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Old 02-06-2006, 08:48 PM   #1
Bedard
Location: TX
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Regarding James Smith

Hi all,


I have been off the forum for awhile due to work and generally did not post much when I was active. I started practicing Aikido in Dallas TX in 1990 as a member of the Fugakukai. Around 1992 I Joined the Jiyushinkai and have been a member in good standing ever since. I have been actively practicing in the only Jiyushinkai dojo in Dallas since 1996.

The reason I am posting this today is because we have recently found out that James Smith has been practicing with us in Dallas. "James" (I am not sure it would be appropriate for me to post his real name) did practice with us for around four months using his real name. The three instructors here did not know he was posting on the web until we received an email inquiring about him. On the mat "James" was very quiet only asking questions from time to time. Once we were aware of the situation we were able to identify who James Smith really was. We have talked with "James" and explained to him that his behavior was not appropriate and disrespectful to many people. "James" was a member of our dojo but not a member of Jiyushinkai. We asked "James" to write an apology and tell everyone who he really is but he has chosen not to. Due to his refusal to take responsibility for what he has done we have asked "James" to leave our dojo at this time. I would like to make it clear that "James" does not represent our dojo or Jiyushinkai in anyway.

Sincerely,

David Bedard
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Old 02-06-2006, 09:22 PM   #2
Dajo251
Dojo: Aikido Downtown
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Re: Regarding James Smith

What exactly did "James" do?

Dan Hulley
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Old 02-06-2006, 09:32 PM   #3
Edwin Neal
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Re: Regarding James Smith

i am not sure james was really disrespectful so much as just in sensitive, and i find the witch hunt mentality of trying to force some sort of apology troubling... it would probably be better for this kind of person to be lead to a more reasonable attitude than being ostracized... who exactly was he disrespectful of??? his 'racial' comment was simply stupidity and still would be better dealt with by engaging him... i for one hope he will be brought back into the fold... not exiled... are we legit if we do not apply aiki principles to all situations??? james come back...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-06-2006, 09:39 PM   #4
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Regarding James Smith

I have read several (perhaps not as many as most here) of the posts by "james" and while I found him to be brash, abbrassive, and rude in some instances that is just the nature of some people.

I agree with Edwin that I feel telling someone they can not attend classes in your dojo based on something they said online seems extreme unless they are specifically claiming to represent the views and opinions of your dojo.

Just my initial thoughts.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:26 PM   #5
Huker
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Although I don't know James nor arm I capable of judging his character, I feel that the punishment for James was fairly harsh. The statements he has made in the past have not been offensive to anyone. Any implications made by his post regarding black aikido practitioners were blown out of propotion by the replies.

Unless his actions have affected his dojo directly, his instructor has no right to oversee his actions in his personal life, which includes time on Aikiweb. His instructor has far overstepped his bounds as a disciplinarian, if he has the right to take that title.

His instructor had the chance to do the whole "personality development" thing and impress upon James that certain things he says might reflect poorly upon him. What James recieved was the opposite of this: a type of negative reinforcement. Ultimately, James will lose out. From his expulsion, James will learn only one (semi-understood) lesson about what to say and what not to say. Also due to his expulsion, James will not be given the chance to learn the thousand lessons that aikido has to offer.

The old saying comes to mind: There are no bad students, only bad teachers. Although James did do something that was seen by some as unacceptable, it is my opinion that he should be welcomed back to your dojo.

Respectfully.
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:56 PM   #6
PeterR
 
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Tanner Hukezalie wrote:
Unless his actions have affected his dojo directly, his instructor has no right to oversee his actions in his personal life, which includes time on Aikiweb. His instructor has far overstepped his bounds as a disciplinarian, if he has the right to take that title.
Perhaps the instructor felt that James' actions DID affect his dojo and reputation directly.

I think James' biggest problem was that he thought this forum was the same as some of the more juvenile ones out there. Where your "web persona" is expected to be different from your own and ''trash" talking is an art form. I think many overreacted to his statements here, especially that last one. However, he clearly embarrassed people who's names he dropped - people directly connected to his teacher. I tell you he would not have lasted in my dojo either.

I would not have asked him to apologize or give his real name - I would have asked him to refrain from the forums that could even possibly be read by the people he offended. A simple choice forums or this dojo.

