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Old 05-07-2004, 05:26 PM   #51
DGLinden
Dojo: Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

George,
You really need to quit holding it all in and let us know what you really think.
Dan

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
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Old 05-07-2004, 10:15 PM   #52
kironin
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
DGLinden wrote:
Your disagreement does not make it any less true. Sorry. Aikido is a cult of personality. Bottom line.
The worst experiences I have had have been in dojos that either are like this or attempt to be like this. I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs that some senior teachers actually think this is the way things have to be.

Craig
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Old 05-07-2004, 10:23 PM   #53
kironin
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.
RIGHT ON! Brother!

ALL of it! Say it again!

excellent!!!!!
Craig
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Old 05-08-2004, 10:05 AM   #54
Jeffrey A. Fong
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

One of the things that I appreciate most about this forum is the breadth of discussion - and here it is, in all its glory! Folks, this is not about whether aididoka have the right to have relationships or whether sensei are "just folk"; to conceptualize the issue in these terms distorts the issue. And once again, the problem is not whether the dojo's "Godhead" is entitled to scratch an itch, its whether this sort of indulgence should occur within the context of a professional relationship. That's what it is, isn't it. As your student, I pay you, I respect you, I bow to you, I trust you....etc. Right? Additionally, it is because we are all "human" that we have to make sure we ritualistically observe certain rules during the course of interactions, because it is so human to err. Ethics are not meant to be convenient. They represent the core of character, individually and socially. While it may be politically incorrect to advise one to be dogmatic in such circumstances, one runs the risk of the sort of relativism that is being offered by some that clarifies nothing and helps no one. Ouch.... I think I just had a stroke
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Old 05-08-2004, 12:01 PM   #55
DanielR
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Jeffrey Fong wrote:
While it may be politically incorrect to advise one to be dogmatic in such circumstances, one runs the risk of the sort of relativism that is being offered by some that clarifies nothing and helps no one.
But Jeffrey, aren't you running the exact same risk when advising one to be dogmatic? The application of ethics as you suggest here hasn't been made into a law, which makes it non-absolute in the societal sense. Then it's relative as well, isn't it?

Daniel
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Old 05-08-2004, 02:13 PM   #56
Jeffrey A. Fong
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Unfortunately, law and ethics are not always one in the same. Principles, ethics, spirtual beliefs, or whatever one wishes to call them, are not cast in stone, but reflect our community's consensus of what is "right" or "wrong." Arbitrary? You bet. Absolute? Only by definition. Its faith in the principle(s) that allows us to trust one another both on and off the mat.
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Old 05-08-2004, 03:30 PM   #57
DGLinden
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Jeff,
Actually, The whole idea of the evolution of human understanding is that certain of these 'principles, ethics and spiritual beliefs' are, in fact 'Cast In Stone'. The symbol of the monolith, that rock in the Muslim religion. Or the stone tablets in Judeo/Christian faith

The story of the the ten commandments, in fact, illustrates that very notion; that certain of men's moral imperatives are not open to discussion or interpretation. "Thou shall not steal." is carved in stone.

Oh, and that other one about adultery? Well, maybe we can mess around with the interpretations of that, for Sensei.

To a large extent George is correct in that most serious teachers are all about their dojos and have a limited amount of time to 'cruise for chicks'. So be it. And there are a lot of really fine men and women out there who have found loving, lasting soul-mates on the mat. Really, I think this thread was Jun's subtle attempt at having the community address the issue of abuse of authority situations, because there are simply too many success stories for Sensei/Student dating to be perceived as a sanctionable problem.

Last edited by DGLinden : 05-08-2004 at 03:37 PM.

Daniel G. Linden
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Old 05-08-2004, 04:54 PM   #58
Lachlan Kadick
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Is there really much of an arguement in this? Aikido is a philosophy and a martial arts, and the instructor is just the person who teachs it to us, if a student and an instructor wish to have a relationship, why can't they?

Think big, Live humbly.
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Old 05-08-2004, 05:17 PM   #59
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Due to a personal experience, I thought i knew exactly how I felt about this question, but, mainly because of the arguments pro and con, I'm not so sure anymore.
What a great thread!

