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Old 06-16-2004, 08:56 PM   #1
"Guest"
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Question Sensei Harshness Question

I have just moved to a new dojo, where, through some quirk of fate, I am the only white belt at a certain practice time with everyone else either being brown or blackbelts. The Sensei appears nice, and is a 6th dan, but is rather harsh. Constant "A real martial artist does'nt do this" "how many times do I have to ask you to bend this" "Never do that!" etc. constantly.
He also seems to not care, when for instance, he has everyone practice with a weapon I have never trained with before, and basically tells me to just try to follow along. Has anybody here ever seen a confused newbie attempting to mimic patterns done at fairly high speed by advanced students?
Is it just me, or is he being overly harsh?
Thanks in Advance for answering a newbie.
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Old 06-17-2004, 11:20 AM   #2
ruthmc
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Perhaps you might consider attending a class designed for beginning or intermediate students, rather than (what sounds like) the advanced class at your dojo?

You wouldn't sign up for advanced swimming and diving if you couldn't swim without keeping one foot on the floor of the pool Why should Aikido be any different?

Always train in an environment that is suitable for YOU.

Ruth
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Old 06-17-2004, 04:06 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Hi. My concern is less the skills/rank mix and more the instructor attitude as evidenced by the quotes "A real martial artist does'nt do this" "how many times do I have to ask you to bend this" "Never do that!" etc. constantly.
Aikido is learned in the body by repetition. Here you will learn tension and fear of making mistakes. Your body will express this by developing habits that include raised shoulders, holding of breath, etc....many of the very things he will probably yell at you for! at the same time he creates them.
I say find a different instructor.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-17-2004, 06:53 PM   #4
giriasis
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Being the only white belt might also be an indicator that they don't know how to teach beginners. It's sounds pretty evident when they just tell you to try and follow along. Most dojos have some sort of introductory class and beginners are actually taught how to do aikido.

Also, what's the quirk of fate, the fact that your in this dojo or the fact that it doesn't have any beginners or both. What happened? Did a bunch or beginners walk out en masse? Or do they seem to a have problem with "keeping beginners." A lot of dojos have high turnover rate, but not to the point that there are no beginners.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 06-18-2004, 03:58 AM   #5
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
What happened? Did a bunch or beginners walk out en masse? Or do they seem to a have problem with "keeping beginners." A lot of dojos have high turnover rate, but not to the point that there are no beginners.
There are no beginners in that particular class.

Do you go to the beginning level classes? How is the instructor in those? He may keep a different "feel" in his advanced classes as compared to the beginning classes....probably not but maybe

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 06-18-2004, 06:09 AM   #6
"Bridget"
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Eek! Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Crikey! He sounds really mean and a bit clueless despite his rank.

Seems like all those brown and black belts must have developed really thick skin to keep with him.

I reckon you should find another instructor and perhaps watch a lesson before joining, just to see what the instructor's like.

Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2004, 08:23 AM   #7
Kevin Masters
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thick skin

I'm in no way condoning an abusive situation or having someone put up with being abused here.

However there is something to be said to developing a tolerance for discomfort. Especially when you are doing so to pursue a personal goal. If this is your only Aikido training option and you are motivated to keep training no matter what, then you can only really make the best of it. Use someone else's lack of tact and compassion to develop your own. One day you'll be the advanced student with some newbie looking to you for help.
When you're the only newbie it's really easy to lose perspective and think that you're holding everybody back and ruining Aikido for everyone else. Which in turn makes you hypersensitive to every little criticism.
I've been training for just about 1 3/4 of a year (not a lot mind) and sometimes still confusedly trying to imitate what I see.

However, however, if you really aren't having fun there and it's interferring with your learning, for goodness sake go somewhere else, or do something else. As one prolific poster and apparent blasphemer ( ) in this forum said, "Aikido isn't everything".

Best luck to you.

-kevin
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Old 06-18-2004, 09:30 AM   #8
"Bridget"
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Perhaps I should qualify the "thick skin" thing.

I've been training for many years in various martial arts with a wide variety of instructors.

Being harsh is not only unpleasant but it also wastes other people's time when you can't GUESS what it is you're doing wrong.

It's hardly fair for a beginner to essentially "teach themselves" while preoccupied with avoiding Sensei's wrath.

And it's upsetting as a senior grade (admittedly in another art) to see beginners and especially children on the receiving end of it, because you can see their frustration. You can see what the missing part of the puzzle is, but Sensei is nowhere near to actually pointing it out, but just winding them up!

If you knew what you should be doing without any help, you wouldn't be attending class.