By the way there is at least one other aikiweb poster that was asked to leave his dojo because of postings here. James' instructor was not exactly setting precedent.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-07-2006, 03:05 AM   #7
happysod
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Re: Regarding James Smith

I think I'd have been more impressed if one of the more representative members of the dojo had started posting instead. Perhaps James may have got the point better that way when someone he was acting like a pratt to in cyberspeak was also his training partner in real life.
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Old 02-07-2006, 03:13 AM   #8
Nick Simpson
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Lolz.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 02-07-2006, 04:29 AM   #9
batemanb
 
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
I think I'd have been more impressed if one of the more representative members of the dojo had started posting instead. Perhaps James may have got the point better that way when someone he was acting like a pratt to in cyberspeak was also his training partner in real life.
Didn't seem to make much of a difference when he was engaged with Chuck Clark, the head of his association.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-07-2006, 04:52 AM   #10
crbateman
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Re: Regarding James Smith

IMHO, when a person acts like a spoiled, insensitive brat in a public forum, I think he deserves swift come-uppance from whatever authority figures hold reign. Not very aiki of me, I know, but I earmark my patience and understanding for the deserving. He was not on here to make a contribution. He was on here looking for attention, and made an increasing nuisance of himself, trying to get a rise out of anyone and everyone, until finally he had to play the ultimate hate card to get the level of attention he craves. He needs help, but help cannot be forced upon him. He has to seek it out willingly. Perhaps, now that he realizes that stupid things in cyberspace can have consequences in realtime, he will seek out that help, or at least desist from future indiscretions of this nature. And don't be too hard on his organization, because they DID give him the opportunity to mend his ways before he was banished, and he made his choice. Just one man's opinion.
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Old 02-07-2006, 05:13 AM   #11
happysod
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Clark, while I can understand and agree in part with your viewpoint, I do have to take issue with this bit
Quote:
IMHO, when a person acts like a spoiled, insensitive brat in a public forum, I think he deserves swift come-uppance from whatever authority figures hold reign.
as it begs the question, how much authority does the dojo have over your life outside the dojo.

Now, you can argue that as aikiweb is almost an adjunct to training for many people (their web dojo for want of an ability to make cool names up), dojo etiquette extends to the posts which brings in the nice sensei ses and all the rest.

Alternatively, which is my personal preference, the two are separate and James should only have been asked to leave the dojo for poor practice in the dojo or asked to leave aikiweb for breaking forum rules. They may interact on occasion, but I'm not a fan of the dojo extending beyond the limits of the practice.
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Old 02-07-2006, 06:43 AM   #12
Derek Gaudet
 
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Everyone here makes good points, but perhaps it would have been easier to ask "James" to leave the forum. While this is the cyberspace Dojo I'll agree that "James" was overstepping the rules, his comments were harsh, rude, unnecessary at times, but perhaps caused by ignorance (He was indeed only studying for a few months). Our replies to him contributed to his act, had we decided to remain silent and ignore, perhaps he'd of simply found pleasure in going somewhere else. For how can someone argue when no one will rebut? "It is sometimes better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." For people making such comments as James it is best to ignore, because simply they are looking for attention... If we give them the attention they ask, are we not positively reinforcing their individual act's? Simply yes, in a sense we contributed to his continuation of irrational responses, yet where is James now? No longer training, and no longer posting. Perhaps now he is getting in trouble with tougher crowds then ourselves. I for one apologize for contributing to the positive reinforcement of his search for attention in the wrong ways. It is my hope that he will find someone to teach him to become a better individual, however doing that through Aikido now will be somewhat difficult...

Kind Regards,
Derek Gaudet
Goshin Aikido
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Old 02-07-2006, 07:57 AM   #13
justinmaceachern
Dojo: St. george
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Re: Regarding James Smith

