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Old 08-29-2005, 11:20 PM   #1
"confused and frustrated"
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Question Attitude problems at Dojo.

A few "questions"

I train at a dojo that only offers class twice a week. I can train at an affiliated dojo two other times a week but I don't like the attitude of some of the senior students there. Specifically: co-teaching (talking during training about how I am not doing the technique "right"); technique modification (doing the technique differently than it was demonstrated, i.e. adding a pin, or a head lock, or some other unexpected act); and talking in a less than favorable manner about my sensei (this was recent and a suprise!). The situation is that the problem is only with a few of the senior students and if I don't go to the "problem" dojo, then I will only be able to train twice a week. So, do I try to continue to accept the training at the "problem" dojo or do I only train twice a week? Is it better to keep my thoughts to myself or do I say something, knowing that saying something will cause problems. Maybe I have the attitude problem. Please help!
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Old 08-30-2005, 01:34 AM   #2
Sonja2012
 
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Sheesh, difficult question, that!

I know that I would get angry at other people talking about my sensei in a disrespectful manner and behaving in the way you described, which means that my mind would be preoccupied with being angry and other "bad" stuff. Not a good state of mind for good practice, IMHO. Therefore I would rather not practice than practice badly. Might be different for you, though.

Why is it that your dojo only offers practice sessions twice a week? Do you have limited mat time in the dojo or does your teacher not have any more time for teaching? If the latter is the case, would it be possible to politely ask for an open mat practice? Our dojo offers that once a week and even though sensei is not there and usually only 4-5 people show up, we have a great time, help eacher out and just work on whatever we feel needs working on (which is pretty much everything )
That way you might get to be on the mat more often, even if itīs "only" doing suburi on your own when nobody else shows up. Could be a question of insurance, though.
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Old 08-30-2005, 06:19 AM   #3
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Hey

I get your situation; my dojo only trains once a week, and twice a week if a grading is coming up. This is because the sensei is 'on call' quite often for his work so he can't have more than two lessons a week. Also, many of the other nights on the mat are devoted to the Judo club that started their classes first and so took up many of the evening sessions.
I had the option of going to another dojo for 2 more lessons a week, but I prefered my sensei's teaching and the seniors at the other dojo were very condesending (when I first went I was a humble 5th kyu, as now opposed to being a humble 3rd kyu); they would also make scathing comments, but not about the sensei; about other students which I found really cruel.
I decided to put up with only two lessons a week, but I do a lot of individual exercises and I sometimes arrange to meet up with other people in the dojo for practice at our local school hall.
If you dislike the teaching ethic or the attitudes of the senior students, just don't go unless you feel that you can address the problem and the seniors cause to be honest that attitude is just not on. It is incredibly disrespectful to make negative comments about the sensei during the lesson. If you do decide to keep going, let the seniors know that you want to learn the techniques taught and that after you have a solid base in that then you can move onto variations, and that if they decide to show you a variation that they actually show you how to do it and give you a warning before executing it. If they don't they are not showing consideration for their uke. If they talk to you about how they dislike the sensei, don't get into a fight. Just say 'I disagree' and walk away, let it drop.
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Old 08-30-2005, 09:50 AM   #4
"row the boat"
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Quote:
A few "questions"

I train at a dojo that only offers class twice a week. I can train at an affiliated dojo two other times a week but I don't like the attitude of some of the senior students there. Specifically: co-teaching (talking during training about how I am not doing the technique "right"); technique modification (doing the technique differently than it was demonstrated, i.e. adding a pin, or a head lock, or some other unexpected act); and talking in a less than favorable manner about my sensei (this was recent and a surprise!). The situation is that the problem is only with a few of the senior students and if I don't go to the "problem" dojo, then I will only be able to train twice a week. So, do I try to continue to accept the training at the "problem" dojo or do I only train twice a week? Is it better to keep my thoughts to myself or do I say something, knowing that saying something will cause problems. Maybe I have the attitude problem. Please help!