I find the best Senseis (my current ones included) give you just enough info for you to cope with for now. And are capable of explaining things in a variety of ways.

It only takes a little thought and a few words to make something clear, but if Sensei doesn't bother, then they need to get some tuition, or they shouldn't be teaching.
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Old 06-18-2004, 09:43 AM   #9
ruthmc
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
Has anybody here ever seen a confused newbie attempting to mimic patterns done at fairly high speed by advanced students?
Yes. This happens when beginners think it is ok for them to walk straight into the advanced class! I personally don't agree that a beginner should be training in the advanced class until he / she has reached a certain proficiency. It's dangerous for the beginner and for the other students.

Unfortunately some sensei are happy to take your money and hope you get the hint (eventually) that you should not be in that class yet. It is not unknown for a sensei to treat you badly and hope you'll leave rather than tell you straight out that it's not appropriate for you to be there - defies logic but it happens.

So, don't attempt to mimic - go to the beginner's class or a mixed class and learn how to roll and what the names of the techniques are and how they're supposed to look - then you can train in the advanced class.

Ruth
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Old 06-18-2004, 10:46 AM   #10
Dario Rosati
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
I have just moved to a new dojo, where, through some quirk of fate, I am the only white belt at a certain practice time with everyone else either being brown or blackbelts. The Sensei appears nice, and is a 6th dan, but is rather harsh. Constant "A real martial artist does'nt do this" "how many times do I have to ask you to bend this" "Never do that!" etc. constantly.
Hi, I'm a beginner, too, and my sensei continuosly corrects us white-belts far more than higher ranked guys... and I appreciate this!
This will eventually lead us to faster improvements.
But if your sensei does this in an harsh way (are you sure it's harshness? Aren't you biased because you're alone and feel somewhat "guilty" for this, like the other guy above said?), I would immediately change dojo... good manners are A MUST, only for the fact that *I* am paying YOU... so I as a person don't give a sh*t of your dan rank, I *want* good manners in teaching.... respect should be a key between sensei/students.
He can become "hard" in correcting me if he notes that I did the technique wrong for the 546th time in a row or because I'm breaking repeatedly the dojo etiquette (i.e. talking too much during pratice), but never "abusive"... It's different and i think you can understand if the sensei is simply correcting you hard because it's important or if he is simply abusive.
I wonder how a supposed to be harsh/abusive sensei can earn a 6th dan rank.

Quote:
He also seems to not care, when for instance, he has everyone practice with a weapon I have never trained with before, and basically tells me to just try to follow along. Has anybody here ever seen a confused newbie attempting to mimic patterns done at fairly high speed by advanced students?
I did and I've found this extremely rewarding... a bit frustrating at the start, but training with shodan/1st kyu guys lead you to faster improvements (and beaten up body, but alas, no pain, no gain ) ... given that 1) you're already fairly good in front/back rolls 2) the higher ranked guys aren't biased toward you and train accordingly to your ability, eventually pushing a bit your limits (this is what makes you progress).
Sometimes "being thrown in a pool until you swim or drown" can be useful... If the sensei isnt' biased toward you he will stop this just when you're starting to drown, or will not at all if he will see that you can get by alone.
Clearly, if the high rank guys you're training with aren't collaborative, and you feel yourself in danger for the way they train, there's something BADLY wrong in that class.
In one year I never got hurt from a 1st kyu or higher guy... they surely splattered me around the mat even very hard but never injuried me... my only incidents happened with intermediate guys (4th-3th kyu), where people are confindent but haven't yet the ability to adapt to beginners.

Quote:
Is it just me, or is he being overly harsh?
Thanks in Advance for answering a newbie.
Hard to say... this can be subjective.
Try to be a bit more "open minded" and to do all the stuff the best you can. If you feel you're not improving and that the sensei is REALLY harsh (and is not doing this to let you advance faster, even if this looks harder to you), do like others say: find an intermediate class with mixed kyu guys, or change sensei.

Bye!

--
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Old 06-18-2004, 12:49 PM   #11
giriasis
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Bronson, thanks for pointing out that it was for a particular class. But my question still remains, what's the quirk of fate? You can't take any of the other class, i.e. beginner or this just happened on one day?

It sounds like you drifted into an advanced class. Our advanced classes are 1st kyu and up and usually are offered at a special time outside of the regular dojo schedule. The rest of our classes are Basics and Mixed. Beginners are welcome in the Mixed, but the classes are still are higher pace than basics and the details are not explained as much as you should be getting that out of a Basics class.