I have to say that i agree with Derek. this guy was looking for attention and we gave him the wrong kind. He wasnt a vet in this art he was just a biginner, wich means he did not nowthe proper way to act on a forum like this. A man should not be punished for his thought. Just the way he goes a bout saying his thoughts. he should have been taught this. But at this point in time he was unable to listen, and now he no longer trains or post on this website. I too appoligize for the contrabution of continuing his irrational debate.
Hope you all have a good day
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Old 02-07-2006, 08:15 AM   #14
crbateman
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
...how much authority does the dojo have over your life outside the dojo.
When one goes into a public forum and makes an ass of oneself, while letting the readers know where one is training, it reflects poorly on ones organization and dojo. He represents them, in most any sense of the word, so it follows that they have something at stake. This is after all an Aikido forum, populated by Aikido people from throughout the world, for the purposes of bettering themselves and others through a mutually respective exchange of ideas. Would any instructor want one of their students to don a gi with a dojo patch, go to a seminar outside the organization, punch out another attendee, perhaps because of their gender or their race, and then flip off the instructor? I don't think so. How is what happened here any less offensive? IMHO, they handled it properly by voicing their concerns to the offender, and then distancing themselves from him once it became apparent that he was unwilling to cooperate. I don't feel this was unreasonable of them, as they have the right to teach (or to refuse) whomever they wish, and good reputations can take a lifetime to build, but only a moment to destroy. Worth protecting, I think.
Quote:
Derek Gaudet wrote:
It is my hope that he will find someone to teach him to become a better individual, however doing that through Aikido now will be somewhat difficult...
Perhaps not. Many Aikido teachers do not teach children, because they don't feel they possess the maturity to concentrate and benefit from the training. This person's childish attitude is possibly just a passing phase, and when he grows up a little, he may very well be able to objectively renew his Aikido training. I hope he does (providing somebody doesn't KILL him first...).
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Old 02-07-2006, 08:37 AM   #15
happysod
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Clark,

Firstly, I don't agree at all with your example of equating posts from what was obviously an immature individual, who by their own words had a disconnect between the "real world" and the web, to a direct physical confrontation at a seminar.

As for the poster somehow representing the dojo, I'll concede you some concern there. However, aikiweb is, as you said, a public forum where anyone can interact, it is not in any way equivocal to a structured forum where people are invited to participate as a representative of their dojo, so not really an issue.

Indeed, I'd be surprised if anyone had taken Jame's posts as that dojos mission statement. Unless someone claims otherwise, I assume all posts are from an individual, to automatically assume otherwise (as you are implying may be done) would severely curtail the type of poster we would have

With regard to reputation, a mere statement distancing themselves from the posters views would have sufficed if they felt it was necessary. I don't believe it was necessary.

Final question, if your dojo insists on certain standards outside the training hall/seminar etc., is that mentioned in your handbook? I'd be interested if anyone has such a caveat.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not defending the little darling, but I would defend his right to be an ass in public.
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Old 02-07-2006, 08:57 AM   #16
justinmaceachern
Dojo: St. george
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Im going to have to agree with clark. What you do on this forum i think is directly linked to your dojo. If he is "making an ass out of him self in public" Talking about things he doesnt know about reflects on the ability of those who was teaching him. therfore i can understand why his instructor would want him out. Not saying by any means that i agree with kicking him out. But i agree that anything i say or do on this forum that has something to do with training is directly linked to my teachers. I think this young man needs more time in this art to be honest with yas. I used to be the "bad ass" to until i met some ofthe people i did.
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Old 02-07-2006, 09:46 AM   #17
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
IMHO, when a person acts like a spoiled, insensitive brat in a public forum, I think he deserves swift come-uppance from whatever authority figures hold reign. Not very aiki of me, I know, but I earmark my patience and understanding for the deserving. He was not on here to make a contribution. He was on here looking for attention, and made an increasing nuisance of himself, trying to get a rise out of anyone and everyone, until finally he had to play the ultimate hate card to get the level of attention he craves. He needs help, but help cannot be forced upon him. He has to seek it out willingly. Perhaps, now that he realizes that stupid things in cyberspace can have consequences in realtime, he will seek out that help, or at least desist from future indiscretions of this nature. And don't be too hard on his organization, because they DID give him the opportunity to mend his ways before he was banished, and he made his choice. Just one man's opinion.
I agree completely with Clark. Practicing a martial art in someones dojo isn't a right, it's a privilege. I know that in many serious groups, like the previous Federation I belonged to, you aren't allowed to post like that because you represent your dojo with everything you say and do with regards to the art. If you want a private life and private rights, you may have to do it in someone else's dojo. His Sensei did the right thing. All this means is that in the world that James lives in, staying in his dojo isn't worth the price of a sincere apology. If character counts at all, then I would say he wasn't a good candidate for martial arts. Respecting your Sensei and giving an apology is a small price to pay in exchange for learning a martial art. People who don't take their words seriously and who use these forums in a irreverent and disrespectful way degrade the forum and take it down to a level that quality people who have something meaningful to contribute won't want to be here. I think this action speaks well of the Jiyushinkai.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 02-07-2006, 09:54 AM   #18
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
Clark, while I can understand and agree in part with your viewpoint, I do have to take issue with this bit as it begs the question, how much authority does the dojo have over your life outside the dojo.