Ya know, we all go through phases of attitude, but about the best cure is to recognize how EVERYONE contributes to either a bad attitude or a good attitude?

What are you contributing and what are those around you contributing?

This contribution will change as you grow accustomed to specific training regimens for anywhere you go and what each "TRIBE" of practitioners expects. Whether we realize it or not we are gravitating towards people because they are either like us or we want something from them, be it their techniques for aikido practice, or some characteristic in our personality's.

Adding headlocks or pins where the focus of practice is aimed at concentrating on another aspect of practice is poor form and everyone needs to recognize ... just what the instructor is trying to focus on for the practice session. This is one aspect of recognizing the problems for your particular situation.

The other problem is recognizing the instinctual drives of the human psyche, or your wants which is a great problem for most people the first forty years they are alive, and they are just the natural adaptation of growing old and getting experience. Despite all the advice of words, or education a person can possibly get, most times ... it is the experience that is the lesson.

I am sure everyone can remember the experiences of going through the grade levels of primary to high school, each year being bumped up to new expectations, body growing and changing, and as much as you are the same person ... each of us grew and had new wants, urges, and expectations. These experiences and changes don't stop when you turn 18 or even 21 ... they go on for however how long you are alive. Urges, changes, and most people don't take stock of them?

Well, in asking if the problem is you, you have taken that first step in figuring out all of your own problems, except I don't see the common sense of past experiences being factored into this particular situation?

I think ... if you do recognize the contributing factors that are causing the attitude problems in the Dojo, and go about understanding how you are contributing to the situation, or not ... that recognition will create a model of behavior for others to follow as well as alleviate any problems that might be "Attitude problems at the Dojo." Ya know what I mean?

Think about it, you will figure it out. There is a passive way to deal with aggressive behavior, and that is part of the journey for training.
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Old 08-30-2005, 12:06 PM   #5
Nick P.
 
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Quote:
So, do I try to continue to accept the training at the "problem" dojo or do I only train twice a week? Is it better to keep my thoughts to myself or do I say something, knowing that saying something will cause problems. Maybe I have the attitude problem. Please help!
IMHO, the very act of presenting yourself to this "problem" dojo means you have gone there to learn what they have to teach. You might not like they how and why of it, but in the end you go because you want at least some of the teaching they are offering.

I now how hard it can be, but the discomfort really should be internalized. Many here will say "No, speak up and express your opinion...", but how would you feel if someone walked into your home dojo and started saying "You guys talk way too much". ?

Accept the differences for what they are, integrate the positive aspects into your overall training, and if you find it too difficult, find another dojo.

As for the negative comments about your other Sensei; let them continue and ignore them. Be the bigger person.

Hope that helps.

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Old 08-30-2005, 01:50 PM   #6
giriasis
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Let's see, I agree that talking about someone else's sensei is pretty tasteless and is disrespectful. Especially if it is specifically dissing type comments. However, assuming these guys are not total jerks, it can be difficult to phrase "we do things differently" without sounding condescending or disrespectful. I would say give them some slack if their intent really is to show you that they do things differently. Sometimes it comes out wrong, although sometimes it comes out the way they wanted.

But, talking and other senior students correcting your technique is not necessarily improper dojo behavior. Whether it is improper depends on the rules of the dojo. If the sensei encourages senior students to help juniors, like in my dojo, you will find a lot of correction on the mat. Where I train, it is almost expected that a senior student helps and corrects the newer student. And a senior could mean that a 4th dan corrects a 1st dan or a 5th kyu corrects a newbie. Of course sensei is actively watching and steps in when the senior student or both students are having a hard time with the technique. However, there are schools that are "no talk" or "talk very little". It's understandable when you enter a new school that this behavior, regarding the talking issue, can be perceived as unacceptable. That is just dojo culture shock. Different schools do different things even within associations.

Also, have you asked yourself why they are modifying a technique? Are they trying to teach you something about your ukemi? As a senior student I will often have to modify a technique just to demonstrate an opening in uke's ukemi. If we were doing nikkyo and uke would lock out their elbow and turn their back to me, I would change to hijishime (arm bar lock). Is this what they are trying to do?