Jeanne
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Old 05-09-2004, 12:28 AM   #60
Kenny
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
People need to have a bit of compassion and take a look at what they think their "Sensei" represents. ...
So I would say ease up a bit and stop placing your teacher so high on a pedestal 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.
No not just a little compassion a lot of compassion, it's what I want from my teachers as they observe my feeble attempts to master this amazing art and like respect the more you give the more you'll recieve and with 100% certainty that your teacher is just someone who's walked the path longer than you and maybe just maybe when they lose their center, "simply recognize it sooner, and get back faster."
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Old 05-09-2004, 12:46 AM   #61
arderljohn
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

For me. It's okey, and it depends on the situation. like if the Instructor is single or vice versa thats better. but, if both party is no longer free or one of them are married they better and part ways. to avoid the trouble...
remenber, Aikido is art of love and peace.
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Old 05-09-2004, 01:35 AM   #62
Kenny
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Erik wrote:
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.
This is one of the least talked about dynamics in the dojo (or any master apprentice relationship).
The student's responsibility to be honest with their teacher. Which is exactly why I think the most valuable thing we as students can do is be/speak honestly to our teachers about those difficult things. People all over the place are dying to tell them how great their Nikyu is and how good that class was and what great thing they learned last week thanks to the lesson. That's not how they became what they are so why is it all they need now? Gratitude, respect hell yeah give it to them in spades.
I heard someone say the other day "when you keep something difficult from your spouse you rob them of the privilege of living up to their vows."
This really encapsulates how I feel about, "I didn't say anything because I wasn't sure how you'd take it".
When I step out there to the front of the class I'm asking everyone in the dojo for their most sincere attack. Hell who cares if you can kick my ass it's been done before and I don't think I really learned alot from it. But if you can help me cut through the fog surrounding my truth then all of us will move on the path to becoming true human beings.
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Old 05-09-2004, 05:44 PM   #63
Bryant Pierpont
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

There are major differences between an Aikido Sensei and club presidents.

We don't bow to stamp club presidents. We don't put our life (or at least health ;-) ) in their hands. We don't grab each other in chess clubs. Sitting in front of the class, we make you the Sensei. During that class, we need to follow you. O'Sensei taught spirituality as well as defense. We can't avoid that reality...as difficult as it may be to honor it.

Aikido isn't a hobby. Not really. I don't expect perfection from my teachers. But, they expect me to respect the dojo and to never take advantage of a weaker student to make a technique look better.

I expect the same of them...for all kinds of techniques.

I don't live in a fairy-tale land. Things will happen but they should be the rarest of exception and never casual.

Ledyard-Sensei - I know you are a great teacher. I mean that with total sincerity and I have total respect for that. But, there are other places to meet people. As a student, I want to believe the special attention I get is for pure reasons.

Those of us who teach (I don't teach Aikido or budo of any form) have a unique role and a unique responsibility...much like those of us in supervisory roles in companies. We can't date our employees. I know from personal experience how easy and how destructive that can be. We have to find another way.

I sincerely apologize if I seem sanctimonious.

Bryant

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Old 05-09-2004, 07:28 PM   #64
GaiaM
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

[quote]As a student, I want to believe the special attention I get is for pure reasons.[quote]

This is very important, but I don't think it is impossible to reconcile with Ledyard Sensei's post, which I also agree with. It is a sensei's responsibility to not let sexual interest/tension influence their interaction with students in the dojo. However, if a student and sensei meet through the dojo but get to know each other outside of this setting, there is nothing inherently wrong with that relationship.

My sensei is one of my closest friends. We didn't know each other until I became his student. It is certainly interesting to know him in both ways, but it works. Dating is somewhat different because there is more potential for getting hurt, but the idea is the same. Inside the dojo, I receive attention based on my technique and my dedication to the dojo. My relationship to him as my teacher is very very strong. I have immese respect for both his aikido and his teaching style and I show that respect in the appropriate ways. But outside the dojo we are just friends and we joke around and give each other a hard time equally. We have been there for each other in hard times and shared lots of good ones, just like close friends should.

I think all this is possible in a romantic relationship as well, as long as both people are able keep the two separate (dojo and non-dojo). That said, there are plenty of good reasons to NOT date your students. Each person must make their own decision, weighing the risks and and potential cost to the dojo community carefully. Same goes for relationships between students... But we're all human in the end and must do the best we can for ourselves and those around us. Each situation is unique...

Ok, climbing off the soap box now :-)

Gaia

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Old 05-09-2004, 09:48 PM   #65
kironin
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Jeffrey A. Fong wrote:
That's what it is, isn't it. As your student, I pay you, I respect you, I bow to you

Maybe you don't realize but many places, your payment simply goes to keep the lights on and the doors open. The teacher gets no compensation. This is not their profession or a job, yet they are willing devote a lot time, passion, and their own money to it.

Also, I have never had anyone bow to me that I am not bowing back just as deeply to them.

