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Old 05-10-2004, 10:50 PM   #51
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 809
Re: Less Strict Dojos

I would like to share my thoughts on two points. First, I don't require my students to ask permission to leave the mat. Mostly they ask permission of their own accord anyway. I know when they leave and under what circumstances they leave. When I see a student walk off the mat and it's not obviously for a drink of water or to go to the bathroom I make it a point to find out why. Also, at our dojo students take care of one another. We have a very close knit group of people and unusal behavior is noted quickly and brought to the attention of the instructor quickly.

Second, I teach adults and I expect them to behave like adults. My students are told up front that they are to take themselves out if they get hurt, feel ill or get overly tired at any time during class. They are free to leave the mat to hydrate or rest. I am not interested in determining a students limits and then pushing them slightly beyond. I have found over the years that students will train in a manner appropriate to their current level of development and push themselves beyond of their own accord. This is how growth occurs. Students experiencing continued growth continue to train those that stagnate leave.
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Old 05-10-2004, 11:33 PM   #52
Peter Goldsbury
Peter Goldsbury's Avatar
Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,243
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Well, I must confess some surprise at the reaction my earlier post caused.

To restate the points I made in another way:

1. The individual ultimately bears the final responsibility for his/her own physical, mental and spiritual condition.

2. The relationship between teacher and student involves a high degree of trust, especially in budo. Perhaps this is a consequence of the meaning of the word 'Sensei', as it is used in Japanese. Implicit in the two characters that make up the word is the idea of having lived before, therefore being in a position to understand the student's experience in training. Another implication, in my opinion, from the student's side now, is that you trust your teacher to take you to a level that you cannot reach by yourself, as I stated, perhaps to a level higher than you thought capable of achieving. This is an opinion based on my own experience of training with teachers such as K Chiba, M Kanetsuka, my own teacher here in Japan, Masakazu Kitahira, and the Aikikai Hombu Shihans I have trained under. I do not think this is a particularly arrogant opinion, but if it is, it is widely held here.

3. Thus, if the student perceives a conflict between the two points above, then there will have to be some sort of compromise, and the boundary of the compromise might differ according to cultural constraints also. As a non-Japanese living in this country, I am very well aware of this and am quite ready to accept that what is considered OK in Japan might not be accepted elsewhere.

In the Aikikai Hombu, classes are short but intense and it is not usual for students to go and take a break in the middle of practice. In my own dojo we are rather more liberal, but I do expect students to train hard once they come on the mat. In any case, when a person signs up, we generally give a short interview and satisfy ourselves as much as we can about his/her physical condition. Of course, insurance is compulsory.

Yours sincerely,

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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Old 05-11-2004, 02:36 AM   #53
PeterR's Avatar
Dojo: Shodokan Honbu (Osaka)
Location: Himeji, Japan
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 3,319
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Hi Mr. Ragusa;

It sounds like you have found your group dynamic and that it is good.

However, some of us seek out teachers that will push us beyond our limits. That doesn't mean we are not adults or know how to behave as such. The way I teach and train, I feel the group wa would be disturbed if people just wandered on and off the mat at their own volition. I don't think I've ever had to admonish someone for doing so but its understood by all to be rude (in the context of our training). I also don't think I've ever denied (or been denied) the right to leave the mat.

I have a few further comments to the thread in general.

If a medical condition would disrupt the group you are trying to join it is not your right to join the group. If they accommodate you great but its not a given.

If the conditions are so extreme that your body can't take an hour Aikido training without a water break then you should see a doctor and or change those conditions. The latter can include evening classes, air conditioning or a group water break. I agree, feeling a little thirsty is indicative of partial dehydration, but that wont kill you and will make that glass of water at the end taste oh so good.

With respect to the posts regarding Peter G.. What Ron T., Chris and Jun said. Considering that I agree completely with his post I am taking Craig's insult personally Shouldn't I know but the line between difference in opinion and personal insult was crossed.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-11-2004, 10:31 AM   #54
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erikmenzel's Avatar
Dojo: Koshinkai Leeuwarden
Location: Leeuwarden
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 594
Re: Less Strict Dojos

I can not speak as a teacher for the simple reason that I am not. I can however speak as a student and at least voice what kind of behavior I expect from my fellow students.
I personally don't understand the big fuss people make about drinking all the time. IMHO experience getting dehydrated in 1 hour of training calls for extreme conditions or indicate a bad fluid consumption the entire day to begin with. If someone under normal circumstances gets dehydrated from training 1 hour it simply means that person hasn't taken enough fluids that day to begin with. This to me already means that someone was not properly prepared for the training and hence not showing me and my fellow students the respect of coming to the training properly prepared.
Under extreme conditions I have not yet met a teacher that doesn't incorporates little breaks in their lessons anyway.
I have witnessed people throwing up cause they were thirsty and drank (large amounts) of cool and refreshing water, which makes me think that people cant decide for themselves what is good/wise/needed.
Lastly I find it highly disturbing in my training if people are allowed to walk of the mat to get a drink. How am I to see the difference between someone walking of the mat due to a serious problem and someone just a bit thirsty. It also interferes with my training cause people walking of the mat for a drink or a rest (for whatever reason) disturb and break the levek of concentration in the dojo.