Remember different schools train different ways, even within associations. Try your best to follow the teaching methods of the respective schools where you train. Don't expect one school to conform to the standards of the other, instead look at it as an opportunity to expose yourself to two different training methods and two different ways to do techniques, ukemi, etc.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 08-30-2005, 11:46 PM   #7
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

I have read the thoughtful and interesting responses I have gotten so far and all of them have merit and their own point.

When I was thinking about this today and at the dojo tonight I came to a couple observations.

First, one of my perceived training problems in aikido is the tendency of aikidoka to be too polite, or at least to try to "blend" so much in our training that we don't speak up when things are not happening the right way.

Second, when we talk about ego and its undesirablility in training, I don't think O-Sensei meant that we should be passive as we go through life.

Third, ego is different than confidence, and confidence is good and should be encouraged.

With these factors in mind, and the acceptance that different dojos do different things and have different customs I have decided that I will, (as a reply mentioned, there must be something I like about the training there) continue to attend the "problem" dojo but in doing that I will make an effort to control the inputs made into my training. Aikido is a personal experience and although I accept that a few of these senior students may be trying to help, I do not have to accept their constant tutelage if I feel that it is hindering my training. This decision and its implementation will hopefully come from my self confidence and not my ego, but I don't quite know at this point in my life. What do you all think about this plan?
did I mention that the main problem student is the same age as my Mom? Regardless, in reality, you certainly cannot like all people no matter how accepting one is. I may have just found one of those people.

FYI: only a few senior students co-teach, the rest usually keep quiet, so this is, in some aspects, not the modus operandi of the dojo.
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Old 08-31-2005, 04:13 AM   #8
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Quote:
With these factors in mind, and the acceptance that different dojos do different things and have different customs I have decided that I will, (as a reply mentioned, there must be something I like about the training there) continue to attend the "problem" dojo but in doing that I will make an effort to control the inputs made into my training. Aikido is a personal experience and although I accept that a few of these senior students may be trying to help, I do not have to accept their constant tutelage if I feel that it is hindering my training. This decision and its implementation will hopefully come from my self confidence and not my ego, but I don't quite know at this point in my life. What do you all think about this plan?
"Choose the right ai-te for the right exercise" : is what my teacher always says
So consiously choosing a situation/setting to practice in that is not quite ideal and make it work for you, sounds a lot like Aikido, doesn't it? I feel it will improve your judgement on what 'they' tell/teach you (to do).
This would in fact reduce your ego and increase your confidence
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Old 08-31-2005, 08:24 AM   #9
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Does the head instructor at that dojo approve of the sempai teaching...in his class? If so, grin and bear it if the training is worthwhile. If not, politely ask them to let you learn from the instructor...it's his class. You'd rather just work through the material without the verbage.

Oh, one other thing...when in this type of situation myself, I make it a point to try to do the technique **as they do it there**. I make a sincere effort, and make sure they **know** I'm trying to do the technique **as they** do it. I don't try to do what I already know...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-31-2005, 09:42 AM   #10
Nick P.
 
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Quote:
Aikido is a personal experience and although I accept that a few of these senior students may be trying to help, I do not have to accept their constant tutelage if I feel that it is hindering my training. This decision and its implementation will hopefully come from my self confidence and not my ego, but I don't quite know at this point in my life. What do you all think about this plan?
Overall, I agree with your plan.

I feel I should point out that, in my mind, there is a difference between accepting (i.e. embracing and agreeing with) and tolerating (i.e. hearing but not listening) the lessons being taught. Have you given any thought on what you will do/say when it happens again?

I believe we can have very little control over what the other person does; we can only control how we choose to react to what they say or do. I believe that one cannot choose what is being taught; one can only choose what one wants to learn from what is being taught.

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Old 08-31-2005, 09:46 AM   #11
giriasis
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Yes, you should not be a doormat to those kinds of people. I have experienced such persons a handful of times in the past 6 years of aikido training; however, such people are few and far between, at least where I train.

