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Old 08-31-2004, 12:16 AM   #1
Matt Stevenson
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Confused What's with the Attitude?

So I just joined a new dojo after moving to a new area. There are several around so I took a lot of time choosing one that I think will work for me. Now I had been forewarned by my previous instructor that the one I chose would likely "welcome [me] with closed arms." How right he was. But that's fine, I didn't expect a parade or anything.

Ninety-nine percent of my first time on the new mat was perfectly fine. It's unfortunate that my experience with one person in particular will stick with me the rest of my training days. I've been training for about 4 years and have experienced a lot of other styles, but I make it a point to be open to new things by not judging what is being taught based on previous experience.

Despite this, training with this one person (whose name I can't mention since I never had the pleasure of being told it upon introduction) was my worst experience ever on an aikido mat. Even worse than my no-warning kyu test in Japan. First, I was physically forced into the correct uke position for tai no henko. Apparently I was in the incorrect position, I didn't know this since she didn't bother to mention anything before man-handling me, and I was only doing it the way I thought was correct. This correction took some time since I am quite larger than her (lot's of grabbing and pulling at the neck and arm which wasn't very effective at moving me, since I had no idea what the hell she was trying to do). Verbal communication did eventually open up as I was later informed, "Don't even step on my toe ever again" as I must admit I accidently stepped on it while in close quarters taking iriminage ukemi. Heaven forbid someone should make such a horrendous mistake their first day on a new mat. I was also guilty of not tapping when I should have, but I was under the impression one should tap when one is effectively pinned (meaning can't get up or is limited in their movement in some fashion) or experiencing some (or any kind of) pain. I've never really hesitated tapping with most other advanced (or begginning) partners, when all I can move is my free hand or my joints are about to burst. I was also doing an udekimenage wrong, judging by the rolling of eyes and upset grunting. When I asked if I was doing it wrong and if I could be shown the correct technique I got a very breathy and pissed off, "no, just go." When I "just went" she got all upset and said, "Don't even try to do that again." That's fine, I won't, because I sure as hell won't be training with you again. Did I try to kill your favorite dog in a previous life? If so, sorry and leave it off the mat. Relax. So I just bowed and changed partners at the clap trying very hard not to be competitive and SHOW HER what's up (all 5' 2" of her). I admit I was sorely tempted to demonstrate some the arm bars, takedowns, chokes, and leg locks I've fiddled with after a few years of submission grappling training. But I digress...

Maybe I'm just being a little touchy and shouldn't get my feathers rustled or my pride hurt. Especially when I was trying very hard to wipe my aikido slate clean and be an effective learner by doing things the way they are taught in class, and not simply how I think they should be done. But until today I've thought people like the one I've described (at length) only existed in forum threads. Later I just shook it off and laughed about the whole thing with my wife. Afterall, I'm certainly not training to please that person. I just thought it was sad that someone should have such a narrow view of the aikido training world. My first day on the mat I'm going to do things a little different, especially when my technique has been formed over years training at little known places like the hombu dojo. Everyone else in the dojo I trained with seemed to understand that, even if they were frustrated with me. For heaven's sake, get used to training with different styles! Don't you ever go to seminars with other people? Generally I've found if uke isn't doing what I want him to do, the fault is with me. Or, the easiest way to rectify it is COMMUNICATE! If you speak the same language, great. If you don't, demonstrate. When I was in Japan I didn't understand all the verbal instruction given, but at least some attempt was made. Not much learning or teaching happens with no communication of any sort.

If you've made it this far in my thread, congratulations. I'm really not trying to make a big deal out of this, just venting. I was just appalled that such an attitude can exist in an Aikido dojo. I've trained as at least a visitor in over 10 dojo across the US and Japan and attended countless combined seminars, and this was my first experience with such a rotten attitude. I hope it's the last . Penny for your thoughts.

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Old 08-31-2004, 01:15 AM   #2
PeterR
 
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
Matt Stevenson wrote:
If you've made it this far in my thread, congratulations. I'm really not trying to make a big deal out of this, just venting. I was just appalled that such an attitude can exist in an Aikido dojo. I've trained as at least a visitor in over 10 dojo across the US and Japan and attended countless combined seminars, and this was my first experience with such a rotten attitude. I hope it's the last . Penny for your thoughts.
Vent away. New guy in the pecking order is always fun.

I'll bet you good money that others in the Dojo also are not thrilled with the lady just that being the new guy you don't know that.

Just remember the other 99% of the time.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-31-2004, 11:18 AM   #3
pezalinski
 
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

I feel sorry for the poor aikidoka you were working with -- she has a very narrow (and shallow) definition of what Aikido is, as really needs to get out of the "one dojo - my dojo only" concept, and practice with others.
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Old 08-31-2004, 11:58 AM   #4
Ron Tisdale
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

I hope she's not the instructor...