Is the sensei like outside of this particular class or is he like this in all classes advanced, mixed, bascis? If this is an advanced class you just happened upon, then the sensei is probably expecting a lot more out of his dans/ikkyus. Otherwise, I would start questions whether the practice is abusive then find another dojo.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:15 PM   #12
The Molinjir
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

I figured it out
My sensei is actually not harsh, he just enjoys jokingly needling people, and I have figured out, he does it to everyone. This is a beginners class, and I was incorrect about the belts
Several more total newbies to Aikido just started soon after me, so we are all being teased together.

Please excuse my earlier post, made in sudden fear after seemingly being rejected from a dojo.
Also, he actually is a pretty tough sensei. I once did several rounds of techniques with him, and because of the fact he gives no time to catch ones breath, I ended up doing about 50% more work than my fellow students. I had about 100 forward break falls over 35-40 min, and by the end, I had quite a few bruises, plus his words "if you do not focus on rolls today, you certainly will tomorrow"
Referring to my bruises

Also, we have several fairly advanced students, but they only do the beginners class due to their timetable.

Also, I am only 12, and I had, due to the fact that I am extremely tall, managed to get into an adult class. Therefore, I did the typical reaction of a teen/kid to an new, and totally different environment, and I freaked out.

Thank you for the replies.

My apologies again,

~Paul, aka, Molinjir
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:52 PM   #13
Infamousapa
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

I suggest you stick in there.Sometimes teachers that seem harsh can end up being the most helpful in overcoming ourselves in order to move up in skill..
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:41 PM   #14
maikerus
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

There's a lot to be said for "just following along". Try training in a dojo where you can't speak the language the instructor is teaching in. You get to mimic from the beginning and you get good at picking up body movements that you see and are relevent to you rather than just listening and trying to understand words that you don't have a frame of reference for (as a beginner).

However, if you don't feel welcome or you feel that the class doesn't help you then, as others have said, find a new class. On the other hand, if the instructor seems to be only trying to push you to be the best that you can be, then maybe you will progress faster and better because you have an instructor who cares.

Every class isn't for everyone. But only you can decide that.

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 08-19-2004, 11:37 PM   #15
Neil Yamamoto
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

I started at 12 too, and was immediately in an adult class. Not because I was tall, but because that was the option available. No kids classes were offered.

I had the snot beaten out of me by the adults who thought it was funny to knock around a kid.

I had Bernie Lau taking aside for special training. This consisted of him throwing me around for however long he felt like throwing me around.

30 years later, I'm still training, but now I'm the one teaching.

Hang in there. Learn to laugh at your mistakes and enjoy the training. It gets better, but it also gets tougher as you go. Just don't quit.

Neil Yamamoto
Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club and Icho Ryu Chief Fluffy Bunny
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Old 08-20-2004, 06:01 AM   #16
ruthmc
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
Paul Weichselbaum wrote:
Please excuse my earlier post, made in sudden fear after seemingly being rejected from a dojo.
Also, he actually is a pretty tough sensei. I once did several rounds of techniques with him, and because of the fact he gives no time to catch ones breath, I ended up doing about 50% more work than my fellow students. I had about 100 forward break falls over 35-40 min, and by the end, I had quite a few bruises, plus his words "if you do not focus on rolls today, you certainly will tomorrow"
Referring to my bruises

Also, I am only 12, and I had, due to the fact that I am extremely tall, managed to get into an adult class. Therefore, I did the typical reaction of a teen/kid to an new, and totally different environment, and I freaked out.
Hmm. In this country, a teacher would not be allowed to treat a junior student (anybody under 18) like this. There are child protection laws here which we had to learn about in our instructor training courses. We are not allowed to be verbally or physically abusive to anybody under 18. Making you roll until you are covered in bruises is physical abuse. Talking to you in a way that is upsetting, or makes you feel uncomfortable, is verbal abuse. You may be tall, you may be training in the adult class, but if you are under 18 you should be protected.

Times have changed, and an instructor may face a lawsuit if there is a case against him under child protection laws..

Ruth
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Old 08-20-2004, 07:20 AM   #17
The Molinjir
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Don't worry, he does'nt need a lawsuit

I will not name him, but he is known for being extremely funny, and he is widely respected.

Besides, it appears he is really tough for the first few weeks, then slackens back a bit.