I have yet to read any comments from indicating that this particular person is domineering, but rather just "old enough to be your mom." What do you mean by that exactly? How is that relevant to your problem? Do you not think someone a woman your mother's age doesn't have something worthwhile to teach you? You know there are a lot of 40+ women who have incredible aikido? Would the situation be different if this senior student was old enough to be your father?

I get the impression you have about 6-8 months experience in aikido, and she's been doing this at least 3-5 years (long enough to be a "senior student"). If she is old enough to be your mom, yes, she might be "mothering" you a bit, but some women also tend to be more nurturing than men when they train -- at least I do. Does she you call you "hun" or "honey." I know I speak to the guys like that -- in a nurturing way.

Also, have you realized the other side of this coin? She might consider you a "young buck" who doesn't want to listen to her. She might be taking issue with you especially if she has noticed you appear to not have as much of a problem with the other senior students who correct you -- other senior students who might happen to be male? Just because she is old enough to be your mom or is female doesn't mean she doesn't know what she is talking about.

If a few senior students are allowed to co-teach then it might just be the modus operandi that these few senior student teach their juniors. Does the sensei state that there will be "no teaching" or does he not. Ask a senior student that you know well in this dojo to find out. If the sensei in the dojo hasn't corrected all the senior students that do this then he probably does find this behavior acceptable to some degree. He might be listening in on her instruction of you and feels that what she is saying is not "wrong" so he allows her to continue assisting you.

She is your senior (I mean aikido rank-wise, forget age) and she is trying to help you learn a technique to the best of her ability so try your best to accept what she has to offer. Perhaps she is just overwhleming you with too much information. (I think this really is the problem your having.) She might be going on and on because your ignoring her? I know I keep repeating a point until I see my partner respond in some manner. Often I get, "why" and then I explain why and they usually respond. Point out to her what you find helpful and that everything else is just overwhelming you. Maybe you understand what she is saying, but your body just isn't doing what you want it to do. Tell her you are used to doing something a different way and that you are trying your best to do things differently but your finding it really hard to switch gears. Comments like this are much more contstructive than asking someone to be quiet or just ignoring them thinking that you know better.

Part of learning to be a senior student is learning what to say to the junior so they learn and not to say to a junior student to not overwhelm them. Part of learning to be a senior student IS learning to teach and learning how to teach. Finally, part of learning to be a senior student is in explaining a technique you discover exactly how well you understand a technique. She will not learn this if you just ignore her, or ask her to be quite to let the sensei teach.

Of course I'm assuming that this person really isn't on an ego-trip and that she is just having a hard time working with you as much as you are having a hard time working with her. Much can be smoothed over by talking to the person getting to know her a little better after class. Maybe she sees you as a son, or perhaps as a son she never had? Who knows, but when a sempai trys to take you under thier wing it's usually not an ego thing. The egotistical people I've seen don't bother taking on a kohai.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:26 AM   #12
Nick P.
 
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Yes, you should not be a doormat to those kinds of people.
Why not be the doormat? Let those sempai (or anyone else)spout whatever they wish. You are not there to agree with them, you are there to train with them and learn from them.
You don't have to respect them, agree with them, or even like them; just learn from them.

Or, you could choose to fight everything that does not fall into your definition of proper or accurate or true....and see what fat load of good that does anyone.

**Edit**
This reply was meant to further my previous point, not attack Anne Marie.

Last edited by Nick P. : 08-31-2005 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Came off as too cocky; sorry!

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Old 08-31-2005, 12:35 PM   #13
giriasis
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Nick, thanks for the clarification, but there are those rare individuals who are truly abusive on the mat. That is what I was thinking about, and no individual whether aikido or not has to take that kind of behavior. For the most part, I agree, there is something to learn and that most sempai have the best intentions, although some don't communicate themselves very well.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 08-31-2005, 05:59 PM   #14
aikidoc
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

"Adding headlocks or pins where the focus of practice is aimed at concentrating on another aspect of practice is poor form and everyone needs to recognize ... just what the instructor is trying to focus on for the practice session. This is one aspect of recognizing the problems for your particular situation."