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-31-2004, 12:17 PM   #5
Derek Webb
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Maybe she just had an off day. Never experienced anything that bad. Hope your next visit is more rewarding

Regards

Delboy
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Old 08-31-2004, 04:35 PM   #6
Matt Stevenson
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Fortunately, she's not the instructor. That's why it wasn't much of a big deal. I can just shrug it off and avoid her in the future. Maybe she was having an off day, but sheesh. Bow out and deal with it off the mat. I do realize that women in any martial art can have an extremely uphill battle trying to establish themselves. However, I think of three shining examples of how to better go about that. Pat Hendricks, Cyndy Hayashi, and Kayla Feder. Their precision technique and golden personalities speak for themselves. If I lived closer to them I would be training with them.
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Old 08-31-2004, 05:20 PM   #7
shihonage
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

It's not all about you and your comfort.
Other people have their own problems they're working on.
She may as well be aware of her antagonizing problems, but she can't magically overcome them at the moment's notice - that could be why she goes to Aikido in the first place.

Just because she can't adapt to you, doesn't mean you can't learn to train with her.
Just because you don't want to yield and don't want to hurt her, doesn't mean that you can't come up with a middle way to assert your space without starting something ugly.
Just because she is narrowminded, doesn't mean that you have to be.

When you start being selective about "avoiding" certain partners (he is too rude, she is too stiff), your progress in Aikido is dead.
It just doesn't know it yet.

Last edited by shihonage : 08-31-2004 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 08-31-2004, 10:10 PM   #8
Jordan Steele
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

You handled it exactly as I would have although I may have been more tempted to sweep her onto her butt. You're a better man than me in this circumstance.
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Old 08-31-2004, 10:16 PM   #9
Jerry Miller
 
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
Aleksey Sundeyev wrote:
It's not all about you and your comfort.
Other people have their own problems they're working on.
She may as well be aware of her antagonizing problems, but she can't magically overcome them at the moment's notice - that could be why she goes to Aikido in the first place.

Just because she can't adapt to you, doesn't mean you can't learn to train with her.
Just because you don't want to yield and don't want to hurt her, doesn't mean that you can't come up with a middle way to assert your space without starting something ugly.
Just because she is narrowminded, doesn't mean that you have to be.

When you start being selective about "avoiding" certain partners (he is too rude, she is too stiff), your progress in Aikido is dead.
It just doesn't know it yet.

Thank you, that was refreshing. Sometimes it is good to remained centered.

Jerry Miller
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Old 08-31-2004, 11:39 PM   #10
Nick
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

"I do not think badly of others when they treat me unkindly. Rather, I feel gratitude towards them for giving me the opportunity to train myself to handle adversity."

--M. Ueshiba

Talk to the instructor if it continues.

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 09-01-2004, 12:02 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Whose attitude? Yours or hers?

Sounds like she saw your excellent potential and wanted to help you fit into their way of doing things. Be grateful.

Some of my best training came from accepting other people, and their attacks, just the way they are given. The world doesn't always come at me the way I want it to.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-01-2004, 09:26 AM   #12
Matt Stevenson
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

"When you start being selective about "avoiding" certain partners (he is too rude, she is too stiff), your progress in Aikido is dead."


That's an excellent point that needed to be made. I was still a bit wound up when I wrote those previous lines. One should never avoid a training opportunity.

And as a caveat I in no way meant in my previous threads that anything physical or any kind of retribution should or would be made, I guess I was illustrating some of the fleeting base emotions I was experiencing. Certainly any kind of similar counter threats or such would not help anybody least of all me or my partners.

I guess this is starting to sound bigger than it really is or how I ever intended. I think my intent in posting the original thread was to blow off steam (which I shouldn't have done here) and make the point that I felt a certain line of propriety had been crossed. I never knew I felt there was such a line at all since until then I never felt anyone even approach it. Maybe it was crossed (by either of us), maybe it wasn't, maybe it doesn't exist. Either way that's just how I felt about it at the time.

If I really felt it a bigger problem than it is, I would either try to talk with the person directly (which may still happen if it continues), or maybe talk with the sensei. But I really don't feel it's to that point.

As far as feeling grateful for the experience... well, that may take some time and a lot of effort. I guess I'm not to O'Sensei's level just yet. My hat's off to those who can and do handle these things better than me who just post silly threads. Thanks for the reality checks and I apologize to anyone I may have offended.