Besides, it is not physical abuse, just insisting that I keep training.
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Old 08-20-2004, 04:21 PM   #18
Dancing Heron
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
He also seems to not care, when for instance, he has everyone practice with a weapon I have never trained with before, and basically tells me to just try to follow along. Has anybody here ever seen a confused newbie attempting to mimic patterns done at fairly high speed by advanced students?
Don't worry, you're not the only one!
I'm also rather new to Aikido and in the beginning they just started doing all kind of moves I didn't even learned yet, so I was just standing there like: 'What the hell are they doing?'
Luckily, there was this one training day I showed up on my own in class along with another one (Aikido isn't very known around here I guess), and I was able to get some kind of 'private training' to get to learn all the basics with the bokken and jo a bit better.
If this doesn't happen to you, don't get desperate, though. I'm sure that if you choose to continue you'll eventually learn by yourself. Just keep sticking with it and perhaps try to learn the techniques as much as possible.

Good luck!

Mathijs
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Old 08-20-2004, 07:30 PM   #19
suren
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

I agree with Mathijs and I also would suggest to ask one of the students to work with you after the class to show you the parts you do not understand well. Usually people in dojo are very nice and always ready to help.
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Old 08-20-2004, 08:07 PM   #20
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

This isn't aikido related, but it's related to the thread. I coach volleyball, and the boys on my team have always known me to be "quite vocal."

One day, I asked the team, "Why do I yell?"

Their collective response was, "Because you care, coach."

(The kids also know that I am mad when I become silent)

The thing is, I let the kids know my personality prior to pushing hard. It's also important that the kids communicate, too.

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 08-20-2004, 08:38 PM   #21
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
Hi. My concern is less the skills/rank mix and more the instructor attitude as evidenced by the quotes "A real martial artist does'nt do this" "how many times do I have to ask you to bend this" "Never do that!" etc. constantly.
Aikido is learned in the body by repetition. Here you will learn tension and fear of making mistakes. Your body will express this by developing habits that include raised shoulders, holding of breath, etc....many of the very things he will probably yell at you for! at the same time he creates them.
I say find a different instructor.
Of course, Morihei Ueshiba used to yell and scream at his students all the time - including the kids.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-20-2004, 08:43 PM   #22
Chris Li
 
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
Hmm. In this country, a teacher would not be allowed to treat a junior student (anybody under 18) like this. There are child protection laws here which we had to learn about in our instructor training courses. We are not allowed to be verbally or physically abusive to anybody under 18. Making you roll until you are covered in bruises is physical abuse. Talking to you in a way that is upsetting, or makes you feel uncomfortable, is verbal abuse. You may be tall, you may be training in the adult class, but if you are under 18 you should be protected.

Times have changed, and an instructor may face a lawsuit if there is a case against him under child protection laws..

Ruth
Kids who play rugby in the UK never get covered with bruises? Their coaches never yell at them in a way that's "upsetting"?

Best,


Chris

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Old 08-20-2004, 09:12 PM   #23
The Molinjir
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

If nobody minds, could this be closed or something?
I had resolved the issue, and he actually does'nt yell, just teases.
So therefore, no more responses are needed.

Thank you all for responding so well to my questions

~Paul aka Molinjir
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Old 08-21-2004, 08:45 AM   #24
ruthmc
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Kids who play rugby in the UK never get covered with bruises? Their coaches never yell at them in a way that's "upsetting"?
Not any more! The laws have changed, and kids playing rugby now play a soft, almost non-contact version until they are older.

Everybody in the UK in sport has had the child protection laws thrust upon them. All sports clubs have to have a child protection policy in place within the very near future, and be seen to be carrying it out. Instructors working regularly with under 18s must be police checked and attend special child coaching courses. Adults training alongside kids must be aware of what the club policy is - generally no abusive contact or talking.

Teachers in schools are not allowed to touch children at all, and they are not allowed to speak to them in a way that could be considered insulting or demeaning, hence the current outbreak of bad behaviour in classrooms across the country. The kids have the upper hand and they know it! The parents don't like the new policies either, because when their kids get bullied by other kids, the teachers can't do anything about it.

During my Aikido instructor training course, our group was told to be very careful to observe the child protection policy, in case some kid takes a dislike to you and reports you for (imagined) abuse. To stop this happening, you are not supposed to be alone with a child - there should always be another adult present - and a child is anybody under 18.

On the whole I'm happy that there are child protection policies in place. We just need some adult protection policies to balance things out a bit!

Ruth
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Old 08-25-2004, 08:43 AM   #25
ian
 
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Re: Sensei Harshness Question

training is often geared to the middle level of the ability of a class because newbies drop out so much. Persevere and try and get additional pracitce outside of regular training hours with some of the other students and you may find your advancement is quicker.
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