Now, you can argue that as aikiweb is almost an adjunct to training for many people (their web dojo for want of an ability to make cool names up), dojo etiquette extends to the posts which brings in the nice sensei ses and all the rest.

Alternatively, which is my personal preference, the two are separate and James should only have been asked to leave the dojo for poor practice in the dojo or asked to leave aikiweb for breaking forum rules. They may interact on occasion, but I'm not a fan of the dojo extending beyond the limits of the practice.
I disagree. James can still post here. This is still a free forum. He was in a dojo and they have their standards and he was informed of those. They have a right to ask their members to hold to a standard in how they want their members to act on a martial arts forum. James has the right to go elsewhere to train if he doesn't like their standard. Both of those principles had a meeting and each party made their choice.
Best,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:18 AM   #19
happysod
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Interesting, looks like I hold a minority view
Quote:
They have a right to ask their members to hold to a standard in how they want their members to act on a martial arts forum
my worry - essentially you're saying the only area where a full and frank discussion about martial arts is allowed are where identities are anonymous. James may be no loss, but I can see this standard being applied to any criticism about senior instructors etc. etc.
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:37 AM   #20
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Hello Ian,

I suspect that I'm a bit "old-fashioned" compared to some these days, but I think that if we aren't willing to sign our name and take responsibility for what we say, especially in budo discussions, we shouldn't be discussing it in public, especially on the world wide web.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 02-07-2006, 11:52 AM   #21
crbateman
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Sorry Ian, but like it or not, if you CHOOSE to put your dojo name out there, you have CHOSEN to be a representative of the dojo. That carries with it an inherent obligation to be respectful and respectable, whether or not you have signed a contract to that effect. I don't think his instructor sought to infringe upon his right to use an online forum, but expected him to conduct himself in a mature civilized manner while doing so, since his attitude and actions could reflect poorly on his dojo. Tell anybody who you are if you wish, but it is unfair to connect your dojo and your teachers to your misguided deeds in a public forum. Were you in his teacher's place, I can't see how you could feel differently. I guarantee you that if he tried that crap in a Japanese dojo, he would be unceremoniously tossed out the front door on his chin.
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Old 02-07-2006, 01:19 PM   #22
Edwin Neal
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Re: Regarding James Smith

i do not represent anyone other than myself... no one should unless asked or put into a position of representation... i in no way took james' comments to represent anyone other than himself... i don't remember him 'telling' what dojo or teacher he represented... contract or not a sensei or organization does not concern itself with my life outside the dojo unless we agree to share that... what if your sensei doesn't think your choice of girl/boyfriend is appropriate? or job? or type of car? or manner of dress? etc... we cannot take some moral highground, and beat others with our morality... if aikido practice is for developing ourselves as humans... then should it only be reserved for those that do not need it most? is this hypocritical? I do not think james deserved the punishment he got... more likely he will now 'represent' aikido as an elitist thin-skinned bunch who don't interact with people who do not conform to their fuzzy, haphazard scheme of behavior... and are ready to get all 'snotty' when people 'say' things that hurt their feelings... aren't aikidoka supposed to be better than that?

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-07-2006, 01:34 PM   #23
senshincenter
 
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
I agree completely with Clark. Practicing a martial art in someones dojo isn't a right, it's a privilege. I know that in many serious groups, like the previous Federation I belonged to, you aren't allowed to post like that because you represent your dojo with everything you say and do with regards to the art. If you want a private life and private rights, you may have to do it in someone else's dojo. His Sensei did the right thing. All this means is that in the world that James lives in, staying in his dojo isn't worth the price of a sincere apology. If character counts at all, then I would say he wasn't a good candidate for martial arts. Respecting your Sensei and giving an apology is a small price to pay in exchange for learning a martial art. People who don't take their words seriously and who use these forums in a irreverent and disrespectful way degrade the forum and take it down to a level that quality people who have something meaningful to contribute won't want to be here. I think this action speaks well of the Jiyushinkai.
Ah yes, but the right to privacy and/or a personal/individual perspective - the right to say "this is of me and not of you" - is worth a gazillion apologies and (i.e. plus) 1,536,324 dojo.