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Old 09-01-2004, 12:14 PM   #13
Michael Neal
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
"I do not think badly of others when they treat me unkindly. Rather, I feel gratitude towards them for giving me the opportunity to train myself to handle adversity."

--M. Ueshiba
That is a great quote
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Old 09-02-2004, 09:39 AM   #14
ruthmc
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Maybe she just doesn't like getting her feet stepped on? ;-) And no, a lot of people don't train at seminars with people from other styles, therefore they have no idea how to handle them. It's just plain ignorance. Although that's not as bad as people who go to multi-style seminars and only train with their own dojo-mates...

Ruth (multi-style seminar junkie)
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Old 09-02-2004, 11:01 AM   #15
MaryKaye
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

I don't know what I'd do with a partner who said "Never step on my toes again." If I get anywhere near a partner, sooner or later toes will get stepped on. (If we do solo kata I step on my own toes.) I think I'd have to bow out of training with her, because quite frankly I wouldn't know what else to do....

I don't agree with "never refuse a training partner." Sometimes the most aiki thing to do, it seems to me, is to avoid getting into a bad interaction, and there are occasional pairs of people who are doomed to bad interactions. You don't want to avoid someone because you find their energy or body type difficult, but if you find that training with them invariably leads to incivility I think you're best off not doing so. I wouldn't decide on the basis of one class, though. Hopefully she was just having a bad day.

I'm also a multi-style junkie, and I've found that when you show up at a dojo of a different style, people may be hyper-sensitive to any hint that you are judging or disparaging them. Even if it's the furthest thing from your mind, they may see your behavior as pushy just because that's what they're expecting. This gets better, generally, once they get to know you.

I've found it helpful to say with all the humility I can muster, "I learned this throw differently, so I'm going to need a lot of help here. Can you show me how you do it?" This makes it clearer that you're there to learn and not to teach. (Which I'm sure wasn't in question, but people leap to that conclusion all the time.)

Ruth, do you have any advice for people who want to learn how to accomodate different-style guests? The one thing I've noticed is that starting out by "telegraphing" your attacks, until the guest gets the hang of your conventions, helps a lot. You can mime a shomen or yokomen attack with your hand before actually stepping in, for example, and the guest won't have to think "Which side do they attack on? Which foot is forward?" (At high levels of course this can be intuitively sensed, but I'm sure not there yet.)

Mary Kaye
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Old 09-03-2004, 05:54 AM   #16
ruthmc
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
Ruth, do you have any advice for people who want to learn how to accomodate different-style guests?
Hi Mary!

I'm no expert, I just advocate that people learn the basics of other styles so they don't get caught up in misunderstandings. It's exactly the same as do you shake hands or bow, kiss one cheek or two? Learning this eases your way through life :-)


Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
The one thing I've noticed is that starting out by "telegraphing" your attacks, until the guest gets the hang of your conventions, helps a lot. You can mime a shomen or yokomen attack with your hand before actually stepping in, for example, and the guest won't have to think "Which side do they attack on? Which foot is forward?"
That's a good idea, as long as it's not contrary to the dojo way to telegraph your attacks! I find the best thing to do is to ask somebody - first introduce yourself and say what style you are, ask theirs, and any time there's any hesitancy or confusion ask which foot they attack from, how many turns they take, even where they aim their yokomen! As you get used to training in different styles you find you can jump between modes - I've even had to do this with one Aikikai attacker and one Yoshinkan attacker taking turns to attack me. Eventually you just do it without thinking about your feet or theirs. One of the big myths about Aikido is that it matters which way your feet are before the attack starts. It doesn't. It's which way they are at the end of the attack when you're throwing or pinning your partner that counts :-)


Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
(At high levels of course this can be intuitively sensed, but I'm sure not there yet.)
I wouldn't bet on it - I've seen some high-ranking sensei get caught out by an attacker from another style! Of course this is often when they are teaching, so the teaching brain doesn't always respond in time when the attacker does something a bit unexpected.

Keep training, keep learning other customs, be open-minded and prepared to try things that make no sense at all to you, and you'll find you are an ambassador for Aikido and welcome to train anywhere.

Ruth
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Old 09-03-2004, 11:52 AM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
Matt Stevenson wrote:
I do realize that women in any martial art can have an extremely uphill battle trying to establish themselves. However, I think of three shining examples of how to better go about that.
And I wonder why you even bring up gender. Could have been just as easily a male partner with same exact attitude.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-05-2004, 06:20 PM   #18
oudbruin
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Matt: I'm glad that i'm not the only fella who has had a run in with people who have thier respective heads stuck "where the sun don't shine".
MY way of dealing with those sort is walkaway, or alternatively, try to find out what is the issue or problem.
I learned long time ago that some folks are never happy, and it is thier goal in life to dump on everyone and everything around them.
--
Hang in there!
Bruce Hammell
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Old 09-07-2004, 03:29 AM   #19
gi_grrl
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
I (If we do solo kata I step on my own toes.) Mary Kaye
I loved that Mary, I laughed out loud. I'm sure many aikdoka know just how you feel.

