojo community actually is? It really needs to be someone who likes the same things or I can't see it working.

I think a lot of this stuff about what the Sensei should or shouldn't do about dating is a bit sanctimonious. I put up with my student's realtionships, divorces, conflicts on and off the mat, losing students because they have broken up with another memere of the dojo, etc. This is all part of being human. This is what people's lives are made up of. My students can damn well put up with my own attempts to find what I'd like in my own life, just like they are.

People need to have a bit of compassion and take a look at what they think their "Sensei" represents. I remember when I was going through a divorce it was one of the most difficult times of my life. I woke up every morning and the first thing I did was throw up. It was all I could do to function at all yet I had a student come up to me and complain that my classes weren't as inspiring as they had been. It was all I could do to get on the mat at that point. But I was making every class, I wasn't shirking my responsibilities. But this person felt, and I assume that others, not so bold, felt that way, that I wasn't being entertaining enough as I usually was.

Aikido teachers are regular human beings just like everybody else. Their position requires them to behave ethically but it doesn't require them to be monks or forego the basic human interactions that their stuidents take for granted. I see my responsibility to be straight and above board with all of my students about what goes on in my life. If I am dating someone at the dojo it won't be a secret.The vast majority of the abuse of power situations involving Senseis involved secrecy, deception, predatory activities, etc. these were not normal people attempting to have normal relationships.

So I would say ease up a bit and stop placing your teacher so high on a pedetal that he or she can only disappoint you. They have the same stuff going on in their lives as everybody else and those that pretend not to are probably lying.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-07-2004 at 03:54 PM.

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Old 05-07-2004, 04:35 PM   #48
aikidoc
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

George's points are well taken, especially for professional instructors and those meeting others at seminars-it is their life. Even though the visible ones can create problems, its the behind the scenes and secretive relationships that are likely to be more problematic. In an instructor student relationship, favoritism, however, can be destructive. Care must be taken in such relationships to not disrupt the dojo. However, if you own it, it's your foot so you do have the right to shoot it.
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Old 05-07-2004, 04:58 PM   #49
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

George has perfect aim on the head of the nail. In fact, I know fellow instructors who will only date non-aikidoka. He is a single dad now and puts it down to martial arts!!! My wife is an aikidoka and I can train whenever I want, but I do consider her always and don't disappear all the time (at least not without her) to seminar!
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Old 05-07-2004, 05:06 PM   #50
Erik
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Kenny wrote:
Wow this question has everything going for it, sex, drugs, violence... Well two out of three ain't bad!
Indeed, it's just livened up a bit.

Quote:
How many students think it's OK to tell their teachers, hey please keep your stinky relationship mess out of the dojo (respectfullly of course), because I agree with those who say you have to keep it out but if no one is brave enough to tell you when you're over the line then how will you know if you're over the line?
Well, how many students will walk up to a teacher, let's say a particularly senior teacher (I have a couple in mind but I'll leave it at that), and have this sort of discussion? In the first place it's likely to require a senior student, one who has invested much in the dojo, and that alone provides both a disincentive and if it's a regular behavior a long borne acceptance. In other words, with the exception of a few rare folks it doesn't happen.
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