Doing something other than shown is a good way to get someone seriously injured. Part of the practice is to learn the movement patterns of the technique-changing or modifying them or adding an element different than shown is not only dangerous but may be counter productive to what the instructor is showing. Generally, instructors show things a certain way for a reason. The lesson is lost if everyone is doing their own thing.
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Old 08-31-2005, 06:15 PM   #15
Hanna B
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

How much variation is accepted, varies. Where I have trained, ending each technique with a pin or not is usually up to each student, if the teacher doesn't say differently. I have noticed this is not the case everywhere.
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Old 08-31-2005, 06:35 PM   #16
Mark Uttech
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

For what it's worth, 'confused and frustrated' you sound like a chronic complainer . I recall a type of proverb once, about how a man with two watches is never sure what time it is.
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Old 08-31-2005, 09:44 PM   #17
aikigirl10
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

All i can say is that stressing out about a situation , never ever fixes the situation. If i come to a problem in my life or something that worries me, i set out on correcting it instead of dwelling on it. Its great to ask for advice , but once the advice is given , you should move on, and fix the problem. (i'm not saying you are doing this, i'm just saying i do see alot of people react this way, my mom does this alot) This is the best advice i can give and its not worth more than anybody elses.

Good luck,
Paige
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Old 09-01-2005, 03:52 AM   #18
Hanna B
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Training at two dojos, I think, will always cause some strains or problems in some way (unless one is the main dojo and the other a branch, that is something else). It can bring many good things to, esp. if you have been tranining for a while. I used to train the three dojos in parallell... somewhat related, but slightly different. One needs to adapt to each place, and adaptation takes some energy. Maybe you can see your frustrations as natural and something to be expacted.

While I find it natural that one doesn't buy everything that sempai or even the teacher says - this is inevitable if training at two not closely related dojos - one should probably try and conceal it.
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Old 09-01-2005, 03:55 AM   #19
Hanna B
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Re: Attitude problems at Forum

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
For what it's worth, 'confused and frustrated' you sound like a chronic complainer
FWIW, Mark Uttech, you sound like a man who doesn't understand that saying things like these can be very very insulting. You could be right, you could be wrong - who are you to judge these things from small pieces of info told over the net and throw your judgement over a person into his face? At least you do it under your own name. I've seen those who do it under anonymity and that is incredibly coward.
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Old 09-01-2005, 07:42 AM   #20
Nick P.
 
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

I agree with Hanna.
But anonymous did come looking for opinions....
"Maybe I have the attitude problem. Please help!"

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Old 09-01-2005, 03:07 PM   #21
Mark Uttech
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Hanna, I am pleased that you also use your name when posting.
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Old 09-02-2005, 06:23 PM   #22
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Wink Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

I wish there was a clear cut protocol for this type of situation, but there isn't.

Just as there are no guarantees in life, so too aikido is not a nursery school playtime .... it is a serious study of the human body as we learn how to manipulate not only our training partners body, but we also learn to control our own body as we try to awaken our perception of the situation at hand.

It is an unwritten rule that each person is learning to protect themselves and to hurt the other person while doing it,but always in a safe and controlled environment for aikido practice.

So too is there an unwritten rule that we should not talk badly of anyone, but there comes a time when one has to learn to speak up, to put one's own safety ahead of the practice, and one knows ... when to break protocol in the name of commons sense! I don't know what your dojo does, but if anyone is dangerous to themselves or others they are put with a senior who works them through whatever problems they are having in the way our senior instructor wants it handled, which is a safe, slow, enlightening practice.

One the other hand, why was there even a mention of not liking a junior teaching a class? A fuss about juniors teaching a class?

Juniors teaching the class and you are uncomfortable with that? I would ask, when in the blue blazes is a junior ever gonna get a chance to get the experience of teaching if everyone is averse to juniors teaching now and then? I don't get it? Pretty much .. everyone below 5th dan is a junior, so just get that notion out of your head, or at least reallign that thinking. I prefer to think of us all as students.