With regard of special medical conditions: I have yet to meet a teacher that wouldn't allow special things for those that need it. I myself have a medical condition that can easily prevent me from training for more then 45 minutes. This condition is not visible for others and can easily be explained by people that don't know as me being just a lazy bugger. If I am to train somewhere I always ask permission expecting people will not make an exception for me. If they let me train under those conditions then that is great, if they don't then that is great as well. I don't go claiming they should do anything to accommodate me.

I hope this makes some sense, cause I was quite disturbed about how people can make non-issues like water drinking into the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
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Old 05-11-2004, 02:57 PM   #55
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 632
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Ron Tisdale wrote:
As far as proper hydration is concerned, we are told to show up to class hydrated (peeing clear). Ron
Clear in the air? Or clear in the bowl?

Fred Little
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Old 05-11-2004, 03:22 PM   #56
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Hmmm, I never thought to distinguish....I always kinda assumed they were the same. Lets just say I float my kidneys before practice, enough so that it appears clear both on the way in and once it gets there... Uh, in the bowl that is...

Say, did you ever get to contact Jeff or Nakashima's?


Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-11-2004, 05:03 PM   #57
kironin's Avatar
Dojo: Houston Ki Aikido
Location: Houston,TX
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,037
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Erik Haselhofer wrote:
However, he did write the following:

(2) I would expect you to use your aikido training as a means to improve your physical and spiritual health, so I would expect you to train to a level beyond that which you thought you were capable of. I think this would be crucial for you?and I also think you would not be the best judge in this situation.

This is almost the same logic used by football coaches when someone dies on them. They are just pushing their players to go beyond what they thought they were capable of. Football players dying from this practice has a long history and it's only been recently, due to a variety of reasons, that this has changed. I suspect that it was more common 30 years ago but we'd likely never have heard about it.

Interesting reading some of the follow-up posts. I did read the whole post.
What set Erik off pretty much set off me too. I agree with Erik's replies so I don't have much to add except I have seen Peter's (G) line of reasoning abused quite badly in sports and aikido. I find Jun's argument curious that I am supposed to ignore what Peter Goldsbury said in second part because of what he said in the first part.

Anyway. Peter's already patiently restated his post in more detail and while I can't agree with his reasoning or his reliance on the opinion of some teachers which include some which have been known to abuse students in the past, I also can't really disagree with what he says he does in actual practice. My beef is not really with him.

Reading some of the other relatively intolerant opinions being put forth just reminds me of one of the benefits of being in charge.

For the original poster, maybe your suggestion would have been better recieved if you had asked if it was alright if you showed up on time and bowed out of class early if it got to be too much. The idea of you consistently showing up halfway through the class probably didn't sit so well especially since it is not unusual to cover basic exercise in the first part of a class. I have one student and have had others in the past who show up on time for class but for medical reasons when they have reached their limit bow out (or pace themselves, depends on the class and their condition). This is not a problem for the other students as they can see how dedicated he is. I don't presume to know his limit. I am younger, more fit, and generally don't get as much exercise in these classes as the students do.

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Old 05-11-2004, 10:58 PM   #58
Location: Miami, FL
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 453
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Tyson Geisendorff wrote:
Hello all,

I have been reading Drew's posts with interest. My wife and I are moving to Miami shortly. With Drew's comments in mind, can anyone provide Dojo recommendations?

Dear Tyson,

Gold Coast Aikikai and The Aikido Institute of Miami are both excellent dojos. If you wish to train there and have special needs, I recommend being completely honest with the sensei. They should accomodate you, as the sensei at GCA has been helping me. These are both USAF dojos. They are also quite strict and formal (elements which, to some degree, I believe are essential in Aikido.)

Hope to train w/ you someday,
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Old 05-11-2004, 11:14 PM   #59
Location: Miami, FL
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 453
Re: Less Strict Dojos

Dear Ron Ragusa,

That sounds like my kind of dojo! That's how the dojo at FSU is. It reminds me of a seminar I attended with Mitsugi Saotome Shihan. I didn't want to go ask him to leave the mat because I could see he was busy guiding the 100 or so students. So I bowed and grabbed some Advil from a box off the mat. I was looking at the package, about to open it when I heard, "You okay?" I looked up and somehow the shihan had spotted me through all those people. I said, "Just a little headache, Sensei." He smiled and said, "Ah, you drank to much last night." I laughed and said, "Yes, Sensei." I'll never forget that moment. He was more concerned with my overall gladness and well being than my leaving the mat w/o permission. "Train with joy!" O'Sensei said. This might be the most important thing he said. If we're not having fun, what's the point? Might as well join the Marine Corps and get paid for it otherwise.

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