Fiona.
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Old 09-07-2004, 04:28 AM   #20
Nick Simpson
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Doing nikkyo the other day I dropped knee first onto my instructors toes, must have hurt quite a bit

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 09-07-2004, 05:16 AM   #21
batemanb
 
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

I broke a bone in my foot back in June when I dropped a rather large chap, he went down rather hard on one knee, sraight on top of my foot. I still have the lump and slight bruising now .

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-07-2004, 02:08 PM   #22
disabledaccount
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

I learned a wonderful lesson this labor day weekend during our dojo's first annual labor day intensive. The weekend involved five hours of Aikido practice followed by one hour and thirty minutes of zazen on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Needless to say it was a challenging and exhausting experience, and I am so sore today, I can hardly walk!


At any rate, on day three I had the pleasure of working with one of my home dojo's students who I respect very much, but was having some difficulty performing a set of suwari-waza ikkyo (probably due to the hindering effects of our previous workouts inducing the fore-mentioned muscle stiffness/soreness). Usually when a fellow student who is not senior to me consistently makes an error I point it out to him/her and demonstrate the rational by resisting or countering when the error appears.

Following this usual response I did just that, and proceeded to throw him harder, and more aggressively while nage, and countered him repeatedly while uke. I started to feel angry and frustrated as he apparently continued to NOT GET IT.

As my frustration peaked, Sensei approached me and indicated that he was going to demonstrate the proper technique for my training partner's benefit. I experienced a surge of pleasure as I anticipated my partner's pending re-education, and most importantly utter humiliation for his grave ikkyo error. This was going to be so cool!

I attacked Sensei with a spirited shomen-uchi and Sensei met it hard and fast. The hours of previous exertion had made my muscles slow to respond and the ensuing ikkyo was terribly painful. I tapped frantically as I felt my elbow and shoulder about to give. Sensei took his time letting me up. Something was wrong here!

Again Sensei indicated I should attack. Again I was painfully pinned. Sensei played uke for me, with disasterous results! Every time he attacked I was struck and reversed with a painful counter. Sensei shouted at me, he bellowed "Use your eyes! Use your body!", instructions which I could not understand or follow.

And then it was over. Sensei wore a grim smile. "Do you understand?", Sensei asked. I bowed low and shouted, "Hai!".

I understand that there is nothing to be gained from dominating a weaker person. I could see how difficult it was for my fellow student to learn in this manner.

It's okay to point out errors and help each other along, but if someone can't get it, punishing them won't make it any better. Belittling them won't make it better. Hurting them won't make it better. Humiliating them won't make it better.

Sometimes it's best to let the student struggle with what they are doing and leave them alone. Go along with his/her movement. Take good ukemi. Allow them to learn the gross before the fine.

Sometimes it's best to have a teacher who can see an ego getting out of control. To let that ego expand beyond it's borders. And to crush that ego at just the right moment for a peice of enlightenment to appear.

What a powerful, humbling lesson!

Last edited by disabledaccount : 09-07-2004 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 09-07-2004, 04:04 PM   #23
shihonage
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

Quote:
Bodhi Richards wrote:
What a powerful, humbling lesson!
Apparently not humbling enough to stop you from posting about it in two threads at once
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Old 09-10-2004, 08:56 AM   #24
billybob
 
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

sam jack, i feel your pain man!!

my master's degree doesn't prevent me from being the dumbest guy in the dojo.

when i got to my new judo school in 1985 i ticked everybody off. they hurt me.

when i came back to aikido in 2003 - i hacked off all the yudansha, and the sensei in one fell swoop!
hahhahahahaha. stupid. fortunately, i began to realize that etiquette is there to protect boneheads like me! i guess i need to learn that silly etiquette stuff.

it's also normal to butt heads with folks you haven't connected with yet. life.

billybob
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Old 09-27-2004, 12:25 PM   #25
Tom Kaluzynski
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Re: What's with the Attitude?

When I read your post, it reminded me of times Ive been treated badly, or treated someone badly. Getting your foot stepped on is irritating, I'd maybe say something, it hurts. I dont think she was wrong to move you on tai no henko, some dojos stress not talking, talking is seen as rude in many dojos. Just try to see it from her point of view; it sounds like you were just as at fault as her, your style is different, and you probably have different habits that may be frustrating to her. I actually think she was pretty cool. But I like feisty people.
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