A few moments of roughness in a class now and then? I can't complain if the proper protocols are observed for practicing within a margin of safety and no one is put in danger to the point of serious injury, can you? I don't like people going off into their own private class during practice, but one's whole life is meeting the unexpected and dealing with it. Make a decision and deal with it. Better to see the true colors of people you are training with ... are they able to smile and deal with a situation in good way, or not?

I wouldn't be too concerned with any one person, observe the group behaviors.

In examining the cause and effect of this particular case, I can't help but think each of goes through a phase of being just a little bit over eager to show what we know with someone at some point in our training. Every junior that joins a class or attends two or more schools with different teaching style will try to add a technique of some other school to aikido class they are participating in, but that is the exuberance of youth, at least I think it is. It is up to the senior teaching staff and seniors of each dojo to maintain the protocols of the head teacher. If that means following the directions of a regional director, then so be it. Learn the rules and learn how to use them to provide that safe training environment.

As much as we try to get an environment that we think we can control, there is this big wide world just outside the door where our rules for aikido practice just don't seem to apply to everyone or are known by everyone we meet? Weird, huh?

I don't know what anybody taught you as you grew up, but there are times when the situation calls for a person to make a decision and then act upon that decision so they can deal with whatever the situation is confronting them .... and I do believe .. .this is one of them cases.

Of course, it is labor day weekend, Friday, with three more outrageous days to come and I really don't look forward to dealing with all the madness of suburbia ... but such is life. Just another day in paradise.
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Old 09-04-2005, 01:16 PM   #23
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

It sure was fun to read all of the postings to my particular situation.

Of note:

Ann Marie Girl. You said, "I have yet to read any comments from indicating that this particular person is domineering, but rather just "old enough to be your mom." What do you mean by that exactly? How is that relevant to your problem? Do you not think someone a woman your mother's age doesn't have something worthwhile to teach you? You know there are a lot of 40+ women who have incredible aikido? Would the situation be different if this senior student was old enough to be your father."

If you read my second posting more carefully you will notice that I stated, "[i] mention that the main problem student is the same age as my Mom?" Becasue someone is the same age as my Mom does not mean that they are a woman, many men are the same age as my Mother.

Hanna Bjork. I appreciate your comment about the judgment made that I am a "chronic complainer." I think we all have to realize that these threads do not and cannot adequately convey all of the detail and complexity of any of the topics discussed on the forum.

I hope all are having a great three day weekend!
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Old 09-06-2005, 12:17 PM   #24
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
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Re: Attitude problems at Dojo.

Quote:
One the other hand, why was there even a mention of not liking a junior teaching a class? A fuss about juniors teaching a class?

Juniors teaching the class and you are uncomfortable with that? I would ask, when in the blue blazes is a junior ever gonna get a chance to get the experience of teaching if everyone is averse to juniors teaching now and then? I don't get it? Pretty much .. everyone below 5th dan is a junior, so just get that notion out of your head, or at least reallign that thinking. I prefer to think of us all as students.
I said:

Quote:
Does the head instructor at that dojo approve of the sempai teaching...in his class? If so, grin and bear it if the training is worthwhile. If not, politely ask them to let you learn from the instructor...it's his class.
Each dojo has it's own rules in this regard, and people should follow the rules of the dojo they are in. Where I train, juniors have specific venues for learning to teach. If a junior is assigned to teach a class, I do my best to do what THEY are teaching for that class. They are in charge, because Sensei SAID they are in charge. That is different from someone teaching in a class that already has a teacher. I myself am sometimes guilty of this...and when I do it **I am wrong to do it**. Not because anyone is uncomfortable with it...because it is not proper (in my training paradigm).

Sure, you learn and are taught by everyone you train with...in a sense. But there is in reality one teacher on the mat, and that should not be interfered with, in my opinion. It's not a question of rank, or who I am willing to learn from...it's a question of protocol. And sometimes a question of safety too...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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