Craig
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Old 05-10-2004, 07:34 AM   #66
Ghost Fox
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Question - Should the senior student be held under the same restriction as the sensei? Also, should dating be kept within certain circles, e.g. mudansha dating only mudansha and yudansha dating only yudansha? For example should a yondan in the dojo be able to swoop down on some unsuspecting white belt that just joined the dojo? Just wondering where the line is.
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Old 05-10-2004, 09:34 AM   #67
GaiaM
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Relationships between dojo members have similar possible consequences as those between students and senseis. But, as I said before, the people involved in each individual situation have to weigh the risks carefully and make their own decisions.

Also as I said before, it is important to separate behavior and expectations WITHIN the dojo from those in the outside world. In the dojo, senseis and senior students have a responsibility to newer students to be role models and teachers and function within the traditions of dojo behavior. However, outside of the dojo we are all just people. A yondan might be interested in a 5th kyu or vice versa and it might be the 5th kyu who is the older or more mature. So please, don't impose "restrictions" on people - just remember that your friendship or relationship should stay as separate as possible from your AIKIDO relationship.

This means that you have to get to know someone outside of the aikido world. I think before anyone considers starting a relationship within the dojo community they should spend time together doing things entirely unrelated to aikido. This is just one of many ways to decrease the chances of an uncomfortable situation for the individuals and the dojo community.

Gaia

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Old 05-10-2004, 09:35 AM   #68
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I agree with the point made above that it is only natural and healthy for people with common interests to meet and get involved. Any problems that develop out of that were there in those people beforehand, and are most likely there afterwards too.

Given the extensive legal framework in place (in America) to potentially punish against almost any sort of infraction real or imagined, not to mention the possible damage that even frivolous, vindictive accusations can cause, there is ample room for people to fight abuse if it becomes a problem.

Also.. from the whole power relationship perspective, have you have seen a relationship between two people who were equal in all things? There is always some sort of inequality, and it is in fact that inequality that provides the dynamic of a relationship. Two individuals balanced in each and every particular would most likely bore each other.

I think that the give and take in terms of power in a relationship is analagous to the shifting of weight between feet that must happen for someone to move. If one insists on spreading one's weight equally between both feet continuously, than one can't walk.

One can argue that two people should be in a relationship balanced overall, but that is a different thing than saying that they should have equal power in all areas of their respective lives.

That said, I think that there should be a grace period with respect to people new to the art being approached - at least if you expect to see them stay. I have seen plenty of successful relationships between senior aikidoka, and some even between seniors and juniors. I have also seen some new students scared off, presumably by an amorous senior. I think it is better to let people acclimate to the art and the dojo culture for 3 - 6 months or so before trying to complicate things with other types of involvement.

Past a certain point, adults need to be responsible for assessing the risks to themselves and others as well as the potential gains and acting on that assessment. Other people need to leave them alone until it affects them, or until the person is no longer capable of protecting themselves.

Here's a question: anyone in a dojo with any explicit relationship prohibitions of any nature? How are they enforced, and what happens when people break the rules?

Rob
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Old 05-10-2004, 10:12 AM   #69
GaiaM
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I'd also be interested to hear from people who have attempted these relationships... did it work? what, if any, problems did it bring up? Aikido is a big part of my life andI expect to face this dilemma eventually. I would love some insight... Perhaps we need to move this conversation to the anonymous forum?
Gaia

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Old 05-10-2004, 10:13 AM   #70
AsimHanif
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

In response to Craigs reply,
there's a big difference between being a celibate monk and being an instructor who doesn't misuse his authority. The maturity I speak of relates to the ethics of being a teacher. Of course being an instructor doesn't mean you know it all but I believe an instructor has an ethical duty to not go there.
As for saying it's not the same as an academic situation, I agree. It may be more damaging because the student is seeking a growth in far more delicate areas than a grade. The repercussions can be potentially more damaging.
This doesn't mean that a student and teacher can't connect on a romatic level in the dojo. I just feel that if they are intent on pursuing the relationship it would be responsible for the student (or instructor) to continue practice at another dojo. Matters of the heart are about responsibility not convenience.
I agree with John about the potential for sexual harassment issues to arise.
On a practical note, it seems that as aikidoists were train to mitigate potential hazards down the road - why not this???
Ledyard Sensei, I usually agree with you on many issues but not on this one. I have seen it too many times. I'm sure some of us have also seen the "disciple" syndrom, wear some student takes every word from their instructor as gospel. All of this is very damaging behavior. Who is really in control? Aikido is about balance and for an instructor to not have the heart to go outside of his own dojo to seek romance is weak.
I am getting the feeling that some instructors are trying to justify their insecurities and that the only way they can troll for dates is to use the dojo environment. It's easy to be on the mat but once they get off they are at a loss.
Next person, can have the soap box now.
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Old 05-10-2004, 10:28 AM   #71
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Quote:
Bryant Pierpont wrote:
Those of us who teach (I don't teach Aikido or budo of any form) have a unique role and a unique responsibility...much like those of us in supervisory roles in companies. We can't date our employees. I know from personal experience how easy and how destructive that can be. We have to find another way.