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 02-07-2006, 01:57 PM   #24
aikigirl10
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Anyone know how old he was? I was just curious, it may explain some of his behavior.
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Old 02-07-2006, 02:00 PM   #25
senshincenter
 
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Re: Regarding James Smith

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
When one goes into a public forum and makes an ass of oneself, while letting the readers know where one is training, it reflects poorly on ones organization and dojo. He represents them, in most any sense of the word, so it follows that they have something at stake. This is after all an Aikido forum, populated by Aikido people from throughout the world, for the purposes of bettering themselves and others through a mutually respective exchange of ideas. Would any instructor want one of their students to don a gi with a dojo patch, go to a seminar outside the organization, punch out another attendee, perhaps because of their gender or their race, and then flip off the instructor? I don't think so. How is what happened here any less offensive? IMHO, they handled it properly by voicing their concerns to the offender, and then distancing themselves from him once it became apparent that he was unwilling to cooperate. I don't feel this was unreasonable of them, as they have the right to teach (or to refuse) whomever they wish, and good reputations can take a lifetime to build, but only a moment to destroy. Worth protecting, I think.
Perhaps not. Many Aikido teachers do not teach children, because they don't feel they possess the maturity to concentrate and benefit from the training. This person's childish attitude is possibly just a passing phase, and when he grows up a little, he may very well be able to objectively renew his Aikido training. I hope he does (providing somebody doesn't KILL him first...).
Perhaps this forum is a bit too real for some of us - uh? Just a general question I pose here (not aimed at Clark - Clark, your post just raised the question in my head for me).

Isn't it strange how many times Aikido, this sensei or that sensei, this dojo or that dojo, has had to be saved by this electronic community because of something that was written here? Come on, isn't that funny? How strong is a dojo if it can handle these no-nothing arrows and slings?

I tell you this, nothing anyone has ever said here has had the slightest effect on my training, my dojo, my students, etc. I've been called any number of things here, accused of any number more, even had two good things said about me, but none of it has altered one real life aspect of mine in the slightest.

As a strange set of coincidences. I now share the mat with someone that has posted on these forums for a while now. I had no idea he lived here and certainly didn't know I would be sharing the mat with him one day. We hardly agree on anything in these forums. We hardly do the same art in real life. But there we are, sharing the mat three days a week! lol We are both very nice to each other - my son loves to watch his class and he always takes the time to say hello and play with him a bit.

What about drinking and getting drunk - reflect bad on a dojo and a teacher?

I've been in some dojo where that was the norm come Friday night - still, folks line up to train there, honor those that have trained there, and/or wish they were training there.

What about the smallness of a teacher or a dojo or a federation - the smallness that is demonstrated when they show great effect from the words of some newbie? How does that reflect on a teacher?

I got a newbie going right now - rather than expecting him to represent us in an accurate light (what I like to think as a positive light), I am more prone to say that he has no idea what we are and what we do and that he cannot be expected to be anything but lame. My position has always been: New deshi are retarded. What represents the dojo then is how well it un-retards the new person.

If anyone said to me, "Well, I was talking to your newbie and he said, '...'" I'd say, "Well, he's lame and you can't believe him. And you are new too so you can't believe your lame understanding of his lameness. If you did, you'd be at least twice as lame - maybe more because lameness always has a way of increasing - just like dinosaurs found a way to give birth in Jurassic Park."

The other day, the second to newest student I have told me how he understands Aikido - he started preaching for The Dynamic Sphere Bible. I told him he certainly wouldn't find my understanding of Aikido in that Good Book - that is unless he ended every paragraph with the phrase, "...but not for Dave." I told him he should read that book like you can read a fortune cookie by ending each piece of wisdom with the words "...in bed," only end each "wisdom" with the words "not for Dave."

In the past, I have had students hate me, attack me, betray me, want to kill me, etc. I always saw it as part of the game - so I always stuck with them. These students are today always my most loyal and my most representative of the dojo.

When I started Senshin Center, I asked Chiba Sensei for some advice. He gave me two pieces of wisdom. One was on this very topic. He said, "When your students seem like they are not getting it, don't give up on them." Somehow that seems relevant here.


dmv

David M. Valadez
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