I sincerely apologize if I seem sanctimonious.

Bryant
Hi Bryant,
Certainly no offense taken. What you say is probably the ideal. Things are certainly much simpler in a dojo when you aren't having a relationship there. That's true for the students and it's true for the teacher. But I think there is still an underlying issue that is unstated here. I think it is the fundamental uncertainty which goes with a relationship that people find so distressing in the dojo. When a relationship is in it initial stages everything is uncertain and people are trying to work out how they will relate as they go forward. Since this would include how they would relate in the dojo it makes things uncertain for everyone since the dojo is a complex web of social interactions.

I agree that it is not the ideal place to go through this process but realistically, especially for someone who is a professional instructor, it's going to happen. The people who insist that there is something unethical about his are unrealistically harsh I believe.

I don't think people feel this way about the Sensei being married to someone who trains at the dojo... As I stated earlier, most of the senior teachers I know are divorced from someone who didn't train and are re-married to someone who does train, except for the few who met someone on the mat at the start and never got divorced. Whether this works or not depends on the people, just like everything does. But I don't think folks see this as the same thing as dating within the dojo. So I think it is the uncertainty which makes it a problem for people. Once the relationship is clearly a long term committed one, I think people no longer feel that it threatens the harmony of the dojo (it may enhance it).

In a small company one of you would be expected to leave if you got married. In a larger one an effort would be made to move you to different divisions and you would never work directly with each other. I don't think that anyone thinks this should happen in a dojo (although there are probably some cases in which they wish it would). I can just see Saotome Sensei asking his wife, Patty Saotome (a teacher in her own right), to train in another organization or Ikeda Sensei asking his wife to train at another dojo in town. Linda Holliday Sensei's husband trains and teaches at her dojo. None of this is seen as out of the ordinary.

So it seems to me that what people have the most difficulty with is not the relationship within the dojo but rather the forming and developing of the relationship. Once everything is pretty stable with a nice assigned status such as Husband or Wife, things change.

It's a lot about what your expectations are rather than any actual details of the situation. I met my second wife at the dojo. For the students who were there at the time it was probably weird but they handled it. When the new folks enrolled my partner was there already. No one thought anything about it because it was just the way things were when they started. When I got divorced those people noticed when my partner wasn't there any more. But the people who started after that didn't know the difference. So a relationship went through an entire cycle, start to finish, and the dojo lived through all of it just fine. Only a couple of people in the dojo actually trained long enough to see the whole thing. This is what happens in people's lives. Whereas, it might be ideal to compartmentalize everything and keep it all separate I don't think that's likely to happen very often.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-10-2004 at 10:34 AM.

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Old 05-10-2004, 05:52 PM   #72
Bryant Pierpont
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

Hi Ledyard:Sensei:

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I agree that once the status is permanent (or maybe established is a better word - I'm on my second marriage), everyone is much more comfortable. My concern is the "predatory" teacher. I've seen it in dojos, businesses, and other arenas. The result is always catastrophic...at least initially.

We are also totally in agreement that the perfect world doesn't exist - and it probably wouldn't be much fun anyway.

B

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Old 05-10-2004, 05:59 PM   #73
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I think this is where a lot of disagreement has come about. People are talking about different things. In the most part, those who are for are thinking about trusting, loving and long term relationships, and those who are against are thinking of the sexual predator.

Maybe "date" was the wrong word - open to too many interpretations. "Have a relationship with" would have been better, or "prey on" would be clearer in the later example.

I have ejected people (including instructors) from my dojo for the crime of "preying" on students. My heart is in joy when I see two entering in to a loving relationship.
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Old 05-10-2004, 06:37 PM   #74
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

I doubt that anyone who "preys" on his(her students is like ly to admit it, or be insightful enough to realize that that is what they are doing. Most of these people would simply say they were "pursuing relationships."

Jeanne
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Old 05-10-2004, 06:43 PM   #75
Doka
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Re: Poll: Should an aikido instructor date a student of theirs?

You would think!!! But they do!!!
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